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Welcome on Board book review: This flight doesn’t fly too high

A book on the lives of flight attendants has some comic moments

books Updated: Jul 19, 2017 00:11 IST
Prerna Madan
Prerna Madan
Hindustan Times
Welcome on Board,air travel,Vinamra Longani

Travelling by air can be fun. It involves an exhilarating take off and landing, and with the awesome vistas dawns the realization of how remarkable it is to be up in the air. Of course, it also means getting used to that stale inside-plane smell, the constant need to pop your ears, and jet lag. Welcome on Board, written by an air steward with 12 years of experience, is about exactly this contrast -- all that is fun and unpleasant in air travel.

Absolute honesty is chilling; every once in a while, it is also refreshing. It is what makes Ernest Hemingway and Charles Bukowski great. But it is with the monotone of an in-flight announcement that I inform you that reading Welcome on Board isn’t shockingly truthful despite all its raunchy stories about air hostesses obsessed over “cute” passengers. Vinamra Longani’s stories about passengers’ bodily releases and uppity business class fliers, however, have some comic relief.

These pieces have the tone of a teenager unabashedly telling his friends about his new iPhone. Amateur as that sounds, they are also vastly entertaining and competently do what TV series like Game of Thrones and Gossip Girl have perfected: display sex unnecessarily, but effectively, to garner an audience. It isn’t the most dedicated way to make art but it is easily one of the most successful.

When the narrative isn’t focusing on sex escapades, it preaches about ethics and holds forth on the disadvantages of being a flight attendant. It uses crude language that often mocks its subjects and is largely written with an infantile perception based on first impressions. The author is quick to denounce someone as a “bimbo” and to question even passengers’ parenting skills.

Read more: Living the high life

But Welcome on Board does let the reader into the lives of flight attendants. During a recent flight, this reviewer was witness to a steward letting down her plastic expression and chuckling for a few seconds in the middle of her safety demonstration. In those moments, her pancaked face scrunched up and she became abundantly real; a person with a normal life.

First Published: Jul 18, 2017 19:17 IST