It was early morning at Bengaluru International Airport. Bleary-eyed people criss-crossing each others paths - somehow none bumping into the other. I joined the security queue.
Sometimes the apparently stupid decisions in life strike gold. I joined the longest queue cos I had time to kill. And then it happened - I glanced back.
The person in question was already piled in between others joining behind.
I couldnt believe no one took notice ! Maybe a minute passed just for me to compose myself - thoughts immediately converged on that morning of 12 Aug 2008 when I first heard the news. By the end of the minute, I was shaking hands with Abhinav Bindra !!
The most amazing thing in all this was I was the only person mesmerized - I still cant believe it. In front of me was someone whose achievement parallels that of Nobel laureates Tagore, Raman, Amartya Sen when it comes to intersection of "an Indian" and "highest prize in their field". I wonder how people around couldn't identify Abhinav !
The next ten minutes were like gold-dust in my life. We joked about joining the wrong queue. Abhinav is quite unathletic (dare i say like you and me) for a sportsperson - let alone a Olympic gold medallist at that. So it was easy to strike communication naturally - like casually bumping into a youngster of your age.
We spoke about some reasons that make him "one in a billion". Abhinav shared with me his thoughts on what we could do as a nation to improve our sporting profile. In ten minutes, I was jokingly congratulating him for being so inconspicuous inspite of this achievements. The joke was actually on our people who would throng the 13th man of Punjab IPL team but not even as much as recognise an Olympic gold medallist.
I could feel a void in Abhinavs' feelings - after all who wouldnt like to be adored. But then on the upside, he could hang out in the terminal without being molested by pen-wielding crazed people.
It took me another 15 minuted to catch my breath, call home and tell baba all about the encounter before I took this snap of Abhinav (talking on phone in queue to board his flight)