En Route

Trip Start Sep 15, 2006
Trip End Oct 10, 2006

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Flag of Germany  ,
Saturday, September 16, 2006

TIME: 1:05pm Frankfurt time
MOOD: Elation
SONG STUCK IN MY HEAD: "Too Pure" by Sebadoh
LAST FOOD CONSUMED: Yummy vegetarian Air India breakfast

As predicted, my last minute nature and inability to plan ahead sufficiently had me staying up all night, going on three errands in the morning and rushing to the airport in a cab at 5:00 instead of the leisurely bus ride at 3:00 that I would have liked. But I lucked out with my cabbie -- a talkative Indian from Calcutta, not the typical surly Russian I'm used to in L.A. My driver suggested taking the 10 to the 405 instead of La Cienega, which I thought was madness, but the 10 West was totally clear and we probably saved 15 minutes. Considering I was one of the last people to board the plane, he saved my ass.

Along the way we talked of India, and as I was flying Air India to Frankfurt, he asked if they would serve meat, which I thought was a good question. As it turned out, the meals were very good, and there was the choice of "Veg or non-veg." For dinner I had the lamb curry, and for my recently concluded breakfast I went for the veg option which consisted of chickpeas and two kinds of grainy things -- not iddly, but similar. I skipped the alternative, omelet and chicken sausage, for fear of getting sick off the eggs, but I'm glad I had the more exotic choice. It put me in a good mindset for future culinary adventures. For dinner I took advantage of the free booze on international flights, but the Johnnie Walker Red I had was awful, much worse than I remember. Later I drank a can of Heineken along with some black tea and cream. I love drinking tea while traveling.

Air India's planes don't appear to be the latest in aviation technology. The decor is dated, the ceiling where the lights and vents are have smudges galore from thousands of hands and the seatbacks don't have the video screens I've become accustomed to. Indeed, there's only one video choice, the poorly-projected communal big screen. But oh, what an assemblage of clips. We're talkin' a show from Indian television that featured a group of people walking in a forest who encounter a jabbering skull with dark John Lennon glasses that shoots laser beams from its eyes that transport our party to... a different part of the forest. Completely non-sensical, even if I knew Hindi, I'm sure. And then there are the random assortment of Bollywood musical set pieces. Total eye candy that are probably better without the headphones that I'm not bothering with.

Soon after take-off I was assaulted by the most pungent foot odor I've encountered in quite some time. It reminded me of the very nice Pakistani man next to me on my flight to Hong Kong en route to India who seemed to have irritable bowel syndrome. Either that or he had fart smell coming out of his pores. Thank God for sleeping pills. I mistakenly took the foot smell to originate from the turbaned and long gray-bearded fellow behind me, but I later happened to look under the seat and see that he still had on a pair of stylish silver sneakers. So it was probably the big white dude next to him.

Also on board are four German guys in all too stylish jeans with matching t-shirts reading Porno Tryout Crew alongside the silhouette of a woman on all fours. On the back of each t-shirt they have their individual names. (Apparently this was their plan of attack on the women of Los Angeles. I wonder how they did?) Two of them are seated next to an old Indian woman in a sari. The juxtaposition is quite funny.

On the screen now is a man in pantomime wearing a large, fluffy black ostrich body. Sticking out of the top, we only see his bare arm and hand. It's quite an effective act. I might know what I'm going to be for Halloween.

As the flight isn't full, I had a row of three seats to myself, which allowed me to stretch out in relative comfort. But even though I had been up for 32 hours straight, sleeping was difficult due to lots and lots of turbulence. It made me wonder why we couldn't climb in altitude to pass over whatever storms were brewing below. But I guess commercial air traffic is limited to 35,000 feet for a reason. As I'm afraid of a big blast of turbulence sending me headlong into the ceiling, I kept waking up and trying to strap in, but as I was lying across a row, all I was able to manage was a belt around my thigh. Probably worse than nothing.

Though I needed to write in order to get these collection of thoughts out, I'm really avoiding the book I brought with me: Don DeLillo's Underworld. I'm 485 pages into this 827 page monster and I STILL don't know what it's about. I've been reading it in fits and spurts since June and I'll be all too glad to ditch it somewhere in Europe when I'm done, hopefully in exchange for something with, oh I don't know, a PLOT.

Okay, back to listening to the playlist I put together on my iPod based on Pitchforkmedia.com's 200 Greatest Songs of the 60s. I'm currently on #156, "Fist City" by Loretta Lynn. Good shit.

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