Sunday, November 14, 2010

The baby in the Metro coach

The other day I was travelling by the Metro train in one of their brand new ladies coaches (Aren’t we lucky we have dedicated coaches for our gender?). It was around 10.30 in the morning and the coach wasn’t much crowded. Since there were no vacant seats, I was standing. There was this baby girl, around one and a half years of age busy playing and strolling around the coach. Her mother, who was sitting was having a hard time in making the baby sit on her lap. She was a hyperactive kid and wouldn’t listen to her mother. This kid had a milk bottle in her hand and was running around the coach as she would do in her own home. Meanwhile, all the ladies in the coach were having a nice time watching the baby’s antics. Since she was a little kid who had probably just learnt how to walk, she tended to lose balance whenever the train stopped or moved and there wasn’t a single lady who hadn’t held her to prevent her from falling. She had become the star of the coach! I, on my part, was just watching the whole thing and didn’t try to hold her even once coz I knew the other girls standing next to me would anyway do it. May be the reason behind my apparent lack of interest was the fact that I was not in a good mood that day, so I simply avoided the baby though I did smile at few of her actions.
If you are one of those who has no idea how the metro coach looks from inside, this is how it looks:
 Suddenly the baby went towards one side and started touching and tried to explore some random technical black component on the side of the coach. An aunty who was delighted with this act of hers, commented to her mother, “Badi hokar technician banegi” (She’ll grow up to be a technician). I almost wanted to tell that aunty to spare her from the adult world ideologies of what’s right for the kid. For Chrissake, she’s just a toddler. Why can’t these people keep their unsolicited suggestions to themselves and just let the kids do their own thing? Will they never learn? ‘N’ number of movies have been made on the subject, but they’ll never stop imposing their views, even if the kid has just barely learnt how to talk. 
In the meantime, I got a seat right opposite her mother and was watching the whole thing. All this while, the baby had failed to notice me. Then it happened! The baby looked at me and then at my hands. She looked intently for about 15 seconds and then came running towards me. It then occurred to me that she had taken a fancy for my phone, which is nothing but a poor Nokia 6300. Though it looks just about fine, the phone is so battered that I’ve to keep it’s body tied with a rubber band to avoid the parts from falling off (Yeah, I’ve never found out the time to repair the damn thing!). Mind you, dear readers, there were much better hi-tech cell phones in the hands of better looking girls inside that coach, but this little girl, who till this time was happy in her own world, playing, running around, shaking that milk bottle in her hand, laughing and making the women in the coach laugh along with her had to get enamored by my tattered phone! She tried to take the phone from me, obviously expecting that I’ll give it happily to her. But deep inside my mind, I was wondering what made the little thing fall for my phone. Was it the green colored rubber band tied around it? Every other woman’s eyes were on me. The coach was silent. The girl who was the star till now made the spotlight turn to me. My mind raced in those few seconds: should I give it to her or not was the question. Moreover, I had to get down at the next station. With little time left with me and the baby on the verge of crying seeing my not-so-favorable response, I was in a fix! I finally decided not to give it in her hands but let her touch the thing. But can that satisfy a baby? No. A baby likes to possess the thing that catches her fancy. They love to take it in their own hands, touch it, smell it, taste it, twist it and after getting the hang of it, throw it. That’s their psychology.
And here she was surprised by my attitude (obviously, she was used to adults giving in to her demands), she tried to snatch it from me once, twice, thrice, but the only thing I let her do was touch the phone. I was conscious of the many eyes on me and was confused whether I was doing the right thing. How was I to know that out of all the ladies present there, she’ll come and make me the center of attraction?
Then she did what kids her age are best at- she started crying. Infact, she howled and went up to her mother making a complaining face. I was embarrassed. I never wanted her to cry and had tried my best (in that limited time) to do what was best, for me and her! Almost by reverse reaction, I gave the phone in her hands but women around said she may drop it off, so her mother gave it back to me. I hid it under my bag and tried to show her that it vanished into thin air (You got to behave like a kid with kids!) But as if mocking me she cried even more loudly. I was feeling bad for inadvertently being made the reason behind her crying. Inane it may sound, but wasn’t the kid happy all this while till she laid her eyes on the stupid phone?  I looked around to see the ladies’ reaction: some smiled, some empathized, some let out a sigh, and some sat expressionless. 
Her mother was consoling the kid by telling her that the phone actually did vanish and that it no longer existed in my hands. I on my part was showing her my empty hands, hoping this would silence the kid. It then occurred to me that the train had halted at my station. In the melee, I had completely forgotten that this was the station I had to get down at. Before the doors could close, I rushed out picking up my bag and the phone, almost running in daze with questions looming in my head-
Was the mother thinking that her cheerful kid had to cry coz of some random stranger? What was so special about the phone that caught her attention when there were better looking and colorful phones around in girls’ hands? Did the green rubber band make it look so special in her eyes? Did I do the right thing? Should I have given the phone to her to play? But I had to alight at the next station! What were the other ladies thinking? Why would anyone think anything? However funny it may sound, out of all the ladies present in the coach, wasn't I made the scapegoat, and that too by a baby?
Then realization dawned:
1. People don’t think about you, as much as you think they do. Most of the time, they are busy and concerned only with themselves.
2.      You are not that important to others (read: people who don’t know you/strangers/random people you travel with on public transport).
3.      Kids are like that: they’ll cry at the drop of a hat. You don’t have to feel sorry for yourself if they cried in your presence coz of you. They just need a reason sometimes. That isn’t a deciding factor whether you’ll be good or miserable with them when the situation arises.
4.      The adults will never stop forcing career decisions on kids, no matter what their age is. They may even forecast it the moment they are born.
5.      You tend to over-estimate yourself sometimes and imagine others noticing and judging you. In reality, it doesn’t happen.
And the last one:
6.      You have to be really jobless to write such a long post on a trivial incident like this and jot down lessons learned from it.
Incidentally, it also happens to be the Children's Day today. Ah! Only kids can get their way around anything.