Sunday, 16 March 2014

Where There Is Love, There Is A Way, And There Is British Airways

The following post is part of a campaign sponsored by the mentioned company. I have written this post as a challenge for my skills of articulation and creativity and do not necessarily endorse all the information provided in it.
Image courtesy lostateminor

Our first marriage anniversary was to come in a few days, but Anu, my wife, was thousands of miles away from me.

Anu was at such a place where no ordinary human being dares to go- The North Pole.

Anu is a scientist and microbiologist. She was part of the Indian mission stationed at North Pole for scientific and defence-related research work. Microbiology being her passion, Anu was engaged in research for finding and studying various microbes in the frozen environments of North Pole.

Anu, a microbiologist, was part of the Indian research-team stationed at North Pole
Image courtesy arcticphoto

We had separated soon after our marriage and honeymoon. I came back to Bangalore to work on the business software I was developing; and in a week’s time Anu joined the Indian team heading for North Pole. We had worked hard in our respective careers and even after marriage our careers were our priority. Our middle class values, after all.

Though I was fully busy in my project, yet I longed for Anu very much. During the few weeks we were together, Anu had already become my soul mate. Our marriage was arranged by our parents. We chatted over e-mail for a few days, and then met at Barista. We found one another very compatible. Our thoughts, our middle-class values, our love and respect for our parents, our sincerity for our professional careers, and our passion for whatever we pursued in life, all matched, and soon we entered into wedlock.

For the initial few weeks Anu sent me e-mails from the base station at North Pole. Then as Anu’s work progressed, she became more and more busy and our interactions became less and less. Living in North Pole is not easy as I understand from her mails. The temperatures, as low as minus fifty degree Celsius, are enough to freeze one’s spirits. Only her will and passion about her work kept her going.

Anu and her team of some twenty people comprising of scientists, researchers and adventurists had been there for about ten months now. And in these ten months, we hadn’t seen one another. The separation was becoming more and more painful.

In one of the e-mail Anu wrote “Wish we could be together on our first marriage anniversary. But looks like it won’t be possible.  My work will take make me stay for another four months here. I miss you Rahul. I wish we could……..”

But there was no way we could meet. Had she been in London or New York, I would have flown to meet her ….but North Pole? Impossible. The only way to get there was to be a part of the expedition, go by ship till the place about 5 degrees of latitude, and then ski or use snowmobiles to reach to the latitude zero- the North Pole.

Common citizens like me who are not part of any expedition, can not dream of putting a foot on North Pole. At the most, they can only fly over it, since some commercial flights do fly over North Pole on way from Asia or Europe to North America.

Or was there any other way? I wondered.

When there is a will, there is a way.

I knew that some commercial flights fly over North Pole en route from Asia to North America.

Some commercial flights fly over North Pole, en-route to America
Image courtesy nicmosis

An idea flashed into my mind.

Gathering my thoughts, typed an e-mail with palpitating heart and sweaty hands and sent to a number of airlines. I couldn’t sleep the whole night.

At the first ray of light, I checked my mail. I was stunned to see a reply from British Airways’ headquarters.

“Dear Rahul,

We are pleased to hear from you. And we confess that we were moved by the passion your mail displays.

Well, it’s a weird, weird idea, as you too will agree. We haven’t tried anything of this sort till date.

However, we respect your love and you passion to meet your wife. Though we can not promise anything at the moment, we have advised our Bangalore office to speak to you on the subject.

Please be assured that we will go any far to let you get closer to someone you love.

Warm regards,
British Airways”

Then there was a mail from BA Bangalore office suggesting me to meet them.

Excited, I was there at BA’s city office sharp at ten.

The nice young women, head of customer care at BA, had already read my mail forwarded by their headquarters.  Yet she heard me patiently, with her smile not leaving her face for a moment.

Then she spoke “Well, I don’t know! But we at British Airways believe that your passion and BA’s willingness to meet challenges can make anything possible. So let’s keep our fingers crossed while I speak to our technical team, “she said with a smile as we parted.

Then I heard the good news from her the next day.

“Rahul, can you please come to our office now? I spoke to our technical team and they are very excited about your idea. The young chaps over here say they can make it possible”.

I rushed to their office and was greeted by a bunch of smiling faces waiting for me. Sitting in their meeting room, they explained me the nitty-gritties of the plan. The preparations will take about a week, they said, a little less than the time left for our anniversary.

I was excited but I composed myself to concentrate on important aspects for the plan.

On the day of our marriage anniversary, I boarded British Airways flight from London to Seattle. A few minutes into the flight, a flight attendant came to me and said with a smile “Welcome Mr Rahul, we know why you are here”. Introducing a tall young man she said, “He is Eddy, our expert. He is here to assist you”.

I shook hands with Eddy, though my hands were shivering all the while.

By sunrise, we had crossed the five degree latitude and were heading towards the place of zero latitude, the North Pole. I looked outside the window and was spellbound. I could see the North Pole. It was nothing but a frozen sea everywhere. Even from miles away, I could feel the serene beauty of the frozen sea. I got mesmerized with the spell of white magic the nature cast everywhere.

                                  From the flight above, the frozen sea at North Pole was mesmerizing

Image ©Saket K
The flight attendant came over and asked with a big smile on her face “Sir, in fifteen minutes, we will be right above the North Pole” and handed me over a large pack. I opened the pack. It contained my gear.

Then I heard her announce in the public address system 

“Dear guests, we have a very special announcement. One of the fliers with us, Mr Rahul, will part ways with us when we are right above the North Pole.  As an adventure planned by him alongwith British Airways, he will parachute down to North Pole, to the Indian scientific research station there, where his wife is stationed. He hasn’t met her for last ten months and plans to be with her today, on the day of his first marriage anniversary. We at British Airways salute his love for his wife and wish him good luck”.

There was pin-drop silence for a moment, before the people broke into a thunderous applause.

As I walked through the isle towards the exit door, the applause got louder and louder. At the exit door, Eddy helped me position the parachute on my back and said “As per our plan, the pilot has obtained permission from ATC and is now flying at a low altitude.  Keep calm. Just remember what our instructors have taught you over last few days. Good luck buddy!"

"Now Go!” he screamed in my ears.

I jumped with my parachute, right over the Indian Base-camp at North Pole
Image courtesy staticflickr

I jumped. For a few minutes, I could not believe that I was doing this. The world around me was revolving. I was seeing the white of the land and the blue of the sky turn by turn. Then the parachute opened and I started to descend steadily. In a few minutes I would be landing right in front of Anu.

From the sky, I could see a group of people on the icy surface working with some instruments. Suddenly, they were looking up and talking to each other pointing towards the sky.

Then I spotted Anu, the pretty figure in bright red overcoat. She too was looking upwards, perplexed.

As I descended, the people looked towards me, perplexed
Image courtesy source

I maneuvered my parachute aiming to land right at the place where she was. And in next 30 seconds I landed right in front of her as people around us watched in awe.

I looked at her with broad smile on my face. She thought she was dreaming. She couldn’t bat an eyelid for the next few seconds. I walked towards her and said “Happy anniversary, Anu”

She was too shocked to speak as I hugged her. Then holding her hand I explained her and her colleagues everything- that how I landed there from the British Airways flight driven by my passion to go any far to be with her, and a little help from British Airways.

Her face lit up. Then there were tears of joy in her eyes. She said in quivering voice “Rahul, you came this far to be with me? And here? And in this way?

“Yes Anu, where there is love, there is a way, and there is British Airways,” I said.

Go Further To Get Closer’ contest by British Airways

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Photographs are symbolic and for illustration only. The source has been mentioned near the photograph with a backlink.

Written for ‘Go Further To Get Closer’ contest by British Airways in IndiBlogger.