I’m going to the UK fo the first time. It’s the haj for postcolonials.
We’re somewhere over the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent, an expanse of sharply striped gray and brown mountains themselves in long parallel rows. In my part of the world, it’s credible only on an abstract, intellectual level that mountains are pushed up by the buckling of continental plains colliding; ours are too much carved by water and fully clad in green for it to be clear to the lay observer. Here it’s obvious. Yeah man, those are wrinkles.
A little later and we’re over Afghanistan, on a line halfway between Kabul and Kandahar. The charcoal marks of roads, farms, buildings lie thinly scattered in the valleys like dust in the creases of a bedsheet. This is ulu beyond ulu, quite literally. I’m from a land whose “interior” is an upriver journey. measured in days, not weeks. For people like us – anybody reading this, anybody literate in an international language and with access to the internet, for I’m not rich – the earth has the illusion of being a small place. Here it must retain its vastness.
I’m still haunted by an article I recently read about the American drone usage in Pakistan and another about Obama’s aggressively hands-on policy in selecting specific, yet combined with a shockingly arbitrary policy of designating all males in certain areas as Taliban. The people in these communities live with the threat of death literally hanging over their heads night and day. They are literally being subjected to terrorism. I thought Obama was a good man. I feel like a student who’s been told her favourite teacher was arrested for paedophilia. Or maybe he’s the principal who has been covering up for paedophile teachers.
All those tiny villages like dust blown by the wind into the crevices. After seeing, I can hardly blame them for living in ignorance and superstition. I can’t blame them for hating people who would kill them from the throne of the sky without seeing their faces or speaking a word.
Now, we’re over Turkmenistan and the sun’s over Madagascar.
This is the best long-haul flight I’ve ever been on. It’s 80% empty in economy, so most of us have three or four seats to ourselves. Full-flat reclining! It’s my first time on an Airbus A380, too.
There’s a man who’s been standing up for a long time in the rear area (I’m in the third to last row on the main deck). Very good, I thought – prevent thrombosis and burn a few calories and all that. Then I realised he’s been watching the TV of the girl behind me, which is slightly creepy as they seem to not be together and she hasn’t noticed.
Watching Big Bang Theory season 5. I can’t believe Amy is making Sheldon wash glassware in her lab and he’s not wearing gloves but she is. You’d think both of them would freak out at the idea. Argh now he’s dissecting a human brain WITHOUT GLOVES. Annnnnnd now he’s cut his thumb.
Just realised you can get sound in both ears using a normal headset with those stupid airline two-pin jacks if you pull the plug out halfway. Obviously it’s not real stereo but it’s on both sides.
Cool, we’re over the Caspian Sea. There’s some ridiculously long and thin peninsula sticking out. I wonder what it is? Oh, to be Prince Caspian, and float on the waves…
Now Europe. Amid the farms some tall white pylons with something at the top. Wind turbines?
The A380 descends way too fast for my stomach’s comfort during landing.
In the queue for UK Border. Coming to a new country is like stepping into some weird sci-fi horror where the whole world becomes anomalous. I’m scared.