An air hostess job - on ground - is like being a waitress. And yet that simple prefix makes it so much more. A job with glamour, money and a chance to 'see the world'. At least that's how it used to be.
I grew up in a colony of scientists where every kid became a doctor, engineer of PhD. But there was one notable exception. A girl called Pushpa who joined Cathay Pacific.
The aunties might have gossiped and whispered but Pushpa couldn't care less. She was good looking - in an arrogant and casual sort of way. And she had perfect skin, which we were told was the essential requirement for an air hostess job.
Cathay was good for Pushpa. She travelled the world, enjoyed free tickets for the family and last heard, had married a Greek and settled down abroad somewhere.
An average-at-studies girl used her looks to her advantage. And got to see do things she could never have, stuck on ground.
But this story is not about Pushpa. It's about the dream of being an air hostess.
Today there are numerous 'air hostess training' institutes. One uses a celebrity brand ambassador, the other boasts of a UK certification and yet another says 'life long placements'.
Fine. But placements where? Mostly low budget domestic airlines. Frankfinn goes so far as to advertise an 'exclusive tie up' with Air Deccan - meaning that airline recruits only Frankfinn students.
Not sure if that's such a wise thing to advertise!
Sure, being an air hostess on Spicejet or Deccan is a decent 'job' but most of the elements of the dream are missing. No foreign travel, or paycheck with 5 zeros. No duty free shopping and no fancy 5 star hotels stays.
You are on your toes for 10-12 hours, almost continuously as a low budget aircraft has a quick turnaround time and makes 5-6 flights a day. Plus, you have nothing much to do or 'serve'. Just hand out bottles of water, or sell sandwiches.
And, there are irate passengers to constantly deal with!
Of course someone has to do this job - and there's always hope that you may move on to something 'better'. However, as far as I can see the new airlines apply less stringent standards...
And the likes of Kingfisher and Jet still place regular ads to recruit their own candidates - instead of relying solely on training institutes.
The point I am making is that people who join these institutes should be clear that they may have joined to pursue a 'dream'. But be prepared to end up with what is merely a job.
So don't expect automatic aahs and ooohs when you say "I'm an air hostess"! Which airline you fly determines your place in the pecking order.
So if you do have perfect skin - aim high!