Air India! Not Again!

I had never imagined that one goes through so many adjustments when in air. The incidents that I faced on an Air India flight left me saying not again. It was a domestic carrier that took off from Kolkata.

After getting my boarding passes and clearance I headed for the aircraft. The moment I stepped aboard, I was welcomed with a traditional Indian namaskar, with folded hands, and lots of warmth. In India we bow down with folded hands as a sign of respect, which we call namaskar. But the shocking part is that, the attendants of the flight gave me a damn, simply folded their hands, twisted their necks at right angle towards each other and shared a titter, a remainder of a joke from the last flight.

The next moment an attendant came to serve me, sweeteners and mouth fresheners, frowned at me when I tried to get both. That was an indication to me “hey young man this is all the government’s money”.

Then what? I moved on and acquired my sit. But I found that the seat was even in a poorer condition. It resembled a bus seat that can take you to R K Narayan’s Malgudi. You sit for a while and then the plane takes off. You are advised to tie up your seat belts. The two ends meet each other, but to do that you have to try out your luck. And finally you are into the blues. Looking out of the windows thinking whether it is THE BAY OF BENGAL or the blue sky might seem you interesting, but that doesn’t last long, when you realize that you are at an altitude of 16000 feet.

An hour of the journey and you want to have a look at the news paper. You have to share it with your co-passengers since they are out of stock. The next moment witnesses the opening of the culinary Pandora’s box. The whole aircraft is filled with the sweet smell of Indian deep fried potatoes. The attendants serve you breakfast with a look that says “khana hai to khao, varna bhaad main jaao”.  You take the food which smells good, but you discover that all these years your assumption of the relation between smell and taste is completely wrong. You conclude that taste has nothing to do with smell. You try to consume the fruit juice that tastes like Disprin. Potatoes are out of the preference since you do not want to face an awkward situation.

The doors of the cockpit were never locked. One could easily watch the actions going on inside the cockpit. I really faced some embarrassing situations. Smelling farts was something that was too common in the compartments of Indian railways, but on the flight. It was Air of an Indian in Air India. It was too hard to believe that I was on a flight. I just can’t even look out of the window. Forget fresh air.

The captain announces to tie up the seat-belts due to some turbulence on board. The food container got unlocked and started hitting the base of it, creating a sound similar to tapping of a table. It was just unbearable to see such a sight. Twenty minutes later there was a conflict between a man and an attendant. Plane was in an unbalanced position and the man’s little kid wanted to visit the loo. The kid was in a state of ambiguity. The toilet for the passengers was packed, and the child was growing impatient. Unable to bear it anymore the man headed straight towards the toilet meant for the crew members. Seeing the urgency, the attendant allowed the kid to use the toilet.
The next minute I witnessed an exchange of words of wrath from both sides. The child had soiled the carpet of the toilet. Sensing the emergency of the situation an attendant applied her crisis management skills. I was sitting at the first row. The attendant came to me and asked me for the newspaper. Tore two pages out of it and covered the whole toilet with it, thinking that it will act as tissue.

The very next moment there was an announcement to fasten seat belts as the flight was going to land. It landed safely. While I was walking down the flight I checked if there were any peanut shells as they are found on a railway compartment. Luckily there were none, but covers of candies replaced it. That was a flight with Air India.

Truly Indian!

Soumya Pratihari

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