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Friday, June 08, 2007
A Passage to India, or Why E.M. Forster is Lucky He Didn't Have to Take Air India

No, Meg isn't back. This is That Student, over from That Boarding School. Given that I've graduated, Meg (out of either kindness or desperation) has let me guest over here while she suffers at the hands of the university. I'd laugh at her pain, but that'll be me next year.

So, now that both the explanation and shameless plug are over, let me apologize if I seem at all frazzled in this post. I just finished a flight from America to India on the horrendous Air India. Due to a last minute situation that required our immediate attention, my parents and I found ourselves in need of a cheap ticket quickly. Unfortunately, Air India was the cheapest.

Now, there is a reason Air India is so cheap. It's because it sucks. Simple as that. My favorite international airline of all time is, and probably always will be, Singapore Airlines. Nothing competes with the personal TVs filled with movies I've actually been planning on seeing. The service is excellent, the food is good, and the leg space is decent. Air India is still in the bad old days of a tiny TV down the aisles that plays only the saddest of selections. I had to sit through "Because I Said So" (the crappy Diane Keaton movie in which the most exciting things are her gigantic skirts) and "London Namaste." It might have been "Namaste London" actually. It doesn't matter. It was basically like Jumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, just with switched genders and set in London. And I don't know if you know this about me (you probably don't), but I hate The Namesake. I think it is an abysmal depiction of the first generation American's attempts to balance tradition with the modern surroundings. Maybe things are different in England--Meg can probably give a better description. Either way, the movie was about an Indian girl who thinks she's only British and thus wants to marry her asshole British boss. Her parents take her to India for the first time, secretly deciding to set her up with some nice little Indian boy. Some family friend's son falls madly in love with her, and they end up married. She decides that it isn't legally recognizable, so she can marry her British asshole as she pleases. Whatever. Who cares, right? They also showed "Everybody Loves Raymond," which wasn't funny even when all the critics insisted it was, as well as various Indian television shows that sent me straight to sleep because I don't speak Hindi. They had various "Did You Know" sections that were probably sponsored by the Indian government to promote tourism. One of the features was about Lakme Fashion Week, which is India's attempt to make the sari adaptable to the West. I think India is the one nation that doesn't need eating regulations for models. I don't care how much Vogue tries to insist that clothes look better on skinnier people (this is from their body issue, featuring the questionable Scarlett Johansson--sorry, I have no idea how to spell her name, nor do I care). Saris would look horrible on those models--wrapped pieces of cloth look better on curves than on bones.

I really wanted something to do. Unfortunately, the new bag restrictions put a serious damper on the usual 20 books I pack on the way over. My mom insisted that my study books would take precedence over the more interesting reading material. Study books? Yes, I'm going onto of the nerdiest schools in America (I would say the nerdiest, but some of the other contenders might get jealous or something). And as a result, I am fully prepared to be the dumbest kid there. However, I need to pass because, you know, that's a good thing to do at a place you're spending almost $40,000 to attend. I also have various placement exams that need to be finished over the summer. So, yes. My bag is filled with study books. I read only one and then decided that I didn't want to study at all. So I stared at the one "joy reading" book and flipped through my iPod. For the whole flight.

Meanwhile, the guy next to my mom and me was rather insistent upon getting drunk. The German couple in front of us almost got into a fight with him, but luckily, they managed to cool off. The airline must've had some sort of special going on at Kids R Us, because the place was packed with little kids. The loudest ones just happened to be in the row behind mine. The flight attendant on the first half of the flight was fairly rude too, and I'm pretty sure she thought I had no brain. It's not my fault that I can't properly function what's going on around me in the five seconds right after I wake up. The second half of the flight had a different crew, which seemed to be comprised primarily of males. That would've redeemed most of the flight, but I mean, c'mon, these are Indian males. The only redeeming factor was the Toblerone.

Overall, the experience kind of reminded me of the economy class in the movie Soul Plane. If you don't know what I'm talking about, that's a really good thing. I only watched it because the foreign student staying with me at the time didn't know about the "If Snoop Dogg's in it, don't watch it" rule we hold so dear to our beings in America. Civil liberties used to be the dearest thing to us, you know, but that went out of style with George W. Bush. So now it's just warnings against Snoop Dogg.

Once we were in India, we flew Kingfisher. I guess it's kind of the Jet Blue meets Virgin Atlantic of Indian domestic travel. Apparently, they were the official airplane of the Lakme Fashion Week, so their on-flight magazine was all about that. I wonder who they had design their uniforms. No, really, I want to know. I really liked the flight attendants' jackets.

Now that I'm here, I'll probably die of either food poisoning or malaria. And then be reincarnated into a college kid. Just in the knick of time. Happens every year. Except for the college kid part.

That Student

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