Contrary to popular belief, I don’t sleep for long hours. I sleep at an average of 6-7 hours. It is just that I have an irregular sleeping pattern. Normally on weekdays, I sleep from 12:00-12:30 AM to 7:00 AM and During weekend, I can sleep at 4:00 AM and get up at 11:00 AM-12:00 noon.
Its not that I don’t like sleeping. It just that when its time to sleep, I want to do many things like watching a movie, or reading or writing a blog. Waking up is more of a compulsion rather than a habit. In addition I can wake up in the middle of the night, lay awake on the bed or browse Internet and then sleep again.
Now my erratic sleeping habit leaves me with less sleep and then I need to compensate my sleep somewhere. After all it is said that a man needs 8 hours of sleep everyday. I haven’t found any reference that it has to be continuous 8 hours.
I take a little of sleeping habits from both my parents. My mother can sleep anytime of the day. She just has to lie down on the bed and the next moment she is in deep sleep. My dad was not so much of a sleeping person. Actually he had a very erratic sleeping pattern. He would sleep early and then get up at different times. His most erratic habit was when he would get up at 6:00 AM and then start cleaning the house when all of were desperately trying to get some sleep.
I on the other hand like to sleep late. If there is work I can still wake up early and if I don’t have anything to do, I have been known to sleep long hours. At one time I would reach home at 1:00 AM or 2:00 AM and then be back in the office at 7:00 AM. Sleeping long hours is not a problem. I can sleep on the problem for now.
It takes me 25-35 minutes to reach my office in Amsterdam. Out of the total time, I spent 15 minutes in the metro. It is here I compensate on my missed sleep. Sitting on the comfortable seats, I can get a sound sleep for those 15 minutes. I can be oblivious of the surrounding and go to sleep here. Sometimes when I am lucky, I get a seat on the first station itself. If I am not then after 3-4 station, I am sure of getting a seat.
In India, We had the company bus picking us up from the nearest stop for work. It took me almost 45-75 minutes. As mine was the first stop for the bus to office, I had the choices of seats. After a few trials and errors, I had marked my favorite bus and seat. After all, a long journey needs to be comfortable too.
Before I started my professional life, I would sleep in trains during the long journey’s home from college. Again the travel time was 60-80 minutes. Looking back I guess, I have been sleeping on my journeys for a long time now.
I have no problem sleeping in journeys except that while sleeping, one loses control of one’s body. I am not a big mover while sleeping on the bed but sleeping in the sitting position means more moment with the moment of the traveling vehicle. I always prefer the window seat while traveling so that I can rest my head on the window. While traveling in the train when I did not get the window seat, I would involuntarily lean on the person sitting next to me. At that time, my body somehow would sense and I would wake up with a start with an embarrassing look on the face.
Watching people sleeping in trains, without any support can be real funny. I enjoyed watching these people when they would start leaning on the person next door and trying to find a shoulder to sleep. Some of them would be aware and wake up just in time. Others would be in deep sleep to realize anything. Watching a person sleeping and the other trying to avoid giving him the shoulders is a sight to watch.
A quite nudge serves as a warning to the sleeper. Some are quite embarrassed and try to keep awake after that. Others are too sleepy to just ignore the warning. The person who has to shoulder the responsibility of the sleeping person is the frustrated one trying hard to throw off the responsibility and the person. Watch a sleeping person who is just about to put his head on his neighbor’s shoulder and precisely when the head is about to be rested on the shoulders, the neighbor moves forward or backward leaving the sleeping person without any support. The sleeping person would wake up with a start and look sheepishly at his neighbor while the neighbor would angrily glare at the person.
The best hilarious example of sleeping in a sitting position on a journey is watching Kesto Mukherjee in “Bombay to Goa”. Kesto Mukherjee mostly played the drunkard in movies but this was one role where he is sleeping in the whole movie. He did not utter a single word in the whole movie and still his character is always remembered in the movie.
I was of the former category, being embarrassed when woken up from my swinging sleep. Once in the office bus, I was sleeping by the window. I was already in deep sleep and in my dreams. Somewhere in the journey, I was in my dreams and I guess it must have been a violent dream because I moved my hands to fall on the thighs of the person sitting next to me. I opened my eyes to realize a girl sitting next to me and my hand on her legs. I immediately removed my hands and mumbled an apology. It was good thing that she realized that it was a mistake. The worst part came later when she was working on the same floor as mine. It was so embarrassing facing her everyday. After so many years I like to say
Dear “Girl who sat next to me on the bus”
If you are reading this
I am really sorry for my sleeping that day. I really didn’t mean it and if it makes any difference, I was so scared that I did not enjoy it either.
After that I carry my bag even if the bag was empty. I hold on to the bag or tug my hands into the bag so that they do not wander around. Although I have realized that I had started snoring on some rare occasion. I immediately wake up and hope that nobody noticed.
So all these years while the train passed crowded stations, shanties by the rail track and office buildings and while people discussed cricket match and rising corruption and politician in Mumbai, I slept blissfully. In Amsterdam, while the Metro crossed lush green fields and high rise buildings, while people traveled in silence, while everyone remained warm in the Metro in winters and while the dresses got shorter during summer, i enjoyed my 15 minutes of bliss everyday.
A logical conclusion would be to just sleep on time and wake up on time completing my normal 8 hours of sleep. But then again, what do I do on boring journeys?