x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Teen Life: The worst kind of grounding for a teenager

Teens are always looking for reasons to whine, and I found plenty to complain about last week when my flight to London was delayed by five hours.

I don't see why they don't make announcements when a flight is postponed. At least people won't have to come racing up the escalator to the gates with a stitch in their sides only to find that they are ridiculously early instead of 10 minutes late.

An hour later than expected, we queued - full of hope - outside the gate a second time for our Virgin Atlantic flight to Heathrow. "Oh, didn't you know?" asked the brightly lipsticked young lady, as if it were our fault we weren't blessed with omniscience. "We won't open for another two hours. The plane's been diverted to Oman."

I wasn't amused when, an hour later, I had perched myself bad-temperedly on a hard seat inside the gate and the speaker crackled to life in a buoyant, jubilant tone. "We apologise for a slight further delay."

Finally, unbelievably, on the plane, we were breathing a sigh of relief as we buckled our seat belts, when they rewarded us with another "small" hold-up of an hour.

To top it all off, the entertainment systems on the backs of the seats weren't working yet. What do they expect teens to do with themselves if they can't watch movies? Read a book? Preposterous.

Reluctantly, I resigned myself to asking the stewardess for a newspaper now that a viewing of Hotel Transylvania was a distant dream. She stared suspiciously, as if I had suggested that Kim Kardashian had become a quantum physicist at the Large Hadron Collider. Why a scruffy teenager would want a newspaper seemed an unfathomable idea; maybe she wanted to look at the pictures.

All the papers had been distributed to the higher-paying jet-setters; the stewardess looked ready to faint when I moved towards the magazine rack.

Mum was absorbed in John Grisham's The Racketeer. Having forgotten to bring anything, I was trying to plot ways of getting it from her. A subtle "Can I borrow that?" and much pleading yielded a firm "no". I stared out of the window. I made ugly faces at the baby in front of me, which was a bad idea because it started bawling at once. "Mum, I love you," I began in honeyed tones.

"You can't have the book," she replied. "Say your times tables in your head." I crossed my eyes at the baby to see if it would react. It screeched even louder. Perhaps, I mused, I could get mum a glass of water and she'd be overcome by gratitude. Or at least she would put the book down so I could snatch it. I lumbered off, and the coup couldn't have gone more smoothly - if it weren't for the fact I spilt the water over my shirt when I was trying to sneak The Racketeer.

Not only was I wedged into an uncomfortable seat on a stationary plane with nothing to do, with a squalling infant making a racket in the offing, but my shirt was also soaked. Couldn't have asked for a better start to a much-anticipated voyage.

Lavanya Malhotra is a 17-year-old student in Dubai

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