Recently, I was flying from Philadelphia to Miami, sitting next to an elderly woman and a college student who had never been on a plane before. As we made our descent into MIA, the plane began to shake violently. The college student turns to the woman.
“Are we going to be alright?”
The woman looks at him, taking off her headphones, and responds in a warm, grandmother-like voice.
“Honey, I’ve flown thousands of times before, we’ll be just fine”
The two continue passing time as the plane makes its descent. The turbulence worsens, overhead compartments bursting open. The college student looks anxiously and turns to the old woman, who is praying and breathing heavily. Luckily, the plane hit the ground just fine and no one was injured during the violent pocket of air. As I packed my things and headed towards the cabin door, I thought to myself:
God, I love turbulence.
I know it sounds weird. What can be so appealing about a plane shaking, electronics going ballistic, and old ladies praying for someone, somewhere to save them in the event the plane crashes? But turbulence makes the ride so much fun. A mundane flight from Philadelphia to Miami turned into a roller coaster. It allows for a break in the everyday, a hiatus from the boring, humdrum flights we are all used to. After all, why not shake things up a bit?
Without a doubt, the most entertaining part of the process is when the pilot gets back on the intercom, attempting to describe what literally just went down. Sometimes its the confident, scientific response. Other times, it is a jumble of words that are supposed to make sense, even though they clearly don’t. And thankfully, it isn’t a worrisome but honest “Whoops!”
Read any guide-book on New York City and you will find a nice dinner in town followed by a broadway show as a must do experience. Tens of thousands of visitors have done this, including me, but what I experienced last night will stay with me forever.
Last night was Siddhi’s last day of her first year at Tisch and we were invited to an event at school that was being held offsite somewhere near Times Square. While it was a bit odd that Tisch was doing an event offsite, off we marched on the subway and streets till we ended up at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square. “Lack of space at Tisch” was the excuse proffered to me, and as we rode the elevator to the top of the building to “The View”, little did I suspect that something did not smell right.
As soon as we reached the revolving restaurant famous for its 70 minute rotation with some of the best views of the New York skyline, the kids announced that there was no school event. It was a ruse to get me to the city for an early Mother’s Day celebration, since I would be on a trip with Siddhi on the holiday. I was completely taken aback. The View is a pricey place to eat and while Siddhi has a part-time job and Sathya had a little bit of cash saved up, it was cost prohibitive for them to bring me here. Not according to them. As I sat down recovering from the shock, out came a gift bag with two picture frames filled with memories of me and the girls taken in different locations around the world. Digging further into the bag, I found a vase with a flower and a TON of Twix bars and Heath, my favorite candies. Needless to say, I was crying at this point.
We proceeded to have a lovely meal of heirloom tomato salad, gnocchi with pesto, penne with tomato sauce and the most yummy chocolate mound cookies with vanilla ice cream for dessert, all while taking in the beautiful, changing views of the city.
When the waiter approached us with the check, Siddhi took it and signed away probably multiple months of money saved. For a mother, it was a moment of tremendous pride (at the kids being so thoughtful and doing this), joy (that they just made me so happy) and a tinge of sadness (that because of me, they were spending all this money).
Siddhi wanted to make one quick stop to bid her roommate good-bye and as we headed to Tisch, there was one more surprise. We paused in front of the theater where Wicked was playing and the kids turned to announce that was part two of my surprise. Speechless, I walked into the theatre dazed and was seated right in the front row (their treat), while they went several rows behind to claim their seats. What followed on stage was just one of the most magnificent audio-visual spectacles. The music was beautiful, the sets and special effects magical and haunting and the actors superb. This was one of the best musical productions I had seen.
As we walked out of the theatre, I looked at the kids with a mix of marvel and joy. Sensing something, Siddhi said, “Mom, I have no money left, you’re going to have to pay for the cab back to NYU and there are no more surprises.”
Driving back home at 11:30, I told the kids how proud and grateful I was for the gift of a perfect night, a night that they did not have to package and yet how it will be one that I will cherish for life. And the reply in unison? “Mom, it is a small thing we could do in return for everything that you do.”