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Indians branded as poor travellers? Consider the reality on the ground

If you are a frequent flyer you know the routine. Your flight is at 3.30 a.m. You call it ‘early morning’ and not ‘late night’ just to pacify yourself. You have plans to take a good, long nap after dinner before leaving. But once you lie down you have mentally packed and unpacked the bags a couple of times, and as soon as you drift into a shallow slumber you have had the nightmare that you forgot to select your seat online and will now end up in the middle row. You wake up with a jerk, only to realise that it was not a nightmare after all!

Now it’s already too late to select seats online, so you stay awake waiting for your cab while your family is fast asleep. You are thinking you will take a nap in the cab on the way to airport, but God, just let the cab find my house! But God can’t help you much if your address is No. 32, 2nd Cross, 1st Main, II Stage, Bannerghatta Road. But you are hopeful that once the cab is on the 1st Main you can easily guide him to your house. And then just a few minutes before the scheduled pick- up the driver calls you and says: ‘Hello? … Banner... what?’

After negotiating with the driver in three different languages, finally you get into the cab. And just when you thought you can relax, the Schumacher in the driver wakes up. The guy is clearly new to the city because he doesn’t know the locations of any potholes that are typically used as landmarks while giving directions.

The ride

Such drives remind me of that scene in the movie Speed where they accelerate the bus to jump over a gap in the freeway. Here this driver tries to use each pothole as a launch point to avoid the next three. At least the passengers in that bus had Sandra Bullock for driver!

By the time you reach the gate after collecting your middle-row boarding pass you are tired, sleepy and hungry. You go to the gate and sit on the waiting chair. Those chairs designed to consciously avoid any sense of comfort! I am sure the retail shop owners at the airport have a strong lobby to ensure no one is comfortable sitting in those chairs. They may want everyone to be forced to walk around shopping.

The big freeze

Eventually when you board you realise how cold it is! All the airlines manage to keep the temperature just warm enough to not freeze you. They do give a blanket that covers a third of your body. After take-off, you are served with your dinner (Or breakfast? Depends on whether if you are leaving at 2.30 or 3.30) which is perfectly heated to ensure uneven heating.

Amid the clouds

Now you are looking out at a great view of clouds at thirty thousand feet from the window (partially blocked by the guy at the window seat who is using it to support his miniature pillow) and trying to find answers to two philosophical questions – What’s the meaning of life? And when do I take a duke? You know the golden hour for using the lavatory is just after dinner. If you leave it for later, just before landing, you are not going to find the state of affairs very conducive inside the lav.

Now you are just trying to console yourself saying this ordeal is going to end soon. But you know that’s not the case because this is first and shortest of the three connections that you have.

Then you tell yourself – well, at least the whole purpose of making this trip and going through this pain is all worthwhile. That’s when you think of the office work for which you are travelling and now the only thing you want is – a lot of beer!

And the world complains why Indians are such poor travellers.

 

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:12:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/indians-branded-as-poor-travellers-consider-the-reality-on-the-ground/article14495998.ece1

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