On Saturday as I sat between two gentlemen enroute Bangalore aboard the jet airways flight, I wondered what was in store as the snack they’d serve……considering the stray dogs outside a few airports in india almost wag their tails when they spot me and the bouquet of airlines I travel by, I know what to expect…and I surely am notin the least bit expectant of good food on a domestic airline, I know that for the 40-80 rupees that the airline pays the five star kitchen for the meal, there is painfully little you can actually buy in the said hotel coffee shop… considering the food is cooked at least 24 hours earlier, there’s little the staff can do except reheat it to death before they smile their plastic with too much blusher induced cheekbones smile, pleasantly asking you as they roll the cart down the aisle, (they cant help it, I am not judging them….i am merely making an observation)…what can I serve you sir / ma’am, veg or non veg? here you go sir / ma’am, enjoy your meal sir / ma’am…..
I get airsick behind the wing, so the only seat as far in front as I could get on the stopover flight was the one that had me sandwiched between a man blissfully asleep, spilling out of his seat onto mine and hogging all of the armrest to my right with a man warned not to sleep during landing and take off on my left because we were in the emergency exit……and was trying his best to amuse himself with the clouds outside the window
I’d just had time to eat some breakfast and apology of a sandwich for lunch and was famished enough to look forward to the food on an airplane by the time I was seated in it at 4 pm. I’d spent the previous few hours booking the ticket, closing up the house and packing for this surprise trip. I don’t miss an opportunity to pop by to see my mother, that this flu induced trip made me pine for her some more was making the plane fly too slowly……. both the gentlemen on either side of me refused the food and I looked like the glutton who wanted to eat so as to tell the story when I reached home…every bit desperately hungry I couldn’t care about public opinion…… I asked for the veg meal and carefully untied the complicated knot on the cutlery, spread the napkin on my lap and pulled back the foil…….with as less movement as I could….didnt want to wake my right side neighbour and the leftie was finding solace in the clouds so I could have some privacy with the meal
The snack menu usually has a sandwich / idly/ vada/ cut pieces of dosa / uttapam or similar savoury snack, some fruit and a dessert of some sort….i was horrified…at first glance…..what i was staring at it looked like atleast a few days old idly, dried, revived and fried with some onions and something unfathomable in the way of a spice powder….i forked some into my mouth, scared that it would bounce off the fork and land on the laps of my co passengers….. and wasn’t disappointed….it was tasteless and so I let it be….moved onto what looked like two pieces of white tyre….it was…..flubbery paneer…half cooked and tasted like what I think rubber tastes like…I was ready to burst into tears…..the aloo bonda that sat next to these two albinos was the only thing I could swallow……before I had time to react, I told myself that this wasn’t in the least tough, was warm enough and I had to eat lest my head pounds me to death…..almost tasted gourmet after the first two encounters with the food…….i tried my best to precariously open the little dish which I thought would have the fruit….. it contained something chopped and brown with what looked like a tadka….actually it looked like pieces of wood…..it tasted pretty close to wood too…this time i was sure it would waltz off the fork and land on my neighbour….what I suspect spent its life thinking it was dhokla, turned out to be wood in disguise drenched in chutney…..i closed the coffin…oops lid and let it lie….by now the lumpy excuse for chocolate mousse tasted divine….i sipped the packaged orange juice which I thankfully saved for the last to wash everything down, folded back the offending food in the foil and sat back hoping they’d clear the tray faster than I could cry……when the lady politely remarked “you’ve hardly eaten anything” I couldn’t hold back and said in my most solemn voice “I tried my best”. It wasn’t her fault…but it wasn’t mine either….i mean I know its precariously placed to serve a decent meal when you’re bleeding revenues, but serving cut wood is hardly the option…I mean a chutney sandwich would’ve been fine in place of the dead idly…..i have rarely been so scathing of my observations…mostly I refuse food…and I realized that I was doing the right thing….but what if you are really hungry?? And hey…I was paying for this wasn’t I ?? i felt so cheated…..did they think in their bid to compete with all the low cost carriers that anything would do? that no one would notice? or worse still that the customer could be taken for granted?? I wonder if anyone reads the feedback forms that are filled and does it make any difference…..i don’t know…..what I know is I will continue to refuse food on this airline….i’d rather allow my head to pound me to death till I reach a place I know wont make me cry because of what they serve…..