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October 04, 2004 09:51 IST
A month ago I was returning to St Louis, MO, from Louisville, KY. My flight was at 2.30pm and due to the orange alert I figured that I had better be at the airport at least two hours before my flight.
Louisville has a small airport. At the security checkpoint, I was selected for further screening. I was not surprised because I was the only foreigner in the queue for security. Moreover, I was holding a small duffle bag.
While I was being thoroughly checked, the hand-held metal detector was going off whenever the security officer held it close to my chest. So he decided to find out what was setting off the alarm.
As he was checking, something inside my shirt caught his attention. So he immediately called his supervisor.
To my astonishment, the officer told his superior, "He is wired!"
I tried to explain what it was that he had felt, but he resisted my explanation and asked me to keep my hands wide apart.
I guess the word 'wired' was sufficient to catch everyone's attention. The supervisor offered me to take to a private screening room to check out the 'wire'.
Ultimately that proved unnecessary. I showed him my cotton sacred thread (janivara) with a small locket that had created all this commotion.
In south India, it is common to find men wearing the sacred thread. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that someone would misconstrue it to mean that I was wired!
St Louis, Missouri
I was travelling from Osaka to Chennai by Singapore Airlines and had to change planes at Changi airport.
The aircraft I boarded in Singapore felt like a domestic flight, so full of desis it was.
I settled down in my seat, tuned in to the radio, and began enjoying some music.
Then I noticed the gentleman next to me fiddling with the remote control for the LCD panel in the seat ahead.
I thought he was having a problem with the panel because I could not see anything on it. So I suggested that he increase the contrast and brightness. "No problem," he replied.
After some time, I noticed that he was again fiddling with the remote control, so I leaned over to help. Gently, he answered, "The image cannot be viewed by anyone other than the person in this seat. It is designed so for privacy."
What an embarrassing moment that was! And I had thought I was helping him.
The magic room
When I was young, my parents took me to Ooty to join a boarding school.
An interesting thing happened there in one small room.
My family and I walked from the corridor, which was well decorated with indoor plants, into this room and the door closed. The room was neat, clean and spare.
Within a few moments the door opened and wow! the whole setting had changed.
I was surprised and thrilled. But, interestingly, my family wasn't. I wondered why, but soon forgot all about it.
It was only later, when I was in probably the fifth grade, that I realized the 'magic room' could have been a lift!
I was thrilled about having solved the puzzle. And a little amused at my own innocence.
My sister and I
My sister is around three years younger to me. When she was born, I was really excited and used to notice and report each of her actions to my parents. I wanted to pick her up like the elders did, but as I was very young my parents told me not to try it.
But one day, when she was hardly 10 days old, I couldn't contain my curiosity any longer. When Mom had gone off to bathe, giving her usual instructions, I decided to go right ahead.
There was this big bed of ours with a spring mattress. My kid sister was sleeping on the mattress.
I climbed on to the bed and lifted her up.
I had hardly started admiring her, and my abilities, when Mom stepped out of the bath!
Naturally, she was quite startled to see me standing on the bed with the baby in my hands and cried out in fear.
Her cry scared me and I promptly dropped my sister! Thankfully, she fell on the mattress and was unhurt.
To this day, whenever we relate this incident among our kin, everyone is amused and my sister vows that in her next life she will be my elder sister and do to me what I did to her.
Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh