To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Friday, January 11, 2002
Train Travails

I like to carry a book everyday. No, it's got nothing to do with omens. Quite a practical reason, actually. I hope to entertain myself with it while commuting by train. But the hope, for the most part, remains a hope.

In the mornings and late evenings, the entire city seems to be headed towards some common destination; some can't get there fast enough (sadly, they reach a different destination altogether). The general rush and push that marks those hours at the railway station may well resemble some madman's dream.

Luckily for me, I don't have to travel in those busy hours, but even so, there's no avoiding the hustle and bustle.

But to get back to my book and why I never manage to open it in the train. The fact of the matter is, I postpone one pleasure in favour of another (For those who would watch a circus or spend time at the zoo, I cannot recommend better entertainment). Real characters and real scenes grapple so much for my attention, that there’s nothing to do but oblige them.

Sometimes a beggar child will crawl around wearing his most despondent expression, at which particular moment, all eyes will suddenly look out of the window admiring the anatomy of some distant tree, or become obsessively engrossed with the dullest object in the vicinity.

Sometimes the women next to you will start gossiping animatedly or exchanging confidences. You strain yourself as if every word were worth its weight in gold. The suspense will build up and when you just cannot hold your breath any longer (nor let it out, lest it explode); well, it will be time for you to go. You will try to prolong every minute hoping to catch in a word or two that will allay some of the suspense, but no, absolutely no hope, and you wonder what the point was, going through a book only to find the last chapter missing.

At times, you yourself will get caught up in a scene (unbeknown to you, ofcourse). Reminds me of the last time I was.

One afternoon I was munching on my lunch in the train (as I do sometimes, though I must say I don't relish the prospect nor the food at those times). The woman next to me (say woman A) started fidgeting and muttering to herself. I noticed her strange behaviour and quickly labelled her as one of those characters (you know those?). After a while, her frowning and fretting attracted glances from those around us.

The woman sitting opposite me (say woman B), suddenly commanded me to trade places with her. I was more than happy to comply. But I wasn't prepared for the arguments and abuses that erupted between the two women and least of all for the cause: me (!!).

Woman B wanted to know why woman A was acting so funny and strange and making it impossible for me to eat in peace. Woman A didn't care to address this point, instead, she wanted to know what the other women thought she was doing by barking at her. All this while woman B was throwing sympathetic glances at me, as if to say "I'm on your side and we'll fight it out together".

I decided to myself that both women were, as a friend of mine would have put it, "wacked in the head" and left it at that.

Reading a book is one matter and appreciating a play another -- but its quiet a different ballgame -- getting mixed up with the characters !!