“Last call for Mamta Chhabra and Ananya Saluja.”
I almost spat out my mouthful of pancakes (I definitely wouldn’t have done that if I had known that those delicious golden fried mounds of batter would be my last full breakfast for a long time). My pupils had most obviously dilated and I was frozen in panic. I must have been a spectacle, what with my arm frozen midair and half a pancake stuffed in my mouth, maple syrup ominously dripping down my chin.
My trip almost finished before it even began.
Massi1 and I were sitting in the lounge at the airport eating breakfast, and I had just got myself a plate of pancakes which I had just discovered were also available; a welcome alternative to the boring dosas my aunt had tried to make me eat. I was halfway through my 3rdpancake when my Massi shushed me as we listened to the announcements from the departure gate. My eyes widened when I heard them calling out our names, saying it was the last call for our flight. I dropped everything, leaving behind a plate of unfinished pancakes, and I tore across the airport to the gate. I received many strange looks, probably for various reasons –
1) I was dressed in full sleeves and boots in the burning heat of May, in Delhi. That may have been enough.
2) Also, I was sprinting faster than I do in my 100 meters race on sports’ day, frantically skipping stairs with two sleeping bags bobbing behind me. A sight to behold!
We reached the gate as huffing puffing messes and were the last people to board the bus. The strangest thing was, that even when I was seated, the only thing I regretted was not being able to finish my pancakes.
I was sad that my pancake and I had to part in such an unceremonious manner, because I knew we wouldn’t meet again soon. My phone went off like an alarm on repeat, but I ignored it in order to clear my head of the pancakes I had left behind without giving a second thought to what this hasty retreat would do to our relationship. I sure had my priorities straight, eh?
Massi was right; just the plane ride made visiting Ladakh worth it. We soared over the brown mountain tops, delicately coated with snow as if they were conical cakes sprinkled with icing sugar. A few clouds floated above the jagged peaks, some lonely some huddled together, but further down the valleys they gathered into a thick white blanket that merged with the fading blues of the sky.
The sky had a delicate ombré touch to it – from a darker blue hue on the top, it gradually faded out into white and became one with the carpet of clouds. I was not the only one awed by this scene; passengers crowded around the windows with their cameras and phones in hopes of capturing a scene that could not possibly be captured through physical means – not by pictures nor by words. If you are able to visualize for yourselves the view from my plane window, I recommend you multiply the beauty of it all by a million, and perhaps even then you will have been unsuccessful in picturing the actual scene, just as I am unsuccessful in describing it.
I think I can safely say that the world is more beautiful through plane windows; that in fact a whole new world awaits us above the clouds that are visible to our eyes.
I didn’t want to break out of the trance the plane ride had put me in, but on setting foot in Ladakh my mind wandered back to my phone. I reluctantly took it out and checked the messages. One from my mother caught my eye immediately:
“What were you doing that caused you to almost miss your flight?! The airline was calling me frantically!”
I sighed before I typed out my simple (and completely honest, right?) answer:
“It wasn’t us… It was the pancakes!”
- Massi – Aunt in Hindi