This is what I love about travelling- the random bumps with random strangers.
George and John, two odd balls from Manchester on their way to Johanesburg. Their 12th time they tell me.
I am sat in my allocated middle seat. Great, I think. I hate the middle seat. George hovers over me. ‘Are you together?’ I ask ‘Cos I can scoot over’. ‘Well not together together but yeah that’d be great.’
I scooch to the window seat (yes!) when I hear, ‘but I want the window seat’. What? Only joking. And so it begins.
I belly laughed a lot. They asked me, twice, where my favourite place I’d been to was (hard question to answer but probably the Himalayas, for various reasons which I’ll not go into just now) and what I did (doctor-‘oh what kind?’-paediatrics-‘is that something to do with feet?-eh no). Also twice. Talk about short term memory. Or more probable, generic usual banter.
They were wee flirts, the both of them, which made me belly laugh even more. ‘How long you been married?’ John asks. ‘Im not’. You’re the one with the ring I think to myself. I do not ask him the question back, I don’t care enough.
‘Something smells nice, is that you?’ Oh shut up, I think. ‘Yeah probably’ I say outwardly. What about your wife? I think. I am annoyed for all the single people of this world. And married for that matter. ‘A beautiful name for a beautiful lady’, he comments on asking my name. ‘Vomit’ I think.
They ask personal probing questions, bullet like, in quick sharp succession, intrusive but so sudden it takes a while to even realise. By the time I cop on I realise, they probably know too much. Still, I am not so easily bought.
‘I hope we haven’t offended you’ John offers. ‘Dont be daft!’ I retort back. I am intrigued by the accounts of their various expeditions.
Work takes them around the UK a lot and they mention places in Scotland which gives me a twang of nostalgia. ‘Hamilton, Falkirk, Musselbourgh’. Remembered in full by their favourite Indian restaurant of choice. I offer one in return for Glasgow, The Banana Leaf. Supreme South Indian cuisine. Not much to look at but the taste is so authentic. Eat in to get the full flavour effect. Deliver home if grotty isn’t your scene. A proper road side tea shop type feel. India is sublime I think to myself.
‘What’s the strongest pain killer?’ John asks nursing a hangover headache. ‘Morphine’ I reply. ‘Nah, something I can buy!’ Woops.
‘What’s the best cure for a hangover?’ George joins. ‘Water’ I reply with the obvious. ‘Or…just keeping drinking’. Yes I suppose that is another option.
Still, I enjoyed their company a lot. We marvelled at the sunrise, the snow like blanket of powder clouds and the rubbishy cheese sandwiches on offer. We talked of Vancouver, Whistler, Calgary, Melbourne, Sydney, Bondi Beach and Cape Town. Of languages learned and half learnt. Of square fish and ‘chaps’ with ‘salt and sauce’. Of deep fried Mars bars (I confess, absolutely delicious) and that no matter how far you travel, your heart will always be at home.
L is stuck in Mongolia because of snow. Our grand plan to meet in Guangzhou and travel into Siem Reap together will not happen. Oh well, to be honest, it was always going to be a long shot! Still, I do hope the taxi with name (hers not mine) will accept me as ‘L.P’ – as non an Indian name there ever will be. Worse comes to worst, I’ll hang in the airport until she arrives, like some kind of hobo. Or Gandi. With more clothes. And slightly less peaceful protest techniques, not that I’m actively protesting just now anyway.
Over for now.