Lost in translation: Namaste Pakistan!

The British Airways could have done better. The least it could do is to make sure it doesn’t hurt the sensitivities of people, who it flies with, hopefully, more than just economic interest.

The BA flight 129, which landed at Islamabad International Airport early Sunday morning from London Heathrow, had a crew member, whose announcement metier left a few Pakistanis disgruntled.

He dropped in three times to make what appeared to be sundry announcements on safety precaution but these were all in chaste Hindi, which while perhaps offering a light vein with the innocuous translation of a seatbelt being referred to as a “kursi peta” was less humorous when it began to lose sight of the kind of nuanced approach befitting the plentiful majority made up of Pakistanis and British-Pakistanis, who usually board the aircraft this way.

Not content with speeding his way through “shudh” (pure) Hindi that would put many a pretender in a Bollywood flick to shame — Hindi movies are actually easy on comprehension and more likely closer to Urdu — he rounded up with a well-pronounced salutation that left many stunned.

Given the familiar territory, one would have expected — reasonably fairly — for the send-off to be a Muslim greeting, if at all it had to be a religious one. But what did we get to hear?

Namaste — a Hindu salutation!

When this scribe approached a couple of crew members to ascertain the identity of the announcer, they baulked and referred yours truly to another crew member, who, in turn also refused to recall who their co-member onboard the flight was!!!

Exasperated, this scribe made his displeasure known to the unhelpful crew staff in response to which, one grudgingly, pointed to a lady crew member, Ms Anne, who was bidding the disembarking passengers adieu.

Ms Ann finally, volunteered to name the crew member as a certain Sunil, but did not, like the rest of the crew members, have a clue to his full name and identity. The reaction appeared devoid of conviction — for, it is a little strange, not to know a bit about your colleague, at least his/her fuller name and identity.

When this scribe described the ironic twist in the tale, Ms Ann tried to shrug off the announcement debacle as a language shortcoming, saying they did not have an Urdu translator.

Yours truly interjected to say that it was not exactly a matter of language but propriety and a certain adherence to sensitivities, since she claimed courtesy was at the root of resorting to translation in the first place.

For Sunil to sign off with a Namaste maybe the done thing in say, Delhi or Mumbai but the greeting to Muslim Pakistanis on their soil was way out of line, especially when Sunil did not quite append that with a greeting in any other form — religious or otherwise.

One hopes British Airways would take into account the slip-up — hopefully, it was just a blip and nothing more.

On an earlier flight, they were quite happy to announce that a Pakistani — Arfa Karim Randhawa — was in their elite class. But then the prodigious girl flying them to a higher plane happens to be the world’s youngest certified Microsoft professional.

Via News

Interesting :)

4 Comments so far

  1. A for Apple (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 2:40 am

    Lolz naah … now not 300 500 then 1000 … lambay plan hain …!

  2. Yahya (unregistered) on November 28th, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

    You are not trying to do the next 300 posts in the same day are you? :)

    British Airways bohat ghandee hai. :) Aainda apnee piaree PIA pay jaingay, pohanchaiN na PohanchaiN koi bat nahee. :)

  3. A for apple (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

    Point …!

  4. Hasan Mubarak (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 11:51 am

    It’s totally ridiculous! Cultural & religious sensitivities should be taken seriously by international businesses like British Airways…

    The crew wasn’t disclosing identity of their fellow maybe because they feared someone would stab him as a reaction…Afterall, Pakistanis are not projected positively especially in Britain…

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