On my way to work, just south the memory lane I bumped into a girl coming from the opposite direction. We both looked startled by this unexpected collision, ‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking straight’ she apologized sheepishly. Feeling a bit awkward, I apologized on my part and explained how I was more focused on reading a text on my cell phone. Intrigued by the title of the book she was holding in her hands, I asked if she was a student. ‘Yes, yes I am… I’m in the process of completing my masters in Philosophy.’ Impressive, I thought.
I started walking towards the coffee shop just across the road and she followed. Hmm, I guess she likes the coffee from the same cafe. We both ordered mocha latte and settled ourselves on a small round table with two chairs. Maybe she wants to stick around a bit with me, I thought to myself sipping the hot coffee. ‘I love their coffee and the cosy atmosphere of this place.’ What a coincidence, I murmured.
‘So what do you do?’ she asked looking interested in my life. It took few seconds to analyse my life and ‘things I do’ before replying, ‘you know, I once studied philosophy too.’ ‘She seemed more interested and started asking questions related to the future of this subject in terms of career and has it helped me in anyway at all. I explained her how I never pursued this subject professionally and can’t seem to think of any classmates too. A hint of disappointment flashed in her eyes, ‘so it’s not worth the effort then, is it? Well, truth be told, I only opted for this subject as I have always been fascinated by philosophical inquiries and debates.’
Somehow, her words sounded familiar. She seemed five or six years younger than me, full of energy and determination to make things work in her life. Interrupting my chain of thoughts, she asked, ‘so… tell me more, what have you done after completing the degree?’ This time she sounded more of a friend than a stranger. ‘Well, nothing much. I have been working in some media organisations, got married settled down in another country and still struggling in my own way.’ ‘That sounds great; looks like you did get what you aimed for’. ‘I am not so sure about it’, I muttered. She interrupted, ‘If you see it through my eyes, I think you have accomplished what I or anybody in my age would wish for. Aren’t you happy with your life?
Is it true that I am not happy with my life? I looked at her and a sense of familiarity hit me just then. She was the five years younger version of me. Remembering now, I was in her position once, sitting in that exact same spot sipping my coffee I once jotted the things I would want to have in next couple of years. I titled it as my ‘grand five years plan’. So … I actually should be happy having accomplished what I had set five years ago but too engaged in writing another list of things to achieve in coming years. How very ungrateful of me!
While planning an exotic destination to visit during vacation period we all spend time considering the airline to invest money and faith in. The notion of flying with an airline with a proven track of crashing once in a while does sound not only foolish but border line insane. It makes me wonder why some airlines are still in business and most of all why do people prefer them for travelling? In their defense there are reasons such as cheap rates, direct flights and more luggage allowance.
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I find the notion of flying on a plane very uncomfortable. Anything on the road with wheels on sounds good to me. So this year in January when we had to make the big decision of choosing a reliable airline offering good rates, we had to choose between direct or an indirect flight. Travelling during peak seasons costs more than off season tickets so we had to carefully select the airline for travelling. Our travel agent suggested us to board a direct flight to Lahore, Pakistan as it takes around 16 hours and chances of losing luggage during indirect flights are higher than the direct flights.
So what do you get when you want, a) A direct flight to Pakistan, b) That too in low rates? It’s always PIA (Pakistan International Airlines). If it was solely upon us with no outside interference I would have preferred cancelling the trip altogether. I mean why would I want to risk our lives by travelling in an airline which has always been under scrutiny by media for its poor maintenance. Only recently a PIA plane en route to Dubai via Lahore caught fire soon after taking off. Lucky for the 50 something souls trapped inside the pilot immediately landed safely. Few weeks back a PIA pilot was arrested and accused of being drunk at Leeds Bradford International Airport in Britain just before his flight. Imagine how comfortable I would be while travelling in an airline with a bad repute when I am already a self proclaimed aviophobic.
Having spent a good amount of cash in buying air tickets we were left with no choice but to board the plane and proceed with our journey. Surprisingly my over all experience with PIA turned out to be good (At least I made it back in Toronto alive).
Great luggage allowance:
The luggage allowance that PIA offers is great, each passenger is allowed to carry 2 bags of 28 kgs along with an additional 7kgs for hand luggage. So while I was packing my bags I stuffed some extra gifts and clothing just to relish the benefit and even then I had few kgs left. PIA’s luggage allowance is an appealing factor which is why many Pakistanis prefer to travel in it unlike other airlines.
Rarely, one can feel comfortable in a plane during those long boring flights. In terms of seating, I had a very bad experience with PIA. The seats were very congested and some guy at the back took off his smelly shoes right after getting in the plane… yeah I lost my sleep and peace for good 16 hours.
Food and service:
As the entertainment system in most part of the plane was dysfunctional, they turned on cool blue lights with a starry sky effect, which was our cue to go off to sleep. Air hostesses were a seldom sight. So, in case somebody needed a drink while the attendant wasn’t in sight, they had to get it themselves as the little call button wasn’t very effective.
We were served food an hour after take off from Toronto, but the serving was ridiculously small, making me want to call my favourite pizza delivery from 30,000 ft in the air. I remember feeling that this could never satisfy my hunger but boy was I wrong, as the tiny substitute of a meal packed quite a punch. There is something about the way they prepare it which makes the food so heavy.
Based on my recent experience I can confidently say that I have overcome the fear of flying in PIA and can recommend it to others. It is obviously not a fancy airline to travel in, however, with support from the government and responsible authorities this company has the chance of drastically improving its services and can very well attract more people.
Currently PIA flights are operating once in a week every Tuesday from Toronto Pearson Airport.
For quite sometime we have been noticing a different community trying to settle around us. At first it seemed too mundane to consider. They used to exist outside our houses, minding their own business. Ruled by a monarch, the workers carried out regular chores to serve their small community.
There were days when we would notice one or two of them inside our house and with open arms we greeted them. We thought they were facing survival issues, so we let them inside our house and allowed them to roam freely anywhere they pleased.
From one or two they gradually began to increase in numbers. As soon as they entered our dwelling they seemed less charged lacking their signature buzz. Within 24 hours they would die so we had to collect their bodies and silently dump them. Knowing more will foolishly follow their footsteps and the cycle will go on. Feeling sorry for them we assisted them to fly back to their secret nest but every now and then they would march back in our house claiming what was never theirs in the first place.
It seems like history does repeat itself in this case we were the Red Indians. Their attitude began to change, more restless, aggressive and greedy. They had begun to claim our territory thus discouraging our involvement at every level. We were forced to turn a blind eye and accept them as one of us sharing our food and our land. Until one day one of our members was attacked by them. It did seem as a defense mechanism but alarming enough for us to realise that we are losing our control and our sovereignty is under attack.
We began to hunt them whenever we could. It was a war. Both parties now realised there were no common grounds for negotiation. Because our motto has always been “no negotiation with terrorists.”
The attacks had affected our mobility. We avoided the day time and carried our chores in the darkness of night. Like thieves we would sneak out of our house to fulfill our chores. On the seventh day of previous attack, the same member of our community was attacked by them. This time the injuries were much more severe. All hell broke lose!
There were reports of several more attacks from around our community. Innocent families especially women and children were attacked. Outdoor parties and picnics were disturbed, their food robbed and people were left bruised and in dire need of medical attention. Friendly protests faced similar fate. Seemed as if there is nothing much we can do.
Ever since the recent attack we have been forced to confine ourselves behind the locked doors in a room. Most part of our house has been claimed by terrorists. We are being dictated and held hostages by fifty or so aggressive militants. Clad in yellow jackets and armed with poisonous venom they don’t fear death.
Instead they have forced our men and women to cover up from head to toe. At no cost can we afford to continue our casual lifestyle of singing and dancing. The use of disco lights or lights at all is prohibited as it makes them more aggressive.
Our call for outside help only made matters worse. A team was sent to eliminate these pests but due to the extensive use of chemical weapons we have suffered a serious blow.
Having lost their nest, a large amount of these yellow jackets has settled in our house. Looking back we have realised how our innocence and lack of awareness has cost us our peace. Education and raising awareness is the key to eliminate the misunderstanding that yellow jackets are wasps and not useful bees. They are mindless extremists which feed on meat and fruits and are considered pests. Under no circumstances must one let them feel welcome.