Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Imli candy and a spoilt brat..

Seat 18A was mine, but I wasn't in it. And I was livid. I could see the little brat in my peripheral vision. All of 3 and a half years of age, he had usurped my seat. His tantrum for the window seat had put me in a spot, and I had to give it to him or else I would've ended up looking like an asshole. The flight was full, and there was no other seat free, let alone a window seat. In a rare occurrence, even the business class seats were full on this Indian Airlines flight, so that ruled out the possibility of using the clout associated with my granddad's frequent flyer card to score an upgrade. I had turned up early, checked-in early, asked for a window seat that would give me a decent view of the wing, and then was relegated to a middle seat. I wouldn't have minded an aisle seat so much. The point is, I reminded myself, that a bonafide aerospace nerd like me should never be deprived of a window seat. And this brat had done precisely that. 

Emboldened by his successful tantrum, he was looking for more things to do. His parents in the row ahead of ours did not seem bothered about his welfare one bit, and I was not very surprised. They probably needed a break. These were better days for aviation, and the flight attendant was coming down the aisle with candy for everyone so our ears won't pop on take off. I cannot remember any flight in the past coupla years providing that simple amenity. I was looking forward to the candy. It was tamarind mixed with sugar and formed into two little balls, within a single wrapper. I was never big on sweets, but this was my absolute favourite sweet in the world. I wanted to shamelessly grab a handful, but stuck to my standard practice of picking three from the tray she held out for me. The kid shamelessly picked a handful, and asked her for more. She said "Beta wait five minutes, I'll get some for you". Pfft. 

True to her word, she was back in five minutes and handed the kid an entire bag of candy. An entire bag. That's never happened to me! In my mind, I was a more deserving candidate for this largesse. The flight was going to be an hour long, and stuck in my middle seat with nothing to do, I decided to sleep. The kid had other plans. No sooner did the take off run begin than he started bombarding me with questions about the airplane. Now this presented a dilemma. I resented him for stealing my window seat and eating all the candy, but I can't resist answering (or at least attempting to answer) when people ask me stuff about airplanes. I relented, thinking that if his curiosity is piqued, he might join the ranks of us aviation fanatics once he's older. After all, it happened to me. Sure, he might grow up to be an obnoxious, candy stealing member of our community, but we're a smallish community so we could use his membership to swell our numbers. 

I started answering his questions to the extent I could. Kids sometimes make no sense, so this was no mean feat. He had his own theories about jet engines and I patiently set them straight. By my estimate, somewhere abeam Daman I lost my patience. He had more questions than I could possibly hope to answer. The kid-o-meter swung to resentment again. The sleep I had forfeited to accomplish an eventually fruitless early check-in was now beckoning me, and I was stuck in an endless barrage of infantile curiosity. In a moment of inspiration, I pointed to a cloud far away and asked the kid if he could spot a plane flying parallel to us near the cloud. Kids are kinda stupid, and he spent the rest of the flight looking for a plane that did not exist, while I slept as best as the cramped seats on the lovely but decrepit old double-bogey main landing gear wala A320 would let me. 

This morning, when waiting at the bakery section of the office cafeteria, I was reminded of the kid and this story. There, under the glass showcase that housed the confectionery, were bags full of tamarind candy. I bought an entire bag, marvelling at my re-acquaintance with the candy in the most unlikeliest of places. I hadn't seen these in years now. The kid must be twelve years old or thereabouts now. I hope he's fine, wherever he is.