Don Jawan is young and definitely single, besides being what you might call a 'metrosexual'. Want to play smooth operator with the ladies? Take a leaf out of his book.
There's something about a perfect female posterior wrapped in a tight red skirt that just makes time and space melt away. There are airlines and there are airlines, and then there's a breed of bearded business moguls who like to admirably concentrate their energies on making sure they have the finest stewardesses in the land.
I still haven't seen a non-blonde Virgin girl, and these Kingfisher hostesses know what they're talking about. Or, at least, I'm all ears when they're asking me about apple juice and face towels.
Airhostesses -- or 'sexy stews' as Austin Powers called them with delightful political incorrectness -- have always been a leggy tribe of out-of-reach stunners. They sashay tantalisingly close to you, lean in to help your inept co-passenger with his seat belt, and flash you smiles that make you want to fill in a dozen recommendation forms. But handing over a sealed envelope with a flourish doesn't cut it. Once on the ground, we see them swirling out of the airport in a giggling gaggle, never to be seen again. They vanish enigmatically into thin air, never in hitting-on distance.
Which is why you must make the most of your in-flight time.
Now, there are people who would have you believe you can't make generalisations. That it's wrong to objectify a woman based on what she does. That you can't develop rules to pick up women who just happen to do the same thing. But these are also the kind of people who believe pick-up lines don't work (they do, but more on that another time).
The fact is that flirting with an airhostess is tough work, especially given the fact that you have a couple of hours in the air, most of which she divides among a hundred other passengers. They're also very used to dodgy men and harassment and, as soon as you cross the line between fine and creepy, they're ready to yell bloody lawsuit. These women are in control, make no mistake, and don't you dare waste their time. You need to impress them in, say, 120 minutes, and that's a tough ask.
Before we step any further, let me clarify that this is not a How To Hit On A Stewardess guide. It is a chronicle of my last -- and finest -- flight, illustrating guidelines that seem stable, clever and adaptable to the stewardess scenario. Try it out by all means, but be prepared to spin the technique around to fit your situation best. Savvy? Great, let's go.
Give the airhostesses a smile when you walk in. Make sure you know exactly where your seat is and that you do not need to ask them for directions of any kind. In fact, help out a couple of lost wanderers hunting for their bearings. Be sure to flash big grins at every single hostess, as you whittle down the shortlist and identify your quarry.
A funny tee shirt is a must, but I can't emphasise how obvious it is that this be anything but obvious. No consumer kitsch here, wear something clever to the point of being pretentious, and even perhaps deserving of the postmodern tag. An obliquely hilarious quote works well. This will have two advantages. Either you find an airhostess who understands your smart-a***d Kafka reference, or (and this seems more likely) it's a wee bit too clever for the lady, in which case she thinks you're smarter than she is. Good start.
When you walk in, take a look around, focussing on the last rows. Unless it's a packed flight, there should be some empty seats, which you need to ask for. Call her over and warmly make an excuse, angling for an aisle seat. You don't really need to make an excuse ('my feet are too big') at all unless you're trying for a laugh. Ask nicely and it shouldn't be a problem, but make sure your request is within reach.
This is also a better position strategically. Most people prefer to stay out of the last couple of rows, wisely avoiding the incoming food trays and trips to the washrooms. You, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to be in her line of sight, and (potentially) able to hear her giggle about you to her lissome colleagues.
After she has managed to get you realigned, grin wide and ingratiate yourself to her, telling her how much you appreciate her effort and that it really helps. Don't let her get away with her honest 'It was nothing, sir' bit, beam warmly at her and ask her name. Tell her yours, but leave it at that. Keep it extremely casual.
Keep an eye on her as the flight goes on. If she's looking harrowed for any reason, try to catch her eye and toss her a smile. She'll appreciate that sort of thing. If she's already laughed at something you've said earlier, or the T-shirt routine has really worked, you can try rolling your eyes or even going for a knowing wink if you dare. But watch your step and tread carefully here.
If she's handling your meal trays and asking for your preference in food, ask her what she'd recommend. Ask for something extra while you eat -- more water, salt, dessert -- and gauge her interest in you by the promptness of her response. Hand back a neat and re-stacked tray -- women, especially in her profession, love the darned neatness. By now, she'll know you're being nice to her.
Next time she's standing by your elbow looking pretty, strike up a simple conversation. Depending on the way things have been, 'Tough flight, huh?' or 'Relatively light load this evening?' should cover you. By this time you shouldn't be too far away from landing, so mention something about how you aren't particularly fond of the destination. 'Delhi bores me,' et al. If she doesn't respond with good-humoured disagreement, go out on more of a limb: 'There's nothing to do there.'
Bait her till she obviously contradicts you, and herein enter the questions. Find out where she's from, mention a little something about yourself. Ask her to recommend a club or restaurant near the airport; enquire discreetly whether she goes there a lot. By now, if you've played your cards right, she better have commented on something about you -- T-shirt, hair, whatever -- she needs to have shown reciprocal interest in you, and made it clear that she's noticing you.
Wait till most of the flight disembarks before you casually get going. Walk slowly, pause in front of her (make sure you're not holding anyone up) and smile. Tell her something earnestly cheesy but not too overboard, like 'Thanks for a great flight,' and follow it up by saying you'd love to stay in touch. Before her smile fades, catch her off guard and ask for her number. In my case, she'd already scribbled it on the back of a frequent flyer form, but just hand her your in-flight mag and a pen. Scramble away before you can hear the hostesses huddle together and laugh.
Waiting before calling a woman is all very well, but this one needs to know you are eager. Call her a day later, a day and a half max. These are women who need to be flattered and, crucially, they're also women who might not be in the city for too long. Touch base ASAP.
As I said, try this out but prepared to switch things around on the flight. It's not, by any means, a definitive guide, but at least The Guide can now be called a work in progress. And if we all work together, these hitherto unattainable creatures will eventually come within regular reach. Amen.
Think this is hogwash? Well, I'm seeing a sexy stew tonight. What are you doing?
Illustrations: Dominic Xavier/Uttam Ghosh