Multi-tasking and Giggle
A visit to an airport and how can it be interesting? Does it not remind you of those traffic hold-ups en route, the ear-splitting horns of the automobiles blaring straight into your earholes? The barricades at the entrance and scrutiny of the intimidating cops? The delay announcements and the packed waiting lobby?
Yes, it can be interesting, sometimes…if you’re there to receive somebody you love to, if you’ve a company that knows how to tell only things interesting, and if you’ve an eye for things happening around for your grand entertainment!
Last Monday I had an occasion like that and I thought of reserving a whole day for the lone task of receiving our much-awaited guest at the airport. It was my abundant precaution, nay the superfluity of time at my disposal that made me start for the airport sufficiently early, say an hour and half in advance. Despite the traffic, the drive took only a quarter of an hour, and before I could know, I was standing in front of the counter to buy the entry tickets for both of us—me and my daughter.
‘How much is the entry free for both of us? I mean for an hour’s entry?’ I’d taken care that my lips gave out some warmth for the benefit of the person sitting tight behind the glass panel.
‘It’s thirty bucks for a person for three hours,’ the counter fellow said matter-of-factly.
‘Ok. Can’t I have an entry for an hour only…paying ten bucks?’ now my words were mixed with a smile that was broader and happier.
‘No, it has to be for three hours,’ the grumpy-looking counter fellow had quivered his lips. He was half smiling.
‘Then we’re two of us. Would you not permit us for one and half hour with one ticket?’ I said.
‘I see what you mean. You want me to sell half a balloon!’
And now we both laughed mirthfully with the entry tickets in my hand and the cash worth sixty bucks in his.
Then we entered the airport lobby. It was cool and comfortable with plenty of chairs welcoming us. We searched for vantage seats. The flight would take another three-quarter of an hour to arrive.
We chose the best seats available that afforded us a kind of grandstand view. A person was standing in front at a distance enjoying his coffee. He was extremely slow and aeons seemed to pass between his swigs.
‘Do you know why this man is so slow handling his coffee,’ I asked my daughter to guess. She knew what I meant: I was not keen to listen to her reply; I was just asking for her attention, her curiosity. And she promptly granted me that.
‘Why is he so slow? Is he thinking of something or what?’
‘Look, it’s pure economics. Coffee is twice expensive in the airport and he should get twice the value for his money, by stretching his swigs,’ I said expecting her to give my reward with a mirthful laughter. And we both laughed at somebody’s expense, who was not in the hearing distance!
Then it was time for chewing gum. I hate chewing gum…don’t know why people chew that for hours just to throw them. But now it was a different occasion and I was in a different mood. Breaking into the self-imposed domain of don’ts, I gladly accepted a piece from my daughter. As I started chewing it she insisted I should keep the aluminum foil with me.
‘But for what use?’ I enquired.
‘It’s for wrapping the gum that you’re going to spit out. This is etiquette, Dad. You should remember that,’ she gave a condescending smile. I enjoyed that. After all, learning etiquette could not have been easier.
A beautiful girl just passed in front of us. She was a modern girl, an educated girl with economy in her make-up, and confidence in her manners. But she was doing a manoeuvre worth noting.
She had a laptop hanging low from her left shoulder. I don’t know why the straps should be so long as to interfere with one’s free movement of legs. She was coming with two mugs of coffee filled to their brims. And she had a cell phone held tight between her inclined head and shrugged-up right shoulder. Quite a modern posture at that!
She was careful not to spill even a drop of her expensive coffee, the same material we saw somebody drinking measuredly prolonging his gaps between his swigs. She was receiving a call…and nowadays with cost of mobile usage going down so drastically, who cares for the age-old brevity on phones? She was doing everything perfectly: keeping happy the caller, secured the laptop, and well-served the one for whom she was carrying a coffee mug filled to its brim.
Yes, it was an example of multi-tasking. I could not giggle now, for things so common never get a laugh. And I waited on to find something even more interesting….
A. N. Nanda