Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Desert Island Dishdash (1)

Taking to the skies again, I’m transported on the wings of a green and silver Cathay bird in the direction of Manila – an unlikely bearing to take from its Hong Kong eyrie, given that my ultimate destination is the desert island Kingdom known as Ba-ha-rain.

[For a glimpse of the place, click here: ba-ha-rain.jpg]

Landing on the provincial airstrip that passes for an international transportation hub in this volatile Wild East city, I am ushered with surprising efficiency to the bizclass lounge to be reunited with the creamy cheese pimiento sandwiches I remember from the days, in the early nineties of the last century, when I visited The Philippines regularly.

And there are other flashbacks, too. At almost the same instant my butt brushes the tatty, faux-leather sofa, a woman approaches me and offers a massage. No, not right there in front of the rest of the bizclass elite, but presumably in some near-distant chamber at the end of a dark and snaking corridor. That’s usually where it happens, anyway. I wave her away politely and return to my sandwich. The waiting staff are wonderfully willing, and soon an appropriately home pour strength gin and tonic is placed carefully to one side of the sandwich plate.

Christ! [Urgent note to self: reset reflex exclamation to Bismillah! or suchlike.] I realise that my passport and ticket were taken by the girl-with-the-walkie-talkie who brought me here. That’s right: the one I’d never met before, didn’t take much notice of when I did, and would now have little chance of picking out in any identity parade. I recall her muttering something like “Fetch boarding pass”, but I’m suddenly panicking. What if…? Thank God for Gilbey’s gin to quell the unease. [Will stick to the Christian moniker for the Almighty on this occasion, for reasons that will be obvious.]

As I continue to wait, nervously, the words: “You do not seem to have the correct/any – delete as appropriate – travel documentation, Sir” swimming through the currents of my mind, a group of thuggish men wearing Raybans and airport identification tags sweeps suddenly into the lounge. The surly officers from the Ministry of Dark Glasses bark aggressively, instilling fear among the hapless servants. Within moments, the bizclass buffet is substantially raided and their plates piled high with snacks, before they disappear off into a nearby canteen to gorge themselves on my sandwiches, while watching football. Some things, I say to myself, will never change.

A big sigh as the girl-with-the-walkie-talkie reappears with passport, eticket and boarding pass all intact. Bismillah! Time for another Gilbey’s, in celebration. I raise my glass and silently curse the ruffian marauders from the MoDG.

The flight is called and I move through the gate to board Gulf Air 155 to the Kingdom of Ba-ha-rain. The alphanumeric “1H” stamped on my boarding pass has a nice ring to it, but the first real sensation I experience upon entering what was, before such things became unaffordable, a first class cabin is the smell of the chemical toilet, situated right in front of my seat. This is, then, a very old Airbus indeed. Bismillah! “You ken put your stuff up zere,” instructs Julia – Yulia? – my Russian stewardess. Her accent is strikingly similar to that of Frau Bl├╝cher, a character from the Mel Brooks film Young Frankenstein. And so rather than offer me a glass of champagne I expect her, any moment, to say: “Vould you like a glass of varm milk…? Ovaltine…?” But she does neither, and instead I have a choice of juice or water. I take the latter, fooling myself that it will somehow help counterbalance the 800 units of alcohol I’ve imbibed since that first Bloody Mary in the Cathay lounge at eight o’clock this morning.

Out of nowhere, the Arabic writing that is scrawled liberally across the TV monitors, the illuminated lavatory signs and pretty much everywhere else in the cabin sends a somewhat startling subliminal message sparking along the strands of the few remaining neurotransmitters in my brain: There’s a possibility, old son, that this flight is going to be dry… But my sudden horror at the thought is assuaged as Maltese Karl, who introduces himself as my ‘chef’ for the flight, offers me the drinks list which, upon scrutiny, reveals itself to contain a range of satisfyingly New World wines.

A second Midnight Express moment of the day then manifests itself, quite suddenly. “Mr. Austin?” says the voice of the man who has appeared silently by my side. Were my thoughts back there in the bizclass lounge somehow picked up on some secret MoDG monitoring equipment? I look up in trepidation. “I’m sorry to tell you that we haven’t yet received your luggage from Cathay,” he continues, to an expression that is a mixture of dejection and relief. “It’s not likely to make the flight.”

Great, I think.

posted by Kirk at 1:44 am  

1 Comment »

  1. ???????!

    Comment by GDJared — November 5, 2008 @ 7:55 pm

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