When we were young and arrogant and thought we owned Mumbai, one of the more 'let’s go' weekend options was to party with airline crew.
That’s because in the 1970s, foreign goods were largely unavailable and we would enjoy paté, cheeses and other goodies that the crew took away from first class. And believe me, Air India was first class. Especially in terms of the cuisine. And the patties and the pastries that a crew of seven or eight could bring out made a fair spread. Also the miniatures were eclectic and top of the range, and most of it was taken off the plane and justified on the grounds that it would be thrown away anyway. Just the perks of the job.
You could call it genteel theft, if you like, but it hurt no one really and was generally harmless because you had felt having walked five kilometres (on a London to Mumbai hike) taking orders, you had perhaps earned a few cans of bitter lemon and a couple of hot meals.
This is very different from the disgraceful story of some crew members swiping food from the buffet of the Renaissance Hotel in London and filling their tiffin boxes. In the 1970s, it was at least Air India's food taken by Air India's crew. The Renaissance Hotel incident is a blatantly poor show and indicts the whole airline as being cheap and shoddy.
Just to be sitting there in public view thinking of filling tiffin boxes with shrimp, sausages, flapjacks, cheeseboards and hash browns, when you know you can get a decent meal on the flight — not to mention the healthy food allowance to which you are entitled — is so embarrassing and unnecessary. You cannot be that hungry.
And there is nothing on that table that you cannot afford in India today or that is unavailable.
For the management to get a letter from the hotel to the effect that 'buffet food is to be eaten at the restaurant and not carted off' is such a terrible smack in the face that Air India cannot just settle for warnings. This slightly typifies us as a nation because the Maharaja is our ambassador, our symbol and a figure we love and ot have disrobed in public is hurtful. If he is depicted as a greedy little piggy-wiggy then the management has to step in and go beyond censure.
What was the modus operandi?
You brought your food on a plate to the table and then spooned it into tiffin boxes that you had carried into the breakfast room?
And then you went and got seconds and thirds and you took this cold food — that would have been unappetising to the core?
And you thought it fit to eat when you have the money to buy the best?
And you get what is still the finest menu in-flight, because you don’t settle for economy and there is always extra from business and first class?
I cannot think of a single item besides the cheeses that would be edible at a later stage from a buffet table. Congealed and sticky messy stuff. Would you really see yourself stealing a boiled egg or scoffing aged scrambled eggs at a later stage?
And if they were conducting themselves in this fashion in uniform, which is most likely, that that is just indefensible.
Ironic, isn’t it, that the airline has to put people on warning for being overweight? Now we know why.
Like Oliver, they want some more.
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Updated Date: Feb 09, 2017 12:00:26 IST