The other day, I took an earlier bus to my office. This bus had its last stop at a school and was subsequently full of little school-going kids. These kids were around 5-8 years old and were having a gala time in the bus – jumping, sliding, falling, giggling, singing, pinching each other and so on! A couple of kids kept walking up and down the aisle to meet friends and to probably find a cure to restless feet. As the bus braked, accelerated, swerved, one of the kids kept falling everywhere, and was evidently enjoying it. Being winter, he was properly padded up in thick clothing and didn’t seem to mind the bumps. He looked like a rookie seaman on a ship in stormy weather. As he fell on his friends, they all burst out laughing together. The best part was when he got up, and as if replaying a heroic deed, said “und jetzt, wiederholung!” (and now, action replay!). With these words, he went into slow motion, replaying the scene when the bus swerved again. Zooming back to real-life speed now, he fell down again – another explosion of laughter followed! Incredibly innocent and adorable.
I compare this with most of the other buses I generally take – company shuttle buses and city transport buses: filled with only employees or a mix of employees and other adults, generally on their way to work. When in India, to avoid traffic in Bangalore, I had started taking earlier buses too. Several times, I would be parallel to a school bus full of kids. And as we moved ahead slowly, the difference was stark. In my bus, grown-up, bored, aloof, corporate people, reading orange colored financial newspapers, worrying about something or the other. In the bus to my right, a big group of kids laughing, smiling, talking with each other rather than with their electronic gadgets, jumping, generally being happy. The kids were doing all sorts of things – staring out of the bus, some were eating in the bus, a couple of them were singing songs and a few of them were throwing a “ball” made out of their handkerchiefs. Meanwhile, I sat in the midst of grumpy people who looked like they were being forced to go to work against their wills, who were tired and indifferent towards everything right in the early morning. Someone who was living for tomorrow; a tomorrow which would never come. As opposed to a Today which will always last.
As both buses crept along in parallel, I wondered when and why we choose the paths we do.
Could we not combine child-like simplicity, joy and curiosity and merge it with the good grown up qualities? A mixture of the two, maybe?