July 31st, 1989

July 31st, 1989
Flight from DEL – AUH
Hilton Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Call time came at two thirty am (an hour after I got back to my room!) and as soon I got to the lobby, Toby made a beeline for me.
“Soooooo?” he asked.
“So,” I said. “I had a rather nice day in Delhi.”
“Spill.”

On our way to the airport, I sat with Kimberly on the crew bus. Toby sat behind us and poked his head between us.
“Is there more to tell or is that it?” he asked.
“That’s all you’re getting for now,” I laughed.
“Just one more thing,” he sneered. “I’ve been flying for twelve years and I’ve never left a passenger a note in their jacket pocket.”
“That’s your loss, darling,” I replied tartly, making Kimberly laugh.
“Mind you,” he added. “They rarely look like he does. Wake me up when we get to the airport,” he said, slumping back in his seat.
“Sweet dreams,” Kimberly chuckled.
“You know it, babe,” he breathed.

“You look happy,” Kimberly said with her sweet smile.
“Yesterday was pretty fantastic,” I said nodding my head.
“I’m sorry I’ve been such a moaning minnie.”
Trying my best to keep a straight face, I asked, “When was that?”
We both cracked up laughing.
“I’m sorry too,” I offered. “I’m sure I’ve been no picnic either. I guess neither of us are made for humid climates.”
“I’m glad we got that sorted, now tell me everything you just told Toby, plus all the juicy parts.”
So I did.

We arrived early in Abu Dhabi and I knew if I didn’t get at least some shuteye, I’d never make it out tonight. Met Kimberly and Poonam (she’s the Indian national on our trip) who took us to the Middle East restaurant (not exactly the most original name!) We sat on floor cushions and ate the most incredible food, all with our hands! By the time I finished eating I could’ve given the belly dancers a run for their money!

Poonam suggested we go to Safari, the disco in our hotel. Kimberly was back to her happy self and of course I was still up in the clouds from my chance encounter with David so we took a taxi back to the hotel.

After much dancing, Kimberly and I left Poonam on the dance floor and made our way back to our seats. From the other side of the club, we watched as a young man made his way over to us. He bowed his head, and without saying a word, he passed each of us a red box, inscribed with Cartier.

Kimberly and I looked at each other in mirrored bewilderment. The young man gestured to the VIP area but it was dark so I couldn’t make anything out.
“From the Prince,” he said in broken English. “Please open and accept.”
Once again Kimberly and I looked at each other then opened the boxes. Inside mine was a pair of emerald and gold stud earrings. They were stunning! Kimberly’s box contained what looked like sapphire studs.

Poonam came storming over to us. “Send those right back,” she shouted, slamming each box shut. She grabbed the box out of my hand, tossed it to the young man then did the same with Kimberly’s. Kimberly opened her mouth to speak but Poonam held up the palm of her hand really close to Kimberly’s face and shouted, “No.”

The young man scurried away and Poonam took a huge gulp of her cocktail. To say the atmosphere felt awkward would be an understatement so I followed suit and gulped down the rest of my cocktail, avoiding eye contact with Kimberly while she did the same.

Suddenly, Poonam stood up. “We should dance.”
Not daring to go against her wish, Kimberly and I followed her onto the dance floor. The music was fantastic and the three of us were soon laughing and enjoying ourselves again.
Kimberly was first to break the dancing frenzy and said she wanted to sit down. Poonam said she was going to the loo so I followed Kimberly back to our seats.

The second we sat down, the young man appeared again. Kimberly looked petrified but not enough to refuse the red box he passed her. I quickly scanned the area looking for Poonam but she was nowhere in sight, so I took the other box and at the same time, Kimberly and I clicked open the boxes. They were bigger this time and inside mine was a gold encrusted, jeweled bangle. I peered over at the box in Kimberly’s hand (it contained the same bangle) then out of the corner of my eye I spotted Poonam.
“Here she comes,” I said quickly.
We both slammed the boxes shut and passed them back to the young man who wasted no time leaving.

Poonam was all smiles and suggested we dance again. Kimberly and I silently agreed not to mention the second round of boxes and made our way back onto the dance floor.

About an hour later, the three of us went back to our seats and the young man appeared again. The two red boxes he carried were even bigger this time and I imagined what they might contain.

Poonam stood over him and spoke in a language I don’t understand but with body language that explained everything she was saying. The young man bowed and scurried away.

After that, there were no more boxes.

July 30th, 1989

July 30th, 1989

Hyatt Hotel, Delhi, India

I sometimes start a diary entry with What a day but this one is more like WHAT A DAY!

I’ll start with this morning, when I woke up crying from a dream I had about Ben. In the dream we were teenagers and Ben looked like he did when I fell in love with him. We were walking through a forest, and when I turned around, he was gone. I ran all over looking for him but I couldn’t find him.

I was still in bed sniffling and feeling sorry for myself, when Toby, our purser, rang to see if I wanted to go to the market with him. He said the market experience was worth getting up for, especially since it’s my first time here. I was tempted to say no thanks, roll over and go back to sleep but I knew I’d feel better if I went out, if only for a short time.

I pulled myself together and met Toby in the lobby. We ventured out into the heat and the chaos and within a few minutes I felt agitated because I’d bumped into what felt like at least a thousand people. I made no attempt to hide my annoyance and Toby laughed at my appalling attitude.

The market was overflowing with people and filled with all sorts of smells from food I had no clue of. I started to feel a bit more like myself, and thought, “Chill out, you’re in India!” Toby’s cheeriness soon lifted me out of my bad mood. His witty banter was good medicine and I soon realized how ridiculous I was being.

Many of the market stalls had makeshift tables, heaped with clothes and we stopped at one and began rummaging through the piles. The stall owner picked up a madras shirt and held it out to Toby from across the table.

“For your wife?” he asked in a lovely Indian lilt.

Toby took the shirt from him and held it up for my inspection.

“What do you think sweet pea?” he asked.

“It’s fab darling,” I cooed. “May I have it please?”

I watched Toby as he tried not to laugh. “How much?” he asked, passing the shirt back to the man.

“I give you good price for your beautiful wife.”

“Sorry, she’s not for sale,” Toby quipped.

“No, no sir,” the man said, clasping his hands. “I sorry miss,” he said, looking at me. “I give you good price.”

“We’ll take it,” said a voice I recognized.
I spun around and there he was. Mr. LA himself!

“I saw your hair from the other side of the market,” he said, taking the shirt from the stall owner and passing it to me.

I was much too gobsmacked to say thank you and purely due to nerves and excitement I started laughing. David passed a twenty dollar bill to the Indian man.

“Thank you sir, American dollars, most kind, thank you,” he said over and over again.

“Hi Karen,” David said with the biggest grin.

“Hi David. Fancy meeting you here,” I said, laughing.

We hugged and rapidly exchanged a bunch of words, questions, whatever, I don’t remember. In my head I was thinking; did he get the note? It’s so hot he probably hasn’t even put his jacket on. Wow, he really is gorgeous. Love his hair. He just bought me a shirt. It’s my favourite shirt ever. I wonder if he got the note. Maybe? Oh, he’s so good looking!

Toby cleared his throat in a, “Hello I’m still here,” kind of way and I introduced him to David.

“We met on the flight,” Toby said to nobody in particular, as he and David shook hands.

“Where are you guys staying?” David asked.

“At the Hyatt,” I answered, much too fast.

“Could we meet later?” Ah, that smile. I could barely concentrate as he continued, “ I can come and pick you up.”

“Unfortunately, we’re only here for the day,” I said, feeling utterly disappointed. “We have a really early departure. When’s call time Toby?”

“Like two in the morning,” he said, rolling his eyes.

“That’s too bad,” David offered with what I believe is the understatement of the century.

I felt so crestfallen I was stumped for words.

David looked at me. “Can you hang out now?”

Eh, let me see…YES! YES! YES!

“Sure,” I said in as cool a way as I could muster.

Toby asked if I’d be able to find my way back to the hotel and he gave a slight shake of his head that I interpreted as, “Will you be ok with him?”

I returned his silent question with an enthusiastic nod and hoped he sensed that I would be more than fine being left alone with David. Well, when I say alone, I mean in a city of about ten million people. Plus the gorgeous guy from LA!

 

“Bye sweet pea,” Toby said, as he kissed me on the cheek then whispered, “So unfair,” in my ear. He and David shook hands again then he left.

“Would you like to go on a walking tour of the city?” David asked.
“You’re that familiar with it?”

“I spend a lot of time here. It’s really cool.”

We headed out of the market and it didn’t feel at all like I only knew David from the flight. We spoke with ease about all sorts and from behind my Ray-Bans I snuck glances at him and have concluded that he is Utterly Divine.

Throughout the day we popped in and out of various places for food and drinks (and to cool down) and it was so nice being around someone who is no stranger to a place. Typically in Delhi, crew only eat in the hotel because we hear such horror stories about people getting sick from the street food. We’re strongly encouraged not to be at all adventurous, but today, I forgot about all that and I ate everything that was put in front of me.

We had so many questions for each other:

“Where do you live?” I asked him.

“In a place called Manhattan Beach, real close to the ocean.”

“How far are you from the airport?”

“LAX?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Real close.”

Oh goodie, I thought.

“Do you have any siblings?” he asked.

“No, I’m an only child.”

“I couldn’t tell,” he said, laughing.

“Cheeky,” I said cockily. “How about you?”

“One sister, she’s older. She and my parents live in San Diego.”

“Where exactly is that?” I asked.

“So Cal.”

“What?”

“So Cal,” he continued. “Southern California.”

“Oh, ok. Is that where you’re from?”

“I was born in San Diego but I went to school at UCLA.”

“School as in university?” I asked.

“Yeah, the University of California, Los Angeles.”

David went on to explain he’s so familiar with Delhi because the engineering firm he works for has a huge presence here. He had today off and said that going to the market was a last minute decision after he remembered he needed to buy his mum a birthday present. He said when he spotted my hair through the crowd, he just kept walking towards me, all the while thinking there was no way it could actually be me!

After exploring the city on foot and risking our lives in several tuk-tuk rides, we arrived back at the hotel at midnight. We ordered tea in the lobby and I knew it would soon be time for us to say goodbye, although I definitely didn’t want to.

David walked me to the elevator and pressed the button. I took his outstretched hand and we swayed our hands back and forth, slowly. I felt my breathing getting more and more rapid and I thought my face might explode from my wide smile.

The elevator dinged when it arrived and the doors opened. David and I stepped towards each other and my heart was beating so fast I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. He smiled at me as he reached his hand around the back of my neck and pulled me to him. We started kissing and when he pressed his fingers into the back of my neck, I thought I might actually pass out. The elevator doors dinged as they closed and we kissed our way through several of them coming and going.

As caught up as I was in kissing, I sensed time ticking by. When we stopped kissing, we stared at each other with matching grins.

“I have to go,” I whispered.

“I know,” he said, then kissed me again. “This has been, “ he sighed, “I don’t know what to say.”

“Serendipity,” I offered.

He pressed the button for the elevator and I put my arms around him. “Thank you for showing me around today. It was spectacular.”

“It is spectacular,” he said, squeezing me tight.

The elevator dinged and the doors opened. I stepped in and we held hands until the closing doors forced us to let go.

Suddenly, David reached his hand between the doors and his action forced them to open again.

“Hey Karen,” he said, tilting his head. “I forgot to say thanks.”

“For what?”

“For the note,” he mouthed, just as the doors closed and I began my floaty ascent, way higher than my room on the thirteenth floor.

 

 

July 29th, 1989

July 29th, 1989

Fight from AUH – DEL

Hyatt Hotel, Delhi, India

Went straight to bed in Abu Dhabi this morning, totally zonked out and woke up five minutes before call time. Showered, got back into uniform and here I am in India for the first time!

Flight time from Abu Dhabi was only three and a half hours and the bulk of the passengers had come all the way from LHR. I’d much rather operate the first sector out of LHR like we did at the beginning of this trip (when I met yummy David from LA!) There were definitely no passengers resembling him onboard last night, this morning or whenever the heck that flight was!

Did my best to keep busy on the flight and avoid Kimberly and her incessant complaining about the heat. I think the fact I’m not feeling well is only adding to my intolerance of Kimberly, which I know isn’t very fair but right now, that’s how I feel.

This hotel is very majestic looking but there’s a horrible odour in my room and it feels damp. A few of the crew arranged to meet in the hotel bar but I think I’m better off getting some sleep in the hope I’ll wake up tomorrow in a better frame of mind.

 

 

July 28th, 1989

July 28th, 1989

Night flight from KUL – AUH

Presently on crew rest, halfway through this almost eight-hour flight. I don’t particularly like night flights and with several of them remaining on this trip, I’m wishing now that losing my ID had got me sent home.

Flight was delayed out of Kuala Lumpur by several hours, all of which we spent on the ground, with passengers onboard. They were not happy campers! About every ten minutes, Kimberly made a point of telling me how uncomfortable she was and it took all I had not to lose it with her. I wanted to shout, “I don’t like the heat and humidity either but complaining about it isn’t going to cool us down!”

I’m finding the time changes on this trip difficult to keep up with and I think I might be getting a cold. Feeling stuffy on the ground is bad enough but at altitude it just seems to get worse. The fact I’ve eaten mostly crap since we left LHR probably isn’t helping either and I can tell from the snugness of the waistband on my skirt that I’ve probably gained weight too. Ugh!

I really wish this flight was going to Heathrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 27th, 1989

July 27th, 1989

Flight from PEN – KUL as a passenger

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Elaine (our CSD) rang early this morning with the good news that I can stay on the trip but she stressed that I need to get a new ID issued ASAP after we land back at Heathrow.

After I hung up, I fell asleep again and didn’t wake up until close to midday, which is when Kimberly and I were due to vacate our hotel room. We got ready quickly and were surprised at check out at how inexpensive our room service bill was.

Took the bus to Georgetown with no particular plan so we walked around and visited several temples, but to be honest the humidity was so unbearable that we didn’t enjoy the sights as much as we could have. Plus, in all that heat, my shorts felt far too snug and I swear my waistline expanded more by the second.

Kimberly did a lot of complaining today! At one point I was about to ask her to stop but when I looked at her, she looked sad so I didn’t say anything. She’s the type of girl who can be really fun one minute then silent the next. I felt a bit mean but after our flight took off I pretended to take a nap so I wouldn’t have to listen to any more of her whinging.

It was such a relief to come back to my room and be alone again! I cranked up the air conditioning (best friends) climbed into this big bed and just finished writing several letters, including one to Ben that I’ll probably keep, if only to remind me of how much I miss him tonight.

I love the sight of paper and books strewn all over my bed. It reminds me of the poem I love by Erica Jong:

I Sleep With…

I sleep with double pillows since you’re gone.

Is one of them for you – or is it you?

My bed is heaped with books of poetry.

I fall asleep on yellow legal pads.

Oh, the orgies in stationery stores!

The love of printer’s ink and thick new pads.

A poet has to fall in love to write.

Her bed is heaped with papers, or with men.

I keep your pillow pressed down with my books.

They leave an indentation like your head.

If I can’t have you here, I’ll take cold type and words: the warmest things there are – but you.

 

 

July 26, 1989

July 26th, 1989

Penang, Malaysia

What a day!

Kimberly and I were up early and took a taxi to the Golden Sands resort, where we rented bikes and had an enjoyable time cycling along the path adjacent to the beach. Somehow, we veered off the path and found ourselves in a heavily treed area, where we came across an old woman sitting outside a house. I don’t what compelled us to stop but we did.

Even with the language barrier, we were able to ascertain that the woman had three young children and a husband who, judging by her gestures was a very large man. She also had a monkey and when she opened the cage, the monkey jumped out and landed on the ground. Then he looked up at Kimberly and leapt up, into her arms. She let out a scream, more from surprise than fear (I think!) and I tried my best not to laugh when the monkey started stroking Kimberly’s cheek with more than a look of longing in his eyes!

There were birds flying everywhere and at one point the woman whistled and several of them landed on her arm. By now, the children were standing in the makeshift doorway watching us. They seemed reluctant to come outside but when they did I gave them what was left of the roll of Rowntree’s fruit pastilles I brought from home. They smiled while they chomped on the sweets and I wished I had more to give them.

When the monkey was safely back in his cage, the woman held her hands out to us and Kimberly and I held one hand each, while the woman recited something that sounded like a prayer. When she was done, she smiled and passed each of us a small piece of jade and signaled that we should always carry it with us.

We found our way back to the beach path then made a stop at a little craft shop where I found a gorgeous silver ring that I slipped on my finger the second I paid for it. At the beach, we took a walk and got asked by several groups of people if they could have their picture taken with us. We agreed that the attraction is clearly the blonde hair neither of us was born with!
It was while we were getting ready to leave the beach that I discovered my purse was missing. I thought that maybe I’d left it at the craft shop so we cycled back in the hope that someone found it. Fortunately, the man I bought the ring from spoke excellent English but unfortunately my purse was nowhere to be found. He offered to call the police and before I could explain that wouldn’t be necessary, two police officers appeared in the shop.
This is the second time this year I’ve given a theft related statement to the police! The policemen were thorough in their questioning and spoke decent English but they didn’t understand what I meant when I said my ID card was in my purse. Kimberly took it upon herself to try and explain the importance of locating my ID.

“She might have to go home to England if we don’t find it.” Her nasally Manchester accent sounded thicker than ever. “Our ID is like a passport. You know passport?” she asked.

They each nodded their heads, more in a gesture of bewilderment than understanding.

“As cabin crew,” she continued, her voice getting louder by the second, “Our ID is what we use to get on the aircraft.”

More baffled expressions.

“You know aircraft?” she asked, flapping her arms.

“Thanks Kimberly,” I said signing my name and contact info on the bottom of the statement page, “But I don’t think my purse is here.”

We returned the rental bikes and caught the bus back to the hotel, where I rang Elaine (our CSD) in Kuala Lumpur. While I was explaining to her what happened, I started crying.

“Let me make some calls to London,” she said, sounding very calm, “and I’ll see what I can do.”

“I’m so sorry,” I uttered over and over again.

“Don’t worry, these things happen,” she said trying her best to reassure me.

“Have you ever had someone lose their ID down route?”

“No, I haven’t actually, so this will be a first for me too.”

“Do you think I’ll be sent home?” I sniffled.

“I don’t know,” she stated. “Keep your chin up and we’ll hope for the best.”

I was so annoyed with myself that I didn’t feel like going out tonight. Kimberly suggested room service so we ordered a ton of food (most of which I scoffed) and watched “Raising Arizona,” with Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter. I really love that film and watching it again (I’ve seen it at least a dozen times) lifted my mood.

Just as we were about to call it a night, Kimberly found gold when she clicked on a channel with Tina Turner in concert. What an amazing entertainer she is. Kimberly and I jumped up on our beds and tried to impersonate her. During “River Deep, Mountain High,” Kimberly jumped off the bed and grabbed her ID off the table. Up on the bed again, swinging the lanyard attached to her ID, I cracked up laughing when she crooned into her fake microphone, “If I lost you would I cry.”

We remained on our beds for the rest of the concert, singing and dancing, but not only do we not have Tina’s voice, we don’t have her legs either.

 

July 25th, 1989

July 25th, 1989
Flight from KUL – PEN as a passenger
Penang, Malaysia

Writing this in a super luxurious bed, in a place I only learned the name of today!

After an hour at breakfast with our crew, Kimberly and I agreed that the prospect of spending several monotonous days around the pool talking about diets would be depressing and not the reason we joined British Airways!

We promptly set out to find a travel agent and didn’t have to venture far before we came across Melissa, an Aussie, who just happened to be ex-Qantas crew! She laughed when we told her we wanted to get away from our crew and suggested Penang. The price for the flight and hotel was fair to begin with but on top of it, Melissa gave us a hefty crew discount, so it ended up being peanuts.

We dashed back to the hotel, located Elaine, our Cabin Service Director (who’s actually very cool) and asked for permission to come away. Fortunately she said yes so we gave her the flight info and hotel name. She did comment on the fact that we booked the trip before asking for permission, but unlike some of the CSD’s I’ve come across, she didn’t make a big deal out of it.

Packed quickly then caught a taxi to the airport and boarded a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 747. Forty-five minutes later, we landed in Penang and made our way in a taxi through the crowded streets, to this incredibly luxurious hotel. Our room is stunning with an impressive view of the beach and the biggest, marble clad bathroom I’ve ever seen.

We were tired tonight but after dinner, we made an effort to stop in at the hotel disco. It was dead so we only stayed for an hour but judging by Kimberly’s snoring, the wine we consumed in that short time was enough to knock her out!

July 24th, 1989

July 24th, 1989
Flight from AUH – KUL
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Flight time today was seven hours and even although it’s my first time here, I went straight to bed. Woke up with a start when I heard a knock on my door. I stumbled out of bed and peered through the peephole.

“I don’t believe it,” I said, opening the door to Carl.
“Hello darling,” he said, kissing my cheek. “Looks like I woke you up.”
I laughed. “Do I look that bad?”
“Nah,” he chuckled.
“How long are you here for?” I asked.
“Leaving tonight.”
“What a shame. Back to Abu Dhabi?”
“Yup, back to the desert heat.”
“It’s outrageous isn’t it? I’m happy to be away from it, if only for a few days. Have you had a good time?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, you’ll like it here.”
“Do you know Kimberly’s here too?”
“I saw her name on the list, but I came to see you first.”
I smiled. “Aw, that was nice of you. Let’s get tea and toast and room service then we’ll go and wake her up.”

Tonight was spent in Chinatown, sitting outside eating the most incredible food with most of our crew. The air here feels refreshing and very different to the oppressiveness of Abu Dhabi. The streets are crowded and I commented to Kimberly that I feel very tall!

As young as they are, I don’t think our crew is my (or Kimberly’s) cup of tea, so after dinner the two of us excused ourselves and went for a walk. As usual, the conversation turned to love and relationships and I told Kimberly about everything that happened in the South of France recently. She had a few choice words for Ben, after which we got onto the topic of Mr. LA again.
“I wonder if he’ll get in touch with you,” she said, wistfully.
“I doubt it,” I said, catching her eye. “But you never know.”

July 23rd, 1989

July 23rd, 1989

Hilton Hotel, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

It’s unbearably hot (today’s high was 122°F) and I’ve gone beyond wilting. The thing I dislike the most about it is how restricting it is.

Kimberly and I met bright and early just like we would elsewhere in the world but what we didn’t take into account was the oven we stepped into the second we left the beautiful, air conditioned hotel lobby.

We’d planned on taking the shuttle from the hotel to the shops, but just being outside for a few minutes was enough to make us change our minds. We ran back into the lobby and have been in the hotel ever since!

Several of our crew went bowling tonight but I wasn’t in the mood and neither was Kimberly so she came to my room. We had a mega chat, mostly about men and love. Quelle surprise! She cracked up laughing when I told her I slipped a note with my name and address in Mr. LA’s jacket pocket!