One of the first things you notice while disembarking a domestic flight in Europe or the US is the lack of jostling and heckling by your fellow travellers. Being Indian it’s disconcerting not having someone smash an elbow in your eye or raise an odorous armpit to your face while scrambling for luggage in the overhead bin. There’s no friendly abusive banter with co-passengers, convinced that you are somehow impeding their exit from the aircraft.
In mid-air, the quietude is distressing as no one is belching, farting or singing full throttle while listening to thumping Bollywood beats. Even foreign babies bawl at low decibel levels and do not shriek and run amuck the way robust desi children do.
The sights, and particularly the smells, of the motherland are dolefully absent on international flights. No aromatic curry odours or fragrant feet to remind you of your home, far away. What’s galling is that hardly anyone throws half-eaten food in the aisle. Absolutely no one takes off their slipper and threatens to thrash the brazen flight attendant for telling them to fasten their seat belt. Seldom does a VIP keep a flight waiting a full hour, thereby defeating the very rationale of becoming a VIP. Nobody ever rants and raves about getting the pilot sacked for attempting to depart on time. Where is that stalwart MP Pappu Yadav when you really need him?
Truth be told, one much prefers the food on international airlines that a Michelin chef conjures up to the same consistency and flavour as the Styrofoam cup that accompanies the meal. The unsmiling, unwelcoming stewardess doesn’t show you to your seat but firmly puts you in your place. Woe betides the passenger who requests a glass of water. He will be icily rebuked or roundly ignored, following airline protocol of dehydrating all passengers. It’s such a treat buying overpriced alcohol aboard these flights. The wines are so young and fresh that they may as well have been bottled yesterday. Speaking of bottles, you always have the option of urinating into one while the aircraft is taking off, like
Gallic matinee idol Gerard Depardieu did recently. Only the French have such savior faire!
This is the golden age of travel, where we fly the friendly skies with aplomb. We may be crowded into cattle class but are never sheepish. Rather we are a loud, proud nation of intrepid travellers and we carry our culture and our cuisine wherever we go. Watch out world, because we are coming this summer, on a packaged tour, to a country near you.
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