Trip to India
By Zuerrnnovahh-Starr Livingstone
March 19, 2019
My wife and I had planned our trip to India for six months in advance. We thought it would be smooth. The flights were anything but easy. We paid early and got a good price from Air Canada Vancouver to New Delhi non-stop. The Indian visas came through in less than a week. Health insurance was expensive and we chose to forgo vaccinations. They were not mandatory. We stayed at an ashram designed for western visitors. Our purpose to attend a ten day heart-centered meditation retreat was achieved. Gift buying in New Dehli, Hardiwar and Rishikesh was an adventure.
A week before our flight forty-four Indian soldier were killed in a car bombing in Kashmir. Pakistan was blamed. Pakistan said it had nothing to do with the deaths. Prime Minister Modi placed Indian forces on high alert. I checked Veterans Today website for the real story. Mr. Raja a columnist from Pakistan for VT and a former officer in the Pakistani forces, wrote that Modi is facing a re-election in May, behind in the polls, and he staged the attacks in order to gain votes. A fake war.
Our flight was for February 27, at 00:15 am. On February 26, in quick succession, two helicopters in Srinagar, Kashmir were shot down killing six; India bombed a section of desert on the Kashmir/Pakistan border; and Pakistan shot down two Indian MIG 21s, killing one pilot and arresting the second. The media was reporting India and Pakistan were on the verge of nuclear war. Joan and I sat in a Boeing 787-9 for two hours with 360 passengers waiting for Air Canada to determine whether to fly or not. We did not fly.
Two days later, on March 1 at 00:15 am, we were again sitting in a Boeing 787-9 listening to the captain announcing that we would be flying, but not adding that we would be taking a safer route to India, avoiding Pakistan and Kashmir. He did not report what route we would be taking. On the computer monitor in front of me, the original flight plan was over the North Pole, 11000 kilometers, 14 hours flight time, 11 time zones. That route took us within a few hundred kilometers of Kashmir: too dangerous.
Five hours later, we were over northern Greenland almost as far north as Thule. The dawn sun was shining low in the sky and the starboard windows darkened to blue and then black. We were given extra sleeping time. There are no shutters on the windows. The windows darken electronically. We flew over Tromso Norway, St Petersburg Russia, and then were steered to the flight lane to fly over Moscow and later over Volgograd and Astrakhan. We flew over the Caspian Sea. How were we going to avoid Pakistan?
We flew over Tehran and then steered away from Pakistan and over Gulf of Oman and over the Indian Ocean five hundred kilometers south of Karachi Pakistan. We entered Indian airspace north of Mumbai and flew north to New Delhi. We traveled 14,800 kilometers in 16 hours. We were landing with fumes in the tanks. We soon learned Air Canada knew we were going to be low on fuel as half the luggage had been left in Vancouver. It took six days for our luggage to catch up with us in Hardiwar. Flying into a war-zone entails some discomfort.
New Delhi air is as bad as Los Angeles air in the 1960s. What I saw was an improvement over a few years earlier. New Delhi is a first world capitol in a third world country racing to be a first world country. Industrialization is progressing rapidly. Growth is over 4%. India is 1.3 billion and growing. China is 1.4 billion and shrinking. Soon, India will be the most populous country in the world. China is looking towards India for workers because of their loss of a generation due to the strictly enforced, one baby policy – which was ended a few years ago.
Everywhere is growth. New schools are being built. Technical institutes cover hundreds of hectares. Merchants are in every niche in the marketplace. Sacred cows wander the roads and Hinduism is part of Indian patriotism. At Hardiwar we saw hundreds of thousands bathing in the sacred Ganges on Krishna’s birthday. The waters are icy cold in the foothills of the Himalayas. At Rishikesh where the Beatles learned Transcendental Meditation, the ashram is closed and overgrown, but dozens of other teachers have set up shop. At the time we were there, a worldwide yoga convention was in town. The yoga teachers and students stood out from the locals dramatically. The western yoga students looked muscular and tall versus the locals’ thinner and shorter appearance. It is strange to see the same practice creating two different body types. Maybe the west is not practicing Indian yoga?
While in India, a new Ethiopia Air Boeing 737-8 crashed five minutes after take off killing 157. Then, one nation after another refused to allow that airplane over their territory. The day before we left, the USA and Canada restricted the 737-8 and the 737-9. Air Canada was scrambling to replace its 737s and we got an email that our flight back to Canada had been cancelled. Maybe our 787-9 was replacing a 737 somewhere in the world? Joan got on the phone to re-book and was told our flight had not been cancelled. Joan’s brother had been a pilot for Air Canada for 30 years and after retirement he started teaching pilots for Asia Air in Seoul, Korea. Joan emailed him to find out what was happening. He said the auto pilot on take off has a problem. The pilots of Ethiopia Air probably did not know how to disengage the auto-pilot. I later learned Boeing’s new 737s have bigger, more fuel efficient motors which are too big for the space under the wings. The motors were moved forward and in front of the wings changing the balance and lift. The 737 should have been totally redesigned from the ground up. He said there are no such problems with the 787-9. It really is a Dreamliner.
The Round Earth
At 35,000 feet, over the Himalayas of northern Burma, looking down at the four valleys of the Irrawaddy, Salween, Mekong and Yangtze Rivers, the horizon was over a thousand kilometers out. If the earth had been flat, I would have been able to see the Pacific Ocean in the distance. I could not see the Pacific.
Tell any flat-earthers who bug you with their preconceived beliefs, to fly a Dreamliner around the world.
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