Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lam alegn besemay ...

I was talking to Wegesha earlier today and we got onto discussing Ethiopian Airlines. He says that they don’t treat Ethiopians well. Well, I just think they manhandle anybody seated in their Economy class. Then again, according to some material that’s been coming through email lists, a good number of Ethiopians are getting ready to file a class action suit against British Airways for delayed, lost, tarnished luggage and disproportionate compensation and lack of customer service thereafter. I can attest that my qiraqinbo on my way there and doro weT on my way back arrived punctually with Ethiopian Airlines. Gorf siwesd iyasasaqe new ... yemil wey yemil yemimesil teret ale.

So, I had been meaning to write about Ethiopian Airlines since my return but like many stories, it got forgotten. I flew first class on my way to Addis, and yelele tsimen iyashashehu, I came back on economy.

Cloud #9, as the call their first class was, well … delightfully empty, for one thing, but more importantly 100% black. I don’t know when I became a color conscious Ethiopian. Maybe years in the US does that to you, and besides US commercial flights almost never fail to disappoint with their one color business class lineup. This one was a rare sight.

The one thing that was disturbing was that the crew kept referring to me be antuta. ‘yemiTeTa yifeligalu?’ I kept wanting to look back to double check they were indeed referring to me, but like I said, the place was empty. At some point bichegirat my mom disrupted a conversation and ask, “ahun anchi sint ametish hono new yichin ‘irswo’ yemityat’?” The lady responded, ‘ay inema besiraw lemden new’. She easily has 10 years over me (or so I flatter myself). They refused to call me ‘anchi’. Finally my mom and I concluded, not only age, but money buys you ‘antuta’. Adis bahil new … temaru.

As I mentioned earlier I think Ethiopian Airlines manhandles anybody in their economy class. Inen gin yechegerengn was that they manhandled people in the first class, too. Let me explain. First of all, bemigib akuaya inae qoraT habesha negn. By that I mean I eat 10 kinds of vegetables, 8 kinds of cereal, 5 kinds of fruits, 3 kinds of animals and 0 kinds of shell fish. Maybe I’m off by 1 here and there (not about shell fish) but those figures are the universally acknowledged habesha truths.

Ihis? What do they serve in 9-gnaw Damena - Yejib Tila. Mushrooms, as far as I know are for kicking around the backyard and here I was, thousands of feet above the ground stuck with a mushroom on a fancy plate. Of the five courses, none of which fell under the universal habesha amegageb truths, I remember one that had those tiny leafed, thin stemmed things which I unmistakably identified as arem. As a child I remember that growing in wuha yequateru grassy areas during the kiremt season in Addis Ababa. Basically if they think that my ass is going to start eating meno and arem to attain the ‘desired’ level of western sophistication, they’re mistaken. A long time ago I remember Ethiopian Airlines first class had yummy injera as a meal option. Alas, this was one trip where they didn’t have it – and to think we were mid-flight on Fasika.

There were three flight attendants fully dedicated to the 5 people who were in business class. These women were so bored that they’d not let us rest in peace. I kid you not. They’d stop by our seats, “Lemindin new gin yematbelaw?” Lemin? Coz you’re feeding me CHid is why yemalbelaw. So I tried to kick back and sleep. Spacious, at least, you think. No. They kept hovering. Bichegirat every so often mom would nudge me and point at a concerned looking flight attendant to me to ask if she can bring me ‘something else’. Like what, girawa be koba this time? Ok. So the food sucked … for me. Whatever. Idmae le tsom yemaychal yelem. But why couldn’t I at least enjoy the space I paid for in peace?

I know, I know. They need a cloud #4. Bring down the fanciful menu and attention a notch down and I’m game.

(btw, I’m half kidding. It was my experience, and it really wasn't entirely enjoyable but if it seems like it caused me serious grief, it didn’t. It can always be better though :)

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