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Inflight Turbulence

Nov 24 2013, 10:50 IST
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SummaryIndians love breaking rules when flying.

Indians love breaking rules when flying

I wish I could start this column with the disclaimer that this is not yet another rant against the Ugly Indian Traveller. But it is. And if you consider it impolite that I am repeating myself, allow me to justify that I am belabouring a point that demands a recap. You see, it isn’t so much about what happens on an airplane. The general chaos and obnoxiousness that ensues when flight doors are locked is an example of how careless we have become about common courtesy. In fact, behind closed doors, we almost exaggerate our disregard.

The strange thing is that none of this is witnessed on the ground. For some odd reason, our flight last Wednesday was delayed. There was no intimation, no information and yet all the passengers took it in their stride. The waiting area was a model of civilisation. Travellers were chatting softly. There were no irate demands for an explanation of the delay. And people calmly referred to the information screen for news. When the 1.30 am flight finally took off at 4 am, trust me, I was itching for a fight (I cannot stay awake all night) but I couldn’t because I was certain I would find no support. I consoled myself with thoughts of a lovely, pleasant flight with a crew full of decent people.

Silly, silly me. As soon as the boarding was announced, all hell broke loose. It was every man for himself and boarding turned into a regular affair of shoving and pushing. There is no one like the Ugly Indian Traveller when it comes to using the elbow as a weapon of torture. No Kevlar vest can protect you from this attack. It doesn’t end there. Once you make your way to your seat, bruised and battered, it’s time to try and squeeze in to sit. Your fellow passenger hates getting up to let you take your seat. So what if she is subject to having your rear end rubbed into her face, she will never budge. Rather foolishly, I imagine, she sees this refusal to move as a victory over you.

Once the boarding is complete, everyone behaves as if the school bell has rung. Imagine a classroom of hyperkinetic children. Now replace that image with balding old men, women in jumpsuits and children in all shapes and sizes. People are jumping over seats, screaming out

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