Calmness Is the First Step to Happiness – A Survival Experience


Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. – Jim Rohn

Moments and incidents give you the real taste of happiness when you feel thankful for being rescued, which I experienced way back in 1992.

I was aboard an Indian Airlines flight from Mumbai (Bombay) to Vadodara (Baroda), the furthest western corner of the country on a summer afternoon in 1992. The normal flying time was only 30-40 minutes. Aboard the flight, the situation developed in such a way that I felt I had very little time left in my life. The horrifying 5 minutes haunt me time and again whenever I revisit the episode.

Being a marketing professional, I had to tour a lot throughout the country. I was asked by my senior colleague to accompany him for an official tour to Vadodara for visiting the manufacturing facility there.

We boarded an Indian Airlines flight at 6 AM from Kolkata, in the eastern part of the country and arrived at Mumbai, the western part of the country around 9.30 AM. The connecting flight to Vadodara was scheduled at 3.30 PM, which we made on time.

We boarded the aircraft after passing the security check and I took the window seat offering my colleague the aisle seat. The jet took off from Mumbai airport quite smoothly on time and the black waters of the Arabian Sea were visible from my window. The aircraft needed to take a right turn after taking off over the sea for Vadodara.

All of a sudden, I marked that the high droning sound of the aircraft engine was unusually weak, which I thought could be due to some minor technical snag and was manageable. The aircraft was trying to make a ‘U” turn instead of continuing the right-hand route for the destination. In came the announcement in the public address system from the pilot, which were “Ladies and gentlemen, I am your captain of this flight. We have been informed by the control that there is a bomb on board. We are returning to Bombay (Mumbai) for a regular check, please don’t get panicky. I can assure you that there is no such thing on board and it is a hoax call only. Thank you”.

The moment, the announcement was finished, a sense of failing clutched my senses. Such was the situation that my heart came to my mouth with a gripping sense of fear. Why did it happen with me? What could I do? I thought about my little children in home and felt tremendously hopeless. I started praying for calmness, which I could eventually obtain through remembering my Idol. I looked around and found that faces became bloodless and many of them had their eyes closed. The lovely looking airhostess was in her seat facing us with blank face as if there was no blood in her face. There were feeble moaning sounds coming from a few co-passengers otherwise total silence prevailed inside the aircraft except the weak droning sound of the engine. I looked outside the window and found that the aircraft was moving at the slowest possible speed though it was heading back to the Mumbai airport.

I could detect the runway, but approaching very slowly. However, I had to survive and tried to maintain calm all the time. Several questions came to my mind without any possible answers. Amidst all such thoughts, we touched the runway and left the plane for the domestic terminal and received greetings from the entire staff for safe arrival.

Later in the evening, we were once again abroad a different flight for vadodara and reached the destination safely.

I felt relieved and enjoyed the feeling of happiness in me and others as well. But one thing was certain that it was calmness that could be the main factor in helping me survive the trauma of the terrible incident.

Practice Calmness, because it is the first step to happiness.

Best wishes for a Happy and Successful New Year 2016.