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WHAT A STUPID QUESTION?

The morning flight from Singapore to Mumbai was packed. There were more families than business travellers perhaps an indication of the long Easter week end. As could be expected there was lot of commotion during boarding with kids running all over the place and the noise level generally rising with the howling sound of the young ones in the mothers arms. The scene inside the cabin resembled what one used to witness decade ago when Deccan Airways introduced cheap flights and started the practice of not allotting the seats! Separated families were trying to occupy nearby vacant seats only to be ejected in no time by the genuine seat owner. The consequent shuffling of bags and feet was a sight perhaps resembling the busy metro station in the morning peak hours. I thought I was quite clever in having web checked self and wife on the window and adjacent aisle seats hoping nobody would turn in for the middle seat. So we were also straining our necks keenly observing which of the passengers would ask for that middle seat.

Similar drama was seen on the adjacent row. The family of husband and wife with an infant had different locations and were trying to persuade some body to swap the seats. On the immediate row behind them a petty damsel occupied the middle seat and hopefully kept announcing “I don’t mind changing my seat plzzzz”! Poor girl no one seemed to respond to her desperate pleas notwithstanding her captivating looks.

In the meantime one could see another heavy looking socialite walking towards our end. My heart started beating faster as I noticed she was glancing at our row. Not that she was pretty or graceful but actually seemed to wear a strong perfume that could give a serious head ache to any one with a sensitive nose in the radius of a mile. My prayers were thankfully paid off and she passed us by and planted herself with a lot of noise on the row behind us next to the pretty chick. In the meantime the commotion in the cabin had continued and showed no signs of abating.

I could hear the cabin attendant saying ”M’am do you want to shift to the middle seat?”

The question was immediately followed by a loud “Of course not .. what a stupid question..?”

“you have no idea what I have gone thru in the last one day..”

The commotion and the decibel level in the cabin seemed to have suddenly been rendered silent as her voice reverberated and echoed. The attendant mumbled “I was merely asking …”. After that brief distraction the cabin continued with its hectic movements of the passengers.

However, I was still hooked to that statement “what a stupid question” and the manner in which it was delivered. I felt sorry for the attendant who was merely trying to be helpful and trying to handle a crowded flight.

Was the question so stupid that it called for such a loud remonstration?

Other passengers might not have noticed the drama or perhaps chose to ignore it in their busy seat grabbing, baggage shuffling circus. But I was seized of that episode and my five and half hours of the flight were fruitfully spent in dissecting the scene. I tried a magical transporting of myself into her mind to visualise what thought process prevailed on her to display such audacious nay atrocious behaviour.

Several possibilities loomed before me.

She felt insulted and humiliated that such a question was asked of her. She might perhaps have been a frequent flyer familiar with the fetish for aisle seat. How could the attendant take her for a novice traveller and con her into shifting to the middle seat!

She might have gone thru a harrowing flight earlier on the middle seat perhaps sitting between huge and bulky companions who overflow on to the adjacent seat. She was therefore venting the frustration

She was plain stupid and lacked the basic grace and courtesy that was expected of any normal human being.

But then perhaps she was not normal. There was perhaps a mental imbalance which reflected in the uncalled for haughtiness and viciousness.

All these were possible and much more.

But did they really warrant such a behaviour where a sweet smile and a “No pls sorry..” would have sufficed. On the other hand the behaviour betrayed a character that was insensitive and uncultured. Even if she was experiencing frustration, there was no justification to rub it on another person.

My personal reflection is now initiated. Perhaps I often behave in a similar manner!! How often I must have ignored the taxi driver or the lift attendant or the waiter in the restaurant? Do I normally acknowledge the security man at the gate? Do they even exist for me?

Do I smile when I walk out of the door or am I lost in my own world made up of my own stories of greatness, fears and threats!

When would I become a better human being?

I must not forget to say a huge thank you to that socialite for triggering this thought process.

This experience will hopefully keep me in check.

Mumbai
1st April 2015

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About The Author

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Ganesh - R

Corporate/Business/Professional

SINGAPORE

A corporate manager for over 40  years with an all round exposure. Have had the good fortune of great bosses who unfailingly took the risk of trying me out with  new functional responsibilities  that I was neither qualified to handle nor had any prior exposure. This served as an excellent opportunity for learning and  the exciting process continues even as I am ready to retire! 

 Have bid adieu to formal learning process long ago but the quest  continues.

"Human beings" interest me the most .. the curiosity at observing and learning from fellow beings appears to be a key  driver at this stage of life. Would like to spend the rest of the days in making a difference to them.

Other interests include gymming, music, etc..  

Blogging seems to be a god sent opportunity to laugh at oneself freely and without any pretensions. It also provides an excellent route to introspection albeit a bit loudly!


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