Sunday, August 1, 2010

Airplanes, Airports, and Anecdotes

Because of my extensive travels, I love hearing about interesting travel stories that other people have to share. Everyone who has been on an airplane knows that some of the most hilarious and infuriating experiences can happen on a plane, or in an airport. Today, I shall share with you a few stories that I can remember from way back when. Some details are shaky, and therefore some stories are blurred. Forgive me!

1. Camel Milk

Once, when my family and I were travelling from Saudi to...well, somewhere else, the crew on board a Saudia flight brought me, little Khadeja of about 5-6 years old, a glass of milk at the beginning of the flight. It was to me to richest, creamiest milk I had ever tasted. For some reason, I thought it could not possibly be cow's milk as I normally drank it. My little girl's mind came to an amazing conclusion: this is a Saudia flight, so MUST be camel milk! Saudis drink camel milk, right? Note: Some of them do, I guess, but what a strange stereotype. I swear I don't know where I got that information as a kid.

So, wanting more, I pressed the call button to get a flight attendant to bring me yet more of this wonderful new thing which tasted only like what water must have felt like to a dog in the desert - heavenly. After many buzzes, a flight attendant came to my mother and asked her in a warm, kind tone to stop her silly child (i.e. me) from pressing buttons. She thought I was just like any other kid who finds joy in touching things in a random, careless way. In my tiny voice, I said, "No, no, ma'am, I just wanted milk!" Shocked at my ability to press a button for a reason and not just for fun, she laughed heartily and said she'd bring it by in just a minute.

When she brought it, I thanked her and gulped the glass down with pure contentment. To this day, I really don't know if it was extra creamy cow's milk or actual camel milk. I had quite the imagination back then.

2. the Aristocats

On one long Emirates flight (again, I do not remember my destination but it might have been to somewhere in the US) a flight attendant took a shine to little me, with my big alien eyes. I was maybe about 7 years old. At that age, Disney was the best thing in the world and I had seen many of their animated masterpieces (and some of their weird movies like That Darn Cat!).

The nice young lady, who I remember was Asian from the Far East, asked me if I wanted to watch a movie. Those were the days when they used to play films on a big screen as in-flight entertainment; those small individual screens didn't really exist yet. I told her that the only Disney movie I hadn't seen was the Aristocats and I really wanted to see it because cats were my favourite animal. The woman told me to wait just a moment, and that she would get the film to play for me. I didn't understand what she meant.

Lo and behold, the screen came down and, true to her word, the Aristocats played on the screen. I was absolutely delighted. I really don't know how she could have gotten that to happen. They plan these things in advance, don't they? I know that it was not a dream, and that it really happened, though. It's one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

3. Eating Oysters

On another trip, when I was a bit older (I think) we travelled on Air France. Due to the long transit time in Paris, we were given a hotel room and a free lunch (wasn't that nice of them?). This was a long, French style lunch at the hotel's large dining room. I was amazed that we could eat anything we wanted, and for free! If I could have that right now, I'd be very pleased.

Many funny things happened during that dinner, mostly, involving our waiter who was a snotty jerk, but the funniest that happened to me was my experience with oysters. Now, I must have been around 10 years old, and oysters were the most interesting and exotic thing that I found on the menu and I needed to try them. I ordered them proudly (to the raised eyebrows of my parents) but then realised, once they were in front of me, that I had no idea how to eat these weird, slimy, foreign things.

I was given a basket of bread, butter, lemon slices, and a big plate of oysters. I looked at them and...well, I froze! I hadn't a clue about how I was supposed to combine these ingredients. The American in me thought, well, I might as well just put them all together and see what happens! I say the American in me because...well, have you seen what Americans eat or how they make their sandwiches? Seriously. It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet, but on bread.

Anyway, I put the lemon on the flesh within the shell (that part I got kind of right) and then scooped out the meat, put it on the slice of buttered french bread, and took a bite. The waiter, who was standing there the whole time sneering, exclaimed "No!" and finally explained to the confused child in front of him what I was supposed to do. I put the lemon first, then I slurp out the flesh, then I bite into the buttered bread. I got some of it right!

They were pretty nasty, but my pride made me swallow as many as I could. I had mussels in Chicago this year that were absolutely awesome, though, so I am glad I didn't lose hope completely.

4. "Business Class, DUH!"

Now I really do remember this flight and where I was going! I was 16 years old and travelling from Mauritius to Dubai on a connecting flight with Vienna as my final destination. I was on my way to a young leader's conference with a friend, but we were sitting in different classes (my Dad refused to let me travel Economy class). I decided to ask my Mauritian flight attendant, who was very friendly throughout the flight, which class got off the plane first.

I had been on many flights before, but I never noticed if the classes all got off the plane at the same time. Now that I think about it, it was kind of a stupid question, but I just wanted to make sure so I could wait for my friend and get off of the plane with her. We wanted to hang out in Dubai airport together and not get lost.

So, the conversation went like this:

Me: Excuse me, dude... [yeah I called him dude, I thought I was so cool]
Flight Attendant: Yeah?
Me: Who gets off the flight first, Business class or Economy?
F.A.: [giving me attitude] Who do you think?
F.A.: Well, yeah, not just you princess but Business class does, of course! Why is it important anyway?
Me: I just wanna meet up with my friend in Economy class, okay? How was I supposed to know?!
F.A.: [laughing] I thought you were smart. I guess you're not!
Me: Oi! [yeah I used to say Oi! Wow, I was weird]
F.A.: Well, if you were smart you would have told me you had a friend in Economy class and she could have sat next to you in the empty seat! [yes, I was sitting on my the window...] I would have brought her up here, no problem!
Me: [bashful] Oh...I didn't know you could do that.
F.A.: Well, don't feel so bad, princess. I'm not really supposed to do that!

Laughing, he walked away and I just sat there with a pretty dumb look on my face. If you think he was rude, don't worry - it was all playful in nature. This is the way Mauritian people act towards each other. If you didn't know it, you'd think we were constantly fighting. It's just the way we are, either in English or in Kreol. In any case, I do wish I could have brought my friend up to Business class if it was really possible to do so. It was still nice to know that the flight attendant would have tried to informally upgrade her. I know he would have done it, too.

So there you are, some stories from a few of my many journeys! I have been on so many flights that I don't remember half the details of, but I always remember the important (or funny) parts. Whether they were pleasant or not, all of these snippets of my life are looked on with fondness. No matter what, I'm glad I have my stories to share.


  1. First of all I applaud the fact that a little kid would label milk as "camel's milk" and then ask for seconds. For me when I was young, the mere fact that I might think that I'm drinking camel milk would just gross the hell out of me, still would probably. :P

    And the Oysters...really?!! I only happened to try oysters 2 years ago at the age of 20! how would a 10 year old even dare and try them.. oh yea and they were nasty

  2. Haha well I was more focused on the taste of the milk than where it actually came from. That, and well, I loved camels! To me, they were the cuter, more interesting cousins of horses.

    I always liked trying new things! I remember once going to a restaurant with my family and trying to order quail even though I heard it's pretty bad. Well, they didn't have quail that day so my quail dreams have since expired. The only thing I really won't try are things like heart and lung and brain. *shudder*