No longer is it a novelty to fly in our country. Flying has become a part of our ‘desi’ culture these days. And sure enough, the ruckus that we Indians create in the skies is quite similar to the cacophonous entertainment that we churn out on train journeys!
One reason for the surge in the number of flyers is clearly the affordability factor. Middle class India seems to have sorted out its expense parameters and prioritised its finances. Eating out, buying new clothes and flying off to sundry places are doable activities for today’s Indian. Earlier generations used to indulge only infrequently in such ‘inanities’!
The remarkable part is that many flyers today are the elderly sorts who are in evidence at airports in sizable numbers. Whether on a wheelchair or holding their own with a walking stick, they are able to get around with panache.
On a recent trip my wife found that an elderly lady appeared uncertain while checking in. She was behind her in the queue and offered to help. The senior citizen was rather appalled at this and insisted on announcing that she was a frequent flyer who knew her way around. She even chided my wife later for lazing about even though boarding had been announced. To top it all, the younger lady was coerced into listening to numerous stories of her travels, throughout the flight.
Another sort is the disruptive air traveller. He picks up the wrong bag from the baggage belt. The same confusion-creator will have dropped his boarding pass somewhere during security check. He is also the one who will have ‘objectionable’ items in his cabin baggage, including guava juice, preening scissors and camera batteries that leak!
The one who clicks unendingly will also be around. He will keep taking pictures at the terminal and in flight until his phone finally groans and declares that the storage space available is woefully too low!
Yet another category is the ogling sort. This one will stare at all the lady passengers until it is time to board. He will then stare at the pursers throughout the flight. And he will ogle ad nauseum while standing near the baggage collection belt.
The one who takes the cake however is the one who flies high all the time, whether airborne or on terra firma. One such fellow was heard admonishing an attendant at the check in counter for poor service, poor cleanliness at the airport, poor quality baggage tags and pretty much poor ‘everything else’!
So much so that the poor girl at the counter could no longer handle his suited-booted diatribe and got up from her chair to wallop him across his right ear with gusto and verve! The man’s inflated ego crash-landed firmly as a result and he seethed with anger but the mood of the audience was clearly pro-poor! One does not know if the lass lost her job as a result. She probably did, but she gained a few admirers instantaneously for sure.