Being a guy comes with its own set of traits and behaviours.
One such trait is to scan the reservation charts put outside train coaches to see if there is any girl in your age group travelling along with you.
12 out 10 times one ends up with no luck whatsoever. However, once, just once, God decided enough was enough.
A KLM flight from Amsterdam to Mumbai. I was groggy-eyed due to lack of sleep and due to lack of time patterns (owing to my long flight from Detroit to Amsterdam).
I board the aircraft with a bag in one hand, a book in the other and my boarding pass held by my mouth.
I reach my seat location, drop the book on the seat and reach out to keep my cabin baggage in the loft. While I am doing that, someone gently taps my shoulder and asks me if that book on that seat was mine. I turnaround, look at the prettiest sight I had seen in the past 15 hours (earlier prettiest sight was at Detroit airport) and mumble with my words.
Gayathri was travelling from Toronto to Mumbai. She was about my age and this time I hadn’t even looked at the reservation charts. Oh heck, there are no reservation charts on aircrafts. All these thoughts swirl around in my mind and I pick up my book from her seat apologetically.
The layout thus is that she has the aisle seat and I have the window seat. She waits with a half-a-smile for me to finish keeping my cabin luggage. I settle down finally and she sits next to me. I grant God whatever He wishes.
After a couple of minutes of silence, figuring out my best opening line, I introduce myself with my name and offer to shake her hand. That was the best I could think of. She smiles and well, tells me her name. She shakes the offered hand too. We start talking about the weather in Amsterdam. She had stayed there for a couple of days and I for a couple of hours in the airconditioned airport. Yet I was talking about Amsterdam’s weather. She liked the topic evidently.
The flight took off and it was going to be around 8 to 9 hours before it reached Mumbai. We started talking about books and I learnt that she was not of the reading variety.
She was more into travelling and visiting places. My kind, I thought.
Okay, maybe not completely. But then, I too like travelling. Most of the times I definitely do like travelling. Infact, I am in love with travelling and visiting places. As long as those places have nice hotel rooms with television and good food. I like travelling to places that make me feel at home.
Coming back to the scene in the aircraft. We both have pasta together. I deduce that we both like Italian food. Pay no attention to the fact that every passenger was served pasta.
After a lot of talk about Mumbai, about which thankfully I had good knowledge, we settle down for a cup of coffee. All this around 30000 miles above sea level. So says the screen in front of me.
Coffee tastes like how coffee tastes in flights. Beautiful, that is.
After about 3 hours of conversation, she decides to take a nap. By now I am thinking of places we could visit in Mumbai. I had already thought of how I could spend some additional days with my grandparents in Mumbai. The steward comes by and offers her a mini-blanket sort of a thing. She gives him a sleepy grin and accepts it gracefully. She goes into a deep sleep within a few minutes.
While sleeping, her head naturally tilts and falls on the able shoulders of you-know-who. It felt like the movies. I looked out the window and for the first time was seeing the sun rise from the clouds. The clouds looked dreamy, I looked dreamy. The beautiful moment was willing to linger on as long as I wanted it to.
Finally, food arrived and the two of us had dinner together. (I love putting it that way – dinner together).
The pilot then announced that we were going to land in Mumbai in an hour. She woke up completely by now and got her pocket mirror out. The usual routine of some rouge and lipstick followed. I tried being my usual smart self and commented that I was really lucky to see a pretty girl do her make-up. She smiled and said that it was charming of me to say so and that she took it as a compliment.
Time was running out and I had to get her contact details. I ask her where she was going to stay in Mumbai. She replies saying that she was visiting her boyfriend and would be staying with his family. Her engagement was on the next Saturday. She definitely wanted me to attend that.
I said sure, with pieces of salad swallowed suddenly. I looked out of the window and realised that the clouds were no longer there. Land was approaching fast. I smiled to myself.
We land at Mumbai, I clear my immigration and customary customs check. So does she. My car was waiting and so was hers. We waved a goodbye and she was in his arms before I could even get my waving hand by my side.
I really enjoyed the pasta and the coffee.
The salad – well – it should have been taken with a pinch of salt.
Pinch of salt.