Last week I had to go to Chennai for a day. I took the morning flight and got back by the evening flight. On the way back, the flight was crowded. I had an aisle seat, seated next to me was an elderly lady and on the window seat, sat a foreigner, a white gentleman in saffron robes. As soon as we had boarded the flight and taken our seats, the white man called for the hostess and told her in no uncertain terms that he could not sit next to a woman as it was against his dharma. He had apparently checked in late and couldn’t get a seat of his choice. He asked the hostess to either find a place for him elsewhere or shift the lady to another seat. The helpless girl looked around and could not find any seat for him nor was she able to convince any male passenger to change the seat …maybe because it was a middle seat.
The white man became rather rude and told the hostess that he could not possibly sit next to the woman. I found his behavior appalling. Then he turned to the lady in the middle seat and told her that she should respect his ‘dharma’ and find a seat elsewhere. He went on to admonish her that as an Indian she should respect his ‘brahmacharya’. The poor lady was perplexed, as she was clearly not a regular traveler and got up. By this time I had had enough and told her to sit down. But she was clearly intimidated by the white man who was looking at her like she was a worm. So I told her to sit on my seat and with vicarious glee, I took the middle seat. The sight of the young and hence more ‘sinful’ woman moving next to him incensed the white man, but my don’t-mess-with-me attitude was very evident and he refrained from making anymore noises. I had planned to ‘accidentally’ touch him if he didn’t behave himself. I put my hand on the arm rest deliberately and he shrank away from me as though I was an untouchable. He remained in that position till we landed, cowering against the window like a trapped animal. He even refused the food given because it was offered by a woman and not prepared according to his strict vegetarian beliefs. Throughout the flight he kept his gaze stolidly out of the window.
When the plane landed and came to a halt, he remained seated and waited for people to disembark lest he touch a woman while disembarking I guess. He finally got up, took his cloth bag and walked out from the front exit, ignoring the hostess who stood smiling and wishing people on the way out.
I have met some of the strangest people while flying, but this guy takes the cake er …eggless cake.