The anatomy of a fall!

Why do things fall? What makes them fall? Sir Isaac Newton gave us the answers a few hundred years ago! However, owing to the (not-so-recent) fall from my motorbike, I’ve been forced to think about the non-mathematical aspects of a fall. More specifically, the incident gave me an insight into what happens “during” a fall.

A fall is usually a two-step process – the loss of balance and a misplaced center of gravity.

The loss of balance usually occurs when in movement, we encounter an interruption to the controlled motion. When at rest, it is usually due to external factors – like a stool cracking under your weight.

A misplaced center of gravity is more an internal loss of bearings. As soon as the loss of balance occurs, our brain tries to correct it by altering our body’s center of gravity. If we are lucky, we manage to avoid the fall when our brain is successful. Many times though, our brain gives up after trying a bit and the body gives into the fall. This is when the mind goes into damage-control – trying to take the impact in a certain position or angle so as to avoid serious damage.

The coolest part of a fall (that I have experienced) is the time-shift that happens during the fall – everything slows down! Read on to know what happened!

That day, on my way back to office after a lunch outing, I was riding at about 60Kmph (~40Mph) while descending under a fly-over. I was riding behind (specifically a little towards the left) of an auto-rickshaw. The driver of the auto took a sharp right (as if to avoid something on his left). Once the auto shifted its line of motion, I saw what he tried to avoid – an ambulance parked right under the fly-over! Reacting, I applied my brakes, only to realize that there was sand on the road which I skid over. Thus began my fall. As soon as I realized I was losing my balance, time slowed down. My mind shifted to damage-control mode.

The first command my mind gave was to let go of the bike – which I did. The bike slid off and I got separated from the machine.

I was still sliding forward towards the parked ambulance. I thought it was probably due to the sand again – what can I do about that?

Next, I wondered what an irony it would be if I had hit the ambulance – would I be taken in the same ambulance to the hospital?

My thoughts were still racing – wow! This is cool!

I had recently bought a new mobile phone. I suddenly wondered if it could be damaged. I then realized I was falling onto my right side and my mobile was in my left pocket – so it should be safe!

By this time, I came to a sliding halt just a few inches shy of the hind tires of the ambulance. I stayed still for a few seconds. Time returned to its original speed. Though all this happened in a matter of about three seconds, it seemed a lot longer than that! Then, I slowly got up trying not to aggravate any injuries that I may have incurred. Thankfully, there weren’t any serious ones – except for a few bruises and torn clothes!

I got up and assessed the damage to my bike – it looked alright. By then, some passersby stopped and inquired if I was alright. One of them cursed the ambulance driver for such erratic parking and the BBMP for the sand on the road, then offered me some water, which I gladly accepted.

Soon after, I started my bike, went to a cloth store nearby, purchased new clothes and returned to office!

Have you played the waiting game?

Waiting...Have you ever wondered what your WQ (Waiting-Quotient) is? How long can you wait before your brain starts scratching the inside of your skull, rendering you irritated and ready to take a bite at the next person who pulls on that last nerve?

Whether it is waiting for someone, or waiting in a queue, or waiting for your station to arrive when you travel – your patience-clock starts ticking! And when it reaches that WQ, it screams out an alarm, blaring from within and in no time your face looks like a bear who was disturbed from his hibernation in the middle of winter!

Based on WQ, there are broadly three kinds of people – The Patient, The Rogue, and The Crank.

The Patients are the people whose WQ is the highest. They are the ones who wait it out. They are usually ones who can detach their minds from the current situation and find something else to think about. Though their WQ is high, it is not infinite. When pushed far enough, they are known to turn into Rouges or Cranks.

The Rouges are people whose WQ is somewhere between that of the Patients’ and Cranks’. Once their WQ is reached, they are generally people who avoid the situation by hook or crook. (Here, I’m not considering the people who avoid waiting – like paying online without standing in the queue – instead, those who avoid waiting in the queue after they are in one) Usually, Rouges are people who ‘bend’ the rules. By hook, to avoid waiting in a long line to buy an economy ticket, they would spend more to buy a first class ticket if they had to wait lesser for the latter. By crook, they may bribe someone ahead in the queue to take their place.

The Cranks are people with a short fuse when it comes to WQ. Their tolerance level is the lowest and they are not as clever as Rouges to find a way out. Hence these people tend to fight it out – many a time disrupting the queue and the harmony for others.

The basic disadvantage of measuring up people using their WQ lies in the fundamental fact that WQ is in fact, a very volatile factor. Likewise, it has to be noted that the above classification is completely circumstantial and subjective. That is, a Patient in one situation can become a Crank in another. (WQ varies from person to person and situation to situation)

I am sure we have found ourselves to be all three at one point or the other. Coming to my inspiration of this post – I played the waiting game today and I was a Patient.

I was waiting at the mechanic for my motorbike to be fixed. I saw a kid enjoy a cake from a nearby bakery and throw an empty box in the middle of the road. That was when the game began. I started guessing who or which vehicle would be first to go over the box.

I ruled out two-wheelers thinking they would easily maneuver around it. The snazzy four-wheelers were also out because they avoid the box thinking it might be filled with nails and burst their tires. The three-wheelers (auto rickshaws) were more careful to avoid it. I said to myself – it had to be a truck where the driver would be least bothered and go over it without hesitating.

However, I was pleasantly surprised that I did not think of it before it actually happened. The box was run over first by a woman riding a two-wheeler! If I had forethought of it, it would have topped my list of possibilities.

I had a nice quiet laugh, and my patience-clock reset.

Have you played the waiting game today? What were you – Patient, Rouge or Crank?