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Undoubtedly one of the great signs of social comeuppance is the privilege of flying Business Class. We see a cross-section of Nepalese society from the old landed aristocracy to the arriveste class of the New Nepal, from the "banksters" to the republicans fighting for the deprived regularly flying business class. "Cattle class", as opined by none other than Shashi Tharoor the ex-UN man, now India's rising star, is how the hoi polloi fly - those unencumbered by fat bank balance, "source and force" or overarching social ambition.

Business Class to me conjures up images of roomy seating in half-empty cabins, discreet service by alluring air hostesses, the pop of a Champagne bottle uncorking, heavenly meal consisting of seafood hors d'oeuvre followed by succulent New Zealand lamb entrée. There is, of course, a choice of fine red or white accompanying and selected movies in personal screens to while away the flying time. Importantly there is this sublime feeling that one is different, privileged, a class apart from those taking up the rear. The Bostonian Brahmins were the cultured, long-established, upper-class families of New England of the 19th Century; in the social hierarchy of the time it was said that the leading family of the Cabots spoke to the Lodges, and the Lodges spoke only to God! Flying Business Class at above 30,000 feet is coming closest to having conversation with God.

I have had my share too. As a frequent flyer myself in the job of making others travel, I have crossed the proverbial seven seas flying Business Class often times, with KLM, Malaysia Airlines, and Thai Airways. But often times too it was in economy, a bummer, a nagging reminder of the sagging fortunes of the Nepalese travel industry. On a recent flight to China and back I observed the emerging New Nepal flying business while I flew economy. A well-known female lawyer was in the front as well as a motley crew of Ranas and Shahs. So too were a smattering of NGO and INGO types taking undue advantage of the trust bestowed upon them by their unknowing benefactors. I drew satisfaction as I sat in my seat: the next one was occupied by a pre-eminent business tycoon I knew, someone who had been the King's minister a few year's back. Was he saving money or was he saving himself from undue exposure? Flying in business can have its own attendant risks too!
But there are also the deserving. In one of my flights to Mumbai were Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman and Shahrukh Khan, artists of the highest caliber who have entertained millions. Once sitting together with Udit Narayan Jha in another flight to Mumbai I could not but be impressed by his friendliness and humility, uncharacteristic trait in a Nepali who had it made bigtime in Bollywood replacing the likes of Mohamed Rafi and Mukesh! And the undeserving: in another flight there was a Nepali minister and his entire retinue flying in the front courtesy of sycophantic upgrading while others who could contribute to the coffers of the near bankrupt national carrier had to be content with economy seating.
Let us observe who will in future have conversations with God.


  1. Have you ever had the experience of being so inebriated in business class that the airline actually took you for questioning upon landing?

  2. I have been searching my memory, but it wasn't me! Who pray tell!


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