The Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu, has some real pretty faces and often presents to your eyes meandering queues of Nepalis packing their bags to work overseas. ‘Demand for Nepali workmen is high’ says a fellow traveler while lifting a bag that could weigh as much as my provisions. For three full years and more perhaps.
Work done in Nepal i am on my way back. A kind colleague who sympathises with my attempts at photography tells me that the view of the peaks ‘is a good thing to get on the lens from the plane. If you are lucky’.
His words firmly in my radar, I specifically ask for a window seat. Smiling one of the most beautiful smiles and after saying ‘ofcourse sir’ and a little later ‘have a wonderful flight sir’, flashing that pretty smile, the lass at the Jet Airways counter gives me hands over the baording card. Which after getting into the aircraft i realise entitles to everything else but a window seat ! An aisle seat with two young nepali boys on the middle and window seats for company. GREAT.
Soon we are airborne, and the peaks show up on the window in such majestic splendour that I let out a gasp of surprise laden pleasure. Hastening to pull out the camera and attempting to get a few snaps. Aiming and dodging my two young row mates on the middle and window and ensuring that their noses or hands don’t form part of the picture of the snow clad peaks is quite a struggle.
They can see it too as I hoover-up as many snaps as possible as they give me a look that I would reserve for corner cockroach. And fiddle with the entertainment panel and watch an Ajay Devgun movie.
For a second, I cant believe this. These young boys could actually trade the beauty and majesticity of the mountains and the snow capped peaks for a Ajay Devgun movie on the entertainment panel! Alas, what has the world come to !
Without much ado and a presumptuous air I dismissed their intellect, intent and everything about them.
Soon the peaks vanished and I retired to my world of books and work. The next couple of hours vanished like a sugar laden sweet disappearing down the oesophagus. Not very later we were all set to land in Mumbai.
An announcement that was accompanied by what best could be described as a mild frenzy of of nepali boys peering through the window in other seats.
Greatly surprised I turned to the window on my row, which is when I noticed my own neighbours had pulled out their simple cameras and shared every bit of the window between themselves, cheek to cheek.
Perhaps they were sure they would see someone like Ajay Devgun outside the window, I thought, and suddenly they yelled ‘samundar’ ( ocean ), describing the waves and boats on the Bay of Bengal, with such energy that perhaps dwarfed my attempts to capture the peaks on the camera lens.
It was my turn to fiddle with entertainment panel and theirs to dismiss my intellect, intellect and everything else about me with presumptuous élan.
At that moment, one of them turns to me, grins a sheepish grin, points to the Bay of Bengal and says, ‘Samundar – me first time’. I broaden the sheepish smiles further and point to myself to say ‘Himalayas – first time’. The sheepishness of both our smiles intensify. He returns to look at the Bay of Bengal. And I to the entertainment panel.
I keep smiling. Realising that in the sheepishness of our smiles lay an acknowledgement of our different pasts, a happiness at the present and a deep wish for each other for the future.
I realise that there cant be better wish on Christmas day ! Merry Christmas people !