Sunday, May 12, 2019

Games Air India plays

I have not waited for Godot. But I have had to wait for an Air India flight — AI-676 — that landed in Mumbai only six hours after its scheduled time of arrival on April 27, the day when the Maharaja was bitten by a bug.

The delay was reportedly caused by a glitch in SITA, the server that operates the passenger service system, which, according to Air India sources, adversely affected 155 flights for an average duration of two hours on that fateful day. Strangely, it was reported that the glitch, which was discovered during routine maintenance of the system, had affected flights operated by Air India only.

Air India’s master, the central government, has sworn to take Bharat back to Ram rajya. SITA, evidently, can put a spanner in the works.

On Saturday morning — wise men believe that morning shows the day — the Maharaja had thrown hints the size of royal inscriptions that something was amiss. On reaching the Dum Dum airport, I noticed that the queue for the boarding pass in front of the Air India kiosks had snaked up to one of the exit doors of the airport, or so it appeared.

Given SITA’s rage, it was taking the harried counter staff an inordinate amount of time to issue a boarding pass — the details were being written in hand on each pass while being simultaneously entered into a log book. When I enquired whether other flight operators had been bug-bitten as well, the young chap manning the counter answered, almost triumphantly, “Spice Jet has been hit too.” Then, in a modern rendition of the Ashwathama hata (iti gaja) moment, he added, lowering his voice by a few notches, “or so we are told.”

Passengers, used to sarkari sloth, decided to make use of the time mocking the Maharaja and his minions. A middle-aged man, a dapper executive, said aloud that Air India had no buyers given its “efficiency”. A Bengali, ever competitive in the department of black humour, muttered, “Having introduced vegetarian meals,

Air India has jettisoned jet fuel to run on gobar gas.” A Sikh, having traded his Vistara ticket for flight 676, appeared to have been shocked into silence. He scratched his turban occasionally while looking at the display board on which there was one incandescent word written next to AI-676: “Delayed”.
12/05/19 Uddalak Mukherjee/Telegraph
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