Sunday, April 4, 2010

Flying and why I hate it

As I type this on the flight, I cannot help wondering whether I am a Cynical Realist, a Pragmatist, a Practical Alarmist or a Regular Schizophrenic. It's not that I hear voices in my head or anything. I'm just alive to possibilities.


It's this ability of mine, this ability to see possibilities others cannot, that has proved so debilitating for my evident genius.


It derailed my chess career, for example. The problem is, I can see so far ahead that I am unable to continue after White's first move, when I am black. And when I am White, Black's response to my move will usually make me see irrefutable threats that my opponent might be oblivious to.


For instance consider my last ever chessgame. I was playing for my college team then, and my opponent was a sweaty, neurotic looking chap named Babu. The team wanted just a draw from me. I was sure I could manage it. After all, this Babu was a complete unknown anyway.


We set up the pieces. The arbiter checked our clocks and told us to start. And to my dismay, Babu played 1. e4.


You would doubtless recall Fischer V/s Petrosian, in which Fischer slowly strangled the former world champion, considered practically unbeatable until then, in a fashion that persuaded me there was no real defense. Well, Fischer had played 1.e4 in that game.


I thought hard for some 30 minutes and try as I might, I could see no way out. I could sense the expectant eyes of my captain and the other team-members upon me but my clinical mind told me there was no way out. I resigned.


The captain and the other team-members were unreasonably angry, I recall. Abusing me like that! “You frikking moron! How the frikking hell can you resign after the first frikking move?” I remember the captain screaming as he, for some reason, pulled out his hair. It hurt, believe me, especially when I realised that “frikking” is not an English word (I checked the Oxford dictionary). It is in some arcane tongue - I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be Basque or Inuit - and one can only speculate what ghastly meaning it has. When I asked him to apologise, he most rudely demanded I absent myself lest he be tempted to disembowel me. Boor! I had had enough. I resolved never to play chess again.


It is this rare ability which makes me fear flying so much. For instance, if you consider the universal desire of the soul to seek eternal truth, and the fact that airline pilots are, despite their funny way of talking, human beings,you cannot help being alarmed.


“Don't be silly, Naren” the missus says.


She is responding to my reasonable conjecture that if the pilot is a Sceptical Pragmatist, he would probably decide that there is no objective reason to suppose that any good will come out of taking off, and attempt to land the plane with a full tank of fuel. The tyres of course are not desinged to land with thiry tons of fuel weight. They will probably burst. The plane will careen out of control, tipping over and somersaulting like Olga Korbut (Nadia Comaneci, if you prefer) on cocaine.



And of course, we will be shredded into little pieces of DNA evidence in the crash report.


“Naren, the pilot is not a lunatic to cut throttle and land after going through all that trouble taking off. You heard him say “Close and arm all doors. Cross check and report”.



I chuckle at this.



“And why are you laughing now, my dear paranoid jellyfish?” she asks.



“Cross Check” I reply. “Further evidence of the pilot being non-compos mentis”



“Huh?” she goes, in her typical impatient tone. I have to explain EVERYTHING to some people!


“See, here's the pilot, building up speed, flying this eighty ton contraption at speeds approaching that of sound and all that he instructs his staff to do is ensure that the negotiable instrument is not left open payable to bearer.”


She takes a moment to digest this.



“Cross check means 'Verify again'. It does not mean put 'A/c Payee Only' on the corner of a cheque. That cheque is cheque. This check is check. Oh, darn it. You've got me gibbering now. If it scares you so much, just shut your eyes and pray, ok?”


I have logically established, quite conclusively if I may say so myslef, that God does not exist and hence prayer is useless, but I sense that this is not a good time to tell her. I hold her hand tightly and brace myself.


By some incredible stroke of luck, we land in one piece. I am still breathing.

35 comments:

RukmaniRam said...

I am mildly curious: how did your air travel go before you found your missus?

Sriram said...

LMAO!! Cross check took the cake (I was wondering if it had anything to do with Jesus.. u know, the lord saying 'cross... check!' after he was crucified :P

Incidentally, I just finished publishing a set of twitter-shenoys (a couple of which were doin the rounds ystday afternoon) on the blog: OK #shamelessblogplug - here it is: http://anotherbloggerbloke.blogspot.com/2010/04/om-wit-tala-wit-tala-pun-duranga.html

RW said...

From what I read, I'd put my wager on - Alarmist Schizophrenic with Realistic and Pragmatic levels of Cynicism on excessive dosage of adulterated Bhutani cocaine.

Enjoyed the piece!

Raj Jayaram said...

Hilarious! Thoroughly enjoyed this. Flying seems to get the best out of you. The first post of yours I read was about your return from Delhi and that's what made me start following your blog. Great stuff.

Chuck said...

Phew. Heart-stopping thriller that. Crichton would have been proud.

Daily Humor said...

If you really think about it you will stop breathing one day... Ok, I'll shut up now.

Srivardhan said...

Hilarious! :)
An announcement like 'Cross check and report. Vimaan-Craft ready to take off!' would have caused a bit of serious confusion abt the mode of payment :P
Let's call it the pilot's DD of the day, shall we? :D

Btw, love ur blog and style of writing. Happened to do a few twitter-shenoys yesterday, and have put them up in my blog. The post is dedicated to u :)
http://gamut-of-emotions.blogspot.com/2010/04/to-dot-ice-and-cross-teas_04.html

naren said...

That's what I'm worried about. Stopping breathing that is :)

naren said...

Thanks! I saw your post. Hilarious! That graph thng reminded of a joke about Steffi Graph. Why is Steffi afraid of cows? Because Cows eat Graph.

naren said...

Hehe. Just a little bit neurotic these days. Age.

naren said...

Thanks! Landings castle!! :D

naren said...

I love the pomp and circumstance associated with everything in aviation. One of my deepest desires is to applaud loudly after the stewardess does her safety demo and demand an encore. Or ask for an autograph

naren said...

LOL! And thanks! :)

naren said...

BTW, used the "Tally Ho" joke yesterday in conversation with someone. Totally cracked them up! :D

Payoshni said...

Shenoy sir Really !!! Cross Check - Cross Cheque ??!!??!!

chuckle chuckle :D

Drenched said...

Still breathing? Have you any idea how polluted Bombay air is? Also, what about all the disease carriers breathing around you in such a crowded city? And egad! So many non-deodorant users who stench is absolutely fatal! Have you considered the possibility of emulating the Jain monks in nasal fashion?

Anonymous said...

When in an aircraft, I keep repeating this fact--more people die in road accidents than air crashes!

mentalie said...

phew!

Saumya said...

Man! That's funny!

As for your captain, did you bother checking on him again? I heard he gave up all intentions of ever becoming a chess captain again and took to flying passenger aircrafts.

Amit Bansal said...

Hi Naren, I am a big fan of yours. But this post is way below standards... its too contrived.

Conspiracy Theorist said...

the cross check part was absolutely hilarious... my boss is absolutely livind seeing me laugh like that... how on this good old earth do u come up with these sir??? (follows that question with a small ritual of bowing before the monitor arms stretched)

speechless after that...

Anonymous said...

Awesome new style? What's up with this?

Soundar said...

Cross check eh? Better than the usual diet of groaners. Please wave your bat to all corners of the ground please.

But really, be honest now, how many of us are truly relaxed and breathing in out on the 2:3 formula during take off and landing?

Not I, I know that.

parthicle said...

distinct bertie wooster...
btw did you travel cattle class?

Maddy said...

you reminded me of black & white the legendary scotch..

hey boss - if u can, se eteh movie stranger than fiction - i assure u you will like it..

Spaz Kumari said...

im going to be horrible. curse me.

i honestly think this was one was too contrived. not funny.

sorry :(

naren said...

Just experimenting. I call it my neurotic style

naren said...

That bad huh? :)

naren said...

Hehe. It will have the addtional benefit of "de-uglifying" me!

narendra shenoy said...

@Amit, Spaz - Thanks for being nice. yes, seem to have lost my mojo. I don't know why, maybe I'm growing old, I don't seem to be able think of anything funny any longer. Ah well, life.

narendra shenoy said...

@RukmaniRam I hardly flew back then. Impoverished and all. But I've always had vivid visions of my explosive demise everytime I've flown.

narendra shenoy said...

@conspiracy theorist Thanks! I'm never really sure whether what I have written is rot or decent stuff.

narendra shenoy said...

@conspiracy theorist Thanks! I'm never really sure whether what I have written is rot or decent stuff.

narendra shenoy said...

@conspiracy theorist Thanks! I'm never really sure whether what I have written is rot or decent stuff.

narendra shenoy said...

@maddy - Stranger than fiction, eh? Noted:)