Why I never want to be caught napping


Through the lens, lightly


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Thu 6 Apr 2023, 3:03 PM

Last updated: Tue 11 Apr 2023, 10:33 AM

The other evening, while travelling in the metro, the slick train ground to halt at Internet City. Sitting diagonally opposite me was a young man sporting a fohawk hairstyle, snoring away gently. He’s probably in for a long ride, I’d assumed, and has taken the liberty of napping off because his preferred dropdown station was somewhere far flung, maybe Expo 2020 or Jumeirah Golf Estates. As the PA announced that the doors were closing, he suddenly sprang up and made an ungainly dash to the door, almost tripping in the process, but managed to make it through the shuttering portals just in time. Internet City was his ‘final destination’ and even though he had boarded the train at Mall of the Emirates — a couple of stops ahead of Internet City — he had used that brief interlude to fall asleep.

This is a time in human history when more and more of us are having an ‘issue’ falling asleep: a World Economic Forum report states that 62 per cent world-weary adults worldwide have a problem transporting themselves to slumber land. Speaking for myself, I need perfect ambience and physical fatigue (mental fatigue is a bummer because it keeps me awake even if I’m sleepy) so I really have a huge amount of awe for those who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, those who are part of a minority league that’s keeping the “falling asleep revolution” up and running — and setting new bars day and night. People who nod off with alacrity at difficult venues. At their desk in the workplace cocking a snook at the prospect of The Boss coming to look for them. In buses which are tottering on speed breakers. In trains where there’s a good chance you will miss your station if you don’t remain alert. While sitting with a group of others who are engaged in high-decibel socialising.

I also reserve a huge amount of awe for those who don’t care getting caught napping because, while one indulges in the shuteye, there’s a strong chance you are not on display as your best version. Your mouth may be open. You may be hunched up in a way that’s not particularly flattering. You may be snoring — a ‘private’ sound you’d (ideally) not want others (at times, perfect strangers) to get up-close and acquainted with. The sleepers don’t care a whit if they are caught with their guards down.

A friend of mine — who I am obviously in complete awe of — has a daily nap routine at work. Post-lunch, he tells his team members not to disturb him for the next 15 minutes as he proceeds to doze off at his workstation. “You’ve never had trouble falling asleep at work? Like never?” I ask him every time the matter comes up for discussion.

“Never,” he says solemnly. “Easiest thing in the world. Even my boss is okay with it now, he knows my lunch break equals to eating time + 15 minutes of snooze time.”

A couple of days after the fohawked young man fell asleep on the metro, I found myself in the metro again, on my way to a friend’s place who lives a fair distance away (it was a 25-minute ride, I calculated when I got off). It was late afternoon, my compartment was empty (thanks to Ramadan timings), and the mild March sun, filtered through double-barreled glass, was training down on my spot next to the window. It suddenly felt very comfortable, like I was in a bed of freshly-laundered linen, snuggled under a warm security blanket.

I realised — to my horror — I was about to be caught napping.


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