Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Journey

The journey.
What journey?
Of life?
No, I'm still too young to get into that.

I'm talking about my journey to a land far far away.
A land called Israel.
Ok, so it wasn't so far away. It was a 7 hour flight which could've been a 4 hour flight if the airline wasn't trying to avoid flying over 'dangerous territories'.

The start of my journey was pretty different as compared to the other holidays I've taken.
I was to travel with my friend, Daniela who lives in Israel but as my luck would have it, I traveled for half my trip alone. And it was quite an experience.

I left home excited and nervous. More excited than nervous.
Ignorance sure is bliss since I had no idea where I was going and went marching into the airport exuding an air of confidence.

Little did I know that I was soon going to be questioned like a dangerous terrorist.
Round 1: I was asked all kinds of questions from the whats to the whys to the howcomes. By the end of my 45 minute interrogation all that was left for them to ask me was my favourite flavour of icecream.
I suppose it was something like speed dating with a terrorist angle to it.
After standing at the airport for over an hour and not yet having checked in, it was time for Round 2.

Round 2 was where I was made to show emails that were exchanged between my friend and me (in which she happened to mention how they may really annoy me at the airport which was probably a fun read for my interrogator). This was followed by a phonecall to Daniela in Israel to crosscheck whether our friendship was infact legit.
I passed Round 2 with flying colours and was rewarded with a smile.

After this was Round 3 where the airline helped me unpack and rubbed a weird device inside my bag and then held it against a machine which checked it for explosives.
Now, I was only carrying clothes and slippers and shampoo-like liquids but this whole procedure made me really nervous.
I was thinking My name is Kamath and I am not a terrorist. Ok, lame joke.
But, a thousand thoughts flooded my brain.
Like if I had worn a slightly pinker lipbalm would I look less terrorist-like and would they have just let me go?

After my welcome torture, I was bid farewell by my interrogator with a smile followed by Have a Pleasant flight.

Ok. I will try.

I reached my gate and it seemed like there were about 50 people on my flight.
Most of them were Israelis going back after spending months in India holidaying and exploring after having served 3 years in the army.
25 looked like they were smuggling something.
10 looked somewhat normal.
10 were Indians. Slightly strange ones.
4 guys who looked like Coldplay from a distance.
And 1 guy who had worn a skirt. And no he wasn't Scottish.
Who was he kidding? He was wearing a blanket. You know the kind you get in 2 star hotels which are woolly and haven't been washed in about 30 years and I would definitely be allergic to.
I gave you this long explanation to tell you that they picked me for questioning and not him.
And I'm still trying to figure out why.
Didn't they even want to ask him about the thought process behind his styling.

Anyway, I got on the plane with this fun gang.
El Al Israel Airlines has no good entertainment so I plonked myself across 2 seats and wore my neck pillow. I looked a bit Shakespearan at this point but couldn't really care. I was just glad to look like anything but a terrorist for the rest of my journey.

I didn't have my own TV.
-100 points for El Al.
And the newspapers were in Hebrew.
-20. (I don't read newspapers on flights anyway.)
No meals. I was given a small bag of pretzels and an apple juice (I only drink apple juice on flights).

As the plane got ready to take off, 
the air-conditioner was on full blast, 
I began sneezing,
I wore my sweater, socks and 2 blankets,
& I continued sneezing (since I forgot to carry my snowboots)
and an animation began playing on the screen in which a Tinkerbell-like air hostess made emergency landing look like a beach holiday.

Trying to forget my interrogation session, I closed my eyes and then there it was - the end of the In-flight video.
"El Al: It's not just an airline. It's Israel"

And all I could think was. I sure hope not.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...