So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young
So I play the numbers game to find a way to say that life has just begun
Had a talk with my old man,
Said ‘help me understand’
He said ‘turn 68, you’ll renegotiate’
Don’t stop this train, Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in
Don’t think I couldn’t ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly we’ll never stop this train
Such goes the John Mayer song as I stand on the colossal moving walkway at the DIC Metro Station. People around me skip and hop three stairs a step, but nay – this is what I like doing. My momentary rest on the so called rat race that we are all a part of. I look around to the see the melting pot that is the DIC Metro station. Arab, Filipino, African, Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, White, Black and what not. This is the pseudo-launch pad connecting the glitz and glamour of the Corporate Zoo– all the stretch from Sheikh Zayed Road to Jebel Ali – back to our cramped living quarters tucked away in the innards of Dubai. This is a point of sensory overload. Sounds of running feet, beeping doors, rolling wheels, Nokia tunes and blaring headphones. Odors of perfume, sweat and Clorex floors. Strangely enough, its all very ‘hush-hush around here, and the only audible human voice heard is the prerecorded man’s voice on the public announcement.
“The train to ‘Rashidiya’ will depart from ‘Rashidiya’ platform.
I flip out my RTA card like an FBI agent swipe it against the gates – just like a million times before and run into the already closing doors of the Bur Dubai bound Metro. Metro trains are spaced 5 minutes apart, and they are the commoner’s chariot. 4 Dirhams and 10 Fils for a really long ride. I take my usual place – The connector between two bogies. The shakiest and noisiest part of the train, my favorite– Ironically maybe to remind the thousand times I have travelled back on forth between Bangalore and Kochi in India on Kanayakumari and Kochuveli Expresses. There is a certain advantage to standing here – one of the best of them being ‘the view’
OK, l’l admit it. I have recently taken to watching people and their doings – inspiring, intriguing, indulging. The fuel for my blogs, the want to witness the subtle yet screaming proof of God’s substance of variety in each being he has fashioned.
I look around.
I wish I could read the minds of the sea of faces that I am bobbing between. Weary faces after a hard day’s work. Creases etched deep into the faces of the employees who have to smile at every different and indifferent customer. Excited faces of the young interns who’ve managed to combine spikes and ties and have matching laptop bags as well. Angry faces of the ones who has seen injustice and under-rug-swept partiality at offices. Far away looks of the smartly dressed who sacrificed their youth on the altar of the Corporation’s profitability. Dejected faces of the bachelors who have missed this month’s money transfer home. Expectant faces of the family men and women to rush back to their children and wives. Tired faces of the spinsters who know it’s their turn at cooking dinner for the 9 others in the studio apartment they share.
Blackberry and Iphones are more than just what they are in a metro. They are the solace in the loneliness of a maddening crowd. People around me flip through them, flip again and flip once more. Toggle around the buttons for nothing. D&G sunglasses that hide the setted sadness in their eyes. Then there are the earphones to plug out the flashing world around them. The louder, the better.
Oh how I wish I could read their thoughts. How I wish I could just shake them out of their stupor.
Absurd as it may seem – this is the scene that I choose over the sunset behind Burj-al-Arab to dwell upon, as I pass it by. There is such profound beauty in every face, and it is as if their souls are personified in these moments. And I realize this is how, maybe, maybe, God looks at the crowd in a late evening metro as I pull back my burdened heart’s deep urge to go ahead and absurdly hug every one of them.