Pranay Varada (above, right) became the sixth consecutive Indian-American to win the National Geographic Bee championship on Wednesday. Varada is a 14-year-old student at Dewitt Perry Middle School in Irving, Texas. He bagged a medal and $50,000 (approximately Rs 32 lakh), a family trip to the Galapagos Islands and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society.
Varada answered the tie-breaker question, “What large mountain system that stretches more than 1,200 miles separates the Taklimakan Desert from the Tibetan Plateau?” to win the 29th annual contest against his contender Thomas Wright. “I was absolutely sure I could win that challenge,” Varada told AP.
“It was extreme disappointment, to get all the way up here and not win. I was researching and trying to find ways to not make the same mistakes twice,” the 14-year-old said.
Pranay’s mother, Vasuki Kodaganti, had piqued his interest in geography at age of three when she started teaching him about world capitals and giving him puzzles of maps. His parents gifted him an atlas at the age of four which he began familiarising himself with. “I feel guilty. I was enjoying being a mother. He was my first born,” Kodaganti told AP.
“He’s very methodical and planned everything out,” his father Praveen Rao said.
Bringing the glamour back to flying while keeping it affordable
The pleasure of air travel is back, courtesy of an airline in India.
Before dinner, fashionable women would retire to the powder room and suited-up men would indulge in hors d’oeuvres, surrounded by plush upholstery. A gourmet meal would soon follow, served in fine tableware. Flying, back in the day, was like an upscale party 35,000 feet up in the air.
The glamour of flying has been chronicled in Keith Lovegrove’s book titled ‘Airline: Style at 30,000 feet’. In his book, Lovegrove talks about how the mid-50s and 60s were a “fabulously glamorous time to fly in commercial airlines”. Back then, flying was reserved for the privileged and the luxuries played an important role in making travelling by air an exclusive experience.
Fast forward to the present day, where flying has become just another mode of transportation. In Mumbai, every 65 seconds an aircraft lands or takes off at the airport. The condition of today’s air travel is a cumulative result of the growth in the volume of fliers, the accessibility of buying an air ticket and the number of airlines in the industry/market.
Having relegated the romance of flying to the past, air travel today is close to hectic and borderline chaotic thanks to busy airports, packed flights with no leg room and unsatisfactory meals. With the skies dominated by frequent fliers and the experience having turned merely transactional and mundane, is it time to bid goodbye to whatever’s enjoyable in air travel?
With increased resources and better technology, one airline is proving that flying in today’s scenario can be a refreshing, enjoyable and affordable experience at the same time. Vistara offers India’s first and only experience of a three-cabin configuration. At a nominal premium, Vistara’s Premium Economy is also redefining the experience of flying with a host of features such as an exclusive cabin, 20% extra legroom, 4.5-inch recline, dedicated check-in counter and baggage delivery on priority. The best in class inflight dining offers a range of regional dishes, while also incorporating global culinary trends. Other industry-first features include Starbucks coffee on board and special assistance to solo women travellers, including preferred seating.
Vistara’s attempts to reduce the gap between affordability and luxury can also be experienced in the economy class with an above average seat pitch, complimentary selection of food and beverages and a choice of leading newspapers and publications along with an inflight magazine. Hospitality aboard Vistara is, moreover, reminiscent of Singapore Airlines’ famed service with a seal of Tata’s trust, thanks to its cabin crew trained to similarly high standards.
The era of style aboard a ‘flying boat’ seems long gone. However, airlines like Vistara are bringing back the allure of air travel. Continuing their campaign with Deepika Padukone as brand ambassador, the new video delivers a bolder and a more confident version of the same message - making flying feel new again. Watch the new Vistara video below. For your next trip, rekindle the joy of flying and book your tickets here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vistara and not by the Scroll editorial team.