Flight simulator

The next lockdown is upon us. The government says it is for a month. Possibility is that it could be longer, much longer. Nobody knows how long. I think most people have given up. It is a ‘whatever’ stance. This is where we all sing in chorus I suppose “Que sera, sera”. The resignation, the despondency, we will just have to face it, whatever the future brings. I hear the winds rocking the trees as I wake up to the sound of the alarm. Autumn is in full swing. I get ready for the gym. I don’t see myself walking in this weather in a couple of days time. I need to find a new routine. I loathe changes and yet I adapt, we all do when the circumstances arise. 

There are few things we need to get out of the way before the lockdown sets in. Two years ago Murali was given a birthday voucher. An expensive experience voucher. He put it away. “Use it and book something”, my requests fell on deaf ears. I was sure that we would lose the opportunity and it would be forgotten. There was no point in arguing. I waited to say “I told you so” and then finally he books a date, when the voucher is almost about to expire. And that too luckily just before the next lockdown. We drive down to Bedfordshire to the flight simulation centre. 

The simulation centre was set up by a retired pilot. He takes us through the preliminaries of take off and landing. I hardly take in a word he says. I have a couple of work colleagues who are into flying and have flown light aircrafts over the channel. I was quite intrigued when Helen told me about her passion and the lessons she’s been taking. She wasn’t fazed about the dangers. It is a pretty expensive hobby and even costlier vocation if you want to get a pilot’s licence. I read about a young twelve year old who has been flying aircrafts and was being mentored by a pilot. We anaesthetists compare our job with pilots. The take off and landing is when things can go awry. The middle part which is usually on autopilot fares smoothly unless complications set in. Our checklists stem from their example to make sure we do not miss any small detail. 

Murali is given a trial run and then has a chance to take off and land at the destinations of his choice. As he thinks of a suitable location, I jump in and say I want to go home. “Take me to Thiruvananthapuram, please”. So we have the chance of flying into TVM airport. As the flight circles the Western Ghats and makes its way to the airport, the coconut trees come into focus and as usual I start singing “Keralam, keralam” in my head. We have two more goes. The last one to Hongkong, the now obsolete airport which used to be one of the trickiest ones to land because of the cross winds. On the simulator there are no crosswinds but the pilot changes the timings so that the landing happens at nightfall. Murali tells the pilot that there was a time once in his youth when his choice of career was to be a pilot. He seems to have enjoyed his experience. I realise that I do not have any interest in flying. I can now cross that off my lists of ‘possible interests’. 

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