Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 132: Captain Mamoo Mia!

Concern over a Pakistan Int'l Airlines (PIA) pilots' strike consumed the bulk of our day as we nervously watched to see if our plane would take off from London headed toward Lahore. The strike involves the PIA pilots' anger at Pakistan's corrupt president Zardari's selling out of PIA to a Turkish airline, probably to help fund his purchasing of vacation homes in America, while his country suffers to no end. (After meeting some of my family members here on Day 133, I get the sense that people in general in Pakistan seem to be angered and disgusted by Zardari, and fear that he's selling out the country piece by piece to fill his private coffers; some wonder if he hasn't sold out Pakistan already).

Thankfully enough, my mamoo (mom's brother), a captain in PIA, was flying the last PIA plane in from Lahore to London, and he surprised us by being the pilot of our flight back to Lahore (a surprise that had my mother positively beaming for hours upon end, "Mera BHAI plane chala raha hai!"). While flights to and from Karachi (international and domestic) are completely canceled, having a pilot mamoo came in quite handy, and our flight departed as expected.

Another advantage of having a pilot mamoo is the fact that he invites you to see the cockpit. What a treat! Buttons galore. I was shocked upon seeing that there is near zero visibility outside of the windows during the flight, and the pilots depend upon these tiny radar screens to steer the plane in the correct direction. I'd love to see it during the day time though, flying high above the clouds. Endlessly proud of mamoo mia!

Made a few other observations while flying PIA plane today. Their new planes have this totally awesome lighting: instead of standard white cabin lighting, PIA's cabin lighting slowly changes colors, giving a soothing and mood-lifting effect. While the cabin lights were off for sleepy time, I looked up to see that the ceiling had lighting to look like stars in the night sky, it was so beautiful. When the plane was landing in Lahore on Day 133, the cabin lighting changed to a beautiful sky blue. I wish more planes followed an ethic of whimsy!

Another sight on the plane got me thinking quite a bit. Walking back to my seat at one point, I noticed a quite large, sprawling woman in white shalwar kameez and hijab, spanning across the width of two seats - at her feet on the floor throughout most of the flight was her grown son, massaging her wide legs. It was a heartening and heartbreaking sight at the same time. There is something about the way desi parents raise their children that keeps the children (for the most part), ever-caring of their elders, willing to press their feet while sitting on the floor through an 8hour flight. Perhaps it is the ever-lasting support desi parents (for the most part) give their children. Yet I see far too many desi parents, especially those with diabetes, not taking care of themselves, brushing such a serious illness away while saying, "Choro, kuch nahin hota!" Unfortunately, they do not realize that their children are left to care for their parents' largely avoidable illnesses (while many of the children have families of their own that need to be cared for).

The start of my time in Pakistan-mode is a clear sign of the great number of issues and exciting things I hope to encounter during my time here.


  1. Kiran. You write in a away that it always touches readers heart. Keep it up. Your dad

  2. Awe thanks daddy, that means a lot!