Planes

Unlike bikes and boats for me planes is are all about the destination not the journey.

The hours being processed through an airport, the brain, bum and leg numbing time stuck in the seat (Ahh! I’m an economy as well as piecemeal adventurer).

But credit where credit is due modern flight has made so many more destinations open to all of us adventurers.

So I have to include an obligatory plane horror story.  It involves a flight from Singapore to New Delhi. While not a long flight it was complicated by:

  • arriving in New Delhi in the early hours of the morning;
  • the family was in tow with 3 kids aged from 9 to16 years of age (having kids in tow adds an additional element to any travel adventure); and
  • we were arriving in India a week after the Mumbai terrorist attach in November 2008.

In fact the anxiety started on 27 November 2008 on the way to Melbourne Airport for the flight to Singapore.  We had turned on the car radio and of course the Mumbai terror attack was headlined. My kids asked were we safe and I quickly replied ” terrorists don’t attack 3 star hotels” it sort of jus came out, the safety of being just one of the masses rather than one of the elite.

After a five day stopover in Singapore staying with friends we headed to New Delhi.  The flight across was at night, turbulent and my daughter was vomiting all the way.

We arrived at the Indira Ghandi International Airport at about 4am.  India was in rising hysteria since the bombings.  The first challenge was customs where the military, now installed, were determined to stab my sons football incuse there was a bomb in it..  My son’s dismay and careful persuasion saved the day and the football.  Immigration moved at a snails pace and the moving out into the main part of the terminal we were confronted by a sandbag machine gun placement just like in the war moving and camouflage clad commandoes with assault rifles prowling the floor.  By this time the kids were wrapped around my and my partners legs.  Even the older two who were developing the aloofness of emerging teenage years stayed very close at hand.

To add to the chaos New Delhi was preparing to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and so construction. or it least the pre construction destruction phase was well underway.  As we stepped out of the airport into the throng I was so glad I had prearranged to be picked up.  It was as we weaved our way through road detours and construction work to our hotel in the Karol Bagh district of Central Delhi, I realised that just back in October this area had had a terrorist bombing.  I didn’t mention it to the kids as we were all relieved to reach out old but safe 3 star hotel.

India is an amazing mix of seething  activity with tiny pockets of quiet and reflection.

One of those quiet places is Ghandi’s Memorial.

Sing-Ind Album156

As I select this photograph I remember that the day before the memorial had been visited by a Russian Delegation and the wreathe at the centre of the memorial is in the Russian colours.

As I write from the Russian/Ukraine boarder through the middles east there is an almost continuous line of war and terror running south to India and I wonder where the idea of peaceful resistance of peaceful change and enlightenment is hiding.  Is it just hunkered down in this quiet space in the teeming mass of the Indian capital.

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