Go to Homepage


Why I really need a date

Vijay Verghese, Editor, Smart Travel AsiaIs less more? Sometimes it would appear not. In 2017 the postman doesn’t ring twice and has the last laugh. Here’s why.


Visit our Fackbook pagePrintE-mail Page

by Vijay Verghese/ Editor

JUMP TO Current column| Instagram photos

VietJet crew and models pose for annual calendar

Is it any wonder we miss our calendars? This from VietJet...

THIS January a strange thing happened. Not Trump. That was not strange, just gratingly inevitable and annoying in The-Incredible-Hulk-Moves-Into-Your-Bedroom sort of way.

Actually, the strange thing was, that it did not happen. Every year, come the festive season, the mailman sprouts hernias, carting in bags of the standard we-really-must-meet year-end letters, kitsch cards with boilerplate motivational messages, and hampers stuffed with New Year treats. But the most prized item of all, the one we fight over each year, failed to arrive.

I’m talking about the humble desk calendar, not e-cards and canned camraderie that circulate faster online than subatomic particles in the Large Hadron Collider.

Yet, despite the yearly slimming down of mail as evident in the increasingly erect posture of our mailman and his insouciant lack of burden, the calendars always arrived – from airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and just about anyone who had your address.

Send us your Feedback / Letter to the Editor

Ryan Air had its bikini-clad beauties (who drew thousands of gasps – and even more complaints from spoilsports - before being scrapped in 2015), VietJet rolled out its own lovelies – later admitting they were models and not stewardesses, THAI Airways had a standout destination calendar, and Mandarin Oriental had a stately production that elevated any desk, especially when paired with majestic mahogany or even penurious plywood.

{Ryan Air had its bikini-packed calendars (scrapped in 2015 after complaints from spoilsports), and VietJet rolled out its own lovelies – later admitting some were models

Gone. Just like my first crumpled Playboy calendar that was discovered by my mother and had to be burned. It prompted an instant convening of the aunts – a formidable bunch – who looked at me with dolorous resignation. “Darling, if you’re curious about anything, just ask us.” Of course.  

We loved our calendars but this year they failed to arrive. Had someone built a wall, with us on the Mexican side? Nope. It’s called cost cutting. And cost cutting is the name of the game today.

Thus I have been forced to activate my iPhone beeps and alerts and live in that twitchy tetchy twilight zone, being randomly disrupted by nuisance aps. I liked paper calendars. They were smart, functional, and usually carried a sense of the brand. I managed to scribble all my appointments within the small confines of those neat squares and looked longingly each day at the dates marked in red. Holiday! Nope. Only for Indonesia and Malaysia. Dagnabbit, that’s a Garuda calendar.

Calendars are just the tip of the cost-cutting iceberg.

Legacy carrier Cathay Pacific and its rebranded sibling Cathay Dragon have cut down on the deep cleaning of seats and interiors from a fortnightly basis to once every 20 to 30 days. Hong Kong Airlines too does this on a monthly basis. It’s a seemingly innocuous step, except when you consider that almost a hundred people of varying disposition and cleanliness may have sat in, sneezed on, and deposited boogers under, those seats within that span of time.

Unsurprisingly, airplanes are a popular vector for bugs, who not only fly first class, but are utterly democratic and unbiased in their largesse. A reporter who swiped a hot towel across his seat and tray to discover a ghastly grey smear appear, was not, I’m sure, the first to experiment 30,000ft aloft.

As glaciers retreat, watch also for those shrinking buffets. Some popular resorts have dropped lobster from their spreads because certain tourists extravagantly pile it up on their plates as, in their own words, they’ve “paid for it.” No matter they can’t finish the meal and all that capricious carnage heads for the bin. “We simply cannot afford it anymore,” lamented one Bali hotelier. I have spotted ‘organic hand-crafted’ butters disappear to be replaced by little foil pouches of Anchor, and the best sausages and cold meats are increasingly coy at breakfast time.

Up in the rarefied air, the tea and coffee service is in retreat and plastic cutlery is being replaced by wax-paper cups more commonly spied at McDonald’s.

An odd start to the Year of the Rooster then, a creature famed for its strut and crow. Still, belt tightening was a time-honoured practice passed down from father to son, until the iPad arrived and ended proud family traditions. In my childhood home, thrift was a virtue you could not have too much of. Excess lights were diligently switched off, drippy faucets closed, and shoes were bought a size larger for us to ‘grow into.’ Having clown feet was bad for attracting the ladies but good for balance. Those boots kept us grounded. It was an age of Mahatma Gandhi and Mao. Less was more.

Now, as business travellers, worldly wise and infinitely weary, waiting for some fresh HUGE embarrassment to be revealed on CNN, we rail when our Hermes is replaced by L’Occitane, or the thread count on the hotel linen drops from 500 to a bottom bruising 400. We’ll just have to tighten our belts and do it the old fashioned way.

No calendars. No lobster. But fret not, the bugs are coming.

Send us your Feedback / Letter to the Editor

▲ top

Previous Columns
















NOTE: Telephone and fax numbers, e-mails, website addresses, rates and other details may change or get dated. Please check with your dealer/agent/service-provider or directly with the parties concerned. SmartTravel Asia accepts no responsibility for any inadvertent inaccuracies in this article. Links to websites are provided for the viewer's convenience. SmartTravel Asia accepts no responsibility for content on linked websites or any viruses or malicious programs that may reside therein. Linked website content is neither vetted nor endorsed by SmartTravelAsia. Please read our Terms & Conditions.