_Captain’s Log, StarDate 2007.12.03_
Despite my best efforts, I was still packing with 10 minutes to go. I had sqeezed stuff into every cubic centimetre of available volume, so much so that I realized that there was no space to keep my flight ticket in my rucksack. That, after leaving behind so much stuff that when we vacated the room, the housekeeping lady called the reception to say that we’ve forgotten our stuff behind. I did give away clothes to charity, and food and drink to friends, but there was still all sorts of stuff left behind – packing material, papers and magazines that I wanted to bring back for keepsakes, and genereal stuff that you would normally carry with you unless you were trying to fit in four suitcases worth of stuff in just two.
I wanted to write (by hand) a note of thanks to the hotel staff who had been the closest we had to family in our home away from home, but unfortunately I didn’t have those extra 10 minutes.
There was a snowstorm and pretty bad weather outside, and there were rumours that our flight might get cancelled. In any case, I donned two jackets and we reached the airport in good time.
There was some delay in the aircraft moving because even though the passengers had got in, the poor airline folk were having trouble loading the luggage onto the aircraft, what with the tractor slipping and sliding all over the snow and ice. It was fun to watch from the airport, though, the tractor’s snow chains were actually throwing up sparks into the air.
After the aircraft finally started moving, Montreal had one last novel experience left in store for me: de-icing. It is basically this crazy thing they do to the wings of an aircraft to get rid of all the ice that formed while we were waiting out in the snow for that tractor to finish loading. First, these crazy trucks come and spray the life out of the wings (with what at that time looked like hot water). Then, this crazier guy comes, riding at the end of an articulated, crane-like, arm of the truck, braving the elements, and sprays what looks like anti-freeze fluid with greater precision that the trucks did. I remember admiring his guts and his choice of profession. I also remember admiring the computer console he had, which was just out there, in the open, in what must have been about minus 17 degrees, braving the snowfall and uncomplainingly assisting its human controller in doing his crazy job.
The flight wasn’t moving, and they hadn’t started giving out the headphones and “refreshing tissue”, so I just plugged in my iPod headphones and started watching The Simpons Movie.
The flight back was uneventful. I remember watching the stars from the window while listening to Richard Gale – Phobos Anomaly (Deep Version), and thinking that the day is not too far when people would actually be watching the Phobos sky from their windows. For we have half-conquered sea, air and land, and there’s nowhere left to go but the heavens.