On Saturday evening, nearly 12 hours after the Air India Express plane crashed at Mangalore, airhostess Sujata Survase’s neighbours were praying their ‘Sonu’ was lying unconscious far from the crash site or hanging from a tree branch in the valley.
Survase was one of the crew members on the flight. “About 120 bodies have been recovered. But her body has not been found,” a neighbour D.S. Bagde said minutes after speaking to her family. “We are praying for a miracle.”
The 29-year-old Andheri resident got her dream job as an airhostess three-and-a-half years ago. Survase was transferred from Kochi to Mangalore in 2009.
The third of four siblings and the only daughter of her parents, Survase graduated in commerce from Bhavan’s College, Andheri, via correspondence. She worked for a few years in a call centre before bagging the airline job.
“Her parents initially resisted, but she was determined to become an airhostess,” Survase’s close friend, Lakshmi Bagde, said as she looked through photographs of their picnic at Priyadarshini Park a few years ago.
“She faced many difficulties before she could make it. I remember how she was very upset on finding out that her haemoglobin levels were very low. But she eventually made it on her own.”
Neighbours said Survase’s domestic help in Mangalore called the family and told them about the crash.
“We immediately tried calling Sujata but her phone was switched off,” said Divya, another neighbour.
At 8 am, Survase’s parents and two brothers — the third brother is in London — left for Mangalore. Known to be “mom’s best friend”, Survase was always with her mother and never stepped out of home when she came for holidays.
“They were so close she would tell her mother even if a boy simply stared at her. Last year, she gifted her mother two gold bangles,” Lakshmi said.