JournalismPakistan.com November 1, 2018
So you are at the airport and your flight is late and you make friends with a perfect stranger in the waiting area or he is sitting next to you on the aircraft and you spark a chat and for the next few hours, you are best buds.
You discuss politics, families, jobs, the state of the country and you are on the same wavelength and this is such a super friendship in the sky. Instant, like coffee.
Something about being up in the air makes you freely exchange confidences you would never do on terra firma. And you get off the plane together and wait for each other at immigration and you exchange phone numbers and addresses and swear eternal friendship and threaten to stay in touch forever and a day.
And now you are at the baggage carousel marveling at what a pleasure this chance meeting was when your bag trundles down the belt and his hasn’t come. Like those dominos that fall upon each other, your new found affection also begins to collapse and you hear yourself say, you want me to wait for your bag?
And he says, no, no, no you go, and relieved of residual guilt, you do just that. With much salutations, you go. Thirty minutes later he has faded like a painting left in the rain, his name a contrail in the sky getting fuzzier by the second. His calling card will be consigned to that heap with the rubber band around it in the corner of the drawer, never to be retrieved.
Unless you are Prakash Neelkant Bhandup who was on my flight and three weeks after we have parted at Belt No. 7, I get this call out of the blue and this voice says, Hi, this is Bhandup. Who? Bhandup, remember me, we were on the flight together from Delhi. Now, I am lying through my teeth and thinking, what, no one calls because you sat on a plane together? So I feed plastic enthusiasm into my voice and say, of course, how nice to hear from you, where are you?
I am in your town for the night, catching a connector, I thought I’d stay with you as you had suggested, we can have a fun evening, my wife is also with me. I told her all about you, she is so excited to meet you. That’s great for you mate, but now I have to tell my wife about you and excitement is not going to be on the menu. Darling, we have house guests staying overnight, this stranger I met on a plane, he and his wife … darling, darling …
(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, November 19, 2016
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