Tube Tactics – Ilford, United Kingdom

I went for yummy lunch yesterday with Kam and wandered around Ilford all the afternoon people watching. It`s really like a different world when I meet up with fellow travellers who are now back into their regular routine. But one thing is for sure, it seems once you have travelled it all you can think about. Every day is working towards your next adventure.

Today I met up with Tim who is bumming around England waiting for his next opportunity. We met back in South Africa for a day and planned to meet up again but because I ended up staying in Cintsa for so long, we missed each other. So finally we met up in Leicester Square then wandered around looking for a place to grab a few brews. We were chatting away when we looked up and coincidentally we were in front of the Bok Bar (Saffa bar) so we ducked in and began our catch up session.

Next we strolled over to Covent Garden to continue drinking and grab a quick bite. We munched on Cornish pasties washing them down with pints while we observed the street energetic performers entertain their crowds in the square. I commented on how at any given time you can glance up and see a plane soaring by so we deducted that most of this crowd must be tourists.

We were envious of Jason who joined us for a drink before heading back to the office. What a way to spend your lunch hour. Then I thought about how he was probably envious of us who got to sit there sharing stories about travels around the world while we watched the world unfold around us.

I jumped on the tube and realised I am smack dab in the middle of rush hour. It was craziness trying to secure a spot on the zooming sardine can but I managed. Not without a few smiles as I imagined that we were all in a high speed game of Twister. I couldn`t help looking around at the diversity of faces around me noticing that everyone here is so different from each other. No one person looks even remotely like the person next to them. It was like a kaleidoscope as I panned the train car searching for any likeness between them. I thought that I could probably just spend a whole day on the tube people watching.

Another thing I noticed is how so many people seem to have forgotten how to smile. I took the leap and smiled gently at a few unsuspecting taking close note of their reaction. Some looked shocked, some looked scared, and some, not many, but a few smiled back nervously. Come on people! Get over it man. Do I look dangerous to you? I am not that big and certainly mustn`t look very menacing nestled under businessmen`s armpits propped up reading the evening news.

I giggled to myself at the range of activities people would partake in on their way home from who knows where. Some would read, some would sleep, some would study shoes (this seems to be very popular) and some would practice their frowns. I dunno. Life is too short.

It is very common that the trains are stopped because of people trying to commit suicide by jumping in front of them. So common that one of the most common excuses for being late for work is that there was a “jumper”. Could it be that maybe someone at the end of their rope tried to smile at someone reaching out for something, anything human and got an angry scowl for a response? You know what they say, it takes many more facial muscles to frown than to smile. I, for one, am not going to put more energy into negativity than perhaps making a positive impact on someones day.

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