Heath is surprised but grateful. She wishes they could fly again. Both are glad that made it to their destination in time. But neither can find the humor in their upside-down flight.
Gaby and Heath, a documentary filmmaking duo, built the story around a World Peace Day short film they made called “Dream Counts.” Since it was a film that advocated for peace, perhaps World Peace Day should be also celebrated as Flying Days, the film team reasoned. To get the point across about taking good care of life with friends, they booked a flight to Nepal, where they and their friend Rachel would head on a double date: Gaby and Heath to Mumbai and Rachel to Paris. And to celebrate a friendship built around the arts, they made a short film about Rachel, a DJ, and Heath, a dancer. It’s the first film the film team has ever done.
“I think a project like this really speaks to the idea of loss and what it can mean,” Gaby said. “But it was on an adventure and on an adventure just to build some kind of meaning in our life.”
The trip, which included the Kalyan Gems in Rajasthan, the Sena Rajarji Museum in Jaipur, the Sakshi temple in Jodhpur, the Mahavir Museum in Jaipur, the Kali shrine in Udaipur, the iconic Old Delhi Fort, BDD Chawl in Delhi, India Gate and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, was supposed to be shorter but got bigger. While at a lookout point they had at Udaipur, Gaby decided to capture the beautiful view via Snapchat. Unfortunately, for Gaby, it was the wrong angle.
“It was about 1 p.m. in the afternoon, and I saw a pink aurora floating in the sky,” she said. “I was at a weird angle. There wasn’t much distance, it was all pretty close.”
The next day was like any other, and by Wednesday Gaby woke up at 5 a.m. in India. Heath and Rachel arrived the next day. It was love at first sight.
The itinerary was crazy, but they were determined to make this happen. Gaby and Heath went with the understanding that if something unexpected happened, it would make the story more interesting. On Wednesday, they learned that they would have to cancel their flight and change at least one flight to Mumbai and Paris, adding another two days to the trip. No matter, both of them said, they were in.
They were delayed at the airport so they could try the missing photos again. They also got to see their two friends and “continue the story of our friendship.”
They also remember Wednesday as the first day they felt unmoored from the hotel they had reserved for their second trip to Paris. Initially, they wanted to go to the Louvre, where they were initially going to reunite with Rachel. But Heath got a feeling that he would get drowsy if he sat for too long in the Louvre.
So they took the shuttle bus and headed to the ’74 square. Rachel, a very sports enthusiast, immediately headed to Stade de France, the country’s iconic football stadium. Heath wandered around for a while, reacquainting himself with everything he had learned about India. What he’d learned about India made him want to save up for a trip to Nepal. He became more persistent, calling and emailing Rachel. She wanted to go to Paris too, but she didn’t want to fly to Paris. And he wanted to go to Paris.
“But really I was sad because, for us, traveling is like family,” Heath said. “You can’t just say, ‘Oh, I can’t go.’ It’s that one trip you look forward to so much and it kind of ruined what was supposed to be a fun trip. But then at the same time, Rachel’s freaking out.”
On Wednesday, they watched a special video back from Paris — between the traveling couples, the clubbing, the meetups, they counted 5,000 phone calls between the partners. When they saw the five couples made permanent friends, the fireworks started. They needed to go to Nepal.
“I flew back that night, so the next day we went to the airport, but the flights were canceled,” Gaby said. “So that kind of ruined everything.”
Still, they made it — and then they made it even better.
“I wish we could go back and fly again,” Heath said. “But we don’t know.”