My disastrous flight from Delhi to Kathmandu

Posted on February 13, 2014

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Airrage on my flight from Delhi to Kathmandu

The flight into Kathmandu from Delhi was terrible.

After taking my seat I began arranging my things. Bottle of water – check; iPad – check; hand lotion – check; chewing gum – check; Dr Dre Beats headphones – check. I reached into my North Face daypack to take out my Lonely Planet Nepal guidebook and literally died of shock. It wasn’t there! I frantically searched underneath my seat and around my area, even getting out of the seat and looking in the aisle, but it was all to no avail. Then it all came back to me in a terrible, migraine-inducing memory: I had taken the book out of my daypack in the taxi to the airport in Delhi so I could read a little about Nepal! I must have left it in the cab in my rush to get out at the airport before I was surrounded by guys with trolleys offering to help me with my bags. Aahh!

I had only recently found out that Nepal was a separate country and not a part of India. As you can imagine, this was a huge revelation to me and involved me scrambling around Delhi trying to find a Lonely Planet. Eventually I managed to swap my Lonely Planet India for a Nepalian version with a Swiss girl at my hostel in India. She was beautiful and I wanted to impress her with my stories of traveling in India for over four weeks but she said she had to go and meet someone (although who she had to meet considering she had just arrived in-country is a mystery) and I didn’t want to force the issue. I managed to write my email and Twitter name in the cover of the book before I handed it over, so I was hoping she would get in touch when she saw my notes in the book and realized I was not a normal traveler.

Shoot! I didn’t have a Lonely Planet to help guide me in Nepal. I had no idea how to get from the airport to the city, no hostel recommendations, no lists of cool-but-reasonably-priced backpacker bars to go to. I had nothing. I was flying blind.

As I was pondering this terrifying thought a guy sat in the seat next to me. He proceeded to arrange his cabin gear and stow it away. I noticed he also had an iPad, although his earphones were the standard white Apple ones. I had been advised against traveling with these as they make you a target in the developing world. I preferred the Dr Dre’s. Better sound quality as well. The guy looked like a Westerner but he was wearing Indian style clothes, lots of tie-dye and bright colors. When he put his bottle of water in the seat back pocket I noticed he had swirly tattoos on his hand. I figured him for a European as I switched on my iPad and fired up an episode of Parks And Recreation. I was sensing he was going to be trouble.

It was after  take-off that the problems started. The third and final seat had been taken by a rather large Indian man wearing a suit and tie. He introduced himself to my seatmate (I couldn’t hear most of what they said, but I did work out that the guy next to me was a European of some specie, German I thought) and they continued talking all the way through the safety announcement and take-off. As soon as the safety belt sign switched off I closed the window blind because the sun was shining directly onto the screen of my iPad. I was just settling back down when the guy next to me (I shall call him Hans, he looked like a Hans) reached over and literally pushed the blind back up.

“I would like to see the mountains from the window, if it is OK? If the sun is bothering you we can swap seats if you like.”

I was too shocked at first to respond. I could feel my anger rising as my cheeks burned red with anger. How dare he? I had the window seat which means I had control of the blind. It is airline etiket, right? I slammed the blind shut again.

“The sun is shining directly onto the screen of my iPad. If you wanted to look at the mountains then you should have asked for a window seat. Anyway, we are going to Nepal. You can see all of the mountains you want when we get there.”

I put my headphones on again and resumed the show. I could see Hans and the Indian guy talking out of the corner of my eye. The Indian guy was pointing at me and gesturing. Sure enough, not a moment later he tapped me on the shoulder.

“Sir, I would respectfully ask you to open the window shade. You are not the only person in this aisle and both myself and this gentleman would like to see the view.”

This was getting too much for me now. I opened the blind and sat back into my seat, down but not defeated.

“Thank you so much, sir.”

Hans did not say anything, but he had a kind of Tuetonic smirk on his face, like Hans Gruber when he is on the top floor of the Nakatomi Plaza talking on the phone to John McClane in Die Hard.

I smiled at Hans and then… Boom! The blind was back up again. I could tell he was literally in shock, like when Hans Gruber is dropped from the top of the Nakatomi Plaza by John McClane in Die Hard. His face was frozen. I had won!

The Indian guy’s hand went up to the call switch for the airline attendant. He looked me directly in the eye. I looked at his eyes with my eyes. My hand hovered over the little white flap on the blind. Neither of us blinked. It was a showdown, a battle of cultures, a high-noon battle of wills to see who would fo…

He pushed the button! I rolled the blind up as fast as I could and pretended to be asleep.

traveling from delhi to kathmandu

The view from the window of a Delhi to Kathmandu flight. Is it worth fighting over?

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