Through an observer’s eye
It was an unusual day when I had a lot of spare time. The gap between my two assignments was nearly three-and-a-half hours. It wasn’t wise to go to office and return. As my vehicle was given for servicing, those couple of hours appeared even longer. Little did I know that killing time could be so challenging. However, the ‘test’ turned out to be an interesting one. The location I had to go was some 10 kms off and I decided to walk part of the distance.
Familiar roads and localities somehow appeared different. Observing things carefully, I realised our social set-up was a strange mix of mindsets and economic strata. A towering structure next to a crumbling wada, a plush bungalow in a dingy lane, a swanky complex amid cramped shops…people live like this too…I was getting upset looking at some dilapidated buildings. Still veterans sitting in the balconies of those houses looked calm.
The busy road was a connecting ground for people haling from different walks of life. A lady with a diamond necklace was as much part of it as the woman cleaning it with a broom. Some dressed in corporate attires were rushing to offices, whereas men and women in traditional wear had made a beeline in front of a temple. For some, it was a heavy working or business day, for others it was a holy day.
As I walked on, I saw roadside eateries close to a prominent college. I took a break at a coffee joint. Youngsters started flocking up the shops. A group arrested my attention. It had them all; boys and girls, some modern, some traditional, some funky, some with tattoos. What a variety! Some had bikes, others cycles and a few high-end cars. Some seemed chain smokers whereas some hardcore non-smokers. One thing was common though. Politics and petrol prices didn’t seem bothering them, as campus was their world.
Realising that all this while I had left only two kms behind, I hired an auto. I had taken the road umpteen times but today, I could see how dangerously people drove. The auto driver was overwhelmed when I appreciated his skills.
Finally I reached the place where I had a meeting with a professional. Oh! I had reached an hour in advance. Sipping coffee, I just couldn’t but hear conversations around. I am not the one to poke nose into others’ business but tables were so close that every word was audible. There sat a young man and a lady. Apparently, they looked old pals catching up with each other after years. Every next sentence, the man was telling the lady, “Everything you do must be fabulous.” I could feel his crush on her and probably, he was gathering courage …
Then there sat an old couple, a morose man and a thin lady. Apparently worked up, he was shouting at waiters. Don’t know why but his vibes were unfriendly. Too weak, the lady was unable to react to the tantrums the man was throwing. God knows, what made them so disturbed.
I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw the professional, I was supposed to meet, walking in.
In those three hours, I saw the world I had already seen in a different light. The road is not the same when you are part of crowd and an observer. Things look different when you are not all eyes and ears wading through a maddening rush. We can be fair and more objective when we aren’t actively involved. Always occupied, physically and mentally, barely do we look at others objectively. If being engrossed in one’s own world is nice, being a remote witness to the others’ worlds could be nicer.