What’s the most unlikely person you’ve ever struck a friendship with?

Steven Spielberg, although I’m sure he doesn’t remember.

Once while traveling, I flew into LaGuardia Airport, I believe. No bags showed up on the carousel. The entire flight was there waiting for suitcases and a long time passed. I was dressed in an unusual way because I was just returning from several months in India. The baggage claims people told everyone not to wait, there was “some hold up.” We waited more.

A lady with short blond hair, jewelry and a cigarette in a cigarette holder (cigarettes were allowed on airplanes and terminals in those days) approached me. She asked if I knew what was happening with the suitcases. I told her what I knew.

Out of the blue she asked, “Have you ever been to India?” Well one of the connecting flights I was on was from India and I just came from India. So I replied, “Yes, of course. I even speak a little Hindi.”

She said, “Oh my. How interesting! Would you like to meet Steven Spielberg?”

I said, “Who’s that?” and the cigarette holder almost fell from her lips.

She said, “You don’t know who Steven Spielberg is? He’s the one that made the movie E.T. You have seen E.T., haven’t you?”

I replied honestly, “No, but he sounds like an important person.”

She said, “Wait here and a minute later I was standing before Steven Spielberg and another woman with black hair (who I later found out was his wife).”

We talked for 5 or 10 minutes. He told me he liked me because I neither knew who he was nor cared and not seen any of his movies. (I have since seen all the Spielberg movies.) He said he was making a movie about India and liked the fact that I was just coming from there. He asked me a bunch of cultural questions about the people of India, especially rural India.

The movie he was making was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He did not tell me that. I just figured it out later.

That’s the most unlikely person I ever met, purely by chance. We were, for 5 or 10 minutes, friends, calling each other by first name. Never spoke to him again.

Spielberg got a bad name from the Indian/Asian community after making that movie, for which he regretted, I am told.

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