Short Story

The Middle Class flyer

  • The waiting lounge of an Indian airport is one of the most happening places in the country. For, here you’ll see people, happen. If one closely observes, you'll find three genres of people here.


    The first type, and the scarce one, is the ‘urgent traveller’. These people have nothing in mind but making it to their destination on time. It's easy identifying this set of people, for you wouldn’t find them seated. You would see them pace up and down in well ironed formals, a Bluetooth stuck to their ears, a brandedcup of coffee in one hand, and a folded blazer on the other. Most of the times, an overpriced, impractical leather bag that could hardly carry even one change of clothes, hangs loosely around their shoulder.


    The second type are the casual fliers, or whom I like to call, ‘the men in shorts’.This specie roams around in shorts and slippers! Generally rich, flying is the only option for these people to get from point A to point B. The only other time they wouldn’t be flying, would be either when they are riding the distance down in their Harleys,or if the destination doesn't have an airport. Oh, and you'll end up seeing them once more when you enter your flight. They generally sit in the front. The area where there's unnecessary use of wooden panel on the windows, arm rests and even the 10 inch table that snugs in to the cubicle like seats. I’ve heard rumours that those seats can turn into a 180 degree flat-bed! But who cares? We are busy getting adjusted to the goodness of the flight attendant who just welcomed us.


    Wait a minute! I forgot to introduce you to ‘us’. The majority. The middleclass!

    Well, we are easy to identify. We would walk around in new clothes, generally accompanied with a pair of good looking branded shoes that we bought from the half price sale on Flipkart.We would either be roaming around as if in a mall looking for sign boards to the loo, or you'll find us window shopping in those eateries that sell a 100 rupee Samosa. Most of us belong to the category who would proudly post statuses on Facebook that says –“Travelling to Bangalore”, making it a point to tag the location of the Airport, just in case people miss out on the fact that we are actually FLYING the distance!


    Since flying doesn’t happen often to us, we tend to leave no stone unturned. So much so that, we even do the unbelievable. Yes, we buy that 100 rupee samosa, just to explore what's different. The first bite tells us that we made a mistake. To overcome that guilt,we end up buying a coffee, which we are sure would be a better bet for the atrocious price we are paying. Since our wallets are quite light by now, we don’t make a third attempt to overcome our second guilt. Yeah, it was an Espresso that we bought. It was the cheapest on the list, but no one told us that it came without milk, that too in a bloody huge disposable cup!For, in our life, we hardly make sense out of a cappuccino or an Americano or a Mocha latte. We know just one type of coffee.  And that's, coffee. Well, we drink that Espresso. We drink it all. Who would waste a black, bitter, horrible tasting water that costs 250 rupees!


    Finally, we make a tough choice of buying a small water bottle, just in case we are thirsty and there's no source of water up there. Another 100 rupee, but this time we hope not to regret, because after all, water will always be handy. But that's when we see the ‘guy in shorts’ come and press a button under something that looks like a plastic snake's hood, and lo and behold! Free water erupts like a fountain and he gulps it down like the famished James Franco in the movie127 hours! But the point is, it was bloody free! 


    By now, we would have lost our way to the gate we were supposed to be sitting. Did I tell you that we are the only set of people who carry both, the ticket and the boarding pass in a secure file that's very carefully tucked in the secret rack of our travel bag? So, when the gate opens, we are still confused as to what the flight attendants are asking for. The ticket,or the boarding pass. We give them both. They tear the Boarding pass and hand over a tiny bit of it, and we are still confused as to what is more important. The ticket, or...well, you know what.


    Once in the flight, as I mentioned previously, we are busy getting adjusted to the goodness of the flight attendant who just welcomed us. We wonder as to how foolish can that ‘guy in shorts’ be, to be opting for the aisle seat. Yeah, we heard him make that request at the check in counter. (That's how we actually got to know that we had a choice to opt for window seats, at the check in counter!)


    Now comes the best part. Safety instructions! We pay attention to every detail that the flight attendant mimes about. Again, that foolish ‘guy in shorts’ is fast asleep. Isn't it bad behaviour? Shouldn't he be courteous enough to atleast pretend to pay attention to that sincere flight attendant? Some of us even pay attention to the Hindi and Kannada translation, just so that the she doesn't feel sad and ignored! 


    The take-off and landing are our favourite bits in the otherwise monotonous journey. Young or old, we love sticking our nose on to the flight window and devouring the view. Occasionally when the view gets boring,we also wonder as to what is the role of that tiny hole in between the two glass panes of the window.

    And no, we don't buy food in flight.Even if we did, we wouldn't want to talk about it. Period.


    The final trademark of a middleclass flyer is that we tend to walk really slow, once we land in our destination. It’s our attempt to stretch the final moments of our treasured flying experience. You’ll even find some of us turning back every now and then to steal our final glimpses of the great invention we just travelled in.

    It’s like break up; and that slow walk through the aerobridge back to the airport, is closure.


    Well, times have changed and flying costs have depreciated. Yet, some of us still have that precious, respectful corner in our hearts that opens up only when circumstance precedes budget in our life of limited choices, and yet again we log in to our Flipkart account to scavenge for discount offers on branded shoes. 

    - Abhinav Nair