Al-Ahram Weekly Online   7 - 13 May 2009
Issue No. 946
Sky High
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Flight experience: A rank return

We normally have showers before trips to be clean and fresh when we meet our loved ones or business mates in the other destination. However not every time. Beware of the traveller beside you. Ali Ahmed, 46 year old businessman, went to Paris on business but his trip back was terribly smelly.

I work in the field of cosmetics and the seven-day trip was exciting. Nobody can find Paris dull. I also didn't miss going shopping for my wife and two little kids and myself of course. I wore a new Parisian outfit and came on time to take the Air France flight back home to Cairo. Luckily I sat beside a Dutch lady of remarkable beauty. I gave her my window seat and sat on the aisle seat beside her. Such a gesture broke the ice. She mentioned that she felt dizzy and talking would help her forget about such feelings. I agreed hoping to have an exciting four-hour trip.

We talked about cosmetics and about her studies in psychology. Anna was coming to Egypt to meet her boyfriend whom she knew over the internet. I heard more of her story and felt that it wouldn't be a successful one as is the case with many other chat rooms stories. I advised Anna to take care of such hasty relationships built only over chatting.

Then food came. Of course, food on planes is not filling to an Egyptian but it was ok for me, the last meal in the French style. After a while, I'll eat the Egyptian foul, koshari, mahshi and other tasty and filling dishes. We talked about food in Egypt and Holland. Then we had some rest.

Forty-five minutes before landing Anna unexpectedly felt more sick and vomited on me, on herself and on the seat. The flight attendants took us to another seat, tried to clean up the mess in a crisis management way, but the smell was terrible. I really pitied her but I pitied myself more now. I bought new clothes to meet my family who were waiting for me at the airport. I want so much to change and have a shower but no way.

Of course I soothed Anna with comfort words but I think I looked terrible. I could have been in her situation and been the one who vomited and changed the smell of the plane, but at the same time I was thinking of any possible way to clean the mess, but there was nothing I could do. There is no mall on the plane to buy clothes from. There is no bathroom to have a good shower. I'll meet my family with the smell. So there were no hugs and kisses. Just a cool 'hi' and 'miss you'. No one was impressed by my new Parisian stylish suit. What left an impact on anyone who met me in Cairo Airport was my smell! I really thanked God that I met Anna on my way back home and not on my way to Paris, or else my business would have been at stake.

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