"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan

with due credit to the true owner of this image copyright
Whenever I travel the train alone, I prefer the upper berth. Maybe to catch a bird's eye view of my compartmentalized world below or may be to just stay aloof in mine own lonely world. Every train journey, though,  is still a mixed bag of experiences for me as it mirrors our lives in the noisy camaraderie of a bustling crowd. Statistically seeing, Indian Railways has mind numbing facts and figures. They also have a hugely popular fan club website, which is meticulously maintained for decades now. One of the most powerful British legacies left behind, trains have shaped our country's image and evolution in many ways. They are the arteries and veins of our economy.

I take a moment to look down from my berth just to see a vivid collage brimming with life. There are families from different cultures and social backgrounds all swimming together into one pool of discussion. Packed lunches  shared, garnished with smiles. Two people, who supposedly have never met before, try to guess each others thoughts in a game of chess - that is slowly building a fan club of passers-by. A newspaper is put to the best use, with both sides being read by many people at the same time. Someone in the corner wears a headphone, seemingly cut-off from the rest of the cabin, suddenly chuckles proving that she is on a call and thanks to air-waves, in a remote social world of her own. I hear people discuss events, politics, sports, weather, mom's recipe and even personal issues. Some even exchange contact information. Finally, the music of bhajans floating from a nearby cabin makes the picture complete. Every train compartment is a miniature India in its own. Come another station and newly made friends separate and a new wave of action washes in.

The first thing we learn in school is that man is a social animal. One needs to travel by Indian Railways to witness overwhelming proof of this simple fact. As I sit pondering over my lonely thoughts, looking deeper and deeper inside myself, I wonder... am I missing something? did I happen to forget my fundamental lessons in life?
2009 will be remembered by lot of us as the year when market economics brought the world down to its knees. In a scientific sense, it was the subprime mortgage crisis that started it all.. but in a more common sense, it was corporate greed that booby trapped multitudes of common people into pompous dreams.The middle class, made vulnerable given their herd mentality, was always an easy target to fox. Like how a fox pushes a herd into the territory it wants them to go..

Recently I was reading an article on CNN written by one of those victims of a loan foreclosure and it was very heartening to see how at the grassroots level losing a home destroys the lives and psyche of families. For those of us who can afford mostly just one house in a lifetime, it means a lot more than just 4 walls. For the bank and real estate guys, it could be just a deal, an investment strategy, a long term returns scheme or a lifelong installment plan. But for the family, its a dream come true, its a nest where they bond with each other, a cradle which provides warmth to their hearts, a temple where they worship their belonging to each other and to their house. For such a family, it would be devastating to lose a house. 

We, the common people, just want to live out our days in harmony and social bliss and suddenly we are made to feel like a crowd - an overburdening population - that is forced to work in a competitive environment, that is forced to always be innovative to survive. There is so much of stress to differentiate oneself in today's world (or in more colloquial terms - to stay ahead of the rest) that a lot of us tend to lose our inbred identities in pursuit of the rat-race.

Why did we have to complicate our lives so much? Why are we moving towards a world where 'Invention is the mother of Necessity'? Is it really so important to possess the latest generation iPod that plays hi-fidelity music downloaded over high-speed mobile network using bluetooth connection built into your car? Can't we appreciate life in its pure and unadultered state?

The CNN article just reiterated how life is still defined by simple pleasures and not by mastering the overly technological grid that we have complicated ourselves into. I don't know when those days of finding peace in communion with nature will come back to us!