I find my seat in the flight. 3 kids and 2 infants in a 2 row radius. Check the battery of my ipod; gonna need that. A newly wed couple arrives on the other side of my row. And a gorgeous gentleman takes the seat beside mine. Light teal blue shirt, jeans, octagonal jaw and just the right amount of stubble. And a warm full smile.
Food is exchanged, kids are threatened and bribed around me. Families returning from a summer trip to the north exchange mundane information across the plane. Phone calls that suddenly seem more urgent are returned.
The gorgeous man takes out a book and puts his bag in the shelf above. Chronicles of Narnia. I smile. He notices the smile, and smiles back, sheepishly. Or charmingly. I can’t really tell.
I realise there are cookie crumbs on my shirt. No idea how, since I haven’t had any cookies all day. As I dust it off, he points out an insect in my hair. A live big insect. I gotta have set some kind of a record for awkward introductions.
The plane takes off. The man really is reading the Chronicles intensely. (I’m totally thinking Hot Dudes Reading)
Electronic devices are now allowed to be used. The couple plays a game together on their phones. A grown man in the seat diagonally behind me plays candy crush rather competitively. Sounds on.
A father and his 5ish year old son in the row diagonally in front take turns playing a video game and exchanging tips and reactions, complete with sound effects. The mother, when not distributing biscuits to the family (2 kinds, brought along in jars) cajoles her other baby son with rhymes on her phone, playing at full volume, her singing along with it.
The kid sitting in front of her stands up on the seat to watch. His mother keeps tugging at his shirt to make him sit. While trying not to wake up her toddler.
Another father in the seat right in front of me is helping his 11ish year old daughter with hangman, which she explains quite succinctly to him. After a while, he takes the phone and starts playing it himself, promising the daughter to give it back after yet another one. When the daughter gets angry, he gives her his phone. Meanwhile, this mother has joined the father in playing hangman. The daughter cannot find any interesting game on the father’s phone, so threatens him by trying to read his messages. He locks the phone. Her phone gets locked meanwhile, and now she refuses to give him the password till she has the phone back. Finally, the negotiations end with the three of them now playing together.
Another man sitting on my other side has just asked for his 9th glass of water,each time only getting ruder.
I turn my attention to the Narnia man. He’s still reading as he sips his coffee. Notices I’m looking and responds with an explanation. He can’t remember reading it as a child. So he’s catching up. Why? I ask. Why not, he says. Also reads adult books though, he clarifies. The last fiction book he read was Kafka. I now realise I’m staring. Probably blushing. There has to be a catch. And then it comes. His boyfriend introduced him to Existentialist literature.
The kid in the row in front screams. The one in front of him joins in the symphony. Another from somewhere else in the plane adds his high pitch little person voice. The kid behind me wakes up and takes his place in the orchestra. The 5ish year old brother screams “shhhhhhh”, echoing sentiments of the plane. Some kid gets thwacked somewhere in the front. Loud crying. Slowly all of tiny lungs do get tired. Takes a few minutes for the plane to quiet down.
A few minutes later, a man (presumably a relative) comes strolling to the family in the row in front. “I knew it had to be you”, he says to the baby in Gujju. Laughs. Asks the father if he has Rs. 50 change. The mother, now trying to put the child to sleep, gives it to him. Along with a biscuit. The man wants another one.
I return to my book on the business and politics of AIDS and its research. Titled “Wisdom of whores”. It suddenly seems too adult.
The flight is now landing. The very thirsty man beside me, now down 12 glasses of water, decides it’s trivia time. Do you know why they ask you to raise the window panes? He asks, and then answers himself, proudly. I knew, I wanted to say to break his bloated balloon. I don’t.
The flight lands. The gujju mother calls her “maharaj” to tell him to start making the “rotlis”. Another aunty calls the driver. Phones start to buzz. Lots of comments about the humidity in several languages.
I see the Narnia man one last time as I leave the airport. His equally handsome Camus-loving boyfriend (presumably) has come to pick him up.
I breathe in the horrible weather. Oh, Hello, home-ish city. I have missed you.
27th May, 2016. 3.45 pm