Emirates Airline 202 bound from New York JFK is bang on time today, a few minutes early even; no routine, vague excuse of a tardy inbound flight to contend with. These airlines must think we travelers are pretty dumb and gullible; as if we care ant’s ass if their inbound flight was late. Anyway, we board the flight and I try make myself comfortable settling down for the long 12 hour torture to Dubai; as comfortable as economy class will allow me, that is.
I am nicely satiated after a wonderful dinner of barbecued salmon at the Emirates Lounge and at peace with myself and the world. I plan to sleep if possible; adequately tired and pleasantly achy from my 6 mile run in crisp 36˚F Orlando, FL weather, calm winds and the road almost to myself this Sunday morning.
I am busy reading a novel, waiting for others to board and take off when a shadow falls over my book and I look up to see Adnaan Saami’s scowling chubby face, glaring down at me. Startled, I do a double take, as do others, seated and standing around me, congesting the area near my seat. The last photos I have seen of this lift karaade singer was a few months ago, in tabloid pages of Mumbai Mirror, all slim and trim, in bitter marital acrimony with his (ex) wife, Sabah, having lost considerable fat. Wow, seems the guy can’t keep his taste buds under control for too long. He is as huge as before, with a massive gut preceding his body.
You are sitting in my seat, he grumbles.
Affronted, I glare back. I am not! I say. I am very territorial; I know my seat numbers all right.
He fumbles around his ill fitting coat, breathing hard, presumably looking for his boarding pass, pulls out the stub and sticks it right under my nose. There, see? My seat!
Ordinarily, in dealing with rude and unreasonable people, I can stand my own and can take good care of myself. But this guy is a giant and even a soft punch on my pretty face could do a lot of damage. So I glance at the boarding pass and smugly say, Not your seat! This seat is 67C, which is mine, yours is 67B, next to mine. Look at your boarding pass. He peers at the stub and a sheepish look crosses his face. Shit, he wails, shit. That bitch of a woman. I asked her 3 times for an aisle seat. Shit! I was hoping he would apologize to me for his rudeness first…
This outburst has everybody around us even more fascinated; something to write home about, Adnaan Saami having a fit. He extricates his massive gut from his coat, throws it and a carryon into the storage bin above and proceeds to park an even heftier butt into the seat next to mine; I (and others) look on, curious and quite alarmed. I am curious as to how the poor seat will accommodate that entire butt and if it miraculously does, alarmed as to how I am going to spend 12 hours sitting next to all that blubber. The seat protests for a second or two then relents, and Adnaan (and others) sigh in relief. I feel like crying; a rim of fat has overflowed and sits comfortably on the armrest, pinning my arm towards one side.
I am now livid, there is no way I am going to sit for 12 hours in this position; I get up and try to draw attention of a cabin crew while others gawk at the whale seated next to me. A giggling striking young teenager squeezes past the line waiting to proceed further inside this Airbus A380 and croons Adnaan, Adnaan! I love your voice, can I have an autograph please? Adnaan scowls at her, I am not Adnaan or a singer, leave me alone. You think I would be flying economy if I was him?
Eh? I do a double take again; the girl is not convinced however, bats her eyelids at him then makes a giggly retreat. He looks like Adnaan Saami all right, at least the one in the lift karaade video I have seen. Does he have a twin? I don’t care, I want out, Saami or a twin; I am not going to be compressed like a card box.
A Pilipino crew finally makes it to me and I take her to a discreet side and begin to tell her about my predicament; she cuts me off in mid sentence. Don’t worry Sir, I already know of the situation and understand, we will not let you sit there. The flight is quite empty and I will sit you where you will have a whole row to yourself. Just wait until cabin doors close and I will re-sit you. I could kiss her; so delirious with relief.
I return to my seat and gingerly park myself in my partly usurped seat; Saami or non-Saami has conked off to sleep and snores away, his head nodding, as if in exited agreement, with every intake of a noisy breath. This gives me (and others) the opportunity to observe him. Some debate if he is indeed Saami, others discuss his voice and (mis)fortune with women and one even tries to take a photo but I and my savior stewardess shoo him away; my face does not come cheap.
Things settle down and I wait to be reseated; even look forward to it as I will be able to stretch out for my sleep. Just as speakers come alive with the announcement that doors have closed and we are bound for Dubai, this guy lets out a snort and a fart so loud and foul, I jump up and scurry for cover towards the rear of the aircraft where safety and comfort that a gold card can afford await me.