Thursday, 21 August 2014

Chaandi ki saikal (sic) soney ki seat/ aao chalein darrrling/ challlein (sic) dubble (sic) seat

Ahhh - just a great feeling to just go (sic, sic, sic - bam dhishoom wham) after an exhausting few days between travel, work, the bumble bee, and whatever else I do to regularly lose my sanity. 

So the song (yes, the title of this blog really was a song - back in the day... which day, might that be, you ask? I stare down my regrettably non-patrician nose and say: the day - and think to myself in parentheses [you boor!])

Ah yes, the song... talks about a silver cycle, with a seat of gold and Romeo inviting his beloved to ride "double seat" with him. Very hummable it was too in a distinctly earworm-ish fashion... From the 1991 film, Bhabhi, starring none other than Govinda. 

The reason it came to mind recently, was because of K's current obsession with cycles. As she was spinning the pedals on our family cycle (PP went and bought a car-cycle rack and all - how sweet... especially when I spent two hours trying to figure out how to fix the damn thing and we almost never cart it around with us) it came to me that just like a cycle wheel, which goes round (Yes, I am Einstein, before you get clever) our lives pretty much spin in the same way. 

No matter how much we think we have left our childhoods behind, and how there is never any going back, something happens to trigger a memory and there you are, mentally flash-backing through a speeded-up time-lapse. Things change but still stay the same. 

When I was a kid (admittedly a cocooned one thanks to a childhood spent in Army cantonments across the country), public transport was not even a blip on the horizon for me. Sure, there were holidays where we all piled into cycle rickshaws and autos, even ikkas and tangas and the like on the way to Ye Olde Ancestral Village, but it was never something to be factored into one's daily life. The bicycle ruled at home, else you walked, or got a ride with Dad or tried to look pitiful while doing the 3-km trek back from the sailing club into a headwind, wearing wet clothes and squelchy shoes, hoping that some kindly student officer on a bike would offer you a ride home... 
The sailing club at the College of Military Engineering, Dapodi, Pune
So, virtually no exposure to public transport, because the need wasn't there. Moving to Delhi was a different matter. I clearly remember how a lot of other officers would commandeer army staff cars for school pick-ups and drops or even if they had to visit a friend's. Dad was a made of a different metal. 

School was walking distance initially and when we moved to Central Delhi, there was a school bus. Delhi also meant that nearby swimming options were limited. I had turned up my (admittedly non-patrician) nose at the then bean-shaped pool in the DSOI claiming that I refused to swim in a "puddle", so I was carted off to the Talkatora stadium with its Olympic-sized pools, where I had to pass a swimming test. That done, I ventured to ask Dad (who had done the carting off) about my daily commute to the pool from Dhaula Kuan where we lived. Would he drop me? No, I don't have the time. Would he give me auto fare? I can't afford it. Then? Take the bus. A bit daunted (I was 14 and something) I asked him which bus? I don't know. The bus stop is conveniently located just outside the enclave. Find out. And thus began my love-hate relationship with the Delhi Transport Corporation. By the time I was 15 and had my first summer job (another story - jisme drama hai, humour hai, magar koi romance nahi hai) I was a pro. I travelled all over Delhi in buses from the then unimaginably remote Anand Vihar (this was a quarter of a century ago, people) to Kishangarh village which was so deserted, it could be downright scary - no Vasant Kunj existed in those days. 

College meant yet more buses to and from my college hostel in North Campus. And to visit the parents at home over the long weekends, there were the long-distance buses from the Inter-State Bus Terminal.

So when a lot of people look horrified that I prefer to take the Metro over driving a long distance, I am a bit taken aback. I have even heard condescending statements like "That's very brave and err... ecologically conscious of you - I can't do it," accompanied by "poor thing, she can't afford it" looks. I ignore those. But when it comes to insinuating that I am being a careless mom for taking my toddler on the Metro, I am honestly in two minds about whether to have a hysterical laughing fit on the floor or blow up right there. 

Really? Even the PP agrees with me on this one and he is as paranoid as first time Papas come. Our daughter is not going to be some wallflower who has to be driven everywhere. She will learn to cope with public transport and not see it as a form of slumming. Yes, it's not safe. Our world isn't. So, I put it to you, should I equip her to deal with it? Or should I just shut out the big bad world? For how long? There are no easy answers. 

But while I am trundling around the little pampered miss in her car seat at the back or toting her in a carrier in the train or elsewhere, those decisions are mercifully still a while away, even if the questions aren't.


  1. Guess what I'm ur example of one who was kept away from public transport. Did I want to stay away is another question��. But believe you even when we claim modernity the whole world seems to question me on sending my eleven ye old to play football with boys. She ofcourse is the only girl interested. She even goes shopping for her stationery n jazz on her bicycle. So I chose to set mine to take the bull by the horns and learn to survive the harder way.

    1. I think that's absolutely fabulous, Aakaanksha! We aren't doing our daughters any favours by cocooning them.


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