Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A diary entry from an airplane

Aboard a Delhi bound 2 hour flight, I am realising that flying in an airplane, unless you are flying one yourself, can be a really boring experience. You are strapped to your seat, forbidden from using your phone, forced to eat meagre portions of sick, gut wrenching food and above all, expected to behave yourself. You could also find yourself in the company of extremely gifted people who can make you choose an abrupt end to your life over bearing their company for a couple of hours.

To add to your misery, the in-flight crew bombards you with information that is both trivial and, at times, hard to believe:

Information 1:  Lesson on how to tie your seat belt. I think the idea is just to embarrass large people. The next time you fly, watch out for the slight, sinister smile on the air hostesses' face when they talk about the option of an extended belt.

Information 2: Some stuff about oxygen masks appearing suddenly from somewhere. I always wonder if they allude to God when they say that the masks would drop from somewhere above.

Information 3: How to stay afloat when the plane lands on water. Yeah, that's the message about those life jackets 'supposedly' under your seats. I'd rather believe that wings would sprout out of my back when it's time to jump. And don't get me started on the 'floating cushions’.

Information 4: Something about emergency exits, essentially to tell you where to jump out from in case of emergency.

Information 5: What all is available to eat on board. Probably, the only real deal.

The most disquieting of all though, is hearing the captain of your flight talk to you over the plane’s PA system. The pilots, with their characteristic drawl, can give you a sense of their absolute lack of interest in flying the plane. I have a strong suspicion that if I sneaked into the cockpit somehow, I would find the pilots playing a game of Chinese Chequers while an excited, wide eyed, air hostess is trying her hand at flying the aircraft. Confirming this fear is probably the reason I haven’t attempted the cockpit mission yet.

Truly speaking, being an optimist that I am, I could make myself comfortable with this possibility. Maybe, it’s good that excited air hostesses are the ones flying us around and not Rocco, the manic chimp. But even if that’s the case and one were to agree that pilots are there simply to reassure us and to keep us all from jumping off planes in panic, I can’t argue enough on the uselessness of the random pieces of information they push to us from the comforts of their cockpits:

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking from the flight deck. We are flying at a height of 13000 meters”.  

There isn’t a fathomable reason why a set of people, none of whom, I presume, treat an airplane ride as a means to get high, should know this. I can’t imagine someone getting upset if the plane weren’t as high up in the sky- “Hey, this airline sucks! I just checked- we’re just 10000 meters high. Take me couple of thousand meters up or I am jumping off this piece of junk!”

“We are cruising at a speed of 850 kms per hour”.

There were times when I felt like getting up from my seat and going – “Woot Woot!”, everytime I heard the captain make that announcement but the enthusiasm sort of died after I got excited for the 43rd time, without any visible support from my fellow passengers.

“We are flying over the city of Lucknow on to our right

That seems just the kind of information you need to have when you are flying. Think about it, knowing that there’s a certain city, somewhere to your right (or left), is cool. It gives you the opportunity to tell a friend you haven’t met for a while in true Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings fame) style – “Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at around 5:30 pm, look to the east, up in the sky, and I shall wave at you from my window seat- 25 A”

An air hostess just passed by my seat. She was pushing a food trolley and I watched it with dreamy eyes and a slightly open mouth, like a wonderstruck man. The reason I find food trolleys so interesting, besides the obvious fact that they carry a lot of food, is that it seems like real fun to move them around. It is one of my wildest desires to run with a loaded food trolley up and down the aisle at an adventurous speed, at least once in this lifetime.

The captain has announced that we'd be landing soon. Lights are off, window shades have been opened and seat backs are upright. The gentleman sitting next to me has promptly shut down his laptop and opened a thin booklet that looks like a religious text. I am guessing, he knows about the excited, wide eyed, air hostess in the cockpit. I too, must pray.

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  1. That is a crackling piece on flights and I agree whole-heartedly on all of your observations including the one on air-hostesses playing flight-flight! :D

    1. Thanks Umashankar..had been feeling an urge to write on this subject for a while now :D

  2. :):D amazingly wonderful piece..thoroughly enjoyed:):D

  3. You really like food trolleys? Doesn't it irritate you that they block up the aisles just when you want to go for a stroll? Someone needs to invent a floating food tray that hovers over the aisle like a magic carpet.

    1. What can I say ? I am just too tempted by the idea of running with one .. Guess it's got to do with my primate instincts :p


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