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Inflight Magazine!

Have you ever wondered why there is a code of conduct specified in certain places?? I have, and used to think that people are generally mature enough to understand and behave accordingly. But, at times when we see someone smoking in a non-smoking area or speaking loudly right under a "silence" signboard, it becomes clear that matured behaviour is uncommon.

As a child I used to believe that people who live in bunglows and drove cars and traveled by flights invariably were good people and are clean and well mannered. On a closer look today, I realize that I lived my childhood in a bubble. Now during my numerous trips by flight I study the in-flight behaviour and feel that each person has to undergo training to understand flight travel and sometimes it becomes embarrassing if scenes are created in a foreign airline.

Certain general conceptions people have about airtravel are:

  • we are privileged because we can afford airtravel!
  • We know about the in flight behaviour better that the flight attendant.
  • The flight is a children's playground.
  • Say no to water and have liquor instead (anyway it is free!)
  • Getting the food we want (after all we have paid for it)
  • Flight is an extension of a train - share home made food with everyone.
  • Hassle the flight attendant because it is our birth right!
Although the above list may sound exaggerated, honestly it is not so. I have personally been witness to numerous incidents that amuse me and at the same time worry me because we seem to potray such bad image of our country. People sometimes forget during international travel every individual represents this vast country and should make every effort to be at his best behaviour. Sadly, I hardly see it happen.

Sometimes it surprises me when even before the flight takes off, people open food packets after packets and especially 'haldirams ' and litter the entire seat and the nearby area. If you happen to travel with such people, it embarrasses you and you should only pray that the food is not offered to you. I also fail to understand people who endlessly call home to inform - once from airport (& mostly to the person who has just seen him off), once from the phone after customs and once inside the flight look for a person who can lend a mobile phone for him to call!! I wonder if people will ever learn to draw that line!!

There are others who speak endlessly over the mobile phone just after boarding. This person either wants himself noticed or wants to let everyone know about his fashion accessory called the mobile phone or wants the entire world to know about his conversation. There are times when you are forced to listen to such conversations and you get to wonder - why this should happen to you especially if you were planning to have a good & peaceful flight!!

During one such flight journey, we had decided well in advance that we needed some good sleep (to get over the jet lag). Little did we realize that there was much more in store for us. It so happened that a fellow passenger behind our seat was indulging in his new found freedom (or perhaps he had never seen/had liquor before). As the liquor took on him, his voice became louder and we were forced to listen to his monologue about his travel to various parts of the world, about how he was robbed in Paris, his airport experience in Helsinki and how X airline is better than Y airline and the present flight he was traveling was S____! This was inspite of the fact that the flight attendant had walked upto him when ever he beeped for her!! In deed, some people really misunderstand "Freedom being the birth right!" He went on till we were forced to ask him to shut up!

Many small incidents in life gives you a lesson and many of them just leave a deep impact on you. I was once reading this short column in the newspaper about how in the Singapore Airlines, the staff is trained to handle the Indian passengers. My first reaction was no doubt anger. Are we born with such traits that one needs special skills for us - was what going on in my mind. Further, on reading that column, I realized that most staff hated to be on a Indian bound flight and the Indian sector was considered "tough zone". This further angered me - are we so bad?

This short column always ring in my mind and I always wonder why we are the way we are. I mean, why cant we be a little nicer to other people?? In fact, truth like they say is bitter and truly enough from my numerous flight trips what I read in the column is true! Although it angers me - the fact remains that we behave so badly in the flights that at times, it just puts us in shame.

There are people who think that the flight is a playground for children. They let their children free to wander (and worry other passengers). One look from you will only get them to say -"they are after all children". I never understand why ten people have to put up with one child and I am equally surprised with parents giving in to all the demands made by the child - like to sit in another seat, run around, shout/cry and not being seated while landing or take off!! It has so happened once that in spite of requesting many times, the parents were unable to get the child in the seat with the seat belt!! When the flight attendant herself tried, the child was in screams. Why cant parents take complete responsibility of the child ?

I agree that child behaviour is not understandable but what about child-like behaviour? Once, there was this man who kept on with his demand . He wanted some Indian food in the flight. When the flight attendant told him that he had not specified so in his ticket and therefore, she could not help it, he got angry. He went on about the money he had paid for the ticket and condemned them for their behaviour (that of not being able to cater to his choice!) and shouted so badly that serving of food for other passengers was delayed! He went on and was so angry that he actually stood on the seat of the fight and shouted. Now, if this is not bad behaviour then, I don't know what is. The crew then came and apologized to him and asked him to sit down as he was disturbing his fellow passengers. But, I fail to understand why some people think that every place in the world is an extension of the world and that they can behave however they want!

There are some people who think that open display of affection to their country is very melodramatic. There was once a lady who thought she was a good singer and kept on singing "I love my India" so loudly till the flight touched Bombay airport! Such display of patriotic fervour really gets me wondering because as I don't join with her in her singing , I doubt if I am patriotic enough! But, does everyone really need to know her feelings for her country especially when some people suffer from ear pain during the severe drop in air pressure! Well, it really does not call for that kind of music!

I should however definitely confess that these people do contribute to the entertainment which is so needed during the long journeys like the lady who does not hesitate to ask you for lipstick (as she has hers in the suitcase which she cant take out). Without any probing she gives you the story about she meeting her husband after a very long time and from nowhere will come the sindoor and the bindis and suddenly she will look the Indian Woman!! Of course, these people provide with the much needed comic relief. After all we need that spice in life and that is precisely why we remain the way we are - not in the least wanting to change!!!

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