30 January 2006

the window seat

written on flight BA142 from DEL to LHR, 29 Jan 2006

we left Delhi a bit late, just 15 minutes, which for India's transportation standards is practically early. and we are promised to make it up between now and landing. according to the ship-board computer (a la startrek) we are in fact 15 minutes early into London. I have issues with these things, as they often optimistically predict the arrival time and then they turn off before landing, not confirming when we actually land. but that's neither here nor there. is it just me or when the pilot says: we're 20 minutes from landing, please fasten your seatbelts--it always feels like an hour between then and our actual arrival? the perils of not wearing a watch.

after taking off from Delhi we flew over Pakistan, splitting the difference between Kabul to the north and Quetta to the south. fascinating. such beautiful mountains from the air--covered in snow, completely socked in. the northwest frontier we've been so intent on to find Osama--it struck me as I peered out of my window (looking for Osama, never fear. no sign of him, sad to say) that this was kind of a bad place to hole up. it looks cold, remote, and distinctly lacking both food and possible fuel. but he's likely in some underground bunker somewhere, right? (I shift from looking for tell-tale "Osama is here" snow markings to looking for melty places beneath which he might be lurking). very few settlements up here, but some signs of human activity--roads and such, a few patterns that resemble agricultural boundaries...it looks quite beautiful, actually.

the next time I open my window we're cruising near Basu on the Caspian Sea, and over Tbilisi in Georgia. Talk about amazing mountains! Absolutely stunning. I manage to catch portions of the Black Sea (we traverse almost its entire width) and then we hit landfall. something about a shore from the sky is very impressive. why doesn't the sea just continue? how can land appear from such flatness? and so on. we're now over a place called Claj Napoca, which I have neveer heard of, headed for Hungary and points west. It's quite astounding that one can traverse all of this geography and history and culture in only 8 hours. the spaces between Britain and India. western Europe is so utterly utterly small.

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