I was on the move from the age of 23. I mean have been travelling to places that my work decreed and. On a few journeys C has tagged on and the liberties with a roving pair of eyes were more discreet than other times.
It has been always an anxious moment before boarding a train, a bus or a plane or even waiting for a passenger to occupy the adjacent seat. Though I‘ve kept away from any bonhomie with Gods, I used to discreetly enquire if they would ensure a pretty lass to occupy the seat next to me. But, perhaps they having seen my opportunistic friendliness, have ignored my ask.
So the journeys were always braved with a miserable co- passenger next to me in the form of a hag, an old fella or an insipid middle aged stranger who probably thought that my proximity was a nuisance. The journey was then weathered with a grumpy face and a spoiled mood, mostly feigning sleep or fighting with a book to read.
Once perhaps the Gods smiled and relented or erred in their resolution thence far. I saw an attractive lass in the attire of a flight stewardess joining me in the queue at the immigration clearance in New Delhi. She was wearing a Lufthansa cabin crew uniform. She was very beautiful and elegant that it was trifle difficult to desist from admiring her in spite of the long jet haul and tired, sleepy eyes. I admired her very discreetly (I thought) by ensuring glances that were inoffensive. Outside the terminal, I lost her and made my way to check in for the night at the hotel.
The next morning on the flight to Coimbatore, I was seated in the seat 1-C, which was an aisle seat. Aisle seats are comfortable as one can move about at will! As usual I tried to have a rapprochement with the Gods, gently reminding them there were two vacant seats next to me and perhaps they can let by gone be so and dispense some favour? For once , as I mentioned they seemed to have relented and a pretty young girl walked in and smiled before she said in sweet lark voice if I would mind her occupying the seat 1-A? I was bewildered and like someone somnambulating, took her bag from her and kept in the overhead loft before making way for her to be seated. The three hour journey down south saw me in close conversation with her, though it was she who let the ball rolling by opening herself. She told me that she was an airhostess with Lufthansa. I told her I did meet a girl who was on the flight from Amsterdam and she was a passenger but in the Lufthansa attire. She laughed and told me it was she who was the one. I failed to recognise her in jeans and tee!
As it turned out she was the daughter of a business man from Kothagiri and she was going home to her father’s Tea estate on a short vacation. When we alighted at Coimbatore, I suggested that she meet C, who would be there to pick me. The elation of the fantasy flight was rather blunted a wee bit when I sensed that C was not too keen to appreciate my new found friendship and rather noncommittal when the girl invited us to her estate. I let the piece of paper on which I noted her telephone number fly out like a dandelion through the car window while we drove home.
It was once on a KLM flight out of Delhi to Amsterdam. With the flying miles I acquired, I could upgrade to the Business class. As I took my seat in the two abreast business class, I wondered who would be joining me in the seat next. Thence upon came a lady who looked most likely to be in her mid-forties, dressed in elegant sari and a pashmina shawl lazily thrown on her shoulder. She was to be my co- passenger. She looked sophisticated and classy. And indeed she was. She was an undersecretary in the ministry of commerce and she was going to the European parliament in Brussels for a meeting. We spoke about issues in Textiles that were vital to India and she narrated how vested lobbies were derailing every effort by the government; how the EU and the US saw with some apprehension the rise of the BRIC nations.
We chatted late into the night and I noticed that she was quite a person with liberal indulgence in matters of exquisite spirits and she may have washed down more wine and champagne than I. When she knew that I was from Kerala, she told me that she was often in Kerala. I asked her if she hailed from there. She did not reply to that, but her knowledge of even some cities and their roads gave me a feeling that she was a Keralite, but was rather not keen to neither admit to me nor reveal her surname which would have told more. I felt some reticence in her.
It was sometime well into the flight when I woke up to find that someone was holding tight around my arms and cosy up against me. Through sleepy eyes I got startled a bit as it was this lady who had coiled up in her seat and leaned on my shoulders, her head resting on my chest, with her arms holding around mine, blankets thrown over our torsos and limbs. She was in deep sleep. My senses were awakened and to me the startling transformed to awkwardness and later to amusement. I let her sleep undisturbed.
When the stewardess woke me up for the early morning breakfast before the plane landed in Amsterdam, I found the lady awake and dressed up elegantly as she was when she boarded the flight the previous night. She just nodded at me and once the flight landed, taxied and stopped at the terminal she was the first one to exit and without even a friendly glance.
I gathered my cabin baggage and while leaving the aircraft, wondered if I had a dream or was it a hallucination? It was like a dandelion flying away.