I was advised to not miss a visit to the Victoria peak in Hong Kong by tram. And I didn’t. However, I didn’t find tram not-to-be-missed mind-blowing experience. The view from up there was absolutely mesmerizing. The view from tram was interesting. But the experience of getting in the tram was painful. Those were the longest two hours of my life.
I love high viewpoints. I love the views at dawn and dusk. I love the night views of big cities. In my unplanned Hong Kong trip, the only thing on my must-do list was Victoria Peak by tram.
Like any other tourist, charmed by the thought of a brilliant viewpoint and an interesting ride, I went strolling down the streets of Hong Kong in search of the Tram station. I walked through the city during the day and planned to reach the peak late in the evening to catch the sunset view. I was comfortably oblivious to zillion other tourists.
I was directed to the beginning of the queue across the road under a bridge. I stayed under the bridge for almost an hour walking over every inch of that little square. This was followed by another hour over another tiny square next to the ticket window and then the unstructured herd at the platform.
It was hot, humid and noisy. Needless to say, the queue moved slowly. It was uncomfortable and painful, especially to my shoulders from carrying a heavy camera bag and my legs from dragging me over that annoyingly short distance of less than 100 meters in a span of two hours.
While waiting in the queue, all I could do was observe, watch or meditate. I was the only single tourist there. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t feel alone or lonely. I was surrounded by a sea of people. No one looked like me but no one looked down at me with the disgust or fear reserved for strangers, dark skin and single women. No one came alone but no one carried a question or suspicion in his or her eyes landing on a solo female tourist in the queue. However, no one even tried to smile at others or talk to anyone outside their groups. Everyone was busy in friendly chatter or trying to find innovative ways to deal with humidity and the monotony of standing in a never-ending queue.
The monotony was overwhelming. The only thing that kept me going was the need to see the view from the peak. In the initial moments, my mind tried to bring back some memories from past or plans for future. What else could it do? Initially the thoughts were from my recent past, disappointments and pains of my life. But the emotional pain couldn’t keep up with the unimaginable amount of free time offered to the idle mind. It moved to future plans. It fabricated scenes and plans to deal with the upcoming challenges. There was still more idle time to deal with.
Sometime soon enough my mind gave up. Nothing mattered anymore… the emotional pains of the past or the fears of the future. The need to cry or complain or forgive was gone in the first fifteen minutes I think. All that mattered was to get through the queue and reach the top. I just observed the world around me and kept taking the next step when the queue moved. I just moved forward, one step at a time. The fragile ego didn’t care about the hurts; and the pains failed to bring up any feelings. In that moment, everything was forgiven simply because forgiveness has no meaning in the absence of pain. The past professional achievements and future dreams didn’t stir anything inside. Life didn’t loose its meaning, but the mind lost its ability to ponder on the meaning of life.
Nothing was important enough in the monotony of those two hours. I went through a similar experience a day after in the queue for cable car to Ngong Ping Village. The distance was longer and the queue was faster. By now my mind was experienced. It gave up as soon as it entered the queue. It said rudely, ‘don’t irritate me with your silly life problems… let me enjoy the view and the breeze.’
Monotony of queues gave me a new life perspective. The pains of lost love or ego-crushing humiliation of failures or the egotistical accolades for professional achievements or self-congratulatory notes on beauty and intelligence or the self-pity on physical ugliness and deformity or any other form of absolutely irrelevant emotion that basically arises from ego and a sense of self with respect to others didn’t matter. I wondered if nothing really matters. Most of it arises from the imaginations of your mind. None of this is real. When your mind is not bothered to feed you with images or create thoughts, you cannot perceive reality… any version of reality. Most of your life story comes from how you perceive your version of reality basis how your mind plays with imagination. The moment you realize all of this is a game, you can influence your brain to create thoughts, images and change your reality and your life story.
The tragedy can become comedy. The ego or self can be redefined. The hurts or pain can be turned to humour. Emotions like envy or greed can lose their meaning. Love can become an easy choice.