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Not a phone person in a free-phone zone, 30,000 ft above sea level

In-flight data and network privileges? The horror, the horror!

Nairita Mukherjee Noir_Memoir 24 May 2018, 5:46 PM
T2 Fiction
Phones are now allowed on a plane. Welcome to hell

Phones are now allowed on a plane. Welcome to hell Image: Thinkstock

I hate air travel. There's nothing worse than burning a hole in your pocket only to be reminded that you are too poor to deserve enough space to fit your buttocks, let alone your bosom. But physical space was going to be the least of my problems that day as I boarded a flight from Mumbai to Kolkata.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We welcome you to We-belive-in-capital-punishment (you give us the capital, we give you the punishment) Airlines. We are ready for departure... two doors at the back... fluorescent stripes... oxygen masks..."

I was swinging in and out of consciousness as the air hostess was doing her thing. My airplane (duh) of thoughts took me from air travel to the sky to flying to superpowers to god to Thor to Chris Hemsworth. Destination arrived. 

GIF: Giphy

"What is my Shutu doing?" I heard a voice next to me. I hadn't done anything yet. It was, after all, a public place. But in my mind... how did she read my thoughts? Oh, okay. She's on the phone.

"Did my Shutu eat? What did my Shutu eat? Did my Shutu like it?" Who is Shutu? I haven't seen so much branding since that Marc Jacobs shirt. 

Image: Twitter

"No, Shutu. I miss Shutu more than Shutu misses me..." So, she is talking to the enigmatic Shutu. Is it a child she's speaking to or a pet? 

"Hey, you are supposed to switch off your phone or put it in airplane mode while take-off." I often suffer from an involuntary muscle spasm called the foot-in-your-mouth. It's incurable.

"Don't you read? Phones are allowed on planes now," said the lady next to me, her voice not-so saccharine. I read. It had simply slipped my mind, what with years of phone-free travel, this free-phone travel will take some time to register. 

GIF: Giphy

"Yes sir, I am ready with the presentation. I just assumed we will connect on the phone after I've landed," the man in the diagonally opposite aisle to me said. Tch, this phone privilege has robbed us of our coveted siesta.

"Okay, sir. I have the PPT right in front of me. Should I start? ..."

"Shutu will come to pick me up at the airport, naa?" Clearly, a child or a pet wouldn't have so much patience. The lady has bagged herself a 'Jaanu' — the bouquet-giving, personal chauffeur cum teddy bear. They are known by various names: Jaanu, jaan, baby, babu, but this one is a new model — Shutu. 

"...Once I land we will go khai khai. And after dinner, we will go ghumi ghumi." Alliteration has always been my favourite literary device, but this was some meta-level alliteration. Slow clap.

"Sir I haven't been able to send you the email yet, some network issues..." said the corporate slave. Did the government take into consideration the lack of network connectivity when they allowed phones on the plane? Or did they allow it because of that, just to flick our face, Moriarty-style?

GIF: Giphy

"Shutu, I want ice cream. No, I scream. No, you don't scream (hyenas being strangled) I scream." Urgh that voice, that accent. Is love deaf, too, in the 21st century?

"Excuse me, ma'am, would you like to order something?" Yes, a contract killing.

"Yes, a Paragon-chappal sandwich and a cup of if-you-make-tea-like-this-no-one-will-marry-you tea, please?

"Shutu guess what I'm eating?" Currently, my brains, but do tell...

"Sandwich and Coke. Lolz, Shutu is so funny. Diet Coke na, Shutu." Did she say 'lolz?' Like actually say that word? This can't get any worse! 

GIF: Giphy

Yup, that involuntary muscle spasm called the foot-in-your-mouth. And turbulence.

"Hey Gods, the plane is shaking Shutu. What do I do? I am so scared..." I wanted to tell her it's just turbulence but I was caught between her rather casual 'hey' when she referred to god and the fact that she addressed err, it in the plural.

"I would have hugged Shutu if he was here (starts sobbing uncontrollably)." Well, I would have, too, just to console the poor fellow who will be stuck in the third person in my story. Oh well!

"I have something to tell Shutu. Shutu will not be angry, no?" If he hasn't turned into the incredible Hulk yet, nothing will make him angry, I suppose.

"Your tweety bird has done something she is not proud of. I'm sorry Shutu. I..."

*more turbulence Ekta Kapoor style* 

GIF: Giphy

Of course, I didn't want to die. But more importantly, I didn't want to die before hearing the end of that sentence! I'm even willing to ignore the tweety bird thingy.

"Your tweety bird, all by mistake, reacted to Rohan's facebook picture. I wanted to click 'like' but I ended up clicking 'heart' on it. Will Shutu forgive me?"

Okay. Phones should most definitely be banned on planes. In fact, they should be banned everywhere. We should go back to the telegram, or better still wall engraves. If I could open the window of the aircraft, I'd throw her phone. Or better still, throw her out. Take that, aviation ministry! 

We land. She was still on the phone. That poor corporate guy couldn't send that email to his boss but Her Royal Tweety Bird managed to confess to the crime of the century.

"Excuse me. Hi, I was sitting next to you on the flight. Which phone are you using? It's got amazing battery back-up." I had to ask.

"Oh, it's the new No-chance-in-hell-can-you-buy-this-phone with 1000 lightyears space, in the it's-basic-black-but-we-call-it-by-an-exotic-name-to-make-you-feel-your-money-is-well-spent.

"Hmm..."

Read more: 

My conversation with a telecaller selling loans taught me that I'm a good-for-nothing

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