Stories about flight

“I hate materialistic people, beta, but I love my designer clothes”

Whilst travelling from Doha to London, I had a 60-year-old Pakistani aunty sitting next to me on my flight. To be honest, it was a rather pleasant surprise to find another Pakistani on board. What came next was a surprise, but not a pleasant one. She began talking to me. Incessantly. Without any breaks. She started off by telling me that she is from a rich business family in Karachi and handed me her husband’s business card right after. She went on to tell me that her only son, who lives in England, recently got divorced. She let me in on the nitty-gritty details about how ...

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In defence of the ‘fat person’ sitting next to you on a plane

The hardest thing to do is to empathise with a person who is causing you inconvenience; to contain your righteous anger, with a self-reminder that the person doesn’t intend to bother you, and is probably as uneasy about the situation as you are. Some time ago, Rich Wisken wrote an acerbic letter to the airline company, Jetstar, complaining about being made to sit next to an obese gentleman on a flight from Perth to Sydney. He’d spent the duration of his flight periodically arguing with the flight-attendants, and heaping insults on the passenger next to him. In his letter to the company, he referred to ...

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Yes, Senator Rehman Malik, you deserved to be booted off that plane!

There are times when something you dream of actually happens, like Senator Rehman Malik getting booted off that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight. Had anyone else been booted off this way it might not have had the same impact, but with Rehman Malik… it’s like being presented with a large, a very large, box of chocolates, a complete set of Harry Potter books (which are amazingly yet to be read), and a tonne of ice cream all at one go! Oh joy! My salams to the gentleman who took that stand. May you live long in a genuinely better Pakistan, with my prayers for ...

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You realise you’re in a Pakistani flight when…

The sky is dark and you’re airborne, eyes transfixed on the entertainment system. Suddenly the plane takes a gravitational drop downwards, and then picks itself up a second later. The lights in the airplane go up, and the seatbelt sign appears. The flight attendant, passing through the plane, requests all passengers to remain seated, pull up their seats in an upright position and avoid heading to the lavatory for a few seconds. Most of the passengers follow none of these instructions. Welcome to an international flight carrying Pakistani passengers. Air travel isn’t the most comfortable thing in the flight, especially over long distances, unless of ...

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Is this what it feels like to be invisible?

There are times in one’s life when one wants to be invisible. And then there are those unthinkable times when one actually is.  Flight MH 370. What does it feel like to be invisible? That is a question that crosses my mind as this story of this plane unfolded. As I close my eyes, I imagine that there I am, in all my glory, looking forward to life, availing all the opportunities that come my way, aspiring to make something of myself and on the verge of achieving what I always dreamt of. I am a professional. Dr Yuchen Li ...

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The Muslim wedding flight

In-flight announcement: “Good afternoon to our two lovely passengers! I’m delighted to welcome you aboard the Muslim Wedding Flight from parental to in-laws abode. My name is Fayaz Pasha and I’m your in-flight Service Director. Your cabin crew (parents, relatives and friends) is here to ensure that you have an enjoyable flight. We are currently second in line for take-off and are expected to be in the wedding hall in approximately 20 minutes. We ask that you please fasten your expectations at this time and secure all your emotional baggage. Please make sure that your seats and tables are in the right position for ...

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Once upon a time, there were two travellers – one Pakistani and one Indian

It was a late Friday evening in Chicago. After working the full day, I rushed to O’Hare International Airport, to catch a flight to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on my way to Delhi. It was a short impromptu trip to meet my parents and I intended to be back within five days. The past few days had been very hectic at work and I was half hoping that I would be able to catch some sleep in the 14 hours of the first leg of my travel. Of course, an empty middle seat next to mine would be even better, ...

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Air travel: Royal treatment only if you are not Pakistani

I have realised of late that flying is no longer as enjoyable as it used to be, especially transit travel or stop-over flights. This realisation hit me recently when I travelled from London to Islamabad and had a stop-over in Dubai. The journey began well with the flight from London to Dubai well-equipped with the latest gadgets and gizmos; the air hostesses were polite and smiling; and there was a general aura of comfort and relaxation. However, this comfort did not last long and there was a world of difference in the connecting flight from Dubai to Islamabad. The plane itself was ...

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Ramazan diaries – From Makkah and Medinah

Sitting in a lounge for the privileged, waiting to board a flight to Dubai and then another from there to Jeddah, I find myself texting away. I have a million things on my mind. I have a life. Four hours later… I’m at the Dubai airport, about to board a flight to Jeddah; the only words on my lips are: Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (I am here, my Allah (SWT). I am present.) Prior to my flight, concerned friends had been warning me about a viral infection that is widespread in Makkah, and the unbelievable rush in Ramazan especially due to the underway expansion of the Masjid-ul-Haram. “You should not ...

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The importance of sisterhood

Last week, I wrote an op-ed for The Express Tribune on what needs to be done in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape. I wanted to write a lot more but was constrained by space I am allotted in the newspaper. The piece did not receive many comments either on the website or my personal blog where I cross post my work, but I got a lot of emails – some from regular readers who liked my ideas, and one from an Indian grandfather who wanted a safer Delhi for his two young granddaughters. “Thanks for a very thoughtful blog.  I really enjoy your ...

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