Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Voices in the Sky

In case you happen to find yourself on an airplane with us, you might want to get yourself a seat well outside earshot of our family.

And not for the reasons you think either. Most people want to keep a good distance from babies in airplanes but Tarana has been quite a sturdy little flyer and hasn't really cried too much on any of the flights we have taken since she was born. 

Ayaan too seems to have lost his tendency for loud public temper tantrums. He has also ditched his penchant for violently kicking the seat in front, thereby saving the passengers who have the (mis)fortune of sitting directly from possible damage to their spinal cords. And he has also grown out of his habit of endlessly playing with the stewardess call buttons and the lights. 

He now spends most of his flights chatting away merrily with us and therein lies the problem because his chosen line of conversation these days is far from cheerful and is concerned with the inauspicious (especially if you are thousands of feet up in the air) topic of planes crashing. 

He has an old, battered plane - the only surviving piece from an entire set that I got him for his fourth birthday. Its wheels snapped off a while ago, much of its paint is peeling and it is missing a back wing but it is the toy of the moment and goes EVERYWHERE with us, including airplane trips.

The first order of business for the brat as soon as he is buckled into his seat is to equip himself with one of those safety information cards usually to be found in the seat pocket and ignored by most passengers. The next twenty minutes is spent in detailed perusal of said document, accompanied by an incessant stream of questions. It goes typically like this: 

Mama, why the aunty in this picture sitting like this with her baby? 

Why you are not holding Tarana like that?

Mama, in this picture, the plane is standing on grass. Why is it standing on grass? 

Mama, why the pilot didn't land this plane in the airport?
Mama, why is shoe picture has a red line on it? 

And so the questions continue, too numerous to be comprehensively captured, till the flight takes off.

Once airborne, the next twenty minutes are spent watching the plane’s performance with an eagle eye and giving a running commentary on the same, in a voice loud enough to be heard over the whine of the aircraft’s engine.
Mama, look! The plane is slanting. I think it is going to fall down and crash. 
Mama, see! We are in a cloud. I can’t see anything. What if the pilot takes a wrong turn and we crash?

Mama, I think the wing of the plane is going to break. Will we crash?

And so on and so forth. Thankfully, the meal service begins and he has other things to do with his mouth. So we all get a brief respite from the doomsday questions.

Once the meal has been polished off and he has been convinced that a visit to the facilities is necessary, he settles back into his seat and pulls out his toy aeroplane. The next half an hour or so is spent flying his plane around the seat and the tray. Many crash scenarios are played out – the plane landing on its belly, on its wings, on its nose, on its tail….

Then when we get set to land and he is strapped up again, a new set of questions begin focussed on all the perils that a airplane might encounter:

Mama, what if there is SUCH a tall tree that it is as tall as the sky and the plane dashes into it? 
Mama, what if a bird bangs into the plane? 
Mama, what if the plane lands on a building? 
Mama, what if a plane lands in a puddle? A VERY BIG puddle. No, not a pond or a lake. Just a GIANT puddle 
Mama, what if there is food on the ground when the aeroplane is going to land? What if there is a bottle of Sprite? 
Mama, what if the pilot goes to sleep? 

And then thankfully we land safely. And the questions stop, for the moment. We smile apologetically at any and all co-passengers who might have been subjected to this depressing line of questioning and make our way out of the plane

But they are lucky to escape with one hearing. We, on the hand, continue to hear questions and hypothesis about crashing planes through mealtimes and bath-times and drive times and basically ALL the time. 

Our balcony has a perfect view of the flight path so we wonder about the likelihood of every passing plane crashing. Then every conceivable surface in the house is subjected to crash landings with his toy plan. And the other day, he spent almost an hour in the balcony with a bucket of water and his toy plane, trying to re-create a water landing!

So like I said, watch out for us on your next flight. And try and sit as far away as you can :)


  1. OMG! If I happen to be seated anywhere close to Ayaan, you're sure to have to answer "Mama, why did the aunty faint?" :D Make him wear a T-shirt saying "Not suitable for the weak-hearted flier" next time you're travelling :)

    Though I can't help but notice some of his questions are genuine concerns and some .. err.. quite innovative (Sprite bottle!)

  2. Anonymous5:04 pm


    Your blog has caught our eye for all the right reasons- quality content, regular posts, relevant discussions. Your blog channelizes efforts in the right direction that put life back into everyday routine.

    We at What’s On India would like to involve you in our special program, My child’s Teevee, that focuses on issues such as child obesity, programs influencing child behavior, broadcast of inappropriate content and many more issues of concern. We aim to involve you by sharing "My child’s Teevee" content and look forward to your valued opinion, comments on it. email: deepakshetty at hanmermsl.com


  3. Oh phew! So it's not just the EO then!! We are subjected to this line of questioning every time we drive towards the air port. And this time, in Singapore, we even went on a cruise, so the questions were re-phrased with the word 'ship' in them! Oh joy!!

  4. Oh phew! So it's not just the EO then!! We are subjected to this line of questioning every time we drive towards the air port. And this time, in Singapore, we even went on a cruise, so the questions were re-phrased with the word 'ship' in them! Oh joy!!

  5. LOL some of his concerns are quite genuine given the current conditions of our airlines! I think it might be quite entertaining actually to sit next to Ayaan on a flight :) (Yeah, I can see you roll your eyes right here!)Tell me though, how do you answer all 'em questions?

  6. Anonymous9:36 pm

    LOL- I think it's a boy thing....my son has learnt to modulate his voice, but his imagination unfortunately, tends towards the morbid :) Naturally, since that kind of thinking *freaks* his sister out, he has to tell her all the possible ways things can go wrong, so she then has a hard time relaxing for the next n hours....sibling louuuu....what would we do without it!


  7. Has he thought about taking on writing the next lot of A Series of Unfortunate Events...there is quite the snicket in him.

  8. Macadamia was sure that every plane she flew on was going to crash - into the water !!

    Pecan was/is sure with just about every mode of transport - that the driver/pilot or whatever - is going the wrong way !! He's also certain that there aren't lifejackets under each and every seat. He also questions the possibility of the oxygen masks on the plane not having oxygen supply.

    Knowing my kids' penchant for asking all sorts of weird questions, I'll leave the rest to your imagination !!

  9. LOL! Ayaan, the pilot-in-the-making! :-D

  10. I agree to JLT..this guy is definitely going to be an ace pilot hehehehehe :)

  11. I agree to JLT..this guy is definitely going to be an ace pilot hehehehehe :)

  12. ROTFL he's too funny Ro . And being a baby he 's just vocalising what a lot of fliers just think about .

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Such genuine concerns, which would make him an unnerving co-passenger for the fainthearted!

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Preeti9:41 pm

    Lol... this one was really funny. Love the questions, especially fm the safety of terra firma! Tho ur post begs the qns - do u actually answer all these queries, and how?? If so, u must be one patient momma:)

  17. Hah, loved every bit of it. Favourite would be the plane crashing into the tree and the bottle of Sprite, I suppose.

  18. This guy is smart, and so are the questions.. well, most of them :) Honestly, I also think on similar lines when I travel, though I don't express it aloud.

  19. I'm one of those who'd like to sit nest to Ayaan during a flight:-) But certainly not for the faint-hearted.

  20. LOL, Ayaan is so imaginative. I guess he hasn't left any possibility unexplored of how an airplane could crash.

  21. Loved it. Ayaan is soo cute. I wish I was sitting behind him with KB listening to this convo. KB would have loved this to bits! He would have laughed and laughed and added to it. I wish I had neighbors like this!

  22. [The Soul..] LOL! Maybe I should get a t-shirt made for our next flight :D

    [M4/ M] These boys!!!

    [NMOTB/ Preeti] It usually goes like this. The first round of questions is answered patiently, peppered with 'baby', 'sweetheart' and 'darling'. The next bunch you can see the patience thinning and follow-up questions (usually Whys) are answered with a 'That's just the way it is' and 'Because I said so and I know'. The last stretch has me pulling out my hair so I either deflect the question to the husband or tell him 'I don't know' or finally 'I think it is time for some Quiet Time'

    [Aneela] This is not the half of it. I should post on his series of questions on death...

    [Gauri] Double trouble! At least I only have to deal with the one. That is till Tarana starts talking...

    [JLT/ R's Mom] If he does, I am not sure people are want to hear his cabin announcements :D

    [Dipali/ Eve's Lungs] Did you read the question about the Sprite bottle? I am pretty sure there are NO fliers out there thinking about that

    [HGM] You are a brave woman!

    [Sscribbles] Not really. This week's top question was what happens if the plane goes into the sky and starts going straight up like a rocket...

    [Noon] Awwww... he might just put KB off flying for life though :)

  23. Ayaan is totally brilliant. The tree and Sprite questions are exactly what one would expect from someone who thought his sister might go for a walk to Mama's knee (when T was in your womb) !

    My worry is, what if the meal tray vehicles for another plane are below your plane when you land and they get crushed - what a waste of good food.