Emirates 542 DXB to MAA: Dubai to Chennai

The difference is remarkable when comparing aircraft culture on Emirates from LAX to Dubai and from Dubai to Chennai. Each time I travel to India, I never cease to be amazed how crossing borders is demonstrated mid-air. The flight to Dubai consisted of a cosmopolitan set of passengers, many languages, styles of dress and a relatively quiet airplane ambiance – a few agitated babies and toddlers but overall, a moderate energy in flight.

The flight to Chennai from Dubai is drastically different. As soon as I boarded the aircraft I can hear the difference. Passengers are negotiating seats, arguing with flight attendants and negotiating which overhead bins to use to store their luggage. As I began to put my luggage in a half empty overhead bin, a woman standing under it said politely to me “I’m sorry but I will be putting my baggage here shortly.” I responded equally politely that there was no other space around me so I was going to be using it. It is like saving a parking space in the US by standing in it (has anyone ever succeeded in that?)
Most of the passengers are Indian, some were without shoes prior to takeoff, people didn’t pay attention to rules and signage which irritated the flight attendants, (during turbulence when flight attendants are strapped in, passengers were requesting beverages, leaving their seats etc), people would put their empty food trays in empty seats because they didn’t want to wait to have them picked up. It was utter chaos.

Given what I know of India this all makes sense. In India, everything is a negotiation. Chaotic energy is the norm. Everyone is looking out for themselves and your guard cannot be let down. There is no telling what will be until it is. It will be a lovely contrast for me given what I err on the side of setting schedules, planning and trying to keep some organization. I look forward to the challenge once again.

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Briefly, I will be landing in Chennai shortly to help facilitate a cultural immersion program for graduate students in mental health professions. This will be my 3rd time in India, the most recent being Jan 2011. A new group of students, a new year, and a new adventure. I look forward to it!

Stay tuned…