Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Weekend (Part 1)

At my desk in my office with Colombo running through my head. It's becoming a familiar feeling.

The break was a quick one, four days of heat, atmosphere and people. Four days of absofuckinglutely great food, the usual dishes that make all the mouths of all the diasporic Sri Lankans drool and yearn for the taste and the texture.

This time I've made a little list of things that I could blog about. Usually I get back from somewhere with a head full of stories I could regale you with, only to find that the head has got the memory of a trishaw driver and, by the time I come to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, I've forgotten the stories I wanted to share. Not that many trishaw drivers have blogs, but you know where I'm coming from.

I've got to start with one of the last things that happened, because I can, it's my blog after all. It's about the plane trip back, specifically about the woman who sat next to me.

Taking a more relaxed than usual approach to my check in I arrived at the airport a mere two and a half hours before the Sri Lankan airlines flight. By my standards that's as good as arriving after the gate has closed. I checked in and was told that a window seat wasn't available because one hundred and fifty people had already checked in and there were none left. Fair enough, I thought, although I felt some bitterness at the thought of those people being package tourists with their little white box of Kuoni flowers and patronising attitudes towards anyone with a brown skin.

I took my seat, the aisle one next to a window one, and wondered what my neighbour would be like. A couple of minutes later there she was. I was gifted with a youngish Sri Lankan woman in full hijab. Much of my family is Muslim so I have no issue with that side of things, I'm only trying to describe her to you. She must have been in her late twenties and had the aura of someone who'd never been in a car before, let alone a plane. In fact she looked so green I wouldn't even be surprised if she'd never been in Odel before, Now I think I'm mature and calm enough to know that life is made up of all sorts, some have more experience than others and many go out and try things for the first time.

But, on a long haul flight I'd rather not be sitting next to one of them. And, from the way she walked up the plane and studied the seat numbers, the way she took about half an hour to put her hand luggage in the overhead rack and the way she looked around at the environment I just knew I was in for a challenging eleven hours.

After sitting down and pressing every button she could see, just to see what they do, she promptly fell asleep. The gap between deciding to go to sleep and falling asleep was tiny. There are things in nature that take incredibly short periods of time, like light travelling and the Sri Lankan rupee depreciating, but this was something else. The only thing I can think of that I've seen occur so quickly is the speed of a Sri Lankan father falling asleep after a meal a few shots, any Sri Lankan father, it's in the genes.

But, bang, quicker than you can say "bang" she was gone, out for the count. As the aircraft took off, as the Kuoni flower box wielding Suddhas looked out of their windows and watched Sri Lanka disappear I looked at my neighbour and cursed her. She was asleep and she had what I wanted; a fucking bloody window seat. I so wanted to watch as I left the country. I don't know if you get that feeling too. It's a kind of desire to say goodbye, to watch the greenery and the reddish brownness of the land slowly fade away. To see the vehicles as they progress with such disorder along their roads, to watch the waves lapping along the west coast of the island as the plane heads upwards according to the map thing on the screen.

For me it's a very nice and complete way to leave, to see things dissipate and quite literally become smaller until they go into that thing they call the memory bank. Instead I got the image of a snoring fast asleep woman who, in all honesty, wasn't up there for me in the attractivenees ratings along with Jen and Britney (in her Slave 4u days of course). Next time I'll be checking in about nine days before the flight time. I need that seat.

Once she woke the window seat thief began to watch me. I felt a bit sorry for her, as much as anyone can feel for a blatantly cruel person anyway. She was watching everything I did, how I changed channels on the video screen, how I reclined my seat, how I pulled out the footrest, you name it she observed it and learned. I was tempted to have some fun. I thought about pressing a button on the screen and farting but there wasn't enough gas, or cruelness in my psyche, to do it.

We exchanged a few pleasantries, nothing much though. Then, several hours into the flight she did the thing. The thing that flummoxed, startled and left me with a puzzled brow and a "did that really happen" thought. As I sit here at my desk I can't fathom whether I reacted wrongly or if I shouldn't even have been bothered by what she did.

I'll tell you about it later.....

10 comments:

Pink Mist said...

Aaaarghhh... thats so mean!! hurry up and finish the story. Sigh. Shouldn't read blogs just before going to sleep. And I do that too, the saying goodbye. Seeing the coastline with the twin towers, the beira lake..Wow, just thinking about the last time I did that makes me feel so sl-sick!

Jane Doe said...

aaaaaaaaaah!!! I'm on the verge of getting late to class and trying to read through your post as fast as I possibly can and THIS!?!?!
I'm left speechless (except for what I just wrote that is...)

Dinidu de Alwis said...

You're mean, for two reasons.

1. I TOLD her, and Anarkali, AND you to see if we can meetup. And you didn't. You broke my heart dude.

2. Stopping a post like that? You're worse than the old soap operas man!

Liana said...

come on man!!!! thats sooo not fair... first you get 4 days in SL, and now you leave us all hanging!!! hurry up and finish the post before i use up my limited store of bad singhala words on you :)

btw, i love window seats, i love the first glimpse of the country when you arrive, and the 'saying goodbye' part, but mostly i love seeing all the people and trees etc getting smaller and smaller....

Bimal said...

Adooo!!!

Next bit better be good. ;-)

But doesn’t it bother you to have to disturb the person on the aisle seat and the unlucky sod who get to sit on the one in the middle everytime you need to get up and go to the loo or even just to stretch your legs a bit? Mainly because of that reason I prefer the aisle seat. Also on the aisle-seat you get to stretch one of your legs a wee bit more if you stick it out onto the passageway - mind the food trolley though. You can lose a leg if you are not careful.

Anonymous said...

She picked her nose? Farted?
Removed the Hijab? puked?

Jack Point said...

Hell what a tease. Come on, finish the story quickly.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

It's on its way, I reckon you'll all be disappointed though.

Bimal - I don't mind the window seat when it's only one person that has to move to let me out for the toilet, but on a 747, where it's a row of three, I usually go for the aisle seat.

Scrumpulicious said...

Maaaaaaaan! Ditto what everyone else said! :)

mcboom said...

2 and a half hours before a flight is plenty of time ! It really irks me how people arrive 3-4 hours before a flight with this sense of urgency to get to the airport only to spend countless hours wandering around the duty free shops or sitting in the departure lounge (my parents are guilty of this). An hour spent wandering is plenty for me, so an hour to complete the formalities and an hour for wandering means arriving at the airport 2 hours before a flight is just about all I can handle. This is especially true in the wee hours of the morning when most flights depart SL for Europe or Singapore. There is NO traffic on the road and you can spend that precious extra hour or two in the land of nod than wandering the corridors of BIA !