As Rahul made his way to the international terminal at Detroit, he was distracted by a commotion few feet away. A girl was trying to get her suitcases back on the trolley. He wouldn’t have noticed her but for her earnings, three loops of circles interlocking each other with a pearl bead in the middle. As he was drawn closer, he could make out a girl of Indian origin, few years younger than him, wearing a bright sky blue tops, a tight blue jean and a sweatshirt tied around the hip. She had an oval face with beautiful features and nicely shampooed curly hair falling over her neck. The eyes were looking at his direction, trying to see if he would come and help. Rahul looked back to see if there was anyone and smiled when he found none. He briskly walked towards her. Her lips broke into a small smile looking at him.
“Hi, I am Ragini”, she said extending her hand.
She looked prettier up close.
“Rahul”, he said extending his hand.
“Can you please help me with this? I need to run to the international terminal to get my flight tickets to Chennai”
Did she say Chennai, his mind quickened…?
“Of course, I am also going to Chennai and headed on the same flight”.
As he helped put her luggage back on the trolley, she placed her hand on his forearm and said, “Let’s go, we are running out of time”, pulling his hand in the direction of the departure gates. Her soft touch on his forearm gave him a pleasant chill. He gladly pushed his body in the direction of the departure gates. The gates opened up as they rushed towards the check-in counters.
“Next in line please.” said the lady in red flight attendant dress after 15 minutes.
“Are you two together?”
“No” said Ragini.
“Sorry mam, sir; but we have only the last two seats remaining and they are at the end of the aircraft. If you had done web check-in, you could have picked up better seats.”
They both didn’t seem to regret the fact that they got the last seats.
After immigration and security check, they went to the boarding gate in the International departure terminal from where the Boeing 747-400 was being prepared for departure. The flight was to take them through Amsterdam to Chennai. There was still an hour to go for departure.
“Coffee?” asked Rahul
The smile was getting Rahul hooked. She was very pretty, sighed Rahul.
Ragini caught his gaze from the corner of her eyes. Unknown to Rahul, she glanced at his well-built athletic frame. She didn't mind his company.
They stepped into the coffee shop in the departure area, ordered a couple of cappuccinos and found a corner table to sit down.
Her eyes were beautiful. The mascara made them look even prettier. The eye brows were thin and nicely arched towards the end. The hair was long and curled towards the end. She had pulled one side of the hair over her right shoulder while the other side of the hair fell on her back. She had a little makeup. The face was roundish oval with a shade of lipstick. The lips parted a little as she sipped the mocha-blended cappuccino.
As Ragini sat sipping her coffee, she couldn't help notice the glance from Rahul. As she looked up at his broad shoulders, he glanced down at his coffee. He looked strong. Heavy eyebrows slightly bent at the middle with an angular face. The hair was dense and cut short on the sides. Good clean shaven face. He was wearing a round neck vest and a red t-shirt with his college logo on the chest. The arms looked strong. He must be having a girlfriend, she thought.
As she scanned and looked up to meet his eyes, he was looking straight at her with a gentle smile. She smiled and pushed her hair back.
“So Rahul - what do you do?”
“I just graduated from University of Texas and am heading back to settle down in Chennai or Bangalore. I have a job with an MNC working down in Bangalore. What do you do Ragini?”
“I am doing my BFAM at Ann arbor.”
“Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts and Management”
“Arts and Management? They are two different streams...”
“No they aren't. You see, the school and the industry figured out that that if you combine creativity and business practices; you can make a lot of money. It's like a beautiful packaging of a good product. If the packaging looks like a piece of art and comes with what you want to buy, you don't mind paying extra for it. So someone needs to figure out how to make people pay that little extra. That's what I learn in my degree. A year and then a project to go…”
She sounded smart enough to get into engineering. Rahul thought.
“Why do you want go back? Didn't the MNC give you a job in the bay area?” Ragini’s curiosity was piqued.
“They did. But I would like to start up my own company.”
“Wow! That's a first. I haven’t heard that from someone who has a job in a big multi national and still wanting to do something on his own. But why?”
“Well, do you want to know everything here or do you want to hear it on the flight? At this rate we will be the last to get in to the flight.”
“Shucks... Let's go. It's time.”
They walked to the gate over in time for the boarding call and walked to the end of flight where the allotted two seats without the third seat were waiting for them. She took the window seat and he helped put both their bags up. The seat belt signs came on and the Boeing took off from runway, 4 minutes past 7 in the evening with a travel time of 8 hours to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.