19 Feb 2012
A thread connecting random things can be funny. If two otherwise not depended events happen and this happening gets repeated mind jumps to co relative conclusions. Superstition. Premonition. First time it was on a client visit to Melbourne Australia. As I landed there my throat has gone sore and the voice disappeared. And then it happened again, and again. Last was on the trip to Chandigarh. So I think each time I travel the cold and sore throat follows. And it continues, as I am on yet another visit to Pune. Cactus in the throat, nose that gained weight (like me) and eyes that feel dry but run. I should have cancelled the trip taken leave and curled up at home. Tomorrow is MahaShivRatriafter all.
Wify dear and dotty dear would agree. Dotty was asking me why I need to go again ? Why not quit if it helps in staying home ?
Yet, here I was waiting for the early morning taxi to fulfill my duty and spread the “good cheer”. Sunday is the day of efficiency so it seems. The cab driver was punctual and courteous. The early morning traffic was accommodating. The queues for the Indigo flight 6E 102 to Pune nil. The doe eyed Kavitha checked me in. In two minutes. It was her or the airlines marketing I cannot say but I was impressed. She managed to check my Id, get my seat preference, print the baggage tag with poise and smile intact. On time. Security check was ok and I was in the arrival hall. A distant, expectant cough from the left. A snivel and sniff from the other end and I knew I have company. Then it occurred to me, all my trips with the flu symptoms were around Feb end to mid march or in Sept, Oct. So that was the connection.
I went in for a quick look to the crosswords bookshop just past security. The strategically placed bestsellers lured. The “secrets of Melua” trapped me into buying it. ( Sunil garg, you wanted a book reco. I heard this Shiva trilogy is real hot these days along with the Millennium Trilogy of the dragon tattoo). Then went to eat. Idli wada tucked in and I settled down at the gate 6. Waiting. While in the queue for the breakfast I met Tharak an old old work mate from the .com era. We exchanged smiles, memories and numbers. He went back to his wife and kid. I took out the book “mistress of spices” and started to labor on it. Half wanting to read the new book on the Tibetan Shiva, instead.
This C B Devakaruni’s bestseller feels bit too syrupy. May be it will get better but at page 70 it is like a gaudy souvenir trying to sell rural India. Diversity, mystiques and all that. It talks about the girl who is the Mistress. It evokes memories from past India that was still a little slow. It uses words from Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Assameese. It tries too hard. The feeling is that of nostalgia you would rather like to lock up and not relive. Like finding the dried Turmeric stick in the dusty dressing mirror drawer in a south Indian house. Like that half used, stale Baroline tube that slit and leaked at the back in your bag. Like that “kum kum” stained naya paise coin in the rusting trunk. Like all those things you want to keep but not see. Locked. Secured. Out of sight. Like this Para. Hope the plot develops and the characters come to life. I am past the appreciate the Indian insights stage. There is too much syrup in the gulab-jamun already.
Call to start boarding and we are herded into the bus, dropped at the craft. I take the seat 4C and wait for takeoff. Another observation. Today there are quite a few people coming up who need help. Old parents and grandparents. Ajji holding the elbow of a Tata with a walking stick. A bent over woman. A wise wrinkled Llama needing the hostess’s support till seat 10 F. A bob cut business suited, grey haired elegance with a leg in the cast. All of them on the same day ? I need to travel on a Sunday next to see if there is a funny thread here. Mental note to check the airline brand too. Again is it the branding or the staff is really efficient in helping them all?
The hostesses was all willing, smiling. The shoulders were square, confident. I sat watching her give directions and helping. Clean white hands ending with deep red nails. Cut, shaped, shining. The teenager in front of me was looking at her and the shapely pearls. Not at the emergency exit she was point to while the plane was taxing. He will manage it awright. Who can resist “now”. It seems she learnt the perfection from a goddess and on this efficient Sunday could do no wrong. As she said “ladies and gentle men boys and girls” and introduced the crew, with their place of origin(all of them from the capital city) I thought no one else does this. Nice. Branding ? Dug into the book. It started to get little more interesting. With the other characters getting little richer and the heroine getting more human. Then, did I see the perfect nose breathe a little too hard ? The nostrils constrict a bit too much, as if the bugs could affect the perfection ? A turn , a nod and the shiny eye to her colleague and I thought I am imagining things. Went back to fast getting better book.
The plane is running, tearing on the runway to take off. Took off. I stopped reading. I never can read on a “taking off” plane. The primitive brain cannot cope with the conflicts. Semi circular canals, the shaking limps saying we are moving while the eyes focusing on the word saying we are not. So the mind tries to correct the matter by churning the stomach. While the Idli wada were just ok ok , I would like to keep them inside. So stare out of the window.
Receding Bangalore looks great on the sunny day. Hills, roads, quarries, small lakes become models on a large cardboard for a 8 year olds school project. The plane banks to point west and I see another plane on the ground below. Black silhouette racing to keep up with the aluminum reality above. As the plane banks the shadow traces a hill, bisects a road and races ahead, disappears. With the sun firmly behind us the speakers say it is safe enough to remove the seat belts but it is better to keep them. And then it says please look at the Hello book. It has good stuff to butter over the guilt of leaving the loved ones home. Buy and they shall be happy.
Cruising over a clear blue sky the plane make you believe you are on solid ground. I can read the book again. It is not bad at page 100. The plot goes back into a flash back. The characters make sense and reading is easy. Language evokes images. Words are used well. Serving starts on the plane and looks like I am entitled to a beverage and food item. Get a sandwich, Tea. And to sooth the throat ask for hot water. It is then the hostess coughs, into those shapely curled hands. My guilt of travelling and spreading the virus dives off the plane. Fills the cup and with an infectious, disinfecting smile hands it over with a caution – sir the water is really hot be careful. Well you do too and get well soon, I think but not say it.
On landing I get the missed call from the cab driver, find him waiting with a card and a happy face outside the arrivals. Pune and the ground feels good. Sun promises to make me better. The book at page 135 is good and I know what I will make of rest of this Sunday. Office and work can come tomorrow. Today will be a nice hot lunch, the book and the bed.