Answer:A heavy layer of smog hangs over the city. We can see it as we rise into the sky. We fly away from Faridabad, the second most polluted city in the world, and into the pristine mountains of Leh.
I stayed up until 2 am last night, researching what happens to a body when it flies into a high-altitude city. I ended up taking a Diamox tablet just to help with the nerves. The hour long flight is filled with sweaty palms as I wonder what’s going to happen when they depressurise the cabin. The internet told tales of people vomiting in the airport, the altitude got to them so quickly. Hospitalisation and oxygen tanks. People rushing in taxis to a lower town. Having hiked to 5600m, last time I was in the Himalayas, I know what it feels like to not have enough oxygen. Sleepless nights, exhaustion, headaches.
The plane shakes as it lands and I grip the arm of my seat. I never used to be scared of flying, but lately, I’m intensely aware of all the possible ways this life may end too soon. I’ve been taking fewer risks lately. I wonder if it’s just a natural part of getting older. I’m turning 28 next month. Or if there’s been a shift in the natural order of things. If the book I’m reading, Salman Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath her Feet, is telling some sort of truth about parallel universes getting too close, and about rifts forming and threatening an end to things. It would explain why the world seems so on edge lately.