Packed flight to Patna and Ranchi and not happy that my window seat has not been already reserved by the travel agent and we have been allotted random middle seats in different rows, my colleague and I .
Add to that, this rather noisy group of 8 to 10 people on an apparently “first time going together” office trip irritating already jangled nerves and the prospect of having them on the two hour plus ride not a pleasant one.
Once in the plane I find my middle seat already taken – well I wasn’t too keen on the middle one anyway but now that it was allotted, it was mine right? And a rather affronted looking guy in it refusing to budge. One of the Cabin Crew asks for my boarding pass and his boarding pass and much scrutiny from her and some whining from the guy who I recognise as from the “office “ party , I am asked if I would not mind the aisle seat on the row behind since “these people” are from “one group” please Ma’am? No issues Miss I say and settle myself on the aisle seat offered ; heavy back pack with lap top and the millions of chargers we travel with along other sundry stuff stowed above , and text message to hubby saying Boarded sent .
All around me still is the “Office “group – across the aisle and next to me and beyond my middle seat companion, the window seat too. Loud, excited conversations all around , eager queries on each other’s comfort levels and leg space, hand bags passed around seeking space under seats and phones being handed across and over sharing funny text messages and what will you . All that is fine albeit it is all loud and one cannot post my mandatory Madira Peena Mana Hai Happening in FB without elbow being jostled. Any way these guys are pretty high even without the Madira which is another thing altogether.
Kindly fasten seat belts says Cabin Crew and I do just that and sink into seat hoping this long flight will get over fast . I open my book only to be patted on the shoulder by Mr Middle Seat who now wants to put his bag on top and is miming my getting up from my seat. I tell him announcements are on please and just now it will be tough to unbuckle and get up , let us wait till this is over and the young lady up there will help with his request once she finishes what is doing . Mr Middle Seat is not happy and mimes all over once again but I am just that bit stern and adamant and tell him he has to wait . By then Mr Window Seat by his side is glaring at me and gesticulating at Mr Aisle Seat across from me for help but I am like “sorry shoulder- shrug “I am not getting up.
Ok realising he is a bit uneasy and stressed my Mr Middle Seat , as soon as the announcement is over I press the call button above and when Ms Cabin Crew swings by ask her to put away “the gentleman’s bag please? “
Feeling I have done my decent co passenger bit I settle down again to find out what exactly did happen to Luca Brasi ( Re reading The Godfather after ages and ages) . “Office Group” is still vociferous as ever. I am asking for water and she never replied, Hullo why she cannot bring water now ? I am thirsty. Arrey Aparna, you told all that they should order whatever food they want ? Office budget will pay and so on and on. I realise that Mr Aisle Seat across from me is like Boss and he is giving instructions and kindly advice to all. Mr Iyer, Mr Iyer goes someone from a row ahead, not to worry all is vegetarian in the list and so on and on and on. And on.
The Mafia goons in my book go about their business more peacefully I think to myself even as I realise OMG Luca Brasi had that new born killed …when al of a sudden . Mr Window Seat from my right, leans over Mr Middle Seat and says something in a super loud stage whisper to Mr Iyer Aisle Seat across from me. His lament registers in my consciousness despite the shocking scene from the book my mind is grappling with: the midwife forced at knife point to kill the baby ; OMG she actually throws the infant into the FIRE?? . That’s because the comment that registers is in nice unmistakable Tam Brahm Tamil. Mr Window Seat is telling Mr Aisle Seat,” This person next to our Sunil here , she seems to be a real Sourpuss / Grumpy Cat . The Tamil word he uses is “Mushudu”.
It takes all my self-control to school my face into an expression that should suggest nothing; no, I have not understood a word of what this man has just said , about me , a very rude remark , totally uncalled for and in a language I have understood very well. And of course I am offended. I was polite and looking out for his well-being; making sure he did not get up when he was not supposed to and did not unfasten his seat belt when he was not supposed to and even calling the stewardess to help him put his wretched bag up. And what do I get in return? His friend is calling me names and in my hearing and totally unwarranted at that.
And even before I can do a mental Enna da, rascal, Mr Iyer Aisle Seat from across , leans over and in chaste Iyer Tamil and tones that add further fuel to the fire in my fuming mind says nice and clear , “ Yes da even I thought so. In fact she even looks like a Mushudu “Now I know what Luca Brasi felt like when they said he looked so fearsome that infants voluntarily sought furnaces to leap into.
But coming back to this Tamil dialogue that is on full flow …ok being called a sourpuss is fine. I guess I was rather stern and strict a while ago but to announce loud and clear to anyone who understands Tamil that I look like a sourpuss Oh OUCH that does things to vain old me. I swear I begin rearranging some imaginary grumpy making muscles in my face while all the while bristling at the audacity. Me? With my fancy glasses and my MAC Verve lipstick and Bare Essential Mineral what not dusted cheeks looking like a sourpuss? Oh dear oh dear these are some home truths being dished around. I smile brightly at the guy who is walking past , my eyes barely hiding the plea , Hello guy going to the loo , do I look like a sourpuss of course not right ???!!!
But the deed is done, the words said and the Iyer tongue having lashed moves on …no amount of rearranging facial muscles is going to change the fact. I actually look like a Mushudu.
Already my evil mind is plotting sweet revenge (oh no that will make my face look even more of an Mushudu so the plotting has to be done with no evidence on the exterior.) But how do I let these guys know I have understood their chivalrous conversation without really talking to them. I mean even my colleague who is within talking distance behind me is not a Tamilian so making some loud random remark to her is impossible. And of course I cannot make a phone call to husband and stage whisper sweet somethings to him tin Tamil
Anyway, the Corleone family’s shenanigans kept me busy and occupied and I must confess some of the methods they used to let their enemies know how much the Godfather was displeased by their actions was tempting to emulate. But then one cannot strangle people with wires in broad day (f)light nor get your Mafia goons to break arms and legs . My one probable partner in crime is a couple of rows away. I have to choose a more suave and sophisticated method of sweet revenge.
Good things come to people who wait be they Mushudu Iyer Aunties like me ….Come Patna, we land and as I unfasten my seat belt I am this wee bit disappointed that no opportunity has presented itself and I reach up to lug the heavy backpack down and oh oh oh it almost lands on Mr Iyer Aisle Seat who is going all the way to Ranchi and I turn around to check the damage. Luckily (??) no damage but oh what a glorious opportunity right from above for me to do my little revenge bit !!
Saintly smile on my face and dripping sweet saccharine in my voice I say nice and loud in Iyer Aunty style, in chaste Tamil, Aiyyo, Mama! Romba Sorry …I hope the bag did not hit you?”
Well, have any of you ever seen a jaw drop ? Believe me I do oh I do as does my young colleague who is like Hullo what is all that about – did you see his jaw drop ?
I did I did I did!!!!!! And it would have remained dropped all the way to Ranchi I hope
ps Thanks to Sashank Gopinathan for his Simpsons if they were Iyers images . Used without permission in true Iyer style