Saturday, 17 January 2009


How does one manage young children on flights? Most parents travel with books and favourite toys. Many airlines have small toys to gift to the young ones to keep them entertained.

One was given to my granddaughter on a domestic flight from Chennai to Trivandrum.

The air hostess had promised it to her while boarding. “What is your name?” she asked. When no reply was forthcoming, she urged, “Tell me your name, and I will give you a gift.” The ploy worked, and Arundati gave her name to the smiling air hostess, who later came up to her seat and gave her the pack.

It was a short flight and Arundati did not open the packet immediately. But we saw that the children in the neighbouring seats (well into their teens) had opened a similar packet and were looking at the contents in a most puzzled manner. By the end of the flight they still had not figured it out, and had to gather the pieces and put them in a bag and carry them.

At night before going to bed, Arundati wanted to take a look at her package. It was a make-it yourself F-15 fighter plane, with all the different pre-stamped pieces cut out and held together in two wooden frameworks, ready to be pushed out No way did the bits look as though they could form a fighter plane, and Arundati lost interest soon.

The instructions were rather weird too – aimed at what age level, I can’t imagine. (The sheet said “For kids over two.”)
They went something like this (see photo - click on it to enlarge)
1.First push out each pre-stamped piece.
That is a good start, we figured.
2 wasn’t bad either, asking that the rough edges be smoothed with the enclosed sandpaper.
But 3 had all of us stumped.
Figure out how to assemble the individual parts. How indeed?
The next one was confusing – Pick up two pieces which correspond with each other by number and assemble.
How, we wondered, because I did not see any number on the pieces. Maybe we had to copy the numbers from the figures on the instruction sheet?

Arundati’s mother Jaisri, patiently worked out how it had to be done – but in between rushing here and there with various businesses, she could not finish it in Trivandrum.

Back in Chennai, she managed to assemble the pieces and presented the finished product to Arundati, who anyway prefers dolls.
The last instruction was hilarious – If connecting joint is loose, use glue – Jaisri decided to use rubber bands.

One thing is certain - children will be so busy trying to understand the instructions and follow them (or harassing their parents for help) they will not be bored on the flight.


Resmi... said...

A simple yet nice post :-)

Praveen G K said...

That's pretty cool to set up the plane. My father always says, "When things stop functioning, refer to the instruction set" :-)

I guess for such complex toys, instruction set is the only hope!

Chandramouli S said...

What a great gift to kids to stimulate their minds! Actually the kids should be let to break their brains - that way they learn-> It's like hiding treats for a parrot in their cages/aviary and letting them forage for them to stimulate their minds and keep them healthy.

aneri_masi said...

No kidding! That looks like a huge task! The airline folks must be having real headaches with all the kids they have on board everyday :)

Maddy said...

good one - took me to our 'aeromodeling' club days where we had to whittle balsa wood to make gliders. this mentioned instrution seems to have been made by some guy who had no idea what children are..

Gardenia said...

Two things I'm wondering about. One, why fighter planes as toys? I dont think its a good 'toy' idea at all. Two, why F 16s particularly? Am stumped by that! Raji, thanks for giving me a puzzle to work over my long dull sniffly January evening :-)!

Indrani said...

Wow! Jaisri has tons of patience!!

Kat said...

you got it correctly....

"..children will be so busy trying to understand the instructions and follow them (or harassing their parents for help).."

it's condemnable to direct the harassment to the parent :))) Someday a kid is going to decipher those instructions in-flight, use the served food item to substitute for the glue and launch the F-15 inside..!!!!

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