Saturday, 11 August 2007

Business Class: Travel At Your Own Risk!

Yesterday I flew into Chennai for my MA (Music) classes, after a break in KL. Travelled on business class in a premium airline. Why? Having in the past, had terrible experiences in economy class on ANY flight to Chennai, I chose business; Somehow, alcohol and male passangers Chennai-bound, create a cocktail of cacaphony and commotion on an otherwise decent economy-class flight. So I travelled business class for the second time in my life, despite being in about 30 flights to date.

Since on my first biz class flight I'd met actress Kushboo's two cuddly kids and had a pleasant conversation with a Malay oil-and gas exec with a taste for Haris Jeyaraj's songs, I waited to see who my neighbour would be this time!

It was a man of about 50 spotting a very unusual hairstyle which I can only describe as "Imuda" hair. Even his glasses and the general shape of his face pretty much appeared like Malaysia's comedic-actor, Imuda's. Of course, the moment you took a closer look, you knew he had distinct Indian features and wasn't remotely related to the Malay actor. But I still could not help thinking "what if" Imuda had something to do with inspiring this man's general persona?

It was at the tip of my tongue to say, "Hey there uncle, are you an Imuda fan?", but of course I made a special attempt to refrain from even making eye contact, so that I would not even snicker, let alone blurt out my impertinent question.

After mentally smacking the funny thoughts and wild imagination out of m mind it was easier to present a decent smile and introduce myself, though I kept it brief - a PIO Indian-music student. No sooner had I made this intro, this seemingly uncommunicative passanger seemed to only too glad to volunteer a lengthy, pause-less, self-intro! Sigh!

It felt like an eternity of words, but the gist was clear; Apparently, he was part of a trio of Tamil cinema producers on his way back to chennai after some deal-making in Malaysia. It seems, he is the COO of the cine production company. He went on to talk about his movies and what business he had in KL. I was surpised that he'd share so much detail with a total stranger. Lucky for him, I'm a responsible blogger and therfore shall not share these interesting cine-news bits unless bribed with ten KJ Jesudas kutcheri tickets, a lifetime supply of Bombaj Jayshree and TM Krishna CDs, and a chance to hold the tambura for Sudha Raghunathan on one of her concerts!

Initially, I remained patient, presuming Mr COO was recently in a sales meeting and perhaps was in the same mode when he got on the plane. But then, he spent a good deal of time lambasting everything in his conversation with me, and did not seem like he had come out of a sales meeting at all...He was irked by Indian movie stars, govt officials, newbie directors...and some other categories of persons that I could not understand...I think he said "skydiving instructor" at one point, but I can't be sure with his unusually heavy Indian accent and low speech volume.

As though it was not enough, he mentioned how everyone from KL was all over him (indicating he was a personality to be reckoned with, maybe?). He kept insisting that I'd seen his movies though I repeatedly said it had been sometime since I watched a Tamil movie that stuck with me beyond it's 3 hours. The last was Vetaiyadu Vilaiyadu. Why he would assume a music student would necessarily be in love with cine-songs is beyond me. Perhaps someday it will dawn on him that there are hundreds of music genres and that cine music is but one of them. And if he thinks music students would spend a 100% of their time glued to cine-music, then his understanding of music education itself falls short of what I would expect from someone of his calibre in the entertainment indistry.

But the icing on the cake was when he asked questions in a volume that is two decibles below audible levels on a plane AND winced when I asked him to repeat his questions! (Come on lah, uncle!)

Whatever it is, just being nesxt to him got me SO frustrated at one point, that I wished I could just jump off the plane and take the next one. Thought hard. What is it I could say to get Mr. COO to zip it?? What? What? What?

Then its struck me - I was not the only one who was a captive audience on this plane! I could always do the "give me a chance to sing in your movie" thing. It may just annoy him if I hard-sell in a captive environment! So I turned off the pleasant disposition that generally enables me to make friends with strangers, and turned on "lil' miss pesky, irritant opportunist". I asked to sing in his movie...about ten times. While he responded, I spoke about how good I was. I topped it up with "Can I bring my friends? They sing too. Not well enough but they'll make up the numbers." I got the guy to recline back into his seat within three mins! Gosh, I wished I thought of this plan one hour back!

Too bad. If Mr. COO was more socialised and had a good head on his shoulders, I may have even politely told him the truth that I am not intending to clinch a song in his movie and was merely making conversation on a monotonous flight. Afterall, I'd never heard of him or his company before, even after he whipped out his card and showed me a logo which he said I "should definately recognise"! Sigh! Sorry mate.

What some people think of themselves, I don't know. I only know that yesterday, I learnt about one charmless person in the entertainment industry.

Funny thing is, I remembered distincly having paid for business class because I wanted the comforts that come with a business class flight. I did not perceive anything else other than uncontrolled alcohol-consumption as providing that discomfort. What I bought therefore, was just perception!

So would I revert to my yodelling, alcohol-filled economy class fellow passangers or try my luck again in biz class? Hmmmm....I think I'll go biz and take a risk. I mean, I figured a way to solve the problem this time and my last biz flight was good. The odds are definately in favour of biz.

And I'll ask to be placed with a kid or half-decent adult, if only agents can start having tick boxes for that too, on a flight booking form. Is that too much to ask?


Hyma said...

Great posts Shob Chech.. esp the one about your dad (we should compile all the family tributes and put them in a book! haha).

I remember tagging along with you guys for lunch once (one of the many times i guess). We went to this chinese restaurant somewhere in KL which served the best chinese-vegetarian food i've had to date! First time i ever tried that "mock meat" stuff.. haha.. unforgettable! :)

workhard said...

I really dont think you would get that facility with travel agents.. So it seems like ur business class trip was not really peaceful.. is well written with humor

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