A simple train journey puts things in perspective.

The train sped away from the platform just as I reached it. Breathless and covered in sweat, I proceeded to curse everyone from the bus driver who felt the need to halt at every bus stop to the train driver who couldn’t wait a few more seconds.

This was the third time I would be late this week. Thoroughly fuming, I sat down and waited for the next train, wondering if anything would go right that week. I’d lost my wallet, cracked my sunglasses and ripped my backpack in the last three days. I climbed onto the positively overflowing train . Jostling for position I cursed these hundreds of people for choosing to get into my train while there were hundreds of others available. It was then that I noticed the old lady near the doorway crying silently. The look of pure sadness on her face made me forget everything else for the moment. Then the guy standing next to me broke the spell. He was shouting obscenities into the phone. Apparently, some poor bloke lost a few thousand rupees and had to face the wrath of this fellow right here.

Then I took notice of the many others in the compartment, each of them wrapped up in his/her own miseries and anxieties. The sheer magnitude of humanity in that one train suddenly made me stagger. Thousands of people with problems much bigger than my own. There were people who could barely manage a square meal per day, those rushing to the aid of some unfortunate relative...what were my cracked glasses in relation to those?

Here I was, a kid wearing branded jeans, with an iPod in his pocket and a smart phone in the other, having the audacity to be angry at the world because he couldn’t wake up in time while there were people around me whose problems encompassed the whole of their world. I got down at Tambaram no longer angry or depressed. In that one journey of a little more than half an hour, my problems were put into perspective.

The writer is a student of II Year, B.A English Language and Literature, Madras Christian College

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