Vertically challenged

If you are a vertically challenged bus commuter in Bangalore, here’s a piece of unsolicited advice: give that slinky, gorgeous, flaming red beauty called the Volvo a miss. Not having been tipped off earlier, I stepped into one and lurched about drunkenly for an hour until I was hurled out at my destination. The journey, though intoxicating thanks to the paan fumes and the BO of guys who throng the footboard by virtue of their bonding with the driver, made me quickly realise that someone, somewhere in the shadowy labyrinths of the state transport corporation doesn’t exactly love short people.

Why else aren’t the straps, rods or whatchamacallit devices that folks normally hang on to in a crowded bus positioned at a ‘normal’ height? Each of these shiny, yellow thingummies is placed tantalisingly out of reach for anyone under 5 ft 10 inches, leaving us ‘shorties’ with little choice but to lean over the seated commuters, in a rather over-familiar manner, while attempting to grab the seat bars every time the driver jams the brakes or steps on the gas.

Most folks, especially the near but not-so-dear Volvo drivers are sure to disagree, but the truth is that despite my weakness for sequinned shoes and hot pink pants, I am not a circus attraction. True, I’m five-foot-nothing! And, I’ve lost count of the number of times total strangers have stopped me on the street to ask me how tall I am, rather how short I am.

Time was when teetering on high heels, I envied the tall girls in class their athletic looks, their basketball skills and their back-bencher status. My attitude screamed ‘victim,’ but the whingeing skidded to a stop when I discovered that I’d never ever be interrupted through TV soaps or telephone marathons to fetch sundry stuff from high cabinets in the kitchen or change light bulbs. A bird-eye view, I may never have but let me tell you, a worm’s view of life is as interesting or even better!

However, a ride, taken in a speeding Volvo, tempts me to revisit my 13-something angst. No, I won’t go to such absurd lengths as Australian politician Hajnal Ban, who, I’m told, spent nine months in excruciating pain after having her legs broken and stretched to tower over her male counterparts. But I am beginning to suffer a personal crisis I never anticipated even as I surrender to the universal truth that height is not just a number — unless you ride in a bespoke Rolls Royce Baby Ghost and not a BMTC Volvo.

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