picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
Going home.#camdenroad #overground #london #trainstation

5.30pm, Wednesday 28 December, and I’m standing on the platform at Camden Road Station, waiting for an Overground train to take me to London's East End. It’s cold, the sun has set about an hour before and there’s hardly anyone about – not surprising during a week where most people choose to stay at home.

I usually wait for the train right at the end of the platform, where the last carriage stops. I notice a man walk slowly past me and nonchalantly move into the “no entry” area which leads to machinery and the bushes that run alongside the tracks. He’s dressed head to toe in black and carries a backpack with neon green stripes.

At first I think he works for Transport for London (TfL). Then I wonder if he’s just someone needing to piss. But he takes his time back there and when I check again I see that he’s moving deeper into the bushes, as if planning to walk home beside the train tracks.

I go down the platform in search of a TfL member of staff because now I’m thinking “what if there’s something in that backpack meant to hit the train?” There are no staff members around. I go back to the edge of the platform and look over the fence.  I can see him now and he’s standing right at the edge, waiting for the train to come.

I shout “Hey!” He turns around and slowly walks back to the platform.

“Do you work here?” I ask.

“No.”

“What were you doing back there?”

“I was looking out for the train.”

“It’s a strange place to wait for the train,” I say. All his answers are delivered flat, without any emotion. I can see now that he’s a white English guy in his 40s. “Were you going to jump?”

“No.”

“There is help out there if you need it.”

“I know,” he says, still emotionless. He returns to the edge of the platform, just by the barrier, and looks out for the train.

“Are you going to jump?” I ask again.

“No,” he says and moves away from the edge.

I repeat that there is help out there for him and again he says that he knows. A few other people stand near us but they are oblivious to our conversation - too absorbed by their phones.

We notice the train pulling into the station. I look at him and he looks at me. My heart’s in my throat because I know I’ll have to grab him if he makes a dash for the edge. The train stops, the carriage doors open, and people step out. He lingers behind everyone who’s boarding, as if waiting for me to go in first. I don’t move, waiting for him to get in. Once he does so, I step in after him and sit down one carriage away.

I chat with friends on WhatsApp and post a question on Facebook about what I should do next. The consensus is that I should find a TfL member of staff.

The train reaches its destination, Stratford. Everyone gets out and I see him lingering by the stairs, as if planning to turn around and get back inside the train. When he sees me watching him, he joins the crowd leaving the platform. I go after him but lose him in the human flow.

I find a young woman who works for the TfL and tell her what happened. She asks me to follow her and says she needs to report it. We go into a small office on another platform and I give her as best a description as I can of the guy. She says there are many suicide attempts this time of the year and that she’ll put a call out across the network to look out for him. She thanks me for reporting it and I say goodbye.
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday LifeSidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the movie The NeverEnding Story, a boy accidentally ends up in a mysterious bookshop, where he borrows a book without the owner's knowledge. As he sits in an attic reading the book - which tells the story of a warrior on a quest in some fantastical land - he realises the book is aware of him, and speaking back to him.

My experience with this book was a little bit like that. My boyfriend gave it to me as a birthday gift because he knew I had an interest in synchronicity (or maybe the book "fell" on him in the bookstore? This is apparently a very popular "starting" point for synchronous events.) As I started reading it, a few topics discussed on its pages happened to be random topics I was already reading about elsewhere.

Robert Moss paints the world as a place filled with symbols that are waiting to speak back to us, if only we'll pay attention to them. Then, what we do with them, is a matter of how creative we want to get. Moss' style is conversational, very easy to read, and the book has plenty of exercises to activate synchronicity in your life.

I decided to play one of his games by asking my Spotify playlist a question and letting a randomly selected song give me the answer (or guide me, as Moss would say). The song that came up was Madonna's "Cherish", with lyrics which actually fit perfectly what I was asking. Just as I was listening to the song, going down Camden and paying attention to its lyrics, I walked past a young woman dressed like Madonna circa 1980s. From then onwards, other coincidences started to appear related to that song (mostly to do with the song's reference to Romeo and Juliet). I'm not really sure what it all means except, perhaps, that the universe has a sense of humor (or maybe it's just our own mind's comedic power when it focuses on something?)

View all my reviews
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
Heading home. Wishing protection and safety for all commuters tonight.

Just before I leave for work, I read a tweet alerting of two explosions in Brussels' airport. It’s a beautiful sunny day outside, the first one this spring.

Train commuters read their free newspapers, already old news. I think of an old friend who lives in Brussels, who had a daughter last year. More news comes in, this time of a bomb gone off in a subway train near the EU Headquarters.  I watch the faces by the train’s doors with some worry. I check Facebook but my friend hasn’t replied to an earlier concerned message.

I then walk down the high street, past Camden Station. Its entrance is like a maw taking in and spilling out people. An unmarked car speeds by, a single driver inside, blasting a siren. An ambulance loiters across the street, eerily silent.

I steer clear of commuters by going down a quiet street. Near my office, I walk past a family unloading their bags from a taxi. They are in good spirits, maybe arriving home after a long journey. One of the young daughters smiles at me so openly and friendly as if thinking ‘isn’t this a beautiful day?’ Her mother wears a hijab.
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)

Image by Frank Michin

It’s a long flight of steps up to Camden Road’s platform. When you see people coming down, you know you’ll miss the train.

I never run for it. But yesterday, by some strange delay, it waited wide open for passengers. As we hopped inside, a hurried woman turned around and shouted: ‘There’s plenty of space, wanker!’

She probably expected the doors to then close, but they didn’t.

The platform guy strode into the carriage.

‘I said there was plenty of space down there,’ he shouted back. ‘Mind your manners.’

In typical English fashion, we looked away, suddenly distracted by others.

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