I was returning to the US after a month-long vacation in India. Since my visa had expired and I was on 'parole,' I was asked to wait in a 'secondary' customs room for further examination of my papers.
I found a seat next to a good-looking woman who seemed to be in her late thirties.
After a while, a Virgin Atlantic customer service agent walked in and, in a strong British accent, announced, "Are there any Virgins in this room?" What he obviously meant was, 'Are there any Virgin Atlantic passengers in this room?"
For a moment, though, everyone was taken aback.
Except for the lady sitting next to me. She nonchalantly raised her hand.
It was only when she heard the chuckles around her that she realised something was amiss. She went red with embarrassment but still managed a smile.
Thyagarajan Vasudevan, Mountain View, California
Karan Johar's double take
My two-year-old niece dotes on me, her athya (aunt).
She also likes humming along with the songs playing on television. Mahi ve from Kal Ho Naa Ho is a particular favourite. Every time it plays, she joins in at the top of her voice.
But since we speak Marathi at home and she hasn't really been exposed to Hindi, she doesn't get some of the words right. So when the lyrics go Soni, soni, aaja mahi ve, she coolly croons along, "Soni, Soni, athya majhi re [Athya belongs to me]."
Needless to say, I'm thrilled and shamelessly prompt her to sing her favourite song on all social occasions.
Swapna Pikale, Mumbai
Spice-wise in America
Each year, hundreds of Indian students come to the United States for higher studies. Very recently, I happened to go to the airport to receive one of them.
As his plane was three hours late, and he had not eaten, we stopped at a gas station for a snack. He decided on Dorito chips.
On the way, we had told this guy a few things about American food and culture. Taking a cue from that, he opted for 'extra spicy' nacho chips. He took his first bite... and almost trashed the entire packet. Clearly, the chips were not spicy enough.
He will realise, over time, that America hypes 'spice'. In reality, everything is bland here.
Vivek Raut, Atlanta
The history of Hisar
My friend Ram and I were in a nostalgic mood. We were missing India and our respective hometowns in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
He had much to tell me about his city, Thiruvananthapuram. I come to a small town called Hisar in Haryana. After stumbling over a few paltry details, I decided it was time to find out more about its history.
So I plugged in my laptop and searched for Hisar through the Google search engine. To my delight, a variety of links popped up. I clicked on one offering a travel guide to Hisar, which I thought would have a lot of information about my small quiet town.
I began reading the information out to my friend. He seemed most interested until, suddenly, he got up to look at the laptop's screen and gave a shout of laughter.
I was most offended, especially since he could not seem to stop laughing.
After a while, I took another look at the piece on Roman architecture, etc, I was reading out to him. And discovered that, while I was indeed reading about Hisar, this particular one happened to be somewhere in Bulgaria!
Vibhor Singh, Japan
Illustrations: Dominic Xavier