That midnight bus to the Bangalore airport stopped and the driver said to that thin man wrapped in an Overcoat, “Last stop sir! Airport is here”. Sherlock dragged his heavy bag out and looked for a trolley, he was glad he brought his overcoat; the weather in Bangalore was no different than that of Britain.
Sherlock checked his ticket again; the flight number was 6E-339, a morning flight to Patna. ‘It is just midnight, 6 more hours’, he sighed. Watson was already waiting for him over there.
This time the client was Government of India, who wanted to solve the mysterious under-development of Bihar in spite of all those natural resources in the state. Sherlock was looking forward to this case, his first in Indian Sub-Continent. Though he came here once before to save someone.
The wind was being really cruel. The overcoat was not enough. All Sherlock wanted now was to get inside the check-in Area. ‘Behind these glasses, It must be warm’, he thought to himself. He slowly moved towards the gate, only to be stopped by a PoliceWallaha, “Show me your ticket please”. “We can’t let you in sir, your flight is at 6:30 Am. Please come around 3 am”, he said grudgingly. Sherlock was in no mood to argue.
Sherlock now strolled around looking for an empty chair where he could sit peacefully and kill his time. His cigar would have helped in this cold, but he knew that Public smoking was banned in India.
All Sherlock wanted was to save some money by catching the last bus instead of an early morning ‘expensive’ cab to the airport. Autos and Cabs are really expensive in Bangalore (The Consulting-detective business is not that profitable after all). Now, he was cursing his decision. He had 6 hours to kill, at least 3 hours before they let him in.
Finally he found a comfortable empty row; he always preferred empty rows to sit in. He hated talking to strangers, and Indians were most uncomfortable strangers of all. Indians can enquire about every aspect of your life without even making someone feel that the person is being enquired.
‘They are a Nation full of detectives, wonder why they need me’, Sherlock thought to himself followed by his mischievous smile.
Though airports were Sherlock’s favorite playground where he could just sit and tell about lives of people walking around just by observing them. But then again, he was alone tonight. There was no one to admire his minute observance. Sherlock loved admirers; this was his closely guarded secret.
So, with no admirer around, he decided to complete the book he was reading. It was ‘India’s Unending Journey’, by Mark Tully ; the famous BBC reporter who is more Indian than British. He was on page number 177-Para 2-Line 4 when he last opened this book a week ago, Sherlock never used bookmarks.
Sherlock was busy talking to Mark Tully through his book, and then he looked at his phone. ‘Watson Calling’.
“Hey ! Mate enjoying your second time in Bangalore ? Reached Airport?” Said Watson in his familiar British Marine accent. It was Watson who insisted on taking this case.
“Eh ! Cold wind, Just a thin Overcoat, not being let inside. Does that sounds like enjoyment to you?”
“Oh! Sherlock, you 100 year old detective, when would you stop being such a killjoy? Look around, airports are full of pretty cheeks and you are a charmer. Learn something from that MI6 agent, he is a british detective too. But see what a charmer he is, always surrounded by women with suggestive names.”
“First thing, that charmer is a SPY not DETECTIVE. Second thing , I too can take 1000 such charmers like that without any of those fancy gadgets anyday-anytime. Now keep the phone.”
Finally, it was 3 and with that Sherlock completed Tully’s book and for his respite he was allowed inside. It was warm inside. Those thick glasses took gave no path to wild winds.
The Only thing Sherlock loved about the airport was its big bookstore at gate number 1.
Sherlock really loved books; after all they only made sense in a world surrounded by fools. So, he loved to walk around libraries and bookstores flipping pages of different books. Though these days he usually shopped Online (after all they are cheaper online) but he never missed a chance to visit a bookstores.
He remembered last time he came, he almost missed his flight because he was so lost looking around in that airport- bookstore
The only thing stopping Sherlock now was the check-in door. The check-in was not before 4.
Case of Missing Bookstore
After getting off that check-in lady who was trying to hit on him, and helping a lost monk to find way to his gate, Sherlock slowly walked inside hoping that next 2 hours would be pleasurable in that bookstore.
But a surprise was waiting for him. There was an Antique shop instead of that bookstore.
“Did Moriarty mean this, when he told he would take revenge?”
Was his memory failing him? Or was it sleeplessness that was playing with him? Sherlock looked around in that antique shop and could almost picture the bookshop over there.
“What sorcery is this? Indians love books. Don’t they?”
They rarely move shops inside airports. It must be somewhere.
He took a stroll again, walking past till gate number 10. But the bookstore was nowhere to be found. He looked around desperately like a junkie looking for his drug, but the desperateness was of no use.
Will the greatest detective of all times be able to solve this case of Missing bookstore?
It was getting really mysterious.
“Why would anyone remove that shop? Or maybe they did.”
Holmes was losing hope like he never did before. Now that Tully’s book was over he needed at least a book to live for next one hour in that boring waiting area.
“Something is missing in the way I am looking for it.”
“Ah!”, Sherlock Smiled. “Elementary my dear Sherlock.”
The solution was simple.
“There was a bookshop here, at this very place a year ago. Right?” Sherlock asked the manager of the antique shop.
Manager looked embarrassed and hesitantly answered, “It is still there sir, just after gate number 15.”
Case Solved, Sherlock took two fingers near his lips and did a cigar puffing action in the air. It was his trademark. Though it was not smoking that was in his mind, but books.
Sherlock saves the day
Finally, Sherlock reached the bookstore. It was smaller than it once used to be when it was at gate no.1. But then again it had a pretty good collection.
Sherlock loved the smell of books.
He flipped pages of different books and kept aside 3 of them, Biography of Steve Jobs, An Ordinary person’s guide to empire by Arundhati Roy and The great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor.
Then he took out his mobile, and cross checked the prices on Flipkart and Amazon. He found that the price difference was around Rs.50 per book. No wonder people no more buy books from bookstores he thought.
And it was not Sherlock alone, that intellectual looking girl in large spectacles was writing down the name of the book, another person was taking pictures of the titles he liked. Probably they all intended to by them later online.
The Shop-Manager looked quite unhappy, and the billing machine had dust on it as if no one could remember when was the last time someone bought a book from the shop.
Sherlock with just 1500 bucks left in his purse. And buying these 3 books would probably burn a hole in his pocket and leave him with just a 100 rupee note. Buying online would make him richer by at least 200 bucks.
Sherlock looked at his watch, it was 6:05 already, he had just 10 minutes to make a decision.
He looked at the shop-manager again, “Why is it always me saving the day?”
“Pack these 3 books please.”
Everyone around looked at him with amazement, someone was actually buying a book from a bookstore in this modern age. Holmes hid his face with his famous cap and paid hurriedly.
Every eye around the waiting room was staring at him now.
“Nobody shall ever know I did this” Sherlock muttered to himself.
And he paced his way towards the door to catch flight 6E-339 flying to patna, amidst the announcement, ”This is the last call for Mr.Sherlock Holmes, Please come to the boarding gate.”