Sunday, 14 August 2011
Sunday, 5 June 2011
Friday, 6 May 2011
The day began like any other, with me resisting the impulse to smash my alarm clock into a million bits, roll over and forget that I’m an employee with Emirates Airline. The Almighty planned otherwise, and so I found myself in Briefing with thirteen other Venice virgins.
Lets cut straight to the destination as the flight was like any other; a zillion people, all shapes, sizes and color, clamoring for more food, more wine, and flooding our toilets!
We were told that the weather would be smooth and sunny. Be warned, all you frequent flyers; never believe the Captain’s Passenger Announcement, especially the smooth and sunny ones.
So we drove through a few winding lanes, a couple of cornfields, some canals with gondoliers gently bobbing along and reached the hotel. Plans were made very quickly at check in, namely, what time to meet downstairs, how many umbrellas we had between us and where we would go. We didn’t arrive at any conclusion for the last one.
That’s the quickest change into civilian clothes I’ve ever made. A shower be damned! I had just one very small umbrella with me…supposed designer wear from Nagoya in Japan, and shockingly expensive. Doesn’t really protect one from much except perhaps an occasional spray of water from a toy pistol. Perhaps the designer featured in Gulliver’s Travels.
And so armed with two crew umbrellas (my Lilliputian included), two very large hotel umbrellas and a map, eleven of us set out to explore the wonders of Venice.
We had no clue what the name of the town was. All we knew was that if we rode the number 4 bus it would take us to where the food and wine was. (That’s right, we’re all passengers at the end of the day).
By now it was pouring cats and dogs. (And raindrops…many, many raindrops). We found ourselves in a sudden colorful throng of tourists, all winding their way through narrow paths along the Canal Grande. We followed them and then the Almighty said, “Let there be raincoats”! One of the stalls selling masks, trinkets and etceteras, also sold bright red poncho like raincoats.
Our first stop was at a quaint little inn to eat the famous Italian pizza. Shared wine, gossip, plans for the next day and once again, us happy campers set forth to make new discoveries. The Bridge of Sighs, Murano glass factory, a couple of cathedrals and several cobbled lanes replete with colorful shops. Some of the houses are still built on plinths over the canal and each house has its own private boat. How quaint!
We made our way back to the hotel, minds and souls enriched with the sights and sounds of lovely Venice, and bodies trembling with fatigue. We still had another day to go exploring Italy.
The next morning I was startled awake by the phone ringing right in my ear, reawakening that alarm clock aggression. Turned out it was my Captain calling from Reception to enquire whether I was ready. Ready? Ready?? Oh my God, ready! I’d forgotten I’d made plans the previous evening to go to Verona, along with the flight deck and a couple of other crew. Well, once again shower be damned. Did manage to run a brush and some paste through my teeth and squeezed in some potty time as well! Pardon the gory details.
And so we set off, this time armed with umbrellas, red ponchos and many maps. The day was bright and sunny.
Verona is one of the old cities in Italy and also home to the romantic legend of Romeo and Juliet. At least, we thought it was a legend. Figures out, those two lovebirds really did exist.
The train ride to Verona took close to two hours, but was very enjoyable. Invigorating countryside; and a much-needed breath of fresh air after muggy Dubai.
On arrival at the station we were torn between joining an organized tour, and exploring the city ourselves. The latter won and we hopped a bus to the closest tourist point. Turned out to be quite a popular spot as it housed the famous Opera Arena, the Tomb of Juliette and the House of Juliette as well. We skipped the Arena. Weren’t too impressed by it. A Colloseum wannabe, a modern day ruin.
A few gelatos later (Italian ice cream is the best. Calories shouldn’t be counted whilst in Italy) we set forth to Juliette’s tomb. Quiet, dank and sodden with musings from the past, one can actually feel the presence of those ancient Souls that may have sat beside a now dried up fountain or trod down a cobbled garden path. I loved it. Wish I could turn the clock back.
Our next stop was lunch at a wayside café on wheels. A few quick bites at Italian kebab and we were off. This time to Juliette’s house. With the flight deck navigating (and examining the map upside down most times) we lost our way off course. But this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We got to see more of the city and its daily life.
Finally! La Casa Di Giulietta. The House of Juliette. More like a shrine. Hordes of tourists (most of them Italian) thronged the courtyard, posing beside the life-size statue of Juliette and grabbing a breast. A modern day myth; that holding her breast brings romantic luck. I avoided the breasts though; don’t know where people may have put their hands before groping a breast!
The house was interesting enough, many floors, rooms and some very Spartan pieces of furniture. Uncomfortable. Severe. And off course, the famous balcony. Quite picturesque. Although, every room had a balcony, and our captain brought up a valid question: how do we know it wasn’t one of the other balconies? Well, we just have to accept what historians have written and yes, that particular balcony was a little closer to the ground than the others. Plus I really can’t picture Romeo climbing any great heights in those awful tight leggings that they seemed to wear in that period. So there!
I forgot to mention the Bubblegum wall that adorns the entrance to the house. Two walls flank the big iron gates, covered with real-time bubblegum and band-aid graffiti. I was unfortunate enough to rest my self against one of these walls on our way out and had a brief feeling of static around my head. More like Stick-it! One of the vigilant crew realized what it was and warned me. Tourists sure do find innovative ways to show their devotion. Well, alls fair, I guess, in Love and Wall!
Our adventure ended with another much-needed gelato, an interesting browze through the colorful stalls selling Venetian masks and whatnots (I bought one of the masks, couldn’t afford the whatnot) and thence to the train station.
Our journey home was no less adventurous. Having missed several trains whilst trying to figure out how to work the self ticket kiosks, we finally found ourselves on the wrong platform, raced down, and then up two flights of stairs (worked off all those gelato and kebab calories), jumped on the train just pulling out of the station without checking whether it was the right train. All we knew was that it moved in the general direction of Venice Maestrae , which is where we were supposed to go.
We managed to get a compartment to ourselves except for one other Nigerian traveling home from work. We shared interesting stories with him, gained an insight about the economy of Italy, the reasons for why we all leave our beloved homes to seek our fortune elsewhere, and discovered that we all had something in common; finding Dubai expensive! It was an interesting end to our adventurous day, what with the Nigerian taking a much calculated guess at our nationalities. He figured out that Danielle was Kenyan (she’s actually from the Seychelles), Charol was Hawaiian (she’s from the Philippines), that I was Brazilian or Latin American (hmmmm). Omar drew a blank (he’s a local from Dubai) and off course he couldn’t go wrong with Iain, whose strong Australian accent was a dead giveaway.
Brazilian. Brazindian. I quite like the sound of that.
THROUGH MY EYES…
( Descriptive narrative focusing on central character)
I sit still, staring into the darkness. Something big is about to happen. Big and dangerous.
The darkness lifts. I can see the shapes and shadows of trees, rocky terrain. Something brushes against my arm. I bite down on my terror, remembering where I am. To draw attention to myself now is asking for trouble.
Thud. Thud. Thud. That infernal sound! Will it never cease? I clap my palms to my ears and shut my eyes.
The sudden sound of silence is deafening. I look up; ready to bolt if I didn’t like what I see. Trouble be damned!
Nothing stirs. I let out my breath with a gasp and instantly realize my error. Someone, or worse, something, shrieks. A blood curdling sound that chills my marrow.
Just as I decide to gather up my trembling limbs and make a run for it, the sun reaches its pinnacle. Like a spotlight in a prison breakout, it hovers above me, seeking. I quiver, wipe the sweaty beads of fear off my forehead, and hunker down. My courage fails.
It is a glorious sight. The sun in all its splendor reveals a riot of colors, colors that, I rub my eyes in disbelief, look like living creatures gathered at the bottom of a massive rock. Weak with the strong; prey with predator. Two legged and four; they gather in silent submission. Sacrifice? Or homage? It is definitely a ritual of some sort. I can still run. All eyes are on that rock. And yet, the perverse in me prompts me to stay. To witness the magnificent? Or the gory?
The shriek again, followed by an eerie chattering, which slowly turns into a clucking chant of some sort. I strain to see where this sound comes from. And finally I see Him. Or Her. Or It!
A squat hairy creature wearing a grass skirt and several beaded amulets around its neck. It limps; one hand clutches a crooked cane, the other a bundle of wriggling rags close to its chest.
As it slowly weaves through the crowd with that curious shuffling gait towards the rock, the other creatures sway and bow, thumping their feet. A unified rhythm.
I watch with bated breath, as the creature makes its way up the rock followed by two others. Feline grace. A flash of burnished gold as the ragged bundle is slowly opened for all below to see. Pulsating silence.
And then, the air is rent by roars of triumph, screams of adoration. A feeling of camaraderie washes over me as I witness the birth of Glory, of Power. The birth of a King.
As I crouch there in my cramped space of excitement, my eyes wander to the distant hills. My blood freezes. Glittering eyes watch us; they watch the Rock. Eyes filled with fear. And bloodlust hate.
I shiver. This isn’t finished.
I stay on to watch the second act of The Lion King. At the famed Lyceum Theatre, London.
Your personal profile is interesting, entertaining and nicely written. It’s always helpful to learn where students’ experiences lie – I feel that no experience is wasted on a writer. You evidently don’t allow geographical or cultural parameters to hold you back and the landscapes in your memory bank will be invaluable as a writer.
You seem to have control of the way in which you get words down on paper and are I like your writing style.
This course is the ideal place to flex your writing muscles. You need not show your work to anybody but your tutor and so can experiment with any type of writing that takes your fancy. This is very liberating. You can be in Scunthorpe, Bermuda or on Mars. That’s the freedom that fiction offers. You can write historical, contemporary, comedy, sci-fi, fantasy, romance… The choice is yours.
This is an interesting cameo! You’ve created a character in a particular in time – caught in thrall by what is being acted out on the stage. The segue between reality and imagination is good. You’ve written with vitality and visual impact.
This is a good assignment, Neisha, and I look forward to working with you on this course. I hope my comments are helpful.
Family Matters (Hale, March 08)
Uphill All the Way (Transita, 978-1905175000)
A Place to Call Home (Magna, 978-1842625446)
Jambo! -A Slice of Life with Emirates
It’s amazing how an indefinite state of injured inertia can reinforce my aversion to a life in the Sky. A reminder in case I’d forgotten.
So there I sat, amidst bits and pieces of half ironed uniform, and disarrayed luggage. Two whole months and a half later, casting forlorn looks at my left wrist, and willing myself to complete preparations for the following morning’s flight to Nairobi.
I’d like to share with my readers that the word “Morning” chills my blood, and that my long stay on ground had further heightened my “vampirish” existence.
Dawn broke, all too soon. I rushed through those long forgotten rituals of “hair”, “make-up”, and last minute packing.
A little dazed, and still half-asleep, I found myself on the Crew bus and then at the Emirates Headquarters, waiting for the sign-in gates to open. The latter being a bit of a shock for me, as I have from my very first day in Emirates, raced against the Clock to make it on Time. For anything work related. And yet, here I was, early and waiting! Good start.
My day improved when I walked into Briefing room #36 and found that a good friend, Jas, was operating on the same flight. Exclaimed greetings and the latest gossip exchanged, and it was back to the familiar “Briefing” grind.
Human nature is so adaptable. My long stint on ground had reconnected me with a normal life (semblance of) sans mundane routine, and I was afraid that I’d forget how to “be” crew, or that I wouldn’t be able to readjust to a military life in the Skies again.
My fears abated as the Briefing proceeded, and it hit me that you couldn’t really forget what you’ve done for the past five years (albeit under protest.). I was back in crew mode.
Let me outline a description of how a typical Briefing unfolds.
The Purser, who heads the entire team of crew on that particular flight opens the introductions with his/her name, country of origin and language/languages spoken. This runs around the table in a horseshoe manner and helps to better acquaint all the crew with each other. Could you for example imagine, in a catastrophic situation saying something like, “yoo hoo honey, err, excuse me sweetie, could u grab a Halon and help extinguish the fire in my hair?”
And so, till date, I’ve been Neisha from India, who speaks only English fluently (how unfortunate), but with an Indian accent!
After a quick download of technical flight details comes the one phase of a Briefing that every crew regardless of experience and knowledge, loathes. Safe Talk! This is a Safety/Security/First-Aid “discussion”, a mandatory airline requirement, where each crew is posed with a question on the chosen topic.
Repeated incorrect answers can get you offloaded from the flight (depending on which side of the bed the Purser rolled off from) and could result in serious disciplinary action from your line manager.
I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing this. Being offloaded I mean, which doesn’t really connote that my knowledge on all topics is holistic, but that, thus far I’ve been lucky to get asked a question whose answer I have convincing knowledge of.
Handy hint for all you cabin crew wannabes- the closer to the Purser one sits, the easier are the questions. So don’t be shy.
And so, I made it through this Briefing, sans an offload.
The flight was the most enjoyable one that I’ve done in ages; the crew superb. For once, the term ‘teamwork’ was enacted real time on board, as opposed to loosely referred to during Briefing. I consider myself blessed to have had this team on my first flight after a serious injury. And as an added bonus, apart from a friend to explore the Kenyan shopping scene with, was the Kenyan crew who tipped us about the weekend Masai Market.
We reached the Grand Regency after a short and sweaty bus ride made eventful at every traffic signal by a myriad of persistent but enterprising urchins, who tried to sell us everything right from peanuts and used batteries, to a single spare tire that looked suspiciously stolen.
A refreshing shower and sandwich later, I fell into a much-needed slumber and had pleasant dreams of shopping and scantily clad Masai hunks.
The next morning saw Rodrigo, Jas and me trotting on our way over to the market armed with a Map and Jas’s umbrella.
The Kenyan sun can be cruel, and I found out just how cruel a few hours later.
For now, we were happy shoppers. The open-air market was a hive of buzzing action. The kaleidoscope of color renders one helpless amidst all those African handicrafts. I was a Seller’s delight; they could smell the stench of weakness on me. Rodrigo came to my rescue several times after I got conned into buying two overpriced Masai hand-paintings. How ever can one resist the cleverly woven jewelry, the intricate woodcarvings, and the bold rich paintings that capture the Soul of Africa?
I know for sure that Africa has captured my Soul!
Shopping in Dubai’s posh air-conditioned malls seems so tame and mundane compared to rubbing shoulders with the Masai. Here we watched as several women, ranging from the nubile adolescent to the toothless wizened grandma, dressed in their beaded finery, deftly converted loose glass and amber beads, different sizes and colors, into unique pieces of jewelry; as Masai “warriors” carved their weapons and strutted around the market delighting, and sometimes scaring the awed tourist (us included), with an obliging pose for the camera.
A little information about the Masai. They are a famous Warrior Tribe in Kenya, whose lives center on herding cattle. The general image of a Masai warrior is one of a tall and lean man clutching a spear in one hand and with his red cloth wrapped around his waist or over his shoulders. In short, the Masai Warrior cuts an imposing and striking figure, which lends a comic note to the next part of my Narrative.
Exhausted by the enthusiastic vendors, Jas, Rodrigo and I decided to make our escape and find a nice restaurant to nourish our sunburned spirits. We stopped very briefly on our way out from the market for Jas to buy a very large and unusual Mango that in all respects resembled a Papaya. She later confirmed that it was indeed a Mango.
We found a busy restaurant close to our hotel. Busy is good as it translates that the chances of the food being, apart from good, also safe, are quite high. We settled ourselves at a table under a fan, and I went looking for a washbasin. Found a few. Some even had taps attached, but were as dry as the Sahara. Thank Heavens for hand-sanitizer, a prominent fixture of every cabin crew’s luggage.
Whilst we waited on our lunch, a very colorfully costumed creature walked statuesquely past us and sat down at a vacant table. Jaws dropped as he casually sipped on a beer, munched on roast chicken, and absorbed himself in a newspaper. He was Masai! And a Warrior at that!
None of the other customers seemed fazed by this spectacle, or even mildly curious about the very pointy spear resting nonchalantly against the wall by his table. Seemed like this was completely acceptable; to be dressed like a fierce warrior, carrying pointy weapons, herding cattle in the morning, or perhaps battling it out with the enemy tribe. And then taking a casual lunch break at a city restaurant amidst non-costumed city folk armed only with cell-phones!
Briefly distracted by the aromatic arrival of our ‘’local’ roast chicken and ‘special’ greens, we fortified our digestive systems and engaged in Airline gossip. As always, the conversation eventually drifted to men and women, and the dynamics between them.
Rodrigo was the most sporting victim of the Spanish Inquisition.
Why do men say the things they say?
What do they really mean when they say the things they say?
Why do they say they’ll do what they never end up doing?
Why do they do what they say they’ll never do?
Endless questions, and Rodrigo’s answers threw out endless possibilities.
I showed him what Jas had bought for me at the market earlier that day. It was a beaded key ring shaped like a Masai Warrior. Red and black beads strung together to form a small oval head, elongated body and four droopy limbs. I helped her choose it, and was thrilled when she gave it to me. It touches me to receive a gift, a spontaneous one at that, for no special occasion.
So I asked Rodrigo what he thought about it. “That’s nice, a colored lizard”. Lizard? I was indignant. My little beaded Masai Man was mistaken for a lizard. I took great pains to explain to Rodrigo why it was not a lizard.
And then later, back in my hotel room, still perturbed by the case of mistaken identity, I examined the key ring from all angles and tried to look at it objectively. It struck me as I held the key ring horizontally with the head facing me, and the limbs flopping about, that it did resemble a crude outline of a lizard, but because I already knew the colors of the Masai, I “knew” it was a man and nothing else.
Preconceptions? Perhaps. Is this where the adage, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus comes in? Perhaps.
Conclusion- it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And so, I admit, that my brave little beaded Masai Warrior could be honestly mistaken for an exotic lizard. (From another angle)
Getting back to our flesh and blood Warrior. I ached to sneak a photograph of him chewing stoically on his chicken bones, but I didn’t want to risk causing any offence. I know that I wouldn’t appreciate a camera flashing in my face whilst I chomped on my lunch. Unless of course, it was for a food commercial.
So instead, I stared. All three of us did. Our Warrior was oblivious. He had his leftovers packed up for him in a plastic bag, paid his bill, and then calmly walked away from his enthralled audience with a spear in one hand. And a plastic bag and rolled up newspaper in the other. Perhaps to continue herding cattle somewhere in the Kenyan wilderness, or to engage in bloodthirsty skirmishes. We could only romanticize.
And so we set off, back to our hotel rooms, to recuperate from our day’s adventures and to get ready for our “battle” back to Dubai.
THE GREAT WALL
Another flight. Another Discovery, and this time it involved a Wall. Just returned from Beijing and still pretty wired up after all the unexpected excitement. I absolutely have to share this story.
As this was Emirates’ maiden flight to Beijing, the entire crew was up for an adventure and so yours truly lived out one of her many fantasies.
Some numbers. The Wall covers five provinces of China, and stretches 2500 kilometers across the mountains.
We caught the Wall just outside Beijing; a town called Badaling, which is the closest and most touristy point to Beijing. There’s another more rugged and dangerous route a little further away from Beijing and I’ve decided to explore that option the next time I visit.
We barely managed to grab any sleep after checking into our hotel, as we had an early start the next morning. I clocked about four hours, but consider that a small sacrificial offering.
And so we set off, happy campers, including the First Officer who happened to be an amateur photographer. Our little Chinese guide Maggie, (tinier than me, imagine that!) was very informative. Or rather, she would’ve been if only we could understand her accent! I tuned out after around ten minutes of trying to decipher every word she uttered which was a continuous stream of CHINGLISH! And later just looked up the relevant information on the net.
Our poor First Officer had no such luck; he was seated right opposite her in the van and had to feign animated attention. That must have taken a lot of strength and now that I think about it, our flight back to Dubai was rather turbulent. Hmmmm!
Our first stop was the Ming Tombs. Those old fogeys certainly had a fantastic afterlife. The tombs were surrounded by lush gardens and exotic ancient trees; I wanted to curl up under one of them and pretend that I don’t have a job to get back to the next day. Dubai seems so synthetic compared to all that breezy flora.
Maggie then dragged us to the jade factory. Was interesting to watch how an ugly dull lump of green stone gets washed and tweaked into surreal creations. Expensive ones at that.
There are different shades of jade and each has a particular symbolism. I can now differentiate between a genuine piece and a fake. I fell in love with this lovely green tinted bangle that I couldn’t afford to buy at the time but perhaps on the next trip. Being “jaded” definitely comes with a price tag!
It’s time for some nutritious sustenance. We indulged in a typical Chinese meal seated around a revolving table. Interesting concept, albeit a tad annoying, because, every time I reached out for a certain dish, someone across would spin the table, and the dish in particular would zip by me, leaving a trail of crumbs and gravy in it’s wake.
I ended up quite hungry, although what little I managed to grab off that turntable was very delicious.
The highlight of our day was off course, The Great Wall. We had to ride a rickety old roller coaster like train up to the Great Wall since the path that led up there had crumbled with age and was unsafe. Easy enough. And then we walked it.
Or rather, we hauled ourselves up it! The Wall is not just a wall; it pans about six wagons side by side. It had been built to keep invaders out and the soldiers would keep their watch at various points on the Wall. Hence it meanders around the mountains for miles.
There were so many people trying to accomplish the “Wall Walk”. Many of them were Chinese dressed in funny clothes; persevering souls helping each other along the wall, shouting encouragements (at times abusive!), pushing from behind and pausing every now and then to click photographs.
I wanted to give up; my legs were screaming protests, and in just a few hours I had a nine-hour flight to operate back to Dubai.
But when I looked around me at the surrounding mountains, I felt like a tiny molecule and I imagined what it must have been like in ancient times. Did those soldiers protecting their province encourage each other? Did they see the beauty of the rugged mountains? Or only the bloodshed that was to come?
And so I fought my way to the end of Our Wall. Was rewarded too! Had to pay for it off course…only twenty Yuan. A fine, metallic plaque stating that Neisha climbed the Great Wall on the 3rd of September 2006. They didn’t mention, “crawled, cried, and clawed her way up”!
On our way down (was a quick skip downhill), I managed to squeeze in some shopping. Got duped off course, but was so worth it. The Wall just made up for everything.
We had an interesting interlude with a tiny Chinaman who knew exactly four words of English…. “camel”, “camera”(camwa), “picture”(peechar) and “money” (maaaannny).
He refused to let us take photos of his camel unless we dressed in some fancy multicolored costumes, sat on the camel and allowed him to take photos, which off course, we, would have to pay for!
We were too exhausted to argue, and so, just sat across from him and his camel, and exchanged a pleasant conversation.
At the end of it he was so fascinated by all of us, he sat himself amongst us and made us take tons of photos of him!
We tried to get him to pay us (Keep Discovering with Emirates crew), but he laughed it off with a “give maaannnnyyy”!
And so the day ended. I still can’t believe that I’ve not just seen and touched, but also walked on The Great Wall of China. Ancient Wonder, and me right there, amidst all that hewn mountainous Glory!
Can’t wait for my flight to Athens next week. Acropolis, here I come!!!!
Getting ready for work everyday morning
I find this topic a bit of a challenge as I am currently reveling in a spate of voluntary unemployed bliss. Then again, I think, perhaps this could make for an interesting introduction of myself, and what occupied my time professionally for the last six years and some months.
I’ve decided to write my description in the present tense to help my readers “feel” my routine.
My 600 minimum word limit now begins.
Some people envy my life. A luxurious apartment located in a posh locality in Dubai City, with a breathtaking view from my 18th floor French windows. An Identity card* that opens an amazing number of doors worldwide. The best of almost everything money can buy, and off course, a chance to explore at least eight different countries every month. Yes, I am a Flight Attendant.
My alarm beeps annoyingly at 3.15. Like always, I turn it off and roll over without even bothering to open my eyes. I have ten minutes before a second alarm clangs it’s way through my foggy brain and I groan out loud. My jetlagged body is still recovering from a 14-hour flight from Australia just a day ago. Or was it two? Irrelevant at this point since today I journey to Toronto. From 7+ hours ahead in GMT to -7 or more. I’ve stopped keeping track. It’s November, so it was sweltering ‘ Down Under’*, whilst up in Canada, last night’s BBC weather foretold light snowfall. My tonsils and sinuses will be weeping exactly four days from today.
I’m pretty sure that ‘some people’ stop envying my life right about now!
I grope my way to the kitchen eyelids still firmly stuck shut. With a steaming cup of tea in hand I’m back in my room, mentally reviewing my checklist. One could get offloaded* and marked absent for forgetting something as seemingly trivial as a Medical License, one among the many licenses we Flight Attendants are equipped with.
Three Licenses? Check. (I always visually check these three plastic cards despite the fact that they haven’t really changed in size, texture, or color through the years, as once, during my early flying days I’d managed to get one of my credit cards mixed up with my licenses and incurred a bit of trouble whilst displaying a well scratched VISA instead of a GCAA* License!)
Vaccination booklet? Check.
Big fat Red Cabin Crew Manual* (updated), along with smelly flat heeled cabin shoes (carefully deodorized the previous night), tabbard*, and oven gloves? Check.
I’m a little paranoid about having an appropriate change of clothing for my layover*, so I always check the weather online the previous day and pack accordingly. One wouldn’t want to be stuck with a tank top and flip flops* in Australia in the month of May, which is their Winter. Plus an ample amount of underwear just in case we go tech* and have to stay off Base* longer than scheduled. Check. Check!
So, all my “checks” done, tea turned cold, I glance at my clock and realize that I have barely thirty minutes to get washed, brushed, uniformed, and “do” my hair and makeup before the Airline transport swings by to pick me up.
Running through the lobby doors to catch the receding end of my transport in the far distance has also been part of my getting ready for work routine. I have never missed an operational flight, but for some elusive reason I have on several occasions missed my bus. Given that I get out of bed precisely an hour before my pickup time I guess it’s not surprising. Thank heavens for Dubai’s dexterous taxis and extensive speed limits.
I don my uniform. White short sleeved shirt with tiny buttons all the way down the front, and invariably Fate deals me a wicked blow on those “running late” days by getting a button or two missed. So I have to unbutton and rebutton. Then the trousers go on. Ten minutes.
At this stage I generally rush into the bathroom with all my bits and pieces for my hair. Five minutes and three lost hairpins later I commence my makeup ritual. Hardly a ritual, as I indulge in many shortcuts. (Who needs eye-shadow when the shadows beneath my jetlagged eyes are colorful enough! And Foundation AND Powder?? Unheard of. One or the other will suffice. The compliments I receive on board from Pax* are flattering to my ten minute regime. Ahem!)
I’m now left with exactly five minutes to slip my jacket on, grab my hat, suitcase, strolley, hand-bag, lock up my front door, and literally fly down eighteen floors to hopefully catch my bus. I’ve forgotten to put on my stockings and shoes. So, well, technically I’m left with three minutes. God help me!
1) Identity card- mandatory staff identification card all crew must display on their person at all times during duty hours. This card also gets us fantastic discounts on duty free shopping in all airports around the world.
2) Down Under- common slang term for Australia.
3) Offloaded- removed from a rostered flight. This generally results in a warning letter from your line manager and disciplinary action should it occur more than one time.
4) GCAA- General Civil Airline Aviation- they make all the rules and flight limitations for Airline crew.
5) Cabin Crew Manual- the ‘Bible’ for all crew. It contains everything you need to know about first aid, general safety and security, and Airline regulations. Most crew dust off their manuals on rare occasions!
6) Tabard- a waistcoat- like garment which female crew wear during the service to prevent damage or spillage on their white shirts.
7) Layover- any trip overseas from Dubai that is long enough to warranty staying over in that country for a preset minimum period. Could range from eleven hours to three days.
8) Base- Dubai
9) Flip flops- fancy foreign term for Indian rubber “chappals”
10)Go tech- when the airplane encounters any technical problem that can’t be fixed within a few hours, it results in either a longer layover or a change of aircraft. This is referred to as going tech.
11)Pax- short form for “passengers”.