The flight attendants have quite a thankless job of delivering security briefing. They must do their dumb charades, no matter how much their audience is interested in it. As a traveler, after several flights, you almost know every word of the briefing and despite your best interest, you could not even act listening to it to encourage your presenters. But the briefing too has its moments. I always found a great life lesson in the suggestion to “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others”, but more on that some other time. The only piece of information that is new is the names of the cabin crew, the pilot and the co-pilot.

As a frequent flyer, whenever I heard name of the pilot in the announcement, I always thought of Rucha, the only pilot in our family circles. She is first cousin of my wife. We occasionally meet on festivals and functions. I saw Rucha first during my marriage and as a chirpy and playful kid. She joined one of the few full service airlines of India, after getting her pilot’s license. She is also featured several times in media, for her choice of the career and leading the way for others to the same.

It is not always, you get to choose the airline to travel. Few other criteria dominate your choice, prominently ETA and the cost. But all things being equal everyone chooses a full service airline for reminiscing the days when air travels were synonymous to luxury. Whenever, we travel the airline where Rucha works, we always are curious to hear pilot’s name, although knowing that it is no less serendipity to witness that moment. But the moment came, although after many years and many fights. I was flying to Aurangabad to meet my mom, who was to undergo a complex medical procedure. I was in little somber mood for the same reason and the fact had not even struck me that I was traveling with the same airline where Rucha worked until the flight attendant took her name. I could not believe my ears. In India, the announcements are always made in two languages, English, and Hindi. I was now attentive during the second round of announcement. I even grabbed my phone and started recording the announcement. And yes, Rucha indeed was the commander of my flight. It brought smiles to me and I was wondering what I was going to do next. I called Rucha on her phone but realized that she must have been busy running her checklists. I pressed the call button and shared the news with the flight attendant. He was equally responsive to my excitement and happily carried my message into the cockpit. He even came back saying that Rucha would be happy to see me at the destination.

At destination, I lingered around till all the passengers got down and then finally saw Rucha in the uniform. I conveyed how exciting it was to fly with her. Interestingly, she said that even she looked forward to having friends and family meeting her while she flew. I not only witnessed Rucha’s wonderful flying skills, but also in the end learnt that a selfie can be taken without fumbling.

On the other front, my mom did quite well before the procedure by being at ease and equally well after the procedure.