Tag Archives: travelling

Joy Unbounded Or The Daily London Commute

Those who have visited London will have experienced the delights of crowded public transport. There is, surely nothing more pleasant than having one’s nostrils tantalised by the sweet scent of one’s fellow commuter’s perspiring bodies on a baking hot summer’s day.

I can also highly recommend the sardine game. This entails packing as many human beings into a tube or mainline train as is humanly possible then adding a few more for good measure. Oh the delights of being clobbered by heavy baggage as one’s fellow passenger’s show their pleasure at visiting this great capital city by swinging their luggage with gay abandon.

Another fun aspect of the daily commute is the manner in which it enables one to make new friends. The train or other mode of transport jolts and one finds a total stranger sitting on one’s lap (that is if you have been fortunate enough to obtain that rarest of comodities, a seat)!

Talking of seats or the lack thereof, I have hit upon a sure fire way of obtaining one when travelling in this great city of London. I proclaim at the top of my voice,

“Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward,

All in the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!

Charge for the guns!” he said.

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.”

My fellow commuters are so moved by the power of Tennyson that they rise in unison and vacate the carriage leaving me to my declaiming. They are no doubt deeply touched by the majesty of the poem and rather than show emotion in front of me choose rather to express it elsewhere.

To all of my fellow commuters, happy commuting!

 

Kevin

 

A visit to Africa

Many thanks to Cupitonians: http://cupitonians.wordpress.com/  for allowing me to bully her into writing another excellent guest post!

Thank you A.!

‘For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place 

Maya Angelou

I went to Africa on a whim. I woke up one day and realised that I just needed to be somewhere raw and real, doing some hands on work. I was tired of writing, tired of the city and just plain jaded. A twenty something year old should never be that way. In that state of despair, I suddenly remembered an old friend from when I had lived in France and got in touch with her. She had promised that whenever I gathered the guts to go to Africa, I should write to her and she would make it happen. She put me in touch with a nun who worked on several projects in the interiors of Tanzania. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know what I would do, where I would go and how long I would be there for but I just knew I had to go.

My trip was planned in less than 2 weeks – the tickets were booked, the injections taken and my mum loaded me with herbal anti malaria balls. I am a control freak and had decided that since I was taking this leap of faith, I might as well go all out and do no research. Instead, I decided to embrace whatever came my way, just as it was. Before I knew it, I was packed and suddenly found myself in a small bedroom sized airport that had a dilapidated old sign that read “Dar es Salaam”.

I was grinning from ear to ear, which made the visa officials really suspicious till they realised I was just plain crazy. I was shuffling about in a room packed with tourists. 50 dollars later, I had my passport stamped and I was free to wander about the great wilderness. I went out of the airport-room to find myself surrounded by highrise buildings, beautifully tarred wide roads, Mercedes Benz’s just cruising about like they just didn’t care.

Brilliant!

I had just taken off from one city to another. In fact, this city had a 3G phone connection, something even good old Bangalore, IT Capital of India, didn’t have. I was very dissappointed. The nun met me at the airport. I didn’t really know if anyone would come pick me up but I was glad she was there. We took a very luxurious taxi while I stewed inside myself. And then I suddenly found myself in a busy bus station, people everywhere trying to haul bags off you and load them into local buses. I managed to escape most of the crowd, dodged little kids pointing at me, saying “Mzungu, Mzungu!” (which is the Kiswahili word for “white person”) and got into the smallest bus in the history of the world.

I don’t mean small literally, it was a big enough bus on the outside. But when you got in, the seats were so cramped together that even a short person like me had to sit with her legs up on the seat so I don’t hurt my knees. I was stirred out of my thoughts by the nun putting her hands on my shoulder and saying “Are you okay?”. Apparently I was smiling too widely for a first time visitor. Shouldn’t I freak out?

“No, this is my childhood dream come true! Why would I be anything but ecstatic?”, I wanted to say. Instead, I tempered my reactions and was lulled into sleep by the moving motion of the bus.

I went to Tanzania, assuming I’d be there a month. I stayed a whole year. And in that time, I lived with the Maasai Tribe, lived on the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Worked at pre-schools, clincs, and orphanages that spanned the country. And while my experiences make for exciting stories to be told over a drink or to be written in a Lord of the Rings Saga, it is something I will never have words enough to explain.

I was lucky because I didn’t do the touristy things. I moved from project to project, living with real people, experiencing life as a local and instead of waxing ad nauseum, here are a few photos that will paint a better picture.’

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No filter sunrise

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Monduli Mountains and the Savannah

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Maasai Woman

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Local women campaigning for their local leaders

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Local Market

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An old forgotten Cave

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A typical Maasai House

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Zanzibar

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The View From my room at Kili

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The Sugar Mills at Kilombero

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The Stoves

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The Lion King

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The First Humanoid Excavated

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The Egyptian Cobra

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The Black Mamba

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Sunrise at Tanga

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Pink Lake – Ngorongoro Crater

The Joys of Commuting

Beware the dangers of complacency. I boarded the 17:22 from London Victoria to Gypsy Hill yesterday. It was boiling hot and the heat combined with the movement of the train made me sleepy. I dozed. At some point I became aware that the train had stopped. I and my fellow passengers where stuck in no man’s land between Battersea Park and Clapham Junction station. The windows where open but the lack of motion rendered this fact of little consequence. I along with my fellow commuters made the best of a sticky (in more than one sense of the word) situation. People read their papers. a man complained to someone or other rather loudly on his mobile that he was stuck on a train, he hated the idea of driving for 2 hours to get somewhere or other that evening but that he would, reluctantly make the effort, while a gentleman with what a former colleague of mine used to call “issues” wandered up and down the train talking to all and sundry.

The driver was brilliant keeping us informed of what was happening. Apparently someone had collapsed in Clapham station and paramedics where in attendance.

Oh the dangers of complacency. There I was expecting the journey to take 25 minutes maximum. I’d alight at Gypsy Hill, enjoy a cooling pint in my favourite pub on the way home and reach my flat at a relatively early hour. however we remained stuck in no man’s land for about half an hour. Originally the driver announced that the train when it got going once more would run as normal to Crystal Palace but would then be fast until London Bridge. I smiled smugly as Gypsy Hill is the station prior to Crystal Palace so I would, once the train got going have a relatively (although much lengthier than anticipated) journey. Alas it was not to be. After 20 minutes or so our friendly driver announced that when we got moving the train would return to Battersea Park and passengers would need to make their way from that station homewards.

When we finally got moving and pulled into Battersea that well known military strategist, General Chaos took charge of the situation. We where directed to platform 5 only to find that trains to Crystal Palace where not going from there. A man entertained us by attempting to use the help phone located on the platform. What fun he had standing there for several minutes listening to “please wait, please wait”! When he was finally connected the operator had no idea of what was happening but at least  it is good to know that someone or other is being kept in business to answer the helpline!

To cut a long story short I was helped by a fellow passenger to catch my train on platform 3 and I arrived at my destination around 2 hours later than I should have done.

My poor dog was panting like a steam train while stuck on the train (wearing a thick hairy coat which one can not take off is no fun in this weather)! Thankfully one of the station staff gave him a drink at Battersea and he was none the worse for his experience. Dare I take the train today I ask myself!