My husband takes me on the pillion sometimes during short scooter trips. Being a sari-wearer, I do not sit astride, but sit sidewise on the pillion with both my legs hanging down on one side. But for long trips he always takes the car out.
That particular day we had to go to a mutt in Malleswaram, at the other end of Bangalore to observe my father –in-law’s ‘shraddh’. The non-availability of parking place being a big deterrent, we decided to take the two wheeler instead of the car.
To his credit, I must admit that Ramu has always been a good rider/driver with quick reflexes. So we reached our destination in minimum time with no mishaps. But our arrival on the scooter evoked mixed responses from his extended family who had gathered there. While a few marveled at his enterprise, others tut-tutted with disapproval and condemned the sheer folly of two oldies zipping about on scooter like teenagers.
Moreover, to our great chagrin we discovered that the yard around the Mutt had been leveled into a spacious car park!
After the rituals and the special lunch we headed back home. Thankfully Ramu had hung the heavy plastic basket of goodies from the hook under the rider’s seat, thus leaving me free, with only my handbag hanging from my shoulder.
Being a Saturday, the road was chock-a-block with traffic. As the sun hit me sharply on the face, I remembered that I had not applied sun screen before starting (Doctor’s instructions). By chance, the bottle of sun screen was in my handbag. Even as the scooter was moving, I took the plastic bottle out and gave a squeeze. But what landed on my palm was not a drop. A trapped air bubble had burst spattering the white gooey stuff in a big dollop, with some even splashing on my sari. I applied the stuff generously on my face not caring what the people around me would take me for and tried to use the rest on my arms. But I found that the net lining of my sari pallu had got entangled with my gecko pendant (Gecko is a lucky mascot for Hawaiians. I had been gifted a gold gecko pendant by my son’s in-laws in Hawaii. It had many ‘entanglable’ points). I did not succeed in freeing my pallu completely. Even as I managed somehow to dab the sun screen on my arms, I found my two pairs of glasses slipping down. Yes, two pairs. As my outsized goggles were not prescription ones, I used to wear my bifocals first for clear vision and reading, and then wear the big goggles on top of it , on the rare occasions when I had to venture out in the sun. (Thanks to my grand daughter, I am now a proud owner of prescription goggles). I somehow managed to put both pairs on, with the frames and the lenses generously smeared with the white stuff. And then I looked up triumphantly at the blazing sun like Katrina Kaif in the ad. Thank God, all this I managed without my husband’s knowledge. He was busy concentrating on negotiating the scooter in the thick traffic.
On the narrow Cottonpet road the traffic is so thick that a side-saddle rider like me wouldn’t know whether my legs are hanging across our own scooter or the next fellow’s. Facing the left as I was, I sensed a Good Samaritan behind me in a nearby car gesticulating in the space trying to tell me something. Imagining that he could be warning me about my long pallu hanging on the wheel, I checked up. But I was well contained with no loose flaps flying. A little later, a scooter- borne couple paused to kindly tell me a little more clearly that our scooter was spewing thick black smoke. By the time I could convey this to my helmet clad husband’s ears in the midst of ear shattering noise of the traffic and he could comprehend the situation, we were already nearing Jayanagar.
Thus, without me falling off the pillion in spite of all my calisthenics and without the two of us going up in smoke on a heated two wheeler, we managed to reach home.