Most of us are invariably conscious of our fundamental rights and that includes the right to walk or move at our own leisurely pace. We don’t mind nudging fellow pedestrians and co-travellers, conveniently ignoring the discomfort we may be subjecting them to, like stepping on their shoes or hitting their spectacles with our elbow, so that we can surge forward comfortably.
In my school days, my father would tell me the story of a person who, while on his morning walk, would swing his arms vigorously, unmindful of the surroundings, and on one occasion, when he happened to hit an elderly person who was following him and did not repent, had to be politely told that the right to swing his arms ended where the other man’s nose began.
Today, the picture is different. Even pavements are not available thanks to encroachment. Pedestrians are forced to step on to the roads. The streets are bursting at the seams. Young or old, everyone seems to be in a mad rush to get to their destination. Ignoring traffic signals, they weave and dart across the road. Accidents occur and are faithfully reported, but no one takes them to heart as a lesson for observing road discipline.
Less luggage, more comfort goes the old adage. However, today everyone, school-going children, college students, and office-goers, carries a bulging bag on their back reminding one of Quasimodo. It is this luggage that more often than not, hurts passers-by and fellow commuters. Those who carry these bags are oblivious to the pain they are inflicting on others.
The reason is not far to seek. It is a common human trait to turn a blind eye to what is happening behind our backs, forward looking that we are! During the rush hour, while commuting with backpacks, one seldom realises the damage being done — someone is hit, someone loses his handheld device and at times, some are even thrown off-balance. In the process, tempers fly high and heated arguments take place resulting in chaos and confusion.
All this can be avoided, if people moved their bags from the back to the front and carried it like kangaroos, for then they would at least clearly understand where they ‘stand’ and what they are doing. Or people could go back to the traditional way of carrying their bags in either hand though that would mean horizontal growth or sideways expansion.
This brings to mind another way of solving this problem — vertical growth. Why not draw inspiration from Lord Ayyappa’s devotees and attempt carrying bags on our heads? It might look a little odd to begin with, but if we can get some celebrity to endorse the idea, it may become the ‘in’ thing to be. And carrying head-loads is nothing new — porters still carry things that way.