There are people who love airports and there are people who don’t. I belong among the people who love airports. Considering that I travel every month to visit my fiancé, my relationship with airports have given me an erudition of people travelling through boundaries of time. Everyone fascinates me: From irritated business women who are striving hard to break the glass ceiling to the first time airport visitors. I have so many stories which make me laugh. But I will always remember the conversation with a Chinese man in one particular terminal.
I was in between flights. My flight to my home was delayed and I was waiting in the airport cafeteria. I am not quite a loquacious kind of person and I sat alone drinking my coffee, jet lagged and reading my kindle. A guy beside me sat down, I did not notice him. “Hallo”, he greeted. He was a Chinese man and his age must have been 50- 55. He wore a grey suit and had black rimmed squariesh spectacles. He squinted and hence I could not see his eyes. I smiled back at him. He asked,” do you like your food?”. He had a heavy mandarin accent. I replied back, “Yeah”, with a my own Indian accent. ” Would like to eat a cake?” I thought ‘That’s, it! Is it something to do with me and creepy people or men all around the world have turned weird. I thought only India has pathetic sex ratio’. I was about to leave my seat and he looked up ‘I offended you? Please sit down. I will not talk’. Something told me that I should sit down and I rested myself.
He chomped on to his sandwich and I glanced at him with the corner of my eye. He was looking at a family photo. I turned my head to have a proper glance at the photo. The girl in the photo was my age. I assumed she was his daughter. He smiled, “My daughter. Chinese you. You remind me of her”.
“You are going back to your family”? “Yes. Yes. After Five years. Work in Oman.”
“Why don’t you work in China? China has lot of job?” “Noo Nooo. Oman has money. Lot of money. You are an Indian. Yes. I know Indian. Virkram, Shekhar all work in our factory.” I started laughing. “Daughter is nineteen. You Think she will like this?” He took out an Ipad. I wish I had one. “She will like it very much. Are you going to stay back?”
“I will stay back. Family important. Money too important. My wife feels lonely. I feel lonely so I thought I will go back.” “I understand. It is tough without them”, I said
I looked at the other side of table a fairly good-looking guy was observing us. He looked like a backpacker. “Boring you, eh?” He asked in a hushed voice. I turned around so that he could see my back, not responding to him. The Chinese guy was now about to leave. “Would you like cake. I will pay”.” Your daughter likes cake?”, I asked.
He smiled. “I don’t know. You like cake. I know. You look at cake three times.” I laughed again,” Yes cake would be very nice. Thank you” He bought me a Dutch Truffle cake which I hogged after he left. I shook his hand. His hands were not creepy or indecent. They were warm. As warm a person can be. “Thank you. I am so scared to speak to daughter. I don’t know her.” I smiled back “You will be fine!”
I took my flight an hour later and reached home after 9 long hours. My dad called me while I was booking a cab “Dad when you come next time, let’s visit the museum together.” ” What! Why? Are you thinking something goofy again. Like leaving your job and teaching kids in villages? You do know that is the stupidest thing ever. I mean you are well-educated independent girl. Please don’t go after utopia”. I giggled. “Okay when you come next time I need to discuss my investments. I am not going anywhere. I am here.” He grunted “Okay. I will help you out. At least you are thinking of investing!”. He kept the phone. I left the airport, knowing I’ll be there again