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Is your travel in vein?

How Angelina Jolie saved my life and what you should know about DVT.

Vijay Verghese/ Editor

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OKAY, I’M A REGULAR TOILET-SEAT-UP, gadget-grabbing Alpha Male. I’m a proud chin-up guy, not the sort to get smacked around by women. I get dumped. Sued. Divorced. You get the drift. I believe in a dignified existence, as equals – Me and my MP3. What’s wrong with that? So those three alluring letters, in bold capitals caught my eye. I was reading Esquire magazine, intently. This is the sort of intellectual fodder that captivates Real Men. Right now I was examining close-ups of a scantily clad Angelina Jolie. There was some text as well but who cares about that. The headline had my attention. “DVT” it said.

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DVT. Wow. I wanted one. Would that be SONY or Samsung? “Have you got DVT on this flight?” I asked the stewardess but, in keeping with the high service standards on US airlines, she ignored me. I was impressed. That’s called professionalism, service without emotion.

The stewardess ignored me. This professional gesture from a Highly Trained Airline Professional saved my life...

Asian airlines mollycoddle you to death. “Could I have some water?” “Oh poor baby, here, try our cheese selection and cognac with playing cards, a rubber duck, and a cigar in case a plump political lobbyist wanders by…” DAGNABBIT I JUST WANT WATER. You know what I mean. Hard-boiled, cigar-chewing businessmen step off the plane having mutated into fluffy bunnies and sashay into boardrooms where they get massacred. It’s frightening.

On planes I like to be ignored. As it turned out, this professional gesture from a Highly Trained Airline Professional saved my life. Moments later, I read the awful facts. Below the magazine headline it said that DVT kills. Many people pass out simply trying to pronounce – or even spell – Deep Vein Thrombosis. Stay immobile over a long period of time and a clot forms deep in your veins, eventually breaking free to take a tour. These clots go wild running around your system. I suspect clots are something like “clods”. That’s what adoring women call Alpha Males. “You CLOD!” I’m proud to be a Clod.

However, these particular clots kill people in economy seats and not just on Third World airlines. Discerning Alpha Males fly Iraq Airways and Ariana Afghan Airlines. DVT has failed to make a dent on these carriers, though there are a few dents caused by missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, depleted uranium ordnance, bulkily-clad passengers with alarm clocks strapped to their chest, and other such distractions that ensure a lively DVT-free flight. Duck. RUN. DUCK. INCOMING….

Would you like to rest, sir? I woke up, and pulled up my eye patch: "No I want to do one-arm push-ups all the way to Sydney"

In the old days, as kids, we were taught if you don’t move, you go to sleep. Now we know if you don’t move you are going to die. This makes resting on long flights problematic. I decided to stay awake, but how? Ah, the movie. Unfortunately, watching snowboarders with wallpaper techno music in the background is akin to counting sheep, if a smidgen less exciting, especially if you throw in a Kiwi farmer with a discerning eye.

My eyelids grew heavy. Now it was David Attenborough with his ever-probing camera harassing a sleeping Slow Loris in deepest Madagascar. “And if you lift up this animal’s hind leg you can clearly see…” Heavens man, leave those animals alone. Some things were meant to be private, as God intended. My eyelids grew heavier despite the tantalising Slow Loris burlesque. I looked around. People everywhere were slumped in their seats, glassy eyed, watching snowboarders and Slow Lorises.

We were all going to be playing the harp shortly. I thought of waking up my snoring neighbour, a beefy Texan, then thought the better of it. He would certainly kill me. And then I’d never find out how Slow Lorises procreate and produce even slower offspring. I leaned back in my seat, pulled down my eyeshades and closed my eyes. It’s about this time in a flight, that critical moment between life and death when airhostesses suddenly materialise and shout in your ear: “DO YOU WANT TO REST SIR?”

“No, I want to do one-arm push-ups all the way to Sydney.”

The only way to avoid DVT is to travel extremely short distances – like a sprint to the toilet – smacking kids about the head at every opportunity. This ensures both you and your kids arrive safely. If your kids have an iPod glued to their heads, smack them in time to the music and they probably won’t even notice. Angelina Jolie saved my life. Or perhaps it was the captions. They were difficult. I’ve no idea what happened to my Texan neighbour. I do know that Slow Lorises are up to unspeakable things in deepest Madagascar and if I ever meet one, I shall discretely look the other way.

As I said, travel safe. Buy Esquire. You may also need to bring along something called a dictionary.

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