Turkey Diaries – Day One

by The Dreamer

Day One: Head in the Clouds

I kept a pocket notebook of scribbles for my trip to Turkey. It literally is a notebook full of illegible writings. I wrote them even when the place was pitch black, or when the road was full of turbulence or even when my eyelids were heavy like lead. I did so because I didn’t want to forget how I felt at that very moment: not just existing, but living.

So this is my best attempt of decoding what I’ve written in the first day.

“Goddammit, Goddammit, Goddammit. Just shiet.” The passenger beside me has her hands tangled in her frizzy, dirty-blonde curls and she repeats this over and over again under her breath. She is leaning so closely to the window that it turns partially foggy.

I am seated in the Emirates plane, and it has been close to two hours but we still have not taken off. Rain was cascading down the moment I boarded the plane, so I thought we were delayed because of bad weather. But alas, the “minor, very very minor” problem the pilot emphasizes isn’t that minor at all.

The passenger beside me just turned towards me and says, “The bloody engine is on fire.”

“What?” I reply. I am half-shocked, half-confused. Her accent is very thick.

“I saw it. A bright spark, just boom.” She gestures with her hand, a blazing fire.”An explosion, god-dammit. Just shiet. And can that baby just shut up! Jesus Christ.”

I smile crookedly at her, because I don’t know how to react. A baby cannot stop wailing, the entertainment system is down and the stewardesses are running around, frazzled, serving water and cup noodles.

We talk since there is nothing better to do. She tells me that she is from Bulgaria and that there is a 99% chance that the plane cannot take flight. She will miss her connecting flight to Istanbul, and then her second connecting flight to Bulgaria, and lastly her train ride back home. Honestly, I really pity her, but she tells me that this is not the first time she has experienced this. I will miss my connecting flight too, but I don’t tell her that. My situation, compared to hers, sounds quite lame.

The engine really is on fire. Hushed whispers talk of a loud boom coming from the back, and window-seaters share that fire engines have arrived. We were on the very edge of taking off when the plane did a jerky and very abrupt brake, sending everyone reeling forward.

Here is a fragment of our conversation that haunts me, still.

Woman: “Well, I’m better off annoyed and late than dead, ya know?”

Me: “Yeah, at least the malfunction happened before we were in the air. If not, we would have to circle in the air until the oil ran out.”

Woman: “The chances of an explosion would have been higher and more deadly.”

Me: “I’m happy to be alive. Halleluyeaaah!”

Okay, I didn’t say the last part. I kind of just nodded and started writing this awkwardly because there isn’t anything better to do.

But that short conversation had me thinking. Fate in a way, really works wonders. It was the difference of a second. If we had taken off, or if the engine started leaking while we were crossing the sea, we could have been actually in grave danger. Perhaps my parents’ prayer to the Buddhist gods for a safe flight had been heard. Maybe it was not our time to die. But this was a close brush against Death’s robes, and I am so glad to be alive and breathing and writing.

So the plane can only take flight at 3 am tomorrow morning. We were already here at 6 a.m. Thankfully we argued our way to receive seats for the SQ direct flight to Istanbul at 1am. The Emirates company were not happy to have to buy tickets for us, and they even lied to us that the flight was fully booked, but thank goodness for adults and the holy internet.

It is currently 6pm, and we were arranged to sleep in a hotel for two hours before we have to go back to the airport, which I have spent over 14 hours in. We were shuffled into all three Terminals, dragging around our heavy luggages and everything. The previous hotel we went to was fully occupied with the stranded passengers of our flight, so again we had to find another hotel to refresh ourselves. I cannot describe in words how exhausting this whole experience was, and how frazzled we are.

I finally know how it is like to have one day feel like an eternity.

In this disgusting yet brutally honest analogy, it’s kind of like today life had constipation and today was the day it finally shat all over my parade, let it all out. But you know, after dealing with that long pooing session, it is always relieving to get it out. In other (less disgusting) words, hopefully after this bad suckish day, the other days seem better in comparison. Okay whatever. I’m getting sleepy, evidently.

I’m going to sleep now. When I wake up, I’m going to pretend this ordeal never happened — that the day began in this hotel, to have the excitement flood over me again.

My legs ache to the point of numb. But at least they ache, at least I know that lactic acid still flows through my veins, at least I am not numb forever.


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