Tuesday, September 26, 2006

London, September 2006

London. West Hampstead. The tube.

Caught between the underground and the sunlight. Drops of sunlight dancing on your body. On the pages of your book. Then there is darkness. Your eyes unhappily adjust to the changing phases of light.

I lean on the bar, flipping the pages of the book as my eye reaches the end of a page.

My colleague finds an empty seat and rushes. Musical chairs had a significance behind it in case you haven’t already realized.

He grins sheepishly at me when he catches my glance. I didn’t want to look reproving. He gestures his willingness to switch. I shake my head in the negative and return to the sunlight playing peek-a-boo with the pages of my book.

A lot of people get in. A lady with a baby. She stands there shuffling her baby from one shoulder to another. The train isn’t very considerate. Lurches n all that. I stop reading.

In my country this wouldn’t have happened. No, not ladies having babies. No, I don’t mean trains lurching either. But people who stare away deliberately or not. But definitely oblivious to the discomfort of someone with a baby in hand. Many stations pass.

She still stood on.

This wouldn’t have happened in my country.

London. Wembley. The bus.

Have you been to Wembley? No? Well, it’s a place full of Indians. I'd be more accurate to say Asians. Different shades of brown. Varying accents of English. Navrathri was around the corner and it somehow managed to reach even London.

Colorful skirts are on display. Sweets. Pan. Dosas. Thaalis. You name it. A cleaner version of one of the market streets in India.

I deliberately do not look at any of the price tags. People do not smile at each other. I'd have thought it would be easier. After all in a strange land even strangers are familiar. And brown is a good color to begin with.

It doesn’t deter me somehow. I keep smiling at people I meet. Once in a while I catch one back. Maybe I remind them of someone they left back in India.

We get into a bus. It’s already quite late and my feet ache from so much walking.

I lean back into the seat of the bus. An old man shuffles in.

The lady in front of me gets up and gives her seat up.

He doesn’t acknowledge her gesture. He keeps standing, his gruffness pushing away her kindness.

Embarrassed she sits down.

He was white. She was Indian.

This too perhaps wouldn’t have happened in my country.


Blogger raka said...

I thought I was the only one suffering from the 'it-does-not-happen-in-india' syndrome !

Enjoy your trip in London.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Raka: Trip to London is over. Now in Paris!

8:39 AM  
Blogger mannu said...

juz slipped into say, that God has blessed us with a sweet little boy this morning..


nei..dont gimme dat look girl! i know it was little quick :D but we enjoy :)

how are you.. where have you been.. lotsa traveling huh ?? I envy you..

alrite.. see ya.. take care.. 'n hv fun


11:38 AM  
Blogger mannu said...

why do i feel Paris is THE place for you ?? its funny.. but i feel thats where you belong!! :D

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post does have a 'Been there...' feel to it...honest.
Enjoy your trip and have a great time poornima:)!!!

10:42 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Mannu: Wow!!!!Congratulations! I am so happy for you. Will mail you right away! :)

Anjali: Been there, but done nothing! :)

12:17 AM  
Blogger mathew said...

So much for modern civilised etiquettes..am getting a feel of the same tinge in my place as well..

12:48 AM  
Blogger Priyanka said...

guess that s why they say "Home Sweet Home"

1:56 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Mathew: And where would that be?

Priyanka: :)

2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes...*smiles ruefully*

6:58 AM  
Blogger BaKfIrE said...

Well then India is also changing .....becoz i had the same experience here!!!

10:00 AM  
Blogger sp said...

Welcome back after the long hiatus. London...Paris....On a Europe tour, huh? :-)

1:44 AM  
Anonymous one among the crowd said...


nice to find you in europe. you can notice those kinds in india too. do travel around "cities" and "small cities". anyway enjoy your sojourn and keep posting.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Manoj Nair said...

P, when I feel I am in dark, I come to your blog searching for a canopy where my feelings can survive. When I read your blog I feel like going back to my mothers womb. You create such a nice atmosphere!
Your flow and imagery are amazing!!

9:12 PM  
Blogger Praveen said...

wow, not been here for some time, but your writing is still as sweet as it was,

and happy to see you are going places :), London, eh?

11:03 PM  
Blogger Shim said...

Hallo KA,
Ages since we corresponded. trust u are having a great time globetrotting! should say we have sort of settled in. Chetan is travelling and that leaves me with the two brats. rest i dont have to tell u. :) love to all at home and NY (u visiting them?)


6:19 AM  
Anonymous kerabyte said...

hope the answers find you during the trip,cm bck safe

11:30 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Bakfire: Ah! Shame on us!

Prasanna: WORK I tell you!!! :)

OAC: Pondicherry. Thats my world. Always has been.

Manoj: Thank you. :)

6:52 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Praveen: Welcome back and TY.

Shim chechi: Shyam had mailed me about your trip back home around Oct mid. Confirmed? I should be back Oct end.

Kerabyte: I hope so too.

6:54 AM  
Blogger A.G.Sudarshan said...

Hmmm ... wouldn't know ... There've been no desi blues for me :)

7:47 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Sudarshan: Where are you?

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats what you get when you dont know the culture of the place. its what happens when people see kindness and love that they thought didnt exist.culture shock or whatever they call it. but still do the right thing. still, keep loving.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Priya said...

Hi Came across your blogs recently. Good ones. Though I found a tad bit of cynicism there. But hey they are good cynical ones. :)

8:58 PM  
Blogger chitra said...

Ya....it would not have happened in my country either....

12:36 AM  

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