If you are in your late teens, twenties, thirties, forties or fifties and your usual place of residence is earth, it is highly likely that you work to earn a living. To work you move from your place of residence to your place of work (Unless you have a work from home job or live in your office). To reach your place of work, you travel. More often than not your place of residence and place of work are gonna be at polar opposite ends. If you have the pleasure to live and work in the Silicon valley of India, well your patience is about to be tested. The journey to the centre of the IT hub, can easily take anywhere from one, two, three hours depending on the source and destination. To spend or efficiently make use of this time people resort to do different activities.
So what do people do while on commute via public transport?
- Procrastinate, do nothing, think, stare out of window : Day dreaming while travelling is the best! Cause you don’t know how time flies.
- Work work work work work : I have seen people pull out their laptops from their backpacks so quick. Its almost like a reflex like as soon as their butts come in contact with seats – swoosh – the laptop is out! For the rest of the journey you will find them stare at the screen, type / bang the keyboard with either uncontrollable delight or frustration.
- Sleep : A lot of them are sleep deprived. Cause the only way to avoid peek hour traffic is to wake up early and be early to office. Some company buses go around different locations to pick up employees, so the route is longer. To compensate this sleep deprivation, people sleep in the bus. This too is a great way to pass time.
- Read newspaper : These are the people you thank when you need to start a conversation with your boss / colleagues to avoid awkward silence. Usually I find people flipping pages of Business Insider, Economic times or TOI. You have an edge only if you sit on the seat behind the person reading the paper. Then you get access to full view of the paper without being judged. But if you are sitting next to them you are gonna be annoyed AF with them flipping pages.
- Read books : Cool people. Ain’t saying more.
- Watch movies / TV shows : These people are just hell bent on breaking their necks.
- Phone calls : Some keep their conversations low – that is great – got no issues there. The problem I have is with loud freaks. It feels like they are announcing something rather than have a conversation.
- Listen to songs / radio : A majority of people fall into this category. Some of us have tiny noise induced earphone, some of us noise cancelling in-ear earphones, while some others have huge noise cancelling headphones.
That’s about it. My travelling activities are usually a combination of the first, third and eighth.
I don’t know how this works in rest of the world. But in India, there are individuals appointed to halt buses at random locations and check if every passenger in the bus has bought a ticket or not. If you haven’t bought a ticket, either you will be fined or the conductor who didn’t issue the ticket will be fined. Once when I was on my way to work, ticket checkers came in to check on the tickets. I had my headphones on which meant I was in my own world. Apparently this guy checked tickets of all the passengers in the bus and they were waiting for me to hand out my ticket. I was blissfully unaware of their mere presence. Suddenly, I see a hand being thrust right in front of my eyes. Only when I remove my earphones do I realise that I am being asked to show them the ticket. At that exact moment, I can’t find them! Now everyone is staring at me, some are angry the bus is on halt and they are getting late for work, while I am starting to phase out into a hyper panic mode. Alas! I find my ticket, show it to the checker and breathe a sigh of relief. Few minutes after the incident I am wondering why am I listening to music all the time on the bus. My favourite song comes up on the radio and I forget about it all.
On my way back as i pulled out my earphones from my bag, I have a flashback of the morning’s incident. I have my earphones in one hand and my mobile in the other. I look around me. Everyone more or less has a earphone in their ears. I consider how boring the journey back home is gonna be if I don’t have my earphones on. I decide to give it a try. I mean, if I really get bored i do have a working earphone in my left hand and a phone with seventy percent battery in my right hand. Guess what? The ride back was not that boring.
So I decide not to plug in the earphone on the next day, the day after that and the day after that. So for three days straight in a row I did not use my headphones at all (YEAH!). I always had my earphones with me – just in case I needed them. Not using them while I had it, gave me a small sense of accomplishment. The origin of all sounds were at least three two feet away from my ears (except when I got calls). Its not like I didn’t listen to songs or watch YouTube, I did listen to them but on loudspeakers, at a volume that did not annoy my co-beings in the universe.
I wanted my streak to last a bit longer but annoying co-passengers, what can I say.
Here’s what I thought while I was on a break with my earphones and even later.
- You don’t have people getting annoyed at you cause your ears are earphone-less and people don’t have to repeat sentences a hundred times before you can finally comprehend what is happening or being said
- You are more aware of whats happening around you (Unagi 😛 )
- You have more control over yourself than you think you do
- The world around you is more interesting than you give it credit for
- You only listen to what you wanna hear
I have done this ditch the earphone a few times after that incident and plan to continue on doing so. I am calling this the “no-earphones project”.
In other news, if you are an Indian you will probably know this.. the weekends here aaaaand Deepawali is right around the corner! For those who are unaware of what Deepawali is, its a festival of lights. Some dumb morons confuse it with the festival of noise. I hope i don’t need to use ear-plugs to block out the loud sounds.
Wish you all a happy and safe Deepawali!