Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Day I Conquered Fear

It was April 26, 2006 and I was at the Karipur International Airport waiting to board a plane to Dubai. The people around me were cool, walking around and talking with loved ones on the phone. Though I strived to appear calm, I was shivering inside. It was my maiden trip on an airplane and to top it, I had a worse case of aerophobia - the fear of flying.

There was no friend or relative accompanying me. My parents had scolded me thoroughly when I had expressed my fears of how I would manage the trip alone. In their opinion, I was just being childish. When our illiterate old neighbor could travel to the Gulf and back without much ado, they were wondering why I, an engineering graduate working as a lecturer in an engineering college, could not travel alone. I was travelling to join my husband who worked in Dubai. It was a matter of the heart as well.

From whatever I had heard and seen in the videos and pictures of Dubai that my husband had sent, I absolutely loved Dubai. It was my dreamland. But the fear of flying in an Airplane was choking me. I had even made discrete enquiries of whether there was any other way of travelling to Dubai. May be there was a ship. I knew swimming, but by God, I didn’t know flying.

When all my pleas fell on deaf ears, I began visualizing a happy and safe trip to Dubai daily. I would visualize reaching Dubai and walking out of the terminal in Dubai to join my husband in my very own dreamland. I would affirm daily before sleeping that I loved travelling in airplanes. The phobia started to reduce day by day.

But on the day of travel, all my fears came down upon me like an avalanche. What if I took the wrong plane and landed up in a strange country with no friends at all? What if I slept off, came back in the same plane, and ended up where I began the trip? Many of my fears made me chide my addled brain as I had studied the procedures that accompanied a plane trip, the detailed check in and boarding procedures, which ensured that travelers reached their destination safely and happily.

The 9/11 incident were still fresh in the minds of people and I suspiciously watched my co-passengers as well. Was there a terrorists lurking among them? The thin man with a French beard, nervously checking time did seem like a terrorist. I shuddered at the thought. Then I watched an elderly woman join him and his face became calm. He was nervous thinking why his mother had taken long to return from the toilet. I heard the woman assuring him that it was just the nervousness of the trip that had made her stomach upset and that she was okay. I sighed in relief again. There were more members in my club!

I waved at my parents who had stayed to watch me board the plane with a forced smile and took in their happy faces one last time before walking into the bus that took us towards the plane. May be, I would never see them again!

Once aboard, I asked the woman occupying the seat next to mine where she was headed to sheepishly. She assured me the plane was bound for Dubai and there was no need to panic. It was her 20th trip to Dubai as she travelled every three months to Dubai to visit her husband. I began to relax.

Then while the plane was preparing to take off, the flight stewards arrived, began the on-flight safety demonstration and my fear began to re-surface. The woman, sensing my fear, asked me to ignore them. The procedure was just a part of their in-flight safety demonstration and didn’t imply in any manner that our flight was doomed. When the flight took off, almost all the gods and goddesses, whose names I knew, irrespective of religion or sect, received my prayers.

The movie ‘Rang de Basanti’ provided in-flight entertainment and distracted me. It seemed like yet another bus trip. All was well until landing time after the Captain announced that we were about to land at Dubai international airport. I quivered with fear again. God! Didn’t majority of plane accidents happen during landing or take off?

I closed my eyes and prayed again. Then before I realized, it was over. When I walked out of the terminal after claiming my luggage, I was grinning ear to ear. Plane trips were not so bad after all. I had conquered my fear with élan.

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This post is written as part of Indi happy Hours on Indiblogger in association with Mountain Dew India

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