December 27, 2010

My phone tells me its 1degree (centigrade) and foggy in Islamabad, perfect weather to be sitting on a plane enroute to sunny Sri-Lanka. Well, err, Karachi for three hours and then Sri Lanka, but when one has a ticket in hand, bags all packed and a charged ipod the rest is just semantics anyway. Don’t you think? For those of you who haven’t heard me bubbling with excitement over this vacation yet, I’m on my way to meet J in Columbo totally intending to spoil myself silly on the beaches before 2011 hits. As it is, five days later I’ll be back to the grind on project in still-sunny, but-not-so-exciting Karachi, so I may as well make the most of it. Say I.

Traveling in Pakistan, as always, is a study of the letcher species. This morning I’ll introduce you to letcher 1 and letcher 2 (any more would mean letchery overdose, and since I’m sitting in the place already I’m hoping this is it for a few hours). So letcher 1 is a flight official of some sort, and he sidled up to me and introduced himself as the guy in charge of things and would little me like some sort of help, with bags, or boarding passes? Little me has a frequent flier card (of the Sapphire variety) so had no compunctions in asking letcher 1 to upgrade me to nice seats in economy plus (instead of cramped seats in economy). Letcher 1 seemed a little disappointed that I’d asked for such a little thing, that said he beamingly took care of the nitty gritty and a renewed boarding pass and one hand carry item less (upgrades get you better baggage allowance) I say goodbye to letcher 1 and make my way inside Islamabad airport.

Letcher 2 seems to have been lying in wait somewhere, but it appeared to me that he pounced completely out of the blue with curly, graying hair and a cheesy smile on his face similar to the one espoused by our favorite Lord V. Letcher 2 wanted to know if I was traveling alone, and when I was forced to answer in the affirmative he said don’t you worry about a thing, I’ll help you out. He gestured to some sort of fawning sycophant in airport official clothes and said, ‘aap in ka khayal rakhiyay’ sycophant nodded vigorously, but since I was all sorted and really didn’t need any help whatsoever both letcher and sycophant were completely unnecessary - which is what I told them in a diplomatic-sort-of-way (ofcourse). Not to be deterred, this letcher introduced himself as a ‘Session Judge’ in Karachi, and gave me another oily smile. Really, said I, mentally resolving never to visit city district courts if I could help it. Yes, say’s he. Still persistent, he then offers me protocol so that I can escape the long-long airport security line. No thank you, say I and off to the not-so-long ladies line as far away from judge sahib as I can manage.

Unfortunately, the move is not as effective as anticipated, and as soon as I’m done with airport security, I see him gesturing away at the steps that lead up to the lounge. Catching up with me, he says actually the thing is you look very familiar – I think I must have seen you around. Heroically refraining from pointing out that I probably went to the same school as his granddaughters, I reply that it’s very unlikely since I have not been known to frequent courts in Karachi. He gives me another Lord V-esque smile and tells me that since our acquaintance is so short it will be his pleasure to request a seat change so that I can sit next to him on the flight. I tell him I would much rather sit next to a female passenger. He says he hopes he hasn’t offended me (which he hasn’t really, but it’s too early in the morning to deal with such persistent letchery) and that he respects me greatly (but ofcourse, the same way he respects anyone he’s mentally undressing) and it’s always a good idea to sit next to people on can talk to – specially on long flights. I tell him that this flight is under two hours, and that makes it a short flight. And I would really prefer not to go to the trouble of having my seat changed, or put him to the trouble of changing his. He says okay, then he gestures to the notepad in my hand and asks me to write down my cell number and give it to him. At this point I’m exasperated out of my mind and I tell him my father has not given me permission to do any such thing. And then I walk off the bus to the plane thankful that Session Judge he may be, economy plus he is not.

10 comments:

Deepak Iyer said...

Does calling elderly people Uncle help there? (I know friends who it do as a matter of policy for these very reasons.)
That reduces the blood flow to the nether regions of elderly men.

Anonymous said...

LOL! I'm glad I haven't had too many of such interactions during my journeys. There was the famous idiot at the hotel in ISB though who kept trying to talk to me by asking me if I was Ayesha Khan (the TV actress). Am sure you'd remember that Moron! :)

Not talking to many people and reading a book while having your ipod on may help. BTW, once there was a guy sitting next to me on a KL-KHI flight, who was wearing a nearly sleeveless t-shirt that showed his hairy arms.. yuck! Thankfully, the dude thought I was a foreigner and was too intimidated to talk much! ;)

P.S. Next time try posing as a Bengali visitor who only understands Bangla :)

Anonymous said...

You could just give a dirty look or say "none of your business".

Thoth said...

Best wishes for the new year and Bon voyage for the vacation. Yo keep it real homie.

@Anon: Thanks for your amazingly helpful tips. They are indeed ingenious and none of us could think of such devices.

Ali said...

My frequent flyer card was stolen!!!

Opinionated Jaahil said...

I think the Pakistani Lawyer variety are the sleaziest, most lecherous men you can find in Pakistan.

Kay without a tee said...

I usually pretend to be really friendly and cheesy but apologetic about being in a hurry or waiting for someone important by constantly standing on tip toes and checking my watch and fiddling with my cellphone. I whizz the letchers off by giving them my number which is actually a random one I think of at the spot. The fantasies they start developing at their achievement of extracting a number out of me, keeps them busy and off my radar.

Anonymous said...

Shutup, do you think you're funny? Not that I have ever tried those methods myself. Also:

1. a lecher, last time I checked, is perfectly lecherous without the letter 't'

2. A cursory Google search of your blog reveals " Pakistan Blog Awards". Hence, an award that should be taken away.

3. Your food writing - missed, but now that it's back, how about a little more 'confidence'? A recipe, perhaps?

4. I would say 'how come no pictures', for the travel bits but yes, I suppose they might weigh down your flights of fancy.

5. Ever heard of Shei Shonagon? I think you might dig her book.

Anonymous said...

1st 2 lines are @Thoth.

Anonymous said...

@Anon - look, ulu chod, she could be referring to:

http://www.letchersd.com/

or

http://www.myspace.com/letchermusic

or, (she said he was a judge)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Letcher

"In Congress, he was known as "Honest John" because of his opposition to government extravagance."