July 31st, 1989
Flight from DEL – AUH
Hilton Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Call time came at two thirty am (an hour after I got back to my room!) and as soon I got to the lobby, Toby made a beeline for me.
“Soooooo?” he asked.
“So,” I said. “I had a rather nice day in Delhi.”
On our way to the airport, I sat with Kimberly on the crew bus. Toby sat behind us and poked his head between us.
“Is there more to tell or is that it?” he asked.
“That’s all you’re getting for now,” I laughed.
“Just one more thing,” he sneered. “I’ve been flying for twelve years and I’ve never left a passenger a note in their jacket pocket.”
“That’s your loss, darling,” I replied tartly, making Kimberly laugh.
“Mind you,” he added. “They rarely look like he does. Wake me up when we get to the airport,” he said, slumping back in his seat.
“Sweet dreams,” Kimberly chuckled.
“You know it, babe,” he breathed.
“You look happy,” Kimberly said with her sweet smile.
“Yesterday was pretty fantastic,” I said nodding my head.
“I’m sorry I’ve been such a moaning minnie.”
Trying my best to keep a straight face, I asked, “When was that?”
We both cracked up laughing.
“I’m sorry too,” I offered. “I’m sure I’ve been no picnic either. I guess neither of us are made for humid climates.”
“I’m glad we got that sorted, now tell me everything you just told Toby, plus all the juicy parts.”
So I did.
We arrived early in Abu Dhabi and I knew if I didn’t get at least some shuteye, I’d never make it out tonight. Met Kimberly and Poonam (she’s the Indian national on our trip) who took us to the Middle East restaurant (not exactly the most original name!) We sat on floor cushions and ate the most incredible food, all with our hands! By the time I finished eating I could’ve given the belly dancers a run for their money!
Poonam suggested we go to Safari, the disco in our hotel. Kimberly was back to her happy self and of course I was still up in the clouds from my chance encounter with David so we took a taxi back to the hotel.
After much dancing, Kimberly and I left Poonam on the dance floor and made our way back to our seats. From the other side of the club, we watched as a young man made his way over to us. He bowed his head, and without saying a word, he passed each of us a red box, inscribed with Cartier.
Kimberly and I looked at each other in mirrored bewilderment. The young man gestured to the VIP area but it was dark so I couldn’t make anything out.
“From the Prince,” he said in broken English. “Please open and accept.”
Once again Kimberly and I looked at each other then opened the boxes. Inside mine was a pair of emerald and gold stud earrings. They were stunning! Kimberly’s box contained what looked like sapphire studs.
Poonam came storming over to us. “Send those right back,” she shouted, slamming each box shut. She grabbed the box out of my hand, tossed it to the young man then did the same with Kimberly’s. Kimberly opened her mouth to speak but Poonam held up the palm of her hand really close to Kimberly’s face and shouted, “No.”
The young man scurried away and Poonam took a huge gulp of her cocktail. To say the atmosphere felt awkward would be an understatement so I followed suit and gulped down the rest of my cocktail, avoiding eye contact with Kimberly while she did the same.
Suddenly, Poonam stood up. “We should dance.”
Not daring to go against her wish, Kimberly and I followed her onto the dance floor. The music was fantastic and the three of us were soon laughing and enjoying ourselves again.
Kimberly was first to break the dancing frenzy and said she wanted to sit down. Poonam said she was going to the loo so I followed Kimberly back to our seats.
The second we sat down, the young man appeared again. Kimberly looked petrified but not enough to refuse the red box he passed her. I quickly scanned the area looking for Poonam but she was nowhere in sight, so I took the other box and at the same time, Kimberly and I clicked open the boxes. They were bigger this time and inside mine was a gold encrusted, jeweled bangle. I peered over at the box in Kimberly’s hand (it contained the same bangle) then out of the corner of my eye I spotted Poonam.
“Here she comes,” I said quickly.
We both slammed the boxes shut and passed them back to the young man who wasted no time leaving.
Poonam was all smiles and suggested we dance again. Kimberly and I silently agreed not to mention the second round of boxes and made our way back onto the dance floor.
About an hour later, the three of us went back to our seats and the young man appeared again. The two red boxes he carried were even bigger this time and I imagined what they might contain.
Poonam stood over him and spoke in a language I don’t understand but with body language that explained everything she was saying. The young man bowed and scurried away.
After that, there were no more boxes.