Saturday, 4 February 2017

Indian Airports Are The New Railway Stations

I was boarding a flight to Kolkata the other day from New Delhi and I had a eureka moment. I was about to join the check in line and I was almost there when this guy pushed me away and took the spot ahead of me. But… Instead of getting pissed off at this uncouth being, I was amused and started smiling. I realised… That we’ve made it. We’ve made airports one of our own. We don’t give a shit anymore. We’ve made the Indian airports the new Indian railway stations!

What I saw in that man was the sheer lack of any inhibition that he was at an airport. Not that one needs to be scared while at an airport but it’s just one of those places where we usually expect our fellow Indians to behave properly. You know, it’s a trait that defines us quite well. Let me give you some examples.

We don’t litter when we’re in a mall but we’ll throw an ice cream wrapper right out the window of our Audi or BMW as soon as we exit the mall. We’ll yell “Aye chhotu! Do chai laga badhiya wali” at a dhaba but say “Bhaaya, do expressos please” at a Starbucks. McDonald’s will always be “Can I have 2 McAloo Tikki burgers please?” but at a chaat wala it’ll be “Bhai tikki mei mirchi kam lekin masala zada rakhiyo aur dahi upar se thodi dalna lekin anaar bilkul nahi dalna aur saunth thodi extra.”

The list goes on… But the point is this – We behave differently at different places.

Till recently, flying was one of those fancy things where we behaved ourselves. With more and more purchasing power and flights becoming cheaper day-by-day, the entire experience is changing. There’s all kinds of pushing and shoving rampant at airports now. Much like our good old railway stations. Given that anyone and everyone is taking a flight these days, this is only a natural consequence.

On one side, I’m glad that flying has become cheaper. It’s a more convenient mode of travel that’s much safer than trains and also much quicker. People are more empowered today and they feel like peers of their western counterparts. On the other hand, I’m just amazed at how quickly we’ve trashed the whole experience of flying. Say what you may, flying on an aeroplane used to be quite fancy and still is, at least for me. But I’m feeling that feeling go away… One flight at a time!

On a flight to Bangkok last year, I saw multiple gangs of lecherous men in their t-shirts and shorts get on our flight ready to just pounce on the strippers at the plentiful go-go bars of Thailand. So much so that they started harassing the airhostess probably because they could not control their urges for even a couple of hours. Never in my life had I ever seen airhostesses yelling at the passengers so bad. I was transported back to primary school.

Look at the airports today. They’re crowded like mad. People are sleeping on floors because all seats are taken no matter what time of the day you’re there. It’s like someone has hired these people to just sit on the seats all day long. There’s always some food items missing from the supremely expensive outlets there. Every now and then you find a floater in the washroom that hasn’t been flushed down properly yet. Haldiram’s to khul hi gaya hai. All we need are a few cows chilling around in the terminal and we’ll have successfully replicated our railway stations.

But you know what would really make flying as good (or bad) as travelling in a train? When we have our poop falling down through a hole in the loo that we can see. That’d be killer!

But wait. I think this has already started to being tested. Read this link for more. Cheers!