An American drone was shot down and the situation was very tense, but we did not know that and all that mattered was our flight to Toronto was delayed.
After we finally took off, the captain of our flight welcomed us on board and apologised for keeping us waiting and said the delay was due to air traffic congestion over the Gulf of Oman. It still did not register until I looked up breaking news on the in-flight entertainment screen and it said that KLM had suspended flights over the Strait of Hormuz.
I am not a great fan of flying; I find airports boring, however fancy, and reading about the rising incidents of air turbulence mishaps in the skies make my feet turn cold, and the last thing I wanted to do was fly in a metal tube over a sea tense with rhetoric and belligerence.
Security was tight at Abu Dhabi, our only stop for the rest of a very long flight of 14 hours (airlines term it as a ‘long-haul’) that usually has screaming kids, stressed out cabin crew and long lines at the toilet like at a rock concert.
When you are sitting for long and the cabin pressure is low and maybe also dehydrated, DVT strikes and all sorts of nasty things happen like blood clots forming in the leg veins.
I was sent back thrice from the metal detector, once to remove my harmless, lightweight trainers, and then to get rid of my cap, that keeps my bald pate warm, and finally to take off my belt that holds up my pants.
As I was hopping on one foot, putting on my shoes after passing through the security gate, I realised my backpack that I had bought at Galleria Mall (which is waterproof, practically indestructible and has many hidden pockets) had been singled out by the security officer and he was waiting for me.
From a distance my wife looked at me disapprovingly at the embarrassment I had put us in because of my insistence of bringing a footrest in my backpack.
“Name?” asked the security officer. “Passport?” I handed it to him. The security officer had a ledger in front of him and he noted down all my information. He checked with his colleague, and then the boss of the security section walked towards us.
After reading a travel blog about long haul flights and how to make my journey comfortable, I had bought a footrest online from Amazon.
I believe that DVTs (deep vein thrombosis) occur when sitting for a long time, such as on a long flight. The footrest was advertised to help elevate the feet and help me keep a good posture.
Its free-floating surface tilted back and forth, helping me stretch my legs and increase circulation and its surface was supposed to create a massaging effect on the soles.
My wife had tried to hide it under my table back at home just as we were leaving for the airport, but I found it and stuffed it into my backpack.
I am particularly scared about DVTs after reading about how the diva Lady Gaga’s legs started swelling up during a transatlantic flight. When you are sitting for long and the cabin pressure is low and maybe also dehydrated, DVT strikes and all sorts of nasty things happen like blood clots forming in the leg veins.
“He’s got this metallic thingy,” said the security officer to his superior. The boss looked at it and passed it through, saying it is harmless.
When we reached our Airbnb in Toronto, we got a message from the airline that it would not be flying over the Gulf of Oman on our journey back, and news reports said the flight times on this route are now longer.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi.