Saturday, April 04, 2009

Tube Zodiac

I have lately stopped reading my book in the tube. I find it for more interesting to watch other people while listening to the latest hindi ‘gaana’


Like Ms Goodman chooses to classify people into 12 broad categories, we can classify the tube commuter into 12 broad catergories:


The Ram: The ram bulldozes his/ her way into the crowded compartment and yells at the top of their voices ‘Move alonnnng, please’. Yes, dear ram, we needed you to tell us that, otherwise, we just so love to leave vast expanses of unoccupied seats and standing space, all to huddle together on the 3 square feet of space you need to occupy.


The Bull: The bull just goes a step further and pushes you out of the way. One needs to be especially wary of the female variety, as they just zero in on the seat they’ve spotted through the window. PLEASE, for your own safety and for the safety of those around you, jump out of their way! Once they are comfortably seated, of course, they’re the most pleasant things to have around.
The Twins: These are generally of the adolescent variety, and one is seriously tempted to urge them to get a room. They are so entwined that it is hard to decipher where one ends and the other begins. The upside to this, of course is that they occupy one seat instead of two, or if standing, will stand collectively on only two feet at a time.
The Crab:  we tend to spot the crab at most major interchanges. They dart in, espy two-odd seat in different direction, mentally calculate the distance from the door to the seats, pick the closer of the two, and with some deft maneuvering (that can only be describe as ‘crab-like’) he’s sitting pretty, while others are still struggling to get in.
The Lion: The lion is not afraid to voice his opinion. He’ll have an opinion on the services, on Gordon Brown, on the recession, on the weather, on you...and it’s this last bit that particularly galling, because he’ll be there ‘tch’-ing at the bull, rolling his eyes at the Ram, hissing at the twins… you get the picture. Watching his back must be a full-time job for him.
The Virgin: This is someone you’d like to unleash the lion upon. Super –critical doesn’t begin to describe them. They’ll be the ones running their finger over the window sill with a raised eyebrow. A 30 second delay in departures with have them impatiently looking at their watch while tapping their feet. God forbid, you choose to jump into the tube seconds before the door shuts, then you’ve really had it – You will be root cause of any delay henceforth, be it signal failure or a man having a cardiac arrest 3 trains ahead. You Were The Cause. And the Virgo won’t let you forget it. Maybe there’s a reason they’re Virgins?

The Balance: These ones would do you proud on a footboard in a Mumbai local. They’ll be the one’s standing near the door, first to hop out as soon as the train stops. No, not just at their station, but at every station – they’re also the last to hop in. At every station. Why they do this beats me, but I suppose it give them a warm afterglow to know that they have successfully shaved 1/625 th of a second off their travel time in a day. 

The Scorpion: Beware the scorpion – they strike when least expected. Largely prevalent in shady locations, they normally move in herds.  Their sting, also called switchblade swiftly deprives you of your most prize possessions, and they melt way into the night, never to be seen again.
The Archer: The archer loves to, well, ‘arch’. He arches over you to get at the newspaper, arches over to open the window, arches over to grab the hand-hold… erm, hey, archie, newsflash: believe it or not, shoving smelly armpits in peoples faces is not the best way to get them to like you. In fact, it might surprise you to know that it has quite the opposite effect (yes! Really!)
The Horned Goat: Or the tube lothario. Normally, despite being hampered by a severe shortage of it, people are quite respectful of each others’ personal space, but the horned goat delights in getting up close. This is because under normal circumstances, the ladies would rather join a nunnery that be caught having a conversation with the goat. With some faces, even that mother of all beauty creams – beer, fails miserably.
The Water- Carrier: Thanks to the miracles of modern science, pregnant women can now work further and further into their term. Now if only science could find something to calm co-passengers and they get more and more nervous. The reason for this, is not that they’re worried about the health of the mother and baby, but more on account of the fact that if the water- carrier turns to the water-breaker, there’s a good chance that they might miss the kick-off of the football game they’re going to. Would make a grown man cry, it would.
The Fish: Ah! The fish! Commonly sighted at Pubs, other tube zodiacs magically transform into the fish after football matches, weekends, hours of hard partying, stag dos, weekends, rugby matches & weekends. Look out for the fish’s tendency to assume everybody’s their best friend, a total lack of co-ordination (like the inability to put food into the right orifice in the face), the inability to find their home, and hence, assuming that you’re their best friend, now that they have known you for all of 38 seconds, they can crash at your pad for the night. Naturally, if you’ve transformed into a fish as well, you will not remember any of this the following morning.