Sunday, 22 January 2012

Airport Syndrome

'BOSE', embossed in its singularly brilliant boldface, sends a thrill down your spine as you run your fingers over it. Now, it nestles comfortably over your ear, shutting out the world around you in a way only the magic called noise-cancellation can. You then nonchalantly pull out your iPhone 4S and turn blue-tooth on, even as you admire how snugly it fits your hand. You know everybody in the lounge is looking at you even as you pull your American Tourister carry-on closer. Then, tucking your cheeks into the turned-up collars of your dazzling jacket and looking over the upper-rim of your aviators, you walk confidently towards the 'Self check-in kiosk' where the confused young man stands.

Stepping across him deftly, you manage to do in a minute what he hasn't been able to in ten; you are secretly delighted. Of course, if it was a lovely lady who was equally baffled, you'd have checked-her in and guided her through Security Clearance as well, but too bad for him! He isn't a chick, is he? And you've impressed him enough.

The only time you have a conversation with fellow passengers, you make sure you convey to them your preference for the Emergency Exit recliner seat or why you find the other airlines better. After all, it's all about being more aware and savvy than everyone around you. In fact, airport facilities are no longer just for the convenience of passengers during transit; they are so often the reasons why people fly! It's important for people at airports to show fellow passengers how much they have travelled or how frequently they do... Sometimes, they forget to remove a sticker which mentions DXB and AMS prominently.

The Airport Syndrome is something which repels you only momentarily before devouring you completely. The next time you must be a willing participant in the whole charade or you must be strong enough to admit to people that you don't know. People might snigger at you but really, it's okay to say you don't know where your boarding gate is. It's okay to admit that you have never been to this airport before. You don't have to be cool all the time. It's okay.

Although nomenclature might suggest otherwise, this syndrome is not nearly limited to airports! While I'm quite certain that its origins lie in aircrafts and airports, today the syndrome is commonplace in bars, discotheques, restaurants and showrooms.

At dinner today, I inquired about a particular dish to which the waiter replies - "Sauteed with olive oil, there is just a dash of marinara sauce... Finally, sir, it is garnered with mouthwatering parmesan."
"Mmm, sounds good," said one of the occupants of my table.

Please tell me how the fuck I'm supposed to know how that'd taste.

Friday, 20 January 2012

To Infinity And Beyond

"Four seats: two lower berths, one middle and one upper," dad would say to the man at the booking counter. On the train, mom and dad would end up taking the two lower berths while Aashrai and I would fight for the top. Somehow, as a kid, I always felt proud and big whenever I conquered the highest seat available.

However, while taking-the-top-berth was a priority, it certainly wasn't atop the precedence list. Bullet-point number one on that list was 'window-seat'! Hence, dad always used to purchase two lower-berth tickets; that way, we could each have a window seat.

While reading books and Archie-comics during long train-rides was fine, nothing was usually better than sitting by the open window and gazing at the scenery zooming past your face. But even the window-seats had a priority order among them. Actually, they still do.

I would convince my little brother that no matter where he sat, he would end up seeing the same things anyway! Invariably, it would result in a few punches thrown and the odd nail finding its way through the opponent's skin... But a red-faced mom would soon turn adjudicator, trying to restore normalcy and pry away fellow passengers' eyes which would remain fixed on us.

We would both want the window seat which would have us facing the direction of motion. Not only was the wind in your face this way (rather than blowing against the back of your head) but you always got to see things which were going to come. It is strange that even on this day, if I'm seated against the direction of movement, I turn my head around to see what is going to come although I am completely sure that I will see the same houses, poles, fields and trees if I continued staring ahead.

Somehow, human mentality has us wanting to see things which aren't here yet: it's like an achievement. We're not happy seeing things which are just outside our windows! No; we want to see ahead - in space and in time. We all, so desperately, want that one look into our futures to see how we're faring there.

It's all fine outside but we aren't happy. We want to see things which are yet to come.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Girl In Black

The girl in black was very pretty. Her long curly hair tumbled off her shoulders and fell down the back side of her chair, but that's all I could see from where I was. All the same, it was enough reason for me to take the long route to the coffee machine, passing by her chair, a few minutes later. Yes, she is pretty. Especially when she laughs.

You know nothing special is going to happen by simply walking past somebody's seat, but it's something most of us have done. And as stupid as it sounds, the walk usually ends with a contented smile. Worryingly enough, it's not something that happens to me too often. I know quite a few lads who can end every single walk with that smile and sometimes I envy them.

I've often wondered what it is which brings those smiles to our faces: is cuteness a function of how people look or is it more about the little things that they do... What about the other aspects - how can someone I find irresistibly attractive be somebody else's Jane Doe? How do we each arrive upon an entirely different set of parameters? It's a completely different story that the solution to your complex set of equations is probably not your answer but you're always looking for that solution, aren't you?

You won't settle for anything lesser than that. You will not consider it. She has to be pretty and she ought to have done a lot of things you consider cool. She needs to make you laugh, but you want her to cry every so often. It's no fun otherwise. You want her to be all ladylike and still be completely awesome when you're together in a bar with your friends. She almost doesn't exist. It's probably why I don't want to get close to people I consider nice; I'm afraid the glass will shatter.

The problem is only exacerbated when you've lived like a nomad for your entire life! When you really don't belong to any one place, what you need is the empathy of a fellow Bedouin. You start finding some things your old pals say rather inane... And some other things, you simply don't understand! You've not become any cooler, or smarter for that matter. You're just different. You're a bit like everyone and yet no one is like you.

Tomorrow, I'll walk past her seat again. And then, I'll say something to her. Maybe not tomorrow, but sometime soon. It scares the hell out of me.

Maybe I should stop drinking so much coffee.