“Name’s John. Hi!” he said.
“Thanks. Glad to meet you. My name is Dilip,” I replied as I put my carry-on bag on the seat and moved aside the pillow and the blanket to make space for myself. After a hectic week at Dakar, I was hoping the seat next to me would be empty. But it wasn’t.
John, my co-traveler, was short, brown, and middle-aged. There was a nondescript baseball hat on his head through which his pony tail hung behind him, long, more pepper than salt. He was wearing brown jeans and blue shirt. He had taken off his shoes and was wearing socks from the travel kit provided by the airline.
“You going to DC?” I asked.
“Yes. And from Washington DC, to New Mexico.” He said he lived in the Navajo Nation just south of Colorado.
“Are you returning from the game in South Africa?” I asked.
“Yeah. The first time I saw a soccer game in my life. It was great. I’m a coal miner, in New Mexico. My company sent me to watch the World Cup. We were 150 of us from all over the world. We were there for 5 days.”
I opened the overhead locker to put my bag in before the take-off. “Is that your vuvuzela?” I asked.
“No. Probably belongs to the lady over there.”
“Football, or soccer, is the number one game in the world,” I said.