Sunday, March 29, 2015

Am I being watched......

For those of you who know me well, saying that I am observant, would be an understatement. And so it was; my antenna was up early this morning as I waited to board a flight at the Bangalore Airport.

Image Source

I find observing people and the goings on around me more interesting than burying oneself in the free newspapers that are ever present in the airport.

I zeroed in on an old man who was tearing parts of a newspaper. He looked around furtively and continued with his task. Peopled around him, muddled in their own world, did not seem to notice this rather strange behaviour. He finished with one newspaper and commenced with the next. When he found something that interested him, he glanced furtively around and tore that bit. Intrigued I strolled over to where he was sitting. What was he tearing? Imagine my surprise when I noticed that he was tearing Sudoku and crossword puzzles from the newspapers and putting them into his pocket. He caught my eye and flushed!

My roving eye took in the youngster listening to his Ipod. The beatified look on his face, the half smile and the nodding of his head indicated that he was listening to his current anthem. A pretty young girl passed him by; there was an exchange of glances. A slow smile formed on his face but it froze as the girl walked on by expressionless.

Somewhere behind me a middle aged lady was taking instructions on her mobile phone as to how to switch it off on the flight. Without looking behind, I was able to make out that she was a novice on using the phone as well as talking on it. Heads were turning as she let loose a torrent of words in a loud nasal twang. She hollered that she could not hear the person on the other end. So natural; when the voice on the other side fades, we tend to raise our own voice.

A family of four was lost. They were probably infrequent fliers. The patriarch was looking for the toilet but was embarrassed to ask anybody around him. He asked his wife and children to be on the lookout for one. Just then their flight was announced. There was panic. The patriarch rushed to the nearest airline personnel and with his digit finger raised asked the directions to the toilet. He was directed towards it; and his entourage joined in escorting him to his pit stop.

Disinterested voices announced the arrival and departures of flights. Ground staff went about their task in robotic fashion. People of all shades and hues passed through the boarding gates; some bored others excited. Physically challenged individuals were hauled along in wheel chairs. Babies cried as if in protest. Then it was my turn to board my flight. One glance at the queue and I had my next victim. 

But was I being watched?

This is written by Professor Lionel Aranha. He is an Adjunct Faculty in the Humanities and Liberal Arts Area of IIM Kozhikode. Follow him on Facebook here.