I like the train journeys more than any other form of transport. Lots of thoughts come to my mind only when I travel in the train. You are pretty relaxed observing the scenery outside incase you are travelling through the suburbs or country side. Watching sunrises and sunsets from the train is not an everyday treat. The feeling cannot be described when you watch the bright red globe appears to race between the trees, mountains and building. For a brief moment when you get a clear view, you will forget to blink………more pictursque is the view of the early morning sun just above horizon streaked by thin clouds. I used to wonder, cant the whole day be as beautiful as the sunrise?
Urban train journeys are not pleasurable, lots of people travel by train to work during rush hour jam packed into coaches. I happened to be at a train terminus during a rush hour. When an empty train came into the station people rushed into to grab the seats so that they spend the rest of the journey with comfort. There is nothing new I noticed in this behaviour but the one which I observed for the first time was the way in which the people occupied the seats. I expected the seats to be occupied sequentially from the first seat to the middle row of the seats which are equidistant from another set of doors. Say the coach had seats numbered 1 to 100 with three doors front at no 1, middle at 51 and back at 100. People entering front door should have occupied 1,2,3 so on, people entering the middle should have occupied 50,49,48 or 51,52,53 so on, but I noticed something different. The first seat was occupied, then the middle one, then the middle of the first and the middle and so on until all the seats are filled only by filling the middle seats in between occupied seats. The seat number 1 was occupied then the next person chose somewhere in 20, the person after that chose in the 10s and next one chose between 1 and 10. The coach was full in less than a minute and there were no seats left empty, yet why did people choose to occupy the farthest seat from the next person even though the train is going to be full. Is that few seconds of sittting alone is valuable?
I got an answer when reading for the exams, humans have a space bubble built around them. This is classified as public, social, personal and intimate space. As far as possible the personal space territory will be defended by all people. It gets breached only incase of other things getting higher priority. This is explained by the way seats were occupied, people tried to keep as much distance as possible from the strangers, but when the number of vacant seats became less they were more willing to sit next to a stranger. When the train was overcrowded they didnt mind standing brushing against each other. From that day onwards whenever I visit some places like cinemas and auditoriums, I keenly started noticing the way the seats are occupied. Quiet astonishingly it is occupied the same way almost every where.
I told to myself and conciously avoided to follow the midway theory, so when I got on to a train to my native late in the evening I occupied a seat next to a stranger in a sparsely crowded coach. For a while he pretended to look for someone and then eventually went out of the train just to come back and occupy a different seat. I know, the midway theory is working.
Which seat will you occupy when you board a train? I guess the answer is quite obvious, the middle seat.