Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Personal In-flight Entertainment: A primer

My family tends to favor the direct, non-stop American Airlines that takes you from either country and deposits you in the other one in about 14 odd hours.

This huge stretch of time evokes groans from people. "There is so little to do!" they'll exclaim. Nonsense! Flights are full of entertainment if you look in the right places. All you need is a somewhat bitchy spirit and you can have minutes, even hours of fun.

Take for example this man who walked around our flight from Delhi dressed in khakis, a blazer and a baseball cap. He was one of 35 coming home from a tour of India. He was constantly walking up and down the airplane, trying to talk to anyone who as much as made eye contact with him. This person I decided to call Vela for obvious reasons.

Well, Vela was inseparable from his large, red, rather stuffed backpack. Perchance the backpack contained a substantial amount of money and Vela had experienced a haath-ki-safai or two during his trip. Whatever the reason (like ferrying drinks for his fellow travellers or hunting for things to read), wherever Vela went, the backpack followed dutifully. This resulted in a private game for me called "What will Vela do next".

On one occasion, Vela tried to get cute with our rather lovely African American flight attendant who was busy working on a knit cap with a pile of blue wool on her lap. In trying to penetrate her demeanor, Vela absent-mindedly laid his backpack on the floor. After the umpteenth stonewalling answer from the attendant, Vela gave up and decided to use the nearby bathroom. A full ten minutes went by after which the door opened and Vela frantically stuck his neck out looking for his backpack. He grabbed it from the floor, glared at me (probably to dismiss any designs I might have had on the contents of the bag) and announced: "I need more time!". He disappeared back into the can and another 10 minutes later emerged for good, happily reunited with his backpack.

Ok, granted it wasn't Om Shanti Om, but on a long flight you take what you can get.

There are stock ways to entertain yourself as well. One such way is to stay awake during the period everyone nods off. And then observe their sleeping posture. Untold permutations of funnies will magically emerge.

There is one posture I'm particularly fond of. This happens when the person falls asleep, head tilted upwards with their mouth open. I call this the Tansen Posture. Its even funnier if one or two people around them are doing the same thing - then it looks like they are all engaged in some ghostly chorus. I'm pretty sure I sleep like this - thus contributing my bit of entertainment for anyone with a sense of low-brow humor like mine.

Yet another I call the Fright Night Posture. This happens to people who have longish, thick hair which after a good hour or so of restless tossing around tends to resemble some odd shape. This looks funny and further entertainment can be squeezed out from trying to guess what shape the hair resembles. The most common shape I've seen is that of a goose or duck. But I've also seen other animals and even firecrackers like a phuljhadi or jwalamukhi.

Often people will create the Pillow Fan Posture - which involves couching your head in all kinds of pillows or soft objects. This posture must be watched closely because it has a strong potential for developing into the Fright Night Posture.

And finally, the one that always makes me chuckle is what I call the Police Escort Posture. This is when some traveler will take their blanket and instead of using it to cover their body will use it to cover their head and face - looking like a potential criminal with a police escort, the kind which you see all the time on NDTV.

Who says long flights are no fun?



Anonymous said...

Lol! I bow down to ur ability to make a seemingly boring activity , so interesting. My favourite is the 'Tansen posture'...may I add, that when people r in that posture, and suddenly find that they r losing breath, they shake their head,swallow once,open and close their mouths a few times and then go back to their er,singing!

Anonymous said...

"ghostly chorus", lol!

I am flying to India soon on continental - direct flight from NJ. I had been dreading the whole 14 hour journey (not to mention leaving austin 8 hours earlier) but after reading your post am looking forward to it and to categorizing people in one of these postures.

Anonymous said...

LOL!! That's hillarious. THe best thing about Tansen Posture is sometimes, people wake up with such a surprise that they snore a little and try to pull it off as a cough! I think these postures would be funnier if you throw back a few drinks, although, dont drink too much cause then you will be the one that's doing the tansen posture!

Unknown said...

anu g and girlie girl, excellent observations to add to the list.

Joules, tell us if you discover a new posture (or two) worth documenting after your trip.

Unknown said...

That's side splitting, Aspi! Still ROFL!!! Was wondering if I end up looking like anyone of those! Was smug in the thought that my head rests on one side, while I sleep all the way to the destination. Looking calm, I hoped! Imagine being watched - for a description in a post!!

Beth Loves Bollywood said...

I'm a proud member of the Police Escort Posture. It's a lot easier to pretend you aren't on a plane if you have no chance of seeing plane-like attributes should your eyes accidentally open.

Anonymous said...

For all of you missing Himesh which maybe everyone on this forum, here is an update on Himesh's pet project


Unknown said...

The other advantage of the police escort posture is that no one knows who you are.

Joules, thanks for the Himesh link which is always welcome here. He and Emraan are a match made in heaven. On the other hand, the head shot of his new heroine is pretty decent. And she has an awesome Hinglish name.

Anonymous said...

More news of Himesh.Ur lucky day, Himesh-fan-Aspi!http://www.mumbaimirror.com/net/mmpaper.aspx?page=article§id=30&contentid=2008010920080109034322468a1000c2d

Anonymous said...

Another game to play on the plane: "Spot the Armed Marshall". Post 9/11 many flights have these folks in plain clothes so I try to figure out if the guy sitting in 44C is on duty, etc.

Unknown said...

anu g, tremendous link! And I feel robbed having missed an opportunity to see Himesh go at it. Maybe Emraan Hashmi (per Joules' link earlier is acting in Karzzz) can help him shed his inhibitions. The world will be in his debt if he does.

Anonymous said...

Heres someone more interesting acting with Himesh in his new film!