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Why does it always have to happen this way? Why do I always have to be last in line for the loo? Why do they discriminate between economy and other classes? Do they think we have better bladder control?

"No ma'am you can't come in here. This is business class."

Khanak couldn't control her urge any longer and began hopping from one leg to the other; "You don't have to tell me that. I know very well this is business class and that is the why I'm here! Please can I use the rest room? Back there, it's like a zoo!"

"No ma'am, I'm sorry but you have to wait. Those are the rules!"

"Who are you to tell me the rules? When nature calls you have to obey! If you don't allow me in here, I may have an accident and you'd be responsible, not me!"

The German stewardess who looked clearly flustered decided to give in and let Khanak use the rest room. Anyhow it was empty. Khanak nodded her thanks and breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that her ruse had worked, or else... She didn't want to think about it.


"Oh! We'll be landing in forty minutes! I better finish these pooris. Though they are more like cardboard in consistency but we shouldn't waste anything, should we son? When they charge us an arm and a leg for each seat!"

Shantanu nodded relieved he didn't have to tolerate Mr. Gupta's company for much longer. He had found the New York to Germany segment reasonably amusing with no one in the adjacent seat and a very beautiful blonde stewardess at his beck and call. The only sore point had been that his favorite magazine had decided to dedicate its latest issue to women! Women in business, politics and other professions. He hadn't found a single article that concurred with his POV. That women are the weaker sex and good for only a couple of things. What had the world come to?

Then plump Mr. Gupta had joined him in Frankfurt and had been so delighted to sit next to a fellow Indian that he had chosen to enlighten him with his life story in not so few words. Despite Shantanu's best efforts to show his disinterest, Mr. Gupta refused to be dissuaded until he fell asleep, But then his snoring akin to a steam engine passing through a tunnel, kept everyone awake.

Shantanu turned up the volume on his headphones wondering how someone could talk and eat at the same time. Beethoven's 9th thundered in his ears. It was one of his favorite symphonies. As he began to lose himself in the final crescendo, he felt someone roughly jolt his shoulder. He opened his eyes irritably and saw Mr. Gupta clutching at his thick throat. He was choking!

Serve him right! was Shantanu's first reaction yet when he saw the man's eyes start to bulge he panicked and hit the call button. The beautiful blonde made her appearance almost immediately but when she saw Mr. Gupta she called for assistance. A big burly steward shook the poor man by the shoulder and asked him something unintelligible. Mr. Gupta didn't respond because he was in extremis. He started clawing at his throat.

"He needs a doctor now!" Shantanu yelled as he watched his companion's plump face turn a bluish hue and beads of sweat pour down his face.

"I am a doctor! Move out of the way!" A petite slim Indian girl announced with a very authoritative voice as she shouldered her way through. She had said the magic words. The burly German who dwarfed her willingly stood aside.

"Are you choking?" she asked Mr. Gupta. When he nodded, she made him stand up and positioned herself behind him. Shantanu didn't know how she accomplished it but she encircled Mr Gupta's huge chest with her arms and thrust repeatedly inward with her fist. On the third try a large piece of brown stuff flew out of his mouth and he started coughing loudly and color rapidly returned to his face.

Everyone smiled and breathed a collective sigh of relief as Mr. Gupta indicated he was fine. Then they all pumped the girl's hands and thanked her profusely.

"Dhanyawad beta, you saved my life. I don't know how to show you my gratitude," Mr. Gupta said.

"It's alright sir. I was just doing my duty, that's all. I'm happy I was around and I could be of help."

"Help?! That's an understatement! What you did was a miracle!" Shantanu chipped in having been a silent witness so far.

She turned as if noticing him for the first time. She wasn't much older than mid to late twenties and had the most beautiful jet black eyes. But now they were looking at him with scorn, "Mister, if you wish to call it a miracle, you can, But it's all in a day's work for doctors like me."

Mr. Gupta butted in, "Beta! At least tell me your name and address, so I can send you a thankyou gift."

"Dr. Khanak Agarwal, and sir, your thanks is a gift in itself."

She walked away with her head held high and without giving Shantanu a second glance. Women didn't do that when it came to Shantanu Khandelwal. He was intrigued.


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