Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My ‘Cattle-Class’ identity

In my more than twenty trips abroad and forty-plus flights, I have enjoyed ‘cattle class’ throughout. Yeah, this term is almost synonymous to ‘economy’ and more so ‘austerity’ that’s doing the rounds in the corridors of power these days.

Except may be once when my luck got smeared with the muck from ‘holy cows’. I will write about it towards the end.

‘Cattle class’ travelling isn’t all that bad, contrary to the tweet from the minister that hit headlines recently. It has its own advantages (and few disadvantages). I keep thinking of the advantages more … since some males (unlike the minister), I presume, have an adventurous strain in genes left in them to explore.

They keep dreaming about ‘that’ moment of sheer fun among the herd… at least I do!

A flight from the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) during my early days of travelling some fifteen years back reminds me of absolute liquor luxury. These flights had robust looking maidens who served intoxicating bottles … as soon as the flight touched some altitude.

Yes, I have some of the prized moments drinking high in the atmospheric zone … and never failed an opportunity to enjoy them in the company of my herd.

To drink red wine, chardonnay or the hotter varieties in the company of damn good-looking damsels is divine. That too on an altitude as high as thirty to forty thousand feet!

You need some attitude to do that, believe me. Some guts, and some daring hot blood must flow to keep drinking while they serve. You seem to get noticed as a saner man while other cattle in the herd create nuisance.

Imagine a lady who is serving and also admiring your attention … you love that, right? Sad, the minister may not like it!

The other thing I never miss is the concert that starts as soon as night falls in the aircraft. Men have noses that snore, we all know that. Recently feminine noses among the herd have started producing funnier interludes.

Combine this cacophony of sound … and they all merge into a wonderful mid-air concert. The ones that are high-pitched are well-balanced by the sombre ones in lower levels. To this day I remain awake just to enjoy this musical event mid-air.

From a photograph released recently, I feel the minister may have been part of this concert too during his cattle class flight.

Well, I said, may be.

One aspect that I dreamt in the company of the holy cows in business class is the singular attention of the air hostesses. Soon after boarding, they would pull down the curtains separating the business class. It is like what women do when they would say, want to make love … or may be, change their dresses.

I wondered what they did to the few elite business class individuals. My brain started to zoom around in a fantasyland dreaming. May be passengers in business class get their faces wiped or may be the hostesses sit by their side and share a drink!

Amidst such holistic confusions, I boarded a British Airways flight from London’s Heathrow Airport. They had given me a boarding pass with the seat number which never existed in the flight (even foreigners do this in foreign land!). The aircraft was full and I was hurriedly handed a boarding pass with the seat number 4E just before boarding.

Poor me! One who was destined to ride cattle class and merge among the herd … was courteously told to enjoy a business class meant for holy cows!

The seat seemed much spacious to contain the lower part of my body. Window appeared bigger, and there was a folded leather flap to contain privacy from my only fellow passenger – an old white fellow who looked more like a Yorkshire historian.

My curious mind picked the flight manual and started to memorize operations for the space that I proudly occupied. Very soon the flight started to taxi … and they pulled down the curtains separating the ‘cattle’ from us.

Blood inside my veins started flowing as if the heat was irresistible. I could sense rapids being formed during the blood flow … and soon the petite lady was in front of my seat with a tray holding the goblet. I could see the yellow fluid inside, and quietly made some room so that she could sit by my side.

I took the goblet softly and put it on my tray table.

‘Thank you, sir’, she said … and politely smiled as she left the place. I stared blankly at her … and soon realized that, unlike my dreams, passengers on this side of the aircraft also wiped their own faces with tissues.

That night, the old fellow by my side learnt from me how to switch on the reading lamp, and how to recline the seat. I wondered if he was also an erstwhile passenger among the cattle merely shifted among the holy cows by the call of fate.

Night was silent … while the cattle class enjoyed a concert. I didn’t hear that anymore.

Worst was to come … a lady well dressed almost fell on me while I was quietly making my way to the toilet. She looked up at my face in her daze and smiled … as if the word ‘sorry’ was hidden within her coloured lips. Flirtatious men may be seizing such opportunity copiously, who knows!

My flight landed on time … and I was escorted by another hostess to the aircraft door. I looked back … wished her good bye … but could never forget the below-average ride inside the business class.

Back in my hotel, I promised to remain faithful to my cattle class … I don’t wish to merge among holy cows anymore.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

To my unborn love poem

‘Why can’t I write a love poem?’

My idle mind wondered. There are so many good poets around who weave their magic wand on those wonderful thoughts they have in their minds. They bind verses of romance … rhyme them, those poignant moments of love and passion … in flesh and blood.

Poor me, I can’t even think of a poem, leave aside a love poem. I sat down to realize what happens when I start to think.

Last time, when I sat to think about a poem, the tom-cat of my neighbour howled so badly as if he was bitten by a six feet lobster. And god, what a nasty trouble-maker this animal is … so I just shut up. There was no point in arguing the crisis with him.

Cats in my neighbourhood are usually peaceful with humans. But they have messy relations within their clans. Sometimes, humans have to bear these fights too.

Guess the intervention of human lives make feline lives miserable! I will write about that later.

There are other times, particularly when I sit to think, some distraction would take my mind away. As soon as I dream of the beauty … that silk-like hourglass figure approaching me … a tiny mosquito would whiz past my sensitive earlobes, making that disturbing humming sound that is so difficult for me to tolerate.

I am engulfed with that monotonous buzz with which I have spent more time than I may have spent with all lady friends in my entire life … isn’t it damn disgusting?

Our city is home to a million mosquitoes, and a sizable of them are branded as Anopheles – the malaria carrier.

Finally, I sit down and start thinking of the lady love whose poignant emotions would make love with my readers. And here she comes … and lo and behold, she comes with her man. Just when I would be pondering seriously how to seduce the lady with my charismatic verses, the lady deprives me of her company.

Aargh, I exclaim … such times are damned.

Thousand and one times I had thought of this lovely lady of this imaginary poem. And ten thousand times, she appeared to have just come to spend her love with her man … that she was never mine.

So much for mental distraction …

These days the lady that I visualize rides her man’s bike – the fatfati type. You know those god-damned screaming silencer wallahs, don’t you? For some reason, I just hate them … and my entire soul dies a few thousand deaths the moment I hear one such damned vehicle speed past my house.

In my whole life, I never believed in these noisy machines. I drove around a decent car for around five continuous years without honking for pleasure. I was absolutely cop-free and, even though once I had to drive thirteen hours from Chicago to New York city in my vintage 89 Honda Civic, never had to blow the horn until I hit the highways of the city.

What does that mean? It simply means I hate screaming bikes … and I hate a lot of noise too. So, the lady of my romantic verse loses contact with me the moment she decides to ride on her man’s fatfati.

Which also means that such ladies are not made for my poem … at least not the romantic types. In whole, that unborn poem keeps begging for the lost love.

May be there’s no love left in me and my poor soul, huh. May be I am no love-material, at best a man growing old … mostly resigned to the chores of mundane life.

Work, retirement, cholesterol, heart attack … obituary – that’s all I am destined to.

I have tried day dreaming, fantasizing in the evenings … even attempted sweet dreams at night. It’s another story that most of such dreams have become nightmares by now … and I have a sinking feeling that I will never really manage to write a good love poem.

With so much love around, why would a fairly love-friendly man (and this is no bragging) remain so inept at writing love poems?

May be the tom-cat, the bewildered mosquito or my hero’s fatfati bikes have an answer!

I need an abortion of mind … at least for now.