Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Flying High!

Recently I was told that most Indians look down upon flight attendants and refuse to get their sons married to them. I was not hearing this for the first time. The general consensus amongst “educated” Indian families is definitely that being a flight attendant is equivalent to being a whore.

At least that was the case when I decided to become one. If you are that Indian and a friend who did not know this about me, you can close that jaw of yours that just dropped. Yes, really! So you can imagine the horror my family must have gone through when I said I was going to do just that.

I was lucky enough to have a parent who was not like the rest. That was both a good and a bad thing, but I digress. The SIMPLE reason I decided to take up the job was because I wanted to travel the world for free. I also wanted to get away from a place where people judged you continuously; neighbors were more interested than you in what was going on in your house and family members were at each other’s throats for ancestral properties. Ironically I landed up in an equal or worse society in the U.S. than what I tried getting away from so many years ago.

Most entertaining were the reactions I got from Indians when I told them I was a flight attendant. Let’s start with the men – shall we? The single dudes would be elated to meet you. You could tell it had always been their dream to come across a flight attendant one day. They assumed right away that you were all beauty and no brains and getting you in bed would probably be a simple feat. Their dads however would look at you with disdain and hope that as long as his son was “only friends” with her and not getting into any relationship he should be fine. Then there were the guys who would have a relationship with you but would not consider you marriage material due to the same reasons and definitely not worthy to introduce you to their families as well. He would only take pride within his friend circle to be dating a hot flight attendant or be friends with one.

The women on the other hand loathed you for being good looking and having such a glamorous career, or so they thought. Some of course thought you weren’t even pretty enough (and there were quite a few of us in this category) and wondered if you had slept with a pilot to get the job. Deep inside they wanted to be more like you but knowing their families would never allow it in a million years, they were happy harvesting the same age-old notions and talking about your “character” with others. The moms just warned you to stay away from “these sort of” girls.

Now my non-Indian friends might be thinking – what’s the big deal? You see, this career was not considered as any other job back home like it is here. Getting selected depended a lot on how you looked, your figure and your grasp of spoken English. Hence this was not a profession for the "educated". The makeup, hair, uniforms, travel, five-star hotels – all made the job seem extremely glamorous to folks outside the industry.

It is in reality a shitty job like all of you know already. It is just being a waitress with one major perk – the travel. It was just a job to me like it was to many others with absolutely NO glamor involved. Not really very different compared to all the other shitty jobs a lot of us have had in our careers. To the disappointment of many, I did not sleep around with any pilots or random men or do anything in fact that I would be ashamed of. I am glad I was not one of them who did not pursue their dreams for what others might think. On the contrary, I met a few of the smartest women, made a whole bunch of friends and traveled the globe like never before or will ever in the future – an opportunity many people will never get in their lives! These days I have to think thrice to even travel to domestic destinations let alone go to Africa or Europe. Overall I made some long lasting memories and an experience I cannot trade for anything in the world.

To the person who brought about his whole post: I need not have become a flight attendant to tarnish my “character”. I could very well have done that being the likes the Indian parents crave for their sons – an engineer, doctor, accountant, teacher or even the ideal house wife material. Sorry to have disappointed you!

Thanks to hubby for accepting me for who I was and all those friends and family members who continually encourage me to be..ummm...ME.


MsRantyPants Herself said...

As said "non Indian" friend who wonders WTF is wrong with people who think this about flight attendants at all (like you said, have you SEEN the conditions they work in or heard the way people talk to them???) I still remain incredulous at this attitude. I seriously want to bitch-slap anyone who even hints at you being in any way improper. You, my dear, have real class. And grace. And those are two things that aren't given to you by a job or a caste but by natural, internal beauty. Personally, I'm glad to know you and thankful that you share my joy for life, love, and travel. Hugs.

Mala said...

Thank you MC!
The conditions they work in was a also a reason this was not considered a decent profession for girls from decent families.

MsRantyPants Herself said...

Oh, lovey lovey the new look!

CGBCYouth said...

Ok, coming from another "oriental" country and knowing a little bit of how people USED to think of flight attendants, I can understand how that is. However, most of the younger generation in my country has pretty much changed the way they think about these glamorous people. Hopefully your people is changing the way they think too. The only thing that crossed my mind when I learned you were one was "wow...and she's so fitting too. Tall, beautiful, and smart"

CGBCYouth said...

BTW, tasty layout!

e said...

Good for you for having the guts to do what you wanted for the reasons you wanted. The universe rewards courageous people.

Mala said...

Thank you JF and E! I am so blessed to have friends like you.