Wednesday, November 7, 2018

INTERMEZZO: Narratives While in Transit


You know that part in a musical score wherein there's that short intermission that bridges one section to another? That's intermezzo. That's what came to mind whenever we'd take the train and all that can be seen were the lush greens and rolling hills of the countryside last June.


As much as I want to love my daily commute, most of the time it's just a pain in the ass. My perspective changed though, while in transit from point A to B around England. Whether it be around London or from one city to another, the commute was one of the things I enjoyed very much.

Sharing here my narratives, of which I have fond recollections of:


"Mind the gap between the train and the platform.", I hear it loud and clear as I hop onto the train. Looking back at where I entered from, there was indeed a considerable gap between the train and the platform. Or maybe I have short legs, and people in general there in Europe are just really tall? During the first few times, I was anticipating it each time I enter and exit, hearing the recorded message playing out of the speakers without fail. But then as the week passed, and we were still hopping on and off the train, it suddenly felt like second nature. I started to wonder if this recorded message still reached ears and minds of the daily commuters? It was only on the last day of taking the tube did I realize that I was going to miss that recording; that one audio that's broadcasted daily becomes a distinct memory for anyone who's gone to London.

Also, people love to read in the train. And when I say read, it's always novels. I've observed this numerous times, and I'm fascinated each time. I love seeing people getting so immersed in a literary work. It's as if they're spending an hour or so in another world before they disembark to reality once more.

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On the day we left London for Leeds, we hurriedly crossed the street from our hostel to get to the King's Cross St. Pancras station for our 7AM train. We had ample time to wait, and while walking around it suddenly hit me how the place felt so familiar.

Me to my sis: "Wait.. this is the King's Cross, right?"

Sis: "Yeah," she said in the most nonchalant manner.



I'm not a big Harry Potter fan, although I've watched all movies way back then. But I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity that was already there, so I walked around a bit more to find that indeed, Platform 9 3/4 was there. The trolley wasn't out yet, and I didn't know that the management kept it; I've thought it'd always be just there for people to take pictures with.

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You know those paintings wherein artists color the hills in different colors? That's the kind of scene that greeted us as we took the train going to Leeds. It was fascinating to see how they were clearly divided in straight lines; colors of dark and light greens playing interchangeably with patches of yellow.

Seeing sheep and cows grazing in the fields, taking in all its vastness. Peering from our windows from the inside, shifting my head to the other side, seeing much of the same thing. I felt small, in a good way. I was surrounded by the open nature, riding inside the coach of a fast train speeding up North.

My senses come back inside from where I'm seated, and I hear conversations, subdued and formal yet enthusiastic and polite, the English people related with each other about every day matters.
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On the way to Greenwich, we sat in a coach which faced each other. On the other side were businessmen clad in their black blazers looking all professional. As the train started to move, one of them brought out their laptops and started typing, while the other one started taking calls. The call took much time, though it wasn't clearly audible; just enough for the caller and the receiver to hear each other. Must be about business proposals, I think to myself. Transferring from one city to another for work was a normal everyday thing, trusting the train to bring them there in less than an hour.

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On the way to Windsor, we saw a bunch of people dressed fancily. My sis figured they were going to Wimbledon for the horse racing match. The men wore their coats and ties paired with long hats, while the ladies had their fascinators in all different colors and sizes. That was my first time to know about what those were; and they were simply fancy hats with feathers, or sometimes with nets. Pretty cool for people watching a horse race. 

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And then there's York with its railway station which felt like it was left untouched through time. Just a bit of a walk from here would be the York Railway Museum which is equally just as grand. I think it's magic, how places are preserved so well and which allows for people for centuries to come to experience the place as how it came to be. 
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It seems to me that our senses may be most heightened as we sit through our commute. There's so much to observe just by looking around. There's also much to realize as we internalize our thoughts. A time that is solely ours before we face the outside world. 

What're your favorite commute experiences? 

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