Friday, 1 January 2010

Brief Encounters: Vivek

His smart navy suit stood him apart from the other staff at Chennai airport – and conferred, I hoped, some authority – so I raced over to him. Vivek, his badge said, and he was barely over 22.
"How can you have left your passport on the plane?" he asked, smiling, after I breathlessly told him what I'd done. I didn't know myself - tiredness, preoccupation, hurrying to make my connecting flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Vivek picked up his phone and spoke to someone, unhurriedly. It seemed an inconclusive conversation. "Can I look on the plane? It's just out there,
I just landed," I said.
He shook his head. It took me a second to realise he was doing an Indian head wobble, which can mean yes, no, maybe, whatever...
"We will get your passport back, no problem," he smiled. "What seat were you in? Do you have ID?"
I handed him my credit card. It's a measure of how much, from experience, I trust Indian people - or perhaps how desperate I was - that I did this without hesitation. "Wait here," he ordered.
Five minutes later he was back, strolling calmly towards me clutching my green travel folder. I tried to play it cool, but I was so relieved I wanted to cry. I gushed my gratitude and sprinted from the terminal.

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