Monday, December 31, 2012

The Economy 'Glass'

This is my third overseas travel in 6 years and to the same place again. But what is so unique is about this one is that I am traveling without a return ticket. This time, I am off to Detroit, MI, USA for a new position offered by our organization's US wing, LMS North America. Having lived a very social life outdoors in Chennai recent years, it was an opportunity to shake my butt off the lazy routine and get some serious learning and little savings. While I lift my life from a happy life to comfortable life, there are lot of others I encountered in the travel going from struggle to self-containment or conflict to peace.

As you can see, the Economy class travel is a transparent glass with not much concealing as the First class or Business class. I had over 24 hours to reach my destination and filled with lot of entertainment out through the glass. While I jumped a long queue of 20+ passengers waiting to check-in, just because I checked-in already online, I had other factors to slow me down. While I filled in those immigration forms, started helping a barber flying to Muscat all the way from Kambam. Soon landed up helping fill forms for half a dozen of them flying in Emirates Airlines to Sharjah or else where through. All of them helpers, drivers, carpenters and masons from Trichy, Orathanadu, Cuddalore, etc. That is what I defined as struggle to self-containment.

While I cherished the 'extra leg room' upgrade offered for free on the fly to Hong Kong with a Indian student on the route to Los Angeles who slept for most of the time, I did not miss the young mother with an infant on her lap for 90% of the fly time and even managed to eat holding the heavy tray of food in one hand and the baby still sleeping on her elbow and lap. No cribbing. No smiling. Just a neutral face all the way.

Got an extra 30 mins on what was supposed to be a 50 mins layover in Hong Kong. Huh.. a 14 hour fly is still pending! Happy to have the adjacent seat empty and a comfortable aisle seat. My first conversation was to help a totally confused young lad in the other aisle seat when he was handed over the Immigration and customs declaration forms. The boy was 21 from Bangladesh, traveling with his mom to US and could not even express what Visa he was traveling on. Initially degraded down on my English to help him understand what those forms are meant for and he was so ignorant that he said that his sister in Chicago would come and fill the forms for him after reaching the destination. Later he got to know that I am from India and we agreed to communicate in Hindi that we both agreed to crusade by the end of the travel. The younger chatterbox was downplaying Bangladesh all his talks and told a lot about his family with brothers settled in UK, sister settled in US and his dad who took treatment in Apollo Hospitals, Chennai 10 years ago and passed away later in Dhaka. Only while reading his Passport to fill the immigration forms, I realized that he was traveling in an immigrant Visa and his old mom already had a Green card. This young lad wants to get settled in US, far away from Bangladesh where their family had been through catastrophes. This is what I defined as conflict to peace. 

The long 4 hours layover in Chicago turned out to be a 5.5 hours layover. A whole lot of respects to the mothers who travel all alone with hyperactive kids managing to feed them, convince them and walk/roll them from one gate to another every time it is changed. The little I can do was to help pull their extra cabin baggage from one gate to another.

After celebrating Christmas across 4 cities, here I am in Detroit finally!!


  1. Happy new year :) and start writing regularly now on your oru pakka kaagidhan! :D

  2. Bharani, a very poignant narration of your travel. Hope you are having fun in Detroit, we did have a good time during ToT. Waiting to hear more of your travels & travails.. :) Cheers and Have a great New Year ahead.....