Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Do you know why the standard gauge length of the train is 143.75 cms or 4ft 8 & 1/2 inches.

Currently reading Paulo Coelho's "The Zahir". I feel that it's a book bearing the author's experiences and provides insights in to his thinking. A must read for anyone who has a spiritual( what did u say ?? ) inclination. Will share some of the learnings from the book from time to time.

One of the impressive takes from the book is about a question the author raises in the book. He wonders what would be the distance between the 2 tracks of a train(gauge length) . He finds out that the distance is 143.75 cm or 4ft 8 & 1/2 inches. He wonders why the distance cant be a whole no say 150 cm or 5 ft so that it will be a easy number to remember.

On further googling one finds the truth that , it was the Romans who decided the gauge length to be 143.75cms or 4'8 & 1/2''. Really, I'm not joking. It goes like this: The standard gauge length we use today is 143.75cms or 4'8&1/2'' because the distance between the wheels of the tram-ways was 4'8 & 1/2''. And why that length for tram-ways because the distance between the 2 wheels of a chariots driven by horses was 4'8 & 1/2''. And why that. Because the roads which the Romans had laid was of the width 4'8 & 1/2''. So here we are amidst all the technological advancements, are still adhering to the rules set by the ancient Romans.

Now thats something which isn't of much bother to us or for anyone. Who bothers if the distance is 4'8 & 1/2'' or 5'. But what set me ticking off was the fact that how many of us do still follow certain things laid long back by someone in so many spheres of life. May it be education, fashion, Technology, family... the list goes on. It may vary from person to person, the nature of prescripts each one has, yet there lies a common denominator. We follow certain things as told by someone rather than how we want to follow it. The end result we huff-puff our way through our life, living each of our precious moments living someone's else life rather than living ours. If only each of the person can dare to live according to his/her dreams, the world will certainly be a much different place to live in.

"Have a plan for your life or else life has a plan for you."


Anonymous said...


I'm a big fan of Paulo Coelho! You will love this! He's the first best-selling
author to be distributing for free his works on his blog:

Have a nice day!


P.S said...

@ aart hilal: I too admire Paulo for his insightful lessons. Hey thanks a lot for the link.