16 January, 2021

The Man I Met In Mid-Flight

There was something about KRN: a child of Nehru, deep, smiling

The Man I Met In Mid-Flight
Our Indian Airlines flight from Cochin to Delhi had been a good ten minutes in the air when, as usual, I began writing in my notebook. Deeply immersed in my writing, I did not immediately notice my neighbour in the seat next to me, curious as only Indians can be, trying to read over my shoulder. He did not succeed; I write in French, my mother tongue. Finally, he coughed softly and asked: "What are you writing so furiously ?"

After some years in India, I had become familiar with this very special kind of curiosity, a characteristic I found to be typically Indian. We French people, we like it. In the eighties, the French writer Helene Cixous had written a long play about the Indian struggle for Independence, staged by Ariane Mnouchkine, the well-known French director. Among the characters, there is an old Indian female beggar who, at the beginning of the performance, walks among the audience, gently asking each and everyone, with that direct yet gentle, unintrusive curiosity that only Indians have: "Hi ! You ! Where do you come from? Tell me....



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