Saturday was a rainy day. I was returning home on the overground. A lot of people left the train at shoreditch. A number of seats opposite me were suddenly vacant. A pretty girl, plainly dressed sat down in front of me, her black hair wet from the rain. She sat there self consciously, her hands fidgeting. A handsome lad was seated next to her, absorbed in his phone. She took hers out too. And then breaking from protocol, she asked the boy sitting next to her for help with something on her phone. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world. He replied helpfully and solved her problem. She thanked him with a nervous laugh. And then they both didn’t know what more to say so tried to go back to their lives. Except that they both sat there blushing stupidly instead of diving into their phones.
I realise I have been ignoring my blog and feel quite guilty about it because I feel the need to document things. I feel life goes by at such a hectic pace that when we look back (atleast when I do) I can only think back to the most recent events. So this post is just going to be a series of unrelated things.
Like more beauty on the overground – a heaving doggie, a lovely cream-coloured bulldog wearing a pink collar and a light green leash, pulling the girl holding it rapidly through the train. She sat about with an inquiring look, sniffing the air and looking into the faces of other passengers. Breaking from all London tube etiquette, our little lady trudged up to people looking for love and pats, which many very happily gave her, perhaps happy to deviate (if only for a few moments) from the stifling protocol.
What is it with people in this city? Why are smiles so rare? And even rarer in smaller, more intimate spaces. During my weekend class yesterday, I asked a fellow student something and she almost looked shocked to have been addressed. Her answer was clipped. Walking into class, after a break, I caught someone’s eye. I smiled. He hastily looked down into his phone. Why are people so afraid? What are they so afraid of? That I might make conversation? The whole atmosphere is cold, no one talks to anyone else. People are busy with their gadgets. It makes me so sad. You actually need to have a good reason to talk to someone, a friendly hello doesn’t cut it anymore.
I preferred to eat my lunch outdoors yesterday as it was slightly warmer than it has been recently. A couple of pigeons were bobbing about, dodging humans, looking for some morsels to eat. I gave them some of my lunch. So nice to look at the world going by. I have to learn to eat outdoors more and less at my desk.
I recently went for my first opera ever, Puccini’s La Boheme. Honestly I was quite down and lonely that day and tried desperately to palm off my ticket to one of my colleagues but seemingly it was a big day for football and no one was interested in a single ticket. I went reluctantly, and was seated in the balcony in an aisle seat. It was magical, I had goosebumps listening to the beautiful voices. I sobbed unreservedly (though the usher was standing near me and I was pretty much under one of those dim lights that is one of the only ones left one in the whole place).
This morning was great. What initially seemed like clouds tossing off billions of flakes of dandruff turned into a white cover all – cars, roads, trees, everything. It was like Nature went into her photo editing software, de-saturated stuff, increased contrast levels. Oh it was lovely. Those silly little giddy flakes giggling down, swirling and settling about gently, tickling my face as I part walked, part glided and part slipped to the bus stop. (One went right up my left nostril).
In the train today, there was this lovely girl sitting opposite from me. What made her so lovely was the perfect image she made on this wonderful morning. She was fresh faced, with creamy flawless skin and she had just dabbed on some blush. Her features were not sharp or striking but very gently appealing. She had dark hair. But this really isn’t about her physical beauty. It was all the colours she wore, and the texture of everything. An offwhite lacy blouse, covered with an olive green sweater and over that a soft, red hoodie jacket. She had pink wellies on her feet, with white polka dots. She’d taken off her light brown faded, worn coat and it was lying about behind her. She had a black cloth bag on the seat next to her and a small grey soft backpack on her lap. Her little red and yellow umbrella held on to the Overground’s bright orange rod with its curved handle. After she’d dabbed on her minimal rouge (and thank godness for no garish eye make up), she put on her black rimmed glasses and took out an old, yellowing book and began to read it. It must have been very funny because she kept suppressing laughter. The colours and the general softness of this image were all so appealing – I could barely look away. I really wished I had my camera with me so I could ask to take her picture. I’m not sure she would have appreciated it though and besides there’s that golden rule on the tube, thou shalt not attempt conversation with a stranger. Nicht. This made me wish I could paint or draw, and envy those who can. Seriously, looking at this scene had literally given me the same feeling I get when I look at a painting that I love.
There were other people opposite as well who could have also potentially complimented the composition. A couple of seats next to “the vision”, was a young couple, very evidently tourists given their plastic see-through folder holding maps and paper prints. They spoke Spanish and the girl had on a red backpack which they must have opened a million times to retrieve and store back a piece of paper with directions on it. After a few stations when they got off, they were replaced by a nervous teenage girl in a pink raincoat. To the far left of the frame was a man dressed in black who seemingly didn’t care about public scrutiny and happily took photo after photo of himself with his i-phone, smiling and tilting his head this way and that.
You know that feeling when time takes on an elastic quality and makes you feel like you’re floating slowly. It also lulls you into believing you will be the only one to show up at work today given all the disruptions that Dave and Lisa have been going on about on the breakfast show on radio. Of course when you get to work, everyone’s already been there for an hour and it’s a full house. Shit.
The vision and I got off at the same station and she went off into the crowd in a different direction. As I waited for the next train, an excessively painted,grumpy woman stood next to me, dressed all in black. Stark contrast. Ugh. I wasn’t ready for this after the unexpected dose of beauty.