‘Snakes on a Plane’ is this year’s campiest C-grade “so-bad-it’s-good” (which the Oxford dictionary now defines as “Mithunian’) movie in which a mafia-lord lets loose a zoofull of assorted poisonous snakes, made horny and aggressive by being sprayed with pheromones, [which is why, according to a character in the movie, they attack females more than males—-a fact borne out by a snake biting a lady’s exposed nipple and another “pleasing” a sleeping lady in a way I did not think possible ] in order to bump off a witness for the prosecution.
However, if you ask a flight attendant whether he/she prefers to rumble with a cobra in heat or with a desi on a trans-Atlantic flight, I think he/she might go for the snake.
Now we may shout racism as much as we want to, and I am not saying there was not any, but the hard reality is that amidst the terrorism paranoia that has benumbed logic and rational thinking in authorities all over the world, if a group of brown Asian men refuse to listen to the cabin crew, take off their seatbelt and walk about, passing a cellphone among themselves, the chances are that they are going to get themselves in deep trouble.
Among others on board the ill-fated flight was Central Industrial Security Force Deputy Commandant (Retd) Umesh Prasad Behera.
Behera says the air marshals did what they ought to have done. The group of 12 passengers was not heeding the instructions of the stewardesses, who had asked them to switch off their mobile phones and to remain seated. As their pleas fell on deaf ears, the stewardesses had to alert the air marshal, Behera said.
“As an educated passenger I had asked them not to use the lavatory while the plane was taking off, but they did not listen,” he said.[Rediff]
From a TOI piece titled ‘Indians Are Unruly Fliers’
An Indian Airlines attendant who flies on the Kolkata-Bangkok sector says, “These so-called educated passengers do not switch off their cell phones when they are asked to do so, and still make calls when the plane is ready for take off or is landing. Before the plane halts, they jump up from their seats and open the baggage. They ignore the ‘seat belt on’ signs. It’s really tiring to attend to such passengers.” [TOI]
While the statement ‘Indians are unruly fliers’ may be a gross generalization, it has to be accepted that a number of Indians do exhibit extremely boorish behaviour on flight—a proportion so significant that it affirms some of the stereotypes held against us. The reason for that may be that we have this tendency to think that just because we have paid a lot of money to buy the airticket, we are entitled to be treated like “Maharajas”. In other words, we can be as whimsical as we wish and the cabin crew is obligated to listen to us and not we to them.
Now I don’t know about you but for me the biggest terrorists abroad flights are those babies (from my experience, mostly South Asian) who keep on bawling like air raid-sirens and their ‘couldn’t-care-less’ parents, who seem to think that all of us are supposed to find their little cherub’s screaming as cute and hence obligated to grin and say choo-sweet. These are closely followed by those people who keep on kicking the back of the seat in front of them—just when you are about to doze off.
Those are the times I do wish for a rattlesnake or a sidewinder to crawl in through the air-duct.
Or at least a SWAT team to burst in and whisk the baby and his/her parents away for questioning about possible Al-Qaeda connections.