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.