Desis on a Plane

129 Comments

‘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.

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129 thoughts on “Desis on a Plane

  1. Bongda,

    friend of mine travelled business class on a very reputed airline. This was 7-8 yrs ago. He was wearing a jacket. The stewardesses first asked him “politely” on insistance of felow passengers whether she could take his jacket. He said he was comfy as it is. Then the crew began insisting that he has to take his jacket off.

    My friend, like me was not very used to the ways of the western world. But isnt this BAD? We can call ourselves unruly travellers. Look at what the firangs do. You may count this as a one off incident. Fact remains – when they do it… its called class. When we do it we are unruly.

    Talking about stewardesses… they also earn for a living but “fly high” – if u know what I mean. I am not very sure whether they genuinely tried to get things done. If you look condescendingly towards people of certain community, class or religion and try to order them around – they are not going to listen.

    Only exception to above rule I think is on the Mumbai-Delhi flight. I do have a strong bias against people of a particular geographical area (I am not going to name the place) but those guys on these flights will peurposely keep their cups as away from the air hostesses as possible. She has to bend all the way to pour tea or coffee and they get their cheap thrills.

    and lastly… damn this new laptop. Ever since I got it have not been able to type properly… keeps disrupting my thought process. Anything u dont agree with – can be directed towards the small keys of this stupid keypad.

    Vivek

  2. So true greatbong. On my first flight from Hyderabad to Delhi, there was an announcement made to let the old lady in front leave first before everyone gets off. Needless to say not one listened.

    You should have seen the people in suits and boots scatter for the seats on the bus to take them to the terminal. By the looks of it, I thought it would take more than 30 minutes. It took less than a minute.

  3. #1: I definitely want to see “Snakes on a Plane” now that I read your short gist of it

    #2: A blog like this does deserve a mention of the famous BKK-CCU leg, infested with the “carriers” (or “couriers”), who start off with incessant arguments with the airline staff about the fact that their “carry ons” are within the size and weight limits of carry ons…. although by the looks of it, they are nearly as big and as heavy as body bags and of course as long as the flight is in air, the indulge in a bacchanalian beerfest…. who needs the movie, we have Indian Airlines going through it in reality 7 flights a week!!

  4. saw this a couple of days ago at a barista. a group of ‘classy’ firangs on a holiday, i suppose, even of their manners ordered some sandwiches and coffee. the toddler in the group choked and puked all over (the washroom, i must mention, was about 30 seconds away from their table). another child littered the table with food. the adults in the group were neither perturbed nor faintly apologetic. after all, they were classy and puking in india was a done thing..so what if it affected/disturbed/disgusted other unruly indians at the coffee shop.

  5. Oh the SIN-CCU Singapore “cattle car” flight is also not a Proud Moment For Bengalis.
    The ridiculous amount of cabin baggage is a start, but I’ve seen things that are beyond
    rude … they were idiotic. Once animal-passenger rang his call-stewardess bell to ask
    for a whiskey WHILE THE AISLES WERE STILL FULL OF BOARDING PASSENGERS.
    The stewardess somehow managed to nicely ask him to wait a little.

    I asked another desi-ancestry SQ flight attendant if this was the “worst flight”
    to be assigned to. She smiled sort of painfully and then said something like
    “oh it’s ok”. [She was super hot BTW. She started chatting with my asking if I
    was a professional photographer … I’d boarded the plane with two quite large
    cameras around my neck … in a moment of Slow Brain I said “uh no” instead
    of “Yes, I am.” and offering to put her in pictures].

    This “I’ve paid for you, now you are my servant” mentality also extends to
    things like hiring guides and porters for mountain trekking. While Westerns
    acknowledge and trek guides as professional, and recognize how hard the
    porter staff work, older especially indians treat them as the hired help.
    I was really embarassing to see some of them asking the mountain guide
    to bring them their cigarettes and other “go fetch” type tasks.

  6. GB,

    I had written a post on a similar topic a while back. A commenter had this to say, which I think is quite apt:

    “In India, we have a very refined and elaborate notion of personal/familial etiquette, but very few norms or traditions of social etiquette. So Indian cities have ended up basically being large villages where people haven’t evolved the social etiquette to deal with the overwhelming sense of anonymity. Contrast this with the West or even Japan, where social etiquette is very strictly communicated and enforced. I think the history/experience with urbanization also has a role to play.

    Indian cities and in some sense urban society today is probably at the same evolutionary stage of a late 1800s early 1900s London or New York which were marked by a similar quasi-anarchic social structure… ”

    This was in the context of unruly behaviour while driving, and living in a city per se, but is also applicable to social conduct in its other forms.

  7. “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.”

    — You missed out on the desi oldies, who have to use the restroom when the plane is 10 mts away from touching down, or is shaking violently in weather. I have seen instances where this oldie guy refused to heed the steward’s plea, and fell flat on his face injuring himself – the best of all was after that he went top decibel on how the plane was not “competent” for flying.

    I seem to notice that generally desis behave decently / correctly / nicely on a flight where they are NOT in majority numbers. The problem begins when desis outdo the number of non-desis on a flight….and having travelled air India a lot, I can say, it is the worst. I really pity the entire staff in Air India and the way manage to cope up.

    Saying that, I have often seen Firangis misbehaving too – quite a lot of times indeed, when flying from here to frankfurt – rude and boorish behavior would have been appropriate term for them too 🙂

    Suyog

    PS: And oh, yes, racism is a big part in this. After all, as this report suggests, the dumb college kid did not really mean any harm when he was found with a dynamite in his baggage. Unless of course if that college kid was brown, it would have been a national disaster.

  8. Hi greatbong,
    I want to share three experiences with u guys
    1) BA flight from DElhi to London a few days back. Everyone is on board including a young north indian engineer next to me. must be 25. he was on the phone with a friend talking away from the time he had cleared security. Inspite of continuous announcements of switiching the phone off he had not done so. When I told him to switch it off, he looked like a deer cauhgt in the lights and his first reply was – “Please only one more minute.”
    2) I have actully witnessed a fight taking place in the Indian airlines flight from CCU to Bangkok. Physical fight. Steward looked frightened, then screwed up his courage and shouted that the plane was going to crash. everyone sat down.
    3) Ahmedbad – CCU flight: the moment the flight took off at least 25 – 30 people shouted: “Bolo Krishan Bhagwan ki …Jai” and they were LOUD! and they did the same when they landed. FOr the uninitiated, this would be very disturbing.

    NOw, if any of this happened on an international flight, people would call them unruly and uncivilised. Indians are arrogant, loud and absolutely rude if they are travelling – in groups! BUt, another thing is that they dont have much of balls doing it in places like US & UK or in europe.Indians are racial – period. Ever seen indians talk to singaporeans, thais, malays or africans? they reek of racial supremacy.
    Its sad, that Indians travel around the world but never improve…

  9. If I ever have an airline/restaurant or host a concert, my sign at the entrance would read, “Kindly keep your mobile phones/laptops/PDA’s and children switched off. ”

  10. Good post GB, I must add that the desis start getting a “feel” of local trains or state bus once they get into majority. When in minority they remember – its a plane. This behavior actually reflects the condition of public transportation in India.
    Also, that flight attendents are “Paid servant” kind of attitude is a reflection of the condition of government institutions etc in India where such authoritive attitude exist.

  11. I wonder if the same response would have been provoked in the crew-membrs if the boorish behaviour was displayed by someone of a much lighter skin tone, blond hair and blue eyes.
    Boorishness is not restricted to nationality or skin tone. However, I’ll grant that we Indians do tend to disregard civic duties and rules a lot more than firangs.
    BTW, have you read this piece by Ruchir Joshi?

    http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060827/asp/opinion/story_6661517.asp

  12. In such situations I am reminded of a bumper sticker – “Some people, when they buy a car think the road comes with it.”

  13. I have had a couple of plane incidents that have made me reflect a lot about indian air-passengers. It is so disheartening when you see your fellow countrymen behave like lunatics on the plane, walking around constatntly, talking loud and laughing at personal jokes, incessantly complaining about one thing or the other…
    It is no wonder then when something like the incident you describe can take place. The world is getting more and more paranoid and the only ones who are not paranoid are the ones causing the paranoia. I think there should be like a flying license or something.
    And there should be tiny parachutes and a hole to throw noisy babies out of. In the words of Bill Hicks, comedian, ‘The smaller they are the cuter they get.’

  14. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: As somebody correctly pointed out that we Indian lack the social etiquette. I have myself witnessed young women seductively appealing men standing in the front of the queue so that she can jump the queue. Obviously that appeal was made in English to show how well she has been brought up (read English medium school)!! They think they deserve the special treatment either because they are young or they are talking in English or they are talking seductively or they are wearing western clothes!! People living in apartment buildings have scant regard for people living below. They throw away packets/other unmentionable stuff from their rooms/balcony with scant regard to where it is landing. They also drip dry their non-cotton clothes from the balcony and don’t think about the problem faced by people living below. Majority of the people clean their houses and throw the garbage on the streets after the official cleaning time is over. They worry about cleaning their own houses but don’t worry about the others. Majority of people don’t bother to switch off their mobiles in a cinema hall. Just when the dialogue gets interesting in the movie, person sitting next answers the mobile and carry on mundane conversation notwithstanding disgusted looks of others. I sometimes wonder whether all these people prior to the mobile age could ever watch a movie before lest somebody tried to contact them and failed! Parents (I mean educated parents) don’t mind if their kids mess up a host’s house and worst of it is that the host is expected to smilingly say that it is no big a deal – children will be children when in reality the host is fuming inside ( it happened to me)!! I have witnessed loud noisy yawning in public places as if it is not supposed to annoy anybody. The list goes on and on. In a nut shell although we show our reverence to elders and teach etiquettes to children with regard to family members and friends yet we don’t teach them about social etiquettes – may be because we ourselves don’t know them.
    But I think what happened to those 12 men is outrageous notwithstanding their failure to conform to the flying rules.I can understand the paranoia part which lead the plane to go back. But the way they were treated after the plane landed was plain racism.

    @sophocles: In Italian airlines it is customary for passengers to applaud each time the plane touches down. What you witnessed in Ahmedbad – CCU flight is desi version of that custom. Besides we Indians have pretty similarities with Italians – don’t we?

  15. Why limit the snakes on plane. Even in movie theatres where UNCLE and AUNTIES let there BACCHAS and BACCHIS play around the hall. Let us have some rattle snakes reserved to the movie hall as well.

  16. “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”

    Clearly, you’ve never travelled with children, or have been fortunate enough to do so with babies with inner ears made of steel.

    Most babies cry on flights because their ears hurt when the plane is pressurized. As a parent, there is very little you can do other than hope that your toddler will listen to you and probably take a gulp of water or milk to ‘pop’ her ears again. But most of the time the child is in pain, and scared and confused and any amount of consoling only worsens her condition. Helplessness is the only word I can use to describe the parents’ feelings in such a situation.

    As for your “from my experience mostly South Asian” charge on this point…absolutely untrue and pretty ignorant…mentioned only to add a little more juice to your article (or maybe your experience of flying in planes filled with south asian babies surpasses mine).

    Valid points in the rest of the post though…about desi attitudes on planes (the ‘adult’ ones, that is…:-)).

  17. @ GB: Interesting topic. As usual, your views are spot on. I think that the Indian behaviour on flights is actaully a microcosm of their behaviour outside in society – without any heed to the other people of the society. Point out these things and they shout “We have our rights”. To be honest, both you and I , having born and brought up in India, where there is scant regard for individual freedom and rights (except for one’s own) , had imbibed a lot of these attitudes within us; a fact which we had realised in hindsight being away from India.

    This talking on the cellphone business in a movie house is a classic example – its so damn difficult to concentrate on the movie when thats happening. I understand that someone may need to leave the hall for restroom use, or taking an urgent call…but they seem to do it so cooly and casually right there sitting adjacent to you without scant regard to how you may feel about it. Jumping queues is considered fashionable, its ok to litter other’s places and public places as long as we keep our own homes clean.

    Wheather Indians are boorish or not is difficult to say. As a Phil Collins song goes, there are “Both sides of the story”. If you travel in the general compartment of a train ever for an overnight journey- and I have done that on several occasions – you just have to change your behaviour and bring out the animal self within in order to survive- you have to fight, abuse and push people- specially say in a place like Bihar….otherwise you cannot travel. Also consider a small town boy, say from a district…and he grew up seeing corruption, strong arm tactics etc…he cant even look or approach a girl in his own colony, forget about dating her as that aint the norm there…say at the age of 25 hes put in a social gathering in a bar where sexy girls are dancing at a Disco in Europe. Now if he refuses to dance , doesnt handle his drink properly or doesnt behave with an element of finesse with the girls or even the guys there- how will he be portrayed? – boorish i guess…its not possible to kick off 25 years of habit and ingrained rights and wrong and dos and donts in a couple of days….not that he lacks the desire though.

    I was once showing a friend from Chennai around an office..it was his first time here….I heard him approach the girl behind the desk and ask her curtly about the guy he wanted to meet..and ask kind of questions which can be considered here as quite probing. When he walked away , I heard the girl say..”So rude”. The reason was that this guy did not greet the girl, and was insistent on knocking on the door of the guy he wanted to meet without a telephone appointment- now I dont exactly blame the guy here. Seldom do people in India greet each other and the concept of a telephone appointment even when you are seeing the person is free and alone in his room is uncommon. Similarly when I first came here, I found the behaviour of men putting their up feet on the table or people walking inside your bedroom with shoes on to be quite offensive. I have grown quite used to the first type…but I still wont allow anyone- be it from US or Uganda to enter my bedroom with his shoes on. This leads us to the issue of behaviour in public domain- well as long we are a little bit more courteous and behave with a bit more finesse- I think we are are well behaved as anyone.

    But of course this aint any excuse for the kind of behviour which people have described above- say taking “1 minute extra” on the cellphone even after being told to switch off, cell phones blaring a tune in the middle of a movie or a seminar, the rich kids shouting obsecnely in a movie theater when a ShahRukh Khan or Rittik Roshan comes on screen (Ill tell you what GB- the lungi walas at Pradeep for those porn films were actually much more well behaved ), or littering, spitting etc. I however dont agree with the fact that the person who was offering a prayer at take off or touch down is ill-mannered. If say the plane is touching down at Charles De Gaulle airport Paris and someone says “Oh fuck..look at the Eiffel Tower…its fucking crazy dude” is cool and stylish..then why cant the person of religious disposition chant his ” Dum maro dam…hare krishna hare ram”? But of course, the behaviour of desis as Suyog has described..conjuring courage from ‘safety in numbers’ to create a racket and melee on flights is strongly condemnable.

    Of course I dont rule out the issue of racism which is very much present , specially in Europe. You see that from different kind of treatments the staff dishes out to you in airports based on your skin color, the stringent searches on you while the white guy behind gets away easily, being asked embarassing questions at the gate of an Aerosmith concert like “I hope that cigarette packet of yours contains only tobacco..or does it have something else?”…we were only 5 brown guys amidst a sea of white guys and chicks…and then seeing people all around you roll up joints as soon as the concert starts. On British Airways, I befriend a German guy and we start talking and I see a black steward giving him beer after beer even when he wasnt asking for it….but when I started asking for an extra whiskey, he says “Im sorry sir..youve already had two.” I go up to the back and ask the purser , “So the amount of alcohol you disburse is dependent on nationality eh? ” and he rubs his hand and apologizes. If I had read your 1900 post at that time, I would have surely quoted that Michael Jackson reference. And even then I see the same steward giving me the drink with racism extremely apparent in his eyes and I think…”Well Well motha****r, go and read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and then lick white asses.”

    Regarding babies, I think that the point you tried to make was the sheer nonchalance and ostentiable indifference of the Asian mothers and not of the asian babies to make any sort of effort to stymie the act of crying…..for the convenience of others…a point which anon above completely misunderstood. And yes..crying babies are disgusting.

    @YOURFAN- beautiful comment. I also agree with you in that the recent act was a bit of an over-reaction. Regarding the similarity between Indians and Italians, I would like to ask you- have you noticed the similarity in the looks and acting styles of Marcello Mastroianni and our very own Uttam Kumar? 🙂

  18. Inkkognito: Very well pointed out. You caught the pulse.

    GB: Is this not sad, that we should be embarrased by “someone”, why cant everyone be treated as “Individual”, why everything has to be sterotyped ?
    The day this happens, all current problems will cease to exist.

    Cheers.

    Sam

  19. Dear GB
    The first thing that came into my mind when this news was out was ” This is racial discrimination at its worst “, but then after sometime when I went thru the whole news and the updates thereafter ( like they were playing around with their mobile phones, not heeding to the announcements made etc.) I changed my opinion . I even felt a little pleased and thought to myself ” serves them right”. You see I have been a long time sufferer of unruly passengers ( who happen to be Indians ) on my Bkk-CCU flight, everytime. From jumping to ring the bell every half a minute to smoking in the toilet ( beleive me, I have met a genius who was smoking in the toilet, and told me that if you blow out the smoke in a certain fashion the smoke alarm won’t go off! ), thus jeopardising everyone’s life,I have seen all…. and this is just in a 2 hr flight! I am even scared to think what they all are capable of doing in longer flights!
    Its bad that this kind of behaviour gives us the “Indian stereotype” in other parts of the world.Of course these people come across polite , law abiding Indians also , but then they like to think of them as “the aberration” from the real Indians. In fact we also wouldn’t like to be put in the same bracket as them! Who is to blame for this sad kind of affairs? Is it India’s caste and class system, for which you are not required to be polite to the ones below you in class/caste order? And now after India’s perceived boom as ” nuclear power” and “the IT superpower” the rest of the world ( or other Asians, as I have experiance in this region only ) are mere dumbos !!

  20. u spoke my mind abt howling babies and kicking adults!
    off the topic ,saw a glimpse of CHINGARI yday ,Sush was crying and even my kid was appalled by the acting .she asked mom is she crying or convulsing or wat.i salute u for sitting thro all such movies.
    was dying to see all the dialogues u referred to but cud’nt dare to hang on any longer .

  21. As a harassed mother of a baby who must out-bawl every baby on the flight I must clarify the situation:

    1. Before motherhood crashlanded in my life, I too was a baby-hater and cursed all bawling babies and their mothers loudly. Now, I cringe at how judgemental I was.

    2. Babies often cry on the plane for reasons beyond parent’s control. Mostly it’s because of the air pressure that bothers their ears a lot and makes them really hurt and since crying is the only way they know how to communicate their pain, that’s what they do.

    3. As they get older, they also start to get pretty active and want to practise their crawling/ walking skills every waking moment. Since they are not allowed to do this on board an aircraft, they cry in frustration.

    4. Parents normally get their kids to calm down by walking them up and down to soothe them when they are younger (impossible on an airplane especially during takeoff landing and meal service) or distract them with other activities (again a big challenge in the confines of a cramped airplane seat).

    5. So I don’t think the parents are couldn’t-care-less. They are just trying to brazen out a situation they have no control over.

  22. @Arnab: I think Rohini has hit the nail on the head. Your comment about the babies on flights was ignorant. When you have a kid, you will know what parents go through.

    However, I do agree babies in cinema theatres are a nuisance. That’s because many parents do not bother to take them out and soothe them when they cry. A little bit of civic sense would solve the problem.

    As for Indians travelling on flights. I have heard horror stories of people on the Bangkok flights. If the Bangkok/Singapore to India flights became stricter a la Europe and US, I feel that it will actually be good for everyone concerned. Some of the boors do derserve a night long stint in a cell.

  23. @YourFan: “Regarding babies, I think that the point you tried to make was the sheer nonchalance and ostentiable indifference of the Asian mothers and not of the asian babies to make any sort of effort to stymie the act of crying…..for the convenience of others…a point which anon above completely misunderstood. And yes..crying babies are disgusting.”

    Yeah, I’m sure you were born with a stiff upper lip…

    I don’t think ‘Asian’ mothers (or any other parents for that matter) exhibit ‘sheer nonchanlance and ostentiable indifference’ when their children cry, unless they are some kind of sadists.

    A theatre is a completely different situation from a plane. You can walk out of a theatre…heck, why even take a baby there in the first place. In a plane you’re trapped. If your child freaks out, that’s just your plain bad luck.
    ‘Sheer nonchalance’ when your baby is wailing in discomfort??? You are way off your mark here, Yourfan. I think you’re trivializing a traumatic experience that many parents with small children face on airplanes, one which I’m certain you have never experienced.

  24. Completely agree with Rohini’s comments about babies. It is not as if the parents enjoy the crying babies. As a matter of fact, it is very very embarrassing. What do you suggest – people with young babies should stop travelling or board the plane after heavily sedating the babies?

    @Suyog: I do hope you realize that there are many medical conditions that render the people not fully in control of their bodily functions. We can use with some more empathy for the elderly, especially those who are travelling by air probably for the first time in their lives to meet their grandkids, and are either not able to communicate their needs clearly or are afraid to communicate with “foreigners”. I know of someone, who was heavily diabetic and could not control his bladder very well. He found the restroom occupied when he tried to go initially and was not allowed to get up later because the plane was about to land. He ended up urinating in this pants when the plane was landing. Such comments display our lack of sensitivity.

  25. The unruly behaviour of Indians on flights is because of the “If it is ok if somebody else did it … then why shouldn’t I do it?” attitude. First occurance of such a behaviour in a flight should be handled very strictly .. so that others get the message. GB’s comments on crying babies and thier parents is a bit insensitive and generalized. Rohini seems to have articulated the facts better.

  26. Ah,

    Babies in flights.. well, I agree with the lot that say the babies ears pain and stuff.. on the flights i have been with my kid, i have been told my helpful aircrew what to do with the kid – ie give him some milk or water to drink.. My kid tendds to get airsick and in spectacular style.. the first time he did that we were kinda unprepared, but now i reckon we are pros at it..

    The irritating part about babies crying in air is that in most of the cases i have seen, the baby in question is less than 6 mths old and secondly the usualy method of calming it down is by shaking it and “ooo” “ooo” instead of sticking a bottle of milk in..

    On racial stereotyping i am in with you.. if the dynamite had been in the bag of a boy brown in colour and with the name “syed mohammed ibrahim”, wonder what the reaction would have been.. presume it would have been SWAT all over..

  27. @Sanjiv

    The irritating part about babies crying in air is that in most of the cases i have seen, the baby in question is less than 6 mths old and secondly the usualy method of calming it down is by shaking it and “ooo” “ooo” instead of sticking a bottle of milk in..

    Not all kids are the same, as you definitely know. For many kids, trying to stick a bottle in their mouth is only going to make them wail louder.
    My 18 month old has been flying regularly since she was 4 months old and she is a terrific flyer. She laughs in turbulence, smiles at the co-passengers and goes off to sleep after playing. But I have always been a bad flyer. As a kid I used to be regularly airsick and even now, I tend to get extremely uncomfortable during take off and landing.
    At an age when you cannot express your feelings, crying is the only thing the baby can do.
    The attitude taken by many to this sounds very much like the attitude the temple management in kerala took to the parents of the little baby.
    And every parent realises that the reason the baby cries is because she is scared and suffering.
    @yourfan2
    To accuse “asian mothers” of “sheer nonchanlance and ostentiable indifference’ when their children cry” shows your total lack of understanding of parenthood and of implying that “asian mothers” somehow care less for their kids. This implication of sadism is rather disturbing and may I say, somewhat racial too.

    Lets worry about the snakes and …. Leave the kids alone …..

  28. @Swati: Aeroflot isnt all that bad considering that they are one of the most poorly paid flight crew—it comes with the territory of flying Aeroflot. If they can just stay afloat in the air, they have done very fine.

    @Vivek: Small keys of the laptop then. The thing is not whether firangs do it. There may be many who do. But there is a significant number of Indians who display improper behavior on flights and thats all we are concerned about.

    @Aravind: Hmm.

    @Anonymous1: I havent experienced the couriers first hand but have heard a lot of terrible tales about them.

    @SR: Listen. Noone here is saying that “firangs” do not exhibit horrible behaviour. The point is that a significant portion of Indians do which is why we have a bad name for being unruly fliers (as per TOI article). Rather than being cognizant of the fact and trying to better ourselves, pointing fingers at others is a much easier thing to do.

    @LeftCoastBong: Damn. You should have said you were a photographer. Amateur or professional—well that depends on the subject.

    @Inkkognito: Interesting analysis.

    @Suyog: I wouldnt mention elderly people simply because many times, they arent in full control of their body. They deserve a lot of slack. And regarding racism, of course it was ! Great link BTW…shows exactly how things are different if a white guy with a stick of dynamite boards a plane.

    @Sophocles: While I wouldnt agree with the blanket statement that Indians are racists, its also not true that a number of us are not. The worst kind of desi behaviour I have seen is on the London-India or Amsterdam-India leg of my tours….

    @DJK: Arent you being insensitive to babies here?:-) (being sarcastic)

    @Amit: Perhaps.

    @Mou: No it wouldnt. There was racism—but AFTER these guys were arrested at Schipol. It was the behaviour meted out to them then that was racist. The truth is this: If 30,000 feet above the air, a few Brown men start moving about the cabin, not fastening their seatbelt, talking on the cellphone with not a care to the cabin crew then you cannot, given the present state of the world, blame the pilot for thinking that a hijack attempt may be round the corner.

    @Ajay: Hmm.

    @SirPyscho: Insensitive, insensitive….have you ever flown with a baby? 🙂

    @yourfan: See if seductive appealing gets you ahead in line and in life, I think its the men who are to blame for allowing themselves to be conned rather than the woman doing it. I totally agree with the fact that racism was shown AFTER the plane landed back in Schipol.

    @Sumeet: Oh yes. Kids running about. Another cobra moment.

    @Anon and Rohini and Shan and other Anon:

    Firstly, I hope you understand that I was being facetious when I talked about the babies. I of course do not blame the babies. But I do blame the parents.

    Now, with respect to air-pressure and all the laundry list of why babies cry, I have a few things to say.

    1. Why do most of the harried babies invariably occur with higher frequency on the London/Amsterdam–Mumbai/Delhi flight than on other flights? Surely the airpressure and suchlike are the same on all planes. As someone who does a fair amount of trans-atlantic travel (conferences), the problem of crying babies is definitely much worse on flights with originate from or are travelling to India. My experience.

    2. I am not just taking of babies in arms. Even relatively grown-up kids (2 years or so) start screaming out of boredom, kicking the seat of the person in front of him, disturbing other people. And the parents sit totally unconcerned. They dont tell their kids to stop. Simple.

    3.There was a time I remember a white lady whose baby was bawling. I remember her taking the baby to the lavatory and she was passing, saying “I am really really sorry” to everyone. Now that’s civility for you. Not the “What can I do?” attitude.

    4. While there may be compelling reasons for babies to cry, parents need to realize that we as passengers have the right to feel irritated. The baby is yours, not ours. And its not our brief to “tolerate” the noise your baby is making.

    Protesting and feeling disturbed is *not* being inconsiderate.

    I wont even comment on the irony of being called “inconsiderate” in this context.
    @yourfan2: Oh yes. Racism. We could go on about it. This was an incident in 2003. I was then in New York and we were down in Maryland for a JU reunion. We were supposed to go downtown on a metro. There was 8 of us. Now one of us bought one Metro card with 8 rides on it. One guy goes through the turnstile. As he hands the card back to the next guy, a burly Africa-American employee comes up and says No you cant do that. You need 8 Metrocards. Not one with 8 rides on it. We go back to get 8 Metrocards…ie. paying the same fare twice. Within seconds, we see a group of white chicks doing the same thing and that African-American doing nothing. We were on the guy like a flash, soon there was an ugly situation, we were surrounded by their employees totally denying that he let the white girls pass (despite all of us having seen it).

    One of my friends who was being charitable said that it was more a case of “sexism” (the girls were nicely stacked and it was July) than “racism”.

    @Sam: Well I understand your point. But if we look upon ourselves as not mere individuals but as part of a larger community (which usually stops at our national boundaries), then yes we may feel ashamed. Just like we feel proud of the achievements of India.

    @Rick: Indians are by and large law-abiding. But they think that the regulations on a flight are not laws but things that exist to inconvenience them. Hence as paying customers, they have the right to break them.

    @Varsha: Its evident you havent travelled with kids since you also feel the same way about howling babies. According to Shan, you are also ignorant.

    @Shan: Yes I am ignorant. Maybe the sound of all those wailing babies short-circuited my brain. I should show more consideration to fellow passengers in the future even though the babies parents do not.

    @Vishal: Embarassing? My my. I remember an Indian asking another Indian mother to silence her baby and she shot back aggressively: “Tolerate it.”. Embarassment? Think not. Even here the fact that I say that babies bawling is irritating leads me to be called “insensitive”.

    @SP: Again wonder why the facts apply on some flights and not on others cause statistically the number of babies present should be the same. [Again I am speaking from ignorance accumulated through my personal experience]

    @Sanjiv: Indeed. And that boy would be in Guantanamo Bay.

    @Dhananjay: Very typical.
    @Anoynmouse: I wish your kid is on my flight.

  29. speaking of the mumbai-amsterdam route, i still wont forget the gujarati family who saw it fit to abandon the luxuries of wide seats and enormous legroom to literally set base-camp on the spacious floor area in the upper deck of first class in a jumbo 747!!!

  30. GB Says “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. ”

    As a new parent of two newborns and also having the experience of doing a fair bit of travel with them, I find this part of your post very stupid, offensive, over-exaggerating, ignorant and with huge generalization.

    I find it stupid becase some soul has already invented Ear-Plugs, Offenive because of your use of the word ‘Terrorist’, over-exaggerating because I do fair amount of Int. travel and dont think it is this bad, ignorant because if it bothers you that much, you should try avoiding seats anywhere close to the first few rows(that’s where most babies are seated). And it’s a huge generalization because The kids are mostly South Asian because there are probably more south asians travelling in the flight.

    As for the parents’ ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude, well you really have no idea how difficult it is to pacify babies. You will have to be in their shoes one day to realize this, I am sure your opinion will change, Mine did. 😉

  31. My didi and jiju have a small 8-month and they travel on planes all the time and even they complain about the attitude of desi parents and their kids. I however do not know whether my nephew has ear-drums of steel and hence stays well-behaved on the plane. We all understand that babies do cry sometimes, but what Arnab is talking about is the intermittent bouts of ceaseless bawling that babies engage in, while their parents look the other way.

    There may be many reasons why babies cry. Parents may (highly debatable though) even be powerless to stop them.
    However that does not justify the unapologetic attitude they display, both on flights as well in this comment-space.

    As a passenger trying to get some peace and quiet, it is indeed strange that complaing about baby-noise is considered to be insensitive, both on the flight and well as on a blog.

    Changing topics, wasn’t Sam Jackson totally Mithun in that “m***f**** snakes on the m****f*** plane scene and in general, throughout the whole movie?

    Mithunism is catching on.

  32. yourfan2 – “Regarding babies, I think that the point you tried to make was the sheer nonchalance and ostentiable indifference of the Asian mothers and not of the asian babies to make any sort of effort to stymie the act of crying…..for the convenience of others…a point which anon above completely misunderstood. And yes..crying babies are disgusting.”

    Did someone already say that you are an IDIOT ?

  33. YOURFAN writes:
    @Anonymous: You have written “ ‘Sheer nonchalance’ when your baby is wailing in discomfort??? You are way off your mark here, Yourfan. I think you’re trivializing a traumatic experience that many parents with small children face on airplanes, one which I’m certain you have never experienced”. The way you have written I can assume that you have the experience of handling a small child in a plane. You have mentioned that the child feels the pain due to the pressure. Yes, the pressure is very painful for babies and they get confused. But guess what, you can use air pressure stoppers in the child’s ears. How come all these mothers who don’t show ‘sheer nonchalance and ostensible indifference’ didn’t think of that option?

    The reason why I think you are a ‘harassed mother without any apparent reason’ is that you are confused about the simple thing that yourfan and yourfan2 are two different individuals – one is a man and the other a woman. I, yourfan (whom you have accused of trivializing experiences of parents of small children in a plane) didn’t write anything about children in a plane.

    @Rohini: Since you also said the same thing about the air pressure, I would say the same thing about the usage of air pressure stoppers for kids traveling in a plane. As for keeping the small children (who are not big enough to understand the social etiquette) engaged in their ‘waking moments’ parents have to take the time and energy to keep them occupied with playing with soft toys or drawing with them or let them draw and keep them engrossed or playing games which are not noisy. Yes, you can say parents do feel tired. But is that a good enough reason to let your child scream in the middle of night in your own house – I am sure you don’t allow that to happen no matter how tired you feel.

    @yourfan2: Thanks for your appreciation. When I was reading your comments to GB I was astonished that you share pretty much the same views with me on this post! Again I get the flak from somebody who confuses between you and me. Of course that is no big a deal – it does not bother me. But the only thing that bothers me is that people don’t have the decency (read etiquette) to attribute their comments to the right person because they are so jumpy to defend their views.
    Yes, Marcello Mastroianni (is it the right spelling?) is one of my favorites and if he in his young days were to wear a dhuti panjaabi then it would be very difficult to distinguish him from Uttam kumar from a long shot. Besides, Italians and us have so many similarities – they are emotional, passionate in whatever, love to take a nap right in the middle of the working day, artistic, lover of food (and that too spicy), corrupt, abound criminal activities and all gaga about their mothers – aren’t they just like us?

    @GB: Have you noticed that my comments are getting longer and longer like yourfan2’s? May be we are the same person – may be we are actually you!! Just kidding; all those insinuators!!

  34. @Arunavo: Great post. Or insensitive?

    @Ravi: Fortunately yet to see that.

    @Sanjay: Now I find your comment:

    Stupid: Cause its not my responsibility to wear ear-plugs because of *your* baby. Why not a gag over the baby’s mouth since we are on “stupid” anyways.

    Offensive: Because the terrorist thing was in jest. And if you cant understand that, then yes it is offensive.

    Over-exaggerating: Because I do a fair amount of travel myself too. And with 2 babies of your own, maybe perhaps maybe you are not really a neutral person here.

    Ignorant: Its fairly obvious you don’t travel that often since you say that babies are seated only in the first few rows. And that you can change rows based on noise and that people will exchange seats with you to get into the sound-zone.

    More South-Asians in the flight to Mumbai. Sure. But there are more non-South-Asians on flights elsewhere. Why are these flights much quieter? Distribution of babies should be the same all over.

    Is that tough to understand?

    Now with respect to your last paragraph, what you say may very well be true.

    Also it’s regrettable that you like so many other new parents have taken this personally.

    My point again: We, who do not have children and (are thus ignorant and horrible and whatever others adjectives you may wish to use) deserve an atmosphere of quiet on flight. Your attitude is: it’s we who should wear earplugs as if we are the ones “at fault” here.

    I am sorry Sanjay but this attitude is extremely disappointing. I won’t use your strong adjectives (of course when you use them it’s quite okay but if I use them it’s aggressive) but the bottomline is your baby’s behaviour is your responsibility.

    Can we agree to that?

    Lastly, people may find crying babies disgusting in general. I personally dont, but people may. Try to respect that and don’t come here with “I got two cute kids” attitude. And your use of the word IDIOT for everyone who does not feel duty-bound hearing your babies cry is for the want of a better word idiotic.

    As a seasoned commenter here with a “liberal” tone of opinion, you sure are being Bal Thackeryish calling people( me being one of them) names and being “intolerant” of contrary opinions.
    So kindly desist from doing so. 🙂

    @Rohan: I told my wife that this movie’s script writing was outsourced to Ootie.

  35. @GB “Stupid: Cause its not my responsibility to wear ear-plugs because of *your* baby. Why not a gag over the baby’s mouth since we are on “stupid” anyways.”

    Unfortunately, you cant really forcefully put a gag on a baby’s mouth, its not like they are going to cry forever, they cry for few minutes(at most 10 mins) and then get tired and go back to sleep. What is funny that you are trying to compete with a few month old by refusing to put on an ear-plug by being a complete stubborn, I guess it serves right for stubborn attitude like that.

    And whether or not your ‘terrorist’ bit was in jest, it was still offensive and I must say that was the only thing I took personaly else I wouldn’t even have responded to this post. I am a neutral person because my babies have never created a fuss on flights(knock on wood) and I must say from Pitt to Jampot (American Eagle – BA/AI – Steel exp) is a terrible journey of about 36 hours each way. And I dont know which Airlines you travel with, but most Airlines do offer you to pick your seat on their website, I have done it with BA, Continental, AA etc and I still say most babies are seated in the front few seats, Normally, when there are more families with babies that can’t be accomodated in the front rows, they are given seats in other rows. Happens normally in the over-booked flights to India.

    And no my attitude isn’t anything like “‘it’s we who should wear earplugs as if we are the ones “at fault” here.” – You are the one who is trying to find fault here by blaming the parents. The fact is that Babies are being babies, they are going to cry. Parents do try to pacify in certain ways (i.e. get their food, clean their nappies etc, it takes few minutes to find out the reason for theyr crying), even those take few minutes, Babies are not robots that you can just take battery out and they will shut up. Babies who take pacifiers are easier to pacify, but some babies dont take pacifiers and hence cry until they get what they want. That said I fully understand the inconvenience caused to other passengers, but the fact is parent cant do much when babies start crying, esp inside a plance., If we take out a rattle, other passengers will raise eyebrows, if we get up ans ask other passengers to move a bit to get Babies’ stuff out of the storage above us, some will complain.

    You lot assume that parents show attitude (which is so untrue, some might but most are too busy trying to find ways to keep the baby quiet, hey it annoys them too) and hence you show it too by refusing to take a ear-plug for few minutes and instead complain and whine. And yes baby’s behavior is parent’s responsibility, and I think most do it and babies still cry. Those who find Crying Babies as disgusting, should not plan on having one, because Babies do cry whether they are inside a plane or in the comfort zone Maharajas.

  36. I agree. Especially the bit about the babies – In a country where far too many babies are being born anyway, I wonder what makes people think others have the patience to put up with their bawling kids! Also the insane rush to collect cabin baggage and occupy the aisle.

  37. @GB :- “Try to respect that and don’t come here with “I got two cute kids” attitude. And your use of the word IDIOT for everyone who does not feel duty-bound hearing your babies cry is for the want of a better word idiotic.

    As a seasoned commenter here with a “liberal” tone of opinion, you sure are being Bal Thackeryish calling people( me being one of them) names and being “intolerant” of contrary opinions.”

    I would’ve respected your post, if you had written it without the use if the word – ‘Terrorist’ (jest or otherwise) and then continuing that how you wished for ‘a rattlesnake to crawl in’ at those times. Yourfan2 first went on to blame the ‘Asian Mothers’ as if it is the sole responsibility of mothers to take care of babies while daddies take a peg and dose off and then suggested that crying babies are disgusting.

  38. @Ch@ry “what makes people think others have the patience to put up with their bawling kids”

    Well, people did put up with you (and me and everone else around here) when we were babies. 😉

  39. While the treatment meted out to the Desi passengers after they got down was definitely racist, I can’t say that won’t do them a lot of good. I’ve had very limited flying experience (only in domestic flights inside India) and I have seen people completely disregarding the seatbelt sign, walking around to use the restroom during takeoff and using cellphones.
    I think we Indians have a tendency to disobey rules that are not enforced. As an unrelated example, people are requested not to do flash photography during the sound-and-light show at the Golkonda Fort. If you see the show, you’ll be amazed at the number of flashes going on. And that too happens with guys with expensive digital cameras who can very well turn the flash off. And the flashes don’t really help in that kind of a situation, except in irritating the other spectators.

  40. @Sanjay: Let it rest. It is GB’s blog and he’s not going to back down. He can keep responding till armageddon. His opinion is not going to change the world anyway.

    Great posts usually, but a few unreasonable rants here and there, which is ok I guess. After all, we are not *obliged* to come to this blog. I do because I love the humor, but sadly have to make do with some tripe like this once in a while, which is a worthy tradeoff most of the time.

    So, peace.

  41. “You are the one who is trying to find fault here by blaming the parents. The fact is that Babies are being babies, they are going to cry.”

    Try to understand this. Please. We dont need to understand your situation. You need to understand ours since its your babies who are disturbing the assumptions of a flight—peace and quiet. Its insensitive of you to ask us to wear ear-plugs. And it’s you who is arguing on the level of your baby by asking us to do so. Its not our prerogative. Its yours–as a parent.

    And parents dont show attitude? You are showing it right here by asking “others” to get an earplug. If that’s not enough not wearing earplugs is us showing attitude. Puleeze. Really funny how some babies dont take pacifiers, parents cant do anything and YET its the poor fellow passenger who should take earplugs.

    As to “respecting my post”—you as a liberal should know that everyone deserves respect. Its their POV. Its not personally attacking you and hence justifies no kind of retaliation from you in the sense that you did.

    Its very easy advising others to be “logical” and unemotional but its not so fun when the shoe is on the other foot is it Sanjay?

    Again I personally love babies (despite the snake thing which you really should not take personally)—-if I may say so, more than most men.[you may think otherwise from this post, but that’s the truth]. And I know that babies cry. However its their parents and their couldnt-care-less attitude that I dont like. Like when a passenger looks at the parent of a bawling baby and the parent is “Get an earplug” instead of “Sorry”.

    In conclusion, unlike you who says he disrespects what I said, I respect your opinion and your comments. I allow you to express them without calling you an IDIOT and other fanciful names. I allow you to disagree and express that disagreement.

    And that I think is what being truly “liberal” is—being respectful of others who you may not agree with.

    I hope you see the difference.

    @Ch@Ry: Put a pacifier in your ear. Or is it an earplug ?

    @JoyForever: It’s a basic lack of consideration for others as also the fact that disobeying rules is a cool thing.

  42. >> 1. Why do most of the harried babies invariably occur with higher frequency on the London/Amsterdam–Mumbai/Delhi flight than on other flights? Surely the airpressure and suchlike are the same on all planes. As someone who does a fair amount of trans-atlantic travel (conferences), the problem of crying babies is definitely much worse on flights with originate from or are travelling to India. My experience.

    Could it be because Indians have more babies in general than Westerners ? I am just curious, but what parts of the globe have you flown to..

    As for people expecting to be treated like maharajas, well.. a lot of it is to be blamed on the domestic air travel experience in India where Airlines promise to treate you like kings when you fly. These same people when they travel in an international flight or oversees dont realize the “matter of factness” or mundane-ness of flying in the west and make unreasonable demands on the steward. Why blame them if on their first flight they ask the steward for something extra ? Its just a matter of experience.. They learn in a couple of flights.. All said and done, Indians are just beginning to fly.. and it will be a while before everyone gets accustomed to it.

    Did you really intend this post to be a whinge fest about the manners of people in India ? What if some one were to say that they think Bengali airtravellers lack manners, there is a lack of social ettiquete among Bengalis and other such arrant non-sense ? I know from train travel in India that trains passing out of/from the Bengal/Bihar region were really messed up. Dirty.. overflowing toilets.. what have you. On top of that, commuters used to clamber up in reserved coaches, ganging up and beating up people who protested against them.. And the fish curry tiffins.. enough to make a vegetarian or a chicken-tarian egg-tarian gag.

  43. GB – It is insensitive for me to suggest the use of ‘ear plug’ while you were being so sensitive to compare a ‘crying baby’ with a ‘terrorist’ and wished for a ‘Rattlesnake’, Isn’t it ?

    For gods sake, It was a mere suggestion not an order as you are trying to insinuate. It’s not showing off attitude, but just trying to say that if you could use it, while parents pacify the babies, your own journey will be a lot more peaceful. You are the one who is showing off the attitude by saying ‘it is your baby and you better deal with it.’ Infact in the plane every passenger has to make compromises and like everyone else you need to make some too. Babies dont complain when adults leak air, or when adults let the infected air from their lungs pass into the cramped air inside the airplane, do they, or dont keep the bathroom clean etc etc, do they ?

    And no you dont need to understand any situation, because you cant, atleast not right now, Only time will make you understand. As for your statement :- “”parent is “Get an earplug” instead of “Sorry”. “” – Really tell me that you are on a plane and a baby is getting really cranky, you are sitting next and a parent comes up to you and instead of saying ‘sorry’ asks that he has got some unused ‘ear-plugs’ and if you would like to use them – I am sure you would cosnsider that as ‘Parent showing off attitude’, prefer his ‘apology’ and refuse the ‘ear-plugs’ and that will be enough for you to have a peaceful journey. I know I will prefer the ‘EarPlugs’.

    Lastly, Please shed your ‘Holier Than Thou’ attitude because in your first response to me, you repeated all those fanciful words in pretty much same tone- when you said the following :-

    “@Sanjay: Now I find your comment:”
    Stupid:
    Offensive:
    Over-exaggerating:
    Ignorant:”

  44. @Sudeep: Indians have more babies than Westerners? Well Westerns have quite a few babies too…the Indians who have many many babies are not the ones flying. As to what part of the globe I have flown to: quite a few cities in the US and Europe in addition to India.

    Now I don’t know what data you have that Indians are “learning to fly”—from the comments above I would say that couriers (frequent flyers) are the worst offenders.

    If you look closely through the post, you will see that its TOI that headlines Indians as being unruly fliers….to which I have said that’s a gross generalization. Kindly go back and read that if you haven’t. And if TOI says that Bengalis are bad and not anyone else well even the I would link to it and call it a generalization.

    I can understand your attempt to show I am a Bengali and not an Indian. But it doesn’t work.

    @Sanjay: Yes I *repeated* (note how I mimic the style of your original comment and use the exact same words) them because you had used them FIRST. I just wanted to reply in the same coin. In case you need it for it be spelt out, that was a sarcastic riposte to your name-calling.

    Quoting you:

    You are the one who is showing off the attitude by saying ‘it is your baby and you better deal with it.’

    No that’s not attitude. That’s *fact*. It’s your baby. And you have to deal with it. I fail to see the “attitude” in this statement.

    Do you seriously think that other passengers are obligated to deal with your baby (because that’s what your above line implies)? Do you, in all seriousness, expect that? Not everyone is as understanding as the Indian government with a Haj subsidy you know ! (That’s a joke–just before you fire up a huge comment with 10 links as to why the Haj subsidy is a great thing and call me ignorant, stupid, communal or whatever else your tolerant mind desires)

    Really Sanjay…each of your comments boggles the mind.

    @Subho: Yes well said. Just like I put up with some of the other tripe on my comment space and yet try to reply to them. It’s indeed funny that I am criticized for replying to comments (on my own space may I add) “till Armageddon” by some and taunted by others for backing down from a fight in front of their impeccably argued points when I do not respond to comments.

  45. GB – If you find words like ‘Stupid’, ‘offensive’, ‘over-exaggerating’ and ‘Ignorant’ as name calling then please consider my sincere apologies. I never intended them to use those that way and take those back. Once again, my sincere apologies.

    That however doesn’t change my opinion on the issue though.

  46. As a father of two almost grown-up kids, let me offer an observation.

    Singles who are insensitive to other people’s babies often turn out to be the most annoyingly over-indulgent parents.

    Some of you might want to revisit this post in a few years to assess your POV.

  47. @GB – “No that’s not attitude. That’s *fact*. It’s your baby. And you have to deal with it. I fail to see the “attitude” in this statement”

    Attitude is in your stubborn-ness to even acknowledge the use of an ‘ear-plug’ as an alternative and insisting that – ‘it’s your baby you keep him quiet’ . Attitude is apparent on your insinuations that I am being insensitive in even suggesting the use of an ear-plug. Attitude is in your insensitive response like “Put a pacifier in your ear. Or is it an earplug”, Attitude is in your insensitiveness in compring a crying baby to a terrorist.

    You fail to understand that the baby (apart from being my baby) is also a passenger with special needs in the plane and just like you are obligated to understand the needs of other passengers with special needs, you are obligated(I know you will deny, but you are) to do so in case of babies as well.

    Babies crying is a natural thing, you throwing tantrums over crying babies in a plane isn’t. TBF, Your tantrums seem more distrubing than crying babies and I would be really wary of such passengers in a flight and prefer crying babies. 😉

  48. @Shodan: Me single? Ladies, since Shodan has called me single, will you like to do franship with me?

    However I appreciate your point and maybe I will also be an overindulgent parent. Very likely 🙂

    @Sanjay: How about acknowledging us as passengers with special needs—the need for peace and quiet? And passengers with special needs are ones who need special kind of food, need special seating arrangements. Which is fine because they do not negatively influence my flight experience. Babies do. That’s the difference. (In other words, you and your baby have your rights *as long as they do not infringe upon mine*).

    I know I will never see this but I hope that one day you sit side by side a 400 pound man who is spilling over into your seat. And I will see how kindly you take to his status as a passenger with a special need as you have to squeeze yourself into half of your already cramped seat. And this not once but on virtually every flight to and from India.

    And no attitude is your suggesting that I use an ear plug when its your responsibility to see that your family does not disturb me. I am under no obligation (moral or otherwise) to change my behaviour (i.e put ear plugs) because you and your family have deigned to travel in the same plane as mine. And yes if you trample on my right to fly in silence, yes I have the right to protest.

    Lastly. my so-called tantrum doesn’t affect you or your baby in the way your baby’s does. However if I started kicking the back of your seat every 5 minutes and said I was a passenger with a special need (the special need to kick your seat) then yes I would think you would find that disturbing. [Again attempts to be funny—please do not come back with “my baby does not seek to disturb you”….I know. I am saying its your responsibility to see that he/she does not or does as little as possible and not ours (which is what you keep on saying)]

  49. There are boorish people in all parts of the world, not just South East Asia. All kids are cranky after a certain time as they do not have the concept of time. How else would they show when they are uncomfortable. When they are taken out of a set routine and put on an airplane their behavior is not going to be rational. Smart and prepared parents are aware of this and they come prepared with snacks, toys and other little gadgets to keep their kids amused. Also, smart parents do not leave their kids to fend for themselves,to knock back the free booze and pass out. This apply to all aspects of life, not just airline travel, if you want your kids to behave appropriately, pay attention to their needs- make them feel wanted, secure, happy and at peace. It is easy to make kids ;-), raising is the hard part. Your children are a reflection of yourself. Everything they do, they learn from you-good or bad.

    Sadly, we have to get used to this, as the consequences of actions of a few people, who want to create havoc in this world. “Travelling while brown” is not gonna be easy. We are going to get profiled and there is no way out. We can fight it but it is going to take a long time before things get back to normal, depending on what is “normal”. it would definitley help to behave in a civilized manner, leave the washrooms clean after usage, say please, thank you and excuse me. Also, if you see a good looking woman, admire her..don’t stare and scare the living daylights of her.

    Cheers.

  50. Again as I said. People like Sanjay are exactly why Indians get a bad name with their attitude that their babies are people with “special needs” and hence everyone has to tolerate them. They may be special to you Sanjay but for me your baby is a crying nuisance. Learn to accept that.

  51. GB,
    My bad. Singles was a lazy short-hand for people w/out babies.
    My comment was aimed at some of the over-the-top baby bashers on this post.
    They will be exactly the type of parents they hate right now.
    It’s not a “parents vs. rest of the world” issue.
    If you start off as an inconsiderate person, you just continue in same veign through various stages of your life.

  52. @gb: so..if all south-asian parents lack “basic consideration for others” because some fellow passengers of yours *did nothing* and let their babies bawl on&on&on forever -then- why is he wrong in his proposed train analogy – in saying what he did, on bengalis and biharis?

    dude, 400 lb men! on *virtually all* flights to/fro india! wow..given obesity is more prevalent in the developed countries, that says a lot !

    No parent -regardless of nationality- would let the child bawl on and on..Indian parents amidst foreign crowd are in all likelihood embarrassed and feeling sorry…infact,perhaps more embarrassed than they should be / more than the average american parent…just that they are not *used* to apologizing profusely as Americans can end up doing. they do what they are used to doing, in all probability to the best of their ability.

    you said that south-asians, regardless of how frequently they fly, have fun breaking rules and lack basic consideration..you mean to say that it is in the race then! going by your frequent experiences, south asians dont pick up mannerisms at all obviously…what part of the globe do you belong to?!

    It is never a *special* need to have silence/peace inflight…its more like *general* need. All conditions with children/aged/handicapped are logically *special* needs. As western ways become more and more ingrained in India, many board their first international flight knowing what to/not-to do. otoh, some dont and eventually pick up the western mannerisms.

    i believe that the airlines have to understand that ppl from lot many more backgrounds are flying across very different lands. Lands at different stages of socio-cultural evolution. Flying in india is not a mundane means of transportation yet..besides given all the tech boom many ppl are perhaps flying the first time when they come abroad/aboard!

    Just as the air hosts/hostesses take pains in repeating the safety instructions to ppl who probably know them by heart, they must not presume that everyone knows when not to get up to go to the loo! They need to update their profile of who flies to include new flyers!

    Sure, TOI called indians *unruly*. But your post only takes that further. You cant say yes to that and no to Sudeeps analogy!!

    You said: “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.”

    Did you -really- think TOI meant *all* ppl of indian origin?? Obviously – actually may not be that obvious- not. They meant majority. Which is what you go on to agree with.

  53. @greatbong : your take on babies was spot one. I think the airlines should have a family section along with first/business/economy.

    Also the behaviour of those passengers on that ill-fated NWA flight was despicible. What the authotities did was right. And i am sure they would have done the same even if the passengers were white. [I disagree with some on this]
    I don’t see any reason to paint this incident with colour of racism.

    People do actually behave like “Maharajas” on flight in some cases. It’s important to call their bluff.

  54. as an example – after 9/11 for a very long time, no one was allowed to -even- stand up 30 mins before landing and after take off from DCA, Ronal Reagan National at DC. Even the most frequent flyers must not have known that before the 1st experience. The crew made it super-clear in no uncertain terms that the flight will be diverted if someone stood up. Thats a deviation from normal in-flight practices. Hence, the repeated announcements.

    It would only make sense to include similar notices for new flyers on standard dos&donts to avert silly incidents like that in Amsterdam. Issues like language (of announcements) etc will come up, but that is definitely not the most challenging problem facing man kind. Airlines can figure out the logistics of this.

  55. @Soubhagya: The people who were suspected of being terrorists, I presume were seasoned fliers since they said somewhere that they travel often (if I am not wrong). The worst behaviour is shown by couriers/carriers who are also frequent flyers. While what you said is true that some people may not know flying etiquette, I am sure that was not true for these people.

    Why they break rules, we have discussed and I wont repeat.

    Regarding what TOI says and what I say. I never say majority. I say a significant portion. Now that could even be say 0.2%. However that 0.2% if it is greater than the average say (0.03%) would still be deemed a “significant portion” of South Asian passengers—enough to form a bad impression. (again these figures are examples) While in an ideal world, every human being would be seen as an individual and not as part of a group, in the real world that is hardly the case.

    I didnt say there were 400 lb dudes on all flights from US to India. I just said that if Sanjay, almost every other time he goes to India, encounters a 400 lb person taking away half his seating and breathing area, would he be so considerate as to consider the encroachment on his space as “that person’s special need”?

    @Kaunteya: While the Dutch authorities may have arrested them even if they were white, their subsequent behaviour towards these men during interrogation, when no guilt had been proven, was quite racist. IMHO.

  56. I remember an article in the Economist which suggested (strictly tounge in cheek), that babies on a plane might be considered ‘negative externalities’ and parents do not bear the full cost of the travel (just like car drivers do not bear the full cost of pollution). So they suggested that instead of offering discounted seats for babies, they ought to probably charge them more than the normal fare.

    With this excess fare the airlines can buy ear-plugs for the other passengers – hence everyone is satisfied – and we have a ‘pareto superior’ solution 🙂

  57. [url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/2346381.stm]This[/url] says there is some hope while travelling next to, eh, over-sized passengers.

  58. @gb: dude, cmon.. for all practical purposes – majority == significant portion!!

    a significant portion – automatically indicates that the other, is insignificant, which can only be because of smaller numbers?!

    also i meant ppl arent boorish by virtue of belonging to any particular geographical region. As cliff put it, there can be boorish ppl all over…and someone who is inherently boorish on the plane is very likely to be boorish everywhere!

    Given that such statistics is drawn up on south-asians/indians, & that a surge in the number of first time/relatively new flyers *is* happening from that region, in all probability they are simply not aware of western mannerisms, which does not make them boorish.

    not all lessons are learnt in the first flight. as the airlines presume ppl know standard practices, it could be the Nth flight before a relatively-new flyer realizes a certain practice!

  59. >> @Sudeep: Indians have more babies than Westerners? Well Westerns have quite a few babies too…the Indians who have many many babies are not the ones flying. As to what part of the globe I have flown to: quite a few cities in the US and Europe in addition to India.

    Once again, incorrect. Did you stop to ask yourself the question, who would be the typical person travelling to India ? From what I have seen (and I have lived in cities in Rajasthan that see a very heavy tourist influx) white travellers to India are either business travellers or young people who want to vacation on the cheap. You will rarely see children, leave alone infants or kids less than 5-6 travelling with these folks.

    Otoh, a substantial proportion of Indians travelling to India on the US-India flights are the ones on H1B/L1 kind of Visas. People (like yourself) who are just starting their families and naturally, they have young kids with them.

    Type India birth rate in google and it says:
    23.79 births / 1000.
    England birth rate: 11.3 birth rates / 1000.
    France: 11.9 / 1000
    Canada: 10.x
    USA: 14.x

    >> Now I don’t know what data you have that Indians are “learning to fly”—from the comments above I would say that couriers (frequent flyers) are the worst offenders.

    May be you were asleep or something, but the domestic and international air travel boom in India is a story thats almost common knowledge. Try typing India air travel in google news and you can discover this phenomenon for yourself. As for couriers being worst offenders, is there any data that you have to back that assertion, apart from random comments (which ones ?) and one slimes of India report ?

    >> I can understand your attempt to show I am a Bengali and not an Indian. But it doesn’t work.

    Uhh.. no you don’t understand (any of my attempts). But why the pricklyness when a comment about Bengalis, akin to the comments you made about Indians in general, is made ? Would it make my comments any better if I was to preface them with a simple “It would be a gross generalization, (but heres what my xenophobic mind wants to say anyway)”. Would this comment take away anything from the substance of what I said ? Why is making comments about Indians ok and Bengalis not ok ?

  60. @@GB
    >> @Sudeep: Indians have more babies than Westerners? Well Westerns have quite a few babies too…the Indians who have many many babies are not the ones flying. As to what part of the globe I have flown to: quite a few cities in the US and Europe in addition to India.

    What is the typical flight duration from US East coast to Europe ? ( I am assuming most of your flights were from East coast to Europe) Is it the same as the long flights from US to India ? Did you come across “Crying South Asian Kids” in short haul flights (~5-6 hrs) or long haul flights (>24 hrs in total) ?

  61. @Sudeep: Funny.I wonder where you saw any prickliness. I know you were trying to provoke me into prickiliness by stating how Bengali fish smelled and how dirty Bengalis were and I stated that as such in my last reply.

    I can understand your attempt to show I am a Bengali and not an Indian. But it doesn’t work.

    Perhaps you had already pre-assumed that I would and hence didnt even consider what I had written. 

    After all once you are out to show I am parochial, why let the truth come in the way?

    As to your stats, kindly tell me how is that relevant. India may have higher birth rates but the people who procreate a lot are seldom seen on airplanes. Not so in US. Most American family men I know have more than 2 kids. Some have quite large families (3/4 seems average). While most Indian professionals I know, in India and US have maximum of 2 kids—whereas in US, among the plane-going crowd, 2 is frequently the minimum.

    Most crying South Asian kids are found on the 10/11 hour European city–India route. While very few, if any, are found on the 7/8 hour route from East to West Coast. And mind you, the kids dont start crying on the 7-8 hour boundary but almost from the time the flight takes off.

  62. >> @Sudeep: Funny.I wonder where you saw any prickliness. I know you were trying to provoke me into prickiliness by stating how Bengali fish smelled and how dirty Bengalis were and I stated that as such in my last reply.

    Like you “assumed” that I was trying to prove you not Indian, I also pre-assumed your prickliness, now in a full bloom. Btw.. Why are you assuming I am out to prove that you are parochial ? I am not “out” to prove any such thing.

    Also, I didnt say Bengalis were dirty, thats a gross over-super-generalization of what I said. I only claimed that trains passing through Bengal/Bihar were dirty, the commuters were rude and frequently ganged up on fare paying passengers.
    But yeah, fish (Whether its Marathi or Bengali or Goan) does smell awful to me and a lot of other people.

    >> As to your stats, kindly tell me how is that relevant. India may have higher birth rates but the people who procreate a lot are seldom seen on airplanes.

    If you are talking about CSAK (Crying South Asian Kids) it is relevant that Indians have more kids than Americans and even more so when I pointed out that a large section of Indians who travel on the long haul flights India-US-India will have kids in tow, cause they are young professionals starting their families. Almost every Indian I know, who has been married for 2-3 years and has been in US for 3-4 years has kids. Can you say the same for Americans in the same age group ? It follows that when you hear a CK (Crying Kid) itll probably be a CSAK. Did you read that part of the comment ?

    I also posted, how India is experiencing a flying boom, and how more and more Indians are travelling on an airplane for the first time.

    Also the difference in the kind of service offered on domestic and international flights and how that may contribute to misunderstandings and extra demands on pursers and stewards in international flights.

    >> And mind you, the kids dont start crying on the 7-8 hour boundary but almost from the time the flight takes off.

    Air pressure differences, perhaps ?

    Either that, or may be.. well.. we know South Asians are conspirational by nature.. how they throw their garbage into the neighbours compounds and all.. They pinch their babies to make them cry, so as to disturb their fellow passengers, especially Bengali passengers. Its revenge for all those years spent in trains passing through Bengal/Bihar.

  63. @Rohan “Again as I said. People like Sanjay are exactly why Indians get a bad name with their attitude that their babies are people with “special needs” and hence everyone has to tolerate them. They may be special to you Sanjay but for me your baby is a crying nuisance. Learn to accept that. ”

    Ever checked any Airline Website ? If not Please do so( I recommend BA, one of the best). And trust you to twist my statement about passenger with ‘special needs’ to ‘they may be special’ to you. No, you dont have to tolerate babies, you have to have some patience. They are not some kind of TOYS that press the button and they are off.

    You should also learn to accept that your existence itself is a bloody nuisance to the nature. 😉

  64. @GB “I am saying its your responsibility to see that he/she does not or does as little as possible and not ours (which is what you keep on saying)] ”

    What you are saying is that ‘Crying Babies’ are the biggest terrorists and how you wish for some ‘rattlesnake’ to get into the plane. You are also making gross assumptions about South Asian Parents and also parents in general.

  65. @Sanjay: Yes right. You are absolutely right. Babies are the biggest terrorists in the world. Absolutely.

    I will accept whatever you say if you only stop crying. I understand you dont take pacifiers. Well  if you cannot, then at least get me an earplug.

    🙂

  66. @GB : “How about acknowledging us as passengers with special needs—the need for peace and quiet?”

    Please demand that from your AIRLINES next time you book your ticket. Ask them that you want tickets in only those flights where there are no babies, you have no right to demand that from parents. If the Airline feels that babies are a nuisance then let them come to the parents and say so.

    “And passengers with special needs are ones who need special kind of food, need special seating arrangements. ”

    I really doubt that you travel that much, because if you did, you would have known that most babies do get special seating arrangements (ever heard Bassinet ?)

    “In other words, you and your baby have your rights *as long as they do not infringe upon mine”.

    Babies have the right to CRY as that is their only mode of expression.

  67. @Sanjay: Got me there. No I dont travel much. Unlike you I only travel between Burdwan and Calcutta. And why only babies ! You have the right to CRY too…so go ahead.

  68. @GB” “..one day you sit side by side a 400 pound man who is spilling over into your seat. And I will see how kindly you take to his status…”

    You are making another gross assumption that it has never happened to me. While, unlike you, Its just that I never bothered to ask the weight of people sitting around me and I have talked to the airline crew to see if I can be moved elsewhere rather than throwing tantrums ,like you have been in this thread, and suggesting how big a nuisance is that person to me and blah blah blah.

    “And no attitude is your suggesting that I use an ear plug when its your responsibility to see that your family does not disturb me.”

    You can repeat it 100 times and so can I but the fact is your crying is more annoying and disturbing than Baby Crying. And you also need to understand that the baby is also a passenger and Airlines issued a ticket for him fully aware the kind of nuisance he/she could be, but if it knew your tantrums, there was a good chance that you would have been denied a ticket.

    ” I am under no obligation (moral or otherwise) to change my behaviour (i.e put ear plugs) because you and your family have deigned to travel in the same plane as mine. ”

    It’s not your plane, you have just bought a ticket just like other passengers and if you refuse to take necessary steps then it will increase you inconvenience, because babies are going to cry even if there was a rattlesnake in the plane. Most parents try to keep they quiet as much as they can but there are times, they just cant do anything and for you to come up here and make gross assumptions and accusations is really …well…(I dont want to be accused of calling names)

    “And yes if you trample on my right to fly in silence, yes I have the right to protest.”

    Well then please excersize your right and protest about the noise coming out of the plane and tell them to shut off the Engine.

    And also, please control your snoring, next time you are on a plane.

    “…if I started kicking the back of your seat every 5 minutes …I would think you would find that disturbing.”

    Happens all the time and all you do is talk to the guy sitting behind your seat and problem is solved most of the times. At times you do find people who keep doing it, you just gotta move on, its just a flight, going to get over in 10 hours max.

  69. And why do you think there would be anyone ready to take your place and your inconvenience? Because you are an ideal father? Because you are a “liberal”? No I do not ask the weight of the person next to me but yes if he takes half of your seating space, then you would be inconvenienced (note I didnt say he was sitting on top of you).

    And you and your family have also bought tickets just like us and have the same rights as you do. And the right on a plane is “a quiet flying environment except the sound necessary to fly the plane”—of course thats my presumption. Yours, since you have a child, is evidently different. Of course self-interest isnt a motivation for you…needless to say.

    Now why do you think I would be snoring? Do you?

    And lastly once I can see how you equate the noise of your baby with the noise of the plane, I can see that you really are bawling cause really there is really nothing I can do.

  70. @Sudeep: No matter how much I say I am not riled by your attempts to prove I am a Bengali and not an Indian you will still keep maintaining that I am getting riled– wont you? Well then the only thing I can do is be silent and see how you interpret that.

  71. I am amazed at how every other commenter misses the point greatbong is trying to make wrt bawling babies and their uncivil mothers/parents. I would like to make a few points regarding the same.

    1.However natural it is for babies to cry out loud due to physiological reasons or otherwise, they can always be taught to ‘behave’ when in public if they are above a certain age, 2-3 years or so. That is how children brought up in the west always seem so cultured and well-behaved.

    2.Of course nothing can be done about infants and the like but parents can atleast be apologetic, instead of nonchalant or worse, indignant for no reason at all when others have every reason to be so. This is a point emphasized by great ong too but seems to have gone above a lot of emotional parent/i-have-handled-a-child-hence-i-know-it-all-kind of person’s head.

    3.I have come across many Indian parents, esp mothers who actually play along with (in otherwords, encourage) all the nonsense that their kid, a spoilt brat (mostly a boy) is up to on the plane. This includes shouting wildly, say over something to eat, or about whether one can open the window, wear the seat belt etc. At other times, the mother becomes irritable and her raising her voice to admonish the child gets on co-passengers’ nerves more than the kid himself.

    It is absolutely true that Indians are one of the most self-centred people, not only on flights, but in general life. This concurs with the finding that Mumbai is one of the rudest cities of the world. And this is why no law with a intention to instill civic sense has ever worked here.

    Government buildings are actually the hub of the pan-chewing and spitting brigade, they seem to pocket the money for a color-wash of their walls too. But that is another loong story for another time, the governments in india saga.

  72. Aha, I can see that there has been much warfare on kids and babies.. Have a 2 year old and classify him as a terrorist for destruction capabilities.. hence, agree with the point that babies are definitely amongst the biggest terroists around the place 😀 :P.. As for babies in planes or any other public places, they are the parent’s responsibility and there is no running away from it.. to that extent, a crying baby in the plane for whatever reason is a nuisance and the parents are responsblie for the kid(s)..

    As regards well behaved kids, have seen both types.. my kiddo is a mix of both a brat and a wellbehaved one.. it is difficult for the parents to manage – but usually there is something that grabs the attention of the kid – like a story or a nursery rhyme book or for the older one a video game or something to occupy their minds with.. and that is what when i see these parents even on domestic flts get it wrong.. I once remember seeing a small kid, probably a few months old, crying its head off, the grandma was standing in the aisle shaking the baby and well, adjusting the a/c vents like it was hot and hence, the baby was crying.. There wasnt even an attempt to calm it by any other way.. that is moi opinion is stupid..

    Kewl, udaythepre…, Mumbai is the rudest city in the world based on a bunch of archaic rules by a magazine which in my opinion is losing it on a daily basis.. I certainly dont think a city or a country which can allow for racial profiling in flights are being more polite than mumbai.. and i dont think a whole of westerners are very polite either.. so there..

  73. Hey I completely agree that my baby is my responsibility and I agree that doing nothing is inconsiderate to others. But what non-baby people need to understand is that babies are not like simple mathematical equations where a certain input will always result in the same input. We always carry a big bag of toys and eatables to keep our son entertained but there are times when nothing works.

    On the comparison to Western babies, I have often thought about this myself and wondered why it is so. I think one of the reasons is that their style of bringing up children is different – they often leave their kids alone in confines playpens, let them cry-it-out from a very young age and are required by law to strap them into car seats in the back of the car all by themselves. They also use pacifiers and such tools a lot more. While I don’t want to judge them for their methods, I don’t agree with many of them and refuse to adopt them just for the occassional flight that I need to take…

  74. @all pro-babies
    There is hope for us yet!
    Bhogobaan aachhen.
    May this GB have a couple of howling kids who will howl all the louder and nonstop when they have to fly down to India.
    (Mrs GB will not thank me for such wishes.)

    And for the really vindictive amongst us, may they not only YELL but also PUKE!

    There! I can’t get any more EVIL than THIS.

  75. @Sanjay : Forget it brother. As you have said correctly, this is a issue on which the opinion changes once you are on the other side.

    @GB : May god give you the humility to accept a comment gracefully !! Please remember that you were a baby also – 30 or so years back and take my word for it .. even your opinion on this topic will change once you are blessed with a child. Mine has !

    @GB : Your posts are incredibly humorous .. and it is bound to happen that some part of it will be offensive to some people. Its definitely not worth your effort (in typing all those long counter arguments). So accept the accolades and dismiss the critisim as “other people’s right to have their own opinion.”

  76. @GB – “And why do you think there would be anyone ready to take your place and your inconvenience? Because you are an ideal father? Because you are a “liberal”? ”

    Because there might be an empty seat which I may not be aware of but the airline crew might know about. If there aren’t any seats available, then you gotta stay right where you are, you cant do much about it, after all its only a 7-8 hour flight.

    “Now why do you think I would be snoring? Do you?”

    Because majority of adults do, although if you ask them they will deny.

    And as for my comparison of Baby crying with plane noise, why dont you look at your comparison of Baby crying with cold blooded terrorists.

    Anyways, this is a pointless discussion about how one adult is behaving and crying worse than 6 month olds, It is easier to pacify babies. We should try lining up all the South Asian Parents and make them apologize to you one by one and that may pacify you. Airlines should come up with instructions that , If your baby starts crying, First thing you should do is stand on your seat and apologize to GREATbong, who is throwing tantrums like a tinybong, and only when he is satisfied, you can attend your crying baby.

  77. For all those wondering why the “parents” are getting all worked up. Usually, before a flight, most parents are totally concerned. If there was an option, we would rather not fly with the little monsters. That is probably also the reason why there are more asian babies on flights, because asians are on their annual pilgrimage back home for a darshan of dada, dadi, nana, nani and the assorts. The goras (I assume) have an option to wait till the kids are more manageable.
    Anyway, one is always apprehensive boarding a flight, I hope, I pray she does not cry. When she does, one pulls out the entire bag of toys, when nothing works, you beg and plead with the baby, please shut up!

    You need to understand that parents were once single too, and like everyone else, they dont like to hear the screaming either, especially at such close quarters. And after trying everything, the person is bugged and irritated and given the option would be ready to toss the bundle out of the window. At such a time, when a co-passenger gives them a dirty look, the general attitude that comes into mind is “yeah sure, you could do better, why the heck dont you come and take her then?”.

    I am not saying that it is not the parent’s responsibility, just that most of the times, there isn’t much that they can do about it.

    And as for non-asian kids, yes there is something to be said about the way the kids are brought up. Again, like Rohini, I would not be judegemental about their methods and a comparison on it, would require a whole book, but most Indians (me included) do not approve of the method of letting babies crying to sleep so that they realise the futility of their crying. That is not the way we were bought up and most of us turned out kind of okay, didn’t we? 🙂

  78. I have a better idea Sanjay. I would say keep Sanjay and his crying baby downstairs in the baggage compartment and let them snore and fart and bawl as much as they want to. And later Sanjay can come up and make love to Haj pilgrims. Sounds like fun to me.

  79. I am a mom and I know how hard it is to travel such long distances from US to India with babies. My otherwise, very well behaved child also becomes unruly after couple of hours in the flight. But kids are after all kids but what can you say about these young SouthAsian males ? They are loud and have obnoxious smell of sweat and perfume they move up and down the isle several times, wont be apologetic if they bump you several times while doing so.I think the ideal cobra moment is when you find such a group travelling with you.

  80. @DJK “If I ever have an airline/restaurant or host a concert, my sign at the entrance would read, “Kindly keep your mobile phones/laptops/PDA’s and children switched off.”

    Guess you wouldn’t be here if your parents had switched you off. Anyways you are the perfect audience for this type of thread. 😉

  81. hmmm, a really long tail is what this snake turned out to have!

    Being a father of two (very different personalities), in India, having strapped them to the seat at the back, and partially having let them cry without fussing over too much, what I have learnt is that they figure y you out pretty soon and you’re he one who can be taken for granted most. My kids behave amazingly well with strangers (fear, shock, a healthy respect for the unknown?) – esp when we’re not in sight – till the point they’ve gotten to be ‘friends’ with the new person, beyond which they’re legitimate targets.

    So – upon boarding the kids should be taken over by the kid-free – preferably men – and the parents should be at least 3/4 rows behind these for the mealtimes and nappy issues. The kids will watch even the flight progress info monitor in complete peace and we’ll all have a good time 🙂 !

  82. >> @Sudeep: No matter how much I say I am not riled by your attempts to prove I am a Bengali and not an Indian you will still keep maintaining that I am getting riled– wont you? Well then the only thing I can do is be silent and see how you interpret that.

    The only thing I can assume is that your assumption – that I am assuming you are getting riled up – is riling you up and you are in a sulk.

    Thats an awful lot of assumptions, so lets get rid of all those and let me say this: I am under no assumptions that I control your getting riled up or not, its something that only you can control. My only intention in posting comments about Bengal was to give you a taste of the same medicine that you dished out. How you react to it is none of my concern and something I dont care a whole lot about. You made general comments about Indians, I made general comments about an ethnicity that you strongly identify with – Hisaab Barobar.

    Quite apart from all this Bengal vs Rest of India match, I also pointed out a few substantive things, which you completely ignored, perhaps because they dont suit your views.

    a) Most kids on the routes you fly will be South Asians, and hence most kids who you see cry will be south asians too.
    a.1) South Asians travelling on the India-US route have a longer route to contend with and they are also the travellers who travel with more kids in tow.

    b) There is a lot of difference in the levels of in flight service provided in India, where flying is a luxury, and abroad where flying is mundane. This leads to extra demands on pursers/stewards.

    c) There is a huge number of Indians who are taking to the skies lately and these people will not be very familiar with in flight etiquette, due to a lack of experience.

    Its a very short leap from “Indians are unruly on planes” to “Indian cultural, religious and race experiences lead them to a lack of courtesy towards others and Indians in general are boorish whose culture and ethnicity can be looked down upon because of these reasons.” The previous statement is embellished by me, but only a little – most can be gleaned from the different comments cribbing about “South Asians” on this post. A sample:-

    How they stink of perfume and sweat (wonder why the authors delicate nose did not get bothered by the curry smell all of us emit),

    How western kids are so much more well behaved than Indian kids (the fellow can not escape his race blinkers even when looking at kids),

    How northies put their trash far far away from the fragile air hostesses so they can cop a feel as she bends over their tray to pick it up (no this fellow is not parochial at all. He is a paragon of open mindedness)

    And heres the real kicker:

    “It is absolutely true that Indians are one of the most self-centred people, not only on flights, but in general life. This concurs with the finding that Mumbai is one of the rudest cities of the world. And this is why no law with a intention to instill civic sense has ever worked here.”

  83. Also gratebong, please dont start again about how I dont consider you an Indian and only a Bong cause I made a comparison between my comments about bengali train travellers and your comments about Indian air travellers. Just because you are Indian doesnt give you a right to make stupid, insensitive and borderline racist comments about Indians.

  84. YOURFAN writes:
    @All: It seems that some mothers (Rohini ,Anonymouse to name a few) and also some fathers agree that there is a basic difference in reactions of Asian children and western children to a plane journey. So the psychological, physical reasons for crying babies in a plane provided by other parents are not necessarily true all the time. It is abundantly clear that western children behave the way they do because they are ‘taught’ to behave appropriately from their infancy. In this post some mothers acknowledge that fact yet say that they don’t want to be judgmental but nevertheless don’t approve of those methods. They say that the reason why there are so many Asian kids on a plane is because they have to make the yearly ‘pilgrimage to India’ to meet their nanas, nanis etc. My humble question is since all these parents are aware that they are not living in India (where certain things are ok but not ok in other parts of the world) and they have to adopt certain cultural norms in any case in their adopted countries when the kids are older (like allowing to ‘date’ at much younger just to name one) but have to (I don’t know whether I should use the word ‘want to’ since somebody wrote about the yearly ‘pilgrimage’!) come to India i.e. have to take kids in a plane and other public places quite often; then why don’t they from the very beginning adopt certain norms for their tiny tots which might seem ‘western’ but quite effective for their kind of life style? In my opinion one should try to adopt different new methods (not having taboo about any methods be it ‘western’ ) for different situations rather than stick to the ones which she heard her parents followed for her when she was a tot.

    One thing that astonishes me is that men like sanjiv have no qualm in accepting “As for babies in planes or any other public places, they are the parent’s responsibility and there is no running away from it. to that extent, a crying baby in the plane for whatever reason is a nuisance and the parents are responsible for the kid(s)” but most of the mothers in this post don’t think that way!

  85. @ sudeep
    Man, if you cant digest a simple fact, you don’t have to berate or make snide comments about the people who are bold enough to accept it and put forth their view. Every culture has its own upsides and downsides and though I love and respect Indian culture for its various good qualities, I have to say this is one heck of a truism.

  86. it is sad that india is regarded as lacking civic sense…for our age and population we arent doing too bad. We are 1/6th of the world. with very, very, very primitive law enforcement agencies. Much of the civility in the western world is because of tight enforcement of laws..

    *that* is why most ppl from developing countries become complete-law-abiding ppl in the west. imo. also because, it is *easy* to be civil here, there are trash cans everywhere, clean restrooms in all public buildings. being civil is reciprocal behavior, ppl wouldnt spit on something ultra clean in the first place..especially also when theres like a $500 fine, which is also *enforced*!

    as we learn what the western world has already learnt, and gain ability to implement we will be there, but then again in that much time the west might have made further progress, so there will always be some gap. No reason to be derisive of the country.

    Sure, be critics. this aint going to good critiquing though. imo.

  87. @udaytheprecambrian: “western vales of civility”

    Now that opens up a whole new can of worms, but let’s save that for another day.

    The post was about behaviour of desis on planes. But since the discussion has veered towards civic sense in general…

    Is it coincidence that civic sense seems to be related to overall prosperity? Honestly I’ve been trying to find an exception to that theory for the past few minutes, and I can’t seem to find any. Perhaps someone here can help me out…a relatively less prosperous nation, one of the so-called ‘third world’, but a picture of neatness, with happy polite citizens flitting around in an utopia of civility and cleanliness.

    I happened to spend a few years in the city of Boise, Idaho, not really the cosmopolitan urban America that most desis in the US are used to. Population? Less than 200,000. Annual budget of the city’s police department? 30 million dollars. The kind of law enforcement activities possible with that kind of money will bring out civic sense in a lot of us, oh yes.

    My point? It all boils down to money. You think the guy who thinks ten times before spitting on the road in the open-air-prison of Singapore doesn’t know how to beat the system? You bet he does, but he knows he’ll get screwed if he gets caught, and he knows there’s a pretty high chance he’ll get caught, which won’t happen if you have your friendly neighbourhood havaldar and his lathi as the only law enforcement machinery around.

    Check out the seedy neighbourhoods of any major city in the world. That will give you an idea of the *actual* civic sense of the people. The neighbourhoods are seedy by virtue of the fact that the writ of law enforcement is weak or non-existent there.

  88. Dear Uday,

    Points 1, 2, 3 of your comment:

    https://greatbong.net/2006/08/27/desis-on-a-plane/#comment-18403

    were marvellous and echoed my sentiments.

    Also notice the ‘taking for granted’ attitude of the people who are jumping at GB’s throat. This steadfast refusal to acknowldge the co-passenger’s need and firm adherence to “I dont give a damn if you are disturbed by my baby’s crying”, is actually what stops these people from improvising more innovative methods to stop the babies from crying, or from apologizing for that matter.

    I am not drawing any analogy here between babies (whom I love and want to see smiling) and dogs (whom I hate), but I have also noticed that in many many Indian homes (including my relatives) with dogs….. the owner will first let the dog sniff you , jump at your throat, destroy your well ironed trousers with its saliva; and then finally stepping in …. taking it away saying “Richa (say), you are such a chweet boy…why jump at the visitor” , kissing it a thousand times and then smiling at you and saying ” He/she’s such a darling…but trust me he means no harm”. The point Im trying to make is that Ive never seen such behaviour in the West. In parks, sidewalks etc I always see the owner making a conscious effort to drag the animal from my line and profusely apologizing if the animal happens to touch my boots. Like the babies cannot be stopped from crying, I guess the dogs also cannot be stopped from sniffing at you; but the marked difference in the way their owners behave as to ameliorate the inconvenience caused to other people is quite remarkable.

    My observation about the sample (the ones I have seen) however should not be used to infer anything about the population ( say stuff like SE asians etc ) in general. But if I am supposed to give a verdict, due to the lack of enough statistical data, i will have to use my sample. If you therefore dont like the results, you have every right to question my sample and be skeptical about my methods, but accusing me of tampering with the data (racist , insensitive to the troubles of having an infant etc) would be tantamount to a fallacy.

  89. @yourfan2: Your relatives sure are bad with dogs, huh?
    I grew up with dogs in my house, and many of my friends had/still have dogs, and not once have I seen the behaviour you speak of…
    Talk about gross generalization…
    What next…”chee, these Indians, eating with their hands”? Time to shore up on the western values people…the civility police are coming…

  90. cool with stuff vs paranoia/ickiness
    social existence vs personal space
    flexibility vs conformity
    whats the big deal vs respect for individual (dis)likes
    adjust madi vs sue them all

    we all have our own ways. don’t get too judgmental. either way.

  91. @Yourfan2: Great to see your comments after a while. Hey, your relatives are cool: A dog named Richa (even hypothetically)? All right! Most dogs are Caesar or Bruno or Smoky or Pinky. Good to see some dogs have taken the trouble to mix with us chaposha folks and have taken local names. I hold on to the hope that someday they may understand our local languages, even understand Bangla, so I can effectively communicate with them, but at the moment the domestic dog kingdom is totally English medium, especially in Cal! The next paragraph goes along with this comment because I know you find economics interesting so here goes…
    @Arnie: Interesting formulation that you have conjectured about solving the baby in plane problem problem through a pricing strucure that relies on the theory of pricing externalities; You can certainly can solve this freakanomics problem theoretically through an Edgeworth box: the passengers versus the parents on 2 ends and Baby Discomfort (leads to crying) and Travel Comfort on the 4 axes. The preference structure of the parent is to max (Travel Comfort,-Baby Discomfort) and that of the passengers is to max (Travel Comfort), with Baby Discomfort of a discrete or graded level being a consraint. Voila: You see a graded pricing structure with a set of discrete corner solutions on the Baby Discomfort axis, and, relative pricing scheme easily can be worked out between the passengers and parents! Very easily doable. Someone should tell the airlines about the existence of such a solution and do the local impoverished microeconomics assistant profs in Atlanta and Dallas and Minneapolis and elsewhere a good turn and help them earn a few consulting bucks. Cheers.

  92. Disclaimer: The author will not be held responsible for comments written below in any court of law (govt. or personal).

    IMHO (please understand its my opinion only, and I do not think all the people will like it) GB has lot of patience even when people are trying to jump down his throat or jump up unmentionable places.

    I’ve heard (read) few comments above regarding the way children are brought up in the west (read USA). It may be because the children there are Ferberized (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferber_method) and it carries over to their normal life where they become more self dependent.

    Anyways, reading through most of the posts I got confused about the point which people are trying to make. Is it:
    1) Children are children and they are not going to change.
    2) Parents are parents and we are not going to change (I have a 14 month old kid so please don’t tell me opinions change. Mine changed about 12 months ago. For 2 months I was in denial phase :))
    3) Our children are better than other people’s children.
    4) Any time we are singled out, its racism.
    5) We are not indians but bengalis / biharis / UPites / marathis / tamilians / …
    6) blah blah … etc., etc.

    But whatever may have been the point, I do strongly agree that Indians seem to be more unruly when they have strength of numbers. Travelling from Atlanta / Detroit / Chicago (not NY / NJ) to either Mumbai or Delhi, there is marked difference in the two legs of flights. People who are quiet during US-Europe flight suddenly seem talkative / unruly on Europe – India flight. (Maybe we are very social and want to tell others about our problems / achievements / etc). I’ve seen this on a regular basis.

    Even on domestic flights the best thing is when people jump up to collect their cabin baggage as soon as the plane stops. Maybe someone please explain the reason behind it :). Before people start taking stands / clarify things, please note that this is a one off post and I would not be re

    I’m not being sarcastic / judgemental. I just got tired going through the whole thing and wanted to make sure that the next person has to sit through it longer. 😀 (No I’m not sadistic … just jovial.)

  93. @Uday ‘Ah…you’ve answered it yourself, mate. Coz they are outside India and have inculcated western vales of civility.’

    I was talking about those who go to foren countries for temporary visits and FOBs, and wonder how/why they show perfect civic sense.

  94. @Anon aka YF – “My humble question is since all these parents are aware that they are not living in India (where certain things are ok but not ok in other parts of the world) and they have to adopt certain cultural norms in any case in their adopted countries when the kids are older (like allowing to ‘date’ at much younger just to name one) but have to (I don’t know whether I should use the word ‘want to’ since somebody wrote about the yearly ‘pilgrimage’!) come to India i.e. have to take kids in a plane and other public places quite often; then why don’t they from the very beginning adopt certain norms for their tiny tots which might seem ‘western’ but quite effective for their kind of life style?”

    Thanks for the Longest senetence in the history of RTDM.

  95. Hi Arnab and everyone,
    Tried hard not to, but finally could not resist a response. Very amusing post and more amusing replies.
    I thought originally the post was about Indian adults misbehaving but one jestful comment about babies being terrorists created such a huge branching (and further sub-branching) off the topic that the original intent almost seems unretrievable. I wonder what a friend of mine would have to say about that since he (jestfully, mind you) calls his own child “Taliban”.
    I have a few theories you can agree or disagree with.
    1. Your child and the effects of its behaviour on others is your responsibility… completely. If you try to suggest to others to buy earplugs, please be ready to get an earful no matter how noble your intention was in the first place because by offerring such a rude suggestion you have made the person completely disinterested in your noble thoughts. When my wife and I decided to have our child I do not recall plane loads of people giving their consent to put up with the ramifications. I doubt they did that for you. One has to take complete ownership of his procreation decisions.
    2. If you are way too inconvenienced by the behaviour of kids and their parents on a plane, it is probably time for you to consider buying your own lear jet. In a commercial flight you should expect such inconveniences and prepare yourself for them. They have stopped making only the “considerate parent” models. Out of fashion they say.
    3. There is some degree of truth when somebody makes a so called generalization that Indians are unruly travellers. I have had a few bad experiences and a lot of justifications have been presented here by the commenters, some of which appear believable. However, I tend not to over generalize (I am not suggesting any of you did). Unfortunately, I have to travel a lot in my job domestically within the US… about 40 to 45 weeks in a year and have been doing this for quite a few years now. Anything any of you mentioned here about unruly travellers, I have experienced. I found no nationality to isolate when I looked at those offenders. By the same token I found the dog example given by yourfan2 really funny (besides the fact that the dog was named Richa… that was really funny!!) because in the past few months I had some real serious issues with not one but two of my neighbors’ dogs. They are white Americans. Their attitude was exactly what yourfan2 painted about Richa’s owners. One neighbor finally got his act together and put up a fence. My next door neighbor still needs to prove her civic sense despite the fact that I finally had the police department issue a citation to her. Now, am I entitled to form a generalized opinion about white Americans? I do not know.

  96. @Debashish – “If you try to suggest to others to buy earplugs, please be ready to get an earful no matter how noble your intention was in the first place because by offerring such a rude suggestion you have made the person completely disinterested in your noble thoughts. ”

    Since that suggestion came from me, I must clarify. I will never suggest such a thing in real life unless someone comes and says to me (in real life ) that the crying baby is the biggest terrorist and/or disgusting, even if it was said in jest.

  97. And Sanjay, like I said, you can agree or disagree with what I said. I respect your opinions. All the opinions here make you think some more.

  98. Has anyone been struck by the contradictions in the above discussion? We all wish that Indians were more ‘civilized’ – just like the Westerners – but in the same breath, we turn around and say ‘make your baby stop, its your responsibility, its not my problem.’ Where’s the veneer of civilization here?

    Between India and the US, which country do you think has more baby-friendly facilities in public areas, whether it be playrooms, nursing rooms, changing rooms, etc.? Isn’t that because of an implicit recognition that a young mother travelling with small children needs special consideration?

    Its true that the parents are responsible for their children, but a little consideration and understanding would not be misplaced either.

  99. @Debashish :
    I don’t see that many here have a problem with the observation that babies on a plane could be quite annoyingchallengingtiring, ‘terrorizing’.

    “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. ” is what caused a lot of disagreement IMHO any way…

    I have many friends who travelled with kids, who shudder at the thought of having to do again.
    It may be just that all my friends make very selfbaby-critiquing parents, ’cause no one every blissfully reported how all the co-passengers found their kids oh-cho-chweet.

    please!

  100. Anonymous, isn’t it nice to have such self/baby-critiquing parents as friends? I always liked friends who taught me something!

  101. @Debasish Any reason why you might think that self/baby-critiquing parents cannot teach you anything and therefore might not be worthy of being your friends? Just curious.

  102. Just hold on guys – it is inconsiderate behavior if:
    (a) A parent does not try to stop a kid screaming and crying on a plane.
    (b) Another passenger makes a fuss about a kid, if the parent is making a genuine attempt to make the kid quieten down.
    So both sides are correct, in their own way.
    As Rev John Smith said of two women loudly fighting from their respective houses across a street, “They will never agree – they are arguing from different premises!”

    I’ll tell you what I hate most – something I’ve occasionally seen in both Indian and Europeans/Americans – A kid makes a nuisance of itself. The parent apologises for not being able to make the kid behave. Then behaves as if apologising has made it perfectly legit behaviour – and co-passengers MUST subsequently enjoy what the kid is doing. IMHO, this is more hypocritical than parents who are so enamoured by the sweetness of the kid as to not realise that it’s irritating others.

    Come on parent brigade – your move.

  103. I concur man… not only are most us horrible travellers… hell we’re horribly socially really unspeakable… i think there’s a need in the market for social behaviour classes

    LOL

    Prash

  104. i dont like the fact that as im typing the computer already knows my name, its really intimidating.

    i want to see snakes on a plane. was it good?
    i want to see those motherfucking snakes on a plane!
    am i not allowed to curse?
    my apologies.

  105. Just wanted to add to the iritating crying babies on flight issue. I have some friends who give their children a spoon of cough syrup before a flight, which I hear is also what my mother used to do. That keeps the baby sleeping for most of the flight and not hyper for being restricted or in pain. Its is also not cruel or bad and this is paediatrician prescribed.

  106. Indian babies on planes don’t bother me much, being “abla” and totally devoid of blame. But Indian brats do! Indians (Bongs included) must have the worst behaved non-infant planegoing children in the world, followed by Japanese, then Chinese, and the others I have no opinion on. Man, Heathrow, JFK, DFW, Frankfurt all are playpens now where the Desi Terrible Twos, Threes, Fours and Fives put up their never ending schtick, joined occasionally by their elder siblings (full co-conspirators), with ringside seats occupied by the proud progenitors, while the rest have to find whatever space remains. Regarding babies, what CAN you do? And we can be a bit indulgent about them. But Brats?!!!! Going back to my earlier post, we must levy a Brat Tax on the parents to create a proper equilibrium! Because it’s squarely their fault.

  107. @Dropping By : Its not that I have a better solution, but I didn’t like the cough-syrup solution you have mentioned. I recall one newspaper story a few years back …. a mother went to see a movie with a baby. The baby started crying during the show and the irritated people started “shuuush”ing the lady. The lady being from a lower middle class background was embarassed and frightened and covered the baby’s mouth with her hands in an attempt to stop the noise. When the show was over, the baby was dead… obviously because of smothering. A lot can be said about the lady’s judgement and priorities, but still the fact remains that a baby died because his crying was causing disturbance to other people. If you ask me … the baby got a very raw deal.

  108. @SP: Isn’t it one of the tragedies of life that morons get more kids than they deserve some of whom they strangle to death in movie halls and then there are brilliant and caring people who’d give anything for a child but don’t get any. The problem in the movie theatre example was a moron’s response to probably legit displeasure shown by other tariff paying patrons. The problem always is the parent! Say yes for Brat Tax!

  109. I do agree with the most what has been stated by GB. I used to be a very regular on the Indian Domestic Circuit, and believe me, even the guys, the so called corporate honchos, they way they behave, pushing others to get there luggage is shocking. If you have ever travlled on the Jet airways, DEL-BOM sector, and if you amongst the last few passengers to board the aircraft, there will be no space in the cabin rack for you. Inspite of it being written everywhere that only 1 piece of nad bag is allowd, people tend to carry all their luggage including big strolleys and when stopped, they start arguing. Everybody (mostly ) think that since they are travelling by flight, they can do anything they want to and the aircraft is just like their personal fiefdom. We need to learn from the europeans , the virtue of patience. Over here in UK people will rather stand back and allow the person to board / get off first unlike the usual jostling shoving around to be the first. As about the Air India Air hostess, i really empathise with them regarding what they have to go through in theirwork schedule especially with passenger behaviour.

    End of the day I think, we need to get ourselves a little more educated on Civic sense and social ettiquettes, else we always remain a nation of unruly bunches….

  110. With your attitude towards babies..I curse you of infertility!! You won’t have babies. Will yearn to have one and then in your next trip (trip after you realize your problem of infertility)..you will appreciate babies :)) That is some day I look forward to.

  111. @GB – Wish you are surrounded by wailing babies(firang babies) in your next plane trip. Don’t forget to share your experience.

  112. Great Bong –

    While your blog is otherwise excellent and well-reasoned, I think you are losing your handle on the issue of babies in flights.

    Disclaimer: I am not a father and I am disturbed by bawling babies just as anybody elese. I like your blog as well (which is why I am here and which is why I am commenting), so my comments are spurred only by your opinion on this issue – no spillover from any other point of disagreement.

    Firstly, you are not a person with special needs – civilized society in general accepts that people with special needs are : Elderly people (whose physical condition is deteriorating), Pregnant women (another person inside them), Physically challenged/handicapped (obvious) and Children/infants (not yet developed as adults). You are not a person with special needs – nobody is obliged to take care of you. If your ears hurt, you need to wear ear-plugs, parents don’t need to gag their children for your sake! This issue can be viewed either way! You are arguing that it is parents’ responsibility to take care of their children (and keep them silent), I am arguing that it is your responsibility to take care of yourself.

    Second, nobody expects you to pet/love/smile at other people’s children. You are assuming too many things here – a demand from some parents for consideration is not driven by their expectation that you love their wards, but rather that you understand that children have special needs and you cannot have the same expecations from them as you would from adults. In other words, you are just expected to ignore the infants and if their bawling prevents you from doing that, that is your problem and you need to solve it for yourself.

    Finally, the best option you have is to purchase business class/first class seats, where there are usually no children – if you are so picky about having a peaceful environment, then you should also be prepared to pay for it. Airlines will sell tickets to parents with babies (it is business for them), and babies will bawl (no law against that and social etiquette standards are different for babies and adults), but you have the option to pay $5,000 for that business class ticket and avoid the babies. Will you cough up the dough?

  113. Amith,

    How come the baby’s parent doesn’t purchase the first-class ticket, given that it is he/she whose baby would potentially inconvenience other passengers?

    I am afraid that in your defensive efforts to be “pro-baby” or “pro-compromise”, many of you have mostly lost all sense of what is a reasonable accomodation, and we automatically expect people to “adjust” to any and every circumstance. In Rang De Basanti, one of the characters very correctly/amusingly poins out that in India, the “adjust kar le” attitude has become so prevalent (and I agree it is an honorable virtue uptil a certain point) that even if six people are sitting in a train compartment seat that is supposed to seat three, a seventh person will try and squeeze in, and tell the others “yaar, adjust kar le”.

    I love babies, but I hate inconsiderate parents whose attitude is that their maharaja “baba” can bawl all they want and display boorish behavior, and the other people around should “understand”. Of course, if a baby is very very young (less than six months old) and the nuisance is not prolonged and the parent is indeed making an honest/complete effort to console the baby, everyone else should be, and in most cases will be, considerate. In no way should this be a “license” for the parent to not try their best to keep the noise level down though.

    Like many have pointed out, western kids are indeed more well behaved in general (of course, plenty of bawlers there too) and that it is a product of their upbringing. This point only strengthens GB’s original point about parents needing to make similar efforts in all cases. If indeed some parents think that pacifying kids and expecting more cultured behavior from them is expecting too much (some mothers are amusingly taking the high ground here by saying that they do not approve of the “western” methods etc etc, which amount to just excuses…..and actually not using the back-seat car-seat is just plain unsafe and inconsiderate too) – then you are falling into the same trap that many parents let themselves fall into (“Kids will be kids, blah blah”). Yes, kids will be kids, but that is no reason why they shouldn’t be taught to behave in a cultured way.

    Someone I knew used to often notice these brats, and amusingly commented how many Indian parents are almost excited when their little brat does all these loud/brash activities and somtimes encouraged him/her on: “Come on, beta, Monkey karo, Monkey karo….” Ha.

    Of course, most of the comments above hold for kids in the 1-5 range (BIGGEST offenders), not as much the 3-6-8 month-olds, who are more subject to the descriptions of lack-of-alternative expression-method reasonings….

    Anyway, perhaps parents like Sanjay will continue to act defensive and instead of altering their behavior (THEIR behavior, yes, not as much their kids’, as it is much more their attitude GB’s post addressed, not the kids themselves…), continue to label GB’s call for civility as a personal attack on their kids! (which we all know, it wasn’t…..for God’s sake, the terrorist joke was just that…a joke. And on his blog, GB has the right to express himself the way he wants.)

  114. Experiencing an emerging trend of racism by flight attendants.

    I have noticed during the last 3-4 flights (mostly between Tampa,FL and Richmond, VA), that the flight attendant ignores me when I’m boarding or deplaning. They greet the passengers who pass just before me and just after me but manage to look away when I pass them. More interestingly, they will not acknowledge when I greet them either.

    I thought I was being paranoid but then my wife who travels quite a bit as well, noticed the same thing. I was wondering if these are isolated incidents or if anyone else has noticed this trend.

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  116. I had this experience on BLR – DEL flight. Two young men (around 22-24) were sitting behind me.

    It seems one of them had flown this route on a previous occasion, while the other had not.

    So, once the plane is out of Blore airport and flying over Blore city, the “experienced” dude started describing the route to the other guy.

    It started with something like, look that is airport road, now its MG road, which I think is OK as you can make out the parts of your city from the plane but the funny part started once the flight is out of Blore.

    The guy kept on describing everything that he saw from the plane, as if he personally knew everyone/everything that the plane is flying over.

    It reminds me of the bus/train journeys, where regular passengers would keep on telling you what station/stop will come next and such other trivia.

  117. Hi Arnab…

    I do agree with Vivek… It was many many moons back that a caucasian gentleman (SIN-KUL sector) insisted and almost but scolded me that I should switch off my handphone right NOW!!! The stewardess was yet to tell me… Anyway… I did… but I remembered…

    When the flight landed, I found that the same caucasian switched on his phone immediately and tried to call someone… the plane was still taxying to the stop… obviously I got my chance now… Smiled and told him, that probably he is not educated enough to know that he is not supposed to use the phone till the phone comes to a stop… I feel sad for his lack of education.. probably because he was taking his first flight and therefore I excuse him… but he should IMMEDIATELY switch off the mobile…

    Before disembarking I told him that there is an old English saying which goes something like… people in glass houses should not throw stones… My job done… he with a red face, fuming, stupified, stumped by a desi in front of other non-caucasians and caucasians… I calmly and coolly got off the flight with a beaming smile…
    Yeaaaaa 😉

    Yes… I do agree with you that the biggest terror threats are the South Asian babies along with their parents!!! 100% agree with you… closely followed by the gentlemen behind my seat who keeps propping their feet…

    Oh there are threats bigger than them… the ULTIMATE TERROR is the STINKING Desis… 100% of the Desis who stink, believe that they are oh so manly… and that Jovan should take their musk and bottle and sell it… Gawwwwddd… I pray you never ever have to sit beside a stinking desi or a caucasian with stinking socks… they are worse than Al Qaida!!!

    Anyway : about the CCU-BKK flight, they are not the Indian Air Traveller… they are the Calcutta Fancy Market Smugglers… so please they are not your air-traveller…

    In fact recently one comes across yettannother variety of desis… this is the Indian Airlines flight from Singapore to Calcutta… And this knowledge comes from 2 of my friends who just did the flight and were telling me about it…

    In a flight of 300 odd only about 10 people are going from Singapore to Calcutta… the rest of the passengers are Bangladeshi Construction and other workers who having completed their work are on the way back home… the poor fellas are taking advantage of the cheap ticket to fly from Singapore to Calcutta onwards to Dhaka… and feel exalted that they almost look like Shah-Rukh Khan with big sun glasses and the various architecture in the airport as the backdrip they click photos aka Don!!!… needless to further explain how they behave… however as we look similar, we take the blame… But the Indian Airlines crew in Calcutta is aware of this… so when the flight is on its way from Calcutta to Singapore (the route is Dhaka-Calcutta-Singapore), the passengers who have got up from Dhaka are made to sit in one concentrated group and the passengers boarding from Calcutta are attended to separately…

    But yes, I guess the general agreement is that most desi’s are bovine… (no insults to anyone’s faith)…

    Some time back… I was on this flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok with my Ma and Bon… after embarking, [we being God’s special children – probably the citizens of the only country who require visa in Thailand], queued up for the visa on arrival… and hell oh! Ma was STILL NON-STOP talking of our great culture being superior to anyone else’s in the world (in an effort to get me to agree to marry an Indian girl 🙂 when ah! my Desi bumpkins came to my rescue…

    ….One after another burly Up Country, Middle Country, Below Country Left Country, Right Country Desi, (directional reference is made wkith respect to the map of India) pushed and shoved Ma and Bon out of the visa queue in such a manner that she barely managed from falling to the ground…

    I got saved…… and of course had only this to add… “…see Ma, Indian culture after all… just that it’s funny that on the other hand whenever you stood in an MRT (metro train) in Singapore, the Non-Desi would get up and let you sit… and… and…” “… but then we Indians are the most cultured”

    Talking too much… Forgot it was YOUR blog… :-[)

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