As the rail-bus moved at a steady pace, suddenly time seemed to have transformed itself from the monster it has become to many of us to something more, like well, time. The morning hill breeze and the beautiful landscapes seemed to take me to an era where time was purely a measure of “savouring the moment”.
The irony of living a modern high-tech lifestyle is that one seems to be faced with not just a mere lack but an acute poverty of time. We are given to believe that advances in technology were meant to provide convenience to do the mundane chores and get the ‘best’ out of life. But our daily routine is anything but easy. It is an endless race against time. While performing this mass drill of tight schedules and deadlines, little do we realize that most of the gadgets have taken away our precious leisure; our time to ‘idle’ and watch the grass grow.
Caught up in never ending traffic, impatience and restlessness seem to have become habitual. Seldom do we take our eyes off from the ticking clock to reflect or pause to ponder. While being seduced by modern life, how long will it take for us all to realize the price we are paying – I wondered as we cut across lush green fields over which there was an air of timelessness and serenity. If by now you are getting a little restless and wondering where this essay is headed, what will it deliver, I would like to slow down. Just journey with me.
People onboard were different. They looked me in the eye and smiled. The guard on the rail-bus was a cheerful man and had a friendly word or two to say to every passenger. He needed to get off at each railway crossing to open and close the gates. He seemed to be in no hurry and
did what needed to be done with perfect ease. ‘Would he have spoken to me and
smiled if we were in a huge inter-city train?’ I wondered.
The usual pace of my everyday routine made me feel that the three and a half hours of journey on the rail-bus went in slow motion. The calming greenery, wide open spaces, and the fresh air cast a spell on most of us. The train stopped at many stations enroute, just like how I paused to
ponder enroute. We were one. The rhythm of the train and I.
And passengers got on and off. The manner in which people struck casual conversations with each other seemed charmingly rural. There was a scheduled halt at a little shop by the wayside to give travelers an opportunity to stretch their legs and treat themselves to a cup of freshly brewed tea or coffee. Some of us used this time to explore the driver’s cabin and some of us continued to be quiet, sit and stare.
I remember a quote by Leon Trotsky,
“Anyone in the twentieth century who wants a quiet life has chosen the wrong time to be born.”
Perhaps this is true, and the march of progress seems inexorable… the lovely, slow rail-bus has been discontinued now to make way for a regular broad gauge train. But I can make a conscious choice to opt out of a hectic pace of life to the extent I want; once I care to value my soul, once I realise that there is nothing to lose out on, no price to pay, there really is no price to pay.