Part of the 'Baby Diaries' series
While travel seems to have become routine for me, the thrill of seeing a new place has not worn off. In my third trip to India, instead of flying through Dubai, we took the Ethiopian Airlines through Addis Ababa. We did not step out into the city in our 4-hour layover, but one still gets the feel of a place from within its airport.
But let me begin from earlier. We set off for the airport in Abidjan on Saturday morning with the typical rush and bluster before any journey. Halfway through, we realised that while we had kept the half dozen suitcases we were travelling with, we’d forgotten my stroller. An emergency call was placed to a neighbour, whose driver set off with the stroller towards the airport.
Meanwhile, we met with Vanya, my 9 year old friend who was travelling with us to India to spend some time with her grandmother. This was the first time she was parting from her parents for an extended period of time and the farewells at the airport grew rather teary. But soon enough, I had Vanya Didi in good cheer by getting her to run and chase me. While Mumma and Papa completed all airport formalities, Vanya Didi and I were up to all sorts of antics.
We were particularly excited about travelling business class this time. As soon as we boarded the flights, we set about reclining our sets and converting them into beds. While the single, serious male passengers surrounding us in the business class section eyed us with disapproval, we kicked up quite a commotion. I played with the TV remote and to my mother’s embarrassment, pressed the call button for the air hostess repeatedly. I was fascinated by the reading lamp attached to my seat which would turn on and off when I rotated it. I managed to wriggle out of my seat belt every few minutes, until Mum had to get me on her lap for takeoff.
Snuggled against her, fatigue finally caught up with me and I dozed off. I was cosily tucked into my own seat and belted in with blankets surrounding me, while Mum and Dad too reclined to rest. The first leg of our journey ended in Addis Ababa. Owing to our Business class tickets, we got access to a lounge at the airport for the three hours we had to spend there. Oh, the space to run around, the un-crowded toilets and the hot spread of food! We watched a lady in Ethiopian finery brew local coffee and serve it to fatigued passengers seated around her on little stools.
After a scrumptious meal of fish, rice and Ethiopian egg curry, and a whole lot of chasing each other around, Vanya Didi and I had a glass of milk each. We then brushed our teeth and headed off to our next flight to Delhi. By the time we had boarded the flight, we were all thoroughly spent. It was well past midnight and we did not even wait for dinner to be served. We reclined our seats and I was the first to conk off, listening to Mum hum my favourite rhymes.
I woke up in time to see us land in Delhi. The entry into Delhi’s very atmosphere was perceptible even from high up in the air. Clogged with pollution Delhi’s air has a peculiar grey, smoggy look. Coming from the fresh climes of tropical Africa, the contrast was horrifying. For the next two weeks I was going to breathe in all that filth. In fact, it was in that very fortnight that Delhi was about to hit the news for its pollution curve going up steeply. Schools were going to close on account of the pollution. But more about that in my next post…
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.