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Talking of flights brings to mind what happened on my way back from California. The flight from San Francisco had just landed at the Dubai airport. The journey so far to and from San Francisco had been uneventful and now only the last part was left – taking the connecting flight home. Phew. I had managed to make the trip without hurting my damaged back, I thought, rather pleased about it. That had been a serious concern when I left home, what the long hours of sitting would do to me. But I had survived.

The usual ‘people-getting-off-the-flight’ noises filled the air, excited chatter, bags being pulled off the overhead cabins. All through my journey till then, there had been kind people who offered to put the bag up and take it down for me. But I felt this time I would do it myself. Accordingly, I pulled the bag off and ….what do you think happened? A man who had just stepped out on to the aisle in front of me stopped right there blocking my way, put one foot on top of a seat and started tying his shoe lace. And I was left standing with the bag precariously balanced above his head and shoulders.

Excuse me, I said.

Excuse me, I repeated.

He barely even glanced my way. Totally unconcerned, he continued with what he was doing. The aisle beyond him as far as the exit was totally free of people but behind me were crammed a whole lot of them waiting to get off. And what does this man do next? He calmly put his other foot up on the same seat bends down and starts tying his second shoe lace. I was incredulous. This was not happening, right?! I was disgusted with myself. Why was I not letting go of my bag so it would fall with a thud on his stupid head? I was the pits, I tell you.

EXCUSE ME, I said louder.

I was still balancing my bag and starting to worry seriously about my poor abused back. I am sorry dear Back. I really, really took good care of you so far, dear Back. How was I to know a jerk was going to come along and make things difficult for you and me?

Just then someone from behind, noticing my predicament, jumped forward to hold the bag aloft. The villain chose that moment to stand up straight, catch hold of his bag and to start walking with a style and flourish aimed to impress the waiting crowd. It almost seemed like he expected a round of applause for his performance. But whatever, relieved somewhat, I set my bag down and started walking to the exit right behind him.

Unbelievably he stopped AGAIN. Unmindful of the line behind him, he searched his bag (Yes, yes, I can hear at least one of you asking me why I didn’t kick his right then), took out his passport, fund a pen and FINALLY condescended to walk out of the plane.

Where exactly do they make specimens like this, do you think? I ask because I’d like to be part of the mission that goes to raze that particular factory to the ground so they don’t make any more.

©Shail Mohan 2017