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Bhim Singh's Plane Ride
|by Debashish Majumdar|
Bhim Singh lived in a garage with his loving wife Parvati and sons Laltu and Paltu. Bhim Singh had a small grocery shop of his own. He was very popular in his neighborhood. One day a new product arrived at Bhim Singh’s doorstep.
A salesman muttered excitedly: “ My potato chips company is offering a free plane ride to the first prize winner and his family.”
Bhim Singh was impressed. Every night Bhim Singh along with Laltu and Paltu would marvel at the planes flying high in the sky.
“Papa are you sure that people are inside the plane?” asked an inquisitive Laltu one day, “ It looks like a toy to me.”
Bhim Singh had taken home two packets of the new potato chips for the kids.
Paltu tore up a packet and can you believe it…
There was a small card with the picture of a plane!
Bhim Singh was so excited that he lifted both Laltu and Paltu up in his arms.
“ Do you know what it means ?” said Bhim Singh, his eyes gleaming with joy,
“ A free plane ride for the four of us.”
“ Wow !” said Laltu.
“ Wow!” replied Paltu.
Bhim Singh pulled out his mobile phone from his trousers like a Little Jack Horner.
He called up the salesman of Star Chips Company.
“ I have found a little card inside a chips packet. It has the picture of a plane.”
“ Congratulations,Mr.Singh!” exclaimed the young salesman,” You have won the first prize of our company’s sales promotion scheme.”
Neither Bhim Singh nor Parvati had ever gone to school. When Paltu told his mother about the plane offer, she seemed not very pleased.
“ Hanumanji carries the plane in the sky,” she replied.
Laltu and Paltu nodded.
Within four days the salesman exchanged the card for four free passes of a joy plane ride from Guwahati to Kolkata.
* * *
“ Heck,” said Bhim Singh to Parvati, “ I forgot to ask the man how many nights the journey will take.”
“ I am taking no chances,” said Parvati ,” I am packing the bedding for all four of us.”
“ That’s a brilliant idea!” added Bhim Singh, “ The children will feel tired and sleepy up in the clouds.”
“ Besides I am preparing two large bowls of aloo gobi and purees,” spoke Parvati thoughtfully.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On the day of the journey,Bhim Singh loaded all the luggage onto a cycle cart. Then
Parvati,Laltu and Paltu scrambled up the cart.Fat Bhim Singh climbed up too. There was luggage galore. Two large suitcases and four beddings! Near the airport, the police declared that the cycle cart would not be allowed in. So Bhim Singh’s family had to drag their luggage to the airport. At the airport entry, the gateman asked to see their passes. Bhim Singh gladly held them up like a set of cards.
“ Where is our plane?” asked Bhim Singh curiously.
Bhim Singh,Parvati, Laltu and Paltu tried to barge in through the security check with their luggage.
“Luggage goes that way, you go in this way,” said a friendly gentleman.
“How will the luggage know we are going to Kolkata?” asked Parvati. “In any case I will not part with the food bag and the beddings.”
An airlines staff came to the rescue.
“Aw I shee,” said the man who was chewing betel-nuts, “ Come with me.”
He lifted all the luggage upon a conveyor belt. Bhim Singh gave chase.
A young lady stopped the conveyor belt switch and ordered Bhim Singh to get off.
“ My suitcases, my beddings !” the grocer yelled, “ How will we sleep at night in the plane?”
“ Your journey to Kolkata will take fifty minutes,” assured a cabin crew who had heard the commotion.
“ The journey from my locality to the airport took us fifty minutes,” muttered Bhim Singh under his breath.
They next entered the security check enclosure.
Suddenly Parvati gave a scream.
“What the hell?” she cried out in Hindi, “ The police woman has unzipped my food bag and was trying to steal my aloo gobi paratha which I especially prepared for the journey.”
It was Bhim Singh’s loud laughter which drew the attention of the crowd elsewhere.
“That policeman is tickling me all over with the funny steel bar!” he guffawed, “ I thought it was going to be a simple fun-filled ride.”
Just then an announcement went over the mike that a lady was searching for Bhim Singh and his family.
“ Paltu was really excited. “ Papa there are so many persons in the airport and they are all announcing your name.”
When the message was repeated in Hindi, Bhim Singh realized that the lady belonged to the potato chips company. She had requested his family to meet her at the departure gate.
Laltu was fascinated by the escalator. He climbed onto one and soon came tumbling down.
The lady guessed who the prize-winners of her company’s chips were. She smiled and came to the rescue of the family who had lost their way.
“I’m Miss D’Souza,” the polite lady said. “ Wish you a very happy flight.”
Laltu and Paltu’s jaws dropped at the sight of a real plane.
They now began to climb the stairway to the plane. On top of the stairs, a smart air hostess greeted Bhim Singh with a Namaste.
“Namaste,” replied Bhim Singh politely, “ But surely I have not met you before.”
The air hostess waved her hand and requested them to enter the plane.
Laltu and Paltu brushed aside a few passengers, overtook them and scrambled to take up window seats. The passengers protested. Soon the boys were sorted out by the cabin crew. They were allotted seats according to the ones mentioned on the tickets.
“ Please fasten your seat belts,” a passing stewardess told Bhim Singh.
Laltu and Paltu smartly flicked open their trouser belts and fastened them to the seat handle. Bhim Singh looked more worried! How will he tell the plane crew that Parvati wears a sari and she does not have a belt!
Much to Bhim Singh’s comfort, the air crew came to his rescue. They fastened the seat belts, unbuckling Laltu and Paltu who were hanging from a pair of bats from a roof.
Then the captain announced that the flight was ready for take off. The customary demonstration of the oxygen mask was displayed by a flight attendant.
“Gosh ! Is it a plane or a hospital ?” asked Bhim Singh loudly.
Bhim Singh had placed the food bag on the overhead cabin just above his head. He forgot to shut the cabin door. As soon as the plane began to speed along the runway the food bag jumped out and landed right upon Bhim Singh’s bald head.
Parvati quickly muttered all her prayers. Laltu who had a window seat shut his eyes while Paltu had shut his ears. The plane rose into the sky.
Bhim Singh was fascinated by the bevy of air hostesses. He tugged at the sari of one of them and asked, “ Madam, where is the toilet?”
The air hostess felt slightly offended. She showed Bhim Singh the overhead button pressing which one can draw the attention of an air hostess. Then she led Bhim Singh to the toilet.
After sometime the air hostess realized that something was wrong. She knocked on the washroom and opened the door. Bhim Singh was cleaning the basin with a hanky.
“Sir, why are you cleaning the basin?” asked the lady.
“I can understand a bit of English,” smiled Bhim Singh, “ I read the instruction WASH BASIN and so I washed it! “
Oh I did not tell you what happened when the air hostesses served sweets before the flight.
When the attendant offered Bhim Singh the sweets, he winked and said:
“Nobody can fool me. I know how much the sweets cost.”
“They are free, Sir.”
“Free? You mean we don’t have to pay anything for the sweets?”
“ Laltu and Paltu …action please,” declared Bhim Singh.
The two boys who were aged ten and twelve respectively emptied the entire tray into their pockets.
“ Don’t eat them up,” said Bhim Singh, “ I will sell the sweets from my outlet for two rupees each!”
When the meals were served, Bhim Singh and his family refused to eat them out of fear that they will have to pay for them. Besides, Parvati was very upset. She wailed once or twice thinking that they had lost all their luggage. The kids were satisfied with the aloo gobi parathas.
When the plane finally landed in Kolkata the only difficulty they faced were with the seat belts. The cabin crew helped them to unbuckle the belts.
“ What has happened to our luggage?” asked Bhim Singh impatiently.
“ Ask an official inside the airport,” assured a flight attendant , “ You will get back your luggage.”
They did. And Bhim Singh, Laltu and Paltu beamed with joy at their first plane ride.
However, Parvati smiled the largest!
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