*That was a favourite joke of mine, back in the days when I indulged in uninhibited, unprotected e-chats at the public boards at Rediff. The lively web-rats there would snuggle up with "ASL pliz?" and I would rattle back with: "43-F-Nude Elly" (I WAS 43, eight years ago) -- and that would crack them up coz they refused to believe that such dinosaurs could ever be found waddling about cyberspace and then they'd want to know where in the universe Nude Elly was ... I just told them to say it out loud.
Anyway, so here I am, returned after six thrilling weeks amongst the skies and scrapers of NYC.
Flew back on the national carrier. I wish I could report that it was really no different to any other airline -- because I like to be loyal, and one of my good friends is a top exec -- but ... it isn't. Never mind the behind-the-times seats (what??!! No bendy flaps on the head-rests? No foot-rests? No in-seat video screens? And NO, I was flying Economy, just like the rest of the cattle, on BA last year), what was not acceptable was the crust of dirt that lined the joint of the floor with the wall of the aircraft. No aircraft, however third-worldy, needs to actually LOOK dirty. I am sure they are all equally disgusting if picked apart with a fine toothed comb, but I am no fine-toothed comb, and I rarely notice dirt unless I trip over it. This was of the 100% can't-miss variety.
Not only that, but a passenger two seats ahead of me suddenly leapt up in the manner of a young woman who has been accosted by an animal I will only refer to here as a C-Roach(because I hate to acknowledge their existence). I mean, I guessed from the way she became briefly airborne what her problem was and then, a moment later, heard her exclaiming to her equally young companion -- they were both in their early nineteens, I'd guess -- "Did you see the SIZE of the thing?" No other creature elicits such a response, so I KNEW. Another passenger, sitting in the seat in front of theirs began swatting at the ticketless traveller with a newspaper, and apparently succeeded in subduing it with extreme prejudice. Then a senior airhostess sauntered by and when the girls (Indian, but UK-based, from accent and acreage of skin on view) complained about their six-legged companion, had a hearty laugh! The young passengers were NOT amused and demanded change of seat, restitution of bug-free rights, ticket-refund, etc.
Aside from this, there were no incidents worth reporting. Oh a passenger appeared to have lost his wife to the Shopping Arena, during the 20 minute stop-over in London -- but I didn't hang around to witness the resolution of this situation, because by then one of the child passengers with an over-active voice box was experiencing a major seizure and it took all of my energy to tune out the sound. I read somewhere that a baby crying is second only to a jet-engine taking off in the decibel department and it was certainly easy to believe. There's a lot of money to be made for the inventor of a device that mutes the sound of a crying infant -- I have in mind a sound-proof globe that fits over a child's head, with a safety light to alert the parent to the fact of a crying fit in progress -- after all, there may be, in rare cases, some genuine reason for the vocalizing.
Seven hours later, I was back in the capital city of our glorious republic. The immigration process has been speeded up and customs is no longer interested in laptops, so it was a mere 40-minute breeze-through to the arrival lounge where E was waiting to collect me. My cell-phone had chirped to life the moment I turned it on in the Immigration Q -- and we'd been chatting about how long the baggage was taking to appear. Oh what a relief not be on the US cellular networks, bleeding dollars with every second of phone-time! Really, someone should rescue the World's Only (remaining) Super Power from the clutches of third-rate cellphone service providers with their year-long contracts, inflexible payment options and scanty coverage.
Ahh ... but that's all behind me for the moment. Hello Hutch! Goodbye Sprint! And goodnight to you all, goodnight.