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P4 at Toastmasters – Fasten your seat belt

Flight of fantasyDelivered my P4 on Saturday, November 8, 2014 at BTM. Objectives of P4 are

  • Select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas clearly, accurately and vividly.
  • Use rhetorical devices to enhance and emphasize ideas.
  • Eliminate jargon and unnecessary words. Use correct grammar.
  • Time: Five to seven minutes

Here is the transcript of my speech. Cruising at 35000 feet, I was reminded of my first flight some 40 years ago. I was all excited but was nervously clinging to my Dad’s finger. To me it was like Neil Armstrong’s mission to the moon.

Toastmaster of the Day, Fellow Toastmasters and guests, welcome aboard my flight full of experiences.

I snapped out of my day dreaming sequence with the pilot rattling off something and I recollected how air travel has changed over the last 40 years from being experiential and exceptional then to becoming a chore now.

To start with the check in – My incline and recline are always towards emergency … the emergency exit seat to accommodate my long legs and jelly belly. But these days, while the staff has become prettier, they ignore my endearing smile and expect me to pay through the nose for that necessity. The thoroughbred Gujju that I am, it goes against the grain to pay for what is rightfully mine. I therefore quietly take an aisle seat nearest to the emergency exit. I park myself into the vacant seat as soon as the doors are shut. Someday let these airlines be more considerate towards challenged people like me.

“Fasten your seat belts please.” reads the sign even before you get into the seat. As our eyes size up the crew, they are confirming all seat belts are fastened along with the head count. The routine drill of demonstrations start after that. And the first thing they teach us is fastening the seat belt! Wondering if they checked everyone was properly fastened or was it some imagination? After take-off the announcement starts – the captain has switched off the seat belt sign. Even before this can get half way, two dozen hands go up on the call bell button. Why? Water! That announcement always beckons people to drink like thirsty camels from the desert! Someday we’ll have automatic seat belts so that all are snugly set into the seats. And just like the tubes and oxygen masks, water would flow like a free and flowing river!

Sniff sniff ….  Tempting aromas waft from the end of the aircraft – It is now time for me to flex my muscles. The tray table can only rest on my little stomach at an incline. I puff my chest like Salman Khan pumping his 6 packs, suck the stomach in hard and hope that I can have the tray table at 180 degrees. Beads of sweat roll down my neck before I can achieve my goal. I now have earned myself a meal. I polish off the entire serving complete with the bread crumbs. With every passing day, the spread has become thinner and my appetite? Well less said the better. Oh these low cost airlines. Someday we will have a free all you can eat buffet mid-air.

Just as I start fidgeting, fretting, fuming I hear the captain’s voice “Crew to your stations for landing” and around that time I also hear phones receiving messages. Didn’t they ask you to switch off those noise making devices? VP Membership, they are perfect for BTM and we meet at a walking distance from Mumbai airport. Let’s go grab them.

The landing is smooth as silk but as the plane is taxi-ing on the runway (MIND YOU the runway and not the parking bay), the sounds of seat belts being unfastened and cell phones ringing are audible. Everyone makes a beeline for the bus and each one wants to stand closest to the door. Getting into the bus doesn’t guarantee you will get out first at the terminal or does it? Finally we arrive at the terminal. Like a child praying to Santa, every time I pray “Please let my luggage be the first to come out”. My prayers have so far been unanswered I know but ….. someday “We shall overcome …. someday”

Air Travel these days leaves a lot to be desired. Airlines have to be more considerate and passengers have to be lighter too. Passengers should be willing to pay more and airlines should be willing to serve more (food as in my case what else). And we must all adhere to rules like we do at Toastmasters.

Cabin Crew – Disarm all doors.

Over to you Toastmaster.


Jetlite – Crossing all limits of a low cost carrier

Writing from my flight from Rajkot to Mumbai and am flying Jetlite. Just asked the hostess for some water and she informed me that water is 20 Rs. after take off. This is really the limit. No one offered us water before take off nor did they inform us that post take off they would begin charging us and now I am being asked to cough up money!!!! I have flown a lot of LCCs (low cost carriers) but no one has ever made such an outrageous demand. Needless to say I have not paid Rs. 20. A 55 minute flight is not going to kill me.


Punctual Indigo

I am writing from my Indigo flight from Delhi to Mumbai. This time all 3 flights have been Indigo only. One thing that strikes anyone is their punctuality. All early morning flights are on time being the first flights but I took the last flight from Bangalore to Delhi and was surprised to see it take off on time (Infact we were air borne at the appointed hour) and it landed about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. The flight now too has taken off bang on and should land too the same way. Another thing I am impressed is that the air hostesses address you by your name. Gives a personalised touch despite being a low cost airline. Simple things but they strike a chord. Yes you have to buy food but then there are no free lunches in life:-)


Low Cost Airlines

Low cost airlines (Indigo is what I am talking about) are really taking things too far. When booking through the web, they give you an option to book a seat of your choice but charge Rs. 50 per seat. So I always skip that. Thursday, December 3, 2009 while checking in, I asked if I could get the emergency exit seat. The lady at the counter non chalantly said ‘Sir Rs. 100 extra’ I was like WTF? I pay for listening to the sermon of the hostess on the emergency procedure? No wonder i got an aisle seat and did not pay a single paisa. The plane was barely at 50% capacity so was most comfortable. The icing on the cake was landing in Mumbai sans any delays.