The Uniform - A Blessing in DisguiseNervousness was writ all over me, as I bid goodbye to my father. I began wheeling my bags towards the entrance, trying to appear poised and in control. I had been to the Palam Airport on a number of occasions, but only to receive and see-off relatives. This was the first time I was flying, and I was nervous as hell. It wasn't the fear of flying that set me on an edge; it was being alone, on this alien ground – surrounded by strangers and not knowing how to proceed.
Indian Airlines was the only airlines that flew the domestic circuit – it had a number of counters – which to be honest, I was afraid to approach. An inexplicable fear gripped me.
I sat on one of the plush seats trying to compose myself. My heart was still racing, when I saw a very smartly dressed airport official standing in the far corner, in conversation with a ground staff. He wore a spotless white uniform and she too was in uniform, draped in a beautiful saree. One of them would be the right person to ask for assistance, I thought.
As I approached the two, I heard the airport official say "Thank you ma'am". The woman walked away, smiling – and the official and I almost collided, when he turned, abruptly, towards me. He apologized, and instantly impressed me with his impeccable manners.
Flustered as I was, I quickly blurted that I had a flight to catch and didn't know what to do. He gave me a reassuring smile, and asked where I was headed. "Bombay", I said. He looked at my flight booklet and said the flight was delayed, and that he had been enquiring about the same flight. He too was flying to Bombay, on that flight. Announcement for check-in would be made over the PA system…
Since, we had already struck a conversation and were headed to a common destination we sat together, in the waiting lounge. He pulled a book out of his briefcase; lo and behold, I was carrying the same book in my handbag – The Key to Rebecca, by Ken Follett. We laughed at the coincidence and soon became engrossed in a discussion on our favourite authors and favourite books – we shared a common interest.
During the course of our conversation I learned that he was a naval officer and not an airport official as I had assumed and he was in uniform as he was on important official duty. The only similarity between an airport official's uniform and the uniform he wore was the colour, white. I was embarrassed at my inadvertent faux pas, but relieved to know that he had learned to recognize various uniforms and stripes only after joining the Naval Academy. He reassured me that my mistaking him for an airport official was nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, he shared a few anecdotes involving uniforms to help ease my discomfiture.
To cut a long story short, two things happened that day - I met my future husband and I began believing in destiny. It was a quirk of fate that we met. I was supposed to take a train to Bombay, but since I couldn't get a berth, I was forced to fly instead. He was going to travel in civil clothes, but had changed into uniform at the last minute, on the insistence of his superior.
The uniform played the catalyst in getting us together. I would not have approached him had he not been in uniform. God may not have uniform ways of getting people together, but He used the uniform in getting my husband and I together.
PS: This is not how I met my husband. This is not the story of my life. It's purely a creative piece.
This is my entry for the TOW topic - Uniform