Commuting is not a choice. It is a trade-off.
Commuting has been a significant part of my life. To a degree, that my life can be phased by different forms of commute – by road, by rail, by private or public, within a city or across different cities. It all started when I was little, or at least the earliest memories I can recall now.
My first commute was to kindergarten. It was a 3-wheeler scooter as popularly known as rickshaw. If manufacture’s instruction is anything to go by, it was meant only for 2 or at the most 3 people. But you would wonder about manufacturer’s aptitude at the sight of 15 kids being squeezed and packed in that rickshaw, like olives in a jar. Personal space mattered little before the possibility of securing a cushion seat. Between the sleepy heads and smiling faces of your co-victims, time flew past without the need to check one’s phone. This continued to a point where evolution got better of rickshaw man’s greed as kids grew up and the occupancy in rickshaw was reduced from 15 to 9. Although, it did not help much those kids much.
The prisoners of rickshaw breathed first air of freedom when they rode their bicycles. For me, it was a heavenly feeling with intermittent troubles of offering one of the old co-victims a ride to school. Bicycle pooling, although an unknown term then, was otherwise a popular way to trade-off one’s sweetness of the freedom with the bitterness of adjustment. Yet, the freedom experienced in this commute lasted longer than you would imagine. In fact, the meaning of freedom was stretched to acknowledge similar heavenly feeling, first experienced when a 2-wheeled motor vehicle replaced the bicycle as a ride to high school.
Some of the fortunate souls continued to stretch the definition of freedom as they experienced another heavenly feeling once a 4-wheeled motor vehicle replaced the 2-wheeler ride. While the others, like me, re-lived the childhood memories in their adulthood by commuting through public transport. For me, the 2-wheeler ride was replaced by a multi-wheeler ride or in other words – a train. Between sleepy heads and frowning faces, time didn’t fly off. Only this time, you may reach into your pocket for your phone and block your ears to let yourself loose into the music. The only exception to this would be those unfortunate souls, the really unfortunate ones, who may not even be in a position to reach to their pockets as they would be struggling to keep their feet on ground, either of the feet. Oh, we didn’t talk about the seats. I wouldn’t be too ambitious to aim for that in a daily train commute. Let’s just say it was a rare privilege. On that we will talk more, some other time.
I think it’s enough commute for today. There’s more, a lot more. The commute of relationships, career and of course the much dreaded subject – death. But on that we will talk more, some other time.
Image by: John Fowler