Suspended in mid-air, I hear humans murmuring – whiling away the time on this long haul flight. Their voices are drowned by the noise of the engine that’s powering this huge bird through the air. We float high above the carpet of clouds – it looks as if a judge has laid out his wig to be powdered – so even are the ripples. The odd cough, the occasional question posed by a child to a parent – the plane is relatively calm and quite empty. The light through the oval window is sharp and bright – I can stretch my legs across the two seats next to me and lean back to read. My previously bunged up sinuses have miraculously begun to clear – already my body anticipates a drier temperature.
The book is engrossing (On Green Dolphin Street, Sebastian Faulks) – the yellow crescent that flits on the page in front of me has now turned golden – we are flying all too quickly into a sunset. The map indicates we are heading towards Teheran – we’ve passed Milan, Istanbul, Tibilisi, Varna, Tabriz and are now hovering above Qazvin near Lake Namak. If namak is salt in Pharisee as it is in Hindi/Urdu, that was Iran’s Salt Lake City.
I sit up and close my book, curious to look outside. At 39,000 feet, it feels as if I’m the top decoration on a Faberge egg. I can see the horizon in the middle of the sphere around me – it is a ring of shimmering crimson. And with the puffs of snow below – the fantasy is complete.
I read with the overhead light on – it isn’t angled the right direction for prostrate travel. Not quite business class then. The captain gushes about the delightful temperatures that await us in Chennai – a sublime 22 degrees. At half past midnight, the jewelled lights of the city offer a grand welcome – I can even spy some trees in the darkness as we skirt the runway with a minor judder.
Within an hour I’m home and I embrace the seamlessness of it all.