Serendipity, Creepy Co-passengers, and the Killing Spree (well, almost)

Do you believe in destiny? Do you believe that there are no coincidences? Do you believe in serendipity? Do you dream that the person sitting next to you in a flight or train could be the best thing that ever happened to you?

Well, I do!

For years I would hope to meet interesting people while traveling, and I did meet many such people. A man who once sat next to me in a Haryana Roadways bus, exchanged a lifetime of stories, without really knowing my name and kept shouting ‘never give up’ after he got down at his stop. Then this strange old Irish couple who almost adopted me on a flight, made sure I slept and ate well and reached my hotel safely at midnight. Still stranger was a 6 hour long conversation with a female French photographer and sketch artist during a stopover at Abu Dhabi. Married and beaten, and ultimately divorced by an Indian man, she was on a pilgrimage to photograph the plight of women in rural India and get funding for women’s education in India. She tugged open and healed everything she probed with a generosity that only those who truly forgive know. Another Pakistani Cab Driver in Sydney refused to accept any money from me because I spoke to him in Urdu mixed with Punjabi – the language his as well as my grandparents spoke before partition.

I have met the creepy ones too, but they usually back off after I glare at them, or return their ogle with a direct stare in their eyes. Slap from the eyes! That’s what it is.

Somehow I have never met people who I just want to kill. Plain and simple, no torture, just kill and shut them up forever.

Today’s journey from Bangalore to Dubai stands apart. Today’s journey broke my jinx. I finally met someone I wanted to kill.

When this man in his late 40s, leaped up to help me adjust my cabin luggage, I thought ‘how helpful’! The impression lasted only till the plane took off and so did this man’s vocal chords.

“Where are you going?”

“New York”

“So, you will not live in Dubai?”

“No, that’s just the layover.”

“I live in Dubai for the past 7 years. My wife and children live in Coorg. Where are you from in India?”

“Bangalore”

“No, where are your parents from?”

Now, I am just beginning to get irritated. I plug my ears with the headphones.

Some people just don’t get the message.

“Where are your parents from?”

“Punjab”

“Bad place to go.” I have to give it to this guy. How do you mix fake sympathy with real mockery and hide neither of the emotions?

“Why?”

“I read something happened there.”

“What happened there?”

“Some people killed some other people there.”

“Isn’t that the same as the rest of the world?”

I had a feeling he didn’t understand what I said. I looked away.

“Are your people the ones who tie turbans or are you Hindu?”

“They could be either. Why are you asking?”

Hmm… till this point of time, I only want to slap or do terrible, unspeakable things to his food.

“Who lives with you in Bangalore?” Now that my religion is indeterminable, the focus is on me.

“I live by myself.”

“And you are going to New York alone?”

“Yes”

“Why are you single?”

Now I burst out laughing. He stares at me, confusion written all over his face.

“How are you still single?”

I like it when people ask that question as if it’s a disease. He could very well be asking me “How did you catch a cold?”

“Are your parents not interested in marrying you off or are you saying no to marriage?”

I am laughing in his face and then I see it. I found the man I want to kill.

He seems confused with my ballistic laughter and shuts up.

I stop laughing and stare right ahead, and then turn the face to the other side. A few seconds later, I notice his face is turned towards me and he is staring at my face.

I stare right back at him. It doesn’t work. I am happy it doesn’t. That just proves that this is the man that is meant to be killed.

“So what will you eat in America?”

“Whatever I find.”

“There is no problem of finding food in Dubai. You should work in Dubai.”

“There is no problem of food in US.”

Silence at last! I stick my head in the movie again!

“So when are you planning to get married?”

“If you don’t mind, I want to watch this movie.”

“Why don’t you talk?”

Now, it’s final. This is the man I shall kill.

“Actually, I have a serious disease.”

“Disease?”

“Yes, it’s called BSD.”

“What is BSD?”

Bullshit Detection, but you wouldn’t know!

“Brain Shut Disease”

“You are joking with me.”

“Why would I joke about something so serious? My brain has actually shut down.”

Looking at my face, his expression changed.

“Ok and what is your condition?”

“My condition is very serious.”

“Is that why you are single? And you are going to New York for treatment?”

I love the way he created assumptions. Maybe I will let him live for his creativity.

“Yes, that’s why I am single.”

“Is this like AIDS?”

He says that with a creepy, sly grin on his face. Now you are definitely dead.

“It is like AIDS in the sense that it is incurable. But it does not spread like AIDS.”

“Then how does it spread?”

“It spreads when you talk to people with this disease without covering your ears. The virus enters your ears and directly hits the brain.”

His eyes popped out. He started searching for his headphones.

“Don’t worry, I think you already have a little of that disease.”

“But I am married. If I had this disease, I would not be married.”

I should kill him as a favor to humanity. If his sense of logic infects humanity, I would have to become a serial killer.

“You live in Dubai and your wife lives in Coorg. You must have met someone with this disease some time in life and your brain has shut down a little too. That’s why you are living like a single in Dubai.”

“I have never heard of this disease.”

“You can go ask a Doctor after you reach Dubai.”

“Yes, I will call my Doctor.”

That was the last I heard from him before he put his headphones on.

How I love serendipity! It always balances people with all the love and generosity with people I would love to kill (or at least slap).