Night flights, night thoughts

We left Mumbai after midnight and landed in Munich just before dawn. At this time of the year the skies were clear all the way. This is a fabulous route to fly. You see towns and cities all along the flight path, glowing like little jewels in the dark side of the planet. We passed Karachi and Isfahan. The Caspian sea is a little north of the flight path, the Adriatic a little to the south. Baghdad is just below the horizon. There were little dots of lights all along the flight path. I glanced out of the port and saw a small city all lit up; the flight path indicator said I was flying over Pan.

As we flew past the Black Sea I fell asleep. Ankara, Istanbul, Sofia, Bucharest, Szeged, Zagreb passed before I woke up for a light breakfast in the dark skies over Graz. The Family woke up to the smell of my coffee. Soon we started on a long descent towards Munich. The maze of lit streets which you see in the featured photo is probably Salzburg. We passed it just a little before we landed.

Many years ago I’d wanted to drive this route. The iron curtain was rusting then, but the Iran-Iraq war intervened, then the invasion of Kuwait, and the invasion of Iraq, and finally the situation in Afghanistan. Now one can only fly over these once-wonderful cities where Asia and Europe merge into each other and wait for the day when again one can travel by land between India and Germany.

Ye Shanghai


On my last day in China I flew in to Shanghai early in the morning. Twelve hours in Shanghai is a nice way to say goodbye to Zhong Guo. The air grew murky as the plane began its descent. On the short flight from Wuhan to Shanghai I chose to keep my camera with me in a window seat. I was not disappointed, although the flight path came from the west to land in Hongqiao, at the western end of the city. We flew over miles of residential blocks: suburban houses, sports complexes and high-rise apartment blocks (below). Finally, just before landing I had a fabulous view of a Blade Runner version of Shanghai: all morning smog and looming buildings (above).

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On the ground the air seemed as clear as it ever gets in a big city. There was a lovely cool breeze as I drove in to Pudong. The sun was bright. It was a lovely Saturday: just right for a lunch in the French Concession with friends. Shanghai is a lovely city, with an open heart. I landed in Shanghai for the first time six months ago, knowing nothing. It took me and The Family a day to fall in love with the city.

If you are wondering what the blog title is about, it is the name of a famous song by Zhou Xian (who could justifiably be called the Geeta Dutt of China). The title means “An evening in Shanghai”.