Sunday, July 29, 2007

Kursi ki peti baandh lijiye...

In the good old days , there was only one domestic airline. Indian Airlines . And naturally everything they did ( and still do) followed Government diktats. Right down to the in-flight magazine being Hindi-English, the dog-eared-wrinkly-laminated- safety- leaflet being Hindi-English and ,needless to say ,the in-flight announcements being Hindi-English. Fair enough ( stupid, but fair).
A couple of months ago I flew from Coimbatore to Trivandrum. By Air Deccan. The aircraft was virtually full. And the buzz - clearly from many excited first time travellers - was hard to ignore. I smiled. It was one thing to read all those articles about the airline revolution in the Press . And another to actually experience it. Rows of eager faces peering through the windows. Delightful clamour of various dialects of Tamil and Malayalam and the odd broken English. Till it was shattered by the air stewards announcement. "Namaskar .Air Deccan aapka swagat karta hai ..." . Needless to say the opening line and what followed ( ironically the safety announcements)was completely lost on the passengers.
I realized on subsequent flights -Jet , Kingfisher, Sahara - in AP - also do only Hindi-English announcements . And I suspect the same holds true in the rest of India as well ( Aizawl-Kohima ,for example. At least the folks over there understand English. So what are they cribbing about ! )
Now why would all these savvy airline marketers do such a thing ? Indifference ? Unlikely.
Is it a guideline from Civil Aviation ?
What use are safety announcements in a language no one understands ?
Methinks ATC communicates to pilots in Hindi first and then in English ! Now I know why some of the Russian pilots flying with the private airlines landed on the wrong airfields !
Enough . Time for some dahi-chawal .