Monday, September 20, 2010

73A, PK 302, Sep 16, 2010

After eid, on September 16, 2010, I traveled back to Lahore from Karachi on PIA's flight PK 302. I was assigned a window seat 73A. When I boarded the aircraft, the Boeing 747, I discovered that a girl was already sitting on the aisle seat next to mine. I requested her some room so that I could sit. She pointed to a different seat and requested if I could sit on that seat nearby instead. I suggested that the other seat might have been assigned to someone else. She requested if I could take that seat anyway until anyone comes to it. I agreed.
As I took the other seat, a group of women requested the crew to reassign their seating so that they wouldn't have to sit next to strange men and would sit together. I vacated the seat that I had temporarily occupied, so that the crew would get an accurate picture of what was available. After I had stood for a few minutes, the girl next to my originally assigned seat perhaps felt pity for me and asked me to take my original seat, 73A. I thanked her and took my seat. She then asked if I'd like to switch seats. I told her it was her call, I was equally OK with a window or aisle seat. She requested that we switch seats, and so we did.
During the flight, she kept nodding off to sleep for short intervals. Throughout the flight, I kept feeling sorry that she was in a naturally uncomfortable position. I wouldn't even look toward the window because it might look like I was looking at her. I squeezed myself into one side of the seat near the isle. I kept trying to muster enough strength to apologize to her for any inconvenience I must've caused her, but I was too nervous to do that. What if she thought "free honay key koshish ker raha hay"? Whenever I thought I had the strength to say it, she seemed to have drifted off to sleep. Whenever she would wake up, I'd lose my strength. Well, eventually, after the plane had landed, I spoke in a small voice, "I'm sorry, I made you uncomfortable during the flight." She nicely replied, "Oh, not at all."
It turned out, she was a really nice person. She asked me if I traveled to Lahore a lot. I told her that I don't travel often, but my parents live in Karachi and I've been living in Lahore because of my PhD studies. She asked me where I'm doing my PhD at and I told her that I'm going to LUMS. In reply, she asked me which subject I'm doing my PhD in, and I told her that I was doing a PhD in Computer Science.
Conscious as I was of not engaging her too much, I didn't say a word after that. Later on, I thought that there was nothing to be afraid of. She was a nice person and wouldn't have considered it odd if I asked her what she did. It would've made her feel a bit more at ease, perhaps. I guess it's too late now.
When the queue of passengers started moving off the plane, I asked her if she had a bag in the overhead compartment that she needed help with. She guided me towards her bag, which I took down for her. It wasn't too heavy or anything. I was in front of her in the queue of passengers getting off the plane when I spotted a couple of bags belonging to my parents in an overhead compartment (my parents were also traveling on the same flight). I squeezed into a seat row to allow her move on before I took those two bags. She insisted that I go ahead before her, but I suggested otherwise. The two bags were a bit heavy and I didn't want her to wait on my account. And that was that.
Pretty ordinary stuff for most people, but for me, it's been a while since I've met a girl who is nice. Most girls I see these days are, for lack of a nice word, bitchy. And to think that I didn't even ask her name, or tell her mine. All I said when parting was that it was nice to meet her, and that wasn't a formality. It certainly was very nice to meet her.

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