As of October 28, 2011
After an unusual and last minute planning, I was finally on board on my SpiceJet flight to Ahmedabad. With the day, spent waiting for 6:30PM evening where I will set off, the wait, now was for landing at SVPIA.
While waiting for my boarding announcement, I see this young rural Gujarati couple with their child waiting for the same. These are one of those instances, where you realize what difference, the low cost carriers in Indian aviation industry, have made. While air travel used to be a proprietary of the elite Indian rich class in the past, you see now that things have changed. Shelling out 6-7K for a round trip journey of 3-4 hours is favored over 2-3K for 40-50 hours of slog. Introduction of the low cost carriers has reduced the divide between those elites of 90s and the “actual” middle class.
However, this convenience has brought in new set of problems (or probably less frequent older problems) as well. While I settled myself on my seat in the aircraft, I found a Gujju uncle, probably traveling for the first time, pointlessly arguing with the airhostess on whether the oxygen masks will actually drop down automatically in case of emergency. The objective there was more of “looking smart” than “expressing concern”. In spite of repeated assurances he wasn’t ready to understand the point (or probably pretended not to understand the point). What I felt at the end of it was to salute the airhostess for her patience and politeness (that guy deserved a tight slap). This has not just been one instance where travel mannerisms and etiquettes of the new class of travelers have not been able to match up to the new travel means in the fast-developing economy.
While there is no bullet point list of rules of manners, it is the fundamental thinking, approach or let’s just say, the outlook towards other people, that defines or predicts a person’s behavior in new environments. People in certain sections of India, do have a disrespectful or a tabooed perception for certain new age jobs for women, including airhostess, which brings in the mentality among males that they are there to flirt, stare and bully. This needs to change. And the change has to come from within. I don’t know how it is supposed to come. Change in the attitude of mass can take generations to come. For the moment, we are expected to keep seeing this.