I can’t think of a better city than London, so multicultural, vibrant, smart, with plenty of interesting neighbors, museums, exhibitions, shows, bars and restaurants. It’s all limitless here (well, almost. Let’s not consider houses and apartments: whether we want to live in Victorian houses or new apartments, space is a big luxury). Despite all the awesomeness I’m surrounded by, I am not always happy as a pig in clover.
Actually, I feel more like a hen in a cage.
Ok, I might be spoilt for choice, truth is that (sometimes) the cage is this amazing city I live in.
I never understood the reasons for this little discomfort until, a few days ago, I realized I spend three quarters of my day complaining about the London underground (the other quarter is for complaints about the weather). Suddenly I came up with a possible explanation to a sensation that is becoming everyday more tangible.
If I feel like a hen in a cage it’s because I travel during rush hour. Meeting thousand of strangers in the tube is enough to disclose to my eyes this unalluring being part of a crowd that shares a dull morning routine.
The dull morning routine.
1) Approach the sliding doors of the carriage as closely as possible to gain the last available seat.
2) Once in the carriage – and after we missed the chance to take a seat – we sweat and try to read a book standing up and avoiding the slip and fall situation.
3) Fulfill the role of a perfect Londoner by standing on the right-hand side of escalators, a right only opposed by tourists that ignore the TUBE LAW.
4) We do NOT move down inside the Tube carriages so NOT to block the doorways for other passengers. It would be nice to do so but, yeah, we don’t usually do it.
5) Rush, rush, rush. Outside of the working hours in London, no matter what, is RUSH HOUR time. Or “peak hour” if you are a fan of those cute British euphemisms.
6) We look at each other avoiding direct eye contact and without talking to one another. We may listen to music, send messages, read silly news on The Metro and confront each other about clothing styles (what the heck is she wearing?!), but we NEVER ever emit a sound as a sign of communication.
Every morning on my way to the office with the amazing city view, I know I’m not Daniela but a cog in the social machinery. I can picture myself as the average character of a crowd psychology book, with the only difference that while historically crowds are viewed with respect – their actions being associated to food riots and fights for equal rights – I am now part of a crowd fighting for the first position on the escalator at Euston station.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting a Big-Brother-is-watching-you scenario. My point is that few things are more depressing than being in a group of unconnected people and feeling just like everyone else. Maybe it’s time to take the bus and engage in futile conversations with strangers as I used to do in Italy. No, wait: I used to complain about that too.
p.s. below is the recipe of one of the easiest meals I put together when I need to go for a low-fuss dinner (or breakfast). It’s a Mediterranean dish: in other words simple, genuine and flavorful. Enjoy it!
- 2 thick slices of Feta cheese
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 1 thinly sliced pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons black olives.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 sliced onion (optional)
- Take a piece of aluminum foil (three times larger than the feta cheese), drizzle its center with olive oil and place one slab of feta on top.
- Cover the top of the feta with tomato, pepper and olives (onion if you like) and drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with some chilli flakes and some dried oregano.
- Seal the cheese packet with your foil and place on a baking dish.
- Repeat from point 1. to prepare the other slab of feta.
- Place in your oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees.
- Carefully open the "feta packet" and serve with warm crusty bread.