Head In The Clouds

I’ve been acting a little strange today – even by my own standards. I could probably attribute much of it to my brother’s presence, but some of it is different from what he usually provokes in me. We’ve had the usual late-night chats, the endless questions (on my part), the vague ‘you have much to learn, grasshopper’ answers (on his part). And yes, he does call me ‘grasshopper’. Occasionally.

I’ll probably spread all the stuff we talked about over the next few posts (at least, I have good intentions to), but today is just about the aftermath of the first 48 hours. Suddenly, I’m seeing things differently. Or rather seeing them afresh.

When we dropped him off at the airport this evening, there was this holy mess of a traffic jam on the way.  We’d left late (as usual) and it was really a case of driving all the way simply because we were stuck on the road in that direction. We didn’t think we’d make it in time for the flight (although we did with like 5 mins to spare).

Under normal circumstances I’d probably have been panicking a little, or at least highly irritated that we didn’t take into account the possibility of traffic and all that. Today, I sat back and just enjoyed the view. And what a view it was!

A faint drizzle and a crisp, stinging breeze. Freshly washed grass and tumble-dried sunshine. A pale blue sky hung out to dry and the smell of life shaking itself awake. It was surreal.

I’ve always thought the scenery when driving towards the airport is about as close to picture perfect as you can get. The open expanse of heavens, the comparatively thin line of land barely defining the horizon and the colours!

When we’re going to pick someone up from an afternoon flight, the sky is the purest, crispest blue you’ve ever seen. The kind of blue that’s thick and heavy, as if you could reach up and drag a finger through it, leaving a mark like you would in a bowl of fresh cream. And if you could lick it, I’m sure it would taste of fresh blueberries.

If it’s an evening drive (like today’s) then it’s a treat of reds, pinks, oranges and purples. Most times, the drive starts off with a normal, evening lilac-y blue and those colossal white clouds lumbering along. And then just as you’re rounding a corner or blinking from having the sun glare right in your eyes, the new colours seem to appear out of nowhere, like they’ve been hiding and just waiting for that perfect moment to jump out and yell “Surprise!”

I don’t like to think of myself as a romantic, but evenings like these could possibly convince me of the benefit of indulging in a little soppiness now and then.

But the night flights are the best. I can remember them from years ago. Peering out the window on those seemingly endless drives sitting on the lap of some family member, surrounded by warm bodies and too-loud voices trying to disguise the pain of separation.

Between the last city lights and the first airport ones, there was a long stretch of blank. (It’s shorter now, but thankfully still there). No horizon, barely any road…just a steady, deep blue-black and the thrum of the car coming up through the body of whoever it was that I was sitting against.

If I was lucky, there would a clear sky and with just a little imagination, I would be sitting in a cocoon and rolling along under a glittering, sparkling spread of net. The moon would be racing along – either just ahead or just behind – never catching up or never letting us catch up with it.

And then there were the stars; so many of them, they made me dizzy. I can’t seem to see that many any more, even on a clear night. But then it’s been a long time since we drove to the airport after dark. I’d often wonder if there was some other creature on one of those shining dots sitting at her window or driving through her town and looking up at the stars in her sky. And sometimes, when no one was looking, I’d give her a little wave and hope she was doing the same. I guess I believed in telepathy even before I knew what it was called. 🙂

Looking back, I’m grateful I had the childhood I did. How many kids today will be able to have such memories? Or maybe this is the cycle every adult goes through – thinking that their childhood was more innocent, more sincere, more child-like than that of the current generation.

Either way, I like to think I was luckier than most.

That too perfect feeling I wrote about before? It’s not going away, it’s just expanding to fill out more and more of my view. And it’s highly distracting too. I can’t seem to concentrate on anything without getting carried away by some detail or another. A colour, a shape, a smell, and sometimes the whole picture, seems sharply chiseled out and clamouring for me to just notice it. More often then not, I end up with a goofy grin on my face and that results in worrying looks from my Mum.

I’m wondering if I should start giving myself worrying looks too…

Bint Ali

A city that outdistances man’s walking powers is a trap for man. 
– Arnold Toynbee, historian (1889-1975)


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