My First Flight Alone: Part I

Sunday, August 7, 2011

(Picture Courtesy
It was my first flight alone. I was going to fly by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from Atlanta to New Delhi via Amsterdam to see my mother who had undergone heart bypass surgery two months ago. While I was excited like a fledgling bird, all my friends and family members were worried about me as if I was going to Afghanistan on a rescue mission.

My husband bought a new cell phone for me and also taught how to operate it. I was such a quick learner that in no time I was able to switch it on and off and I could find anybody’s contact number in a jiffy. My cell phone was my new companion. I held it affectionately and sang love songs to it. It had so many other features, but I decided against misusing it. I always keep my possessions with utter care.

“Will you be able to cross a road on your own?” My daughter was extremely worried. “Remember to look left, right and then left again. And don’t talk to strangers.”

On the designated day, I was dropped off at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport with lots of cautionary advice. The most important one of them all was to keep my cell phone safe.

After waiting a little while at the lounge, there was an announcement for boarding. I joined the line. We walked silently like crawling ants and smoothly arrived at our seats in the aircraft. Next to me was a young Filipino gentleman. The plane kept on taxiing relentlessly. Looked like we were stuck at the airport for a long time. I took out my proud possession, the cell phone, just to show off. My neighbor got so jealous that he took out a sleek laptop and started video chat with his young frolicking daughter.

I decided to make a few calls, so that “people” didn’t think it was just a toy phone. But try as hard as I could, by pressing all that protruded on the device, it refused to turn on. All my love songs and prayers fell on its deaf ears.

Since everyone on the plane was a stranger, I hesitated asking anyone for help. The neighbor was busy chatting with his daughter. I rose from my seat and scrutinized everyone to find out if there was any kind, friendly, or helpful person. Among all the self-engrossed egomaniacs, I found a benign lady smiling at me. She was dressed in a pink skirt, jacket, shoes, and had a matching handbag. I approached her and took her aside to explain my problem. When I felt she couldn’t understand what I was saying, I tried to convey with hand and facial gestures. Just for your info, I am very good at dumb charades. Now I noticed that she started sweating and breathing heavily. I think she was embarrassed at not being able to help me.

She rushed to a male flight attendant probably to seek further help, but I could see that the other person also looked helpless. I returned to my seat. The plane had now stopped taxiing and there was an announcement to remain calm and seated. Within a few minutes, a horde of officers swarmed our plane. Surprisingly, they came to me, and one officer asked for my phone. He took away my phone while another one kept inquiring about my problem. After a few minutes my phone was back with me. An officer showed me how to switch it on and off. It took so many people to accomplish this feat. Had I asked an Indian, only one person would have been enough. After much delay, the aircraft started taxiing again and took off.

Have you heard that joke—How many Americans does it take to switch on a cell phone? You haven't? Neither have I.

Rest of the flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam was uninteresting. People were either sleeping or acting like they were half dead. Occasionally, someone rose to visit the toilet. I spotted only one Indian in the whole aircraft—a lady, sitting six rows behind me on the middle isle. Sadly, she too was behaving like non-Indians.

As soon as the plane arrived at Amsterdam airport, I received a text message from my husband, inquiring if everything was all right. He was worried about some news regarding a bomb scare on my plane. Bah, I thought, news channels these days would air anything for higher TRPs!

Part II: From Amsterdam to New Delhi—My jolly ride with Desi crowd

Update: While mine was a fictional account, here is a similar event that took place on September 11, 2011  - Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit


  1. Very Hilarious, great style and refreshingly funny. Waiting for next episodes.

  2. Thanks Sanjay! Keep visiting :-)

  3. First flight is always bit scary ..i have read a lots of post like this ..but i m waiting for my chance ....

  4. Giribala at her funniest best - loved it and can't wait to read about your jolly ride!

  5. Haaaaaaa !Loved every bit of it .Had a similar experience -committed a huge mistake by asking for tea at a Mc Donalds joint ....silly me .Had never seen before so many Americans sweat ,blush and run at the same time .
    Waiting for the next part .......

  6. Very interesting. It also proves how much does your husband and your daughter care for you.

  7. How many Americans does it take to switch on a cell phone?

    haha.. :)

    Promises a funnier 2nd part.


  8. waiting for what happens next! may i add Eagerly!!!!

  9. Children really underestimate mothers.
    A fun journey so far.

  10. @Sheril: Thanks!

    Thanks Purba, Kavita, rt, Alka!!!

    @Chowlaji: Good observation :-)

    @Kunnu: Thanks for the visit! Nice knowing you!

  11. Loved it ! Waiting for the next one . Got my laughing dose early in the morning ...


  12. I was wondering did you take the cell phone charger along

  13. "How many Americans does it take to switch on a cell phone? You haven't? Neither have I."


    This was hilarious! Waiting for the next post!!

  14. Liked it. :) Eagerly waiting for the next part. I am sure it'd be more fun with the desi crowd. :)

  15. Thanks Anjuli!!

    @Sameer: The charger is happy that someone thinks about it. It tells me to convey thanks to you!

    @Meta, @Arpit: Thanks!!!!

    @Ajay: Thanks! Now going to work on Part II....

  16. Haha, enjoyed this very much!


  17. Wonderfull... Everyone has story about their first cell phone :)

  18. @Narendra: Thanks for reading!!!!

    @Harsh: It was not meant to be read between the lines :-|

  19. like like like harsh's comment.
    I suggest @giribala to add like option to the comments as well ;)

  20. ROFLMAO bomb scare. I got nothing more to say about this of your very best, GB.

  21. Hilariuos!...

  22. @rt, @Sammy, @Sangeeta: Thank you girls :-)

  23. Loved reading your adventure. You write well and from heart. Keep at it.

  24. i had a smile on my face while reading it. liked ur post.

  25. Thanks, Kamal!!

    Thanks, Unspoken!!

  26. I really like this blog post, it has some great info. Thank you and keep up good work

  27. Wow, what a very interesting and funny experience on the plane! :)


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