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Hanging In The Air
If ever a trip is jinxed, this is it, I think: halfway to the airport I realise I have left behind my shoulder bag containing passport, tickets and money. Then I get caught in the mother-of-all-traffic-jams. I ring Qantas and plead my case. The marketing manager says that in view of the circumstances, they will let us on the flight as long as we get to the airport 20 minutes before departure. Each minute is now thumping loudly in my ear. Or is it my heartbeat? We make it with five minutes to spare and I am ready to forgive Qantas anything. As it happens, I don’t need to: the purser and stewardess are so attentive, I am moved to jot down their names. Besides, the wine list would rival any restaurant’s and the retrospective section in the movie selection lets me catch up with three Oscar winners.
Across the partition is the plane’s first class. Three of its four seats are occupied by Australian fat-cat businessmen. In the fourth is an Indian woman in a sari. She’s getting all the attention from the staff. Who could she be? I try to get a clue from her reading: The Economist, Business Week and Milton Friedman. She seems to have an entourage too: a man and a woman, both in business class. Who could she be? I decide not to probe further: sometimes in life it’s better to leave some mysteries hanging in the air.