Yesterday I flew from Madras (sorry but we NRIs living in a time warp, still call it that…) to Abu Dhabi.
The flight is most inconveniently timed to depart at 4:45am. Which means someone living far far away must leave home max by 2am. Now that’s ok, if its a man or a family, but should a woman be travelling alone….? In India? with luggage, laptop, thirumangalyam, kids…. Well lets just say it defeats logic.
Anyway that was not the reason for this rant. I for one love to travel. I love the time I spend at airports waiting to get a boarding pass (I travel stand-by, you see) or picking up people. But its the human story that unfolds in front of me that I love… like people bidding farewell, what is going on in their minds, when receiving someone, the joy of seeing a loved one and the joy of a hug from someone you care about. Sometimes its a business meeting that they are arriving for, the uncertainty mixed with apprehension the adrenaline rush of mental preparation of a business case or a presentation etc. Its fun, and I love it!
So coming back to the story at the airport. In the queue in front of me was a girl in her mid twenties, managing a trolley with a couple of bulging suitcases, an infant in a Kapoochee and a hyperactive toddler who seemed to think of the stroller as a redundant piece of machinery. She stood in a queue for almost 20 minutes managing all this to get her boarding pass. Finally I saw her relieved look as she walked in to do her customs clearance with just a handbag, a carryon bag on wheels and two children. She looked stressed but the pretty little thing managed to walk into the check in counter with plenty of time to spare so she could change diapers, possibly feed the older one and sit for a little bit before boarding the plane. I was clearly impressed though a thought crossed my mind as I wondered, if someone had offered to help her and she had declined. But I let that pass mentally blessing her a safe journey.
Scene – 2. 10 minutes before the ‘BUSINESS CLASS’ counter closed, a VVIP cricketer (whom I shall not name as I did respect him till yesterday) walks in with his daughter’s passport to get her a boarding pass. (For regular people this is not allowed. We must show up at the counter along with the passport.) Five people (I kid you not) ,including the duty manager, helped him with the paper formalities. A loader, Customer Service Manager and the duty Manager then escorted this cricketer to his waiting wife and daughter and her young nine month old baby. She had clearly been educated overseas. The loader loaded her bags, the customer service manager took her passport and boarding pass and proceeded to the check-in counter, all this while her mother carried the baby and she bid everyone farewell. When she did get on her way she put the wailing baby in a stroller! Well…. this royal treatment continued till she got in the plane, been given the prestigious 1 A seat!
I was watching this whole scenario unfold in front of me. I felt as much pride and care for the first little girl as I felt disgust for this ‘born with the silver spoon’ young one. But what appalled me was this larger than God status that cricketers have in our country. Once again I would have no problem with that either as long as they didn’t take advantage of it. Why? Why should he walk in 10 minutes before counters close when every man and his dog knows that you are expected to be there at least three hours before the flight? For how long will our country bend rules, for cricketers, film stars and white?!!?!? Why should a person who follows rules be treated as a second citizen? Across the globe, stars, sportspeople have been held in awe… but no where else does this kind of sycophancy happen or tolerated… and for what good joy?!?!?
I am home now, jet lagged and contemplating on the goings on… I wonder if I am the only one that feels this way, or is there more of you who feel as strongly. Can we do something to make ourselves heard? Isn’t it because the common man does not throw a fit, that he is treated this way? Why should I as a common man be penalised for his popularity? Should you have been in my place, how many of you would have raised your voice against this favouritism and injustice? Let’s talk