When Stalin put me in a tight spot one day at the Chennai airport

I was sitting at the departures terminal when someone greeted me. I was sure I did not know him. The man did a ‘namasthe’.  I did not respond. I thought I was being rude. Another came by with folded hands. Also did the same with a nod and a slight bend of the body. Did I know him? I did not.

This happened a couple of years ago when I sat at the Chennai airport to take a flight to return to Hyderabad. I’d gone there on an official visit. Since I did not want to be late to the airport and not wanting to take any chances, I reached the airport quite in advance.

I sat on a chair. Looked around. Check my mobile. Looked up. And there again was a group of people, all clad in white lungi and shirt. They were standing some distance in front of me behind a railing on the airport premises at the departures.

The group became a crowd. Everyone did a ‘namasthe’. Pray, what was happening? I was  rattled. I did not know them. And I knew that I did not know any of them. Was I to return the greeting? Or at least, allow a courteous smile to escape my lips in acknowledgement? Or was I to walk up to them and ask them if they knew me at all? I managed to look away from them.

But it was getting a bit too much with time. There were more of them. More namasthes. I looked one straight in the eye. The matter had to be settled. Once and for all. The glance in that somebody’s eye gave me a clue about what probably was happening.

Sitting where I was, I craned my neck to my left. Wasn’t enough. And then I turned to look behind me. And lo! There was DMK leader M K Stalin standing just behind me.  All the ‘namasthes’ from the crowd were for him and he had been acknowledging all of them. I hadn’t realized this and wondered why I was being bestowed with so much of respect by the Tamil politicians.
I had not noticed Stalin.  He was at the airport to fly somewhere (Quite naturally. Did I have to even mention that? Silly). And it so happened that he had stopped right behind me. There were a couple of other people with him but no conversation was taking place. So, I had no clue that somebody was standing behind me.

The crowd of visitors which came to the airport was  greeting Stalin and I sat there, as confused as I could get, wondering why all the Tamil politicians had chosen to show me such great respect!

So: Stay grounded.

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