“I’m going to find a corner or aisle seat” she tells me as I get up to make way for her on the plane. And she’s off.
Minutes later she returns. On a fully booked Emirates flight, this is hardly surprising.
She sits herself next to me, pulling out her broadsheet newspaper - The Economic Times - making no effort to contain it.
The flight is little over three hours to Dubai.
This woman is not large by any means, but still feels the need to spill over to ‘my’ space, resting her shoes on my hoody, tucked underneath the seat in front of me. I move to claim back ‘my’ space.
The lady is Indian. She is dressed in a brightly coloured kurta and speaks with an air of confidence, bordering on arrogance. She is obviously highly educated. Yet, still has no words to excuse herself or to ask me to move as she steps over and on me on the way to the toilet. Such a contrast to the nature of the people we met in Sikkim.
During the flight, she manages to irritate some of the flight attendants. Politely they reply and accommodate her but from the look on their faces after, they have seen it all before.
As the plane grinds to a halt, some three hours later, before the seatbelt signs have even been switched off, there is a clatter of seatbelts being unfastened as the passengers rush to get off the plane. As I’ve learnt in India, this is not uncommon and it is essential to be at the front of the ‘queue’, or as close to. Some passengers will even start to offload their luggage from the overhead compartments before the plane has even stopped. There is a continual rush to be places, whether this means getting tickets first at tourist sites or claiming the first available toilet cubicle. As such, queues in its traditional sense are unheard of.
The Indian lady beside me is the first to clamber over me, no pardons or excuse mes needed of course, until she is at the very front of the scramble to get off the plane.
No-one is moving anywhere. The stairs have not even yet been set up or doors opened.
I start to gather my belongings, checking the space around me to make sure I haven’t left anything.
I spot something.
In her haste to clamber over me, the lady has forgotten her passport. For a split second, I contemplate leaving it there for her to come back and find later to teach her lesson.
I sigh and pick up the passport. The lady is so far in front she’s no longer even in reach so I pass it on down to the front. She receives it eventually and a look of surprise washes over her face. She makes her way back toward me.
Only now does she remembers her manners, she thanks me for finding it, then sits down in her seat to check it once more and arrange her things.
She is no longer in a rush to get off the plane.