No earphone project

If you are in your late teens, twenties, thirties, forties or fifties and your usual place of residence is earth, its highly likely that you work to earn a living. And to work you move out of your place of residence to your place of work (Unless you have a work from home job). And to reach your place of work you travel. More often than not your place of residence and place of work are gonna be in total opposite directions. And if you have the pleasure to live and work in the Silicon valley of India, well your patience is about to be tested. This journey 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?

  1. Procrastinate, do nothing, think, stare out of window : Day dreaming while traveling is the best! Cause you don’t know how time flies by.
  2. 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.
  3. Sleep : A lot of them are sleep deprived cause the only way to avoid peek hour traffic is getting early and out of your home. Some company buses go around different locations to pick up employees so the route is longer than it should have been. And To compensate this sleep deprivation people sleep in the bus.
  4. Read newspaper : These people are the kind of 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 can do this only if you sit on the seat behind the person reading the paper. Then you get a full view of the paper without being judged. But if you are sitting next to them you are gonna be annoyed AF with their flipping pages.
  5. Read books : Cool people. Ain’t saying more.
  6. Watch movies / tv shows : These people are just hell bent on breaking their necks.
  7. Phone calls : Some keep their conversations low – thats 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.
  8. Listen to songs / radio : A majority of people fall into this category. Some of us have tiny noise induced earphone, some of us noise canceling in-earphones, while some others have Huge noise canceling headphones.

Thats about it. My traveling activities are usually a combination of the first, third and last.

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, people came in to check on the tickets and I had my headphones on which meant I was in my own world. Apparently this guy checked everyones ticket in the bus and was waiting for me to hand out my ticket. I was blissfully unaware of his mere presence. Suddenly, I see a hand being thrust right in front of my eyes. Only when I remove my earphones do I realize that the person is asking me to show him the ticket. And 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 favorite 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 mental flashback of that mornings 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 still powering it 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 atleast 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.

Heres 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!