Monday, June 14, 2010


For once, our flight to India left not in the wee hours of the morning, but in the afternoon. As we did a year and a half ago, we flew Emirates via Dubai to Hyderabad. Unlike the airlines that go via Asia and stop in between, this one had a nonstop 16-hour leg followed by a shorter 4-hour hop.

For those who don't know, Dubai is located in the United Arab Emirates (hence the name of the airline), in the Arabian Peninsula.

Yay Google maps!

To get there, however, we took off from SFO and flew north. We crossed Nevada, Idaho, a corner of Nebraska, and Montana before entering Canada. Looking down out of the window 6 hours into the flight, I saw the icy floes of summer in Newfoundland. Off we went into that good night. We went so far north, though, that even though it was 3 am local time, the sun was shining brightly. We passed over Greenland and went north of Iceland (no volcano pics, sorry - I was sleeping).

I don't recall exactly when we turned back to the south, but I think it was somewhere past England and the prime meridian. As we angled back down the globe toward the equator, I awoke to see that we were crossing the Mediterranean. Another short nap later (yes, lots of sleeping, but in my defense, it was a pre-emptive strike against jet lag), I found myself looking at a barren landscape. From our aerial view of Iraq, we could see pools of red-tinged, almost Martian ground with distinct edges. My mother and I came up with the theory that these were dried lake beds, enriched with minerals like iron oxides (a.k.a. rust) that would have turned the soil red. There were mountains near the coast, but further inland, the land was as flat as an untuned piano. There were few buildings in the areas we flew over. The only signs of inhabitation we saw were the long, thin roads running straight across the plains, occasionally curving where they ran into mountains.

By the time we reached Dubai, it was 6:30 pm there, and a balmy 102°F. The terminal we were in was shaped like a flattened cylinder laying on its side (I was going to say like a squashed cigarette, but it was nicer and cooler-looking than that). 2 hours later, after eating dinner breakfast lunch a meal, we went to the gate to board. We handed over yellow boarding passes and got white stubs in return. According to the computer, our seat numbers and ticket reference numbers hadn't matched or something like that, so we got a free upgrade to business class!

Oh my god, business class is so different! It's ridiculous. Instead of a little tray with food covered in foil, we each got a little tablecloth for our tray tables, nice dishes, real glass glasses, butter pats in the shape of a flower. Oh, and a menu that included appetisers like cream of mushroom soup and entrees like lobster and Hyderabadi biryani. Definitely not economy class. The best thing was the reclining chairs. Where we had suffered through the 16 hours from San Francisco to Dubai trying to stretch our legs and get comfortable in a seat with no footrest, we had what basically amounted to beds for the last 4 hours. Wide and comfy chairs, with big, fluffy pillows and La-Z-Boy type footrests were like heaven for our sleep-deprived bodies. 

By the time we arrived in Hyderabad, it was 3 in the morning. With the time claimed by customs and waiting for baggage, it was past 5 am by the time we reached my grandparents' flat. The day was just beginning, and for us, it was time to sleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment