Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ever wish you were a giraffe? I do.

If there's one great life-lesson I would pass on to future generations, it would be this:

When travelling, always pack an extra pair of socks in your hand baggage.

Let me put this pearl of wisdom in context.

Three days ago, I was in New York. I had a flight to catch in the afternoon, and had decided to spend the morning and early afternoon walking around the city, doing some shopping and meeting friends. What made the plan all the more acceptable was the weather. Mild rain and light winds came together to make it very pleasant and extremely romantic weather for a walk about New York. Sure, there were puddles every now and then, but splashing about in puddles is precisely what the child in every one of us loves.

I was having such a good afternoon that I lost track of time, and only just made it to the airport in time to check in. I sent my bag through, picked up my boarding pass and ambled off towards the boarding gate. I pulled out my laptop (yes, I was working!) and sat down, when a sudden loud squelch and a strong pungent smell assailed my senses.

I looked left. Nothing.
I looked right. Nothing.
I looked up. Nothing.
I looked down. Ah.

A morning romp through the puddled streets of New York in the rain might bring glorious joy to the mind and spirit, but wreaks havoc on one's footwear. My shoes and socks were wet through, and increasingly smelly. I eased my feet out of my shoes to allow them a little air, and nearly gagged. An old man three seats away went into a paroxysm of coughing, and a woman two rows behind me said in a voice that could be heard across the Atlantic, "What in God's name is that smell?!"

Said woman did not, however, have the time to launch a detailed investigation into the phenomenon as boarding was announced. I sighed, shoved my wet-sock-covered wet foot into my wet shoes and squelched my way through the queue onto the aerobridge into the plane and squeezed into my seat. Relieved at having a relative stretch of peace, quiet and sock-drying ahead of me, I proceeded to take off my shoes. I let out a satisfied sigh. I even went so far as to wiggle my toes in comfort.

One thing I really miss about London is the British sense of subtlety and politeness. Tell them an earthquake has wiped out Dover and they'll respond with a "By Jove, you don't say! How frightful!" Inform them that they have just won a million pound lottery and they'll react with a "Oh, jolly good show!" Block them on an escalator in the Underground, and they'd cough under their breath and say, "If you don't mind awfully, young man, could you please shift to your left just a bit so I could pass? Thank you so much, awfully kind of you. Good day." Order an English breakfast in a pub and the waitress'll serve you your plate with a warm smile and an "Enjoy your meal, love!"

My impression of Americans is, however, just the opposite. Not that it's wrong to be like that. It's just very in-your-face. Look at Donald Trump. Look at Las Vegas. Look at the Big Mac.

Anyway, so there I was wiggling my toes in comfort. Approximately 1.4 seconds later, I felt someone poking me in the shoulder. I turned around to face a very big, very red American woman. "Yes?" I asked. "Put on your shoes, boy, you're stinking up the whole damn plane!" she roared.

Perfectly true, but I'm sure there are better ways of putting it. Hard to argue with her logic though. I sighed (yup, I have quite a lot of practice in that line) squished my wet shoes back on, and settled in for what I was sure was going to be a very podiatrically uncomfortable 8 hour long flight. To add to my misery, one of the inflight movies was 300, which featured Spartans happy and content in their open-toed sandals.

I arrived at Amsterdam, and headed straight for the most remote seating area I could find. I ripped off my shoes and my socks, and threw up into the conveniently placed bin near my seat.

Someone walked up and noticed the empty seats stretched on either side of me. He sat down three seats away from me. He sniffed. He cast an evil looked in my direction. He sniffed again. He got up and left.

This happened to me seven more times over the next hour, even though I had chosen a seat as far away from the rest as humanity as possible (insofar as one can be far away from humanity at a major international airport).

As the area started filling up, and the sniffs became more pronounced and laden with menacing intent, I let decency take over from comfort, and put my shoes back on. They were reasonably dry, and considerably less smelly, so that made the 8 hour flight back to Delhi relatively more tolerable.

The End.

Moral of the story (Just to drive home the point): Keep a supply of fresh socks handy at all times. Or be a giraffe so your nose is far far away from your feet.

Smelly socks, smelly socks your smell is preceding you
Smelly socks, smelly socks it's not your fault...
It's because of me that you're drenched wet
You're causing discomfort to others, I'll bet
You stink like a dead animal that decomposes
Yeah you're no friend to those with noses.
Smelly socks, smelly socks your smell is preceding you
Smelly socks, smelly socks it's not your fault!


DiVa said...

Dude I had the same problem that day. Not that I seemed to bother other people but my own sense of smell is rather strong. So i ran to the nearest payless and bought myself a new pair of shoes and socks before I boarded the bus :-)

Lizzy said...

Yuck! What all you write about!

Nandini Vishwanath said...

Lizzy, whoever you are, you seem to be after my heart :)

praveen said...

No comments!!!!!!!!!!!!

AC said...

@Divya: Yeah, I half considered doing that but socks are SUPER expensive in Duty Free!

@Lizzy: Whaaaat, I'm talking about serious, life-impacting issues!

AC said...

@Nandu: Nandu, meet Lizzy. Lizzy, meet Nandu. Now you two can call each other and crib about me :)

Lizzy said...

LOL! Great idea AC. Though Nandini probably doesn't remember, but she's spoken to me over the phone once I guess

Paresh Y Murudkar said...

One solution (albeit brave one) would be to let the smell spread all over until someone comes to you and offers you his extra pair of socks (an shoes, if he/she is so irritated) :-)

AC said...

The fundamental problem is that, unfortunately, no one else carries an extra pair either! :(

Anonymous said...

Lizzy, sorry, I do not remember you because you sure would not have spoken to different people's sisters, but I've spoken to one person's different friends. LOL. So, what is your number again? ;)- Nandu

P.S - AC, ( Rolling my eyes, as I call you that) can you please convey my message to the Lizzy you so kindly virtually, telephonically introduced?

Designing the sails o' life said...

lolz...tho i had my nose frizzed up all the while i was reading this post....i sure enjoyed every bit of it
haha.....felt like i was reading one of Aesop's fables with a serious moral in the end :p

Designing the sails o' life said...

it's been ages since u wrote this one
write more...asap :)

Abhi! said...

LOL :)))))

Lizzy said...

Write something dude...its been quite a while now!

Anonymous said...

hey waiting for your next post....want people to start pleading etc etc eh?


(weirdly enough my comment for this post never got published,i blame my office net)

AC said...

I'm really really sorry, everyone... work's been pretty hectic this last couple of weeks... I'll hopefully have something up shortly. Thanks for all your support :)