Bangkok-Delhi flight: Something happens to interrupt the dream… it wakes me up and I remember I’m on the plane. It’s a window seat, clouds outside and a huge horizon – the curvature of the earth. Here in the confines of economy class, the large man next to me wears a short-sleeved shirt and has hairy arms, the passenger in front has extended his seat all the way back, and it’s like his head is in my lap. I feel I’m part of the South Asian population already. Stewardess announcement: ‘raydee and gentermens…’ Thai, mispronunciation of the L and R consonant and a plurality problem, ‘.. ensure window shades are up, armrest is down, fold away table up, and chair forward… If I think too much about it, I get lost with the instructions. ‘And this concludes our fright service…’ Reminds me of a flight to Jakarta once; and the last part of the stewardess announcement: ‘… and the penalty for dlug tlafficking is death, thank you.’
The final part of the Woody Allen movie I was watching before I went to sleep is still showing on the screens. I don’t have the sound plugged in, just looking at the actors fumbling around like serious, grown-up children. The ‘I’ metaphor is an image projected on a screen; reassuring in the midst of our existential anxiety. Consciousness plays the game of hide-and-seek, concealment and obscuring – if consciousness is revealing itself, it means it’s also obscuring itself and things appear to be what they are not. Woody Allen has a cartoon face, he was born with it, that was/is his destiny. I plug-in the sound to see what it’s about – the idleness of it is immense, samsara, conversations of no consequence unravel here during the time it takes from departure point A, to arrival point B at the speed of 600 miles per hour.
Watching other people looking around, heads spinning left and right, down, up, coordinating body movements; going along the aisles and coming back to their seat, holding on to chair backs as they go, simply occupied with the physicality of being in the limited interior of this aircraft, mesmerized by the phenomenon of individuality. There’s not anything beyond the mind’s perception of itself as the leading actor in this movie; the assumption is that, one way or another, everything coming through the sense gates and into the mind is about ‘me.’
‘Infinite being playing the game of limited being. The limited being is a construct we’ve taken on; it’s like this because the infinite being that we are isn’t bothered by limitations and permits everything with infinite love…’ [David Bingham, Conscious TV]
Plane tilts over and makes a left-hand turn. Sunlight comes in through the cabin windows on the right side and sweeps around the interior as the plane changes direction, circles around and goes into descent. It’s as if it were a flying house, spinning around on its axis (We’re not in Kansas anymore, says Dorothy to Toto. We must be somewhere over the rainbow.’) Audio switched on; music for arriving. Slow calm triumphant music has a kind of congratulatory sound; the final approach; our journey’s end. And the digital map of the world shown on the monitor has the illuminated flight path BKK/DEL as a diagonal line about 30 degrees North East with the small icon of the plane now circling over New Delhi – population 16 million, including rural/urban seasonal migrants. A few moments later: BUMP BUMP wheels touch down on runway. Population increased by one planeload.
‘I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens’ [Woody Allen]