Turn left Sir…
It’s the holy grail of economy class flying. When you are tired and fed up, just hearing those three words is like hearing that ‘the kids are asleep’ and lets face it, it’s about as rare.
This time, I have been travelling for about a month, Hong Kong, China, 48 hours at home and then India. Hong Kong was an ordeal, because I go there once a year and it takes me the rest of the year to get over the hangover, China, because its bloody cold and massively polluted; home because it’s my sanctuary and then India because there’s a price to pay for everything. Actually, that’s unfair, I love India, but it can be hard work.
After collecting a ridiculously large Christmas tree from a nearby farm and manhandling it onto the roof of my small car, we had a Christmas party at home during those 48 hours.
It’s not the size of your car, it’s the size of your tree!
I spent the evening ensuring that I would know little of the 20+ hours in the air, but I paid for it from the moment my eyes opened and the taxi picked me up, to the moment that I landed in Hong Kong, en route to Chennai. Now, I have known hangovers and for those of you who like to consider themselves connoisseurs, please allow me to tell you that this one almost drove me to taking the pledge. In fact, I think I may have actually taken it at some stage that morning, I cannot quite remember.
As I have previously mentioned, I always fly down the back of the aircraft and it’s not just because that’s the final part of the plane to hit the mountain, because thankfully, I wouldn’t know much about it if it did. The back of the plane is all the company pays for. I’m used to getting off the plane bent over like Quasimodo and it taking me days to stretch my way out of my human pretzel like shape. on this trip however, the stars aligned.
By virtue of my constant flying, I get access to the first class lounge and this time, I really needed a place with room to lie down, without the worry of being trampled or robbed. I found a couch with enough room to stretch out, took my boots off and after setting my alarm, simultaneously fell asleep and started snoring like a chainsaw. I know this because according to the barman, that I cleared that end of the lounge like a fart in a lift. His words, not mine…
I woke up to my alarm buzzing angrily and just in time to hear boarding of my flight being called, so I struggled downstairs and limped into the queue. I managed to fold my boarding pass into my passport, in such a way that hopefully, it would speed my way through the scanning of the pass when I heard the hideous “NAAAAAAAA’ of the machine when it rejects your pass. I hate that sound. There are many very specific reasons why I hate it, but suffice it to say, that nothing good usually comes from it. On this occasion however, I heard the magic words “happy Christmas Sir, we have upgraded you” There have been few times in my life when I have felt motivated to kiss a man, but they have usually been at weddings and I have usually been drunk AND in some way related to them. This time I had to stop myself from planting one on the cheek of the chap on the gate.
I almost skipped to the door of the aircraft and with a flourish, showed my pass to the air crew and there it was – “turn left Sir” It’s the most simple thing to say, but the words carry such meaning and such inherent joy. So, turn left I did and entered the other world. I slipped into the cocoon like seat and bided my time through the takeoff and chomping at the bit, until I finished the glass of bubbles and I had been given all clear to recline the seat into the flat bed and crawl under the duvet. I was able, in a fraction of a moment, to go from slightly grouchy, middle aged male to a dormouse.
It might not look like much, but it’s like an oasis in the desert to me
Knowing that this would be a tiring week, I had taken the precaution of booking into a decent hotel. It was right on the beach in Chennai and this is the view I came back to each evening.
But you just know, it’s going downhill from here.
Have a safe and happy Christmas.