My Commute Through DC

From my other blog, published on 08/02/2013

9 years, 11 months, 5 days and counting. That is the time since I’ve been enrolled in the same private school for my education. Since my education is at an end, and I will be leaving my school for good in March, I am already feeling extremely nostalgic. I want to leave this overly-disciplined life and start a new one, a more relaxed one, but the truth is, that a part of me doesn’t want to leave these memories behind. And the most important constituent of this life, is my beloved school. It is pretty unknown, but prestigious, a school for brats really. I have so many memories here. My best and my worst. My friends and my enemies. Fights and parties. That one teacher you love and that one who’s your arch-enemy. The food-fights, the glitter-fights, the catfights. The boys and the crushes. The sports and the games. Running from the vice-principal, and finding good hiding places. Spending half the period in the washroom to escape a boring class. Texting under desks, the list goes on and on.

But the part that effected me the most, would be my daily commute from my home to my school. It is only about 5 km, walking distance really, but the area which I have to pass through, isn’t safe, so I go in my school van. It’s a place from which most of my city’s criminals originate. But it’s the shortest route from one posh colony to another. I have passed through that area, on a bumpy broken road, twice daily for uncountable days of my life. And I have observed so many people there over the years and realised that those people are people too.

I’m not some crazy stalker, but I do like to observe people a lot! And on my route, there are some people that I see almost daily. They don’t know it, but I have pieced together their lives by analysing their expressions, routines and moods over the years.

There is a kid who I’ve seen grow up. He used to sneak “pakoras” from the vendor when he was young. And then he starting renting CD’s from the tiny video store. He would put them under his shirt to hide them, before going to his home, which was in a small flat above the stores. When he became a teenager, he would stand on the road with another bunch of guys, and smoke cigarettes.

Then there is a green-garbed old man, maybe a “peer”, a person supposedly in touch with spirits. He has dirty gray hair and a long beard. He wears the long beads favoured by such men around his neck. Every morning after the morning prayers, he throws pieces of meat, sometimes on top of a building’s roof, sometimes on the road. And dozens of “cheel” birds (birds of prey, might be a specie of hawks, eagles or ‘black kites’, no one really knows) fly over to eat them. Sometimes the birds have to compete with the many stray dogs around. It’s a very interesting view to watch, until a “cheel” smacks on the side of your van. Yes, it has happened…

There are so many people I see, although nobody sees me. There are so many strangers who I know so well. I know their habits and their routines, sometimes even their names. And sometimes, if they aren’t where they are every day, I even get worried and wonder if something has happened to them.

My friends and my teachers, I will always be in contact with them, but these strangers are the ones I will miss the most. These people might be criminals, but nobody becomes a criminal unless they are absolutely made to succumb to crime to fulfil their needs. What I have seen is hope amidst extreme poverty. The old man who takes his grand-children to school, the little boy who takes groceries to his mother every morning before school, wearing his uniform, the boys and girls who don’t go to school themselves but look at our van with envious eyes.

These are the people who will be totally out of my life once I leave school, but I will always remember the lessons they involuntarily taught me. They taught me perseverance, patience, love, courage and most importantly, they taught me that rumours and appearances are not always right.

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