So. On Monday I flew from Taipei to Delhi, with three hours stop at the Shanghai airport. The first plane was full of Chinese citizen, the second plane full of Indians. I sat first. Next to the window. The seat next to me, the aisle seat, remained empty quite some time, and I was thinking I would fly with nobody next to me, which is always good news when you want to sleep. Finally, just before we took off, an Indian man came to the seat. But didn’t seat. He seemed very upset. Finally, he said something to his wife who was seating a couple of rows from here. And they exchanged seats. He sat next to his friends; she sat next to me. I was so pissed. She shyly said “hello”. I had to make a big effort to answer. “Hi”.
I spent seven hours with that woman, who was clearly curious about me, so I finally calmed down. She comes from a wealthy family, father was a lawyer, brothers are doing pretty well, one of them works for the Delhi government. She studied education but never got to become a teacher. She married that guy who doesn’t sit with women in planes, a doctor. She sometimes follows him when he goes to congresses, her daughter is studying law, and she has authority problems with her boy, who is sixteen. No kidding.
Of course, my travel stories are light-years from hers.
She is nice, she says I’m right to do so, that she would have liked to do the same. She tries to understand. Ho, I don’t leave at my parents’ place anymore? At what age did you leave your parents home? Do you have siblings? Did you brother left home as well? You are in your late twenties? You didn’t get married?
She lives in Cashmere and offered me to spend a month at her place. We exchange phone numbers. She uses Whatsapp a lot to catch up with her friends. She wants to connect and know more about the world, does she explain.
Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi. I’ve asked for the hotel to organize a pick up for me. It is two in the morning and taxis, at night, can be tricky.
My driver is looking for “Mister Nedjar”. As I am a woman, he barely believes that I am who I pretend to be. I have to show him my ID. Calm down Steph, calm down.
As I try to make sure we are driving in the good direction, we have a nice chat. He is of course asking me what I’m doing here, when my husband will join me, etc. So I explain. I will be alone for a while at the hotel, waiting for my fiancé to join me (in real life Fabien, who will join me in ten days or so is just a friend), and then we will have a motorbike tour of Rajasthan…
“Did I get the authorization from my parents to travel?”
I don’t believe what I’m hearing. Do I really look like I’m 25???
But then I understand better.
“My mother didn’t authorize me to go for the week-end in the mountains with my bike”.
But the guy isn’t 25 neither. Probably 30/35, married, a daughter of three and a babe, the mum lives with them. And controls everything.
He has a Royal Enfield 350 cc motorbike, that he share s with his brother.
“You are right to do that now”, he says. “Because later, you have to work, take care of kids, listen to wife”.
“Sure”, do I answer warmly. Listen to wife. Oh my gosh, I’m gonna spend one month here…