Perfect Christmas

Have you been in one of those moments? One that is hard to believe while you are amidst it? I was. Recently while on a much awaited trip.


So this happened last year (yeah! Christmas ’08). I had planned a trip to New Jersey to meet up with some good ol’ friends. My idea of a vacation or a Christmas Eve or a New Year’s night out is usually nothing fancy. (Yeah, nothing at all) It would be the same old dinner, some new music, a lot of talk and good sleep with friends to share it all with. And that pretty much was the plan for which I had booked a one stop flight to Jersey from Minneapolis via Chicago.


As luck would have it, my flight was delayed. Christmas eve, so I expect nothing less. I never cribbed, I did not even sulk. I was in the Santa mode, trying to spread cheer and joy. So yeah… I was at the airport – with a bunch of strangers tied together by the fact that we were all stranded at the airport. Chicago, ORD it was. Crowded yet with no one to talk to. (Strange isn’t it?)


I manage to seat myself at one of those overly packed gates, hoping to get out on a standby flight. But Murphy’s Law worked right a second time too. The flight went into servicing. By then, I had spent enough time at the gate. I went from staring between faces on the opposite seating area to smiling at visibly irritated faces.


I sat there reading ‘Fooled by randomness’ only to be interrupted by this Indian sitting next to me. ‘Hey.. This is interesting’ he says. I turn to see he was reading the prequel to the one I was reading; both talking largely about the theories of uncertainty. This person, a professor at the University of Michigan handles a course on Uncertainty Principles. Ironically, the man could deal with it only in theory. Whilst at the airport dealing with ‘uncertainty of heading to Jersey’ – he failed miserably.






The other character I got talking to was Vasantha mami. A typical tam bram lady – old, worn out & calm with experience on her first trip to the US visiting her children. She had limited luggage. No phone, no quarters, a $20 bill, a box of tomato rice packed by her daughter at Minneapolis & a boarding pass to catch the flight that was indefinitely delayed. Speaks for itself doesn’t it? Understandably, she felt a great sense of relief on seeing another ‘Tam face’ (myself) smile at her. So yes, this acquaintance lead me to a situation where I had to answer questions which I avoided asking myself. A whole huge list, actually.

  1. Will the flight leave tonight?
  2. Is it the last flight out for tonight?
  3. If it doesn’t which flight will they book us on?
  4. Does this always happen?
  5. The weather is really terrible isn’t it?
  6. Accident’s are not that frequent right?
  7. What about my baggage that I have checked in?
  8. Do you get vegetarian food here? For less than $20?

And many more…


Keeping her quiet for more than 10 mins at a stretch was tougher than listening to the professor fella!

Another couple of hours passed by, and suddenly the whole wait seemed worth it. It wasn’t the case that the flight was good to go. It was one Mr.Dave at the airport. A retired veteran from the Navy who also was hanging around at the airport waiting for the same flight to Newark, NJ.


“What’s with all you guys? It’s Christmas eve for god’s sake! Brighten up. It’s not so bad is it? We still got each other! Now come on, smile for me” says he. Trust me, the crowd did. As if instantly realizing what they failed to see for themselves. A couple of college kids sprang up from their seats walked up to Dave – gave him a ‘hi 5’ (is that how one spells it?), walked around the hip hop style – throwing a couple of ‘Yo man! Wassup?’ to every third person they saw.


Even the girl in pink who was sad that Santa would not find her tonight at the airport seemed to feel better. What more? Thoroughly in the rush of the moment and the energy that was so infectious, I called out to the crowd – ‘Does anyone feel like having some cake?’ (Still hate to think of how I might have reacted if the crowd remained passive to my callout) Surprisingly for me, there was response. A loud one. at that. So the college kids, Dave and I head out to the food court to grab some cheese cake for the whole crowd. Back at gate B16, we had the cake, exchanged stories, seats and everything except our names.


Within an hour from then, the flight was good to go. We were all on it, like around a 100 of us who knew each other and what the Christmas gifts for their families were! And that’s the story of 24th December 2008.


A perfect Christmas, huh? We also got a $100 off e-coupon on our next purchase. Perfect indeed!

3 comments:

prasanna venkatesh.b 11:03 AM  

" Back at gate B16, we had the cake, exchanged stories, seats and everything except our names."
This line just jumped out of the post and hit me! Reminds me of every one of those people I have met whose names I never asked. Well, great post Nivy, keep it coming :)

Nivedhitha 2:16 PM  

True isn't it? Friends for an hour and a half :)

Sathia 12:41 PM  

True true...Perfect lining of ur thoughts with apt words keeps me to open an imagination window on my mind screen....

Perfect writing :-)

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