My Single-Serving Friends

For some reason, I was randomly thinking about my flight home from Pakistan back in 2007. I’m not quite sure why, but my thoughts turned to the people I talked to while making my way back to the States, my single-serving friends. On the flight from Karachi to San Francisco, I made 3 single-serving friends and I thought I would talk about them a bit here (since the day is almost over and I have yet to update):

SSF #1: Pakistani businessman who I met him while flying from Karachi to Lahore. He was just coming from Singapore, where he was doing some business. When I told him I was on my way to the United States, he said “Don’t tell me that!” He had lived in the U.S. for a while when he went to school and really missed it. He told me one particular story about when he had a job in which he had to sweep up the floor of a convenience store and he was wondering what it was he was doing there since he had a better life in Lahore. However, he realized that he was getting a richer experience and he really appreciated his time there. He didn’t have too many good things to say about Pakistan. When I told him that I was only in Karachi for two weeks he said that it was enough, that I probably wasn’t able to do more than watch a lot of TV. He was right.

SSF #2: Pakistani housewife/mom I met while on the flight from Lahore to Singapore. While the plane was backing out of its space on the tarmac in Lahore, she was still on her cell phone. I got very paranoid about the effects of talking on a cell phone while the plane was moving but I didn’t want to say anything to her myself. So, I covertly beckoned for a steward from my aisle seat and when he came, I leaned towards him and pointed over to the lady sitting next to me. He immediately asked her to hang up, which she did, and he then thanked me. I don’t even remember the last time I told on someone but fortunately for me, she didn’t notice I ratted her out.

Later, we talked. She was going to catch a connecting flight from Singapore to a place I can’t remember to be on a cruise with her daughter. Her daughter was in computer engineering, married with a kid, I believe. She thought I was from Dubai judging from my western clothes (I left Karachi in jeans and a black hoodie). She told me a bit about her family and I talked a bit about mine. She seemed really nice and I really am glad she didn’t notice I told on her. That would have made for an awkward flight.

SSF #3 British businessman who I met on the flight from Singapore to San Francisco. He had relocated to Singapore and was on his way to San Francisco for business. We sat in silence all the way from Singapore to Seoul but then started talking after Seoul when I exclaimed how it took way too long to go through security in Korea just to get back on our flight. We talked mostly of my trip to Pakistan and I talked about the conditions, relatives, even the fact that my aunt and uncle never turned on the hot water i.e. we had to take cold showers. We talked about the difference between Pakistani mentality versus Western mentality as well. “So,” he eventually asked. “You didn’t go to Pakistan to get married then.” I shook my head and said “No.” When we were getting closer to San Francisco, he asked me what was the first thing I was going to do when I got home. “Take a hot shower,” I replied. I was pretty excited about that. Out of the three, I probably talked to him the most.

The flight from Karachi to San Francisco was really the only time that I had meaningful conversations with the people I was sitting next to. I think it helped that I was by myself and none of these people were flying with anyone either. I’ll try to make more of a habit to get to know different people when I get a chance to fly in the future. Flights are a lot more interesting that way.

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