Monday, December 22, 2008

Shawl ke neeche kya hai

It was more than a year and a half that I was returning to the arms of my first love: Bangalore; and one since I had boarded a flight. My travels to the heartland of Punjab and, a couple of times, homewards bound, had been on good ol’ trains. (The last journey, cramped on a side upper above a man who lies sprawled on his side lower bed for nine straight hours, has already cost me my back that started acting again today.)

Perhaps it was the downturn or just the erstwhile Air Sahara crew, but the standards of service I saw were very poor. No Air India sort PSU reality bites but I have seen better service at Irani restaurants (an interesting metaphor since some of the fliers treat the staff as badly).
What was really bad about the service, besides the service itself, was the forced smiles. This comes from the rather stupid America-originated myth that good service comes with a smile. No. Good service comes with a good service – punctuality, neatness, attentiveness and, if you’re really that good, anticipation.
Smiles are very personal expressions of emotions, much like kick in the groins, and let’s not some lucky asshole from Minnesota corporatize that too. Fake smiles reek of deceit and, even, a certain revulsion – like the smiler would much rather stick something really sharp up your nose.

My airhostess, who forgot my order for a sandwich (a sandwich I was willing to pay the exorbitantly overpriced charges that these flights charge) twice before telling me, smilingly, that the pantry is closed had a smile that seemed to be like she was grimacing while trying to take a crap standing up.

Of course, it might have been the brood that had plonked into the seats, just minutes before the flight took off, all around me. A young man – there’s some irony to call a creature, of habits and customs so ageless, young – had approached the decent corporate-wallah sitting on the aisle asking him to “adjust” as he was with the misses. A phenomenon usually reserved for trains. The man, much settled with his laptop out and seat belt buckled, obliged – perhaps from a sense of bewilderment.

There had been a huge uproar when the family had alighted earlier – apparently they had forgotten a “bachche ka bag” on the bus and had asked the flight attendant to bring it. Strange since there was no kid amongst the seven odd family that scattered all over. Anyway, for a few moments after the doors closed, it seemed that the bag had not been brought in.
‘What you forgot the bag?!?’ The old man seated just ahead of me asked incredulously of the nervous steward.
The mom seated next to him whispered to someone and asked what there was in the bag. ‘Nothing much’, someone whispered.
‘Forgot the bag!?!’, the man started rising.

Now, he was standing and shaking – literally. I could feel the righteous indignation swell in his, as I imagine, reddening face as he scraped it from the bottom of the barrels of the opportunity.
I saw his hands grip the seat in front and inhale a deep breath – I swear. Another hostess chose this moment to play spoilsport and rush in with the bag. I saw the man deflate back into the seat and rise only when the flight landed.

The plane took off. I smelt parathas in the air as they were passed around once the seat belt sign went. The man seated next to me rolled the one passed to him into a dick-shaped roll and munched at it thoughtfully.

I don’t remember really know what caught my attention: for some reason the man on the middle seat – a mid-twenties bugger with receding hair, developing paunch, who evoked images of a fat kid being fed dahi and cheeni by his boy-loving grandmother who petted his hair as he ate – would lean over and say something to the lady seated on the aisle – the lady donning a specks, waist-length braided hair and a studious expression – and then glance over his shoulders in my direction.

I was really absorbed in the book but this repeated action broke through my concentration and irritated me. Earlier, when the man had settled down the man had observed me, the book and my action with a dull uninhibited curiosity. They dropped off my horizon soon enough – but not before I caught them holding hands, and, more than that, the tell-tale suhaagan ki mehendi – or whatever it is called. Thankfully, on the girl’s hand. The man had a kadaa of gold on his left wrist.

I must have read for an hour before I turned my head towards their direction again – I had noticed the silence that had fallen from that quarter, but only with the attention of someone listening to a bore over the phone while surfing porn.

My reason to go back to them was simple – I had to take a leak and cross over them to reach the aisle.

The couple was sharing a shawl – and it was draped over their heads.
The shawl – with small mirrors on it – was scintillating in the dimness and if discretion and privacy was what they were looking for, it was a wrong choice of shawl.

Like a wish denied, my pee gathered unbelievable momentum with each denied second of relief. I peered and found that there was no movement from within the shawl – none. The heads were too far apart.

What the hell were they upto? I thought angrily.

And then I realized that I was looking for movement a little higher than it was – I will leave this at that.

On cue, the wheezing matron rose like a arthritis-tormented phoenix from the seat in front. Now the fun starts – I thought. Curiously, after pausing for the slightest of seconds at the sight of the shawls over two mounds of heads, the matron roughly shook the shoulders of the son, and handed him a baggage to hold while she took a pee. The son climbed out of the shawl with the passively disturbed expression of a babu who had just been perusing a file.

I grabbed the opportunity and took a break myself. Coming back, I was relieved to find that the couple were out of the shawl – for the time being./

They remained silent and apart for a few minutes and I slipped back into the book. A while later, I noticed another glance over the shoulders towards me. I looked back to discover a pattern. The couple would drape the shawl over their heads, the man would hold his head apparently inert while the woman worked at a with a ferocity very incongruous with her spexy accountant expression of trying to remember a section from an accounting standard, the shawl would keep slipping off their heads but the man would catch it just in time and drape themselves back, then – after ten minutes or so – they would break apart and stare ahead like they were two perfect pair of strangers, then – after ten minutes of rest – the man would turn towards her, look once over his shoulders at me, and up would go the shawl again.

The plane landed finally and I was spared more of this ridiculous spectacle.

6 comments:

TradeExpress said...

the whole thing has the finesse of a short runt seducing a fat mallu whore.

TradeExpress said...

or a newlywed husband telling his wife on the wedding night "petticoat ka naada kholo"

Makybe Diva said...

Ha Ha this was funny ! your story reminded me of an incident couple of years ago..

As I was coming out of a train at quiet hours I had a glance over around 15 year old school girl sitting on her boyfriends lap on a bench (that’s what I first thought) ,both were in school dress.
Bypassing them on my way out I heard the boy moaning ,howling like a wolf As I turned my head towards them, I saw The guy was actually fucking the blonde girl (both would have been aussie, or Croatian ..too quick an encounter to judge only God knows ) .Girl raised her middle finger towards me as I had nippy eye contact with her .her eyes and her raised finger said something to me which was not hard to decode
“ Fuck You Arse hole ! no matter what you think I am enjoying the fuck “ .

Stunned I accelerated my footsteps out of the station.

Although I have seen people smooching at public places , Even some desi’s here have started kissing / fondling in there own oddity but this was disgusting .


ahsan ...

Makybe Diva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bland Spice said...

Which station was that?!

Makybe Diva said...

Craigieburn ,melbourne aus