In search of a blessing
Day One: Kochi-Colombo-Zurich
Characters making their appearance in this blog:
Characters making their appearance in this blog:
Fatso-not anymore like the name(but guess all younger brothers have at one point of time donned this name). The younger bro
Qasim- The neighbour...quite literally, in flight-seating and nationality.
The flight from Kochi was uneventful except for the fact that the Sri Lankan Air air-hostesses were a long-time dream. They showed me that more oomph factor could be extracted from the saree than I thought was humanly possible. And for one ogling adoloscent long time back at Mumbai airport it was a dream to travel Sri Lankan Airways. But save for one sexy one the rest were pretty ordinary. Sum that up with the fact that Fatso had misplaced the battery of the camera, and those of you who are not idiots of the highest degree can imagine what would have happened when a certain someone with as much guts and macho that could be conjured for a job like this, went and approached the said airhostess for a snap. A slightly surprised airhostess supressed a shy grin and very readily agreed, for the certain someone to find that the camera just wouldn't start. Guessing what had happened and cursing Fatso with all his might the certain someone conjured up his best poker-face and the special 'buffalo-hide' specially reserved for such occassions, explained to the much bemused airhostess the situation, turned on his heels and walked away from every-guy's mightmare. So yeah it was a forgettable flight.
Colombo airport was as dull as as the insides of an accountant's brain.
To be continued...
As I passed through personal security check and into the waiting-lounge, the first person I noticed was bent over an Arabic book, it seemed(for someone who doesn't know the language Arabic, Urdu and Persian all look similar). He had long hair and was wearing spectacles and donned a French-beard. Had I been a dame from the U.S stretching her legs into her late fifties, I would have crossed myself many times over and tried to skip the flight as well as I could. But since I was not all that I was curious as to what the writing was that the stranger seemed so engrossed over. A copy of the Qoran?, or some religious writing? Cos get this, I for one was for the large part ignorant of tons of literature in Persian and Arabic and its variants, other than the Qoran. I had forgotten Khayyam and his likes and conveniently forgot the fact that other books do exist in the said languages. Imagine my surprise then when I find the 'stranger' seated next to me on the plane, by the window. A few minutes passed in silence as the plane took flight and then he spoke
"Where are you from? What is your name?"
"Leo. I'm from Cochin actually-India."
"Oh..I am Qasim"
"Where are you going?"
"Zurich. I am a research student there."
"Oh really? Me too. Where are you from?"
"I am from Karachi, Pakistan. So what is your area of research?"
"Uhh..Fluid flows and yours?"
"Well it comes under Electrical Engineering."
Thus started a conversation which ran well into two of my wines and two of his apple-juices, and further. As he rightly stated it is only when we are in our countries that the feeling of India-Pakistan develop. Outside, we are just good neighbours. What I feel though is that even inside our countries we don't hate each other. It is just political interests who rake up hatred, for their own needs.
Our conversation turned to Zurich and he explained that it was rated the best for its quality of living and that it was the financial hub of Switzerland. How Geneva was more fun and how more people spoke French in Geneva. Outside we were flying over the clouds and the skies had turned dark. The conversation though was quite young and we talked on. There was some kind of mutual trust and a feeling of thrill of discussing sensitive issues with someone you met just a few hours ago; and as the overhead lights were doused over other seats and people fell asleep, we talked on with much gusto. Girl-friends were discussed, not by name, but by their stories and we laughed at each other's follies. The lack of a permanent nature in relationships of most european women as also the tendency of the western world to divorce was also brought up. Each topic was grilled and pondered over. It was by far one of the best conversations I've had with a fellow human being and the best with a 'stranger'. I feel it was not so much the wine but a certain degree of mutual trust that we accumulated, that made our conversation so deep.
"You know I first noticed you in the waiting lounge. You were reading some Arabic book. What is it?"
"Oh that. It is Persian(or was it Urdu) and it is a very famous book- a romantic novel."
"Oh really? I had no idea. I thought it must be some version of the Qoran or some religious text."
"No it is a very moving romantic novel and I have read it many times. There are some lines in there which are very beautiful."
(I intend to ask Qasim the names of the author and the book. It may take me a few years to get a grip of the language, but I am going to read it either alone or with some help and understand this beautiful novel.)
We talked about marriage, girls, work and everything under the Sun two twenty-odd year olds can discuss. I waited as he said his prayers and explained to me the sequence(one at daybreak, one when the sun is over your head, one when the sun is setting and one when there is no longer light. Correct right Qasim?). He explained to me the contents of the prayer. The conversation veered off into religion and he explained how a good Muslim must also believe in Jesus and Mary because there are two whole chapters dedicated to both in the Qoran, and how all the false propaganda is made by people who don't quite understand fully the narration in the Qoran and the language it is written in- Arabic. He corrected my notion of the attitude of Muslims towards pets and explained that it was perfectly alright to have pets as long as the animal is clean, and how dogs and pigs were unclean. We must have talked for hours and when every single topic was discussed and laid to rest, we felt it was necessary to get a few hours of sleep to compensate for the lag in time that we were about to experience on landing. I look forward to meeting you again sometime in life Qasim, and God-willing may it be in Zurich, you having found your mate and me with mine.
As I waved goodbye to Qasim and to the cabin crew too with whom I had become friends, I walked into the airport metro taking me towards immigration and baggage. I stepped out into the chill, windy, evening air of Zurich and even as I put on my seat-belt on the bus, I felt a certain sense of adventure for the days to come. As the bus winded down the various roads out into Zurich city I watched the beautiful countryside pass by, blanketted in the evening light. I was at calm with myself as I drank in the beauty of Switzerland for the first time from up-close and struck-awe by the clean and professional Zurich city. Dinner was at an Indian restaurant and it was back to familiar Punjabi food. Stay though was at the Holiday Inn which was quite a nice hotel and I loved our rooms in particular. Neat and beautiful.To be continued...