It was just a routine flight back home. Familiar airport. Familiar airline. No delays. Thank God. I rarely make conversations while traveling. Let’s just say I rarely converse with strangers even when I am not traveling. I don’t stop to chat with airline counter girls no matter how cute they are like many gentlemen I notice doing, holding up the entire check-in queue. Nor do I pour over the next person while waiting at the security lounge asking inane questions like ‘Do you think the flight will be delayed further?’ I spend my time at airports usually reading a book (I am not obsessive about checking mail/male!) and observing amusing contradictions like an Indian handicrafts store stacking Barbie dolls on the display shelves (yes Sir, at Pune airport) or a men’s clothing store inside security lounge (I thought women were compulsive buyers!).
Anyway getting back to today’s story. (See how easily I get distracted like a child catching a glimpse of shiny toffee wrapper!) Standing at the check-in queue, I try to ignore the nudging baggage trolley behind me. The owner of the baggage obviously mistook the trolley for a Playstation. Finally I give the counter girl my ticket printout and frequent flier card expecting the usual greeting and standard questions. Unexpectedly she says, “You have a very nice name”. The suddenness of the remark dislodges my cultivated poise and I smile despite myself. It turns into a grin by the time she hands me my boarding card.
Sitting at my window seat and feeling the familiar queasiness during take off I remember how, recently while buying a mobile phone the receipt spelled my last name as 'Boss' causing someone to rib me endlessly. I remembered too how some years back, while stopped by the traffic inspector for driving on high beam, I was playing for his sympathy (a helpless mother with a child!) and three year old Ro sitting next to me was doggedly spelling out my name and our address as I tried to cover his mouth with my palm. Also how, after I moved to Bangalore I have surrendered to the mutilation of my name without even a whimper. Now, it is almost always my company who lunges forward to correct my name while I remain blasé. Lost in the name game I reach home to find my mailbox spewing letters marked to Mister Piya Bose. Sigh! I know I can’t win.