Cold Man

23 Dec 2019

Tribhuvan Airport on 7 Dec 2017

This December was our 8th year at the Tribuhvan Airport to catch our flight from Nepal to Singapore.

After a long day of queuing & waiting, we finally made it to the gate where we would be bussed to our plane.

It was evening. It had been drizzling all day. I was looking forward to the comfort of a SilkAir seat when a young woman from the ground staff appeared in our transit area.

She announced nervously that our flight was cancelled. The incoming flight crew had exceeded the stipulated flight time. For safety reasons, the flight had to be rescheduled to the next day, and the timing was still unknown.

Like a movie on rewind, we plodded out of the transit room and trudged back to the counters to have our pass ports stamped “Flight Cancelled” and dragged ourselves to the dreaded check-in counters to return our boarding passes.

Passengers with connecting flights from Singapore were understandably more vocal in expressing their anxieties, but most of us were able to contain our frustrations.

More standing followed as we waited for clearance and further instructions. Some staff were on the phones, some staring at computer screens, and all trying their best to avoid eye contact with irate passengers, and clearly no one was in charge.

In the midst of all the above, a young man, maybe in his late twenties, left the counter where all his colleagues seemed to be milling about and walked among us.

Handsome Ben Ben from Zen Teahouse, Boudha. He is an aloof looking cuddle bug.

He was a good looking man, but he had an arrogant air about him as he looked at people as if through his nose. But he seemed the only one who was actively managing the queues. When he saw me, he pointed to the chairs & said softly, “You can sit. Sit down.”

For a moment I couldn’t match the kind tone to the cold face. On hindsight, I think appearing detached could just be a defence mechanism when facing a bunch of tired & tense people.

Some time later he came to ask me to sit down again.

When the buses to take us to the Crowne Plaza Hotel where we would spend the night arrived, they were quickly filled up.

A group of us had to wait for the next one.

By now, night had deepened, we hadn’t taken dinner and the winter drizzle seemed to be gathering power.

The light in me greets the light in you.

As I was wondering just how long more we had to stand in the open cold, I saw Cold Man speaking animatedly to his suited superior standing by a hotel van, presumably to ferry business class passengers.

In the stone cold silence I still had no idea what was going on except that Cold Man kept gesticulating at me as he spoke to his mustachioed boss. When his expressions got more earnest, it dawned on my frozen brain that he was trying to get me on the hotel van so that I need not wait a minute longer for the bus!

Thanks to Cold Man’s persistence, some of us had a pleasant ride in comfort to our destination where hot showers and dinner awaited.

I never learnt Cold Man’s name, don’t know his position except that he broke ranks to make things a little easier for someone in need. And I’ll always remember how passionately he persuaded his boss on a cold rainy winter night to care.

Namaste. Indeed.

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