I have realized that I am not the only threat my family can offer to pretty air hostesses. My mother is far better at grounding the careers of air hostesses.
Not so long ago, my mother and I traveled from Delhi to Madurai – changing flights at Chennai – and I must tell you that traveling with my mother is a harrowing experience.
“Mommy, we are traveling by the 12 noon Indigo Airlines flight to Chennai and then taking the 2.30 p.m. Indigo Airlines to Madurai,” I remarked in the morning.
“What? Why?” My mom`s tone suggested that she had been betrayed.
“You sound betrayed.” I wasn’t sure if it was to be a question or a statement.
The tough mother that she was, she didn`t respond. She started sulking.
When I was wondering what had gone wrong, my wife Rekha came to my rescue. She told me that my mother had already experienced Jet Airways and Spicejet and had been looking forward to The Kingfisher Experience this time. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the story of good times. Before Vijay Mallaya was grounded.
Let me be honest, we Rajans are not used to air travel. We are one of the many Indian families whose standard of living has been linked to the IT revolution in India – which means the first of us traveled by air for the first time only in 2005.
I remember when we were kids and moving from city to city (my father being a patriotic army man) traveling by a 2nd class train compartment was a luxury. It was so much a luxury that during summer vacations father planned train trips to nearby places, and after getting off at the destination we would change the platforms to catch our train back. While it was a means to a destination for all others, for us the train it self was the destination.
My mother and I were the first to enter the 12 noon Indigo flight to Chennai. After the other passengers had settled in, my mother took me by surprise by getting up and shouting at the nearest air hostess: “You there! Don`t you give wet towels like the Jet Airways?”
The air hostess was shocked but did well to let out a smile. To avoid embarrassment, I immediately got up and left for the washroom.
When I came back, I passed the air hostess who was helping my mother and I heard her say: “Is the passenger sitting next to you, your mother?”
I couldn`t say no, so without looking at my mother, I replied: “I am sorry, I don`t know which passenger you are referring to.”
“The lady that wants three wet towels for her granddaughter at home,” said the pretty damsel. I didn`t look at the air hostess but I was sure she was smiling at me.
The journey was pretty uneventful till my mother wanted to use the washroom. She went in, and came out within two minutes complaining that there was no water in the potty. “What kind of service does Indigo Airlines provide? There is no water in there.”
Before anybody could respond she dug deep into her traveling experience and said: “Way back in the late 70s the long distance, steam-engine driven trains used to have such water problems. But I definitely didn`t expect this from Indigo Airlines.”
By now, my mother had caught the attention of all the passengers. Two of them were even taking photographs (Instagramers, perhaps).
I walked up to my mother and explained that none of the airplane potties had water. And that it operated on vacuum and all one had to do was press the ‘Flush` button.
“Are you saying that when the ‘Flush` button is pressed, all the crap gets sucked and thrown out of the airplane?” Now my mom was being louder than before.
To end the conversation, I said: “Yes! Now will you please get into the washroom again?”
But my mom had other ideas. She turned towards the cabin crew and asked them in a Headmistress like tone: “What if some of the crap falls on somebody`s head? Wouldn`t the guy feel miserable?”
I gently reminded my mom that that`s exactly the way it happened in the trains – her favorite mode of travel. The crap fell out of the train and was always left behind on the gravel (in the case of kids, some stuck on to the bums).
My mom could be demanding in her requirements but she certainly saw reason when there was one for she shrugged her shoulders and went into the washroom a satisfied lady.
Just that when we landed in Madurai, she said: ‘One can`t be too careful when a plane passes by.”
I didn’t say a word.
Seeing her opportunity my mother continued, “I am sure Kingfisher Airlines handles its shit much better.”
I wish I knew back then how wrong my mother was going to be.