The Art of Breaking Wind
On a recent intercontinental flight, I had a fellow passenger in the section of the cabin where I was seated with a particularly horrid case of flatulence. Typically, when these sorts of things happen, one accepts it no matter how unpleasant the odor, as one of those things that our Creator in a burst of humorous creativity decided to bestow on us His creations.
It is only natural, everyone does it.
So when I sniffed the first wafts of the post-digestive vapors, I squirmed a bit and went back to the book I was reading. By the time my olfactory lobes had been held ransom to the nauseous scent for the fifth time in a row, I began to seriously think that there was something wrong.
You see, I have acquired a horrible habit of not being able to sleep on airplanes and so when I have exhausted all possible preoccupations – reading, listening to music, etc, my mind does tend to wander a bit. This is why I began to think that perhaps following the first encounter with the scent, my mind had sent a message to my sensory organs, transmitting me into a time warp where that was all I could smell…and trust me at this point that was all I could smell.
I scanned the faces of my fellow passengers for some telltale signs of not just guilt – yes it would have been nice to put a face to the smell – but also to reassure myself that I was not the only one smelling this.
And thus began my next preoccupation which was watching the obvious human reaction to the odor. I knew that the odors were coming from one source because they all smelled the same so I had ruled out the possibility that the whole cabin was letting it drop as a result perhaps of the meal we had all had. At the same time ruling out the somewhat appealing possibility that it was just a question of time when I would let it drop too – which would have been just peachy.
Talk about fire for fire – so you think you can fart, here take this.
Sadly, on this day, my digestive organs were quite subtle and there was nothing happening in that department.
As I watched two ladies and a little girl literally gasping for air as the wafts filtered through the pressurized cabin for one of several times during our journey, I deleted the warp theory from my mind and instead took another mental journey as I wondered what combination of culinary delicacies could have produced such an unpleasant yet consistent odor.
Shortly after this while back on solid ground and breathing fresh air, I was reading Rohinton Mistry‘s – A Fine Balance – when my in-air experience came back to haunt me albeit in a more pleasant way that made me smile. May I pause here and say that Mr Mistry is one of the most fluid and lyrical writers I have come across in a long time which is why the two sentences he uses to describe an encounter between a member of one of the lower castes in India and a local brahmin (supposedly an older and wiser man) not only made me reminsce but also made me smile widely
He pivoted on one buttock and broke wind. Dukhi leaned back to allow it free passage, wondering what penalty might adhere to the offence of interfering with the waft of brahminical flatus
I tried to imagine all of us in the cabin that day, somehow dodging those vapors as they made their way to the point of evanescence and smiled even wider acknowledging the fact that the art of breaking wind and the human reaction to it (no matter how unpleasant) is guaranteed to tickle the funny bone.