CMB – LON UL506, I am early at check-in but surprised to see the already a long line. Finally get to the desk. Seemingly nice looking guy but now extremely harassed by the family before me travelling to Canada. Each bag easily over 23kg the new limit per bag. So I am the next unfortunate. I have been in Colombo for just five day so he is pleasantly surprised to see my humble 20kg Samsonite and just the camera slung over my shoulder. So I push my luck, inform him of my cold caught in cmb and request for an emergency exit seat as I plan to just sleep. No luck but he does inform me that one of the legroom seats in the middle is available. Despite insight into these seats occupied of families travelling with children I chance my luck. The boarding card with 50E now lies securely in my hand.
I board the aircraft with hope, the hope I carry back to London, the real hope that next month I will fly back to cmb with gainful employment which is long-term currently, but the more immediate hope that I will have a quiet flight, fast asleep. I go find my seat and my pulse rises imperceptibly. The four seats beckon, two occupied by a family and their toddler. The other by a lady and her active two year old child, my seat 50E between them. As soon as I sit the lady with the child asks me how to raise the tv console. Her child meanwhile is pulling my shirt. I am more than dismayed. Keeping a straight face I settle myself down and immediately set about plugging my headphones in. I have no choice but sit hunched forward. The seat belt sign comes on and the captain starts to taxi out to the runaway.
The young stewardess notices my pain and asks me if I want to change seats. I am like a survivor from Irene the hurricane. I ask her if this can happen after taxing off. She responds kindly that we can do it in real time. I jump to my feet and follow her a little more back to an aisle seat next to a window seat.
A young lass sits in the window seat and I am deposited next her. I sigh in relief and set about making myself comfortable before the plane taxi’s off. The lass is in a white kuruta, blue jeans with all kinds of bangles around her hand. She has kicked her slippers off and has pulled her feet under her. Petite she is able to do this even with her seat belt on. I exchange a quick smile with her and ready myself for take off.
Then she starts to sob.
The plane takes off. She really starts to cry. Bitterly. Quite loudly.
Maybe the two babies on both sides of me on 50E would have been better?
This is not the first time this has happened to me. Both times on SriLankan, but I know its no fault of the airline. I panic and calm down again. The seat belt signs are off, I don’t remove mine but loosen it somewhat.
She’s still sobbing. Heart rending sobs. She has turned away from me, her petite body twisted to allow her to press her face hard against the seat away from me.
I quickly check my underarms. No it’s fine, the new Lacoste Sports scent overwhelms even me.
The crew now race around preparing the cabin for the morning meal. When the meal turns up the young lass sits up straight she’s having the omelette, for some sort of solidarity and to break the ice I have the omelette too. Although I would have preferred the kiribath!
After the meal it takes her less than a minute to curl up, start reading some sort of letter and start crying again.
I can’t take it any longer, I say to her:
‘Hey England’s not such a bad place you know, you don’t have to cry’
Her first instinct is to turn to me and deny the crying. Then she sees my smiling face and decides otherwise.
‘I am not going to England, I am going to New York’
‘Oh wow! NY is way better, you really don’t have to cry’
She proceeds to explain to me about how the whole family was down in cmb, and the new boyfriend who she has hooked up at the amuse (A-Museum to the teenagers amongst the reading audience), and how she just doesn’t want to leave behind all of them.
She’s still 19. I am tempted to tell her firmly to find herself another bloody boyfriend and get on with her life in NY. Discretion proves otherwise.
This is when I get a sense of déjà vu. This has happened to me before. The same period too. Another year and another young lass of course.
So a warning to all you frequent flyers in the months of Aug/Sep of any year. Especially from to cmb to the west. Young lasses like the one I met may sit in a seat nearest to you. All after a good holiday and heading back to University. In tears.
So will families returning home with many children.
You choose your poison, rather seat I mean. Always remember to carry a clean large hanky. It helps, either to clear baby slobber or to wipe away tears.