It was a typical winter morning in London. One of those days when the rain remains unseen, yet it leaves your face wet and freezing, and the darkness doesn't seem to lift even when the clock says it's well into the morning. My flight was on the tarmac, ready to take off. The tarmac was glistening in the rain, separated only by a thin strip of grass from the undisturbed watery surface of a dock that is no longer in use and had been turned into just a beautification project for the luxury flats next to it. The wetness from the nonexistent rain on the tarmac began to glisten just a little bit more as the twilight of dawn persisted and made it almost indistinguishable from the dock, especially as the flight started to pick up speed. Then the flight took off.
As the flight flew straight into the clouds at an angle more inclined than normal due to the utterly short runway that merges into the dock just seconds after the flight leaves the tarmac, the twilight stayed with us. As always on a cloudy day in London, the layers and layers of clouds took a while to pierce through. And then all of a sudden, we burst through the clouds into the mid morning sunshine, bright and warm, as if we were now in another realm and time had traveled a couple of hours ahead in all of five minutes. The clouds around us, feeling like the ends of cotton candy after you've just tugged at them, reflected the brightness of the sun with a fervour so otherworldly, that I wondered - is it always here everyday, while we live our lives in the world under the clouds, in the depressing darkness of cold London?
About an hour of cruising in the skies with my face soaking in the warmth of the sun, we were well into mid morning. Having flown westward, by the time the descent began, the sunshine made me forget where I was. The flight crew gave me ample warning as did my ears, of the descent. But without warning, in less than a minute, the sun disappeared as the clouds enveloped us again and pulled us down into yet another cold, wet city in Europe with little natural light. I got out from the flight into the twilight darkness, a world away from the warmth of the sun in my face only minutes ago.
The next day, I was heading for another flight to catch when the nearly non existent rain (all European cities seem to have this in common) transformed into light fluffs of snow that drifted around us but disappeared before they touched the ground, leaving unassuming rain on the roads. As my car whizzed past, the wind screen showed blizzard conditions but from my backseat window, I could barely make out the fluff. Past the airport security and the serpentine duty-free corridors, once I finally settled into my window seat for another short flight in this dark midday twilight, I was now excited to fly up high to see the sun again. But there was a delay. The flight needed to be de-iced. Is it that cold, I thought. And when I looked out of the window, it was indeed that cold.
Some of the white fluff had managed to stick to my window. And for the first time, I saw snowflakes! I know snowflakes are supposed to be star shaped but I only know that from clip arts, cartoons and Christmas decorations. I guess, I assumed it was a representation rather than a reality. It hardly snows in London and when it does it barely settles. But here I was, watching the wonderfully intricate fractal patterns that are these fragile snowflakes. Each one was so prettily perfect and all of them separately hugging my window, that for a second I thought it could be some design on the window. But nature has a way of showing that it's prettier than anything we can create. It had managed to create such beauty for my eyes even when I was surrounded by the industrial bleakness of being on a flight on the tarmac with a huge crane throwing some green chemical liquid on to the wings of the flight. Nature indeed is magnificent, even in its tiniest detail.