January 15, 2013 by Parthajeet
Sanjay settled into his extra legroom seat on the 6 am non-stop flight from Mumbai to Delhi, and closed his eyes, as the aircraft pushed back for an on-time departure. He had specifically asked for the window seat on the emergency exit row, considering his long legs, and wanted to make up for the lack of sleep; he had woken up at 3 am. The middle seat was empty and the aisle seat was occupied by a portly middle aged man.
“Excuse me, Sir” said someone softly
Sanjay continued to keep his eyes shut.
“Excuse me, Sir” came the voice again, this time assertively. Sanjay opened his eyes and saw a pretty face twenty inches from his face.
“As you are seated on the emergency exit, I need to brief you on the safety norms” the airhostess said hurriedly, as the aircraft approached the runway.
“Are you willing to operate the emergency exit in case of an emergency, Sir?”
“Yes I am”
“Opn dr only whn pilothas gven structions. Chk datd area outside rcrafts safe. Assist passengers to exit after d slide hasbin deployed. Thankyou”
“Thank you” said Sanjay, although he could make no sense of what she said, as the aircraft readied for the takeoff. The airhostess disappeared in seconds, and Sanjay closed his eyes again, wondering if he would be able to do anything at all should an emergency occur.
“Excuse me, Sir” Sanjay heard the same voice again, faintly.
“That must be breakfast” Sanjay thought and kept his eyes shut, as he tried to sleep.
“Hi” a male voice hollered. Annoyed, Sanjay opened his eyes and saw the portly co-passenger smile at him.
“Would you like some breakfast? The air-hostess was asking”
“No thanks” Sanjay managed a weak smile and closed his eyes again.
“So are you going to Delhi?”
“No, I am getting off at Mathura. What about you?” Sanjay heard himself say, as he cursed the man under his breath.
“Yes” he managed, with a wry smile, wondering why some people do not get signals.
“Are you from Mumbai or from Delhi?”
“Where in Mumbai?”
Sanjay’s eyes were open wide now and he sat up straight in his seat. He realized that sleep was a distant dream, given that he had secured himself a seat next to someone who was probably a talkative marketing guy, and wanted to grab every networking opportunity. He could visualise the man popping out his business card shortly.
“Bandra. And you?”
“Oh, I am from Kolkata; but now based in Delhi. I was in Mumbai for some work”
“Have you been to Kolkata?”
“Hmm….? Yes” Sanjay managed as he struggled to think straight.
“Bandra is a nice place isn’t it. I stayed at the Taj Lands End last night”
“Yes, maybe….excuse me”. Sanjay raised himself from his seat, motioning towards the washroom and proceeded towards the back. He found himself an empty row of seat towards the rear end, took the window seat and dozed off.