Avuncular on-board-courier



Frankfurt airport, the German hub, was abuzz with International babble. As I moved gingerly skirting the young French couple squatting back-to-back on the crowded floor over crumpled colourful tabloids, I spotted him. He is known in our circles as Powderman, the obliging gent willing to carry a smorgasbord of edible cargo to the Tamil tummies in US of A.

Though past sixty, his nutcracker grip nearly crushed my palm. “Nice meeting you,” he said beaming. “This is my third trip this year. My niece Anita is moving to Seattle. Aunt’s grandson Anand is getting married. And grand daughter Shreya’s arangetram is this weekend.” He reeled off the objects of his visit. “I hope you are carrying your usual cargo,” I taunted him. “Of course.” he said. cut up with the banality of my question. “Quite a mass this time,” he said. “Will it then be unaccompanied baggage?” I asked. “Perhaps cargo planes will  follow you in v-formation!” He laughed uproariously.

Because of his Indo-American dry-food link, sambar and rasam in Seattle or ‘Frisco’ acquire authentic Tanjore flavour. Idlis taste yummy at Idaho or Iowa when smothered with brick-red chilli powder brought by him. At Purdue or Pittsburgh freshly brewed piping hot filter coffee packs the genuine filter coffee punch. The veggie F1 visa students in the variegated ethnic food jungle of Obamaland have only  to pressure cook rice and reach for the protein rich paruppu podi - the dal powder lifeline, to blunt their hunger - all courtesy Powderman’s on-board courier service.

He shook my hand to take leave. “Must  hurry. I ran into a young mother from Trichy. Poor thing! Misplaced the milk powder tin, god knows where and now her baby is bawling” “A nursery powder keg?” I asked. He smiled smugly. “Good thing, I have a tin in my hand bag for Nandu in Dallas.”

Later, as I walked through the boarding gate, I saw him burping a gurgling moppet who had switched over to smiles from wails, its little belly full with the powder milk of his kindness. The young lady’s eyes spoke volumes. As the jumbo  took off, I wondered if only Powderman had the magical skills of Spiderman, he could move faster zooming hither and thither in the friendly American neighbourhood delivering hermetically sealed powder packs.

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