The stranger at the airport
This little model aircraft with a wing span of 96 inches flew across the oceans all the way to Texas, and was rated as the best for the most stable flight and payload capacity. No, it did not make the transatlantic flight by itself – it was ferried over in a box, and nobody objected to the size of the box while on the onward journey. The return trip however turned out to be a different matter. Officials at the Dallas airport claimed that the package containing the model aircraft exceeded regulation dimensions, and that there would be an additional fine of $260 to transport the package. So what does a team of hapless students from Jamshedpur do when stranded at an unfamiliar airport, with no money at their disposal? Help can arrive when least expected, as they found out soon enough.
Little did they imagine that their plane would run into trouble at an airport. The students were part of an award winning team of aero-designers from the National Institute of Technology Jamshedpur (NIT-J), and had traveled to participate in a competition at Texas. The model the team trialled emerged first among the twelve Indian teams that participated, and was ranked eleventh among all 75 that participated in the competition. It was built in 6 months at a cost of over 1.5 lakhs, and can be used for unmanned surveillance, rescue operations, data gathering, weather analysis etc.
The team was at the airport for their return journey when they were stopped by airport officials. Faced with a fine that they hadn’t encountered on their onward journey, they weren’t sure what the issue was. Being on their way out, they only had about $70 at their disposal. They spoke to the officials about their situation and requested them to allow check-in – but their efforts were in vain. It was at this point that a stranger who was waiting in queue at the immigration counter stepped in, and generously offered to make the payment on their behalf. Their benefactor, Amaad, also refused to accept a refund of the money when the grateful students asked for his account details so they could return the money once they were back at home. Amaad told them that there was no need to return the money, and walked away earning the goodwill of the Indian contingent. What is ironic is that the relieved team members mistook Amaad for a ‘fellow-Indian’, when he wasn’t. When will we open up to the idea that people inherently have good in them?
PS: The fact that Amaad hails from Karachi should not be reason for this incident to be in the news. Yes – the benefactor was a Pakistani, and the people he helped were Indian. So what? In the larger scheme of things, this was just another kind hearted soul helping out fellow passengers in a time of need. Humanity needs more of such people to find hope in.
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