The humanhood of travellers and travel karma

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Ajita Chowhan


There is a citizenry that does not have one nationality but a sub-nationality – that of the occasional and frequent flyers.

The people we become during travel and how we behave stands for way too many things that we represent – gender, nationality, ethnicity, age group, our marital status, our principles and what kind of people are we. At some level, we owe a responsibility to each of these groups. Why? Because travelling is as much a solo craft, as it is a communal one. Above all these compartmentalisations, we represent people, as humans. For the sake of that unsaid connection of human-hood of the travellers, be generous and accumulate travel karma – the frequent flyer points that are accepted worldwide with any airline and any country. We all need to calm the fish down because practising and accumulating the travel-karma points makes  travel and the travelling fraternity a much better place. So how do we start the counter on the travel-karma points?

The moment we step out of our house towards our journey, there is barely any time to stop and wander. Right from the time the cab is hired, the no-waiting rules in the taxi lanes, to getting boarding passes, surviving immigration, remembering to pick up the knickknacks from the tray at the security check, resisting the screaming ‘buy-me’ at the duty free and lastly finding the cabin space after jumping the last hoop of boarding the aircraft. The energy while travelling conditions us that all this has to be driven like clockwork. We come to believe that these sequences have to be executed with an undercurrent of a sense of lack of time. I try refraining from succumbing to it.

Every time we act mean, dumb, inconsiderate or misbehave, it affects an airline representative or fellow-passengers. We may be behaving in ways that we may not even be aware of unless projected and said out loud. This could be because of cultural differences, separate rules that apply at different airports, or our state of mind while travelling.

Being lost in our own wonderland or be being extraordinarily impatient in one of the queues is a classic example. Plenty of travellers behave how they would while driving – honking, driving rash, changing lanes and giving no indicators of their next turns. Flaying arms and strollers running over people, or annoyingly keeping mentioning to the person ahead of us in the queue to move forward. Impatience and lack of empathy takes over. When in a queue, as there are innumerable at an airport, be aware of the purpose you are there for and that you are surrounded by people.

In our urgency, we seldom offer a helping hand. Not our business, right? It may not necessarily mean carrying luggage for others. It could mean helping people in translations or addressing an enquiry, telling them they have missed a step procedurally if you happen to notice it, holding a gramps arm while he stands mortified at the end of the travellator or escalator. These random acts of kindness may rarely get noticed or rewarded, but they weave a thread of tolerance and generate an atmosphere of trust.

Check if you are the cause of delay or the problem. Things like being on time and carrying three pens, to begin with. Overweight bags, unfilled forms, blaring music in the queues, blocking alleys while stowing luggage, kids running amok at the security check, scrambling for pens while filling out forms, not keeping a decent distance in the queue, and chatting on the phone way too loud are all inconveniences that we might not be sensitised to. Forgetting to remove electronic devices, unauthorised items like big bottles of moisturiser during screen checks,  and delaying the queue, impatience at the luggage belt and running people over with your carts.

Being respectful of the tiny space that we are confined to eventually is the worst if everyone around is sleepwalking (including us). Playing a game, watching a movie or listening to audio on your device without headphones is a strict no-no. Smelly socks, man-spread, occupying the armrest, loud snores, make for a miserable aircraft.

The subtle vices and the people these vices turn us into is inconvenient and unproductive. Studies show hurrying, whether on the streets while driving or in the queues gives us a head start of no more than 10 minutes. So is the stress, for yourself and others, worth it? Being respecting toward cultural differences and sensibilities, being patient and considerate, following the land of the law the those prescribed by the airline make the human-hood of the travellers a much more mutually enjoyable experience. Well, it also adds to points to the exclusive travel-karma club.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

via TOI Blog

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