Is it an individual instinct or a cultural attitude or our submissiveness due to prolonged imperialism that we find ourselves unable to resist from taking things that are offered to us at no cost or those things whose proprietorship is ambiguous?
On my recent flight to Goa which coincided with the week of our most boisterous and colour-smearing festival of the year, Holi, there were a bunch of activities organised by the flight operators before the flight took off. All the passengers had a tikka applied on their forehead as they got in as a sign of welcome followed by the ground crew members dancing on mashed Bollywood dance tracks in the aisle. The only time when no passenger seemed to mind the flight being delayed! Bura na maano, holi hai! a popular phrase rightly used for this festival: Don’t mind, it is Holi!
So when the dust finally settled and most people like me stopped waiting for the Holi sweet-dish, Gujiya (which I absolutely detest but would have not said NO if I was offered!), to be served, the flight took off. I happened to notice that some flight seats had a small piece of brightly coloured satin cloth, placed on top of it. Some were yellow, some pink, and green like the one before me. The first thought that flashed in my head: is this for us to keep? I shrugged that thought off my head and settled in my seat. No sooner had I done it I noticed a middle-aged man sitting diagonally across bend down to pick up something. It was a pink satin cloth. He folded it into two and raised his left hip a bit to stuff it into his trousers pocket. He didn’t do this stealthily. It was as if it belonged to him. What would he do with it? It served no utility purpose. It couldn’t be used as a handkerchief because of its silky material. Neither his grand/children would take a fancy for it! Nevertheless, it now belonged to him and that was it all about. As soon as I alighted the flight, I happened to notice many more people holding on to these pieces of cloths and the air crew in the spirit of bura na maano holi hai, didn’t say anything! It was really meant to be only serving the purpose of decoration during festival times.
It is okay for children’s eyes to light up when they see a public space filled up with balloons. They want one or maybe more than one for themselves. But this urge doesn’t stop at childhood..the ones that I see around me in public usually. Somewhere deep down I wanted that piece of shiny cloth for myself too and if I would have got it along I wouldn’t have known what to do with it!
More at a personal level and during the same Goa holiday, I was in for a surprise when I realised that the breakfast in our package was complimentary! It wasn’t mentioned anywhere. So what would have otherwise been three days of sensible ordering and eating turned out to be just the opposite! Nothing was spared from the list mentioned in the complimentary breakfast menu! It wasn’t the usual eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet.
Certainly there is no such thing as free lunch. If you get complimentary services, you know you have paid for it. But misusing the complimentary services! One should see many customers, including me, going mad in front of a buffet! Considering that I belong to a well-to-do family!
So instead of thanking for the 24-7 water cooler that was placed at the foot of our floor in our hotel which saved us from buying dozens of bottles of mineral water I wished there was free wifi too!
At least I didn’t pick up the satin cloth! There is a room for improvement. And hopefully, along with me there will be many more whose mindset will change.
(The in-flight Holi dance video: http://zeenews.india.com/news/india/spicejet-holi-video-is-out-fun-unlimited-watch_1868596.html)
(image courtesy: http://theemon.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Giving-Away-Freebies-1024×450.png)