Interaction With an African from Congo

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I was waiting at the A1 gate area of the CSI Airport, Mumbai on my return trip from Club Mahindra resort Kumbalgarh, Rajasthan last year. A girl of African decent came with a trolley bag and sat beside. She looked tired. Sometime passed and I was busy with my smartphone. By chance my eye fell on the ticket which she was holding out while sleeping on her bag. She was also going to Bangalore. I asked, “Are you going to Bangalore?”. She answered in affirmative. She is from Congo and is on a 7 months stay in India to study computer at one of the private institutes. I came to Mumbai after 1 and 20 minutes flight from Udaipur. On the other hand she was traveling from the capital of Congo. Which required her to change flight at Nairobi for Kenya Airlines to Mumbai. By then she was on flight for almost 13 hours. No wonder she was experiencing jet lag and giddiness. She told she was feeling nausea and left her luggage in my custody to go to the bathroom. Not many will do the same thing with a complete stranger.

Meanwhile an announcement was made that boarding would be made through Gate A2 instead of A1. We went to the A2 area. Through interaction with her I came to know that Congolese Franc is the currency of Congo and $1 = 90,000 Congolese franc. As an ignorant I asked what language you speak. When she said French, I exclaimed and asked how did you learn French. Then she exclaimed and said French is the official language of Congo and the local language is Lingala. We talked little about currency conversion and that she had to pay $30 dollar for converting from US Dollar to Indian Rupees. The boarding opened and we walked through the tube to the plane. My seat was towards the end of the plane and she had toward the beginning.

While moving through the passage of the seats I saw Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi sitting on the right hand side in a green T- shirt. But there was not much hoopla on the plane over him. In fact she had seen him while we were waiting in the gate A1 area and asked me is that a celeb. I did not notice him then and could not answer her. I came to my seat and was putting my luggage in the luggage compartment. I saw she was standing in front of the preceding seat. I guided her that her seat is at the front. She was kind of lost how to find that. I was able to manage to swap her seat which allowed her to seat with me. Our interactions continued. This is her first visit to India. I asked did she interacted with Indian before? To this she exclaimed and said “All you brothers and sisters are there selling cloths pointing to a lady on the right hand side who was wearing a white floral top and goods. She told even Chinese are there in great numbers. This was a revelation. She told the Chinese don’t even know the language and was surprised how they manage to sell things. It seems the Chinese find it very difficult to learn French and try Lingala.

I asked her if it is safe to visit Congo? She exclaimed, why not! When I told about violence, she told it was earlier and now its fine. She seemed very interested in travel and she wanted to see India for which she choose it for her study. We reached Bangalore after a 1 hour 20 minutes flight. After walking together through the terminal, I said bye to her with a hug. She hugged back and gave a peck on my check. She had to proceed to the baggage section. I told her it was a nice interaction with her and I learned many new things. Outside the terminal, I found BIAS Volvo AC bus which goes to my area. Hopped onto it for Rs 180 which saved a lot of money in comparison to cab.