Of all inglorious insults heaped on day to day objects as we go about our quotidian lives, and I say this specifically because I’ve always wanted to use the word “quotidian” in a meaningful and intelligent way just so I could claim that my efforts at mugging up GRE word lists for the purposes of winning Scrabble death matches at college did not go in vain, and as I find myself scampering to bring this rogue sentence back under house arrest for the purposes of achieving coherence, I realize that I’ve failed utterly and completely.
I could, like James Tiberius Kirk, resort to dramatically short sentences. Like this. But since I mention the man who has had more conjugal relations with, as Mr Jeppiyaar might put, female members of the opposite sexual gender, than anybody else in fiction, I realize that Kirk does alternatively conjure up images of soaring flight, which, if not a fair metaphor to use while describing my Kingfisher flight from Pune to Chennai, still provides me with a semblance of a whiff of a fraction of an excuse to finally get back to the subject at hand, the one about insults of an inglorious kind being heaped on day to day objects, and before I forget, on a quotidian basis
The object in question is actually a bottle of Pune’s finest Mango pickle, gifted by a colleague who was apparently unaware of check-in restrictions on a rather broad category of matter called “liquids”. As I type this while listening to the latest output of Kingfisher’s amply staffed “Regret Department”, supported admirably by aircraft that are both incoming and late, a department that, with astonishing facility and productivity, generates regrets like a General Motors factory churning out unreliable gas guzzlers, I look back forlornly at the Security Check counter, where I can still catch a glimpse of my Mango pickle which will spend the rest of its unfortunate life enriching the taste of Roti and Dal at the home of an airport security officer.
It looked at me with a guilty eye and seemed to say :
Why am I the one to suffer this insult? My friends, the three packets of Bhakarwadi that were giving me company in the Reliance Fresh plastic bag that you carried to the airport, are now at your side, unkidnapped by the illogic of the “no liquids” rule that defies common sense like the 300 Spartan soliders who troubled Xerxes and his army. Why? Am I a potential bomb? The worst damage I could do is convince people to eat an inordinately large quantity of myself and feel certain unpleasant digestive side-effects, and even those aren’t evident till the subsequent morning. And what an insult to my delightfully tangy taste and delectably unpredictable texture that I am included in this characterless and generic taxonomy called “Liquids”. Nitroglycerine dissolved in Filter Coffee is a liquid. TNT in melted chocolate is a liquid. But pickled mangoes in oil – to call me something as vapid as “liquid” is like characterizing Murali as right-arm-offbreak. He is right-arm-magic and I am divinity bathed in oil. Ah, you base villian, airport security. If one needs (yet another) proof of Darwinian evolution, it is you. You are anything but intelligently designed.
As I continued to listen to the pickle’s tragic (and silent, I must add) soliloquy, the cosmic monkeys scripting this particular series of events suddenly decided that this was to be a comedy (by Shakespearean definition, i.e, where happy endings, not the presence of jokes characterize comedy), and not a tragedy like Mangobeth or The Three Gentle Mangoes of Versova. A senior looking security officer arrived on the scene and enquired about the origins of the aforementioned pickle. The sheepish officers who were hoping to mate pickle and roti in holy matrimony and enjoy their conjugal bliss in the confines of their oral cavity later that night, pointed at me as the guilty party who trafficked in pickled mangoes. Their faces, just to continue to mutton metaphor a bit, looked like innocent lambs. The senior officer, clearly disturbed by the wholesale kidnapping of pickles by his staff, decided that enough was enough, called me over, and suggested that I ask Kingfisher to pack my bottle and check the luggage in. While I was not quite sure of the effect of airline luggage handlers playing the airport equivalent of buzkashi (note: sheep metaphor still in force) with my fragile bottle of divinity in oil, he reassured me that KF can be persuaded to beef up (note: taking a vacation from sheep metaphoring) the packaging just enough to get it to Chennai with molecular integrity reasonably intact.
And it did.