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The only difference between first class travellers and first class idiots is the price they pay.

Forget inflight TV, try DVT

How to wrestle with golden light and windmilling arms 30,000ft aloft. Just don’t make the stewardess smile.

Vijay Verghese/ Editor

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THE FIRST TIME I HEARD ABOUT DVT, I wanted one. I already have DVD, VCD and Laser Disc. “Is it Sony?” I asked the stewardess. She didn’t know. Stewardesses are unfamiliar with DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis as they get more than enough exercise pointing out the exits. They also get an aerobic workout doing safety demonstrations. These demonstrate, graphically, that the only difference between a stewardess and a wax mannequin is the latter’s vast expressive range. I might point out though that it’s not just orange things attached to tubes that fall from the ceiling 30,000ft aloft. On a flight to India, during a particularly bumpy patch, a bottle of duty-free Johnnie Walker extricated itself from the overhead bin and landed with a thud on a sleeping passenger’s head. The stricken man moaned and slumped in his seat.

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It is at times like these that years of cabin safety training kick in. A stewardess rushed up, leaned forward gently and, delicately, like a surgeon’s assistant, picked up the bottle and returned it to its owner – with an apology. The coshed passenger meanwhile slept a lot deeper than he intended. Deep Vein Thrombosis affects passengers who never have a chance to point out the exits or smack noisy children. It mainly affects those flying economy class. Clearly DVT is a blue-collar affliction. Check your collar before leaving home. DVT can turn your entire body blue, which can be a real bummer if you’re wearing green. The only way to avoid creeping morbidity is to demand a life-saving upgrade to first class where’s room for a quick nookie – with a wax mannequin.

DVT can turn your whole body blue which can be a real bummer, especially if you happen to be wearing green

Or you can follow the airline’s fitness channels. On one transpacific flight many years ago, headphones donned, I listened to a voice telling me all about the golden light. I was to open my mouth and let the golden radiance in. I had to throw back my head and keep “drinking” the imaginary light. This made it a tad difficult to watch the movie and breathe at the same time. However, the voice was warm and encouraging and I gulped down great quantities of that golden light till my stomach was bloated and my body tingled with 500-watt Messianic urgency. I don’t know what was more terrifying – DVT, or the endless golden light. This was state-of-the-art Nineties relaxation and no one at the airline seemed concerned about dull businessmen mutating into glowing ETs.

These days relaxation is out. Golden light can kill. Get too relaxed and your legs will fall off on account of the fact that your blood has curdled for want of exercise. On a recent flight then I found myself intently watching an airline exercise video. Soon I was raising my knees, rotating my ankles, rolling my shoulders and generally alarming my neighbour who preferred to watch his movie unmolested. It’s all quite jolly actually, this synchronised can-can, as passengers glued to their consoles start doing high kicks and swinging their arms about in perfect unison. Add some music and lip-syncing and you might actually smile when the stewardess trundles the trolley up to ask whether you want “por vit rye, or frys bee?” I like frys bee but unlike conventional Frisbees this cannot be skimmed across the cabin. At least not when the stewardess is looking. She might actually change her expression and crack the make-up.

Sinister encodings in the movie credits trigger the biological imperative of 300 passengers who must all head to the loo at the same time

There are other ways to exercise. On a flight to Seoul I learned a novel technique. After a wonderful meal I pressed the recline button and gratefully eased the seat back. My eyelids grew heavy and visions of golden light flitted across the retina though I valiantly tried to roll my shoulders. It was useless. Suddenly I felt myself launched forward with great force as my seat back slammed upright. Bewildered but unbowed I hit the button again and sank back a full centimetre or two only to find myself pushed right back with un-Christian violence. The gentleman in the seat behind me chatted unperturbed with his companion with nary a glance in my direction. The third time I was jolted perpendicular I wanted to have a word with him. After all, he had saved my life. I was within an inch of DVT were it not for his selfless devotion to fellow passengers.

Other forms of exercise include frequent visits to the toilet, front, aft, daft – anywhere – to find one with a green vacant light on. I am convinced there is something sinister encoded in the final credits of all inflight movies to trigger the biological imperative of 300 passengers – who, zombie-like, must all head to the loo at precisely the same time. Give it up. Empty loos are a fantasy. To survive DVT just give yourself a hit of Johnnie Walker. Make sure it’s a sturdy bottle.

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