Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 18th 2014 Contents B10
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, September 18, 2014
One morning last week, I returned
to the organised chaos of the Lon-
don rush hour.
Commuting to a job interview in
Westminster was a jolt after a year
away. How people cope with it, day
after day, year after year for their
entire lives is beyond me.
At the bus stop, 20 people stood
in a neat queue. Resisting the urge
to laugh, I joined the end, comparing
it to the disorder of the taxi stands
in downtown Port-of-Spain rush
Queuing for a bus in London isn t
normal; in most areas it s a mob of
people squeezing on when they can.
But, in my middle-class area,
orderliness and social equality rule.
Almost every seat was taken and
my new leather shoes were already
beginning to pinch as I walked
upstairs and to the back of the bus.
It was a grey misty morning and
the weather set the mood for the
Overcome by the stiff awkwardness
of my fellow zombie passengers, I
messaged a few mates: "Getting on
a packed bus to the tube station with
all the other slightly morose people
going to work is a pretty sobering
"And it s distinctly not summer
any more," one friend replied.
"Is it ever summer in this godfor-
saken place?" I asked, only half jok-
ing. "People just silently looking at
their mobile or tablet devices, or sim-
ply contemplating suicide."
As I got off the bus I said thank
you to the driver and smiled, before
realising my mistake: two London
social faux pas in one---talking to a
stranger and being cheerful in public.
Entering the tube station and
descending to platform level, I saw
a mass overspill of people waiting
for a train, who hadn t even made it
on to the platform itself yet. That s
how crowded Finsbury Park station
is, every single morning.
I pictured myself waiting for a Cas-
cade taxi into town under the shade
of the large mango tree at the end
of my road and let out an involuntary
Three trains passed---with people
gradually inching forward, filling what
space was available onboard---before
I eventually got on, standing with
my neck craned and with a man s
rucksack jammed into my spleen. Ah,
transport for London, I ve missed
The tube hurtled on through dark
tunnels, beneath places of note. Its
standing cargo, all facing the wrong
way, turned their faces away from
the spew of dusty, Victorian-era air
billowing through the window,
opened for "ventilation."
It s recycled pollution you re
breathing in. The Victoria line does
not go above ground at any point
along its route, unlike other lines, so
there is no fresh air outlet or inlet.
It is as hot as an oven---like putting
a can of tuna into a microwave.
There were furtive glances---people
looked at each other for a split-sec-
ond then quickly averted their gaze,
ashamed of having made eye con-
tact---unlike the lingering, unbroken
stares of Trinidad.
It s Thursday, September 11, the
13th anniversary of 9/11. People were
a bit nervous of a terror attack as the
national alert status recently went
up a level.
Discarding these morbid thoughts,
I clawed my way off the train and
up the staircase to change lines---
acutely aware that I m walking less
quickly than everybody around me.
Oh gawd! Have I become one of
those annoying slow-walking people?
I m no better than a tourist in my
own city. This is all too much, too
real, too staid. Give me the vomit-
stained Tobago ferry and let me never
complain about it again.
A stack of Metro newspapers
looked up at me, full of lies, spite
and deceit. I ignored them and
ascended into daylight (a sort of grey
smog) at Westminster. The Houses
of Parliament towered above me.
"Welcome home, Josh," said Big
Ben. "We ve missed you."
"I ve missed you too," I replied,
receiving odd stares from passers-
by.An army of commuters thundered
on, heads bowed, like in TS Eliot s
The Waste Land: "Unreal City, under
the brown fog of a winter dawn, a
crowd flowed over London Bridge.
So many, I had not thought death
had undone so many. Sighs, short
and infrequent, were exhaled, and
each man fixed his eyes before his
"It s 9 o clock," said Big Ben, har-
I was half-an-hour early for my
interview. So much for Trini time.
What can I do to kill time, I won-
dered, as it began to drizzle. I could
think about the sun beating down
on Trinidad, I thought. And so I did,
all through the interview and for the
rest of the day and into the week-
"I pictured myself
waiting for a
Cascade taxi into
town under the
shade of the large
mango tree at the
end of my road
and let out an
Big Ben is the
nickname for the
Great Bell of the
clock at the north
end of the Palace
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