The mornings of city-people don’t usually start until after breakfast. The part of the day between waking up and getting onto the usual bus or train is taken care of by their robot versions. During peak-hours, the buses usually have enough space to stand if they’re lucky. Shirt patterns and dried jasmine flowers tucked into thick long braids press against them. The ones sitting sit shut in their minds, locked inside by whichever roll of thoughts the steady rumbling of the vehicle puts into motion. People get on at every stop, and no one gets off.
The majority of the city experiences one of these mornings at least thrice a week. The nights differ, from individual to individual – some live most of their day in the hours between midnight and dawn, their thoughts extra loud, defined and channeled by the silent darkness, and some religiously have dinner at 9 PM and go to sleep at 10 PM. Its the morning routine that’s never broken; unless a place of work or place of learning disappears overnight.
Feet running over a level landscape don’t trip unless hit by a sudden digression from regular plainness. Robot-versions don’t snap out of the practiced movements they’ve been lulled into without something else that breaks routine.
It takes an accidental stumble out of line to do that. A hand thrown out to help. An instinctive question asked, a tentative smile in answer. A remark at an occurrence shared with a neighbor of ten minutes. A boy walking against pounding rain being accompanied home by a woman with an umbrella after having met her halfway. Quiet introductions exchanged.
They’re humans walking human routines. The digression from those routines is humanity itself. Humanity in rare flashes. If a simple interaction, a shared bond of two minutes leaves you wondering about it days later, registers a nameless stranger in your memory as part of a beautiful instant, it makes you wonder what you’re doing the rest of the time.

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