One evening as it was growing dark, my wife and I were standing on our balcony looking out over the city and listening to the muted sounds of Bangkok going home. We’d moved down to Pratunam and enjoyed the apartment that we rented. It was a nice
The sky still retained a hint of brightness but most of the lights were on across the roofs as we talked of inconsequential things, feeling relaxed and at ease.
Even in the centre of the city and six floors up a hint of countryside vegetation would sometimes reach us, noticeable amidst the fumes of Bangkok and in the houses below us we could hear the scorched fizz and clacking sounds of woks being used for the evening’s cooking.
My glass was propped on the cooker to my wife’s left, the ice slowly cracking as it cooled the Mekhong- coke mix and my elbows were on the concrete with my chin in my hands as I surveyed the scene around and debated that we were slap bang in the middle of one of the most crowded cities on the planet. The peace and quiet just didn’t fit.
Standing erect I stretched out my left arm and waited whilst my missus placed the glass in my waiting hand and then raised it to my lips.
The Mekhong tingled softly as she said, “Slowly”. ”Yes dear”, I said.
The mouthful went down with a contented sigh as I mused on having an understanding wife: Being a fitness freak as she is, (one hour of aerobics then two of eating fried chicken and ice-cream), she had decreed that for dietary purposes I would be allowed one half bottle of grog every two weeks.
My protestations that Rob got a whole bottle every day had been met with the response, ”Yes, but he’s got a motorbike…..”. Perhaps she wanted him dead?
No arguing with Ayutthaya logic is there?
The darkness fell quickly as it does in S.E. Asia and soon all that was to seen were the outlines of the buildings against the skyline and the myriad lights that signified habitation.
An airliner passed low overhead on final approach for Don Muang airport, and I assumed that they were doing visual approaches that night in order to speed up the traffic flow.
As the noise of the jets faded my wife turned to me and asked, ”Why are you not still a pilot?”
I laughed then replied, ”I grew up and became an engineer Sweetpea- that’s why.”
She lapsed into silence once more as I sipped and watched another heavy begin it’s inward turn onto finals looking good in darkened profile with only the nav lights and beacons illuminated as it made the almost silent curve to line up with the landing runway some 19 km distant.
“Listen Sweetpea, soon they will give it some more power as they let down the wheels and flaps ready for landing, then the lights will come on”.
The noise increased slightly as the aircraft straightened then the landing lights lit as it steadied on finals.
Passing overhead the thing filled the sky and the sight of a jumbo once again amazed me with all that mass and so little sound.
She asked, ”How do they fly?”
Ha-ha – this was technical and called for a refill, so stepping inside for a moment I added Mekhong, ice, and coke to my glass then rejoined Pla on the balcony.
”Well, it’s like this…” , then keeping it simple I explained the basics of principles of flight to her.
Nodding sagely she reached for my glass and had a sip, wrinkling her nose as she did so. Then pointing she indicated another one beginning to make the turn and asked how many people would be on board it. About 350, I’d replied.
She was thinking, I could see that and waited for the inevitable Thai logic question: “What would happen, if all the passengers and crew thought that it couldn’t fly?”
This was a surprise, but I answered it did fly and that was that having already explained the technical aspects.
“Ye-e-e-s-s-s, but think about it”, she’d continued, ”If they really thought that it couldn’t fly then what would happen?”
“But ,” I replied, “You flew to Australia to study ; Did you think that your aircraft wouldn’t fly?”
“No, it was exciting, and it was an Australian aeroplane.”. (Do QuaintArse Airlines know something that I don’t?)
“Easy Sweetpea ; then no-one would buy a ticket and the crew would never get on board it.”
She pondered for a moment as it flew overhead and out of sight before saying, ”So, it flies because people know it can?” Sort of logical when you think about it!
“Well, if you put it like that, then yes, it flies because they know it will”.
“Good”, she suddenly exclaimed and with that particular piece of science out of the way, said, “Let’s go out, I’m hungry to eat Nahm Tok”.
Nahm Tok is a favourite of us both – but why call a noodle soup, ‘waterfall’? Perhaps the effect it can sometimes have on one’s bowels?
As I drained my glass I took a final look over the roof tops and thought to myself of all the years of flight safety checks, all the three monthly base checks, the working to pay for the pilot’s licence, the studying for the engineering approvals, the strain of learning instrument flying, the night approaches in filthy weather at night, and, working every goddamn hour going to get a crate serviceable when in all reality it would have been a sight easier just to consider the thing, ‘It will because they think it will….’
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