jetlagI have traveled all over the world in the last few years, an unexpected side-benefit of my full-time meditation-occupation.

A more expected side-effect of the global search for a permanent natural high? Jet-lag, or to list its lesser known names: ‘desynchronosis,’ ‘dysrhythmia’ and ‘dyschrony’.

Let me add one more by way of practical effect: ‘dysfunctionality.’ If I were an Apple Mac (“Hello, I am a Mac“), now would be a good time to plug me into a wall…

The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, lists the symptoms of “jet-syndrome” thus:

  • Dehydration and loss of appetite
  • Headaches and/or sinus irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation and/or grogginess
  • Nausea and/or upset stomach
  • Insomnia and/or highly irregular sleep patterns; and last but not least…
  • Irritability, irrationality.

How does one cope with jet-lag? Other than badly? As with many conditions medical consensus is far from certain, but there do appear to be a few general suggestions:

  • skip sleep entirely for one night and one day and then go to bed at the new destination-area bedtime
  • adequate intake of drinks and fluids helps to reduce the affects of aircraft-cabin dehydration and the disruption of your regular eating and drinking patterns
  • set your clock to the destination time-zone as soon as possible, it can help in adapting to the new rhythm
  • exposure to sunlight may also be a factor in resetting your body clock

So bar the passing touch of ill humour which jet-lag probably cannot in full explain, it seems that intercontinental travel has much to blame for my present “disruption of the light/dark cycle that entrains the body’s circadian rhythm.” And chanting “I am not the body, I am not the body” repeatedly during the Brahma-murta has done little to disavow me of this effect.

What I probably need is a good meditation—if I could but stay awake…

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Backyard air travel available to all Indians

Backyard Indian AirBusIn India air travel has never been so popular or affordable, an estimated 100 million traveling aboard this modern antithesis of the traditional bullock cart last year, but yogic flying and astral traveling aside, only a few of India’s 1.1 billion masses ever make it into the air.

Which gave retired Delhi aircraft engineer Bahadur Chand Gupta an idea. Why not bring the air down to ordinary Indians?

When he became an aircraft engineer, Gupta was flooded with requests from friends and neighbours who wanted to see inside a plane. “I was the first aircraft engineer in my village.” he said. “Back in 1980, I was treated as if I were the prime minister by the village folks who all wanted to see a plane.”

Security concerns made their wish impossible, so in 2003 Gupta had a very big Christmas—he bought a decommissioned India airlines jet—a 280 seat Airbus A300 cut into four pieces to make transportation easier—and mounted it on concrete blocks almost literally in his own backyard, the plane grounded between residential buildings and farmyard beasts, a final home in a suburb near Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Now every week hundreds visit, and the experience—deep vein thrombosis, dehydration and bad movies aside—is just like flying.

Plane-struck youngsters, eyes firmly, dreamily on the clouds, get to check in their bags without three levels of security, and are welcomed on board by smiling, pranam offering air hostesses—21st Century goddesses from a higher world, but conducting emergency drills and serving drinks in regulation airline skirt and jacket.

The entrance fee to board the plane—for which you receive an actual ticket and meal—is 150 rupees, and flights—over-enrolled with children bound on the flight of their dreams—depart five times a week. The trip into near thin air is free to charities and the poor.

Seatbelts must be fastened before the in-flight meal is served—whether to protect from turbulence or over excitement of little difference.

Says Gupta’s wife of the near endless stream of elated, infrequent flyers: “They may not have shoes on their feet, but when they come with such a happy face, the moment they enter in the gate and they see such a huge plane standing in front of them, and they just climb the stairs with such a big smile, their happiness gives me the uttermost pleasure.”

And the final call before departure? One awe-struck child-passenger, an afternoon spent in heaven instead of a nearby slum: “I used to wonder would I ever get to sit inside one. Today my life's dream is fulfilled”