Saturday, July 26, 2008

Travel Companions

Well, I wont mind some. While time and money are the usual suspects, too many trips have not happened due to the lack of people. And, as I have learnt in the had way, its better to travel alone than to end up with a bunch of people not ready to spend at all, or too worried about the comforts of life.

But that is not what this is about. I remember back in India, when traveling back and forth between my home in Siliguri and my university in Calcutta, we used to scan the reservation charts pasted beside the train doors, and would be excited to find any teenage female names around. It is altogether another story that we would rarely end up talking with them. I am not the most talkative of persons unless I know the people around, and that extends to public transits too.

However, on occasions here, I have ended up having conversations with some bizarre people in plane. I ended up beside a drunk musician from New Orleans when going to Chicago for the first time in the winter of 2004, and it was entertaining, for lack of a better word. Initially what started as his not so polite rant about the airline not allowing to carry his guitar or something, turned into an interesting, albeit slightly incoherent conversation. He talked a lot about New Orleans, and this was well before Katrina. He talked about Jazz music, and asserted that only Chicago and New Orleans has good Jazz - which is probably true. The thing I remember him most for is, however for none of the conversations we had. It was my first time landing in a big city after dark, and the view of Chicago from up there is simply awesome. They always go anticlockwise over the lake and the downtown, and from the left side of the plane, where we fortunately were and he allowed me to look out, you can see the most perfect grid, tiny squares after tiny squares. Then comes the lake and as the plane turns around towards the ultra compact downtown - you can almost identify each individual building. Night landing in Chicago is always spectacular - of course, you have to be sitting at the left side, as the guy told me. Rightly so.

This summer, I was coming back from Phoenix, AZ and the route was already absurd - flying up to Minneapolis, MN and then coming down to Orlando. That is the price you pay when you get a cheap ticket nowadays. We were delayed in Minneapolis, and to avoid weather, they flew all the way southwest toward the the direction of Omaha, NE before continuing southeast. So it added an hour or so more to what was already a needlessly long flight, and I so did not mind too much when the guy next to me started talking. As it turned out, he has spent some time in Bangalore, and written poems about India. It is always fascinating to hear about India from a different perspective, so it was all great till then. However once I said I am a physicist, he started talking about all the conspiracy theories - UFO sightings to his belief that the Pyramids were built by aliens. He suggested me books and websites - it did get boring after a while, but he simply would not stop. I never knew people so passionately believed in those.

The poems were nice though.


@lankr1ta said...

And have you noticed how precise the shapes traced by the lights are when you land in Chicago- no other city quite offers that rectangular perfection.

dipthought said...

Oh yes...the most perfect downtown from up there!

I am just back from two weeks in Chicago area!