I had been delayed, or so I thought. Spent too much time at the counter buying chocolates; I had gone to pick up a packet of face tissues. I thought I heard the flight announcement. I was carrying little. Turned out that there was still time. Bought a Diet Coke. I hate cans. Got a Styrofoam glass. Took small sips. And watched. Nothing.
Was snapped out by a voice saying, “Madam, madam…”
He smiled and showed me a piece of paper. He wants a donation? No. He was showing me his name. Then he said, “I want to use your phone.”
He lived in China. In this sea of people he could only find me? I am often stupid enough to permit such usage. This time, since I had been watching nothing, I was blank and fresh. So, I said, “Ask the men.”
“Oh, nothing like that. I wanted to give a missed call to my wife.”
Fine. Ask the men.
As happens almost always, I began thinking about the scenarios. The call could be made to a drug dealer, some gangster. Or the wife. The deadliest scenario.
Wife calls back. Asks, who are you? I tell her who I am. Where are you? I tell her where I am. Do you know who called me? I would tell her who called her. Then why is he with you? I would tell her we are flying the same flight. And why are you flying together?
Bloody hell. Because there are over a hundred others doing the same and we are all planning an orgy in the air.
Mr. Shanghai shrugged when I said no and went on his way…
Another fellow sitting across with a thick book was smiling. More to himself. We said nothing, got into the van to take us to the aircraft. I heard a voice, “Madam, madam…”
It was Mr Thick Book. “I think I have seen you somewhere? Where you from?”
“Oh…but I have seen you…”
After the flight on the van at our destination, he stood near me. He had a nice watch. “Nice flight,” he said.
“So, where are you putting up?”
I looked at his book. It appeared like something on art. He turned the pages. There were women draped in all kinds of dressy clothes.
“I am into fashion,” he said.
Instinctively I looked at my crushed cotton kurta, stretch churidar and crumpled dupatta.
“You are doing business?” he asked.
“Only export. I write.”
“Oh, we are so same field. Fashion and writing!”
I think I write quite stylishly, I told myself, as I swung my dupatta and walked towards the exit.