Aircrash survivors grapple with dreams — and nightmares

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SummaryYear after Mangalore crash, some still wait for promised Air India jobs, others rejected offer due to low salaries

In the evenings, 29-year-old Pradeep G K prefers to watch waves crash against the shore at a beach barely 50 metres from his home. The sound helps him to drown the memories of that ill-fated morning a year ago, when Air India Express IX 812 from Dubai crashed at the Mangalore airport, killing 158, including crew members. Pradeep, along with seven others, lived to tell the tragic tale.

“I can’t lift any weights,” says Pradeep, “my right wrist still hurts.” The plane crash, on May 22, 2010, not only snatched his Rs 36,000 per month technician’s job at Dubai, but also his sound sleep. His Dubai work visa expired a couple of months ago, and his mother starts crying each time he mentions going there to look for work. “She has seen it with her eyes. She had come to receive me at the airport that day,” he says.

Speaking to The Sunday Express on the phone, he says he’s trying hard to get a job. “Air India had promised me a job. But it’s been a year and nothing has happened,” says Pradeep, who lives in a village 40 kilometres from Mangalore.

Most of the survivors The Sunday Express spoke to are still trying to build their lives from scratch, awaiting jobs promised by Air India.

Joel Pratap D’Souza, 25, a machine operator in Dubai, lost his job to someone else. “I have no work. I am at home,” says D’Souza, who suffered a spinal injury and was put on seven-month bed rest after the crash.

On the insistence of his sister, who is settled in Dubai, D’Souza travelled there in October last year. “I was very scared when I boarded the flight. Thankfully, my friend was with me.”

D’Souza took the same Air India Express flight from Mangalore to Dubai and back. “For a full day and night before the flight, I couldn’t sleep,” he says. He avoids meeting other survivors, as it reminds him of the incident. D’Souza now hopes to find a suitable job and settle down with a girl of his choice in the next two years. “I am looking for a girlfriend, but haven’t found anybody yet,” he says.

Before the crash, Putturismail Abdulla worked in Dubai as a store manager for six years, at a monthly salary of Rs 40,000. “Most of the customers were Russian,” he recalls. Today, he has no job, but shoulders the responsibility of

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