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June 15, 2004 12:48 IST

I nervously disembarked from the Delta Airlines aircraft at Atlanta airport.

It was my first trip to the US and I had been told I would be picked up by my company's shuttle. After completing the formalities at the immigration counter and claiming my baggage, I looked out for someone holding a placard with my name.

Two hours later, I was still at the airport. Getting worried, I decided to call my company. I walked into a phone booth only to realise I did not have any coins.

Just as I was beginning to panic, a couple of guys walked up and asked if I needed help -- they recognised me as an Indian and a newcomer to the US. They asked me to call the office on their mobile phone and waited for over an hour until a person from my office came to pick me up. They gave me their names and telephone numbers in case I faced any more problems.

What touched me most was the fact that they were Pakistani. Yet, they went out of their way to help an Indian.

Arvind Sharma, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Holding my own

Shifting from South Delhi to East Delhi meant, among other things, a new school for me.

What complicated matters was the fact that I had been studying at one of South Delhi's best schools and was rapidly spurning schools here because I did not like the look of their toilets or the sight of dusty football grounds.  

The choice, meanwhile, narrowed to one school that had been highly recommended by both my father's colleagues and our neighbours. It has passed my stringent standards too; I had checked it out after the entrance exam.

I was quite happy when I got the call for the interview.

Stories about a 1/8 success ratio and how tough the principal was were doing the rounds on D-Day. Visions of the other school's unwashed toilets numbed my mind as I watched disappointed candidates trudge back from the principal's office.

When it was my turn, I entered determined to clear the interview with flying colours.

I tackled all the usual questions. Then the gentleman at the opposite side of the desk asked, "Your name is Archan, right? What does it mean?"

Confidently, I replied, "Oh, that means rukaawat, badha [obstacle]!"

Even as the words left my mouth, I realised what a blunder I had made. How could I mess up the meaning of my own name? What should I do now? Should I correct myself? Do I leave the situation as is?

A smile flickered across the face of the lady standing beside me. She asked, "Is that so? Does that means Archan would be a rukaawat for others?"

I quickly replied, "No, just an adchan for my opponents, not my friends!" The principal smiled. So did the lady.

I was very embarrassed at my faux pas. I did the other stuff in a jiffy so I could leave as soon as possible. Dad burst out laughing as soon as we stepped out of the principal's office. "Listen, son," he told me, "I appreciate the way you held your own. Don't worry."

When I look back at that incident 15 years down the line, I really thank then principal Dr S C Arora and my fifth standard class teacher Mrs Shama Bharadwaj for giving me the opportunity to join Apeejay School, Noida. I am sure the answer that prompted Mrs Bharadwaj's smile led to my selection over some of the probables lined outside.

Archan Ghosh, Bangalore

Going mobile

I have been accused of being addicted to my mobile phone; people even say it has become an extension of my arm.

There are times, though, when I am very glad to have had it on me.

Take the time Mum and I went to visit some friends. As we were got ready to leave after an evening filled with fun and banter, I decided to make a quick trip to the bathroom.

I don't know when or why my friend tampered with the door, but the result left me locked inside. I yelled and banged, to no avail.

I did not fancy staying there till someone noticed my absence so I used my handy mobile phone to call my friend up and demand an immediate rescue.

Now I have all the more reason to indulge in my obsession!

Shyamala Sadananda, Mumbai

The elusive ticket

A few Sundays ago, my colleagues and I were waiting for the Guruvayoor-Chennai train at Dindigul. We were on our way to Chennai.

When the train arrived, we tried to board the unreserved compartment which was very crowded. The train started moving, so I ran and entered a reserved compartment.

At the next halt, Tiruchirapalli, a group of ticket checkers got in. I didn't know what to do; my ticket was with my colleague who had got into another compartment.

I tried explaining my predicament. "Well, sir, we boarded the train in Dindigul and my friend who purchased the ticket has it with him…"

To which the ticket checker replied, "Do you have the ticket with you now?"

Obviously, I didn't. I might have to get down from the station and face the consequences, he warned. Irritated at his tone, I said I could prove I had bought a ticket. Equally irritated, he told me to do so by finding my colleague.

I moved to the next coach, but my colleague was nowhere to be seen. By the time I reached the third coach, I was sweating and wondering what would happen if I could not produce my ticket. 

At Srirangam, I got down and entered another coach. There, another inspector asked me to produce my ticket. I told him the same story and tried to locate my colleague.

When I could not find my colleague by the time the train reached the next station, Ariyalur, I prepared myself to face the consequences.

As I dejectedly stepped onto the platform, I bumped into my colleagues desperately searching for me. I don't think I will ever forget this incident.

L Murugan, Adyar, Chennai

Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh

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Number of User Comments: 10

Sub: hi

hmmmmmmmmmmm nice to liston diffrent types of ideas from every one.i have also a dream that pakistan and india become friends like china.and they share ...

Posted by sami

Sub: With love, from Pakistan

Last year when there was a Onam celebrations in one of the hindu temples in US, a hindu lady whose husband was a pakistani attended ...

Posted by Ramachandra menon

Sub: A.P.J!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just wanted to say tht reading ur story Mr. Ghosh bought back a lot of memories as I studied in A.P.J., Noida too before moving ...

Posted by Ridhima Gupta

Sub: Love from Pakistan

Really felt good to know that they didn' have the feeling to let an Indian suffer in fromt of their eyes.

Posted by Abarna

Sub: with love from pakistan

Hello! U have echoed my sentiments exactly.I am an Indian,presently in Australia,pursuing research,and I have a friend-a girl with me pursuing research as well-who is ...

Posted by Nayana


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