Thursday, September 11, 2008

Between 11

WHEN SOMEONE IS EXHAUSTED beyond hope, bizarre things attract that person’s attention. Sights and associated metaphors that otherwise would have had no meaning, suddenly start to seem relevant. They start to get a context. Such an instance happened to me on the way back from work today.

So my day began at 6AM and after five meetings (one of which lasted 2 ½ hours and was on the phone with a developer in the United States), my watch still showed 6. As I later realized it was 6PM. I felt like flinging it under the Metro rail for being so true all the time. But I could not blame the innocent watch for my dying spirit. I could not even accuse it for causing the mind numbing sprain around my right shoulder blade. Somehow, in the desperate attempt to get home and find sanity, I dragged myself into the very busy and ridiculously overcrowded underground interiors of the Metro.

Being a weekday, this place gets bombarded with human entities between 4PM and 7PM. A time when everyone is either getting back to their nest or traveling to the airport (the last stop of that line) with their baggage on squeaky wheels. As I patiently waited for the neon sign to say ‘½ minute arrival time’ I couldn’t help noticing a crescendo of growing human breathes behind me. I was certain that they would push me into the train the moment the automatic doors hissed open so I stood guard to ensure I didn’t get hurt. Or more importantly, didn’t hurt anyone else in the process.

It finally arrived and the doors slid open welcoming a tiny streak of impatient heads attached to uncertain bodies. As we headed in I realized finding a seat was a lost cause since getting a spot to stand was becoming a challenge. I had never seen this train so crowded. What was the matter? I wondered.

As the driverless metro service chugged past grim cement corridors in the tunnel, I looked around me to find dull, bored, emotionless faces hanging low and trying to avoid eye contact. With every pull and shove of the machine, people would quickly readjust themselves to avoid any sort of body contact with the person standing just millimeters away from them. And just like that, somewhere between Christianshavn and Amagerbro … I noticed it.

I was standing holding one of the two yellow bars attached to the automated door and above me was a set of about four other hands clasping the same metal bar. As I tilted my head I noticed a collection of four more unique human hands holding on to the yellow bar at the other end of the door as if their life depended on it. What struck me as weird was not the fact that people were somehow waiting impatiently for their stop to get out of this human pool, but the fact that the collection of hands seemed like a Benetton Ad. Every possible shade was there from around the world – mine, Indian – Caucasian, Latino-looking, Oriental, African, Middle Eastern! So many different races – one bar to hold. I smiled at myself at how a simple thing like public transport had, for a brief moment, brought so many different civilizations into such intimate proximity. We all had to hold on to the bars to avoid losing balance and that was what made it unique. Our unity between those bars was what was keeping us safe, it seemed. I smiled at being so silly and blamed my exhaustion from the day for such weird thoughts.

It was when I got off at my stop did it finally dawn on me – nine different hands on two bars. Two bars standing apart, like the number eleven – 11. I shook my head in disbelief at that odd arrangement. Nine and eleven.



4 reflections:

Madhura said...

Good one on 9/11 incident which left a deep impact and changed the lives of Americans. As the tragic event fades into the history, Hope every body realize your message and imagine the possibility
of a "united human familly".

Innocent Warrior said...

Amazing article!!!

shakri said...


Indeed. Certain moments in history can never be forgotten. 9/11 was one such day. Thank you for underlining the context so well.


shakri said...

@Innocent Warrior

Thank you brother. Glad you liked it.:)