Unlucky for others?

As we sat for supper, the visuals on our TV screen about the ghastly attack on a mosque in Christchurch made the family members remark how lucky we were. For, only a few days ago my wife and I were in Christchurch on a holiday and had the assailant chosen to attack the previous Friday, our idyllic tour would have gone for a toss.

As we started discussing our lucky escape, my daughter remembered that just hours after our flight had taken off from Iran a year ago, a massive earthquake had hit the city where we had stayed, killing hundreds of people.

“May be your visit brings bad tidings for the country you visit,” remarked my son. Though I growled at him, it made me think. Indeed, some pathbreaking events did happen in some countries soon after I stepped on their soil. For instance, immediately after our visit to Cairo in 2010, violence erupted in the entire country leading to the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and the President was overthrown.  

Similarly, five days after we left Istanbul for Amman, in July 2016, a coup against President Erdogan took place, resulting in large scale violence and mass arrests. My decision to celebrate my birthday in Petra instead of Istanbul had saved the situation for us. The situation was also saved for Erdogan, as the coup failed and he could definitely not accuse me of bringing bad luck.

It may not be a coincidence that the day I landed in Athens, all of Greece was engulfed in ‘anti-austerity’ protests. I am sure I was not responsible for the government going bankrupt. In fact, the dollars that tourists like me spent had brought cheers to the locals. In March 2016, I had flown out of Brussels airport after a short visit to Belgium. Two days after my departure, a ghastly terror attack took place on the airport. While I thanked Providence for saving me, I wondered whether my visit had anything to do with it.

What happened in Malaysia brings me goosepimples. On March 7, 2014, around midnight I was sitting in the airport awaiting my flight to Bengaluru. Opposite my boarding gate was the boarding gate for flight MH 370 which was leaving for Beijing. Both our flights took off from KL within minutes of each other. While I arrived in Bengaluru safe and sound, the fates of hundreds of passengers who took flight 370, which disappeared into oblivion, is not known.

Again in March 2017, when I was in Kuala Lampur airport waiting for my flight, I saw a lot of commotion and noticed policemen and emergency personnel moving about frantically. My instincts as a former cop were aroused and I went to check what was happening. The half-brother of the North Korean president had been subjected to a nerve agent attack and was being rushed to a hospital. I learnt later that the victim had died, causing severe diplomatic strains between North Korea and Malaysia.

As I recounted these hair-raising incidents there was a hush all around. It was broken only when my son-in-law suddenly remarked with a poker face, “It’s time our government sent you to Pakistan instead of the army.”

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Unlucky for others?

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