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©2000 Zhan Huan Zhou
Updated Sep-01-2000

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©2000 Zhan Huan Zhou, Spring 2000, Issue 3

One February morning during my last work term in San Jose, my alarm clock woke me up to the morning news briefing of the local radio station. Quite literally, the first words I woke up to that morning were "... an Alaska Airlines crash off the coast. No survivors were found." That is pretty tragic news. But what scared me the most was that just a few scarce days ago, I had purchased a ticket to fly from San Jose to Seattle, aboard Alaska Airlines, nonetheless.

That particular flight was memorable, not because of any crashes, but because the take-off was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. The weather wasn't very co-operative as it was pouring down relentlessly. It sounded as if the rain were marbles striking the road and roof, but delicate enough that it would shatter into a million pieces upon contact. The gates at San Jose International Airport are not elevated, so I had to walk from the gate and up the stairs of the airplane, in the rain. I was fortunate enough to have a window seat so I could see the miserable weather outside.

Calmly, I sit in my seat, staring outside, completely mesmerized by the descending rain, waiting for the captain to initiate the take-off sequence. Finally, the jolt of the plane moving breaks my gaze, but I refocus on the rain. The captain maneuvers the plane to the runway and is ready to fire. The engines blast and I'm pulled back into my seat. The plane angles into position to climb into the heavens, jolting me back once again. All throughout, I never break my concentration on the raindrops outside. They no longer fell straight down, but instead in a diagonal direction, and eventually, completely horizontal. It was a completely bizarre feeling. The raining was falling sideways! With our tremendous velocity, it was as if the airplane was challenging the sky to rain upon it some more. The sound of rain crashing into the airplane hull kept on increasing in frequency, until silence took over. All traces of thunderstorms were gone and the sky was clear above. The airplane was now cruising above the clouds.

I was awe stricken by this event. On the ground, the thunderstorm is a familiar experience, having been soaked more than once and destroying countless umbrellas. But to actually go head first into the rain and see it fly by my window sideways was breathtaking. I had never seen rain fall sideways before. And after intense combat and finally breaking through the clouds gave a feeling of victory. The battle was won and it was time to regroup.

It's not everyday that you see the world in an entirely new perspective. Grasp them while you can and store the images, sounds, and smells in your brain. You never know when you're going to need a fresh view of the world.