STANDING AT A RAILWAY CROSSING IN BAGDOLA, in Delhi’s Dwarka Sector 8, Itika Gupta and Max Bearak watched a Boeing 747 climb the sky above them. “It’s almost a spiritual experience,” Bearak said after the plane had roared overhead. On either side of us, railway tracks stretched into the hazy distance, parallel to a fence, behind which lay the Indira Gandhi International Airport—a few buildings were visible, as well some taxiing planes. Every few minutes, a plane would take off above us—Bearak and Gupta would identify the model and airline, and then we would watch it recede into the distance and slowly disappear into the clouds.
Like astronomers and birdwatchers seek out stars and birds, plane-spotters like Gupta and Bearak search the skies for planes, often spending weekends at sites that afford them good views of take-offs and landings.
Gupta was introduced to planes when she was four, by a brother who was in the Indian Air Force. “He wanted me to become the first woman fighter pilot and he constantly talked to me about flying,” she said. She considered pursuing a career in aviation, even studying engineering, but “eventually decided against it, and kept spotting as a hobby”.
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