India, from a foreigner’s eyes

We travel to fall in love; with a stranger’s land and a culture that often has nothing in common with ours other than that it’s also based on love and mutual respect. But what British Airways has accomplished with its latest heartwarming campaign is to remind us of the immense warmth nestled in our own homes. The ‘fuelled by love’ short film depicts a typical old Tamilian Brahmin lady, who takes great pleasure in playing the veena and churning out fluffy warm idlis. She encounters a friendly young airhostess aboard a British Airways flight and somehow, irrespective of differences in age, nationality and background, they develop a deep bond.

It’s true that airhostesses are paid to be nice to people on board but we all know that they are not all the same. Every now and then, you encounter one who is particularly polite, not stingy with her smiles and goes that extra mile to put you at ease. Helena is the prototype of a young professional who doesn’t often encounter the familiarity of ‘home’. Imagine being part of an airline whose Indian division operates 49 flights a week from London Heathrow to five cities – New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. It’s but natural that you’d encounter more of India than Britain. And in Helena’s case, she really likes what she sees.

The motive of the campaign is clear – British Airways wants to convey their love for India and reinforce the fact that this love would be quite evident every time you took one of their flights. But the idea of shooting an entire short film and the extremely touching storyline makes it more than just an advertisement. It makes it a hopeful commentary on finding common ground and friends on foreign shores (or skies). Being a Tam-Brahm myself, I couldn’t help but imagine all the lovely paatis (grandmothers) who are often endearingly ignorant when it comes to technology and modern forms of transport. But if we can make it easier by helping each other along the way, we’d be turning travel into a beautiful journey of loving back, don’t you think? That’s the message I choose to take away from the ‘Fuelled by love’ campaign.

I’ve never flown British Airways but when I do, I shall look out for Helena and her ilk. They are the ones who never raise an eyebrow if you ask for water a hundred times during the flight (some people are just easily dehydrated!) and furnish every request with a smile that reaches their eyes.

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