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Waking up with a view

5 December 2015

On two thirds of the flight, the loud 'ping' sounds in my comfortable bunk, accompanied by a bright light illuminating the small space I occupy. Rudely woken up from an apparently deep sleep that I, unknowingly, managed to catch after turning around for an hour in the already-warm bed that I entered. Unlike in some hotel rooms, I know immediately where I am after hearing this familiar sound of the wakeup call.

Perhaps because of the constant and ever-present loud noise of airflow over the 747-upper deck, or maybe because I just slept too short. Anyway, I cant snooze or lay down too long as I would at home. I've got to get up, get dressed and tidy up the bed quickly because every minute I take too long getting out of here, takes away the rest of the colleague after me. 
Fully dressed (minus the tie that went off the very moment I entered the airplane), I squeeze my eyes and silently curse the light that appears to flood the upper deck the moment I leave my bunk. I clearly missed an undoubtedly beautiful sunrise while I was sleeping, but after so many hours spent in the air in the last few years, those things become less and less important. While my tired colleague is already passing me by towards the bunks to get his rest now, I quickly get myself a coffee ('Boeing Brown! Two shots with a little bit of milk') to speed up the wake-up-process, place my flight-bag next to my seat in the cockpit, find myself a fresh bottle of water and quickly get seated.. rubbing my face in a futile attempt to force the tiredness out and still getting adapted to the intense amount of light that tries to enter my eyes here so high up in the stratosphere. With about 75% of the earths atmosphere below us, the unfiltered sunlight comes in much brighter and harder, making sunglasses a necessity, especially after just waking up.

While my other colleague is quickly briefing me on what happened in the last 2,5 hrs of my absence about our fuel-status, technical anomalies, who we're talking to on the radio and other events, my eyes glance along the instruments and displays to complement the picture that he is painting. Nothing too much going on I conclude... we're flying over India, have 0,6 tons of fuel more then predicted and we have to contact Pakistani and Afghan Air Traffic Control in advance in 22 and 34 minutes from now, since they demand to be in contact with us well before we enter their airspace.

And just then... after a moment of silence and my brain still trying to absorb all the information that I received in the last few minutes, I open up the sun blinders that were up. Looking out of my window to the right and see a view that not even the best picture can describe. The city of Delhi below us, mountains and hills rolling up for hundreds of miles and there, as eye-catchers waiting for a spectator; the roof of the world. 
The Himalaya mountains peaking through the troposphere and showing their peaks that have separated the sub-continent of India with the rest of the world for millennia. 
The K2, Mt Everest and many other peaks, including the entire wall of the whole Himalayan range is passing by while we head to our destination. One more stop before home. What a sight

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