Thursday, October 27, 2011

Flying High

I had a long day and was on a mid night flight. All I needed was some peace and quiet to sleep. As soon as I settled in, I noticed this mousy looking man sitting next to me all fidgety and shifting in his seat. A nervous flyer was all that I needed. While I tried to get into the winding down mode I was irritated with this nerd. On the seat behind me was a woman who was snoring and wheezing. And her two teenage daughters who were talking non stop about their wardrobe for some wedding they were going to attend in Bangkok. So much for my sleep dream!
The cabin lights were dimmed and I could hear the nerd next to me typing away on his laptop. Being a light sleeper is not easy....suddenly there was a sound that could rouse the devil out of his stupor. The woman in the back seat seemed to be having a heart attack.
The cabin crew rushed to her, the lights came on. Her daughters were hysterical. The pilot made an announcement asking if there was a doctor on board. There was stunned silence. I couldn’t take my eyes of the genteel lady who seemed to be hovering between life and death.
Suddenly nerd in the next seat got up and I must have looked very shocked. Dentists are doctors too, he offered. He went to the lady and then asked everyone to move away. Made her lie down and asked the airhostess to get the medicine box. Next he asked for the captain. They were in a huddle and the rest of us were clueless.
Suddenly he was in charge and in command. With the captain next to him, he spoke. He said she needed prayers but the immediate danger was taken care of. If she got medical aid soon she would make it. There was a collective sigh of relief. The captain announced that we were making an emergency landing in Nagpur and the flight would be delayed.
I saw an elderly man across the aisle taking out his prayer beads. When I went to the rest room saw an adorable little child with his eyes closed and hands folded, praying earnestly. My faith in humanity was restored.
Back on my seat I kept observing this miracle worker who was cradling the lady’s head in his lap and talking to her like she was a child. He gestured to me and asked me to tell the daughters to calm down and talk to their mom. She had to stay awake and talking. If she didn’t chances of her slipping into coma were high.
Soon I was watching from a distance as the two daughters and the good doctor were rubbing her palms, the soles of her feet and talking to her. Telling her stories of the wonderful times in the past....plans for the future. Her pulse rate was returning to normal. Her breathing was getting even. The prayers of two seventy odd people seemed to be working.
On touchdown in Nagpur, like the movies, there were ambulances and cops on the tarmac. Paramedics rushed in and she was gently lifted onto a stretcher. The dentist went along till the ambulance. I saw him on the tarmac as the ambulance sped away.
When he boarded the plane again, he met with a standing ovation. The captain shook his hand and said I am so glad you were on this flight Dr Rao.

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