No Babies, No Cry


No Babies, No Cry

Illustration: Rutuja Patil

Dear Traveller in the Quiet Zone,

First allow me to wish you Happy Holidays as you fly back home or to your dream destination. You may ignore my baby and me, as we huddle far away from your Zen space into the hell especially reserved for motherhood.

See, I understand your point of view and your pain. Or more specifically the pain in your ears. Why should you, a good, upstanding citizen, who has not birthed any babies or contributed to the teeming population of the country, have to pay for my noisy procreative choices? Nobody wants to start their holidays with someone else’s kid fucking up their holiday, because if they wanted that, they’d have had their own babies, no?

But dear Quiet Zone Traveller, riddle me this. If you are allowed a place for your ears to recuperate, am I not allowed a place for my body to do the same? There is this man, in his mid-forties to fifties, a big, broad-shouldered creature who is occupying the middle seat, taking my arm rest and my oxygen. He is touching some part of  my body all the time. It doesn’t matter to him if it is my arm, hand, or leg. He just wants to touch.

He keeps coughing that deep, throaty cough that comes from a lifetime of smoking, has a big belly that cannot be contained, and here is the excruciating part – he has his eyes on me. All. the. time. From the moment he realises there’s a woman sitting next to him, he X-rays me and my activities throughout the journey. If I doze off, I wake up to find him staring down at me. He may be the “ideal business traveller” who can’t deal with pesky kids, but he won’t miss a chance of staring at you breastfeed your child, even if that boob is hidden under layers of clothes. To him, there is a boob and it needs his attention, simple. Dear Quiet Zone Traveller, can I request a Pervert Uncle-Free Zone?

Mommies, tired, sleepless, disgruntled women, dragging reluctant  toddlers to doting grandparents, are truly Satan’s own.

No, you say? Because there are way too many pervert uncles out there to fit in one zone? Ok, so how about a Nosy Aunty-Free Zone? You don’t know who Nosy Aunty is? She’s the woman with luggage in the form of three, huge plastic bags with the names of local sari shops written on them in big block letters.

If Pervert Uncle has no physical boundaries, Nosy Aunty has zero life boundaries. She sits on the aisle seat, makes conversation with the people on either side of her, talks loudly, and carries food in one of her plastic bags from which she later eats noisily when you are being served by the crew. It could be the local aloo wafers, Haldiram’s khatta meetha, or even khaakras. She will be munching them in gay abandon, while delighting you with her stories from the neighbourhood. Mind you, she likes kids – she hands out toffees to your kids without permission, asks you intensely personal questions on your inter-cultural marriage and what language your child would speak, from the gap between the seats, and also offers life advice. When its time to leave, she gets up first and hits everyone with the three plastic bags to get ahead.

You know who I’m talking about now, don’t you? Just like you know the Addicted To Air Hostesses Guy, who presses the button to beckon the pretty lady in blue, time and again for a glass of water, to ask if its safe to use the washroom, or when he “can’t find” his seat belt. He gets up a million times to use the washroom and is seen strolling down the aisle like it’s a pavement and not a plane. He fidgets a lot, switches the reading light on and off, and looks around like an owl. A zone that has just these kind of guys will sort of turn into an AA corner with most discussing when they got addicted to the air hostesses first and how they plan to get cured. It’s a win-win for everyone.

I could go on and discuss the Gadget Guru, the guy who will give a death stare to anyone who asks him to switch off his cell phone, the Farting Fiend, the BO Buddy, but I know you’re thinking that they’re all ok, but the mommies are the real menaces.

Mommies, tired, sleepless, disgruntled women, dragging reluctant toddlers to doting grandparents, are truly Satan’s own. So I get your need for Zen-like peace as you fly for your amazing holiday.

If only, Quiet Zone Traveller, you got mine.