I hate airplanes. The putrid smell, the cramped seats (strictly economy) and having to be stationary for hours. Yet with childlike glee (but mostly blissful ignorance of scientific mechanics) I often marvel at how an object so heavy can soar thousands of miles through the air without coming down. Although with a couple of Pakistani planes having crashed in the last few years, even that assurance has somewhat waned. Each little lurch can be an instinctive prompt for long memorized (and now long forgotten) Quranic verses.
There is certainly a lot of truth to the reported deterioration of PIA. The whole experience seems just so much inferior to Etihad or Emirates. Decaying interiors, sour hosts (mostly) and dull in-flight entertainment (playing Bollywood songs under 'Pakistani songs', for one). I am just glad this flight isn't as excruciatingly long as the one to the US.
Flying over Kiev and other such exotic-sounding Eastern European cities the plane finally started descending over the green English hills. From above it looked a bit like Punjab, lush green clearly marked fields, but with small cottages with sloping roofs instead of mud houses. *cue your footsteps will always fall here along England's greenest hills*. Suddenly I felt a bit queasy at the prospect of a long holiday in a country where people from mine have a special slur word reserved for them. That was the thought foremost on my mind as I stared at the immaculately clean tarmac of Heathrow Airport.
The immigration at Heathrow, however, was nice and orderly and surprisingly pleasant to one attuned to passing through UAE immigration. The lines were long but full of smiling faces, unlike Dubai where a sense of fear pervades even the airport queues. Last time it took me 6 hours to pass through Dubai immigration with the menacing policemen and the dour immigration officials all chipping in to provide a glimpse into Arab 'hospitality'.
One of the first things I noticed in the line was an Accenture ad featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company, underscoring the merging of the arts with profit making. A bit like Coke Studio one would think, but without the necessity of 'fusion' to sell it to contemporary audiences.
The line moved quickly and I was waved off to the other side with a cheery 'Enjoy your stay!' by the immigration official. And so there I was, in London.