Third Wheeling Bodyguards.

Travel Fellow Achal draws out a queer life in Vadodara.

Achal Dodia has participated in the Travel Log programme with The Third Eye for its City Edition. The Travel Log mentored 13 writers and image-makers from across India’s bylanes, who reimagine the idea of the city through a feminist lens.

Achal writes and draws from Vadodara, Gujarat.

This comic is the first of a three part series on looking at spaces through a queer lens.

I had been a student renter for three years. Upon returning from college one evening, Shalini and I decided to have a cup of coffee at my flat. The journey from society gate to the flat is like walking on a red carpet, just with less cameras and more suspicions.
As we entered home and sat down, all the anxiety that had built up on the ‘red carpet’ released itself with a nice cup of coffee.

And here it goes, I had to third wheel again.

What/who is  a third wheel?

That is a person who is superfluous to a relationship, but sometimes, helps a couple get along in public/private as the norm of society wont allow a “ladka” and “ladki” to be together alone.

I have been third wheeling all my life in the city of Vadodara. Being single, these lovers’ points make you a third wheel even if you are just a bystander.


My trail of thought didn’t leave though. I was occupied by the thoughts of people around the city who were (or not) romantic couples. People in informal settlements, on streets and below underbridges, who don’t have the privilege of privacy to be together; whose desires are as public as their lives whom we all third wheel on.

Can our cities one day become Love Inclusive? Can we love without having the fear of being judged, being gazed upon, or getting killed? Hence making Third Wheeling, which sometimes also becomes a proof of friendship, a way to protect lovers, a choice rather than a compulsion?
Achal Dodia, an architecture student based in Vadodara, thinks of architecture more as spaces of kindness rather than buildings of concrete. He likes coffee both as a drink and as a spread on his diary pages. You can also spot him making notes of dark spaces, placement and types of trees or measuring the width of walkways as a pedestrian. Achal paints mandalas and admires all things old, rustic, broken, and those with a story. He likes to create things hands-on, which is also his approach to life.

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