3 years

Behind the Byline

That place called transit

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Frankfurt airport, transit lounge B,C, D. Not A.
Frankfurt airport, transit lounge B,C, D. Not A.

I traveled back and forth in time. Hours were gained, and then lost. In equal measure, but in different cities. Bit by bit. In transit, you are never sure what time it is. Because you are coming from somewhere, and going someplace else. Time is of no great consequence here. Here, I was. In transit.

At each mention of Havana, I'd feel stupid. Friends wrote to me saying I should continue, go on, and take that bus from that other town to Havana. In Old Havana, Alberto must be waiting for his toothpaste, and soaps, and me. They were waiting for me. I imagined an old car, and two men - children of revolution - swinging to Abba, and driving down the beaches. I'd be taking photos. Dancing, drinking rum although I don't like the taste, and maybe smoking a Cuban cigar, and talking about love and freedom.

Havana was full of possibilities. That's what Graham Greene wrote. Anything is possible in Havana, he said.

In a way, the transit zone was also a possible place. On the screen, destinations would flash. They'd appear, fade out, and another one would be beaming. You could take a flight to Warsaw, or Lisbon, or Prague, or Cancun, or Rio, or Iceland, or to some lonely, forlorn, or forsaken place I have never heard of. I'd stand and look, and wonder what would it be like to live in these places. Were these lonely places as Pico Iyer had said? I'd fallen off the map. And I was in an enclosed space. Glass walls around me. What did Frankfurt air feel like? A breeze, or a blast.

***

Alberto would not get his toothpastes, and body wash, and maybe the Abba CD he had asked me for. Not tonight for sure. I imagined him in my moment of crisis a man with curly hair, and full lips, and a body like Prince, or Queen. They told me he was a queen. Perhaps, then, with curlers in his hair. I was thinking of him and an old car. He would come to the Convento, pick up the stuff, and take me out to the beach, and show me a place I always imagined. What does Alberto actually look like? Did he have Rastafari hair? I am always imagining. That's the best way to deal with life.

Alberto, and Igor, the man who wrote me many emails from Havana, and maybe Louis, the journalist, had plans for me. I had my plans. Of wearing the rose tinted glasses, and looking out on Havana from the roof of an old building, and then to the sea, and think of Hemingway, and writing. Freedom and love. Both of which Jose Marti wrote about. Libre Amor. I had strung together two words. Here, love must just happen. That's what Pico Iyer wrote about in his book Cuba and the Night. Ricardo sat with Lourdes looking out at the sea, and they had kissed. In the hope of falling in love with the place, I had booked my tickets one afternoon. December wasn't a good month. Death of family, and demise of love. It wasn't even a breakup that I was mourning. I only itched to be in love again. This time, a place would do. They don't run away.

I slept in bits on the flight to Frankfurt. I thought it was in France. Turned out it was Germany. Geography was never my strength. IT was too complicated. Places sounded like they would belong to the sea, and ended up someplace else like tundra regions. They had no business of being there with names like that. Like Malta. I thought it was in Africa. A small island by the sea where they would be drinking malted drinks, and singing. But someone said it was in Europe. I never bothered with an Atlas, or a globe. Both of which I found ugly, and demeaning to places that had character. How do you show a happy place, or a melancholy place? They were just markers on some lines. I could not be bothered. One must discover, go there, and find out.

***

"You are stuck," the woman at the info desk at Terminal 1 of Frankfurt Airport told me.

She looked like the big Hispanic women I had seen at US airports. They smiled a lot. This one was not particularly interested in my Cuban dream.

She seemed like she wasn't particularly interested in being at the info desk at this airport, and would rather be striking than be here in this chaotic transit space where everyone looked morose, and hungover. There were long queues, and children crying, and men getting agitated. At some point, they started distributing nutri bars, and juice, and water.

"For how long?"

"I don't know," she said.

On the screen, the advertisement for Frankfurt said "Great to have you here." A good-looking man is in queue for security check, and sees a good-looking woman, and they make eye contact, and then there are those stupid little interventions showing how to check in the baggage. In the end, the man finds her at duty free, and they clang glasses at some airport restaurant that I never saw in real. This played on forever, and everywhere.

But I didn't want to be here. Except for the necessary layover time that my boarding pass from Frankfurt to Havana suggested. Four hours. Europe had never fascinated me. Even with its Hitler, and Napolean, and Berlin, the city for writers, this wasn't a place I'd buy tickets to. Frankfurt, even with an airport introduction, looked like a concrete slum. Grey, and cold, and dashes of blue. Not the lovely Havana I had in my mind. with its reds, and yellows, and rumba, and rum, and love. Here, there was no amor.

But the Condor flight was leaving the runway, and the industrial strike, which a German staff later defined as a legal right, was still on. That meant I was going to miss my flight to Havana, and Alberto would not get his soaps, and creams. And the Madre Superiora at the Convento in Old Havana would not be able to serve me pineapple pie for breakfast. I was at the smoking lounge. I could see the flight. I could not get on it. I was in transit. I could not leave that area of the airport. The exit signs were temptations, and at one point, I had wanted to tear off my passport, and try Frankfurt as a possible live-in place for sometime. Cities are like lovers. They contain you. But only for so long.

A man was telling a woman.

"The Germans are really fucked up. Two hours could be three days."

"Oh no," she gasped.

"They aren't providing accommodation, or anything else. Nobody knows what to say," he says, and the couple moved away, muttering what I hoped were abuses.

I didn't have a German visa or an American passport. With the Cuban visa, which I thought made my passport worth so much love, I was not really priority. I was also Indian. Brown, and from the nether regions of the world. They would be rude to me. I couldn't help it. Condor representative hadn't showed up. Someone would tell me later that they never show up except when they have to usher in the passengers. Their counter was outside the terminal. I couldn't go because I was in transit.

Transit zones are like suspended places. There is no sense of time, really. You only take a break while traveling in time. I was going backwards, gaining a day. It is never a destination. That isn't the honour it is worthy of. But it is a halt. And it could hold you back.

They have given me 60 minutes of free wi-fi but it seemed to take forever to connect to this freebie. They would be calling my hotel in Old Havana to find out if I made it to the last bastion. My brother, my friends, and Alberto, and Igor, who had once written to me saying they were not a nation of rose pinkies, that they were fighting war to remain sovereign with a powerful nation. Because, he had argued, freedom is important. I had written to Igor when the embassy in Delhi denied me the visa. I wrote to him saying I didn't like traveling but this was the only country that I wanted to come to. He wrote back saying he would make a necessary arrangements. I asked him if red light districts existed in Cuba. He wrote back asking what were those? I asked about prostitutes. He said during the revolution, they were given options to educate themselves, and if they chose to carry 'secular work' they are free to. Who wouldn't fall for a country that was so poor it had to drink almost every night to go on, that referred to prostitution as secular work. I was already in love. With an island country that was bedraggled, poor, and dying, and yet I wanted to hold the old dame before she fell. I imagined her like Eva Caesoria, the singer. Strong, and passionate. Curvy, and fragile. Melancholic, and romantic. With a voice that would seep into the soul. Heart was for the meek. Here, in Cuba, they would be about souls. I had carried a small heart in my bag. To give to Fidel Castro if I met him. It was an unreasonable thing to do. But you don't book one-way ticket to Havana on a weekday out of reason.

'Amor Fidel. No amor America'

I had practised this line.

***

What they generally say to everyone is "We have no information. It is chaos. There's a strike."

There's a smoker's lounge in C. For lack of anything else to do, I find my way there, and open the Coke can they have given to me. Listening in to conversations is what could kill time while I am in transit. I can't leave this space. I have no visa for Germany. So, here I am. In transit. For three days.

The lady calls up the Condor Airlines for me. The representative is striking perhaps. I am worried about my baggage. But it is locked in a room, they say.

"Are there no other passengers to Havana?"

I want to ask. But I don't. The lady on the other end suggests another route. To some other city.

"Where is this place?"

"In Cuba," she says.

It sounded like Bagdogra to me. But that's tomorrow. From there, I'd have to do ground transport to Havana. I am feeling fucked up already. There's no coffee, or tea, or anything here. The chances of transition from this transit space seem even more bleak.

It feels like Delhi Railway station. People are sprawled all over, and kids are playing. The passport control can't give me a German visa. I can't get out, buy coffee, and check myself in some hostel, and go see this city till the plane comes and takes me to Havana. It can be days until that plane came. Nobody is claiming me. It is like being a ghost here. Unwanted, abandoned, and nowhere to go.

I was going for possibilities. At 34, I was alone, and writing stories to fill time. Perhaps Havana could help me go through life with abandon. But instead, there is this mosaic floor, and no announcements. Nobody seems to be going anywhere.

Condor says they are waiting. The plane is on the runway, and waiting. I can see the plane from the smoking lounge. I want to take the exit gate, go out, tear the passport, and see what I can do with the 1000 euros that I have.

I picked up a bottle that contains some sort of jam. In German, they have explained what it is. I eat it. It is sweet, but I am bored of its taste. Brushing my teeth in the bathroom with fitting from 17th century gives me a feeling i am going to be spending the night here. Or two nights, or three. the next flight is on monday. the other option is to travel to this other city and take a bus to Havana.

In transit, you realise you have no control. Numerous times, you can go up to the info desk, and speak to them about issues. They will nod. because their co-workers are fighting for wages. Germany, you'd think, would be good with professionalism. But here, they have distributed a few munchies like nutribars and are asking the passengers to wait it out.

There is no way you can step out. Beyond the glass barriers, on the other side men and women are dining with glasses of wine on the table. I feel hungry but I can eat more Soletti Happy Mix. It make me want to throw up now.

All around me, there are women sprawled out on the floor, snoring. And men, who are talking about the next alternative. It is almost like being in prison. Only, there were proper meals.

There's a man next to me shouting into the laptop the US pattern is expensive. Then, he goes on to say Justin is on leave, and that he would be able to board in a bit. Such conversations. About destinations, and mundane things.

I am back in the smoking lounge. The skyline looks better. it is evening by now. There is another man. I think he is Cuban. it turns out he is headed to dallas. we strike a conversation. against the fading skies of Frankfurt, and in the backdrop of the lufthansa airplanes ready for take off. He got here at 5 am. he swears he is never coming back to Frankfurt, or Germany.

"I hate traveling, man," he says.

He lights up another, and recounts one time when he was to go to Japan but ended up in Korea, and then again, he was taken to a different airport, and finally reached an airport where the woman was waiting for him.

this morning, he was here. he thought layover would be nice in Franfkfurt. Fuck those tales about it being the best airport for lovers. For love can actually go wrong in trying to figure out next destination, and the staff is very rude. All they can say is this is a natural disaster.

"One time I was going to Japan, and ended up in Korea, and then I had to fly to three different places to get to Dallas," the cool African-American dude I found in the smoking lounge said. "Like imagine being in Seoul. Out of the blue. Just like that. I don't think I like traveling."

He landed at Frankfurt at 5 am, and they gave him snickers and soda water. Not very pleasant.

"For those that like it, no problem. But what the heck," he said. "I ain't coming back to Germany. Fuck this place. They are rude."

We were standing against the backdrop of the evening sky in Frankfurt. In an enclosed glass space, a Camel sponsored luxury. Orange and blue. I asked him if he knew the time. It was 6 pm. Twelve hours in transit. But then, life too is spent in transit. Waiting, lighting up, striking conversations that go nowhere, and departing and arriving. When everything else fails, philosophy works. But hunger makes me angry. The meal didn't help much. I left almost most of it on the plate. And paid a tip, too. Because Hemingway said 'grace under pressure' and he is a lovely writer.

And then, there is a Pakistani official who I bumped into. He said Germany isn't this bad. I wanted to tell him how can you put 900 people in this transit zone with soda water and snickers, and tell them 'bad timing'. He is helpful.

The airlines knew. Yet, they brought us here. I don't have these coins you need to make a call. I am here with this internet and a laptop. The battery is dying.

The dude has a flight tomorrow morning to Dallas. He is hungry, and angry. Another man who is on his way to Warsaw can only utter 'tch tch'.

"Six days?" the dude said. "They make it seem like you are going to Xanadu."

"I was only trying to go to Havana," I offered.

The Turkish man is still here. He asked if I would accompany him to the smoking lounge. I said I need to get out of this 'hotel bizarre' sort of place. Soon.

"They should pay you a salary for staying at the airport for six days. You will be part of the staff," the dude said.

A policewoman said 'you look okay. you can stay here for a week.'

The rude staff, and the other occupants of this transit space. It is still being still. A place that doesn't move. Or change. Where time could be whatever you wanted it to be. Because it didn't matter. You were going to be stuck for long.

***

He handed me the coupons so I could get some food. I gave them later to the man who gave me the boarding pass to Kuwait, and to Bombay. Because Nasir had messaged they were only valid in Germany. I couldn't find Mc Donald's. I didn't particularly want to find it. I thought I'd keep the coupons as a keepsake. But I took a photo for memory's sake. It is not often that you meet strangers in strange countries who want you to eat well, and be well.

Nasir messaged later he couldn't come and say goodbye. But I don't even believe in farewells. Ambiguity is always best. They contain hope. I hate full stops. I'd always put commas, and colons, and semi-colons trying to stretch my sentences to miles.

Nasir is a transplant. He speaks fluent German, and he is okay with English. It wasn't his choice that his parents chose to stay in Germany. But soon, inshallah, I will ask him his story. There is a great faith and hope in stories. They almost never disappoint. He is a handsome man, who wants to help the people stranded here. He was packing up and down, guiding them to C section where he had out up beds, and asking me to eat sandwich. I asked him about soda water as he opened one. He said it is not a bad thing at all. It just tastes little weird, I said.

He would walk with me, and we'd stop by at the smoking lounge to some and talk about him, or Frankfurt, and me. He said I should just pretend to be sick, and that way they would let me out of the airport, and give me a temporary visa and I could stay at his friend's hotel, and meet his mother, and he could show me Frankfurt, his city. Is it really, I wonder. Which of these are our cities?

4:25 i m two levels down

Probably to find out more information.

u r healthy. u can stay

german strikes.

a punjabi woman says she wants a separate bed.

germany is not like this

the airlines knew

At 12:25, I am here again. Looking out at the midnight sky. Nothing notable. skies are mostly same everywhere. Except during the day when they are clearer in developed nations. A girl walks in, and asks for a light. I remember what Hemingway said "for all those who need a light for the night."

A man walks in and says he has been looking for the lounge for the last half hour. Nasir has left. He messaged on Facebook to say he couldn't say bye.

He asks the girl

"How many hours have you been stuck here?"

The girl says she has been stuck here for many hours.

Forever could be this. It is like a matrix. with steel mesh, and grey skies, and grey mosaic floors. There are blue signs but they don't lead anywhere. They change gates before

a couple booked tickets on their own.

***

There's me and Nasir. In the lounge. On our way back from what looked like a war moment of sorts with beds, and people sleeping, snoring, or staring into the ceiling.

He smokes a light cigarette. He says if you puff at it too hard, it might just break. I say 'paper cigarettes'.

This is Germany, he says.

"Everyone smokes," he lights his thin, papery cigarette.

I am reminded of an earlier conversation at the same place. A man, a remnant rom the hippie era with his buttons undone, and tattoos crawling all over his hands, and neck, and a hat, was smoking, and telling another how in Cuba, or other such countries that didn't exist for many, they'd be cool enough and let you smoke while you waited it out for your baggage. I was looking at my ticket. It actually said 'nonsmoking'.

I could go on, and be gritty about it, and spend the next few days loitering around the airport, and striking lame conversations with this one and that, and take the flight to Havana, and figure out the secret hopes and fears of the people. I loved the revolution bit. Even our own anarchy was child's play in front of this revolution.

Why had Alberto asked for toothpaste? And a t-shirt with Sheeba written on it? I thought Sheeeba was his beloved, but he wrote back saying it was some Indian goddess, and asked me if I was from India. Why hadn't I found Sheeba yet?

Maybe Havana should make me yearn even more. To get halfway to it, and return. Why go, when you have to return? Because sometimes, it is important to give love time. Even if that means crossing a continent. Some seas were left between us. I would cross them later. To spend the money, and spend hours at an airport looking for a way out made Havana seem even more remote. I heard someone say 'Cuba' in the queue, and I called out asking if they were going to Havana. They weren't. I kept looking for those that might be going to Havana. There were a few. I never saw any. Condor forgot about the lone passenger stuck in the matrix of transit. I kept calling 28666 in vain. They said they could get me until Varadero. from there, I could take a bus to Havana. I was scared, but I thought of all the wrong things. Yet, it was like meeting a lover. You don't clutter your mind with bad things. Think love, think freedom. I had them both. Yet, it wasn't enough.

A young lover offered to stay awake and chat until the dawn broke in Frankfurt. I was telling him how sometimes you just don't reach where you must. He said I should go on. Be more adventurous. But I was tired.

It is never nice when a heart breaks. I told him mine was broken, and tattered in many places. That's why you must love a place. Again, they don't run away.

In the dimly lit corridors of C section of the transit space, I walked aimlessly. Was it betrayal?

I found Nasir again, and he handed me food coupons that were his allowance. He told me about Frankfurt. He told me how Indians always want to go back to their country. But it isn't the same case with Pakistanis. At strangers' mercy. Not so much. But the world still works in some ways. At the Smoking lounge late last night, a man and a woman walked in. The man spoke good English. He was from Libya but a US citizen, and wore a shirt that praised the virtues of being a US passport holder. The woman couldn't speak much English but they had cancelled her flight and she didn't know where to go. They smoked two cigarettes. Then she said Lufthansa is garbage. Another girl, who walked in, said she can't tell how many hours she spent in this transit zone. They finally booked her on some flight, but she had the night to spend in that corridor with the wooden beds they set up in case there are volcanoes erupting, or snow falling here in this capital of a developed nation.

I can't say much except marvel at the fact that they told me to stay here for six days. And Lufthansa can't help because it is none of their business, they say.

Late last night, we spoke about countries where they care. Like the US, the man said.

"They call up. I am a US citizen. They will not be rude to me," he said. "But to this woman, they have extremely rude."

I walked back to the corridor with beds, and found an empty one with no blankets or pillows. Or mattress. But when you are so tired, you don't really care. You only want to get over the hours. It looks like a refugee colony almost. With sandwiches, and bottles littered all around. People are sleeping somehow. Or not. A child was playing with his mother. He waved at me. I picked up a sandwich. It had some leaves and tomatoes. I couldn't finish half of it. Yet another snicker, and then Nasir wrote back saying he couldn't say bye. But he said I should try and sleep. It was past 1 am.

Took out a coat, and spread it over my feet, and slept until the woman woke me up. She was going. I said bye, and slept again. And then, woke up, and slept. Continued that until I was bored, and then walked to Terminal 1 to try once again. Edwidge Danticat writes that hope is our biggest weapon against us. I still want to go, but another night in this transit space is a horrible idea.

Nasir wrote to me to use the food coupons. Strangers in transit. Like us. Perhaps we will meet again. In his country, or mine. Or maybe in yet another transit. I should try and find coffee.

Would I hop on to a flight the next morning and return home? Returning is a journey, too. Go away closer. That was Cuba vis a vis me. It filled my head. This and that. I was looking for Cubans everywhere. A hispanic woman walked past me in sparkly velvet pants and a cropped jacket. Her stomach was exposed, and she was unfettered. The gloss made her lips shine through the night. She swayed, and she looked at me. I wanted to ask her if she was from Havana. But I didn't. The enigma should remain. The only Cubans I have met are the ones at the embassy, and one Miss Foster I met in Utica many years ago. I had written a story on this Miss Foster, and her dreams of returning home, and other things like embargo. My editor Michael Killian had once told me it would be the most spectacular story of all times if they lifted the embargo, and we were there to see. I was hoping to write a story on meeting Fidel Castro. It changed to chronicling the anti-American sentiment in the autumn of the patriarch kind of way. Castro was in hospital. If he died while I was there, I'd be the star. But I didn't want him to die. I hadn't been to Cuba. I didn't know about secret Havana as Lourdes says in Cuba and the Night. But revolution is poetry. It is only possible with heart. You must give it your love. Revolution is a romantic affair.

I slept in one of those makeshift beds. I woke up a few times to look at the clock. I didn't understand time here. Being 'in transit' had made me more resigned. I was ready to miss more flights. I was ready to go anywhere as long as it would be someplace interesting. Kuwait was not really a hot spot. But it could be one of those lonely places. It was my hard-earned money that went in purchasing tickets to Mexico, and to Havana. I cancelled the connection from Havana to Mexico. My brother bought me tickets for return. For $700. To Bombay. I was not in any hurry anymore. I had half a mind to buy a ticket to Havana from Kuwait. But I had maxed out my card. Havana will have to wait. I was still carrying the euros. I'd keep them safe in the yellow packet until next time. Perhaps, I'd go look for the Abba CD and get Alberto a shirt with Sheeba written on it. I will find this goddess. Alberto told me he was there. I would write to him that I would make it to Havana soon.

For those that waited in Havana wrote.

And from those that wait in Havana.

"HI CHINKI ,HOPE THE PROBLE IN GERMANY IS SOLVED SOON AND YOU HAVE THE POSSIBILLTY TO TRAVEL TO OUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY,, THNGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON,,IM SURE YOU WILL BE IN HVANA ,,WISH YOU LUCK IN YOUR TRAVEL,,ANYWAYS WE ARE HERE FOR YOU ANYTIME,, DON’T WORRY THINGS WILL TURN OUT FINE FOR U ,, LET US KNOW AS SOON AS YOU HAVE A NEW NEWS,, LOVE FROM HAVANA,,ALBERT,,"

I wrote back.

"Soon."

***

Somehow the internet worked. Beyond the 60-minute barrier. There were messages from friends. They offered alternative destinations. Like Marek Kubicki,who I met eight years ago during a program at Syracuse University where he was part of the Edward R Murrow program for visiting journalism. At the time he was working with Al Arabiya. He is Polish, and told me he had a twin brother. They came to my house - him, Ehab, and the journalist from Palestine who gave me a little poster of the Al Aqsa mosque and told me how his mother prayed for him when he left every morning. I remember he worked with a radio. I went looking for Palestine when I was in Jerusalem. But I didn't see him. It was one of those romantic notions that you'd bump into each in some street in the other's country, and have coffee.

To go on, or to return?

The woman on the line from Condor Airlines says she will reach me to my destination. I ask her if she can book me on a flight to Delhi, Seattle, or New York.

"No, we are supposed to fly you to Havana," she says.

"But I can't stay at the airport for so many days," I say.

"You have a medical problem. Please call the ambulance. You can stay at the airport. There are showers," she says.

"But my baggage is in some other place," I say.

"We will fly you to Havana. Flight is on 26th. If you choose to return to Delhi, it is your call. We can't do anything," she says.

At the Lufthansa service counter, where I have been standing for the last couple of hours, and writing, they say it is Condor's responsibility.

I think being a developed nation takes away the little emotion that is there is us. There are cold answers, and shrugs. Flights are full. Strike continues. Germans are still saying 'bad timing. tch tch'.

Marek told me to come to Poland, and then get back on the sixth day to take the flight to Havana. Someone else suggested Istanbul. The Turkish man was still around. He told me he would send his car in case I would change my mind and want to go to Istanbul. Another person said I should go to Iceland where it is visa on arrival. But that money was meant for Havana. I couldn't spend it on other countries. Besides, I wasn't particularly looking to tell their stories. Although in retrospect I think stories unfold everywhere.

Transit zones in developed countries with their cold, and rude staff look almost the same. You could be anywhere. A homogenous space. Like a landscape with Mc Donald's. Like Frankfurt, or Milan. Hugo Boss, and Armani, and then those large duty free stores. There would be wine, and other exotic things on menu. Mostly bland. Precious for a traveler on a tight budget.

But here, on this side, transit zones are different. They bear the mark of the city. It is not grey here. It doesn't look cold. Like a warehouse that Frankfurt looked like. Here, there's character. I could spend the night here. I am sure it wouldn't shut down like the Frankfurt airport. At 11 sharp. Because its inhabitants don't like to be disturbed in sleep. We never had the luxury of silence. It felt alien. My first few nights in United States, I couldn't sleep. I was in suburban America with its manicured lawns, and its guest rooms. When I got to my university, I got a fan. I couldn't sleep in silence. That's what I told Nasir. He said he understood. He also understood why I tossed the sandwich back into the bin.

"No masala," he said, and winked.

I could have fallen in love. In transit. It wouldn't go anywhere. It would be a love you could write about. He would find me on some chair, and we would walk to the smoking lounge, and he would get me coffee, and sandwiches. Maybe, I would feign illness and get out. But Frankfurt would not hold me in. In stress, and the compounding loneliness of transit zones because everyone is getting out in bunches, love is easy.

He asked what I wrote about. I said nothing in particular. He told me I could call him from one of the phones, and reached in his pocket for change. I said I had money. He called my brother for me. An embassy person called his phone to try and get me out of there. He showed me around the corridors, and the Frankfurt skyline. When one is looking for romance, it presents itself in strange spaces. This was a stranded affair.Not even. A few hours, and then he was gone. I would also leave. He asked me to add him on Facebook. I did. He messaged me reminding me to eat. Morning, he messaged again. And in the afternoon, he asked if I was there. I had left. It was either skies, or closed spaces. A violent contrast. That's how we transit. In contrasts.

But I will remember him. Because he was so nice. He said he would come to Delhi. When he does, I can repay some of the kindness back.

I wrote a hurried note to my brother, who booked my tickets out of Frankfurt.

"You need to get out of there," he said.

I was grateful. Because love is so underrated. The love of a sibling is precious. It comes to you in your dark hours. I knew he would get me out. That's love. Absolute. Unconditional.

A cousin would send his driver, and ask his cook to make me food when I get to Bombay. He wasn't there. But I could stay, and rest. At 4 am, when I exit the airport, I will be glad I returned. If I returned.