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Pinki Eppaturi, a former flight attendant, takes the reader into the ‘glamorous’ lives of those who work in the sky, in her fictionalised memoir, Nothing But The Plane Truth.
Years back when a relative expressed her desire of becoming an air hostess to her kith and kin, the unanimous reaction she received was – “Yes it is a good choice for you as you are good at dressing up.” I was too young then to make any deeper sense of things, but the reaction put me off even then; and though times have changed ever since, I am aware that many people still have the same attitude towards the profession of a flight attendant. The common perception is that it is a lucrative job in which one gets to enjoy many perks without breaking one’s bone. “You get to fly and travel, and all one needs to do is serve people and smile at them.”
Nothing But The Plane Truth serves as an eye-opener for those who harbour such a shallow and ludicrous mindset. It shatters all the myths about the life of a cabin crew member, and brings to fore the challenges and struggles which lie beneath the veil of glamour and thrill. Authored by Pinky Eppaturi who has been a flight attendant with two international airlines and a qualified Human Factors and Behaviors trainer, this is a fictionalized memoir based on true incidents from her life, but with the use of alternate names for all the characters.
The author takes us through an adventurous ride with Pari Abraham, and we get to see the world through her lens. Pari is an accomplished and free-spirited flight attendant, a sensitive person, with a with a jovial outlook towards life. From achieving her dreams to fly, to finally deciding to leave her comfort zone for newer and bigger avenues in life, her exploratory journey is nothing short of exhilarating, inspiring and gratifying.
Pari wears her heart on her sleeve and welcomes the readers to her world with open arms. She does not shy away from giving us a ringside view of her life as an in-flight crew member. The highs and the lows, the passion and the discipline, the moments of triumph and the flashes of vulnerabilities are all there in those pages for us to assimilate and brood over. I was particularly touched by her anecdotes related to the matters of the heart. Her uninhibited narration of her quest for love struck a chord with me and infused the novel with a certain endearing tenor.
The balanced portrayal of the life of a flight attendant is what works big time in this book. Pari has not resorted to invoking sympathy in the reader by only talking about the trials and tribulations. Rather, she aims at giving us a realistic and complete picture of the pros and cons of having a career in this field. She succeeds in generating a few laughs along the way by narrating uproarious incidents of celebrity tantrums and strange and difficult customers. With equal aplomb, she manages to make the reader teary-eyed with heart-rending occurrences which keep springing up every now and then in the narrative.
The author wonderfully highlights the life-threatening risks of flying up in the air, and how it is far from easy to shoulder the responsibility of the safety and security of a horde of passengers. I also liked the questions raised in the book about drawing the line when it comes to customer service. How can one judge how much is too much, and till what point should one indulge imperious and irrational passengers? As you find your answers, you can feel every ounce of effort that goes into ensuring customer delight in industries where customer service is the prime focus and hence, of paramount importance.
When life gives someone umpteen opportunities to touch lives, more so because of their line of work, it is only natural that one will have several little nuggets of wisdom to share. The good thing is that the book does not drill it into our heads but keeps it subtle, and many a times lets us infer things simply by making us a part of the experiences and situations. Being smitten by the travel bug, Pari’s escapades corroborate the theory that travel is education and the learnings have been articulated in a manner which every travel lover will relate to. Sample this –
“The more places I went to, within the country and abroad, and the more I looked for differences in people, the more I found that they were all the same.”
“I discovered that maybe, my citizenship no more remains ‘Indian’ for I really do feel I have been raised by the world.”
Some things could have been better, of which one is the structural editing – I felt the book had too many chapters and a few of the chapters could be merged into one for a better flow and impact. Some of the chapters from the 330-odd-page book could have been easily done away with, as they did not add much value to the proceedings. I understand that the intention was to maintain the chronological order of events, but having a number of chapters on similar topics, like say celebrity experiences, some points in the novel did seem repetitive and hence, took away a bit from the excitement of the otherwise captivating read.
The other thing that could be different was giving more in-depth description of key milestones – The author adopts an unpretentious, quirky and cheeky tone to recount her life for the readers which is effective. But I felt a lack of certain depth when it came to the description of the key milestones of her life. For instance, in the chapter wherein she talks about her first ever flight, I wanted to know more about the whirlwind of emotions she was experiencing – the jitters, the anxiety and the excitement. I was a bit underwhelmed because of the nondescript narration. The finale, on the other hand, was handled with deftness, but this was not consistent throughout the book.
On the whole, keeping the minor instances of turbulence aside, Nothing But The Plane Truth, published by Amaryllis, is a fun-filled joyride. So, fasten your seat belts and get ready to take-off on an intrepid and entertaining journey with this one!
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Top image via Pinki Eppaturi and book cover via Amazon
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