Yesterday I returned from Frankfurt. A trip that I can't forget for many reasons. One it was my first full blown visit there. Two, I met my business counterparts face to face & last but not the least, that I was, by chance, both picked & dropped from & to the airport by a Pakistani. The one who dropped was quite aged person while the one who dropped was a middle aged man, almost my age.
I was looking thru the airport to find where do I get the taxi & as generally happens, my feet took me thru to the exit gates without realizing that I had forgotton to ask anyone inside the terminal where to take the taxi from. Anyways, as usual, my nicotine levels had gone down & my brain was constantly asking me to light up the cigarette before thinking about the taxi although it was already late in the night. By the time I finished, it was already around 11 pm. Went to the taxi stand & found approached by a slim looking pale yellow coloured taxi. It was a mercedes benz (most of the taxis in Germany are Mercs). A man alights, saintly bearded, out of it & gently asks me to give my luggage to put in the hood. By the looks, I could make out that the gentleman belongs to somewhere closer to where I belong to. Both of us sat & started for my hotel. I couldn't control my anxiety & before he could say anything, I asked him, was he from Germany? he nodded his head, giving me a signal as if he said "Yes", but I wasn't fully convinced.
He then asked me, was I from India & I said Yes too. As I wasn't too comfortable until now, I still pondered & quickly shot back, is he also from India? This time, I got what I was intending to hear, that yes he did belong to somewhere closer to where I was from. He said he was from Pakistan. It didn't really matter Pakistan or India, I was just looking for some one with whom I could talk in Hindi. Don't know why but it does give me a sense of belongingness & security. Then started our point to point discussion. We both started, almost together, with the current political situation between India & Pakistan. We discussed it all including Bollywood, yesteryears singers specially Ghazal singers, Musicians, his kids upbringing in Germany, their likes & dis-likes of Indian movies, actors & on & on.
Out of the whole conversation, the only thing I felt was both of us were pained & repeatedly said that our individual governments could have done much more than what they are doing today to stop the cross border & internal issues. Riaz Hussain Saheb was like any other Indian to me in a country where both of us were there for our living. The only difference was that he lived there while I was on short visit. It would have happened for the first time that I had got into some discussion like this for almost 30-45 mins after getting dropped. He just came out of his car & we lighted cigarettes again. Although he had his, but I insisted that he has it from my pack. Not sure but that gave me a sense that we belonged together & I felt good when he accepted to smoke my cigarette (Thanks Marlboro, interestingly he also had Marlboro but a regular one compared to my lighter version). After we came to conclusions of our own, we shaked hands & departed in the hope that we may meet again.
Dua salam karke aisa laga jaise kisi apne se hi mil raha hoon. It was the same while I was getting dropped too, but this time, it was Sayyed Saheb, a middle aged man. I asked him why was he there & not in his country. His answer was very simple & satisfying to me. To run my family, I need a house, a job, education for my kids & medical help when needed. This government provided him everything. He was not the one to scream why something was less rather a one who felt satisfied that atleast the governments care for their people & that's important. During the trip back to the airport he received many a call from his friends. He said, we all keep in constant touch with each other telling & helping where the prospects are more to find customers who need a ride. This way we get good business & we share the joys. He did play a hindi bollywood number for me. As I reached my destination, we departed & said the same thing to each other - - Apse milkar bahut achha laga -- & I guess, both of us really meant it to each other unlike a lip service. (Typically something we do in business every now & then)
Atleast I now know that I made 2 friends there. We may not remember each other for long but I am sure if we happen to meet again, we will recall these drives.
In all, the logic was very simple. People do tend & like each other across borders but it's some of the forces that are keeping us apart. Forces that normal people like you & I may not be able to recognize & do anything against but atleast talk them as bad dreams & forever wish to be together.