Those uber cool sports bikes that require the rider to lie down on the fuel tank while riding — sprawled over the tank, waist bent at 80 degrees, chin propped up — have always intrigued me. I would always wonder what the seating protocol for the pillion rider was. My mind would proffer several options, each one more bizarre and law-of-Physics-defying, till I actually saw a pillion rider on one such bike. She was sitting upright, her hands clutching the small, curved bar behind her. The rider’s supine position contrasted against her erect one offered a strange picture. How would they talk, if the need arose? Would he sit up, thereby losing control of the bike? Or, would she lean over, thereby, sending the back-wheel up in the air?
Talking of uncomfortable seats, I am reminded of childhood days when, my then 11-year-old sister boarded the merry-go-round. It was a small one, operated not by electricity, but by a man who swung it around, physically.
We slid into our seats and the ride began. But, as the operator swung the buckets round and round, she panicked. Soon, she was tossing curses at him, faster than he was swiveling the contraption. When he refused to listen to her pleas to stop the ride, she decided to take things in her own hands. When I say, ‘things’, I mean a clump of his hair. When her bucket reached where he was, she grabbed his hair in a generous handful. Aided by the momentum generated by his own action, he was hauled mercilessly, and slammed face-first on the pillar of the ride. I exited quickly, making sure that it was clear that I was not related to my sister, in any way.
Some seats are surely tough to occupy, like the one in the doctor’s waiting room, or the one outside an interview room, and definitely, the one in front of a mother-in-law. As one grows older, the hot seats keep changing. The very same fashionable bar stools on which we hopped on to perch our sleek selves, now appear as intimidating peaks to conquer. Our arthritic knees quiver, our sluggish minds do a million calculations, and then we call the waiter to ask for ‘sofa seating’. And, ask him to turn down the volume of the music.
My children, now that I am middle-aged and crabby, fear the seat next to me. Especially, in movie theatres. See, I just love the movie-watching experience. So, I have zero-tolerance for the phone people and oh-so-in-love cootchie-cooers. Those who go ‘Hello uncle, I am watching a movie … yes, movie…yes, Salman’s new movie…no, no, not with family…’ make me want to render them incapable of ever watching a movie or talking to uncle again. And, the lovers get a dressing down from me more bloodcurdling than a Khap Panchayat’s decree. This makes my children want to take the seat farthest away from me. Or, move to another screen, even if that one is playing a Belgian movie on rare insects.
Thankfully, their father does not mind going out for movies with me. I used him as an example to show them what understanding and empathy is. That is when they pointed out that he sleeps soundly through the movies.
(Best-selling author Rachna Singh is a sit-down comedienne)