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     Volume 12 |Issue 06| February 08, 2013 |


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Life in a Bubble


In a city as densely populated as ours where you can actually smell your neighbour's paan/garlic/morning breath while on the bus, the idea of a little privacy is like a far off fantasy. No matter where you go there are people – hundreds of them - making it impossible to take deep breaths let alone think.

Just try getting into a lift of a hospital. Apart from the jostling of candidates who can get to the best spot – many people think it's where the buttons are because of the control factor – there is the agony of having to hold your breath and look upwards or deep into your phone screen or at someone's feet – for a full minute that seems like eternity. This is because in that closed area it is impossible not to intrude on another person's space and hence those uncomfortable, awkward moments when you just want to be let out of that suffocating rectangular box.

This excludes those people who are as comfortable in a crowded lift/bus/restaurant/ queue, as they would be in their own living room and tend to behave that way. The most common way of showing their intimacy with complete strangers is to talk loudly on their mobile phones, giving orders to their subordinates, shouting at their spouses, outrageously flirting with their paramours or just bragging about how much money they made on a deal for the benefit of all and sundry. There is no concept of personal space for these individuals and hence invading someone else's privacy is as alien a notion as refraining from spitting blindly in a busy street.

The invention of the bubble desk by French designers is therefore a fantasy come true. At present this desk allows a worker to sit inside a 'plexiglas dome' that separates them from the rest of the colleagues but gives the illusion that they are all together because it is transparent. According to a Daily Mail Online report, it comes with a big communal desk, eight Ficus Panda trees, a cloakroom and kitchen. While this may be a little difficult if co-workers need to regularly interact with each other or with the boss the idea is no doubt, quite delicious. Imagine if this could be extended to mobile bubbles so that we could go everywhere in our very own personal bubble to avoid the unwanted closeness of strangers in public spaces. It would mean not having to interact with Nosy Parkers at the doctor's chamber where the indefinite wait entitles people to snuggle closer to you and ask you details of your medical problem and share their own as well. Women, especially could benefit by being spared the seemingly accidental brushing against in the streets or deliberate groping in a crowd that they are often subjected to. Tinted glass would have the added benefit of being protected from ugly, lecherous, ogling too.

In the office, uninvited visitors will think twice before dropping in without an appointment 'to have a chat about their project' because the receptionist will now have the confidence to say 'Akhon Onar Bubble Bondho Achhe' (Sir/Madam's bubble cannot be reached). 'Do not Disturb' or 'Closed until tea break' signs on the bubble could also be introduced.

Parties could be arranged with everyone in a bubble rolling towards or away from each other, with speakers for communal chatting and microphones for one to one gossiping.

It's true many have often been criticised for 'living in a bubble', for isolating themselves from the rest of the world and being unsocial. But in a world where people are literally breathing down one's neck and where one must be connected and available every miserable second of one's existence a spherical shield of Plexiglas seems like an ideal solution to the constant invasion of personal space.


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