Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Unravel the Travel (part 2)

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

Another secret is, sometimes unintended and sometimes intentional sneaking into conversations that you pick while on travel. The most common, of course, is when people are talking on their handheld phones. My guess is, some of them actually want people to listen to their highly strategic and seemingly intelligent conversations with their office rookies. Some though, become oblivious to the fact that there are people around who may be hearing their highly confidential ideas and innovations and sometimes their deep, dark and hidden secrets.

Picking from where I so effortlessly diverted in part 1; my recent travel happened to be a 0600 hrs morning flight. Naturally, I was late. I cursed my luck, the cab guy, the security guard, the boarding-pass counter lady and anyone I could see or recollect in my mind. Moreso, the boarding-pass counter lady. So what I was late, she knew I was coming, right? My name was there on her list of passengers. She could not keep one window seat for me. Actually, forget window seat, I got the worst seat possible; aisle seat of the last row of seats. I knew at that moment I was going to have a very loo-usy trip. Five minutes into take off and I started hearing sounds of flush, continuously, for the next half an hour. But soon my stinky times were also flushed away. 

Lady luck shone one me. I should say, ladies!! The air hostesses came to my rescue. No, they didn’t change my seat. Once the initial formalities of the staff and then the usual morning chores of passengers were over, everyone settled down. The air hostesses went back to their waiting zone and settled too. And then they started talking! Initially, I was sleepy so was not really interested in their conversation. There was a small turbulence in the air and the subsequent announcement by the Captain took away my sleep. Slowly, their conversations started becoming more audible. Now, I made a real effort into eavesdropping.  Once, for a moment, I turned around casually to have a look at these lovely ladies. And that is when I realized that it’s not easy having all your meals of the day standing/sitting outside a loo. I started appreciating them a little more. But their conversation was hilarious!

From where I gave my concentration to it, one hostess was cursing her boss/shift supervisor who makes the schedule. Apparently, she has been on flights for the last 76 hours! The other exclaimed, “no wonder, you are having your brownie with sauce!” The first hostess sounded really pissed off and mentioned that she has already complained this to the Manager. Now, the Manager wanted some “extra stuff” from a city she was supposed to visit. She denied helping him. Manager denied helping her! She finally used the F word. Just then, one of the hostesses’ who had gone to serve a passenger returned and blurted the F word too! She just said one sentence, “why do I only get passengers who fly with their fly open?” Even I could not help laughing along with them. There were chuckles, when the third hostess started off against parents and relatives. Her parents want her to visit relatives in the city she lands after a flight schedule. Her worry was, “they expect gifts every time!” They think duty free means free gifts on duty!!” 

Sometimes, life can make you smile without a reason. I had no reason to listen to them. But I did. And I smiled. While getting down, I thanked them. Probably, for the first time, genuinely.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Unravel the Travel (part 1)

(will be a travel trilogy after a great tryst with people on the move)

″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi

I go a step further. I eavesdrop on conversations too! It not only helps me while away some waiting and travel time.  It also gives me a perspective about people, the world and life. Some are new perspectives. Many observations (and sneak peeks) change existing view points.  

Not that I travel too much. Infact, come to think of it, I had not travelled at all in the last 3-4 months. It was getting mundane. I was not getting new perspectives! Thank God for this wedding invite from a relative, tickets were booked. My family travelled ahead of me. I joined them a week later. (There are observations, sneak peeks and whispers on the pre-wedding, planned rituals and post-wedding camaraderie. More dope on it, once my travel hangover is over.)

One very common perception which people carry – one of the most glamorous jobs is that of an air hostess. Pretty uniforms to wear, beautiful destinations to roam, classy hotels to stay in and to top it all, a huge bank transfer at the month end just to look good and pretty! Well, Mr. Goyal “jetted” careers and Mr. Mallaya as a king, fished out a lot of talent, until “Air of India” started stinking, again. I carried this perception for a fairly long time. And then, I started observing.

You curse your luck for the 0600 am fight, curse the cab driver for coming late because you woke up late and then gave him wrong directions to your place, curse the security guard at the airport for stopping you which is his duty because you are late, curse the boarding pass counter lady for not keeping a window seat for you because you are late and curse the entire population at the security check in gates who are there to catch one of their 0600 am flights and cursing you as part of their late coming plan. Airline staff cannot be late, ever. There will be a guard, always. There will be someone at the counter to hand you your boarding pass, someone to keep your check in baggage, someone to securely check you in, always. There will always be a smiling air hostess welcoming you on the flight. An air hostess cannot be late.

Not to forget, the usual time that this air hostess would take after waking up to look that fresh, stunning and pretty at 0600 am, reach the airport and start smiling to welcome some ugliest of the people. The hostess would give instructions and then try her best to make the same persons understand repeatedly and again and again the importance of switch off mobile phones even after take-off, safety belts, keeping tray tables upright, straighten back rests, and not walk to the loo when “Your Captain” has already announced (slight or major) turbulence. Ofcourse, they have to control (s)lap worthy proposals with a smile from the arrogant and wealthy, avoid the (un)intentional elbow of the aisle seat friendly uncle or simple looking man sitting, sell and serve food, clean your trash and also come running to you because you don’t know which switch to press to switch on the reading light. And mind it, most of all the things she is responsible for, as observed, are performed at atleast 30000 feet above sea level.

If you can balance your body weight, mental state, verbal responses and the tray in your hand, while I observe you top to bottom; I think you are beautiful and deserve a sitting ovation while you tell me, “in case of emergency, there are four exits, two in the front……. “ .