JournalismPakistan.com February 28, 2018
The only thing more uncivil than a red-eye flight is to take one and be seated next to a talker. There goes the book, the downloaded movie, and even twenty winks.
Talkers for some inexplicable reason are disgustingly cheerful people who believe that conversation is an in-flight mandate. You have hardly settled into an uncomfortable squeegee of a position in a chair made for midgets when he will greet you with much enthusiasm and introduce himself.
One of the unticked boxes on my bucket list is to say to a talker that I really do not want to speak to you or exchange fascinating facts about each other so please put a sock in it, I will one day summon the courage. I know you probably do say it and more and I admire you from afar but I just cannot do it and at 0545 I am now fondly acquainted with Mr. Mundul the banker and he is in that chatty mood only aircraft talkers can achieve before dawn.
Going to Delhi, he asks with incandescent brilliance. I assume so, since the boarding pass, the gate signage, the announcement by the captain and the cabin crew all indicate we are bound for the capital. As is every one of the 174 passengers on this non-stop flight or at least so one hopes.
Do you live there or visiting? I have a home. Oh, where? I tell him. He is excited because his good friends Freddie and Pushpa stay nearby. You must meet them, he insists, I’ll give you their number. Now he hunts for a pen and a piece of paper and much as getting to know F and P would be a gratifying experience this surge of affection isn’t warranted but he will not be deterred.
At which point he leans over you to the third person and says, I am Mundul and you are? The third pax glumly says Neel and resignedly puts away his iPad because he knows he is trapped. Yes, the next question is predictable. Going to Delhi? Neel the newcomer nods and our destinies thus truly entwined by common destination we fasten seatbelts and Mr. Chatterbox shares his insights on the state of Indian aviation, Mr. Modi’s foreign travels, the PNB scam, the food on the plane, how much he bought his ticket for and how to resolve the Kashmir issue.
That is the trouble with aircraft talkers; they are experts on every subject. At this point with much enthusiasm over his freshly acquired friends and the threat of meeting in Delhi, he contorts himself to fish out his wallet and give his calling cards while demanding ours. And we haven’t even taken off yet.
(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)
Pakistan Observer, February 6, 2017