My visit to Nepal has brought some wonderful memories not worth spoiling, but there still remains one little itch that I need to scratch! I am sharing it not only to vent my angst, but also because it has a deeper learning for us all.
Like all good Indian tourists who visit Nepal to see Himalayas but without burning any calories, me and my friends took the famous mountain flight. We woke up at an ungodly hour to reach airport in hope that the weather Gods will favour the rich and the flight will take off.
Out of excitement, we ended up reaching the airport really early and had the first set of boarding passes issued to us. With excitement levels pushed to Himalayan heights, cameras were checked and rechecked to capture a memory of a lifetime.
Unfortunately, when we entered the aircraft and looked for our seats, all the excitement was suddenly extinguished as if a cold spell from Himalayas had hit Kathmandu in middle of the summer.
Our seats were located bang under the wings with massive propellers obstructing the view. As we looked around, we could clearly see that we were done in deliberately.
Though I hate to see a racist angle by looking at a mere correlation as a cause; it was difficult to miss that, other than us, the entire flight was full of our fair-skinned cousins.
But, I would rather leave the racial subtext here and move to a bigger issue, and that is of unethical business practices common to our third world companies.
If I do some simple maths for the 36 people on board, eight seats under the wings would mean that more than one fifth of the passengers were cheated out of their right to enjoy the flight equally.
To be honest, the sight of Himalayas, even through propellers was far too breath-taking to carry on complaining about this, but the part that I found most interesting was how air-hostesses dealt with our indignation.
After capturing view of Mt. Everest framed between two propeller blades, when I asked the air-hostess if it was fair to charge the same for the seats with no view, they offered me their most surprised look as if I was the first person in the history of mountain flights to have found it inconvenient.
If I am candid, I am perfectly sure that air-hostesses face this question in every flight and the surprised look was part of their training. And it is this that is the real point to ponder.
We human beings are not realising what forces of commerce is doing to us all. They are making us lie and cheat as part of our jobs.
This is not about Nepal. I feel that it is more about third world that we are living in, and yet this is also not about values or morality, it is about systems.
It won’t be possible for an American or European company to get away with this as they would have to inform the passengers beforehand about the lacuna or they would end up facing legal music. A third world company would dare use such a ploy not because it is evil, but because there is no real effort made by the systems regulating it to enforce fair business practices, as we don’t see merit in fairness in business.
Unfortunately, this apathy is now becoming our Achilles heel. It is these law and enforcement induced ethical practices that have allowed first world to be a fair place to do business. And it is also one of the reasons that they have moved so far ahead of us.
If we don’t follow the suit, we are making a Himalayan blunder.