Before the trip began I was most anxious about the long flight. Not sure if it was shortsightedness on my part or being over six-feet-tall and sitting on a plane for SEVENTEEN hours. In any case, I packed as many distractions as I could think of. I had magazines, snacks, books, iPad, my phone with music and freshly downloaded games, Movies on my iPad, Gameboy with newly bought games, and a puzzle book – in case I got bored. I was overloaded with stimulation and big brands. After packing for the entertainment apocalypse, we finally got on the fourteen and a half leg of our flight.
I settled in, got my window seat command center situated, and waited for the flight to begin, when a 40ish year old Indian man sat down next to me; Rama Bijapurkar, the author of We are Like That Only, would classify him as a “mainstreamer” – the middle majority who is motivated by familial responsibility and their behavior marked by conformity. He sat down and was very nice. We spoke for a few minutes about our trip and what we were going to visit. He revealed that he was from Delhi and was only in the US to visit family. As we parted conversational ways, like you do on a 14 hour flight, I started to realize – he brought nothing. No carry-0n, nothing. This blew my mind.
We hadn’t even left U.S. airspace and I was already perplexed, and a little ashamed. In my American way I had brought gadgets and shiny objects to keep my attention while my Indian neighbor brought nothing, needed nothing, and was absolutely happy.
I will never forget how content he was with (what this snobby Americans would consider) nothing. It was a great prequil to our time in India and helped frame what we were in store for over the next few weeks.
Needless to say we both lived, me nodding to the music in my headphones and he nodding off on an airline provided pillow.