Emily…

Friday April 15, 2016

“The moment you start recognizing the faces and remembering the names of the air hostesses… it’s time you realized you are spending too much time in the air…” said my Cousin Krishna Kodukula…

“It’s Scary…” he added…

I had met Cousin Krishna after some years this Saturday morning… at his sprawling 1 acre country home in Princeton, New Jersey…

Since he did not give me express permission to talk more about him… his scientist life… and his scientist wife… and his 27 year long relationship with Uncle Sam… I take here, the liberty of talking about Emily…

——————–

Emily…

Walks into her workplace at the start of an 18 hour work day… meets and greets, shakes hands with 29 other colleagues of hers whom she has never met in her life despite her being employed with her firm for more than 4 years… has to spend the next 18 hours with them as each of their lives depends on each orher…

Emily symbolises for me life at work… for most of us… when we walk through those doors each morning, afternoon, evening… depending when we start our workday… some of us walking up with a sordid frown on our faces… and with the deplorable thought in our tummies – What the f***… got to meet the same Boss again…

Or for some of us who punch our fist in the air and when that last dream wakes us up with a twinkle in our half shut eyes… Yeah Yeah… got to meet the Boss today… what a wonderful day…

Emily has a Boss too… except she does not know who it is going to be today… it was Charlie… last Sunday… and Natalie, the Tuesday before… and Sameer, two weeks ago… and today, it is Murtaza…

Emily is from Scotland… her colleagues today come from 21 different countries… speak 17 different languages… walk about 8-10km every day at work in a physically and emotionally pressured enclosure… serve 500 odd customers 36,000 feet above the ground… in the A380 from Dubai to New York… today…

For Emily, it’s a regular day… all the 14 hours of the flight… and before and after managing the turbulence all the time… turbulence in the air… and turbulence largely in the minds and lives of the customers that she serves…

Two of Emily’s customers today are happy… new fathers travelling across to meet their newborns in New York and Chicago… it’s a long haul flight for both of them… one mid staged couple going across to spend the next one month in New York before they join their daughter at her convocation in Philadelphia… one white haired man is travelling from Hong Kong via Dubai into New York… his mother is no more… he is travelling to attend her funeral…

Emily knows about them all… she has these conversations with complete strangers knowing well that she may not meet them ever again… and they may not recognise or remember her when they meet her the next time… but for those 14 hours, Emily is with each one of them… in their joys… their happiness… their sorrows… maintaining a professional, cheerful demeanour of having done a great job for another hard day…

Emily strikes a bond with her colleagues… those that form part of the 20,000 cabin crew workforce… all base stationed out of Dubai… but all of whom, most of the time, are either in the air or some other destination in the world… all come together as a team for that day… for a singular purpose and mission… to hold aloft the brand promise of Emirates… serve the customers that they do… and yet – never to meet the same colleagues again for many months to come…

Last Sunday… chatting with Emily for 15 minutes at the A380 Lounge up in the air… brought in many reflections… going back to the same Boss and colleagues days, months and years together… forming those bonds for a life that depends on each other… with all the similarities and differences… attitudes and idiosyncrasies… common successes and failures… the living in and breathing together for that common purpose…

Life is not too different on the ground… amazing as it is… except…

Is it SCARY to meet the same faces again each day and every day… as Cousin Krishna puts it… even as colleagues…?

Hmmm… he may never have meant it this way… but…

Happy Week Ahead…

From the Dubai International Airport – on my way back home…

Ravi Kodukula

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