I sat at my desk, glaring alternatively at the late hour proudly displayed by my watch and my excel sheet which adamantly refused to pivot the massive data. As the cells slowly began to get hazy and merge into meaningless data, my mind wandered off to the question which had been naggingly poking me at the back of my head for quite a few days now, just because someone asked, just because I didn’t have an immediate satisfactory answer.
What would I do, if I had two extra hours in my day?
I blinked, and refocused on my excel sheet.
Would I finally find the patience for my ailing laptop to hurry up and finish the work in those two extra hours?
Will I actually meet my deadlines two hours in advance?
Will I finally join those dance classes I’ve been eyeing for months?
Or actually work out?
Will I, in all probability watch more tv?
Or just chase that ever-elusive sleep?
Sighing, with a last forlorn look at my watch, I finally shut my laptop, and stepped onto the busy streets of Mumbai. If there is one thing this city teaches you, it’s the art of walking right into crowds, without really looking into anyone’s eyes, elbowing people and making way for yourself. Survival of the fittest, they say. And it has its ways of pulling you in, and drowning out your despair in the waves of crowd making their way to the next minute of their busy lives.
As I stood in the local train, stuffed like a sandwich spread in between other sweaty passengers, my mind went back to those two beautiful extra hours. Maybe I’ll take a cab and sit like a queen, instead of standing in a way that seriously questions the concept of personal space.
An hour of standing later, I pushed my way through Andheri Station, onto the next hurdle…finding an auto back home. After sundry rejections, I finally manage to find one, and rush up the stairs to reach home. Maybe I’ll spend the two hours actually bothering to report the errant rickshaw-wallas. I chuckled to myself.
Home. That sweet relaxing place. Apart from the few troubles like food and plumbing and bills to be paid. I checked the reminder on my phone and groaned. Friend’s birthday party tonight. If only there was a way to get out of these social conventions.
There’s work to be done…hours to be slept…people to be met…time to be wasted…
And I stopped, disgusted with my own thought process.
And then it hit me.
How I should spend those two magical extra hours in my day.
Maybe I’ll be less of a machine and more of a human being. Maybe I’ll walk at a pace that humans were intended to, and not the PT Usha contenders that we have turned into. Maybe, the next hour in the train, I won’t just sit there listening to music and minding my own business, maybe I’ll actually look around me and really see the others in the train. Maybe I’ll ask them their stories, realize that there is a life that exists outside of myself and my worries. Maybe I’ll look into their eyes and try to imagine their stories. Maybe I’ll look outside at the world passing by, and finally see the beauty of it all. Maybe the next time I see an accident, a person in distress, a road fight, I’ll actually stop and help. Maybe the next time when the man with the luggage bangs into me at the station, I’ll actually turn around and confront him. Hell, maybe if that man had an extra two hours in his day, he’ll actually stop to apologise. Maybe I’ll take the time out to smile at random strangers, in the hope it makes their day better. Do you really remember what the sky in Mumbai looks like? All I remember of the sky in this city is high-rise buildings and construction. Maybe I’ll go outside, and just spend some time looking up at the sky, and the stars and the moon. Maybe I’ll take some time off in my day, time which is not about me, about money, about work, about commitments, but instead about time, and life, and space. Maybe I'd be less cynical. Maybe I’ll be a better person, and live the rest of the twenty four hours in my day in a more humane way than I do now.
Maybe so will others, with their two extra hours.