But when my itineraries began to get longer and a bit complicated, once with a friendly frown he hinted, why don’t you have one of the local traveling agents issue your tickets? It wouldn’t cost you anything and I am sure they certainly would appreciate your business.

Enter voluptuous Debbie Kaufman and the Professional Travel. I would still book my flights and Debbie was quite happy to issue my tickets. But then I relented and let Debby also book the flights. Carolyn and I even had her over for an Indian dinner one night.

When we moved to Chicago, the house rule was to book our flights and hotels through Mary. But I was so used to and in tune with the international travel that I plain ignored this rule. Also because by then Satya had approached me. He and I were never close friends, but we were classmates from the first through the fourth grades – growing up in Borivali, a northern suburb of Bombay with no running water and no electricity. Beyond that, over the years, we would run into each other sporadically, while I was still in India and later during my visits back home. And then one day I get a call from him in Santa Barbara. He too had made his tracks to the United States and was now living in Chicago working for a traveling agency. Eventually he would open his own Blue Skies Travel. I began to give him my business.

Curiously, no one ever questioned my taking care of my own traveling needs. I think Mary once brought it up, but then realizing that I was better at the international routing and the flights than she ever could be – and when I pointed out to her that I had gotten a better deal for the same flights she had booked for my boss Lee (Hall) on the Varig flight to São Paulo, she must have decided to leave me alone. So Satya became my de facto personal traveling agent.

For Satya, the intricacies of the airfares and routes had become an obsession and a challenge. Finding all sorts of options became for him like computer games. Sometimes he would hold me on the phone for quite some time, and every couple of minutes come up with different fares and different itineraries. Mind you, this was before the arrival of the internet and before the fares were ruled by algorithms.

But he was more than the finder of better fares and the itineraries. He was an old fashioned traveling agent who also took care of your visas and other necessary paperwork. Would often show up at the airport to see you safely off. In those days, there were only the First and the Economy classes. So the upgrading from the Business to the First didn’t come into the picture. But when he hand delivered the tickets, he would show up with a variety of airline goodies. An Aerolineas Argentinas backpack, Lufthansa’s weekender sturdy little suitcase and the matching garment bag, KLM’s large ticket sized genuine leather wallet, Pan Am’s classic flight bag, Japan Airline’s poster sized framed world map with the round clocks mounted on the top, showing four time zones across the globe.

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