comments 22

On flying and 10 things Indians do to get more bang for the buck


Who cares about rules anyway?

Who cares about rules anyway?


She’s just not listening! I try once more – “Ma’am, the child will turn 2 years old on the day you are flying. You need to pay child fare.” “But, he is not two yet”, she insists again.

“How can you have such conditions? Is a kid of 3 years still not a baby? And if you say that a kid under 2 years is an infant, how can one who is 2 years old not be an infant. Does a day make such a difference?” she argues.

If you have ever been in the travel industry, you know that the lady in question is not an oddball. Many times in your career, you have had such arguments with a customer who tries to prove that there is no need to pay what you are asking him/her to.

When I was working, it used to be frustrating trying to explain that rules are rules and ‘I can’t ‘do nothin’ about them’.

Now that I am on the other side of the table, I can see the world through the customer’s eyes. I understand. If I can, I will make my rupee go the extra mile.

Where is the shame in trying to get more bang for the buck or driving economies of scale? Don’t companies pay consultancies shovelfuls of money to make that happen? If we Indians can use our ingenuity to do the same for us, we should be proud isn’t it?

Negotiation has been part of the game since we were children.

Negotiation by children comic strip

Now that we have grown up, it just takes different forms.

Let’s take a look at 10 things we Indians do make the rupee last longer (in other words, have a paisa vasool experience) –

  1. Turn complimentary breakfast into brunch at the nice European hotel where we’re ‘anyway’ paying 8,000 rupees per room night
  2. Flying a low cost airline. Why pay for the food then? Stop at an Udipi on the way to the airport and tank up on idli, sambhar et al. Else carry mooli paranthas from home and let your co-passengers enjoy the aroma from your meal (no pun intended 😉 )
  3. Choose the dress we want, think ‘monsoon sale is around the corner’ and put it back on the rack. Come back on day 1 of the sale.
  4. Check with the hotel if they will allow 2 children with 2 adults in the room. ‘Arre, younger one can sleep with us on the bed and the older one can sleep on the extra bed’.
  5. Bully the travel agent to upgrade the hotel room – ‘Dekhiye (look), did that for us last year. You can’t do it? Ok, jaane do (just let it be)- we will book with yatra.’
  6. Squeeze the hell out of a toothpaste tube nearing its end
  7. Happy hours for all customers who order their first beverage between 4 pm and 7 pm? Order first drink at 6.50 pm and let the free liquor flow after that
  8. Book airline ticket 3 months in advance. Is the cancellation fee less than cost difference of last minute tickets? That is money in the pocket.
  9. We even ask the balloon wala to pump in extra air into the child’s balloon (trust me, I’ve seen this happen).
  10. Pack 5 people on a scooter meant for 2, rather than hail a taxi (I admit that is unsafe and we can’t be proud of that)


Children going to school on a horsecart (Pic credit - Dilwar Mandal on

Children going to school on a horsecart (Pic credit – Dilwar Mandal on


That doesn’t mean we are misers though. We will spend where we see value.

Take clothes for example. If we see a beautiful but expensive silk saree at Nallis (popular shop for South Indian garments), we will buy it.

Then we will apply the ‘extract maximum utility’ principle. The saree will go from its current avatar to paavdai (skirt) for the child to cushion covers for the sofa. If the material is cotton, it will turn into a wonderfully soft, grime absorbing, floor swab.

We might buy a Mercedes Benz, but we compare the accessories dealers are throwing in free of cost. We are going to spend money but there’s no way we are going to throw it away, right?

We firmly believe in the concept of ‘Paisa vasool’.

And we should be proud of it. I mean that. Long before recycling was the ‘in thing’, we practiced it. We only trash things we can’t reuse.

When infants outgrow clothes, we pass them on to a cousin who is expecting. We collect cardboard from everyday packaging and sell it to the raddi-wala (waste recycler). We don’t throw away plastic shopping bags – we use them on the next shopping jaunt instead.

And, it’s just not ordinary folks. Wipro chairman Azim Premji and Infosys founder Narayan Murthy are legendary for being frugal. Several past Presidents of our country, notably Lal Bahadur Shastri, have been noted for their refusal to spend more than what was necessary.

Doesn’t even the Bhagavad Gita tell us that “For the senses wander, and when one lets the mind follow them, it carries wisdom away like a windblown ship on the waters”? So we refuse to let form win over utility, we refuse to give in to our senses and are governed by the brain.

In that spirit 😉 let us look at Lufthansa’s newly introduced Premium Economy class.

When I can travel ‘Economy’, why should I travel ‘Premium Economy’? You shouldn’t of course.

Unless you are ‘value’ conscious.

Unless you agree that if Mumbai builders charge you a bomb for that 20 square foot balcony, additional legroom and comfort in the aircraft will come at some cost.

Unless you want 50 pct more space – one seat has been done away with so there are two seats instead of three in this configuration.

Unless you want to work in peace – with a separate armrest for yourself (rather than share it with the hulk next to you) and a fold-out table on which to place the laptop.

Unless you just want to watch the latest flick without scrunching up your eyes at the subtitles – a bigger screen helps.

Unless you have children who insist on having their story books, skate-boards and what-not at hand ‘coz I need them when I need them’ (you could check in a second bag at no extra cost).

Unless you just want to switch off and put on the sleep mask to shut out the world.

So, think about it. Value over price? What will you go for?

Or do you prefer your own PAL-V?

PAL-V flying over traffic jam(Pic source

PAL-V flying over traffic jam(Pic source


Visit the Lufthansa Premium Economy link here for more details – or check the twitter handle – #LufthansaPremiumEconomy

This post is my entry to the Lufthansa contest on IndiBlogger.




  1. Hahaha, quite a funny post…but point made clearly.
    I have always believed not only Indians, but even people from well-off countries like US do all these things…i heard about some top-shot stealing towels from hotels saying he has paid for it anyway!


    • Thanks for liking the post Alok.

      It’s actually quite surprising how alike people are, irrespective of nationality. I recently read an article about how people have defaced key tourist sites across the world with graffiti. It must be some primal urge to register our presence wherever we go (much like dogs, lions etc mark their territory) 😉

      Hotel towels are obviously not to be taken because they are reused. But hotel toiletries tend to be more confusing – they are obviously not going to be used by another customer but there is no specific guideline by the hotel saying guests can take used ones if they so wish. Go figure, they seem to say. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such an interesting post and a good image of “middle class mentality”. I know a couple who bought a 50 lakh flat in pune, if you believe me, they still have all cardboard raddi from packaging material. The reason is they want more price from raddi wala.


  3. Loved reading this Vibs!! And I couldn’t resist reading it again today.. The cartoon is great 🙂 and trust me I have seen point no 9 happening as well – more air in the balloon. It’s hilarious. 😂😂Wish you good luck!


    • No Arvind – it’s not the airline. It’s the positioning of the Premium Economy class – meaning you will get value for money.
      Of course, Premium Economy costs more than Economy but it is cheaper than Business. So, if you’re looking for near Business Class comfort at a lower price – this is the one you want.
      Btw, you’ve also participated in the contest so you would know that ‘Paisa Vasool’ was in their description. 😉


  4. Oh my! just after reading the first part I could completely recall all the funny experiences I had while I was flying!!! Seriously…..I have had one such pax travelling with us who asked for an extra child meal served on board for her second child who wasnt even travelling with us.


    • You know I’ve seen articles written about how Indians try to stretch their resources because of historical memory of poverty. Or because of spiritual sensibilities.
      Part of it may be true but I think we just want to ensure ‘value’ rather than overpaying for something.


      • I agree.
        When I was young we stretched a penny and frivolous ‘things’ didn’t exist. If they did, I never came across them. I haven’t changed since. ❤


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s