Travelling in air India is like shopping at a seconds sale.
You walk into the shop knowing you’re going to buy a compromised product, but you are happy nonetheless because the white shirt that you had wanted so badly, will, perhaps, be within your budget now. Even though it may have some insignificant flaws. It’s collar may be dirty, or some of its buttons may have come loose, it may also have a minor nip here or a tiny cut there — but you can wash the collar, fix the nip, and fasten the buttons, can’t you?
So excited you are that you are also prepared for a second class treatment by the salesmen and women. On their part, they will not only be short staffed, but the ones around may be cleaning their nose with bare hands and wiping their hands on their shirts. If you are lucky you can hear one of them sing a Kishore Kumar song for you otherwise you’d have to make do with the bickering about their bosses. The others, if there are more than two, will either be busy taking selfies or checking their facebook accounts. Upon asking them for your size in the shirt — yeah the same white one — they’d scornfully tell you that their brand doesn’t make shirts your size.
But you will ignore all that. You will also ignore that the clothes are thrown around in heaps, like they are ready to be sent to a dhobi, or a dry-cleaner; while in a smaller shop, you’d make a fuss about the way they fold clothes, or stack them, here you will turn a blind eye to the heap. You will quietly, and patiently, look for your shirt in the heap, for a piece that is least dirty, has maximum buttons intact and somehow fits your ‘too large for the brand’ frame. The one you find would already be taken, so you will fight with the fellow shoppers — also out to get the only piece that fits them. But you will loose.
So you will begin the search again. And eventually, after almost an hour, get one with a few unnoticeable marks along the sleeve, a minuscule nip in the cuff, and the collar button missing. ‘No one will notice these, after all it’s a luxury brand’ is what you’d tell yourself and lap it up.
When you will get to the billing queue, you’d find out that the card machine is not working and you cannot pay through paytm or any such fancy payment app. The queue is long and you cannot leave the shirt back: who knows if you’d ever find it again? So you’d do a mental math, search all your pockets, and proudly take out one pink note (yeah! we all have that tucked away somewhere discreetly).
You will finally reach the billing counter smug at your victory. By now you have already thought of the occasion on which you will debut the shirt and googled how to remove the stains. You have planned what button to put on the collar and how to wear it in a manner that the label is visible. But when you hand over the shirt and the pink note to the cashier, you will be told that the piece is not on sale and you have to pay full price for it. Angry & frustrated, you will throw the coveted shirt at the cashier’s face — with scenes from the last one hour flashing through your mind — and will walk out of the shop seething with rage.
While in case of this shirt, you can walk out in a fit of rage, on board Air India, you cannot do anything like that. You sit there looking at all the tamasha that unfolds, knowing very well that you have paid full price for a service that is not even worth seconds’ sale. And you are amazed at your own stupidity.
P.S. Any similarity to people dead or alive, or organizations — dead or alive — is totally deliberate and based on personal experiences.