Can You Recall The Five Faces You Saw Today?

 

Subway-smile

Last Friday, as I was rushing for work and walking into the subway station on East 86th street, I was so lost in my own world and thoughts that I did not see a man coming from the opposite side at the same turnstile where I was about to swipe my card.  I noticed that only after swiping my metro card. Not even after swiping,  I actually saw that when I had moved turnstile in to enter the station and came in less than an arm’s distance from that man. Now I saw that he was blind and that he was now inching back to make room for me to move forward. I could not feel more shamed of myself, of my absentmindedness. This was so not mindful living. That man began doing without having any eyes, what I could not do, with two perfectly functioning eyes. A woman now assisted him in making the exit. She gave me a look of contempt, which I clearly deserved. These few seconds now were the moments of very high awareness and consciousness for me. I can never forget the faces of that man and the woman who assisted him.

Feeling awful about this, I got into thinking about the cloud of our personal thoughts that surrounds us, ALL the time when we walk around in New York City. The things that are allowed to be a part of this cloud are devices – our cell phones, our e-readers, our music players. We don’t really lift our heads up or take our eyes off our devices or books to make an eye contact. Even when neither of the devices are engaging, our thoughts are still elsewhere. We say New York is a melting pot of cultures, but we don’t even know the language of the person sitting next to us in the subway because Spotify is streaming into our ears, screening off any linguistic treat from commuters. From the time we leave our apartment in the morning, till the time we hit the bed in the night, we must be coming across at least 30 new faces ( no Maths done), but can we recall even five of those faces when our head lands on pillow for a good night sleep?

There was another face I will never forget. Few days ago, I was taking a cross town bus from west side to east side ( I don’t take buses otherwise ) and the seat to next to me was empty. A noticed a really old woman approaching towards this seat. I just smiled, which I usually do when I see someone coming towards me. Not a big wide grin, but just a moderate smile of acknowledgement. And I resumed reading the Metro News. The woman took seat and said, “Thank you for your smile”. I can’t even forget the tone and warmth of that voice. There are many people of her age who probably didn’t grow up in a time of wired humans. For them, it’s hard to comprehend this new generation that is wired in an individual virtual cloud. So possibly, it was a pleasant surprise for her to receive smiling acknowledgment of her existence from a random stranger. And it was a surprise for me, for I did nothing extraordinarily out of my way to please here, I did what I usually did.

I know that it might be too much to ask from urban dwellers to always stay in the present and notice every human they see and make eye contact with everyone. That will be a lot of visual information to process each day. But that done in moderation might make each day a more pleasant one as the researchers Nicholas Epley and and Juliana Schroeder found in their research at University of Chicago, which I still believe is nothing earth shattering. Often, the clouds are full of thoughts about past and present. Engaging with strangers help us distract from them and get back in present, at least for time. Looking in other’s eyes and seeing their faces make us more empathetic towards them because we begin to see them as humans and not as objects dotting our way to some destination. Who knows, you might not need to go to Match.com or OkCupid, because the person you were looking for was sitting right next to you on the Q train to Times Square, if only you two had allowed each other in your virtual clouds.

So, will you try to recall five faces tonight?

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Why am I pissed off?

Quite often I stay in unpleasant mood. Cranky. I decided to list down my problems.
Here they are:
One. I have huge tummy that refuses to disappear even after workin my ass up for getting rid of it. Winters are arriving , what I am gonna do? I woudn’t be able to dress up properly, so many of clothes will lie useless as they would look ugly with tummy. I can’t even think of updating my wardrobe for the new season.

Two. My hair are growing at a miserably slow rate after I got the ghagini hair cut. I doubt if they are really growing. And I look awfully pathetic in this. And holy crap! Those few white hairs look even more prominent when their length is less, I can’t even hide them in other hair. This gives more tension which in turn turns more hair white.

Three. I am growing darker by the day. Thanks to Delhi weather.

Because of the above reasons I have stopped even glancing at mirror now. I realize that I haven’t bought a single piece of cloth or any footwear for me in ages now. What shall I do with them with this ever growing belly. It really depresses me to acknowledge that I am ageing. I wonder if I have so much negative thoughts, then perhaps people who are in 40’s should just kill themselves

Roadies

Have I grown old? The dreams for getting into roadies ended before starting. I could not even get into auditions. I don’t know why wish to sound like a loser as if I desire to garner some sympathy votes. But this sucked. All those years, I could not get into this because I was studying in a small town (town? Or was it village?)called guwahati where there were no auditions for roadies or for that matter any other show. But now it was in my own city, New Delhi. It was my first and perhaps last chance. Last chance like for so many other activities such as Indian Air force. I knew the place too, and yet I missed it.
The other day I was discussing about audition with someone, and his first reaction was, ’dude , you are old now for all this.. you have too many other things now which you can’t just leave get your old fat ass into roadies!’. I hate to admit, he turned out to be right. I did not take off today. Dunno what came on my head that I cancelled my leave and came to office. If hadn’t done that I would have been there at audition on time. But the thought that stopped me for heading for audition was a sense of duty for reporting test, for the greed of saving one day’s pay, these things have indeed rendered me old enough no to have courage to do something else. But I don’t want this to happen. I am all of 23 for Christ’s sake and I feel old and tied in duties and responsibilites? Then what should people of my dad’s age do?
Some people were suggesting that I should tell about this audition in office to my manager and other colleagues. But do I have to? Rather should it not be little awkward? It’s like a movie I go to on some night, and telling the same at work? No. and I am not doing anything wrong. I have not been dishonest with my work. I gave it extra hours whenever it demanded. It’s like if I am wedded to my work, then I don’t commit adultery if I attend some of my other interests too.

fun and work @ work place

There are two conflicting school of thoughts in my mind about balancing fun and work at work. One of my colleague reminded (because Siddharth had told me about the same sometime) me today of British or (generally) western style of working. Brits work only during office hours of 9-5 whatever is that time window of 8 hrs is. But during those 8 hours, all they do is work. They don’t waste time or should I say, spend time on activities which are not related to work. But as their 8hrs are over, they rush to home or anywhere but office.

I also like that kind of working atmosphere and ideally I would have worked like that only. But if I work like that focusing only on my work, will I not be considered aloof? I am seeing people huddled in one cube, may be sharing some sweets or some joke. Should I not press Windows L and leave my desk , go and join them? If I do that I will be loosing time close to half an hour. Because after that entire party might move to terrace for sharing puff and coffe. Such occasions will occur several times in day. So everyday, I will lose considerable time, which if I had put in work, I would have wounded up my work early and left early and could find time for host of other activities. But if I come to office, work and leave, and continue this for long, will I not be considered aloof by my colleague. At any new work place, one would like to make new friends and make the friendship closer. But that would not be possible if all I do in office is work.

Where to draw line?

That colleague of mine told that it’s all in mind. Ultimately, if one speaks politely to a colleague and asks for help, he will be helped, and what more one expects from a colleague.
I wasn’t fully convinced with this to accept completely the new style of working. Even though I actually work in that style to a great extent unconsciously for some reason.

Yet after this discussion I fail to find where to draw line, which school of thought is good for me. Perhaps someone reading this might be able to suggest. I feel that it solely depends on person and his abilities. Sachin for example, can talk to all his friends/colleagues, afford to join in any number of puffs or TT games and still be able to finish work on/before deadlines. I on the other hand will have to compromise on one thing to achieve the other.