JournalismPakistan.com July 4, 2013
There was a time when you sneezed on an aircraft, the stewardess brought you a tissue and tender, loving care, rushed to the galley and made you some hot soup. Sneeze on a plane now and they turn the aircraft around, pull out face masks and begin to ‘isolate’ you from the rest of the world. Maybe forever.
And, naturally, if you have my kind of flying luck of getting Mums with babies, the centre seat in a row of five, the only one that doesn’t have a ‘lean back’ working button and a seat partner who thinks your shoulder is a pillow you would be planted next to the guy who sneezed. Three hundred and fifty five seats on the flipping plane and he has to find you.
You look at him in horror, high clarity flashes of hospital wards streaming before your eyes, fond family members peering at you through thick glass portholes as you fight back from the brink or whatever you fight back from these days and you hold your breath, which is a particularly stupid thing to do. But it has just struck you that the germs of what the sneezer has just ejected into your airspace are probably falling over with mirth that you think that they think they cannot get through the tissue in your hand.
Then the guy sneezes again. By now, the passengers around you are displaying a lot more interest. Like two sneezes, now that is bad news. And a sniff. That was a sniff. Did you hear it, it was not a throat clearing, it was a sniff, a major league sniff. Miss, Miss, excuse me, we have a problem here.
The summer flu in all its various nasty 21st century forms has everyone on tenterhooks. People with asthma, allergies, wheezing, normal, run of the mill colds, they are all suspect, you, Sir, are sniffling, open your mouth, say, aaaaah.
You go to the airport now, you don’t worry about Immigration and Customs, you look around for folks who are looking pale. Worst of all, that’s the scenario when you sneeze.
I am on a flight the other day and my friend, he sneezes, a kind of slew of sneezes. The people in the lounge crepe away like, is this man crazy, call the SWAT team.
Are you crazy, I say, you can’t sneeze like that at an airport, they’ll take you away.
I puth pepper on my egg and it went into my nose.
Sure, tell that to the nurse and three doctors bearing down us sou’ sou’ west.
Goodbye, my friend, happy recovery.
And we are getting so paranoid (with good reason, yes?) that folks swallow aspirins to beat big brother watching. Go on admit it, if you feel a sneeze coming on, you try to swallow it, you do, I mean, I do. Tickle, tickle, ummmmmmm dhikid.
Darn another one.
That ‘dhikid’ sound is the sneeze being murdered before it lives. You look a complete idiot. Face red, mottled with the effort, bent over, desperately trying to get rid of the tickle in the nose, eyes dripping tears, what a mess.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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