The Outcast

July 5, 2008

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

I was flying Air India between Mumbai and Delhi back in the late 1980s. The passenger in the seat beside me was a middle aged man who had obviously never been on a plane before. His hand luggage consisted of a 5L plastic container of diesel. I knew it was diesel because it was leaking slightly.

This poor guy was in trouble from the start due to the caste system. All the hostesses were, by the nature of the job, quite high caste .. obviously much higher than the poor farmer sitting next to me. At first he tried to just sit the diesel on his lap till the stewardess YELLED at him to put it on the seat next to him, and of course as “safety” is paramount, she demanded that he secure the container with the seatbelt. It was obvious he had never seen a seatbelt before as he submissively tried to tie the container down. I helped him with both that belt and his own.

From that point on he was ignored, and by that I mean when food was served I was given a tray, all politeness, and head waving and lovely cleavage, whereas he did not exist as far as the Air India staff were concerned. I shared my lunch with him.

I’m not making personal judgments about the staff and God knows I’m not the most empathetic middle aged white conservative male (here in Oz we are known as “Liberals”), but for me that was a flight from hell.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

WAH October 31, 2008 at 5:18 am

Why the heck was someone flying with a container of diesel fuel. Don't they have it where he was flying to ?


Anon November 21, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Yeah, WAH, that was the point of the story. :rolleyes:


Elaine April 2, 2009 at 10:32 am

How does someone get to fly with diesel?

And what is "caste"? Are you talking about the colour of his skin??


jaymoney April 2, 2009 at 10:33 am

thankfully the diesel days are behind us, WTF!


Yep! April 2, 2009 at 10:39 am

For all of the other comments, I think the point of this story was the rudeness of the Flight Attendant, NOT the diesel fuel. Remember this story happened over 20 years ago… rules change.


Paul April 2, 2009 at 11:35 am

Caste system is India's way of saying not all people are created equal. These crap hole countries like India have many socialised slaves in them. They call the US treatment of the Indians and slaves horrible and treat thier own people in the same or worse ways. Most the Higher cast people have servants at thier homes. To me its legalised slavery. Oh and yes these people are born into thier status by family lineage. People don't talk about these things as politically it is not the ignorant stay ignorant. Seeing how I work with hundreds of Indians being trained to take my job to India…I hear things.


Anon April 2, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Its only ignorant fools like you that would have nothing better to say than call India a 'crap hole' nation. You belong to the vast majority of ignorant people who have always viewed and will continue to view India as a third world nation. And that is where your opinion ends. Even when they are hired as maids, they are paid and NOT exploited. They work hard to make that living and not life off of welfare that a million people do these days in the States.You called Indians ignorant, if anything, you need a reality check buddy.


Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Perhaps, Paul, the reason that those Indians are being trained to take YOUR job is because you are a no good, disrespectful A$$!!!


jag April 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm

hey liberal in the land of OZ, GET OVER IT ASSO. a really tired story on the 'life is not fair' motif.


Robin April 2, 2009 at 5:55 pm

okay i admit that diesel is a stupid thing to carry around but that was RUDE. they just ignored the guy? at least u were nice enuf to share the food.


Linda April 2, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Poor man! I'm glad you shared your food with him!


n April 5, 2009 at 10:42 am



FlyEmirates April 6, 2009 at 8:41 am

@jag, I think the author meant 'Liberal' as in the Australian Liberal Party, which is their equivalent of the British Conservative Party/American Republican Party. In other words he is a Conservative not a socialist.

American's often make the mistake of conflating liberalism with Marxism/socialism; they are not the same thing.


nicole April 6, 2009 at 11:12 am

People it was the 1980's and it was INDIA not surprising he was traveling with fuel.


jimbob April 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm

indians are uncivilized like wild animals they have no concept of reality


Omar April 17, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Carry on with diesel fuel? Bogus story, even pre-911.


rolf April 22, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Dude if someone was flying a leaking container of diesel beside me, him receiving nods from the crew or getting his meal would be the least of my worries.

I hope that you were mistaken and that the container would be filled with olive oil, or some other non-harmful liquid.

The Diesel container aside, I sympathize, although to my knowledge the caste system has been abolished in india, therefore the passenger should at least be receiving his meal, if not the complimentary smiles.


Sarah April 25, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I would like to believe that the point of the story is being lost on these commentors because they do not know what the caste system in India is. For those who are ignorant on this matter, please go here Ind…an_caste_system, instead of making a big deal out of the guy carrying diesel on the airplane. Whether he was carrying diesel or water should not concern us, the fact that he was treated abominably SHOULD.

This is why some people will never move forward. They focus on the trivialities of life, and ignore the bigger picture altogether.


Glen May 7, 2009 at 7:20 pm

I can't believe that someone would not know what the caste system of India is. Secondly I also can't believe the arrogance of an American that they are better than any other nation. This is 2009 and you have a Black President. Learn that the world still does discrimation in their own country, worldwide.


Traytable May 31, 2009 at 8:06 am

If true, the crew and Air India would be in breach of the IATA dangerous goods regulations. Poor farmer doesn't know any better, but they sure as heck did! Even 20 years ago, carrying diesel or any other flammable liquid onboard in that quantity in the passenger cabin was illegal.


huh? November 1, 2009 at 7:27 am

Glen, your comment confuses me. Mostly the last 3 sentences and whether or not they relate.

1) Americans are arrogant (I agree)

2)It's 2009 & US has black president (truth… does that mean that we shouldn't be arrogant? Are you racist? Are you supporting the caste system?)

3)"Learn that the world still does discrimination in their own country, world wide." (Super confused… Basically, you support the caste system – again?)


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