by Monica Gokaldas
The tale of The Elephant and the Ant might not be the most popular one but it sure came to my mind during the flight from Dubai to Hongkong. A small little creature of God became mighty enough to force all passengers on the flight to disembark from the flight that they boarded within few tens of minutes. Here’s how the story goes.
I was waiting at the Business Class Lounge at the airport along with my family. The announcement came in a bit early, at 9.15 am as a final call for the passengers bound for EK 380 to proceed towards the boarding gate. We were lounging peacefully expecting to proceed towards the boarding gate at 9.30am thus the announcement startled us. However, the haste went to a waste as our boarding gate was unmanned at the time. In a while, as the staff emerged, they weren’t really looking forward to boarding the passengers. Upon questioning they politely told us to wait for about 10 minutes.
Needless to add that given the comfort of the lounge, everyone retired back to the couches closer to the gate. Little did we all know that the promised 10 minutes would extend to 70 minutes. Phew! Finally we commenced boarding from 10.30 onwards. Excitement followed by delay was soon overcome by further delay as after having settled down and having sipped on the welcome drink in the business class we spotted a bird flying from nowhere. No sooner had that happened one could see the crew members, the service staff running towards the front cabin on the upper deck.
Hilarious as it sounds, were the passengers at witnessing these grown ups holding their weapons of assault ( funnily enough those were mere blankets and fabrics) attempting to chase or trap a cheeky little bird. It had to be arrested. It had boarded the flight illegally! It was without a so called legal document of the world of humans called a passport. It hadn’t obtained a visa permit to visit Hongkong! It hadn’t even cleared through a physical security check. What an audacious behavior it displayed.
This little and often ignored creature had for once decided to make headline news and gain significance. And that it managed pretty well as the efforts of the staff at apprehending this illegal passenger on board failed. She hid! ( by now I had developed enough bond with her to not address her as it).Coming from nowhere, going to a nowhere this chirpy terrorist bird found a hideous pleasure giving them all a run. Well, I guess they assumed it had escaped them and made her way out in the fresh air rather than choosing to breathe the air exhaled by us.
By now, a half of an hour had passed since everyone had made themselves comfortable when to their utter surprise the bird was sighted flying backwards in full speed. Her flight within the cabin was amusing us so much that for a few moments we all forgot our ICE entertainment and gained interest in something which was a common scene when not inside an airplane. The chase had begun once again and the frantic run that we witnessed was quite a scene as the crew members quickly barred off the Business and First Class area by drawing in the curtains and plugging them securely at both the right and left ends .
This tiny winged entertainer in all its might had terrorized the Emirates staff. “Oh! What a winged pleasure it must have gained”, thought I. But the very next minute I started sympathizing with her for she had unknowingly, in her simple innocence entered a forbidden enemy territory. The humans who rarely appeared friendly to her kind and creed were usually very big enemies. Ahem! Some of them have a pretense of being kind and caring , they trap them and keep them as ‘pets’ too. Some of them being part of bigger organizations claim to protect, conserve and upkeep their kind and creed in sanctuaries and parks after being the cause of bringing them steps closer to a downfall in their numbers. And now! Now here they were, trying to give a chase to one of them who couldn’t be accommodated among the large numbers who wanted to travel to Hongkong.
Yeah! Yeah! We claim security measures. We claim hygiene. We claim comfort. We can go on and on about our claims but the fact remains we couldn’t have this unwelcome guest on board. We joked about her not having a passport. We joked about it not taking the effort to fly herself till Hongkong thus choosing to board the Emirates plane. We laughed at the whole scenario and disembarked the plane thus boarding another one totaling up the delay to nearly six hours and several failed attempts at catching hold of the little visitor.
We were exhausted and wanted to shut off our eyes the minute we had re boarded our airplane . I wondered how terrified and tired the bird would have been. Perching on trees being its nature, how harsh would it have been on her to be escaping into the tiny dockets of space it would have discovered under the seats or maybe inside the folds and curves in unimaginable places. Did she get injured? Did it find food in the pantry? Were her wings intact?There was an influx of many such questions running through like a film in the camera of my mind. I was attempting to visualize the various scenarios resulting from the traumatic hide and seek game that was played around this dainty being whom I had started sympathizing with.
Unbeknownst to this invader, she had now found a place of love within a somewhat curled up, rolled up piece of feeling that lay in my heart. Yes, the heart: an abode of unconditional love. But what did I do to express my love. I harshly walked away and out like any other passenger but I prayed for her. I prayed for her escape. I prayed for her safety. I prayed for her to meet her fellows out there : maybe her mate or her siblings or her children. I enquired the air hostesses about the bird if she survived, if she was caught and released. The response that left me stunned was , “I don’t know ma’am but you don’t worry, this is not the same plane”. I silently forgave her as she was simply performing her duty to her best. The professional attitude of Emirates is par excellence and it left no doubt at that even once.
It was all about us humans, has been the case always since we humans became insensitive in our run for professionalism. The fault lay not in the airport nor in the airplane. The fault lay not with the staff and attendants nor with the crew on board. The fault, my dear readers is in our attitudes of the modern day world. We deem ourselves most significant as compared to other creatures who often pay a heavy price for our modernized, educated behavior.
Disclaimer: the views expressed above are in no way meant to harm any individuals or airliners but to bring awareness of the lack of a simplistic holistic human trait in today’s world.