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Fun Time: Nothing Wrong with Being No. 20 in the World

Compiled/ partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/ partly written by Melvin Durai
May 2024
Fun Time: Nothing Wrong with Being No. 20 in the World

I have never flown on Vistara, the Indian airline that jets to about 50 destinations in 12 countries, but if I ever do, I’m looking forward to enjoying Vistara World, the wireless in-flight entertainment. It’s going to be a wonderful experience. I’d call Vistara World “second to none,” but it would be more accurate to say “second to nineteen.”

Yes, Vistara is No. 20 in the world for in-flight entertainment. I know this because venture investor Ritesh Banglani shared a photo on X of a leaflet in the airline’s seat pocket, which touted Vistara World as the “20th best in-flight entertainment in the world.”

Being No. 20 in the world is rather impressive, but perhaps not to Banglani, who wrote, “I may fall upon hard times, but I hope things are never so bad that I have to brag about being 20th best in anything.” An entrepreneur named Manish Maheshwari came to Vistara’s defense: “At least they are honest.”

Yes, at least they are honest. In fact, Vistara is the “20th most honest airline in the world.” When they tell you your flight will depart in two hours, they’re not off by more than two hours. Actually, there’s no category for honesty in the World Airline Awards, which are given out annually by Skytrax, a UK-based consulting firm. Maheshwari suggested that Vistara, if dishonest, could have manipulated their ranking. “There is always a way to slice data in a way that you come out at the top,” he wrote.

Is this really true? I mean, if we conducted a survey of all the women on the planet, I don’t think there’d be any way for me to slice data in a way to make me the “20th most handsome man in the world.” Even 20 millionth would be pushing it. We’d need to slice the data, dice the data, and then dump the data.

Skytrax ranks airlines based on passenger surveys, with more than 325 airlines included in the survey results. Being 20th among 325 airlines is indeed impressive. As math teacher Rajesh Balasubramaniam commented to Banglani, “If I were 20th best in some things, for instance in IIT JEE, I practically wouldn’t stop bragging about it.” Yes, being 20th in the Joint Entrance Exam for the Indian Institute of Technology is something you might even want to inscribe on your tombstone. “Here lies Paulraj James. He was 20th in IIT JEE.”

Better yet, display your urn etched with “No. 20, IIT JEE” in a public place and you’d have a long line of people eager to touch it for good luck. This doesn’t quite work in other realms, of course. No actor brags about being No. 20 in the world. Everybody wants to be the best or pretend that they’re the best. If you’re a dad, imagine how you’d feel on Father’s Day if one of your kids gives you a T-shirt that says, “20th Best Dad.”

If you’re a mom, imagine how you’d feel on Mother’s Day if your kid gives you a mug that says, “Top 500 Mom.” Truthfully, most of us would be upset if our kids said we were merely “one of the best” moms or dads.

We are fooling ourselves, of course, because there are some great moms and dads out there, like the ones we see on TV who never raise their voices, never judge their kids, never compare them to a former president.

My kids, if they were as honest as Vistara, would give me a T-shirt that says “Greatest Dad*,”

The asterisk would be explained on a small inseam tag: “Within a radius of 10 meters.”

More of ChaiTime here: 


Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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