Flight to Colombo

Sri Lanka. Paradise Island. My Home away from Home. It resurrects me.

It was my 44th birthday and all I wanted was to be away from the Hum Drum of my life.

No morning alarm for swim practice, No egg white sandwiches at 5 am, No school drop, No picking up after people, No breaking up arguments,No homework, No ordering one packet of milk. The list of a so called home-maker is always endless. Maybe its cos I’m 44 and I know what makes me happy I decided not to think of anyone else’s feelings but my own.

My birthday wish for myself was to Sleep when I wanted to, not because I had to. Eat Food that I grew up eating, made with the right amount of Spice, Coconut and Salt. Sri Lankan Crab Curry.The Smell of the Ocean, Sound of the Waves. Laze, Read, Drink Passion Fruit Cordial..Its the complete package.

Many would say Goa. BUT that’s not a holiday. It is our holiday home, its so close that the Familia Sadanah may have happily jumped at the idea of a vacation for themselves.

Sri Lanka with my Chuddi Buddis. My Pillars of Strength. The minimum requirement for this friendship club is 25 years. YUP!

My parents had come to Mumbai for Leia 10th b’day, I requested them to hang around so that I could have a Guilt-free, FOUR glorious SUN-FUN-FOOD-FILLED days for my 44th!

28th September Evening. Bags took 8 minutes to pack. Bikini, Shorts, Vests, Trouser, Two nice tops and Flip-Flops. And Reading Glasses.

After Back-packing with the children through Europe, I had no choice but to live by the example I was setting. Deals, Deals, Deals. Mumbai-Colombo-Mumbai Jet Airways economy was terribly cheap. 2 hour flight to Paradise. Small price to pay…  Or so I Thought!

Had to arrive 2 hours before. Heading to the airport 2 1/2 hours before.We got caught in the worst traffic jam at 4 Pm. Did not panic as I had checked in on-line. Jet Check-in was quick, but The Immigration queues were long on MY SIDE. I stood patiently. Smiling to myself. FREEEEEE. FREEEEEE. JUST MEEEEEEEEEE.

On Board. Aisle seat. My Only Other request apart from a Low Cal Meal.( LCM)              Middle seat was free with a satchel belonging to a rotund looking man. He had round cheeks, big round stomach which pushes that belly button button in his already tight shirt. I ignored him. Till I couldn’t……

After take-off as the flight was levelling, my co-passenger takes out two blue small cylinders. Places it on his table. Out comes a tiny zip-lock packet with white pills wrapped inside paper. My alarm bells go off. Such paraphernalia was very popular in Night-clubs in the 90s. What was going on?!!!

‘X-CUSE ME SISTAH!, Vat Whiskey? Please Gib me Double Double peg. It didn’t matter that the whiskey the flight attendant mentioned  was something I didn’t recognise. My eyebrows went up at the DOUBLE DOUBLE. This was larger than the Patiala Peg( please google)  The Attendant explained slowly. ‘ I will give you a Double and come back when you finish!’   I was impressed This was going to be fun. The man had PILLS, He had Snuff boxes and he just asked for DOUBLE DOUBLE. Best seat in the house!!!! As she continues her service, he swigs the drink. One go! Down, it was over.

Food service began immediately. He pulls out his pills and pops them. ‘X-CUSE ME IM FULL BHEGETARIAN. ESTRICT!  I bend my head down to start on my LCM of red rice and steamed chicken and he reaches for the call bell. I know its the Second DOUBLE that has yet to come. I’m chewing slowly. Meals in economy get over really fast.  He motions to the Attendant and says ‘ I told you DOUBLE DOUBLE now I cant INJOY -food has come.’ He berates her as he would his wife during dinner time! (Drink pehla lao, phir khanna types) She apologises and winks at me. I’m relieved. He was a heart-attack waiting to happen.

Cabin Lights, service is over, I settle under my blanket hoping to catch a small nap. I was heading straight to some serious Japanese food and Tequila. I see some shifting. The Man opens his two blue cylinders removes its contents and starts to grind them together in the palms of his hand.. after the clapping noise he puts the contents into his mouth. The smell of chewing tobacco at 33,000/- feet is nauseating. I’m a polite non-interfering traveller. My awareness campaign as Helmetgirlbandra hasnt reached tobacco so I chose to ignore. We had 45 mins left and PARADISE was awaiting me. But I am appalled at what he does next…

He reaches over to the Sick Bag, pulls it open, and goes PUCHECK. THOO THOO.

YUCK YUCK YUCK. He continues for the rest of the journey to use the bag as a SPITOON!

This was the last thing ingrained in my memory age 43…..



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