Wednesday 16 December 2009

People watching

Dear Reader,

I assure you that you shall not be bored if you cultivate the lovely art of people watching. You can do it anytime, anywhere [except the loo and the bath when you are alone (public baths excluded)]. Desmond Morris, British Zoologist and ethnologist popularised the whole 'watching' series. Desmond Morris' books held (and still holds) great fascination for me. But this post is not about Morris as much as its about watching people.

I discovered this streak in me long time ago when I had idle hours at the railway station or the bus-stop. Watching any one for more than a minute makes them look eccentric and funny. Ever noticed how the cobbler looks only at your feet and nothing else. If the feet do not catch his attention, he slowly looks up to the owner of the feet and many-a-times I have surprised him by looking at him and catching his glance.

Another interesting watch: Couples exchanging talks through their eyes. A look/glance is enough to convey the message - Anger, love, irritation, touch - everything is exchanged in a glance. Mothers and daughters also have their glances and looks to convey messages in a crowded place where talking aloud is not possible.

Hurrying people in the railways stations are the funniest of the lot. They scurry, push, swear, forget etiquette and other niceties while rushing past to get into a train. Once inside their demeanour changes to that of a polite, sober and amiable individual.  Now to the inside of a train: I have seen women holding back tears after a conversation over the mobile, dreamy eyed after waving to someone in the station, angry after a talk with someone over the mobile. I have also seen pregnant women who touch their stomach with tenderness.

Children who make people watching fun: Especially when they dig their noses and slyly wipe it on their books, friend's clothes and the bars in the playground. Some babies (toddlers literally)  smile only at certain faces while totally ignoring the others. I have seen babies particularly attracted to smiley faces and hands with rings.

Have you noticed the women and men who clean the floors of the airport. They seem to start off judiciously but once they reach a certain point, the actual cleaning stops and what follows is a pretense of cleaning. The same can be said of people cleaning the railway stations. Seeing beggars 'put on' a blind act and later counting the coins is not something new. But while one observes them doing it, it takes on a new meaning.

Observing is very helpful at many given occasions. If you have not stopped to actually 'see' the people around, let me tell you, you discover your self doing so. Why? For in all those people, there is a part of you. I have been all those people mentioned above at some points of the life lived so far. 


  1. I taught my daughter, from an early age, there's no finer entertainment that 'people watching'. Who needs TV?

  2. Oh yes I am a Big Fan of People Watching!!!

    Airports are the best places to do this. Especially now-a-days. Times have changed.

    Blessings dear one.

  3. Yet another magnificent post from you my dear friend. I can relate to this in the respect of watching nature. There is so much beauty all around and so much magic as well, if we only take the time to look.
    Your description of people is so very accurate and I think few of us take the time to notice so.
    LOVED your last paragraph.

  4. Very well written... and the more observant you are... the better writer you will be... have you ever tried observing someones actions and wondering what the back story could be???

    Its fascinating...

    Cheers... Keep Writing...

  5. So true, people watching for me is in the bus or train. My eyes have no where to wonder except on the people around me. If I were walking along the street, or shopping I don't watch much, becos I would probably lose my footing and slip. Been a klutz lately. Bless you dear

  6. Interesting post. Oh yes, it is actually a fun activity. And what you said about people boarding locals is true! All fighting ends once you are aboard and the train rolls off.

  7. Martin: Thanks for coming by this side. I am glad that your daughter has a lovely parent in you. Drop by often and make yourself at home.

    JBR: Happy to find a kindred spirit in you. Hope you're feeling fine and happy.

    Zuzana: Your kind words are always cherished. You know the art of commenting. I value your visits here.


    The Idiot Blogs: I feel strange to address you like that. Happy that you hvae visited the meanderings. Thanks for the following. Its an honour. I have dwelled on the back stories many times. In fact I do that always. Its nice to imagine what situations could be or have been. Another kindred spirit.

    Gaia: Blessings always. You know watching people often relieves the tension within you. You realise the truth in the saying: "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle, so be kind."

    Vinay: I know that you are also an extensive traveller and so can relate to this post in many ways. Thanks for taking the time to drop by regularly and commenting. Your visits are cherished and appreciated.

    Joy always.

  8. I am ashamed of myself now. I thought I could people watch. But my observations pale before yours. And I could never put it in words as well as you have...

    Lovely post Susan...Its got me thinking!:)

  9. I watch people all the time, except the cases u have mentioned in the post. It's fun and the best part is many don't realise they are being watched, some mannerisms are really funny.... sometimes it's something abt a dress or a shoe or a bag or an expression that catches the attention at other times it is bits and pieces of conversation that we are party to because of the sheer volume of its output....

  10. I'm happy to find a kindred spirit. I just LOVE people watching. Especially at airports. I always make the mistake of cramming my handbag with 3-4 books that I think I'll have the time to read while waiting for the plane (been traveling a lot lately, with long hours at airports), but I never actually get to read more than a few paragraphs. It's so fascinating to watch people and to imagine their stories...

  11. I do it all the time. I think there cannot be a better time-pass than indulging in an art called people watching.Railway stations are better places than airports to see a whole gamut of human emotions.

  12. Ashley: There is nothing to bebe ashamed of. All of us do it in our own way. As for putting it into words, again all of us have different ways.

    Ashes: Dear one, we share a kindred spirit in so mnay aspects. Hugs.

    Khulud: Mutual feelings vibrate here as well. Books, even I carry but reading is seldom.

    Govind: Nice to see more of you over here. Nothing like people-watching. I wonder how many are looking at us and thinking that we are funny. Maybe I might have seen you as well somewhere here in Chennai :-)

  13. Ah, most poetry evolves from people watching. I once saw a gypsy woman in the train sitting and threading beads onto a chain. It wasn't done with any happiness or tenderness, but just that act was so beautiful, i could have watched her forever. Then there was a traffic policeman who was standing in the midst of a chaotic crowd, with a smile on his face. It just makes one feel better to know that not everybody is grumpy at all times...

  14. I love to observe people. It fun and interesting to watch others.

  15. The truest part of ourselves lies outside ourselves. And that's why watching and listening is so important,

  16. Thank you for stopping by my blog today!! I love yours!! You write beautifully! I will follow!

  17. Sayujya: Yes, most poetry as well as prose evolves from people watching. Your observations are also quite well knit. Have a great weekend Sayujya.

    Shas: We share a kindred spirit. thanks for coming by. Take care.

    Nothing profound: What you have said is quite true. Thats what the last paragraph of my post says. I appreciate your visit. come by when you have the time and inclination.

    Manon Doyle: I cam over from Steve's post. Your art is very soothing and alive. Thanks for coming by.

    Joy always.

  18. Observation! That is life :)
    But there is a thin line bet innocent observation and make others feel suspicious ;)

    Do watch "Following" by Christopher Nolan ! You will like it ..

  19. Thanks for coming by Ajinkya. Been long since you came.

    Take care.

    Joy always.

  20. World's best free entertainment. My favourite location is the restaurant near our house where my wife and I go twice a week for yam char. It's full by 7am, and watching the other patrons, how they wash their crockery [part of the ritual of tea drinking], how they demarcate territory in an environment where everybody has to share a table with strangers, whether people who are ostensibly together talk to each other, is relaxing and amusing and all the better for being the subject of conversation as we sit quietly drinking tea and eating a few dim sum.

  21. Dear Hodgson:

    Wonderful to see your comment. Welcome to the meanderings. I am so glad that there are many who do this in today's world. The dishes you have mentioned sound interesting.

    Take care. Come by more often.

    Joy always,



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