Capt. Vikas Nautiyal

You had always believed in the dictum, ‘Whatever goes Up, must also come Down, preferably in one piece’. It was a simple rule that had kept you alive all these years. It wasn’t completely imprecise to say that Flying and Aviation at large, was a roller-coaster ride, it had its Ups and Downs; Downs and Ups; and sometimes; some Downs and Downs. You had ridden those waves, rising and ebbing with the tides. Made some mistakes and survived them, done some blunders and lived to tell the tales. However, it wasn’t just a profession where fantastic pilots found their ends, over-believing in their skills but overwhelmed by the circumstances. Aviation also was a career where some avaricious employers disappeared overnight, leaving hapless unsuspecting pilots in the lurch despite having survived the actual perils of flying. If the proverbial golden bullet of a flying-accident didn’t get you, the silver one of a rogue-employer would definitely pierce your heart. It was a vicious circle; like a snake devouring its own tail.

This dive had acquired Free-Fall velocity during the pandemic. Every Holy Grail had been vitiated, every rule of common prudence had been shattered, sensibilities had been trampled, fangs and elbows had been laid bare, and mutual trust had been flung out of the cockpit window from 35000’ AMSL*. There were great employers in the market and if you joined the cadet internship program, you would be indebted to them for upto seven generations at least. Some had recently handed out CJSFs* to everybody (except to the nobodys, that made 99.99% of everybody). These would ensure that ultimately, if you managed to survive them, you would never go to sleep hungry, even if you ended up totally and entirely broke after a long and successful career.

So, in short, there was much disarray and dismay. Thankfully, far away from this madding crowd, you were looking at a quiet promise of a new future. Having lived with the motto; ‘When Life Gives you Lemons, make Lemonade’, you had trained to make do with what you got. When Lemons got as expensive as Rs 20/- for one, you learnt to swig the Jose Cuervo* with only the salt. Limes or Lemons, Malts or Molasses, Shaken or Stirred, Barley or Grain, Agave was an odd infrequent choice and an acquired taste. Gin, made out of Juniper fared better, was more endemic and didn’t require lemons. Hydroxychloroquine, or what was fashionably called Tonic Water, that you had a big stock of because of the pandemic, was enough to go along.

Therefore, in short, you were convinced that this senseless drinking of Tequila by social media celebrities and un-celebrities alike had made the price of Lemons shoot up in recent times. In the last two years, the average price of one lemon had gone up from Rs 2/- to Rs 20/-, a 900% increase. In the same time, the stock market had plummeted 40%, your portfolio taking a deep-dive towards rock bottom, retail inflation had risen to 8%, the National GDP guesstimate had reduced from 8%, the Rupee had fallen to its lowest ever, Brent Crude had touched 130$ a barrel, interest rates had been hiked, and your salary, instead of seeing two increments in the last two years, had been unceremoniously reduced by 40% with layover allowances slashed by a whopping 63%. In life, percentages always seemed to work against you and left your pockets much emptier than it seemed. These were cold brutal facts and there was no hedge against them. No guerilla tactics worked and you had to take it all squarely on the chin. Whether you lived in Delhi or in Denial, in Mumbai or in the Moment, in Kozhikode or in Krisis, the percentages were obdurate. If you thought Covid was tough, you had not even imagined what post-Covid times, with a senseless war raging, that had had catastrophic effects on your personal life, would be like. Why was there no peace and harmony? Why was there a rancid smell of mistrust in the air everywhere, like an old mold? Why had the industry come to this pass? Why did Boeing-Airbus hate each other so much?

All this negativity made you pine for a quiet escape, a silent exit, to an uncomplicated life in Picture-Perfect-Dreamy-Doon, where you had grown up and still vainly hoped that life remained unhurried and uncomplicated. The thought made you stay foolishly optimistic and made you continue to believe that somewhere, a new dawn would break soon, bringing with it a new future replete with trust, truth, kindness and of course, a bag of shining Neu-Coins. In that magical land of the future, you sincerely believed that no airlines would go bust due to greed and avarice, Boeing-Airbus would become Brothers in Arms, and merge to form a new company called Bobus, no-longer run by the Babus.

Someday, you would retire from that magical place having lived a full life, lost some and gained some, with a stash of stories in your heart waiting to be written, a nearly-empty bank account and a bag of Neu-Coins. You wouldn’t mind if they threw in some CJSFs* too. (Not too many, not too less, just enough to last till you would).

Capt Vikas Nautiyal




This article is a work of fiction. The article bears no affiliation to recent events in the Aviation Industry.

* AMSL – Above Mean Sea Level

* CJSFs – Chicken-Junglee-Sandwich-Futures

* Jose Cuervo – A popular Brand of Tequila