If an odd mixture of excitement and fear was what had marked my maiden flight from New Delhi to Goa many years ago, the very thought of flying now evokes a heightened sense of fear. But truth be told, my confidence in travelling by air suffered a serious setback well before ‘terror in the skies’ became news. In October 1993, the ear-piercing noise (no cotton wool was supplied) of an IAF transport plane that took us from Palam to Hyndon Air Force Station, and then to Ambala and finally, to the air strip at Thoise, on the banks of the river Shyok introduced me to a different kind of air-fear.
We were to be airlifted from the base camp to the Siachen Glacier by an IAF helicopter, a welcome choice over the deafening AN-32 transport plane. Luckily, there was heavenly sunshine (despite freezing temperatures), and the sight of the glacier was a feast to the eyes. Leh is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
My faith in air travel was regained during my subsequent flights to Ahmedabad, Varodara, Goa and Nedumbasseri.
So living as we do in these ‘interesting times’ do we, if we can help it, fly or travel by another mode of transport? This is a philosophical dilemma for me.
Apart from a bunch of keys in my shirt pocket, the only ‘weapon that I usually carry in my handbag is a pair of scissors for pruning my moustache in my shaving kit. The security personnel at airports confiscate this — only to return it to me after I reach my destination. But I’ve decided not to carry the scissors any more. And no hair oil either. With the scare of security coupled with the fear of flying, I’d rather let my facial hair be neglected for a while.