Was at Forum earlier this week and saw what I have seen so many times before: Aunties (I should stop calling them that now, I have fifty whites in my head) draped ever-so-casually in crumpled but exquisite Kanchi cottons, flowers in their hair, poised at the foot of the escalator with Uncle, afraid to step on to the moving staircase that will do the climbing for them. They smile nervously: “of course I know this is safe and saves me the effort, but what if I miss? What is my foot lands between two steps? What if my sari gets stuck? What if I fall?”…all these questions play across their faces simultaneously.
Meanwhile, as more and more empty steps form and rise, form and rise, the queue of people behind them grows longer. Uncle moves from coaxing to annoyed to exasperated, and a loud scary encouragement or two is uttered. In most cases, it achieves what loud, scary encouragement generally achieves: Aunty backs out. Uncle either stays back, or heads the queue of patience-depleted persons up the escalator. In either case, Aunty smiles, she is embarrassed, but too afraid to trust the machine…
Aunty grinds her own masala, stitches her own blouses, cleans her own house, brings up her own children; how can aunty let the stairs do the climbing for her?
Never mind Aunty, when your Bala or Rajan or Smitha call you to visit them in America, you’ll get enough practice! For now, psst: there are steps in McDonalds for ground to first, in Landmark for first to second.