September 17, 2009

Ego yo-yo

So I make it onto the plane in the first busload of passengers -- hey, I'm no slouch when it comes to pushing and shoving. I have an aisle seat, so I find it and sit. The other two seats in my row are yet to be filled. Their occupants turn up in the second busload. It's a young couple. He's in white jeans and a tight grey tee, belly overflowing over his belt. Red mark on his forehead. She's in a sari that's wound tightly around her, and she keeps yanking on the pallu so it winds ever tighter. Her arms are encased in about a thousand shimmering bangles. Her hands are painted in intricate mehndi patterns.

Newlyweds, of course.

They stand above me, pointing to their seats. I try to get up, but he's standing so close that I can't; in fact, the first time I try to rise I bump into him and fall back in my seat. I try once or twice more, and then tell him, I can only let you in if you let me out!

He doesn't hear, because they are squabbling over who sits in the window seat. He says to her, you sit there. She says, no, you go there. He says again, his voice raised in irritation, you sit at the window. She repeats, no raised voice from her, no, you sit there.

By this time I've struggled up and out of my seat. They push past me, he takes the window seat, she the middle one, and I sit back down.

Of course my readily-inflated male ego has assumed that she's particularly keen to sit next to me, the hunk in 16C. Nice. I mean, I have a belly too, but his does put mine in the shade.

But just when I am closing in on feeling top of the world, they start squabbling again.

You can sit here, she says. He looks at her and says, no, you sit there. She says again, you can sit here if you want. Voice raised again, he snaps: "Baithi raho!" "Sit there!"

My readily-inflated male ego is not sure how to take all this. So I console myself by taking a nap. When I wake, she's still there next to me, grabbing for his hand as we come in to land at Bombay.