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Story Series Part 3: Mid Air Crisis

Part 2

Flight AI 127 has reached 36000 feet, you can now turn on your wireless devices, out came the announcement. Vijay searched all his 6 pockets in his pant, 4 pockets in his denim jacket and 2 pockets in his shirt, then jumped up and started searching his bag-pack, sweating all over his body, he sat down in despair, "You are sweating is AC!!!" she said. "I can't find my mobile", he replied. "Why did you get a mobile while coming to US? We get mobiles free with the service you know", she questioned". "That's a very good question, but let me find my mobile first and then I will think of answering it!" replied in a furious tone. Got up and checked all his pockets again, then sat down dejected. With almost tears in his in his eyes he replied "that was my first purchase with my first paycheck, kind of first love you see". "Feeling nostalgia and getting goose bumps" she asked, "that ain't helping the cause!" he chirped. "Do you remember where you kept it?" she asked casually, "I have no idea why people ask that question! Anyways I don't remember" he replied with a red face. "OK, OK cool down, lets back track; let me put it in a nice way, when was the last time you saw it". "At 9 pm I saw it in my sister's hand and at 10 pm in her bag" he said. "OK ... after that?" she questioned.

Suddenly he began laughing loudly. "What happened, why are you laughing like RAVANA?" Priya asked. "Thumping his right palm against his forehead he replied "I didn't bring any mobile with me, I gifted it to my sister". "The fact that I was missing my mobile from my pocket for the first time in 5 years is a bit tough to digest", "That is why I got so scared", Vijay began laughing again. "TUBE LIGHT", she joked. "NO SUNLIGHT he replied", "tube-light takes only 8 secs, sun rays takes 8 minutes to reach the earth's surface", "see I exactly took 8 minutes to figure it out", pointed his right index finger at his left wrist. "Priya was suddenly silent", thinking about what lies ahead she starting staring at his non-existing wrist watch.

"Do you know the 3 Idiots funda ? Priya asked, 'What?' he questioned. "YES Idiots are of three types"; Some look like, Some think like and Some are actual; and you don't look like one, Vijay felt his lips Fevi-Quicked, he couldn't move his lips.

"Coffee or Tea Sir" the Air hostess interrupted, "Coffee definitely Coffee please" Priya replied, "Coffee for me too" Vijay replied, Priya was glad that the focus was shifted away from the wrist watch. Vijay poured in sugar and creamer and began stirring the coffee. The aroma of hot steaming coffee was enough to charge his batteries, let alone the caffeine entering his blood stream. He drank a sip, twisting his face he turned towards her, "Is this coffee?” he asked her. "Don't expect a 'V V Puram' coffee house coffee in Air India Vijay" she replied. "Hmm V V Puram coffee shop coffee", "Dark and strong filter coffee with froth enough to sink in your lips, " Vijay began imagining the coffee. Suddenly out of curiosity he said "V V Puram coffee shop!", "You know about V V Puram coffee shop?" wow he said. "So you live in and around V V Puram area?" now he began his Q & A. "Jayanagar 4 th block she said". "I used to go to V V Puram Coffee shop when I was studying in Engineering college there". "Oh that Eng College, I stayed close to it, actually across the street, Wow What a coincidence", he replied "Yes I have seen you many going to that Coffee shop, via our campus, eating bhelpuri and dosa on the way" she asserted. Vijay was stunned, doing a Micheal Jordan, sticking his tongue out, eye balls bulging out, wondering whom he was messing with.

"Here you are Mr Vijay" his friend Ravi broke the silence. "Hey Ravi what a pleasant surprise man" Vijay stood and shook hands with Ravi. Vijay could hear the crushing sound of his bones in his palm, Ravi was well built, dark and thick haired, fair dude who could give any women a knee jerk. "So still working in CHI KA GO?” Vijay asked. "Yea still in SHI KAA GO, I love the wind", he replied in a sarcastic tone. Suddenly Vijay felt an elbow hitting right his side, it was Priya who was hinting him to introduce her to Ravi, and little did Vijay have a clue about this. He continued his conversation with Ravi ignoring the elbow pierce, the elbow piercing became more powerful and frequent; suddenly elbowing stopped, pinching began. Vijay had no clue why she was torturing him this way, thought coffee had made her hyper; he continued his conversation; Ravi noticed Priya and her unsuccessful attempts to get introduced. So he broke the conversation, "So you have a friend along with you ?", he asked Vijay looking at gorgeously fair Priya with sharp black eyes, parrot nose, cute dimple and glittering set of teeth, will complimented with her aesthetic dress sense.

"I am Priya V, she introduced herself, nice to meet you" she shook hands with Ravi, and both stared at each other in silence. "She is going to the same University, but different branch" Vijay interrupted.

"How you doing?" Ravi asked casually, Priya started to blush

to be continued ...

Story Series Part 2: Baatooni Priya

Part 1 Seat 15A

Part 2 ...
Vijay looked at Priya, she was fast asleep even before the announcement of the flight reaching its designated 36000 feet came in. She was sleeping like a child on her mother’s lap, resting her head against the window. He couldn’t believe that she was the same talkative Priya who had given him such a hard time asking silly and irritating questions. He was also feeling bad for giving her blatant answers. Sitting back Vijay looked at the navigation screen which showed 45 min to Mumbai heading west so decided to take a nap. It was 6 am and sun was scorching through the windows from the east into Vijay’s eyes. He outstretched his hand to close the blinds but soon to realized that the slight movement of the blinds and the sleeping tigress would start roaring again, so he decided against it. Sun was hitting right into his face, he shifted his head to the right to avoid the sun; Priya subconsciously shifted her head position, now again the sun was right in his eyes. He moved his head to left a bit to avoid the sun, the stinking cigarette breath of the bearded gentleman pushed him like a same charge pole magnet pushing the other. Both his seatmates were giving him a hard time subconsciously and unintentionally, imagining what would happen when they wake up, Vijay dozed off staring at the navigation screen.

‘This is your captain speaking, we well be landing in Chhatrapati Shivaji International at 6:30 am”, out came the announcement, all the lights were switched on; fasten your seat belt instruction came in. Vijay was yawning and rubbing his eyes, suddenly he heard “Where am I?”, ‘Why are some many lights ON’ Priya began her Q & A session. “Chicago, we are just landing” Vijay replied. ‘So fast we reached aa’, ‘Air India is good man’, she asked in a typical south INDIAN accent. ‘Flight AI 127 would be parked at gate 2B at Chhatrapati Shivaji International’ out came the announcement. Confused initially and a minute later she soon giggled looking at Vijay laughing at her stupidity; they both had a big laugh while picking up their bag-packs. Checked his boarding pass, ‘2 hrs stop over’, he said to his student gang when they all met at the gate 2B. Yawning and stretching their arms and legs they headed to freshen up. Restrooms at Mumbai airport were filthy, worse than Bangalore Majestic Bus Stand, stinking and wet everywhere and looking at the queue Vijay joked ‘now I know why they gave 2 hr stop over at Mumbai’.

Flight got delayed by 2 hrs as result of rain, that seemed like a build up to 2012 doomsday in Mumbai that day. Vijay stared through the windows and was wondering how the airplanes were managing to take off in that rain, when with slight rain he would go off balance on his bike, was thanking for GOD that he was not a pilot. Milk, Cereals, Oat meals, scrambled eggs were served as part of complementary breakfast by the airlines; ‘We are being prepared for the US food culture’ one them joked. Neither of them knew that those food items weren’t just breakfasts in US, but were life saviors when their experiment in the kitchen failed.

Couple of hrs later boarding began and 15 A B C were occupied by their respective seats holders. Vijay was feeling bad about the way he had spoken to Priya earlier, he was very sarcastic in his answers and she was way innocent for it. So he decided to be as patient as possible while talking to her. Plane began to gather some speed; they always say the real fun of experiencing takeoff is by actually looking at the run way and rather than sitting back and closing your eyes as he did. He had read about same AI 127 skid off the runway a week ago from the same runway. He looked at the runway it was a bit damp, water spot here and there, thoughts of his bike slip and skid over the wet road near his house lingered his mind. “Hey look, the plane is going so fast she broke the silence”, “that’s 100 Mph the speed Shoaib Akthar bowled to Craig McMillan” he said indicating her in the navigation system, she smirked at him. The bearded gentle man stared at them at asked "First time plane experience?", "Second time actually, first time was from Bangalore to Mumbai 5 hrs ago, first international take off technically", she replied which was enough to silent the bearded gentleman. "Look at the speed" she pointed at the Navigation map, "Wow Michael Schumacher drives at that speed", he said. "Who" she asked with closing her eyes.

"Do u know swimming Vijay" she asked, "yes, but why that question on a flight?" Vijay replied. "If our plane looses balance in mid air and falls into the ocean I need someone to rescue me, I don't know swimming". she said "Don't worry I will save you, plus we have the safety jackets" Vijay assured her. "What are the odds of plane falling into the ocean and then me being able to swim and save someone!" he just mumbled. "What will happen if our plane skids while taking off" she asked again. "Last week AI 127 had a small incident and all the passengers were fine, so I believe we would be good too" he assured her again. "Aren't you feeling sleepy he asked her" yawning a bit just to cut short the conversation. "No I had a good nap from Bangalore to Mumbai, plus we had a breakfast na, I can't sleep after breakfast". "OK" Vijay replied in a very low and hopeless tone. "Guys, would you please leave Shoaib Akthar and Michael Schumacher alone for a while" the frustrated bearded gentleman stared at them. Vijay replied "Sorry" and thanked him in his mind for putting a full stop their conversation.

Admist this conversation the flight began to take off, he could feel vibrations of the wheels against runway, and suddenly the vibrations stopped; and all he could hear was 'Jai Kali Ma', 'Jai Kali Ma'. Scratching his goti beard "Vijay began wondering whether this indeed was the longest conversations he had with any female". He actually started enjoying her company, and was passing through a phase where her silence was more irritating than her talks. Thinking about what to talk to her through the journey Vijay enjoyed the take off.

... to be continued ... part 3 coming soon.

NOTE: The story is purely fictional, it bears no connection with living or dead

Story Series Part 1: Seat 15A

Vijay checked his wrist watch it read 10:10; he had a 3 am AI flight to the Chicago; accompanying him were his parents, sister, two uncles and their spouses and their kids to see him off. Red tilak was drawn on his forehead, followed by a flower garland and a small arthi, all wishing for his safe trip. Vijay felt like either a soldier on his way to KARGIL or a goat being offered as a Bali to goddess durgra. This was soon followed by moist eyes and dripping tears. Vijay was in a mixed and confused state of mind; was sad that he was leaving his parents but at the same time was happy that he was pursuing his Masters his parents dream.
He entered the airport dragging three 70 lbs suite cases, 30 lbs as his carryon; it looked like a bullock cart in motion. Walked towards the luggage check in counter where he met a fellow student who was incidentally traveling to the same school. That dude was carrying same amount of luggage along with his 10 lbs leather jacket and 3 enormous medical books. Checked in the luggage and cleared the security before heading towards the lounge where he met 5 more student/co-passengers. At 2 am there was an announcement for a delay of 2 hrs. For the next 2 hrs Vijay got acquainted with others and had a good time chatting and expressing their fears and excitement about their future in an unknown country. Vijay had an emotion of a brick, so neither had fears nor any excitement, which was the reason why he could maintain his cool and calm till then.   
Boarding began and Vijay walked towards his designated seat 15B middle seat, put his carryon luggage in the designated area and rested his arse and began staring at people moving in. Vijay always played this weird game of mapping people’s face and the seat numbers. He would guess their seat numbers looking at their facial expression as they approach their seats. A bearded gentleman walked towards his seat, Vijay was hoping that he wouldn’t be his neighbor even though his facial expression told the true story. He sat on the aisle beside Vijay 15C, trying to stay calm n compose was a bit difficult now. Such a narrow minded person some would say, but he was travelling in his first International flight.
The sight of a good looking lady in red top and blue jeans approaching his seat increased his heart beat to 100. He began his the facial expression mapping game with her, mapping it to 15A right next to his. He was sure that she would be 15A seatmate reading her facial expression; so he stood and made a gesture for helping her. She approached seat 15 and went past him, his heart beat went below 50 as he sat down in despair. He was about to pass out when he saw a stout elderly lady walk towards his seat, but she sat in 15D, the adjacent aisle.
‘Excuse me’, Vijay was woken by a soft sweet sound, he opened his eyes to see the same lady in red standing right next to the aisle, she indeed was 15A. After helping her placing her carryon in the designated area Vijay moved out allowing her to sit in her seat, Vijay sat down and smiled.  ‘I saw you with your family doing all that pooja and arti’, she broke the silence. ‘You are lucky to be born in such a religious family’, she continued. ‘YES’ Vijay spoke hesitantly. Vijay had this problem of speaking with pretty females in the first instant, let alone looking into her eyes.       
‘I am Priyadarshani Venkatasubramanian, she broke the silence again. ‘Vijay’ he replied.
Priya: ‘Are you going to Chicago?’, Vijay: ‘Yes the Flight is heading Chicago’ 
Priya: "You know this is my first international flight", Vijay: ‘Mine too’ 
Priya: "First time I am leaving my parents you know", Vijay: ’So am I’ 
Priya: "What if our luggage gets lost?”, Vijay: ‘May be baggage claim’.
Priya: ‘Are we going via London or Germany?’ Vijay: ‘Via Mumbai and Frankfurt.
Priya:" Did u read about Mumbai rains?” Vijay: ‘yea dam match might get canceled due to wet outfield’ she had no clue what Vijay was talking about; it was evident in her tone.
She was irritating him and the bearded dude was scaring him, he felt like he was in a torture room. Plane began to gather speed, ‘I am getting scared’ she mumbled, ‘Close your eyes and chant “Jai Kali ma” it might help Vijay assured. Couple of mins later the flight began to take off, she got so scared that see stopped speaking for next hr and dozed off finally. The sorrow of leaving his parents and the fear of landing in an alien country was over shadowed by Ms 15A.

... to be continued ...

Short Story 5: Curious Case of the Golden Shoe.

Vijay was flying west and had just landed at the airport where he and his fellow classmates all were on course to a job interview. They began to discuss about the company and dress code for the interview the next day. Vijay was proud that he had packed a suit along with a formal shirt and trousers; and then the discussion moved on the color of shoes. He shifted his attention to the white Nike shoes and black socks as part of his journey apparel. Just then a dreaded thought struck like bullet in his mind; he had forgotten to pack his formal shoes for the interview. He realized that fear had the power that would make one sweat on the air conditioner.

No sooner he checked into the hotel, he began his hunt for his magic shoe. He began to wander like nomad in search of his treasure holding directions and looking for signs. The picture of him wearing a black trouser, blue suit, white shirt, red tie and white shoe; ‘Mera Naam Joker’ gave him a 440 volt spike which drove him towards the nearest mall. He entered a branded shoe showroom and a pretty young lady came upto him for help. She showed him a bunch of black leather shoes, Vijay picked up a decent shoe that went well with the trouser. Got it packed and moved to the billing counter. ‘440 dollars sir, credit or debit’ asked the lady in red. His so called magic shoe was now a golden shoe.

Vijay’s face turned pale, eyes opened wide open staring at the price tag. He had heard that leather was expensive in the country, but this was ridiculous. The shoe’s cost was more than his airfare, more than his rent check. By then his credit card was halfway through to the cashier via his outstretched hand, backing off was no more an option. “What is the return policy? in case of an exchange” Vijay asked the cashier. This sounded a valid question, but it was a brilliant idea that struck him that split second. Idea of using the shoe for one day and return it after interview was a golden one, nothing new though, he had used it for books, electronics and many more. Finally after signing the bill he picked up his golden shoe and headed towards his hotel. Logged into the internet and checked his credit card statement, it read USD 440, stared at it for seconds. He then placed his golden shoe beside his pillow and went to bed peacefully.

And by Murphy’s Law (`Anything that can go wrong will go wrong`) it was raining like cats and dogs the next day, he was still debating about risking his 440 dollar shoe for an interview. Finally decided to take his chances and stepped out his room. He positioned his umbrella in such way that it covered his entire shoe taking preference over his head, and headed towards the venue for the interview. The interview process lasted the entire day, he skipped a heart beat when every drop of water that fell on his shoe. He was more worried about his shoe than the interview, probably that too his mind off the interviews. Interviews went well and later that day he headed straight to the store to return his golden shoe. He had to go through awkward conversation with the saleswomen and cashier while returning the shoe. All he cared was his 440 dollars which was credited back to his card.

A week later he got a job offer from that company and gracefully accepted it. Finally when he joined the company couple of months later and at the end of first day when everyone would gone to the temple to thank the almighty GOD, Vijay went to the golden shoe store and picked up his lucky shoe and began staring at it and wondering whether wearing the magic shoe got him his job or returning the shoe. He walked to cashier and used the same credit card and bought the shoe.

This indeed was a curious case of golden shoe.

Short Story 4: Unforgettable Night

At 7 pm Vijay entered the local terminal from the train that connected it to international. He looked like a punished prisoner with his 20 lbs bag-pack and dragging his two 50 lbs luggage running from one corner of the terminal to the baggage check. 8 PM was what the departure time printed on his boarding pass pushed over from 7:15.  Next 30 mins he was roaming in the airport and wondering when he would rest his arse on the soft cozy bed of his. Suddenly the weather alert on the TV showing "Heavy snow storm in the City" drew his attention. His heart missed a beat when he saw his fight being delayed by an hour. Peeping through window he saw the snow covered the airport and with light reflection making it RIN SAFEDI white. He had forgotten that it was mid Jan and he was in countries most windy and snowy city; another update and flight delayed by 45 mins. He had heard “Delays were dangerous”, realized it was frustrating too.
The outside temperature read -20 C and it was 20 C in his native; not only were the two cities diametrically opposite, but also weather equally other side of 0C. Only Vijay could think about this when one’s flight gets delayed. By Airlines grace at 9:45 the boarding began, and by 10 all passengers were seated. Vijay was so tired that he could barely check out the Air Hostess as he always did, let alone listening to their seat-belt instructions. A loud crying kid across the aisle woke him, he heard the Air Hostess announcing about the heavy snow storm and that they were waiting for weather to ease out, he didn’t even bother for Air Hostess to finish he fell asleep again.

Roughly 2 hrs later Vijay was woken by a fellow angry passengers yelling at the crew and some using their weekend minutes out loud. He peeped out of the window and the scene looked familiar, and more over his destination airport was not that huge and there weren’t too many lights around. He was partially scared and partially hungry and that’s when one’s mind really works in the reverse direction. His sixth sense sensed something bad, and he heard the sweet golden words "WE REGRET TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE FLIGHT HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO BAD WEATHER" sorry for the inconvenience!!! Putting 2 and 2 together he realized that the flight never took off at all. It stood stand still like a rock, white rock was more appropriate. 

One by one everyone moved out of the airplane into the gate and stood in the queue for a rescheduled flight. Vijay smiled at the attendant and picked up his ticket and the flight time read 2:40, he was happy that he could fly soon and then saw the text PM in bold letters (2:40 pm, next day afternoon). And just to rub salt on the wound there was no refund, as the cancellation was due to weather, now one more reason to hate weather, but they would provide hotel at a discounted rate of $70. He met an INDIAN couple with a 2 yr old; incidentally boarded from his native in the same flight, they decided to rent a car and drive back. They came out of the airport to headed towards the rental shuttle stand, out came the gusting wind at -20 C making him realize what winter was. Holy mother of GOD were his exact words, it was 20C when he had left his native. Since he was a shabby packer, he accidentally had small winter jacket (enough to keep me alive) in his cabin bag, which otherwise would have been in his check in luggage.
At 3 am they began their marathon drive in a weather, which mighty Airplane refused to take off. Sitting in the front seat and watching their car cut through the snow increased his heart beat and with more blood pumping into his brain helped him fight against the sleep, well supported by the jetlag. The visibility was so poor that they could barely see the headlights of the car ahead. For the first time in his life he was as focused as Arjuna of Mahabharata in watching the road, that he could barely hear the kid crying in the rear seat. Every mile covered was like an inch encroached into the enemy territory by the army. By GODS grace n Chevy Impala reached his apartment at 9 am and 10 mins later was found resting his arse on his soft cozy bed of his. The sense of relief and the joy of reaching home in one piece was enough to take his mind off missing his home town.
It truly was an Unforgettable Night

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