Very often just a word can trigger off some long forgotten memory and bring back vivid images to one’s mind. At least this happens to me often and that is exactly what happened this morning when a friend recalled something from his past.
Before proceeding, my friend is a retired Indian Air Force Officer and is around my age.
He was relating a story to me about security arrangements in the IAF stations when he recalled a civilian aircraft landing in the IAF station where he was posted then. He mentioned that it was a Caravelle of the Indian Airlines and that immediately triggered off a vivid memory. I waited for him to finish of his narrative and explained to him my recollection and he too was amazed that a single word brought so much back to me.
It was July 1971, yes, fifty years ago, when my fifteen day old son flew an Indian Airlines Caravelle flight from Hyderabad to Bombay as it was then called. He was coming to his parental home from his mother’s maternal one and was being carried by his mother in her arms.
Airports then did not have all the rigmaroles that we have now. My parents and I were waiting for his arrival at the arrival lounge from where we could see the tarmac where the flight offloaded passengers.
The tension was palpable as passengers started disembarking from the front door. The last one got off and the ground crew started to go up the steps to clean etc and still no sign of my wife and my son. The three of us started to worry. There were no mobile phones those days to get in touch instantly with the person presumed to have missed the flight. We then saw a sight that is still etched deeply into my consciousness.
My wife was the last to disembark and the memory that I cannot forget is her coming down the steps from the rear of the aircraft, taking a bundle from an air hostess who was escorting her, and walking slowly with the precious little bundle in her arms all the way from the aircraft to the arrival lounge. The precious bundle swiftly changed hands. I was present at his arrival in Hyderabad so, he was no novelty to me but, to my parents, their first grandchild was, and I can still recollect the happy noises and cooing from them there in the airport lounge.
The most unforgettable aspect of that entire episode was the disembarking from the rear as is shown in the image below, alas not of the Indian Airlines Caravelle. I had flown Caravelles before and had never used the rear exit and did not even know that there was one. Seeing this was a surprise to me. You will see from the image above that there was only one door for the Indian Airlines aircraft. My wife then explained that since she was carrying an infant in her hands, the Captain had arranged for this as a special case.
Other than Military aircrafts, I don’t think that this access is in existence anymore in Civilian Aircrafts. I had never used one ever despite having flown countless number of times all over the world. Have you?