As I settle myself in the aisle seat of my short flight...and I have to say that about 95% of the time I do manage to get one thanks to my timely booking, the only thing that blurs the euphoria of travelling home at times is the ‘other’ passenger occupying the middle seat next to me. Over the last few years I have been a consistent flier on this route and by consistent I mean at least once or twice a month if not more and so yes, I do know the regular crew...frequent passengers... weird travellers...the ever-smiling air-hostesses...the familiar snacks (unappetising mostly) et al only too well.

Earlier, the same story used to repeat itself on the Shatabdi when I was travelling the same route with a planned booking of a window seat due to the importance of the ‘looking through the glass’ time. But now those are few and far between as the flight is far more convenient as I save time, money and my sanity as I don’t have to deal with the Gurgaon-Delhi maddening traffic and the chaos and filth at the railway station. Locking in air miles also works wonders since there exists no system of collecting ‘chugging’ points, and so I rather fly than chug along. I often do dream of all those lost chugged miles that I could have collected and in return flown off... Oops!! I meant chugged off to some ‘Top 10’ fabulous destinations... Like ‘Amazing Arrakonam’ or ‘Exciting Ekma’ or even ‘Mysterious Muri’ that have been waiting to be ticked off on my bucket list!!

But alas... This is not to be and my day-dreaming ends in vain as I land back in my not so comfortable seat with a sharp jab in my side instead of a thud! “Not again,” is what I mutter to myself. I know what that jab means. There are a peculiar variety of people who you meet along ‘life’ and your ‘travels’ and they can be categorized as pokers/pinchers/grabbers/jabbers etc. Oh yes, also the ‘staring’ variety that gawk and leer.

But I now have a ‘jabber’ next to me... The kind who stretches out in his seat as if he is lolling in his personal recliner in the confines of his living room. The couch-potato’s elbows stretch out sideways with no care for the person sitting next to him. I squirm and scrunch up in my seat and sit sideways resembling a squished octopus with a contorted body and expression.

I am already gearing up for the next move when he carelessly stretches out his legs and takes over more than 1/3 of my space. I detest personal ‘space invasion’ that is forced upon me. Long gone are those days when I would meekly ignore such rude behaviour but no more. I now fight back...with the only weapons I possess – the ‘titanium powered elbow’ and I prepare for battle and elbow away with a fierceness that makes the slob take notice.

Most of them are incorrigible and persistently continue with their shameless actions. Realisation dawns slowly...the tube light suddenly sparks fluorescent lighting and the ballast is able to regulate it efficiently to the imbecile’s brain.

It is the same story while travelling in the metro...even in the ladies compartment if you please as there exists the regular ‘elbowers’ who dig their way and then squeeze themselves into seats meant for eight till there are about a dozen squished in and invariably who look like they are about to slide down the edges and are seen hanging on to the side bars for dear life.

The mall is another place that one has to be constantly on the defensive role to disperse the unwelcoming jabs...unless you want to be in the side-lines watching the whole spectacle while sipping an iced-cappuccino. I confess I am quite happy doing this!

The other day, just before take-off, a friend messaged that she was seated next to one such ‘elbower’... “Elbow Away My Friend,” is what I advised her before she shut off her phone and she did quite a good job I am told in keeping her space clutter-free. Yes, I like to keep my circle ‘armed and wise’.

Let me make it very clear, that the only ‘Elbow Benders’ I tolerate...Or rather appreciate are the kind that sit on the bar-stool and ‘Elbow Bend’ along with happy, positive people... Raising a toast to all the happy things in life... Family… Friends… Love... Good Health… Food... Music... Travel... The kind of stuff that warms your soul not once but for a lifetime! So ‘elbow bend’ away but in the right way please is all I ask!

(Cover Photograph Representational image)