NEVER EVER read the papers and DON’T EVER blog!



I used to read the papers and I used to blog.

An innocuous enough thing; thousands, nay millions, do it everyday. How can it hurt?
Lend me a patient ear or two and you will learn how these two seemingly innocent pastimes emotionally traumatized me over several hours! To be precise….between 11.50 am and 1.00 pm on 13th of February and again between 3.50 and 5.00 pm on Valentine’s day 2008. These timings refer to the Indian Airline's flights from Delhi to Jammu and back from Jammu to Delhi.

Let me start with the newspapers first.

I read the newspapers! I do that at least every Sunday morning. Thus, I keep abreast of the latest happenings.

I know how many planes have been hi-jacked, or have had near misses.

I know how many have not missed and have crashed midair, or while landing.
I know about the twin towers, and the Pentagon, and mid air blasts. All from reading the newspapers.

I also know about Kandahar!

So here I am, on the plane, securely belted in. I am off to Jammu for a day, on official work. One hour ten minutes, not much of a flight at all, is it?
I switch on the audiovisual display.
The visual offers a funny English Movie, a funny Hindi movie, Indian gyrating music videos, English gyrating music videos, Punjabi gyr….you get my drift! I switch over to audio.
There is loud, rollicking music available. Name the language, they have it. Since the plane is bucking a bit, I would rather not have bucking music as well.

I play with the buttons and discover the global positioning thingummy.

It shows me minified and magnified maps of the area we are flying over.

Prominently marked are Delhi and Jammu, with a red line and an airplane icon showing the route traveled so far.

Also prominently marked is KABUL.

Which airline in their right mind would remind you that Kabul is close by? I can only thank God that Kandahar is not depicted on the map.

I am transfixed by the airplane icon and the red line. I grip the arm rests tightly, trying to steer the plane away from the ominous destination.

Apparently, the pilot is not very sure of where he wants to go. The nose of the icon is sometimes pointed this way and sometimes that.

Darn! How many flying hours has this pilot clocked? (I learnt that from reading the papers too!)

The plane bucks again, the engine sounds funny….anti-airplane missile? I pray for it to be air turbulence; it was windy when we set off.
I can see our height, ground speed, and distance-from-destination on the screen.

So if we are just 5 minutes from Jammu why are we still traveling at 786 km/hour?

And why are we still 1000 km up in the air?

And why is the nose pointing single mindedly towards Kabul?

Not much gets by a newspaper reader. I now know that an unauthorized person has gotten access to the cockpit. I hope our Pilot has more guts under his belt than he has flying hours! I hope he keeps pepper spray within easy reach.

Everyone else on the plane is calm. It is obvious they have never read a newspaper in their lives!

I envy them.


I wonder how being forewarned is going to help me.

Maybe, as I know what’s going down, I should pluck the chute from under the seat and make a run for the emergency exit! As I grapple with the horrible dilemma we are in, I completely miss the ‘Welcome-to-Jammu-we-are-about-to-land” announcement. Bliss! Terra firma!

But I still have to make the return journey!

I smile at the Pilot as we deplane.

I am never going to read a newspaper ever again! 


Now I come to the Never-Blog part.

Soon I'm on the return journey.

Again, I am securely belted into my seat.

I don’t bother with the audio-visual part but I do peek at the global positioning thingummy.
Kabul is safely behind us. I did not read the papers that morning.

I relax.


The plane is about half full.

There is an empty seat between me and a co-passenger. That means I don’t have to crick my neck to get a look at the face.

I think I have seen that face somewhere before.

Since I spend all my waking hours blogging, I wonder if it could be a face I have seen on the blogosphere.

It is definitely not A, B, C, D, E, F or any of the other girls.

I know it for a fact, immediately.


Because, Duh-uh! What would they be doing flying out from, of all places, Jammu, to, of all places, Delhi? But a more compelling reason is that the co-passenger is male!

He is in the window seat; I am on the aisle side.

He is, by now, squirming, staring out the window, where he can see my reflection inspecting him.

Uncomfortable because a woman is staring? Strange!

Where have I seen that face?

I am racking my brains.

It is definitely not G. Mr Co-passenger is handsome alright, but has no beard.

And it is not H. Handsome, but no mustache!

Could it be J, I wonder?

J doesn’t have his picture up on the blogosphere, but what if it is he?

I have always imagined J as being this side of thirty, and slim. After all, his wife is due to have their first baby.

Mr Co-passenger, however, is podgy and on the other side of thirty.

But what the hell? Maybe J is hiding two earlier children from us?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I clear my throat.

Mr Co-passenger starts at the sudden noise. He looks at me in annoyance.

I have disturbed his contemplation of the clouds.

“Are you J?” I ask.

“J what?” his eyebrow quirks rudely.

“Not J What” I say. “J Who. He is a Who, not a What. Are you he?”

“He who?”

The quirky eyebrows are getting to be quite annoying.

Fleetingly I think, It can’t be J! He wouldn’t be monosyllabic (not even Bisyllabic actually).

“You are not him!” I don’t need too many grey cells to figure that one out.

I ignore his “Him who?” and turn my face away.


Blogging has hyper-activated my already active imagination!

I am blogging even when I am logged off. I never thought it would be my downfall.

I wish I had never started this conversation. I am embarrassed.

Fortunately, we hit a cloud or something, and the plane shudders.

We both turn green!

We forget the past few minutes as our lives flash before our eyes.

Suddenly, I remember where I have seen the face before!

I freeze as the realization hits me with the force of two jet planes colliding with a third!

He looks like the kidney king! The one who robs people of their kidneys.

Could this be the missing brother?

I am glad my kidneys are securely protected by the seat belt.

I can’t wait to get off the plane when finally we hit land. I look several times over my shoulder, but he does not seem to be zeroing in on my kidneys.

I rush into the taxi and on to safety!


I got away this time, but for the rest of you, please, if you value your sanity please heed my advice.

NEVER EVER read the papers and DON’T EVER blog!!

Published about six years ago when I used to blog as Seeingeye on
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