Zen of Commuting

I wrote an article for my companies monthly ‘funletter’. The theme was transportation. Here is the article:

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pic by eirikref (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eirikref/2302281782/)

You might be wondering as to what has Zen go to do with commuting. Aren’t they miles apart? You might ask. Let’s go a step back. Have you ever thought if commuting and transportation are the same? Is it transportation when we go from point A to point B? For example, you go to Goa for a vacation, you wouldn’t consider that transport, or even commute, but travel. Aaah… travel… I hear a sigh. Many people love travelling, and many people hate commuting. Is there anything objectively different in any of these words?

Let me take you back a few years into my past. I have lived in Mumbai for around six years. Obviously, I had become an expert local train traveler. Whether I liked to travel crammed between sweaty armpits, twisted into horrible angles is a different story. What is more important is that I observed people utilizing the commute time. While some people read a novel, some sang bhajans, some even took a nap. I was always puzzled at how anyone can sleep in such mayhem. No wonder that Mumbaikars have ‘efficiency’ as their middle name.
That is an irony of our times. We get bored doing nothing. And then we say we haven’t got any time to relax. What is relaxing by the way? Is it giving our body rest, like we rest our vehicle engines on long rides? Does the body include the mind? I read a joke somewhere, that we from the IT industry treat our bodies like a transportation vehicle for our brains.

All these questions lead to one question-how do we enjoy or utilize our commute time? Part of the answer is in the question itself. If we enjoy our commute, it wouldn’t be commute, but travel. Anyway, I would like to share a few tips that I ‘use’ to enjoy my commuting time:

  • Meditate–Don’t think of work. A major part of your brain’s resources is anyway engaged in driving, so your work problems don’t get much resources of the brain. Well, if it gets, then your life is in danger. Be one with the vehicle, feel each pothole, each rock that comes under your wheel. Accelerate smoothly, empathize with the engine and the gearbox. Would you want to be ridden like you ride?
  • Use vocal horn rather than the electronic one-Meditating daily can be boring. Use the ride for fun. Make people laugh at traffic signals. I usually beep vocally when I have to. A high frequency, low volume “beeeeep,” eight times out of ten gets me a few smiles. Be happy. Happiness is more contagious than swine flu.
  • Play a fun game with yourself-Count how many girls are in traditional outfits and how many are in modern. Or, count how many guys have moustache. Who knows, you might need this demographic information somewhere.
  • Be courteous-Don’t be afraid of bigger vehicles (buses and trucks). Whatever be the size, it is a human that is driving it. Don’t treat smaller vehicles like dirt. Be courteous to everyone. Slow down to let people cross the road.
  • Don’t be a traffic Nazi-Use yourself as an example of a good driver. If someone else is breaking rules, don’t get angry. Give him/her the benefit of doubt. If someone is honking annoyingly and is in a tearing hurry, maybe nature is calling.

Have a happy ride!
Honk. Honk.