At my Cairo pit stop, I wrote in my blog entry about how I was feeling conspicuous without the head scarf that most female workers at this airport were wearing. After I left the internet cafe, I finally got back my passport, walked into the boarding area, and there, sitting amidst a sea of dark-skinned men, was someone who was probably feeling far more conspicuous than I -- a Western-style bride, in full white regalia: long white dress, long white train, white flowers in her hair, and clutching a bouquet of fresh flowers. I watched the men all do double-takes and grin slyly as they'd catch sight of her.
I've probably been on a couple hundred planes at this point, so I've seen the full range of passengers-- the drunk and belligerent men, the vomiting, screaming children, white-knuckled passengers clutching their seatbelts, men whose legs and arms spill over (intentionally or not) into the seats around them. But a full-blown bride - this was a first for me!
On this Cairo to Saudi Arabia leg of the journey, where the vast majority of the passengers were males, she and I appeared to be the only two females traveling alone.
I was dying to know her story (and of course, get a picture!), but she was reading an Arabic paper and didn't seem to speak English, so I was left only with my imagination:
--Did she just get married, and had a plane to catch immediately, and no time for a clothes change?
--Did the airline lose her luggage with her change of clothing, and this was all she had available?
--Did she get cold feet at the altar, and was fleeing the country?
--Was she/he in drag? (Can you get through immigration that way?)
--Was she just a model, modeling bridal attire? (That was the theory of the passenger sitting next to me.)
--Was there a groom anxiously awaiting her at the other end?
--Was he expecting her to look this way, or was this to be a surprise?
--Was he perhaps equally spiffed up, and they were about to have an airport wedding?
--Was she trying to impress her new in-laws who would be meeting her for the first time at the airport?
--Or even (because I was in my paranoid Cairo mode), maybe she was really a terrorist, posing as a bride?? (How would it look for someone to be frisking a blushing bride, eh?)
I had heard of mail-order brides, but I never pictured them as being "no-assembly required," just walk off the plane and straight into a wedding ceremony!
She got off at the Saudi Arabia stop, still looking fresh as a daisy. I really wanted to follow her out and watch her story unfold, but the rest of us who were continuing to Mumbai were told to remain on the plane during the hour-long stopover.
I'll always wonder what happened to the mail-order bride...