The Climax – Part 3

I had left folks off on a cliff hanger in the last post(The Lure of Fernweh & Veg..) We had arrived, with ample time left to eat a hearty evening snack, at the airport from which to fly towards Seattle. We were told by the crew, that forgot how to smile, that we had come to the wrong airport. Our flight, was to leave not from Oakland airport, but from San Jose at the same time, said one of the crew and the pair of them at the desk scowled.

I never knew what people meant when they said they were struck dumb. I now know.

On hot days, inside the brain, it feels like ice cream is melting and spilling over into the Broca’s area commonly known as the left frontal lobe.
Weather Forecast in Brain: Snow avalanche

The Broca’s area is the part of the brain that controls speech and having melted ice-cream over it renders cohesive speech delivery impossible. All that is manifest on the face is an advanced level of ogling, noisy gulping and impressive eyes opened in wide disbelief. Some people can then say, “Eh?”, but most like me, just continue with the ogling, g-ping and eye-strengthening exercises.

About a minute later, I found my voice. “What? I mean how? How could Alaskan Air send the flight notifications for Oakland then?”

The husband, was having a pretty tough time reigning in his Broca’s area too, but he coerced his left frontal lobe into speech. “I set up the alerting. I mean, we are flying back from Seattle to Oakland, so I must’ve gotten confused. The flights from San Jose and Oakland are at the same time remember?” he said.

“Well, the airport is pretty empty, so the flights must be quite empty too, who not ask them if they can put us on the flight from here?” I asked simply. It was a reasonable request I thought, but the flight crew taking in our plight did not seem to think so.

“We cannot do that. Call the reservations number. There is a 1-800 number on the website.” she said petulantly, like we were badly behaved, very naughty children, making mischief for her by arriving at the wrong airport. I could have told her that playing games with her apparently absent sense of humor was not exactly my idea of a vacation. But something about her face and mine, made the husband step in. Using his omniscient diplomacy, he held my hand. He had sensed the loosening of my left frontal lobe and he knew, it would be quick in making up lost time. His hand held back that sharp rebuke hovering near the tongue. He then asked her, politely, if there was anything at all that could be done, and she said “No.” (I mean there wasn’t even the perfunctory ‘sorry’ that most crew members throw in without meaning it.)

The husband tried yet again, “If there is a change fee or something, I can pay it here. “
“No. Please call 1-800 line Sir.”
“You cannot do anything?”
There was no denying it. Alaskan Air had missed a golden customer service opportunity. For, we are easily appeasable folks and would have gladly taken any help they could have given us.

We had flown Southwest Airlines before and though, this was a first when it came to airport bloomers, there have been many occasions when we have arrived early and had been delighted to find that Southwest could accommodate us on an earlier flight, or on a later flight if the security lines were horrendous, and we would have a mad rush getting to the gate on time. Every time, their proactive customer service was exemplary and better yet, unceremonious: It was handled by the crew checking or printing out your boarding pass.

Why then was this so difficult? Maybe, that is why Southwest was exemplary, because it was out of the ordinary.

But, of course, life is in the uncertainties and given that there was no help forthcoming from the airline staff, the husband called the 1-800 line and was listening to some music on their hold line. A thought struck me as I checked my watch: there were another 35 minutes in which to make it to San Jose if we caught a cab quick enough from here. The drive time at current traffic rates showed 40 minutes.

Time for a climax nourishncherish household! Time for a climax.

Say what you will, during moments like this, some people, like the flight crew above make you want to throw your hands up in despair; while some others make you want to congratulate their attitude and spirit. It just goes to prove that attitude is everything. Intelligence, rank, position and everything else seems secondary. The taxi driver arrived and within moments had the situ. surmised.

Here was a man who was determined, and sorry for us. He caught the high occupancy lane and concentrated rigorously enough to get us to the San Jose gate at 6:10 p.m. The flight was at 6:55 p.m. San Jose airport was empty too. We tumbled through security, raced past the terminals and ran into the aircraft. Then, we stood around choosing convenient spots in a half filled aircraft, and taking deep breaths, before giving ourselves congratulatory high-fives. The children were marvelous throughout the adventure and we made it. Just about.

Before switching off my phone for take-off, I checked Facebook. The results of the Vegetable Quiz were out. It turned out to be Cauliflower Paneer and Vegetable Biriyani with this helpful photograph to tide us over.

vegetable pulao
vegetable biryani with cauliflower pulao

We are not angels. Neither are we yogis. I found myself irascible. We had not had time to buy food, we had barely time to catch the flight. This photograph was too much.

Weather Bulletin in Tummy: Strong thunder storm.

I weakly waited for water, while my stomach rumbled loudly and frequently. The flight crew handed me 36 ml to sprinkle into the thunderstorm.

“If we had stopped at their house on the way, we could have had that excellent biriyani and paneer!”, said the husband and I moaned.

Weather Bulletin in Tummy: Hailstones & mild rain
The tiny packets of airline honey roasted peanuts landed like hailstones and more water rained down.

We bought a cheese platter from the crew, and waited. In our hungry minds, the fruit & cheese platter grew in dimensions. There were water melons jostling with grapes, and blueberries were complaining about the lack of space. The oranges tried to mediate the fracas, but got hit by the cantaloupes. The cheese just tried to get in wherever it could. The platter came, and well….see for yourselves:


By the time we landed in Seattle, the hunger pangs had quietened down somewhat, apparently given up on the idea of anything substantial.

That is why our hosts at Seattle saw us demolish the food laid out on the table like that. I always enjoy my friends’ hospitality, and the meal was doubly enjoyable given the circumstances. There was only munching for the first 10 minutes. Then, we sighed contentedly and gave them the lowdown of our journey there and they were suitably impressed.

The after dinner fruit platter showed us what fruit platters should look like and we retired happily to start our short vacation in Seattle & Vancouver.

Parathas @ Mt. Whitney

The pace of life in the nourishncherish household has been peaking. The husband, in a dash of mid-life madness decided that what he wanted most was to add to his resume, the fact that he scaled the tallest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney. Hikers apparently prepare for a few months (with at least a few hikes in high altitudes), but the husband and his friends don’t set much store by what people usually do. So, in their typical fashion, they went ahead and attempted the peak after 5 weeks of ‘rigorous training’ on a hillock by our house.  It is a bit like jumping in the middle of the ocean and navigating through the rip tides on the firm knowledge that you can swim in the deep-end of the pool in your local pool, even when the lifeguard was not on duty. (I exaggerate as usual) But like our friend said wisely, you only get to be young and stupid for so many decades of your life and so, there they were.

Mt. Whitney from the Visitor Center
Mt. Whitney from the Visitor Center

I have observed this multiple times with the husband. When I ask him to take a packed lunch for example, he scoffs. He not only scoffs, but also shrugs his shoulders in a manner suggesting that it is only old maids, elderly aunts and mothers who think of food and packing and all that. Not cool guys like himself. He is a man who will hunt for food, rouse his primal instincts for food gathering or stop at a sandwich place. But to give the man his due, I have never seen this cool attitude towards the food linger once the Biriyani packets are opened at picnics. There are some egotists who would  turn away from the Biriyani thinking back and reflecting on the hurtful statements hurled at the Biriyani earlier in the morning. Not so with the husband. All trifling misunderstandings with Biriyanis are shelved and he is the true example of the bigger man. He shows that all biriyani-related ill-humour earlier that day is water under the bridge and tucks in with joy and enthusiasm. The biriyani is happily settled in the stomach and the smile of contentment is happily displayed on the man. All is well.

Characteristically, when I asked him what he planned to do for food during the hike, he scoffed. I suggested Idlis (steamed rice cakes) because I thought idlis were a good food to take on hikes (they are starchy enough, steamed and relatively dry). But more importantly, I thought ‘Idlis on Mt Whitney’ would make a good blog title. The husband snorted loudly at this. I then prudently suggested Bread and Jam. It is easy to handle, light,  and there is sugar in the jam which can be critical when they planned to hike for 16 hours non-stop. He poo-ed and pa-ed and that was brushed aside too. I told him to forage berries for himself on the barren mountainside and set about packing Biriyani packets for their drive a little haughtily. It was then, that his friends (3 of them planned to hike together) intervened and said it might not be a bad idea to take some parathas (Indian breads). I still think my bread and jam idea was better, but ‘Parathas on Mt. Whitney’ sounded like a pretty good blog title too, and I let it go.

So, off they went with the biriyani, parathas, an unhealthy dose of over-confidence, a seemly dose of comradeship and a good dose of adventure to conquer the King of Peaks, Mt. Whitney.


Our friend has written about the journey here, and he is also the one who gave me the pictures for the Mt. Whitney posts: (the link may only work for his friends)

Did they do it?

Read on in Part 2, for it is a thrilling tale: Do bears prefer Pizza to Parathas? We may never know.

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