As I eased my tired frame into my favourite aisle seat of the Mumbai-Chennai King Fisher Flight, my eyes fell on the distinguished-looking gentleman occupying the Window seat. Sensing some movement close to him, he looked up and smiled at me. Not to be outdone in a department in which I am considered an expert, I flashed at him one of my best smiles and we shook hands. He buried himself almost instantly into a well known newspaper and became dead to the world. He waved away everything that came his way, toffees, snacks and the synthetic smiles of the air-hostess as he was gobbling up the contents of the paper. I was awfully impressed to say the least by this sight. My reading of newspapers is normally cursory except when it comes to items like tantrums faced by Shilpa Shetty or the progress in Aishwarya/Abhishek nuptial preparations. That someone could read a newspaper line by line left me speechless and I waited for him to finish his reading. It was when the pilot announced flight details and expressed the hope that we were enjoying the flight that the man folded the newspaper and put it in the pouch in front of him. I was very eager to strike a conversation with this newspaper freak but he did not seem interested. But people who know me would tell you how persevering I can be and so I managed to strike a conversation with him. Immediately I realized that it was like striking a match stick. All I asked him was if there was anything mention-worthy in the newspaper and his eyes flared as he held Bush responsible for all the woes of the world. The choicest epithets that he used to describe Bush were something that I had never heard before. He expressed a doubt if Kofi Annan’s successor would measure up to the stature of his predecessor. He felt that Kalam’s speeches though no doubt thought provoking have become a bit repetitive. On Oscar Awards, he predicted that it would be a close fight between Dream girls and Babel. Ganguly’s 98 did not inspire him in the first one-dayer with West Indies which he described as Sourav’s swan song! As he went on and on, I sat rooted to my seat as I felt utterly humiliated by the extent of in-depth knowledge that he seemed to have on almost all subjects of the universe. Listening to him, I felt as impressed as my dad would have been when he listened to the Tryst with Destiny speech of Jawaharlal Nehru on the assassination of Gandhiji! I could not resist introducing myself to a man who knew everything! So I started the process with a ‘You live in Chennai?’ to which I received a crisp affirmative. Which part of Chennai was my next query which he didn’t find difficult to answer. Adyar, he said. I wanted him to know that he had illustrious company there and said ‘I live there too’. As the pilot started the landing manoeuvres, I persisted with a ‘Where at Adyar?’ Kasturba Nagar Second cross , he replied as he looked out of the window to see if he could sight his locality. My excitement was rising as I informed him that I lived there too! Oh, was all he had to say in reply to that piece of information. “Where’s your house there?’ was my next question. My heart jumped out of my mouth when he said that he lived in Zircon Towers, Flat 4 C. ‘I live in Zircon Towers. Flat 3A’ I informed him in such an excited tone that everyone in the aircraft turned towards me! To know that such a well informed gentleman was my neighbour took my breath away. I was not surprised that he did not know me or heard of me as I realized that his immediate neighbourhood could hardly be of any concern to him. I consoled myself saying that if he got weighed down with news of his co-tenants and the like, he would probably be thinking that Bush was something that grew in the forests and Oscar a terrorist outfit! These gentlemen apparently found a thorough knowledge of the American President a more worthwhile exercise than knowing the existence of their nameless neighbours!