destination india

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

poles apart

There were two very interesting news items involving air travel.

The first one is about an incident involving an Indian Airlines Airbus-300 plane with 160 0dd passengers on board that hit a tractor during take-off from Goa airport. The impact damaged the nose undercarriage which takes the load of the aircraft on landing. Apparently, the plane took off without carrying the mandatory inspection that normally should have been done on such occasions. As per the information reported in the newspaper, the incident took place at around 9.15 pm on 6th November. ‘Had the safety officers been informed, they would have taken an x-ray of the nose wheel and a whole round of inspections would have followed before the aircraft was deemed fit for flight,’ an official said.

Luckily, the aircraft made a safe landing at Mumbai.

The second incident that has been reported from China…

A China Eastern Airlines passenger jet flying a daily route between Shanghai and Singapore was grounded for three days as crews tried to locate and exterminate a stowaway rat. The rat was spotted by passengers on a flight to Singapore … after the plane returned to Shanghai’s Pudong airport the following day; it took ground crew three days and 36 mousetraps to capture the unwanted guest. Following further safety inspections and a thorough disinfecting of the cabin, the plane was put back into operation.

Air travel safety cannot and should not be left to Luck.

In this connection, the dedication of non Indians deserves applause.

I remember my school days when Chinese shoes, Chinese dry cleaners and Chinese restaurants were a rage. There was a large dry cleaning shop in the building where I used to stay. The Chinese manager named Victor was a calm and quiet character who used to man the shop whole day. He had a Muslim assistant who would locate and retrieve the woolen or silken dresses that would come to Victor for dry cleaning. Every evening, his assistant would move the newly received clothes in a covered van rickshaw and, next morning, would bring back to the shop the clothes that were ready for delivery. Every thing used to move like clockwork precision. One fine day, Victor gave his shop a new look by installing a huge aquarium at the entrance. Then he followed it up with a pair of stuffed animals – a snake entwined around a mongoose. Residents of Bhupen Bose Avenue in Kolkata may recollect the scenes that I have described. I remember the Peiking restaurant on Park Street as also Chung Wah. Chinese food had not yet taken us by storm. Similarly, Chinese shoes were real bargains. An aged person sitting at the entrance would invite you with a nod and a smile and you were at liberty to go through his complete collection to find a pair that suited your pocket as well as your taste.

The unhappy incidents of the sixties were replaced by a never ending handshake that is still in our memories. Practically every hotel or restaurants offer Chinese food. Chinese lamps light up our Divali celebrations.

If they can do it, why can’t we?


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