Can walk, want wheel-chair

Features Saturday, August 30, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute| Bangalore| August 24, 2014| 6.00 pm IST Nine out of ten times, it will be an Indian in a wheel-chair. Seven out of ten, the wheel-chair Indian will be wearing funny tennis shoes and a scarf as an indication of being unwell. Six out of ten times, they will be laden with duty-free shopping bags making others wonder how they can shop if they can’t walk.  Welcome to the world of the WCI of the wheel-chair Indian that is now emerging as the bane of airlines staff worldwide. Don’t believe us, speak to airlines officials including international carriers that pass through India and bring Indians to other destinations. The number of wheel chairs that meet flights with arriving and departing Indians is the butt of jokes but has also now led some airlines to ask for a medical certificate to be produced along with a request for a wheel chair. These are tough times – the dollar has to walk that extra mile.  Most people would think twice before asking for help, especially when they are hale and hearty. You can see Japanese women bent with age scurrying to their gates rather than being pushed in a wheel-chair. In many countries, it is considered seriously inappropriate to misuse a privilege reserved for those who need it most. Airlines are alarmed when their wheel-chair borne Indian asks to be halted at the duty-free section, shops and returns to the chair. Some wheel-chair attendants in India travelers if they want to shop and even propose products! There are many advantages to this and trust us to figure these out. For a start, there’s priority boarding following by good seats – a majority of fake wheel-chair Indians don’t travel business class, hence the wheel chair in the first place. Typically accompanied by family, this also accords priority boarding to the family. The “patient” is assisted throughout the flight and thinks nothing of walking to the toilet and up and down the aisle their own in full view of cabin staff and others.  Indians who can travel abroad or by plane in India are typically those who are served and waited upon in their homes. You can see this in the way they travel, the courtesies they accord to others including fellow passengers and their notion of private and public space and in the way they treat cabin crew.  The spectacle is called Indian Assisted Service. Just because people keep quiet doesn’t mean they are not noticing things.
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