Sleeping like a donkey

I was watching the news on Monday night, and the weather forecast came on. There was a detailed forecast for Tuesday, and then a brief 5 day forecast. The forecast for Saturday was clear skies and 30 degrees C. My entire body convulsed with joy and I shed a tear or two. It felt so good. That was my happiest moment this year. The clouds have started to give way to blue skies and the temperature has started to touch the 20's. And now, flight training is just as much fun as it must be.

Some time ago, I was flying solo, and got quite distressed after a near miss. The experience had shaken me so much that I mindlessly allowed myself to get sucked into a black hole for an entire day. I made a substantial mental effort to not think about the moment, and instead convince myself that all is well that ends well. While I felt quite normal and did not think about it anymore, for over a week my subconscious was inducing involuntary physical and psychological jitters, at the wrong place and at the wrong time. It will probably take me some more time to weed out any emotional distress, for normalcy to return, and I have accepted it that way. If nothing else, this experience has made me positively stronger. I know now that I had the presence of mind, did the right thing and saved the day. I know that despite being in a state of shock, I was able to fly back to base safely and without any incident. And I know that the next time anything like this happens, I will be in much better shape to handle it. Bring it on! Well, it's not at all a pleasant experience, and I wish that nobody, including me, has to ever face anything like it.

There is a fraternity in aviation that strongly believes that one must be a pilot only when one has the passion for it and has dreamed of it since childhood. Several people from this fraternity have in the past antagonized me when I reasoned my decision to become a pilot. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and I acknowledged these people for their thoughts. I had found it to be a well paying profession that offered several perks, and allowed time off (as against the IT field). At the time I made this decision, I had never ever dreamed of becoming a pilot and had no passion what so ever for it. And today, I abide by my decision and the reasons. But it’s strange, after all this, and if I wasn't weird enough, I have started to "love" flying. I feel happiest when I am in the air.

On the training front, I have again switched tracks. Two months ago, I had decided to jump to the Multi-Engine Instrument Rating (ME-IR) before completing my Commercial Pilot License (CPL), and complete the CPL after I finished with the ME-IR. I even started the ME-IR training, but several people advised me against this strategy and I found substance in their advice. After completing 20 hours in the simulator for ME-IR, I switched back to CPL. I am now preparing for the CPL flight test, and target to complete in 2-3 weeks.

It never goes as planned, does it? I came to Canada with the idea that the course will take up to a year. It is now 2 years and 3 months, and I am still 2 months shy of completing the course. I know that my parents are not at all pleased with this. I am sure they will always support me and have an immense capacity to endure my absence, but they are probably reaching the limits now. Being old enough to be a parent myself, I can guess their train of thoughts. Their train must has several compartments, like my marriage, my kids (or their grandchildren), my career, my education loan, my entire life, and somewhere in the middle, their retirement. And the engine that is now pulling this long and very heavy train is my course (flight training), and it's going far too slowly for the comfort of all its passengers. What my parents really want just now is that I get this engine moving as fast as possible and get to the next station - back home.

I'm working on it, I really am. I know I've been lax and taking it slow and steady, but I'm on it now. There are so many days when I get jinxed, it's not even funny. Situations akin to "why does it have to happen with me" have grounded me several times. Take for example, on an absolutely beautiful day for flying; I start the engine, only to find the alternator is not working. Grounded! Another day the weather is great, I have 2 flights booked, and I wake up with a severe back ache. Grounded! I keep going back, more resilient than yesterday, more confident than ever.

The back ache started Tuesday morning, and after 2 flights, I was in so much pain! I probably slept like a donkey. I also suspect that my back no longer likes the box spring mattress. I am going to try and sleep on the carpet or a futon mattress. As much as possible, I try to use alternate medicine (acupressure, heating pad, stretches), and at the most a couple of Tylenol every day. I am much better today, and it's probably going to take another 2-3 days to heal completely. A trip to the chiropractor is not ruled out for tomorrow.

The last set of pictures I uploaded to my website was from the trip to San Francisco and Las Vegas. I have now uploaded a huge collection of pictures I have taken in the past 6 months. Click here to go to the picture gallery. Enjoy.

Mayur Poddar

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