Mr. Aiyar goes to America
Self-proclaimed socialist Mani Shankar Aiyar visits USA and is suitably disappointed by its free enterprise system,
My son-in-law had upgraded us to “Premier Class” for our flight from Chicago to Los Angeles. As we settled into the comfortable-looking leather seats, the haggard, harassed, aged air hostess lumbered up to us and demanded in a rasping voice, “Anything to drink?” Why not? So, “Champagne,” said I. “No champagne,” came the response. “A glass of white wine, perhaps.” “Sure,” she said, flinging a plastic cup of the most ghastly plonk at me, and a diet coke for the wife. There followed an unappetising plate of cold pasta (no choice, the lone item on the menu). Arriving in LA, it took nearly an hour for our luggage to surface. Where on earth was the famed excellence of the services industry in the private sector? Oh, Air India, why don’t you fly to the West Coast? [link]
No wonder Mr. Aiyar was missing Air India. After all,
The official protocol, which AI has been asked to follow with mandatory instructions, includes providing meals according to the specific request of the MP at the point of departure, en route as well as at the destination. Airline officials and helpers have to be ready at hand for seeing them off at the airport from which they board the flight and similarly receive them when they land.
MPs should be given royal treatment till the plane takes off by accommodating them in the VIP lounge and providing them with pre- reserved seat of their choice when they board.
AI also has to inform its staff at the destination about the MP’s seat number and baggage details. Strangely, cabin crews have to offer compliments of the commander to the MP so that they feel like VIPs. At the end of the flight, the commander will have to file a report on the treatment of the MP. [link]
You mean no one carried Mr. Aiyar’s bags?! No wonder he was so disappointed that he decided to take the train on the return leg which as one can imagine was even worse. Finally, at his wits end, Mr. Aiyar was left missing Indian Railways. (Though one wonders if the thousands who have died in railway accidents in India share Mr. Aiyar’s enthusiasm) And then this,
The staff are hospitable enough, but prone to behavioural excess, shouting aloud through the intercom, “Janet, party of two; Paul, party of one; Mani, party of three. Come down. Now.” in stentorian tones. No, “Please”, no “Mr”, no “Sir”, just stentorian commands. Democracy in America apparently means the right of the lower orders to be rude to their social superiors. This goes by the name of “customer care
oh! The Horrors! If only the déclassé Americans knew how to address true-blue royalty. After all, everyone in America knows exactly who Mani Shankar Aiyar is. Didn’t he invent the internet? And yes, clearly, even in the socialist heaven which Mr. Aiyar dreams of, there will still be superiors and inferiors. Equality? What equality?!
Here’s the question Mr. Aiyar should really ponder over: Why has his own daughter chosen to migrate to the rapaciously capitalist USA and not to the socialist heaven of Cuba? Or Venezuela?
p.s This episode is only remarkable for Mr. Aiyar’s magical metamorphosis: A tired and politically marginalized courtier has attempted to transform himself into some sort of social conscience of the Congress party and the nation—one who speaks for the poor and the marginalized. Unfortunately, too many in the elite media and political circles take that kind of nonsense too seriously.