The Cup of Poison

Let me narrate yet another funny incident from my adventure diary about my old roommate, Agastya Basu.  Circa 2005, we both were working on the same project and had to go to the US. By that time, we had already traveled to the US a couple of times and were quite comfortable with the flight routes and the American accent.

Usually when a bachelor goes to the US from India, and you already have married couples in your project team who are stationed in the US, you get knighted as the FedEx boy for them. You are asked to carry so many miscellaneous items, which we need to collect from them near and dear one in the city. So before we embarked, Agastya had to make these few trips that to their families in the city of our work and collected their stuff…Aaarrrgh! Thankfully, given the good nature, ready to help, and pleasing mannered boy, Agastya was always the one to whom they would be making these demands knowing that he would had put hardly any resistance, unlike me.

So, Agastya had this giant suitcase, which I think could even fit a human corpse, when he traveled to the US. Just to make everything fit in one and avoiding to carrying too many suitcases, he would stuff everything inside that suitcase. And just a mere sight of that heavy suitcase, anyone could tell that it was overweight. But poor Agastya. He did not have any choice. I on my part had a standard size suitcase, just good enough to fit my belongings.

As luck would have it, the reputed European airline (name not disclosed for good reasons) counter girl told that the luggage was far too heavy and that Agastya need to split it into two bags. He tried to reason with her, used his charm for a while, and finally started to plead, but she insisted that everyone needs to abide by the rules …so the only option for him was to buy a cabin bag and that’s not all; also pay for the extra luggage that they allowed after putting a ‘heavy’ tag on his suitcase. Waste of money!!! This was just the beginning and he was already cursing those guys for whom he had to go through this ordeal.

At the security check, we had to put the wallet for the X-Ray screening, after which we both were relaxing at the lounge. Then came the announcement and Agastya and I both had this common habit of saying a little prayer before the start of the journey—as Agastya put his hand in to his pocket to take out his wallet that he realized he has forgotten to collect his wallet from the security check-in counter. Now I could sense that his nerves were giving away, and being a good friend; both of us rushed to the security counter. Luckily, for him, the security guy told him that he did found the wallet, but since no one came to collect it, he had passed it to the Lost and Found counter. Arrrgghh!!! Poor Agastya! Cause all his money was in his wallet. Thankfully after a few calls, Agastya got back his wallet. By this time, he was fuming at the airlines guys, although I could not understand why because I thought they were good, but I think the extra luggage thing rubbed on him and having to face with failure since his charm did not work with the counter agent.

Finally, we got into the plane and as luck would have it, we got the last seats in the plane. It was fine with me, but Agastya was cribbing again. It was only after he noticed this beautiful flight attendant who was serving our area that I saw a sudden transformation. He was back in his old self, Mr. Iceman, who always thought that he has a way with his charming words that can pierce the strongest walls.

After some time, the flight attendant came and asked me what I would love to have and I said that I wanted an orange juice. She was indeed pretty, in fact pretty would be an understatement. She had this Latin-American looks like Salma Hayek. Before starting on our journey to the West, the last movie that we watched on Indian shores was a movie called ‘Hum Tum’, and we both had liked the movie, although we found so much similarity with an English movie called ‘When Harry Met Sally’. Before, she came to us; Agastya told me that he planned to have some fun with words with that flight attendant I, on my part, said go-ahead as long as it is harmless and in good humor.

So when she came to Agastya, and asked, “What would you like to have, Sir?” Imagine what he said, because even today when I think, I burst out laughing. Agastya said, “After all the harassment and ill-mannered behavior by your ground staff, I think I can have a glass of poison.”

And without a wink, she replied in the most polite way, ” Sir, the things that we ask our passengers not to carry on board also applies to the crew of the plane, and although our airline prides in serving their passengers to all their needs, I apologize that I do not have a pint of poison, even in my personal attaché case. I am sorry. Can I serve you anything else, Sir?” Still smiling!!!

And I was laughing under my teeth. I still remember the look on Agastya’s face. He was dumb-struck, actually thunder struck by the calmness and quick wit of the flight attendant. He knew he has been totally out-witted in his own game.

The rest of the journey we had a few more conversation until we reached Paris, where the staff changed. For my reader’s information and Agastya’s memory, the name of the flight attendant was Annette. The year was 2005. The destination was Mumbai to Newark via Paris.


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