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Updated: April 10, 2011 01:23 IST

Fasten your seat belt … and pray

Dr. Philip Unman
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The Hindu

I have the window seat this time. Get into the flight quickly, stash away my cabin carrier and buckle my seat belt. Around me I can see a few passengers, tentative with their seat belts, tension writ large on their faces. Maiden flight must be. The others are pros, almost as if they know the routine like the back of their hands. Soon the captain welcomes all and then the airhostesses get to their routine. Plastic smiles, arms flailing they talk about emergency exit routes, floatation devices and what not in accents that no Indian can understand. And after the first few flights, none bothers about that because now they are also pros. But suddenly you can ignore it no longer.

What with fake pilots on the loose in the jumbos. Don't know whether you will land in one piece. Was it not John Denver who sang, “Leaving on a Jet Plane, don't know when I will be back…” (Words that could not be truer, considering his death in an air crash). Not exactly the song you would like to listen to while taking off.

What exactly is the country coming to?

Just think of the difficulty in getting a driving licence on your own. If however, one goes to a driving school to get a four-wheeler licence, one can for an additional fee get a two-wheeler licence also, irrespective of whether one knows how to ride the vehicle. Agents are there to oil the necessary areas. There is nothing in India that cannot be done by these agents and with a little help from the paper “Gandhi.” What a sorry state of affairs. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil was his credo. Poor Gandhiji must be turning in his grave. Now that we have a symbol for the rupee, maybe we can remove his face from that paper and let him rest in peace.

For those of us who have forgotten, the explosives for the Mumbai blasts of 1993 were brought in by paying off the customs agents. Once they saw the money, they closed their eyes until the blasts shook them out of their reverie. Are we waiting for a repeat of the same? But this time the terror will be home-grown. 9/11 was terror from the skies. This scam looks like a repeat, only a hundred times magnified. I buckle my seat belt a bit tighter. A silent prayer rises from my lips.

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