How to travel in Business Class- A Crash (and Burn) course.
This is my column for Femina Magazine, November 2014. Do pick up a copy!
(I am a stand up comedian and life gets pretty uninteresting when you’re touring alone for days from airport to hotel room to stage to airport to hotel room to stage to airport to hotel room etc. And even though my job may be to entertain others, I find it harder to keep myself entertained. It’s true. I always already know what I’m going to say next- it’s horribly predictable.)
I recently found myself in a business class seat to a flight to Delhi. To put it in context, I’m THAT middle class child who still cannot get over the fact that I get to take flights instead of a train. To find myself in business class was like sone pe suhaga pe giant scoop of chocolate ice cream with almonds crushed on it.
I dressed as I would for any normal flight where I would be sitting in economy class. Track pants and t-shirt with hooded sweatshirt. I maybe one hockey stick away from looking like a female Mika, but at least I’m comfortable. The idea was to dress casually, as if I travelled by business class all the time that it was like my second home. I put on those giant bee sunglasses to give myself a glamorous, mysterious look, as if the paparazzi is always following me around when I go to
get bread and milk to the kinara shop. I was disappointed that no palanquin came to take me to the airport, but it was something I was willing to let go of.
Flying Business class means you get access to the VIP lounge. Here was a buffet that included things like “Palak kabobs.” They tasted like socks and it made wonder why they chose palak, the least kabob-able vegetable for this purpose. Maybe pedestrian items like potatoes and paneer did not make the cut. There was also a guy from that show on that channel where they fall in love but families have an issue and there’s one manipulative family member who keeps sabotaging the young lovers and the family. I may have described pretty much every single Indian T.V show ever, but the point was that he was a celebrity and I was within 20 feet radius of him.
When a voice announced, “We request all Business class passengers to proceed towards the gate,” I stood up and walked towards the line of economy class passengers who were already waiting at the gate. As a middle class/economy class person- I am totally used to a bit of pushing, shoving and line cutting, but now that I had the full permission to actually cut the line it felt awkward.
To celebrate my first ever Business class flight I had worn a string of pearls. These pearls were specially mined from the oysters of the Zambian lagoons, or as it’s known, Linking Road 50 ruppees, but trust me they looked real. It would add to my nonchalant glamour, as if I wear pearls in my pyjamas all the time. I hope everyone imagined that I was the child of someone very rich, maybe one of the first Indian programmers of Microsoft? Maybe I was married to a celebrity dentist in London who parities with Posh and Becks? Maybe they envy my wealth but feel sorry for me since I obviously did nothing to earn or deserve it? I hope so.
The sheer amount of space of my seat made me nervous. I’m too small in height and size to warrant all that extra legroom. It made me think of my brother’s long legs that would bang against the seat in front when he sat in an economy sized seat. In tribute to every bump in his knee,I stretched myself out the to the max. In 10 mins I found a sweet spot and (this will always be a regret) fell asleep. The excitement and energy required to maintain the air of being posh had taken a toll on me.
When I woke the flight was almost landing. I looked at the unread Economic Times that I could have looked intelligent while reading. I was hoping to strike up conversation with my fellow business class travellers and project myself as a whipper-snapper entrepreneur. “Current valuation you ask? Well, according to Forbes, $450 million dollars,” I would have said casually while taking sips from my shrimp cocktail. Even though the idea of seafood based cocktail was weird, I saw it on the menu when I woke up and was seriously upset at having missed out on it.
As they say, you can take the girl out of economy class, but you can’t take the economy class out of the girl. Maybe one day, when I find myself in the hallowed bowels of a business class airplane seat again-I’ll stay awake. Till then, I will go back to another stage, another hotel room and another airport.