A couple of attendants tiptoed across to the ones who were awake, asking them if they would like a quiet dinner and another drink.
Just when I was trying to make up my mind between an eggplant lasagna or a paneer makhani from the menu, a tall figure loomed over us and she did not look happy at all.
Damn! It was Paris Hilton, uhhh…Coco.
“Don’t you two hell cats have anything better to do at this hour of the night than take pot shots at me?” she asked, her hands folded in front of her chest.
I was about to open my mouth and tell her that I had been dragged involuntary into the one-sided conversation and that I did not even know this batty, catty chick next to me but Aliya swooped in.
“Actually it was me. This holier-than-thou Parsi girl wanted to change the topic each time I had something tactless to say about you.”
Coco stood there, not knowing what to do.
So, this nut job Aliya Sood could be trusted after all. Hmmm. Coco must have had the same thought as I, for she plopped herself on Aliya’s footrest, whispering to us, “Actually I am damn bored too, can I join you girls? We can find another target. How about Miss Peaches and Cream two rows ahead of us? She rammed into me in the security queue at the airport and hit her sasta purse on my head.” Aliya stared at her open-eyed.
“No way! Will smack her hard before we get off this jet with my cheaper luggage. Promise you.”
Coco and I burst out laughing and I was transported to my years in college, not that long ago, where such pre-destined friendships had been designed around the most unlikely of odds.
“But seriously is Coco like your real name, not some pet name like Monu or Babloo?”
Aliya was not sparing her either.
“What’s with both your families, man? Did they hate you?”
She looked at us, rolling her big brown eyes, which actually were very pretty.
Coco did not seem to mind, she seemed easygoing, now that we were all some kind of a gang.
An older, large-framed blonde attendant marched towards us, curtly instructing Coco to return to her seat.
“But the seat belt signs are off,” Coco pointed out, “so am gonna stay put.”
The crew member turned her back and stomped off, mumbling something derogatory about Indian passengers being “menaces on board” or to that effect.
“Will sort out ‘Blondie’ later too!”
Aliya barked again, thankfully Blondie was out of range; making Coco and me both chuckle.
“So do you want to hire me as your hit man, Madame Coco Chanel? You so need one; you seem to have pissed off the entire humanity today.”
Aliya jibed, downing her third or fourth beer.
We spent the next few hours staying up, chattering like excited school chums and giggling, much to the irritation of our fellow passengers and crew around us, but there was no written law that could stop us. We made grand plans “to dissect the steamy pilot’s assets” as he had strolled out of the flight deck for his hourly security walk around the plane, which was more like a catwalk. He gave us a liberal view of his taut butt in his tight trousers amplified by a narrow slim waist. We had to physically stop Aliya from subtly grazing his bottom, as he went past us, eyeing Coco for a few extraaa secs.
“You will get the sack, idiot!” I said.
“I want him in the sack,” she countered.
“What about your toy boy back home?” Coco asked.
“Oh, for Christ sake, he is like only 20 months younger to me dude and no harm window shopping, right?” Aliya declared, “but did you see him check you out Coco? I observed that he trotted straight to the lavatory after that. Probably for a quick arm work out…”
I lightly punched Aliya on her shoulder to tone it down. I had not had palak juice (yucks) for lunch and one katora of dal only for dinner for the last two months, just to be fired that quickly from the job.
Coco seemed unaffected by any of the male attention around her.
“That fine piece of ass is mine for grabs too,” I said, as if he the pilot was a giant Toblerone bar, who had no say in the matter.
“All yours, babe. He could be your first mile high casualty,” Coco teased, winking.
She shook her head.
“Kai, don’t tell me you don’t know about that. Anyone who fools around on a plane, they then automatically get upgraded into, ‘the Mile High Club”!”
This was fresh gravy to my ears.
A romp in midair? Risqué but tempting.
“Another one to add to my bucket list of fantasies then,” I said, beaming.
Rumi’s wise words echoed in my mind: Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
These two newbies were right up my alley.
“What else do you have in your baaldi (bucket)? “ Aliya asked, yawning loudly.
“Hmmm, let me think, I guess Paris, Spain, Italy, an Alaskan cruise, writing a book, a romance of a lifetime, a 36- 24-36 figure, a Booker or a Pulitzer prize. An endless night of passion with SRK. Yum-yum!”
They listened carefully to my blabbering, agreeing to most but scoffing at the SRK bit.
(Bollywood was “too pretentious” for Aliya and Coco was a fan of the “intellectual Aamir”.)
They shared their To-Do dream lists too. Italy, Spain and finding true love were common for all three of us.
“Someday we shall have it all…” Coco said, clinking her champagne flute to ours.
Not wanting to summon the cheesed-off crew members once again, she had swayed over to the galley earlier and brought back three glasses of bubbly with her in a tiny tray.
I use the word swayed because Coco, in Aliya’s words, had a natural “jhatak and matak” when she walked. Another lioness. I was amused. Two Leos completely poles apart and I, a moody crab, right in the middle of this crazy duo.
“Someday…” we chorused back, as Steamy Pilot passed us again, very stoked.
Tightening his belt purposefully and strutting like a pompous peacock, he brushed against our seats and leaning over our heads, hissed, “Someday, my dazzling Indian beauties, someday. I shall be waitin’…”
We cracked up so hard that the passengers in the back row threatened to get us off-loaded.
Steamy Pilot vamoosed of course and Coco finally went back to her seat, rubbing her ass from the soreness of sitting on the footrest for so long. It felt as if we had been separated at birth and reunited on an aircraft.
As we landed effortlessly into Zurich airport a short kip later, I felt like a zombie barely having caught a wink. Coco had redone her hair, switched back to her designer avatar, touched up on the greasepaint, immaculate foundation, two- tone blusher, Christian Dior lipstick, the whole enchilada. (A far cry from the blotchy blush and flashy silver eye shadow I applied with my fingers.)
Aliya was peppier and sprightlier than ever, as she declared in a booming voice, “You know what they say, right? A man is judged by how he drives. And it’s been one smoooooth landing.”
I could already envision a frisky reindeer prancing over the Alps.
Excerpted with permission from Who Wants To Marry Kai Juicewalla?: One life, Many Loves, Endless (Mis)adventures, Kainaz Jussawalla, Om Books International.