Recently, I traveled to and fro between the financial capital and the IT capital of the country. Since I belong to that rare species of people who still do not own one of those phones, the next best thing I could do on both legs of the journey was to keep myself busy doing something I love to do ... observe people around. And boy, it was fun doing that after a long time!
It was nice to see that while ensuring they respond to the all important sound of a water droplet or the 'melodious' whistle (if you don't know what these sounds are, welcome to my side of the mobile phone divide ... these are the most common message tones on those phones I have heard), people were still engaged in one of those actions fast becoming extinct - conversing with each other face-to-face. Needless to say, every conversation was enriching enough to make my trip successful. Then there were some, who didn't converse at all. But more on that later.
Taking a step back ... almost every other person I come across now a days feels he / she is smart just because the 'big as a calculator' phone is their constant companion, when the reality is that their credit card company offered them the EMI option to purchase one, making them shell out that amount of money in this downturn. Is that being smart? Perhaps yes, because the lady in my house owns one. Or is it just a herd mentality? But the herd would then be too big to be called just a herd. Better still, is it a successful marketing strategy? May be yes. Ask the company who used to enjoy Connecting People. Any ways, let's have a look at a few episodes.
Gentleman in a hurry:
I was standing at the security-check when I suddenly heard a noise coming from the next queue. A gentleman was in a hurry to catch his flight, and was running late. Looking at his swollen eyes and unkempt hair, I assumed it was party time for him the previous night. Without bothering to seek permission from the 20 odd people who bothered to arrive on time, or even ahead of time, he jumped the queue and approached the security person. When a couple of people confronted him and raised their voice, he simply refused to show even an iota of politeness and continued giving them stares, with certain four-letter words thrown in to improve everybody's appetite (or indigestion, whichever way you look at it). Unfortunately, the security person allowed him to go ahead, in spite of the ugly scene he had created.
While he was putting back his jacket, I saw a sentence written on his t-shirt: "Politeness, n: The most acceptable hypocrisy."
Family on vacation:
While waiting at the terminal for boarding, a family of five came and occupied the seats next to me. To me, they were on their way to a vacation, what with the youngest of the lot making a public announcement of the same every now and then. The oldest of the lot, the gentleman, must be in his early fifties, totally engrossed in an overseas phone call with a business partner, discussing the technicalities of a proposal. He would have repeated it at least thrice in the conversation that the business partner should feel free to call him any time of the day. Presumably, the partner on the other side was vehemently opposing that, wanting our friend to enjoy the vacation.
Then there was the lady of the family who was busy answering to the water droplets, with a gentle smile of satisfaction on her face every time the message was sent before the other person got a chance to create another droplet. Nice little competition going on ... all set for the vacation. She was accompanied on the next seat by her son, busy playing a war game on his hand-held device. Every time he killed the enemy or destroyed one of the tanks, he shouted loudly, tore apart the newspapers kept next to him, and threw it all around. His sister, who was little less restless than him, was lost in her own little world, with headphones in her ears, with another small device lost somewhere in the big jacket she was wearing.
The little one kept on tugging his vacation partners one by one, trying to attract their attention. Finally getting exasperated, he took out a small car from his own cabin bag, and started playing with it. I believe still some more time for him to get hooked on to his own device ...
It was time for some snacks (yes the same packets of potato chips and cookies for which they charge almost thrice the MRP).
Gentleman - "But I had just ordered a cup of coffee. You can not just say that you need to first serve meal to the old a**."
Air Hostess - "I am sorry sir. May I please request you to refrain from using abusive language. The gentleman is on medication and my staff wanted to help him on priority."
Gentleman - "Look, don't tell me what is right and what is wrong. I am in a hurry and don't need your lecture. I need to get back to my presentation. And I can not work on that without my cup of coffee."
Air Hostess - "Please accept my apologies sir. I will have my colleague to get you your coffee. Please give me 2 minutes."
Gentleman - "I don't care about your apologies, and don't care whether somebody is on medication or not. If the old man is really in need of urgent medication, he should travel with someone to take care of his needs. What I know is that I am a frequent flier of your airline, and I expect my needs to get higher priority. Either get me my coffee right away, or start worrying about your job."
And so on it went for another 10 minutes. Wonder what happened to his presentation. Was it his sense of entitlement that made him behave the way he did?
Fortunately, the gentleman awaiting some help in his medication got it on time.
When it was time to disembark the aircraft, I saw the gentleman wearing a beautiful, seemingly costly, waist belt. On it, was written in bold - Being Human!
Sleep time ... I mean, snack time ... oh, I am confused:
Some more fun at snack time. Just when the lady on 28D wanted to bring the tray down and open her box of Punjabi Samosa and a can of diet coke, our friend on seat 27D decided to take a nap, and bring her seat back.
Gentleman - "Friend, can you please be a bit a careful while bringing the seat back? I almost had the entire coke on my lap."
Specimen (removing her head phones, and turning back) - "Excuse me! I couldn't hear you."
Gentleman - "My dear friend, I requested you to be a bit careful while bringing your seat back."
Specimen - "It is none of my business sir. If you are having your food, it is your head ache how you keep your stuff safe. Why should I be careful?"
Gentleman - "Well, we could do with a bit of courtesy here."
Specimen (a bit louder) - "Are you traveling by air for the first time? Looks like that's the case. I suggest if you want to have ample amount of space for yourself while traveling, you better opt for a train. Air travel is not meant for people like you. It is my seat, and I will take it back as and when I want."
There we go again! With some amount of persuasion by the specimen's family members (must be an embarrassing experience for them), and a greater amount of restraint shown by the gentleman who knew from his experience that withdrawing from the matter was a better option, the fun stopped.
First time traveler:
I was sitting on seat no. 31C. On seat 30A, 30B and 30C was a family - husband, wife and a kid. From what I heard, or shall I say over-heard, it seemed to me that the kid was flying for the first time. As was bound to happen, she started asking many questions about almost anything and everything around. When she asked her father about the round button on the handle, he gave her a demo of what it could do. As soon as the seat went backwards, she said - "Daddy, why do they have so little space between the seats? If you take your seat back, it will hurt the old Granny sitting behind you." Someone indeed needs to take lessons on being human or courtesy from this kid!
After a while, the air hostess started giving safety instructions and was making various hand movements to show the exit doors. The first-timer promptly shouted at her - "My teacher will punish you." On being asked the reason, she innocently said - "You are not doing your exercise properly. After bringing both your hands forwards, you should take both of them above your ahead. But you are doing it all wrong."
Somebody has rightly said - "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."