No this isn’t a book review of my current read. I’m terrible at book and film reviews. But you already knew that didn’t you? Oh, you didn’t? Well read this. Now you do.
No, no. This is about something that takes up a good three hours of my day. Every day. I wish I could say that deep contemplation, meditation and tantric sex are what take up one eight of my daily schedule, but the truth is that that time is sacredly allotted to commuting to work and back.
Now much of my morning commute is a haze because I’m usually not fully awake until my third cup of coffee. It’s the journey home that I am painfully awake for. All one and half hours of it.
The journey begins with the brief walk from office to station, which includes a much dreaded scurry past the local Indian (read Bangladeshi) takeaway. The proprietor and waiters of the establishment are quite convinced that I am a Bangladeshi myself and often stopped and offered me a job bussing tables. A pleasurable task no doubt as it would afford me the chance to study the large painting that adorns the far wall at the back. So far I have recognised Amitabh Bachchan and Ganhdi seated on a stage of some sort surrounded by bolsters and hookahs. Bussing tables would let me confirm if it's Mallika Sherawat seated to the left. I hear the tips aren’t too mean either.
Having dodged the balti boys as I affectionately call them I arrive at the station. Now my train is always late. Always. Every day. Without fail. Like clockwork really. I like to look at the trees philosophically and ponder on the meaning of life at this time. Usually because the other desi girls on the platform avoid my friendly glances. I think the odour of the balti boy’s chicken tikka masala clinging to my coat puts them off.
Now though my train is meant to only make 3 stops, like a dog that wants to sniff every tree it passes my train likes to pause at all stations but without peeing. But I don’t mind. I have my I-pod, a book, what’s left of the morning paper, my imaginary friends George and Brad and if I’m feeling particularly pretentious a little notebook I like to whip out and pretend to write the next Booker in. (But there is always someone more pretentious than me. Honest. Like the girl who whipped out algebra course material in French yesterday 2 minutes before the train terminated at King’s Cross. You win I said and muttered ‘Bitch’ to George.)
If you’re all thinking “Finally the train has stopped and this tortuous post is over”. HA and double HA! That’s just the beginning my lovelies. From platform 9A I make my way to the tube. This is something like a cat trying to cross the Serengeti during the annual wildebeest migration. Sometimes I think carrying a backpack over my head and running fast might help. Sometimes I think that might get me shot at.
Right. So now I’m on the Northbound train chugging along home. Ignoring the man talking to himself and try to cop and eye at the cover of Heat. Making moral judgements on sweet teenage girls dressed in the latest pimp ‘n’ whore gear. Wondering why… Ah! My station’s arrived. From the station to the bus stop I keep my head down. This is to avoid getting jeered at and bullied by children half my age and size. I can see the disbelief in your eyes. She’s scared of children? Well you’d be scared of 12 year olds too if they all called each other bitch, wanker, fuckhead, slag and slapper. I’m sure they all come from broken homes and that the drug, alcohol and excessive underage sex makes them feel more loved and accepted. But seeing as I don’t want to be part of their happy slapping therapy I walk fast.
On my bus. Heading home. My stop arrives. I’m walking fast and looking confident so that rapists/murders and shoe thieves know that they can’t mess with me. At the front door to my building. Home is but locked door away. But first I need to check if I have any post. So I stand in the cold groping in the bottomless pit that is my bag for the keys. A neighbour comes in after me opens his post box, fishes out his mail and even opens the front door. And I’m still looking. He’s politely holding the door open for me. My keys! Yes! I open the post box with great anticipation hoping for letters from long lost friends and secret admirers. Nothing. But hey I did get three invitations from Don Pepe’s Pizza Parlour. That has to count for something. I meekly thank my neighbour who now resembles a pissed off snowman and skulk up to my front door.
I’m home. Finally. I told you it was a long, long way.