Journey of Life

Completely dazed, dead tired, with the mind having gone all numb…… But I promised myself to write!!

As I stood amidst the rumble and ruffle of the of the train that was just arriving at the opposite platform, and as I was waiting for my train to arrive, I saw the crowd rushing towards the train that had not halted yet… a slow pace but moving towards its destination…about to pick travellers who would jump in it and claim their seats on a 1st come first basis; I saw the rushing of the poor and the disabled…..

The poor rushing and jumping into the train like headless chickens….those rushing faster for the others, to book for their families. Yet all of them gushing into the compartments’ doors all at once!!! The disabled with their crutches, or in their chairs – their folks pushing the chairs towards the train!!! The immediate turn of a silent waiting place to an absolute frenzy for getting a place….

The train was moving slowly…. And yet, all of them rushing in a race to catch…catch what?! ….was it really the seat that they traverse in this sojourn with ease and comfort?! Or what was the real stress and tension that compelled people to move when something is already crossing them in motion?!

Really the question for what?!

Eventually the train was scheduled, uhh I think destined, to reach the station, when they can get in easily as well, within the confines of respectable time slotted in by the railways for the ticketed passengers!

Well…. the kids were running with their parents, the aged ladies in their ever so respectable Sari garbs, racing…running…scampering…holding hands, holding part of the parent’s cloth so that kids do not get lost…..scurrying to get into that train…..

All, those with crutches, pushing hard and challenging them to speed that they may never even achieve in their best trained performances, yet with ‘so called mentally assumed speed, those crippled in their seats, racing with their eagerness as though their souls gonna get at that train’s entrance door’s bar!!!

Life……As these folks and the train was moving in slow pace, I stood stock still at their opposite end…. Watching, amazed, then slightly touched….. Dig my hands into my pockets and stood experiencing the motion and the commotion; seeping and soaking in every ounce of the exuberance of human emotions like a movies reel…. And I am onlooker, watching them pass by! More the commotion, more the calmness and poise within me….

Suddenly I noted a dark, thin, actually emaciated kid, dimwit maybe but shouting for her mother….. Running against the motion of the train, with a rucksack held over her shoulders….

She was searching for her mother, not sure whether she wanted to go, search for her Mom, or let go the train….

10 steps against the train’s motion towards her mom and back again by 4 steps towards the train….

Tears rolling down her cheek, the anguish in her whilst making a decision of letting go the train or waiting for her folks, was palpable on her face n body language!

Finally in a second or two, she boarded the train with her potli still looking behind for her folks to having reached the compartment; but within another 2 seconds, she got off the train running towards the station’s entrance, shouting for her mother…. For a while she stood there at mid-point of her compartment and platforms entrance, looking at the entrance of her folks reached at all in the Nick of the time or check if she had time enough to wait until her folks joined her; she had now decided by now that she had rather wait down then take risk of moving alone in the train! Her folks joined in 7 minutes from then, and no sooner she saw her folks in sight, she ran to the vacant seat to reserve for all her folks!

I kept watching all of this, her expressions, her dejection, her confusion…. And her expressions of happiness seeing her mom and sisters join her….

I was watching like an objective observer… And nothing of this sight touches me the way it used to touch me when I was younger….

Had I been what I was 2-3 decades back, I had felt every single person’s pain and trouble making me sad! The sympathy within me and sensitivity then was phenomenal, so much so that I used to weep in others pains!

Today, as I was an onlooker, although I was watching some of the most dramatic, heart wrenching poignant scene, watching people’s being of absolute powerlessness, and their sheer misery as each of them were trying to reach something against the ebb of the natural flow….either in fear of losing a transient sense of belonging or comfort ; or maybe in the hope of getting something that they can hang on for few moments of illusory comfort, maybe race towards the anticipation of something perceived as comfort?!! And therefrom emanation of their tryst and painstaking struggle to achieve their perceived illusory means….

I was smiling, as I was able to feel the trials and tribulations of these folks as they were scampering and scurrying in race against or for something…..

Nothing does matter, but the mere essence of being in the race does!!!!

Me smiling, like a wise creature, evaluating each move and tragedy of the living! As though my super sensitive emotional being has now become wiser, able to view things, situations and people with an objective eye, can adjudge situations and emotional upheavals from afar!

Smiled, life…. In all it’s transitions and motions, can be so erratic ….in actuality, had they all had patience for the train to stop and then board in elegance of their being, with respect for their being, then the story would have been far far saner, composed and beatific!! But wonder, given the chance and scope for people to do that, opt for something that is more peaceful and satisfying, will they have enjoyed the peaceful ambulation or would they choose the frenzied, nerve yanking and stressing situations to eventually claim……claim that after their pursuit of the struggle and chaos, they having come out with accolades and success, failures or miss outs?!!…and that too perceived, self-created and not really real….

Well, I had leave that choice unto them….

And as for me, I had rather be happy standing in that stillness of the universe, with as the clutter and chaos passing me by, at times being shoved or hurt in the midst of the crowd if caught unwary, but I had rather keep myself at distant from such confounding and chaotic situations, where you can be away…and watch and feel the clutter but in absolute poise and calmness…. Coz life and the universe flows noiselessly, naturally….. Resisting the natural flow in itself creates far more trouble and ripples than being in sync… harmony. Even the discordant strings of a musician can create the most cacophonous sound…and well, this one is life! If I ain’t in harmony with myself as I move on the path of my living….that ain’t the reality. One of my counselling teacher’s where I was studying Counselling psychology had many a times in her lectures, stressed upon the fact that ‘if we are in disharmony, we are not on the right path!!’

I concluded, finally I’ve learnt the art of empathy; I with time have grown wiser……

Routine but Tedious Travails in a Mumbai Local Train: Adventure or human devaluation?!  

As I was struggling to make my way through the gushing, mad swarm of people, that had alighted the train, scampering and stampeding through the morass of indiscipline hooliganism, now trying to force through a jammed vortex of people, thwarting, pushing and plunging insanely towards the narrow staircase of the connecting bridge to other platforms & Mumbai local lines, each passenger & commuter, trying to get released and move towards the next path of their journeys! Mostly women start cribbing or stay in the waiting, patiently, to avoid the unruly pranks of the opportunistic mob, but no sooner some space is created, just when you think “now is the time to cross the bridge resistance free”, another train enters to a halt, impatient passengers stuffed on either sides, trying to make way to their owns destinations!!! Many a time, men land up fist fighting, some one’s ego gets awakened in between and betwixt the jungle rule, or at another the one’s descending the staircases get dashed in with those forcing to ascend!!! Funny, if we expand this scenario to larger scape of life that exactly how travelers in time are!!!!

My daily journey doesn’t end here, neither does it start here! The first pang of ache is felt, no sooner I await the train at my boarding junction where all ladies in all their coquetries and decent attires, are poised to jump into the 1st class door, long before even the train is expected, and then jam and fight each other, with all their brawns & muscles & fats, pushing through every woman who’s ready to proceed before them. And this, despite the compartment being empty, waiting in all its expanse with open arms, ready to accommodate all the ladies that are recklessly ready to nail each other lest they miss out on something…….something!!!!! But well, anxiety has become the pulse of the population here…..anxiety to be unable to catch the train on time, anxiety to be unable to get a seat while in transit in trains, anxiety to get down the train……

No sooner the train enters and halts at a station, people all poised to alight, jump and be the heroic 1st to have been able to land on the platform even before the train has halted completely!!! Those alighting are attacked by hordes of impatient, insensitive, ladies prepared to board! A tug of war can be perceived for a brief second; a bag stuck in the crowd, a woman being spindled off her path, jamming the entrance and exit with equal pressure & spooling from either sides! Pressure mounts with not a single outlet or advancement of a person, gradually a kinetic energy that absurdly gets stuck into a speedy surge into potential energy keeps escalating, and you feel like a pack of atoms & molecules all jammed together unable to move due to lack of Absolute space, mainly as all of them trying to get in 1st, block, push, and tread the rest! Suddenly one of the most powerful atom of the lot, colliding, one wall to another, kicking and bumping on another, leading to a sudden swooshing of myriads of atoms, finally holding a ground somewhere, in helter-skelter directions, with rebounding velocity, across the open compartment, trying to settle somewhere, whichever space that’s available, or if they manage to have some luxury, take a comfortable space; from the 1st in line of attack (boarding) or defense (alighting) making way. The settling effect too at times can be un-nerving, ladies thudding, pushing, deceiving, and belligerent with other ladies, to get that “one seat” and finally settling down!!! This I call as the mob dynamics in a local train!!

Once I had seen a co-traveler fall off and come under the stampede of fellow travellers, no one had offered their hands or picked her up until they got their respective seats, or had settled in their compartment; following which, after a brief sigh of relief, the ladies suddenly became aware of the co traveller’s fall and playing the good Samaritan finally asked “whether she was alright”! Until then, each of them were absolutely immune, and in a scurry flurry race to get a seat, whereupon their primal instincts had superseded the humane concern for a fellow being!! This I call the psyche or the “mob mentality”!

This is a tryst, day in and day out; and an ordeal to go through, the enemies being the ladies themselves! Mind you, I am citing an example and a scenario of ladies compartment, but this is worse in men’s compartment!! Fist fights, verbal bravados & hooting and hooliganism in the garb of decency is a common sight and expectation every day!

And amongst these fellow traveller beings, making a respectable way through the throngs is an impossible task indeed! Men entering the entrance of the stairs from left side, women waiting patiently till their turn comes, some brave folks who think they are leading the mob, shout, hoot or motivate others or just merely push through!! Some men take advantage of the crowd and may pinch the bun of woman, and there follows an irate ranting and swearing from the woman!!!

The feeling while getting through this crowd for sure is not nice, it makes a human being devaluated! The people who push and kick and behave aggressive are all common folks, some in business attire, some others are god fearing, some are opportunists and some others are devils in disguise!!! It’s a sickening feeling to know that although the same woman who doesn’t care to stamp another woman in the pursuit of a seat, later as she is settled reads a bible, or Hanuman chalisa or a Ramayana brief. Strange to know the dynamics of this mob, literate folks, claim to be educated, behaving like animals, the scene turns suddenly into a war zone or a jungle rule of Darwin on Survival of the fittest!

Strange to know that every human being has now learnt to ‘devalue’ themselves while travelling in these locals of Mumbai by allowing themselves to be pushed, pinched, caught in a vortex of aggressiveness, indiscipline and disregard! Discipline and respect are amiss somewhere, to neighbours or fellow humans or to oneself! People have become immune to verbal combats but on an extreme some others have become used to spitting out spite at even a mere “excuse me” or a poke! These are dead people who vent out their frustrations at each other, or themselves or at their friends, neighbours, work peers, and anyone that crosses their path for that matter!!! No sooner they come off this frazzle, they brush off the devaluation and get back to their daily routines or rather their facades!

What is it that stops people in being more sensitive and caring in a mob situation? Why does it get worse? When we are solo and our visibility is stark for all to see, we use the best of our images for people to see and best of our mannerisms and etiquettes!!! But no sooner, one becomes unknown and sunk into the crowd of the face known but as “mob”, that same person gets swooped and swooned into the force & speech of the mob!!!

The bigger question that I pose here is, whether should we create respect, discipline and sensitivity in a society by eliminating the mob mentality, or should we live within the mob and create a conscious effort to be mindful of the person just next to us!!!! Part of the problem has evolved due to lack of spaces and travel comforts, but try taking a closer peak at some other multitudinous facets and aspects of “human devaluations” in our daily lives- female feticide, gang rape and rape, child abuse and child labor, selling a child or an organ for 5000 INR, manipulations and the greed!!! It would not be wrong here to say that actually, and technically, and even psychologically for that matter that “human devaluations have stemmed from blatant greed” – nothing but GREED!