Sitting here at Heathrow airport ,I couldn’t help but wonder why is it that when people travel away from home they realize what they cherish the most at home. No matter how many days in advance you know you have to leave at a particular date or no matter how well you have planned your trip in advance,there is always a final goodbye on the last day.
This time around I didn’t sleep like usual while waiting for my connecting flight,i started looking around at all the goodbyes and farewells all around me,the mother waving her daughter off to college,the businessman kissing his kid goodbye,people going on vacations and their family members coming to see them off.
The international flights that I usually take always seem to have someone who is traveling for the first time on one and the look on their face is priceless,awestruck and excited it seems like a new world awaits them with open doors and they seem like a newborn looking inquisitively at what the world has to offer them.
It was on one of such flights I saw her,she seemed excited and nervous,like someone going on the stage for the first time.To say she was pretty would be an understatement,her face stood out from the usual crowd I meet while flying.She was strapped in her seat by the time I took a seat besides her and gave me a nervous smile and looked ahead to listen to the air stewardess giving her usual safety information about the flight,she listened carefully preparing her mind to know what to do in case something happened on the flight.
I had heard about the three second rule about talking to a girl for the first time,it goes something like this,”when you meet a girl for the first time say something in the first three seconds to her after your first eye contact”i think three hundred had passed and I didn’t say anything,my friend Vikram has a rule book with thousands of such rules in it in, his maintains and he swears by all the tricks that have worked for him.I was thumbing through the in-flight magazine and wondering what should I begin with when she asked me where I was headed.Thats when it all began....
Though I was headed to join my ship anchored all the way in Philadelphia,i chose to ignore this wee bit of relevant information to her and just told her that im headed to Philadelphia.She was headed the same way and seemed pretty excited to have company all the way on a tedious 16 hour of a commute in economy class.
“Oh,by the way im Nandita”she said.
“Im Varun,nice to meet you”.Oh man why did I have sound like a perfect gentleman at the wrong time always,i should have used some flair,said something funny or laid some mystery for the groundwork to start,what groundwork,from the looks of it my work was 6 feet below the ground before it started.
“This is my first flight”Nandita said.
“Well I could guess from the looks of it that this way your first international flight”i replied with a smile...yeah im a player.
“No u didn’t get me,this is like my first flight ever”Nandita said.
After all the reduction in air fares all throughout India and countless number of people who used to plan trips by trains months in advance,started traveling by flights,this girl had never been on one,that was kinda strange and I found it weird,i should have taken this as a warning from my brain but boys will be boys and I kept the conversation flowing like the welcome drink the stewardess was pouring us.
We kept chatting throughout the flight on everything under the sun we could think about,i didn’t pay much attention to the girly topics she ventured upon from time to time but some things got registered in my brain:
she was single
she seemed to be aware of my interest in her
she was hot
she was an IT professional going to the states for her first stint abroad
and yes did I mention “she was hot” and pretending to be unaware of it even though I knew that she knew that she was and was just playing along a false staccato.
We got in Philadelphia and I parted ways with her,not taking her number with me because I knew that it was highly unprobable that we would meet again ever in fact,and went about looking for my suitcase on the unloading dock area.
Now usually I can spot my suitcase from a mile away,the color being red and my purpose of buying it was the same because in the hundreds of suitcases and strollers that come down the dock,its always better to see yours easily and pick it and make a move as soon as possible.I picked mine up after going through three other red suitcases owned by some young american girls and made a mental note to myself to avoid buying red of anything next time over.
Nandita was right behind me when I took my trolley to the exit gate and I never saw her coming,she didn’t have any luggage on her,which was absurd,i asked her whether she had lost her luggage and she simply said no and said she travelled light,yeah,for a girl who has never traveled abroad till today,and now she has rules set for traveling too,amazing what girls can come up with.
As I stood waiting at the airport for my pick-up,she casually strolled by and asked me about some address in the city,i had no idea but out of politeness I offered her a ride,which from the smile on her face was exactly what she wanted from me.
She received quite a few calls on her cell while we were going towards the city center,and kept fidgeting with her nails all the while.She got down at the Hilton and dropped a post it with her number scribbled onto it into my lap and said bye and went her own way,i dropped the post it in my backpack and forgot about it till today,this happened a year ago and I was in Philadelphia again this year and had a week to spend here before proceeding to my ship.
I called the number up from my room and after a couple of rings she picked up,i felt awkward after telling who I was and considered explaining the flight when we met last year but to my surprise she remembered me and agreed to pick me in the evening from my hotel itself.
I was having my last marlboro outside the hotel when a jet black sedan stopped next to the sidewalk,it was a Bentley and chauffeur driven, I had barely managed to have two drags from the smoke between my lips when she stepped out of the car,this cant be Nandita,no ways!!I know IT people earn a lot but this represented a completely different lifestyle for someone in that kinda profession.
“Hi,Varun,hop in”she said.
Now I think my face spoke a thousand words when I sat down inside the car next to her,and she understood and told me that she was doing pretty well and that America was treating her well,i couldn’t deny,she was doing well,extremely well from the looks of it.
We went to a TGIF and had some beers before munching on some pizza,i noticed the Louis Vitton pumps she was wearing and a watch from the same brand,God I should switch to IT,look at how well people do in one year itself.
She kept looking at her watch after dinner and I presumed she had to be somewhere so I told her that we should leave as she has to go to work tomorrow and I just have to find something to while away my time in the hotel,she dropped me off at the hotel and asked whether she could come up for a coffee,i didn’t think much of it and welcomed her anyways.
The room wasn’t much but wasn’t in the usual mess that my rooms turn out to be after some days of living in,she sat on the easy chair and I proceeded to make some coffee,we got to talking again and she told me something that didn’t come as a shock to me after what I saw today.
“Varun,you know by now that I don’t only work in the IT job that I was talking about ......