Kudix Mug Holder of the MonthSay hello to Ajesh, our Mug Holder of the month.

At Toit, our customers have always been our primary focus. They’re the ones who bring life to the place, create memories and end up giving the place its familiar, friendly vibe.

And there are so many different kinds of people who come through our doors daily, that we wanted to get to know their stories.

The Kudix Mug Holder of the Month is our little way of celebrating our customers, and their unique stories.

Bottle to throttle are the words our Pilot Mug Holder more or less lives by. Say hello to Ajesh.

Why do you think you were selected?

Because I’m a regular. Sometimes, I’m here everyday, or even twice a day.

When I’m meeting a bunch of people, sometimes I go home after and then come back.

Are you from Bangalore?

Ya, I am. I’ve been brought up here, right from my schooling.

What do you do?

I’m a pilot now, based in Bangalore.

How did you end up coming to Toit first?

Initially, I wasn’t that regular at Toit.

In 2014 I met with an accident, in May. And Toit was the closest place I could walk to, because I couldn’t ride a bike or drive a car because of the accident.

I was here for three months every day and I ended up spending a bomb here as a result. But I also got to know everyone and now it’s like a family over here.

What happened in the accident?

It was a bike accident and I had to walk because I couldn’t use my left arm at all.

The bone got fractured inside. I had to get a metal plate, which is still there, and they had to put a pin in my wrist as well.

I couldn’t ride or drive for three months, so I was here just drinking.

Have you always been passionate about beer?

It happened with Toit, honestly. Before I was into Vodka. Mostly because of my older brother’s influence.

He still drinks Vodka!

I started in May, like I mentioned, and I was based in Chennai at that time and I used to crave the Tint-In-Wit.

I would come down here, just for a day at times, and that whole day would be spent at Toit, after which I’d go back to Chennai straight. That’s how bad it was.

Does your brother also drink beer? Apart from the Vodka?

He drinks beer but he’s into a bottled kind. He does not like breweries at all!

And you haven’t managed to convert him yet?

Exactly! He just drinks bottled beer and Vodka. Even I can’t believe it, I don’t think we’re related.

Even when he comes here, he has the bottled beer. I feel so embarrassed, because I know everyone here.

It’s the same when I have to fly. Because you can’t drink for 12 hours before you fly, I come here and order a mocktail or something, and these guys are all shocked.

So you’re a commercial pilot?

Yes! I got the actual job in 2016, but I got my license back in 2010.

It took me 6 years to get the job, because the scene was really bad.

What did you do for the six years between the license and the actual job?

One year, I just chilled thinking I’m a pilot and I can get a job. I sat at home for a year after which I got a job at a call centre, and I did that for about two years.

Then I joined an airline as cabin crew, which I did for three years before this happened. So I never had a gap as such, I was always working.

When you finally got to fly, was it a sense of relief?

It was. I still can’t believe it.

I hit 1,000 flying hours on the Boeing just a few days ago. I can’t believe it because it’s happened so fast.

I’m on a 5 years contract and 2 years have just flown by. I don’t even know how.

And is it hectic?

How hectic can it be if I’m doing this interview on a weekday in the middle of the afternoon?

But this is only if I’m flying out of Bangalore. If I fly out at 5 am, I’m back here by 10 am and then I have the whole day off.

Same thing may happen the next day—I’ll do one sector and come back.

So it’s not common for pilots to do flights one after the other?

Bangalore has very few flights out, so being in Bangalore, everything is pretty chilled out here. The worst we probably do is a 4 sector flight.

So do pilots have a rigorous health standard that they have to maintain?

Does it look like it? *laughs*

No diets as such but they monitor BMI and stuff. Obviously you can’t have heart conditions. Even after my accident, I had to go through a lot of physiotherapy to get my hand to the same level as my right hand. And that took another three months after my recovery.

But it’s true that pilot and co-pilot don’t eat the same meals right?

Well, that’s true in theory. The meals do come, one veg and one non-veg, and we eat whatever. But this is on the flight, where you get meals marked ‘pilot’ and ‘first officer’, but you can eat a meal together in your hotel the previous night and there is a chance of falling sick then.

In the time you’ve been flying, has there been any scary situation you had to handle?

So far, nothing. Flying is the safest way of travelling still. Way more than road travel.

But recently, we had a medical situation where a passenger got a heart attack on board. We were coming from Delhi to Bangalore, and were still in Chennai airspace. And the cabin crew buzzed us and said that this person who had a heart problem anyway, now has suffered a heart attack. He was coming to Bangalore for treatment.

So we asked for medical priority. Normally, from that point it would have taken us a good 30 minutes to touchdown, but because of the priority we could skip the route that we normally follow and went straight to Bangalore from the point we were at.

And I think we were down in less than 10 minutes.

They usually give us a descent in steps, but they let us descend to the lowest point and said “speed is your discretion”, which we love to hear. Otherwise they slow you down a lot.

Have you indulged in any pilot stereotypes yet? The whole pilot breezing through airports with air-hostesses on either side?

No, I’ve still not done that. But yes, there is a feeling, which I think is there when you put on any uniform. People look at you a differently.

And what about partying? Do you ever get to do that?

We do party hard. It just depends on what your flights are. We have something called bottle to throttle, which is basically the 12 hour gap between your last drink and flight, which I’d mentioned. So depending on our schedules, sometimes we get to go out and chill and sometimes we don’t.

And before every flight, there is a breath exam. And it’s super sensitive, so mouthwash and perfume and all of that doesn’t work.

Even if you have these Jack Daniel’s chocolates, or even those Listerine breath strips, all of that shows up.

Honestly now, have you ever imagined yourself to be in a crisis situation where you’d emerge as the hero?

That was before I got a job. Whenever I used to travel, I was like I have a license and maybe they’d announce on a flight that they need a pilot and I’d go and say I’m a pilot and save the day.

So yes, I’ve dreamt about it but now it never happens.

Since you travel around quite a bit, do you end up sampling beer everywhere you go?

Yeah! So now I am off bottled beer completely, unless there is no choice. When I go to Calcutta, I try to get out and go to this place called The Grid, which has a couple of breweries. Same thing in Bombay.

In fact, when Toit Bombay opened, I was there on the very second day because I was getting layovers in Bombay that time.

And I was so happy! It has the same feeling, the same vibe, everything is the same!

And that’s the thing about Toit here in Bangalore. Every time I’m out, something new opens up here. But there is no quality. Not like how the beers remain so consistent here, and that’s why I go past everything and keep coming back here.