Everyday, I spend two hours on a train commuting to and from work. I use that time effectively as follows:
!) 8.33%: Dhyana – an extremely effective form of meditation taught to me by my father who excels at not only dhyana but also at the 45.01% chunk mentioned below. This art is to be practised with eyes closed in a supine position, preferably. (I settle to do this in an upright sitting position due to the circumstances on the train!)
@) 1.66%: The delicate period between Dhyana and light sleeping
#) 45.01%: I wouldn’t term it deep slumber, but my jaws plop open, my head inclines in obtuse angles, and generally draws several arcs along the way – all with eyes snapped tightly shut.
$) 16.67%: This chunk is during the evening commute. Standing while constantly observing those comfortably seated for visible signs that their destination is approaching. Once identified, I strategically position self near their seat, avoid eye-contact with others eyeing for the same seat, and make a polite move when the seat becomes empty. Just before plopping to sit, I offer the seat to others contending for the same seat. Decorum demands that they gush and let you sit.
Caution: This is a risky thing to do, and does not always pay off. Several times, I have people enthusiastically taking up my gallant offer, while I start out on Point ($) all over again.
%) 25%: Spent reading a magazine or a book, occasionally gazing out at the places we pass.
^) 3.33%: Also during evening chunk, moving towards the door that opens nearest the escalator on the station, so that I may start charging home as soon as the train doors open.
Save for points (!, @ and #), I also observe people around me. The train is quiet considering the number of people on the train. Most people indulge in the same activities mentioned above, only in varying proportions.
Yesterday, however, was different. We had in our midst around ten high school girls – all squealing and chatting excitedly. The perpetual frowners frowned at the cacaphony, the bored ones looked askance, the elderly nodded their heads at the young bloods. To me, the sheer enthusiasm in their voices was like music.
I started wondering about my own school and college days. It all seems so far away! I remember when I took up my first job in a software sweatshop in Bangalore, and boarded an eerily quiet company bus, I swore I would not be like that. That evening all freshers conducted a meeting, and decided to make our journeys more pleasant and fun. The next day, we presented our bus-driver with some music CDs, swayed to the music, swapped stories, giggled over trivia!
Somewhere along the way, our bubble burst, and we started sleeping during our long commute! When was that? I don’t remember – it was no historic event. Maybe, it was the pressure of a heavy work day, or just the fact that age restrains people, but slowly I mutated into a serious looking, boring commuter myself.