Out for a walk. We stop near a little stairway that leads to the highway, to watch the busses. These stairs wouldn't deter a motorcyclist wanting to ride up — it's a gentle gradient, long steps, more terraced than steps actually — which is, I guess, why it has steel stanchions at the top and foot of it, spaced wide enough to let pedestrians through (unless magnificently obese), but not a scooter or mobike. Or a wheelchair. John doesn't mind staying at the bottom, as long as he can see the bustle. So there we are, him intent on the traffic, me thinking to myself how our pavements and roads are so fugging wheelchair-unfriendly and why the fug did the powers that be want to stop two-wheelers from using this perfectly sensible lane anyway.
People pass by, intent on their thoughts and lives, some chatting in pairs and trios, in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, English. Mostly the middle-class folk that live in this neck of the city, returning from weekend visits to family, perhaps. Some pause to gawk, in a way that still irks me after all these years, but doesn't bother John at all.
Then an elderly gent, slim, white-haired, impressively moustached, slightly grubby dhoti and kurta, stops and asks in Marathi if we we want to go up. No, I said, we're good. He carries on his way. It suddenly strikes me that he was offering to help. (This had not occurred to me, since it would be a three-person operation: one to carry John, two to lift the chair over, then the same at the top of the stairs.) I call out a thank you to him as he walks away. He turns to smile.
A few minutes later, a young man, talking on his cellphone, passes by. Again, not in the newest or cleanest of clothes. He pauses, mumbles to his interlocutor, lowers the phone, and asks me, first with a movement of arms and shoulder, and then in Hindi that has a feel of the north to it, if we want to go up. This time I get it immediately. I thank him and say no, we're just sitting.
Then we head home. I'm smiling.