Everyday, I take the bus to and from work. Its a short journey of probably 25 minutes or so, stretched to a painful hour or hour and 15 minutes by the rush hour traffic. Yet, one endures because one has no other choice. And everyday, I notice the same thing- everyone gets in, many plug in their earphones and start listening to music while also playing games or facebooking or reading things. Another group opens their newspapers and dives in, eager to devour their share of the morning news. Another category starts to flip through fashion magazines and some I can see are busy chatting away. There is pin drop silence in the bus on most days broken, only when someone’s phone rings or when someone decides to turn up the volume on their ipods. But most days, noone speaks and most of all, noone ever just sits and looks out of the window. Even the ones standing have music plugged in or somehow manage to hold on with one hand while clutching a book or their ipad in the other. Everyone sits, heads bowed down, lost in their virtual worlds.
(Image Courtesy: TS)
I’m guilty of listening to music too. And maybe, if reading on the go didn’t make me sick, I would have had my nose buried in a book too. But, there are a number of days when I’m just content to look out of the window and do nothing- not read, not listen to music, not play games, not do anything. I have seen only kids doing that- looking out of the window with a mix of curiosity and wonder and happiness writ large on their faces. I don’t know, somehow, we grown- ups seem to have lost that curiosity and that appreciation of the everyday. I know there might be nothing new if you look out- you see the same sights everyday, the same places, the same people, the same road. But somehow, I like to believe, everyday is different. Somedays the sky is blue, some days its grey. Some days it rains, some days the sun shines bright and some days the sun is blanketed by a layer of clouds. But noone seems to notice. I love to just be and stare out of the window. I like being alone with my thoughts. Yes, I think all the time. I like to look out and think of the world. I like to look at the kids playing outside in the many schools I pass by on my way to office and think that soon they’ll also grow up to be like us grown-ups. The teenagers are already there. Always plugged into their virtual worlds and loving their virtual identities more than their actual ones perhaps.
I like to watch the people at their bus stops, hurrying to get to their offices and wonder what they are thinking, what goes through their minds, what has shaped them and continues to shape their lives. I like to watch brand new mommies pushing strollers with their precious cargo, out for their morning walk, that happy, beaming, content look on their faces. I like to watch old couples out for their morning walk, sometimes holding hands and sharing a joke, sometimes just content to walk together- the continuation of a journey they started years back. I like to watch the schoolkids in their small gangs- laughing and giggling, carefree. I like to watch the fitness freaks out for their morning jog- intense, focussed on their run and nothing else. I like to watch the homemakers-on their way back from the market, shopping carts laden with fresh vegetables and meat and what not.I like to watch the busy food courts, the school playgrounds, the parents walking their kids to nursery schools. I like to watch the rain and shine, the falling leaves and the patterns the raindrops make on the window. I like to watch life go by.
And I wonder, why is it that people prefer to bury their heads far away from the world? Is it because they find the virtual world more interesting than the real? Is it because they are too afraid to be left alone with their thoughts? Do they find the things around them too boring? Do they find the real world too real for their taste, and want to escape to someplace in their imagination- someplace virtual? I don’t know. I can only speculate. And yes, I do love technology. I love the fact that I can check my mail anytime, anywhere. I love facebooking and chatting with my friends. And I’m guilty of doing these things on the go too. Yes, somedays I shut out the real world and immerse myself in the virtual. But, I do enjoy everything about the real world too. I’m glad I’m wired like that. I’m glad the first thing I do on waking up is to draw the curtains and watch the sun, and not check my facebook wall. Yes.. I’m glad I have found some balance. And I hope that the people I see everyday, the ones who sit with their heads bowed down, lost in their virtual worlds, are also, on some days,taking the time out to truly live…