Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Taking off

Warning : To all those who read the title and were all excited thinking this is a matter post, please spend some time on debonairblog before you get back to read this informative post.

Air travel has become excessively popular these days. There are perhaps more number of airlines in operation today than the number of backward castes in the country, which give us a lot of choice to confuse ourselves and mess it all up. Taking my valuable time off from Orkut, I am trying to throw some light on all these matters in this blog. Throwing light on matters may sound ironical to some, but all like angelic souls would understand my commitment. So let's take off!

Until about 2 years ago, I had no idea as to how it looked inside an aircraft. Although my first travel in an Airbus was in 2002, it did not give any clear picture because it was an SRM college bus, not the one made by Boeing. My first flight was to Bangkok on Thai Airways. Understandably I was keen to look at the airhostess since they were expected to be gumeel figures in international airlines. They were dressed in traditional Thai costume, which consisted of an ulpaavadai, blouse and a kaasi thundu on top. In the dinner they served, only bun and butter were edible, but they were also unlimited, so koocha padaama kaettu mukkinaen :D. And yeah, Thai naatin thaai kulam are not bad :D

One thing I understood during my first flight journey itself is that all of them begin on a note of yezhavu. Immediately after you sit and make yourself comfortable, you hear a voice which says, "Here is what you have to do in case of any unfortunate happenings during the journey". As soon as you see the live demo going on, demonstrating the use of life jackets just in case the aircraft were to land on the sea, you feel like telling them a lot of things including "Un vaai-la phenyl oothi kazhuva", "Un vaai-la dharbai-a poattu posukka" and "Un moonji-la en peechangai-a veikka". Then they serve sweets which no one feels like eating after hearing all the yezhavu talk. Imagine that you are going to the beach on your bike and somebody stops you to say "Just in case accident aagi nee mandai-a podara nilamai vandha bayappadaatha, indha number-ku call panna mortuary van varum. And yeah, indha paal paayasam kudichuttu po, idhukku appuram kudikka nee iruppiyo maatiyo".

I travelled by Indian on my first trip to Mumbai. The name of the aircraft, Indian, was apt - the crew on board consists solely of Indian thathas and paattis. This is actually a smart move by the Indian government to cut costs - since they have to accomodate the crew on board free of cost, they were actually losing out a lot of money. So they decided to recruit only senior citizens - which means they lose less fare. (I am not sure about the authenticity of this, but I am sure our government is capable of such reasoning) Paattis are dressed in saffron to make them look like kollu paattis. The entire flight is lit by a dull light normally used in kattana kazhipparai (pay toilets). They give pretty decent food, but the quantity is so much that they make sure you waste it. Only sincere people like me who treat food wastage as a crime do justice :D

Air Deccan had to be on my list since Mumbai-Chennai takes 24 hrs by train and I am incapable of ignoring mother nature's calls for such a long duration. Luckily they fly an airbus between Chennai and Mumbai, not the ATR which I've always suspected to use a discarded engine from KPN Travels' busses. The aircraft would have cost a couple of lakhs of rupees, and hence the tag 'low cost airline'. The boarding pass is printed on recycled toilet paper and does not contain any useful detail which you might look for; like say, seat numbers. It's free seating. So if you are a pakki looking for a window seat, like me, or a pattikaadu who pronounces aisle as Isil, you need not be embarassed any more. Just carry a turkey towel and throw it on the nearest seat you want and it is reserved for you. For a better flight, make sure your towel lands just behind the emergency exit coz that's approximately where the air hostess figure would demonstrate the yezhavu awareness lessons. Kodutha kaasukku atleast sight adichuttu pogalaam. Not that the airhostess are pretty and all, the consolation is that they are not double your age. So manasaatchi uruthaama you can sight. The Air Deccan flights have a weird air conditioning system - you see a lot of smoke like in Kailasam behind Lord Siva. This I guess is to make the passengers aware that the AC is switched on. Further, if you have no other velai masuru, you can even bid for something on-board (not the hostess). Importantyly - No food. No sweets. No cotton. No water. The hostesses are actually trained to say a stereotypical "Sorry sir, we do not have it on-board". You might probably get the same reply if you ask for the captain. Kodukkara 1000 rupees-ku vada payasathoda saapada poda mudiyum? Ambuttu dhaan.

Go Air, another low cost airline, is similar to Air Deccan. The hostess and stewards are all dressed in dubai pink/green/blue/orange which if you wear on the road, street dogs would chase you to death. The figures are slightly better on this one, but I cannot comment much since the only time I flew Go Air, I slept through the entire journey, refusing even the free water bottle which they give! (Muzhicha appuram romba feel pannaen oasi item miss pannitaen-nu) The flight landed in Mumbai at 2.30 am and there was this terribly long journey of 20 mins to the airport in the bus! I do not know why we travelled for such a long time, but I was wondering if we were thiruttu thanama entering the airport. Enga Mumbai secoority aapeesar kitta "I am Gaja ka dhosth"-nu solla solluvaangalo-nu nenachaen. But appadi endha asambaavithamum nadakkala.

I have not flown on Jet Airways or Kingfisher. If I tell my dad I've booked my tickets on those he'd say, "Onnum vara thevai illa, angaye kada". Pretty expensive, but I've heard the service and all is excellent. Irukkara 1.5 hrs-ku service enjoy panna thripthi irukkathu in any case, so why waste money! But am determined to fly back by Kingfisher once I get placed! I've seen some samples of air hostesses in the airport and I've concluded that Vijay Mallya is one kalaa rasigan. Bloody bugger. All gummel figures only. I'd keep calling the hostess to ask the time when am on-board. Window seat vaenaam, Isil dhaan bestu :D

A few learnings from my kutti experience flying between Chennai and Mumbai.
1) Never sit on the emergency exit or in the last row. The guy in front of you would definitely push his seat back and all you can do is abuse him quietly in a language he does not know.
2) If you are really despo, do something which you are not supposed to do and the hostess will automatically come to you.
3) Do not read the magazine in front of you especially if you are in Air Deccan. It will be filled with recipes and will remind you to be hungry, and on the next page you see that water costs 10 rupees.

Ippo ellam I am and all only the flight flying. Helps me stay in Chennai as long as possible and I can't even think of wasting the time in a train journey. Back in Mumbai after a 17 day stay in Chennai and already planning the next visit! Seekiram padichu mudichu kalyanatha pannikkanum :D

Last blog panna date paatha July 25th. Almost 100 days aachu bledy! Not that I was extremely busy and all, just that I did not know what was happening around to make fun of. So oru starting point-a irukkattum wrote some crap now. Saw Dharmapuri while in Chennai, thalaivar kalakittaru! :D Many good souls mailed/scrapped/smsed me asking me to blog. Very happy-a poodchu. Thanks to all of you. Adjust with this blog for the time being :)

Here is wishing Vidya a happy married life! She's a good friend I earned through blogs. Vidya, un kalyaana saapadu was super di! I doubt if she'd still be reading my blogs after marriage, but still :D

I guess I have polambified enough about what all has been happening. Nextu meet pannaraen :)

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