Tuesday, October 9, 2007

London: a series of mumbles and awkward events

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I love London. Be it the carefree atmosphere, the prevalence of vegetarian food, or the international spirit, I love it all. London is magical. I didn't know what to expect and really we didn't have anything planned (as we planned the trip on a Friday and left on a Wednesday). This trip spoke to my interest in living the moment, my interest in seeing one of my dear friends, and my interest in seeing a bit more of the world.

We took the TGV from Reims at around 1pm. We were excited as neither of us had ever been to London and didn't know anything about what to see at London besides Buckingham Palace, Platform 9 3/4, and Newton's memorial. But everything worked out. We got into Waterloo Station after experiencing the Chunnel which was dark and had my ears popping at random intervals.

It was a whirlwind. We walked from the Tower of London along the Thames where we saw the likes of Shakespeare's Globe, the Tate Modern (which I'm in love with), and the ugliest building in Britian: the National Theater.

We did a bus tour, and I'm totally glad we did because - like I said - I had no idea what to see, no real scope of where things are or what one does whilst in London. Highlight: I got to see the bank that they used for Gringotts while filming Harry Potter. But I also learned a lot of other practical things, some things about the black plague like the fact that they killed all the cats and in doing so let the rat population thrive. Payback is a bitch, I say, a mighty bloody bitch.

I also got to see one of my dear friends, Misha. It was so good to see her and when we hang together I always feel very comfortable and at ease. She reminds me of the small home that I carry with me always a sense of home I started to carry when I moved to France five years ago.

I saw so much and had such a brilliant time. We went all over and by the night we were so exhausted our feet hurt. But when my feet hurt like that I feel like a million dollars, I feel like I've actually done something and I feel like I got somewhere.

Leaves were changing and rustling about in London. Scraps of red, gold and brown billowed about us in the city and it made it even more magical. I'm a fall baby and I feel natural in the months between September and November. The sun was shining and we only had one day when we were cursing the gray skies that oh-so-northern-France-like weather.

I also never realized how different British English is. I obviously knew that it would be different as in sounds totally different and they spell things in the obviously wrong manner, but I didn't think I wouldn't be able to function like a normal member of the English speaking community. As we were leaving London, Kristyn and I were still flabbergasted about our inability to feel completely at ease and we marveled over the extremely awkward moments that had passed while we were there. For instance , I have never felt so awkward buying a sandwich whilst speaking English. There have been tons of times when I've awkwardly ordered a sandwich in French, but as I got up to the counter to order my take-away sandwich and my white coffee (that's with milk), I totally froze when the woman asked me a question. Also on the bus I almost got us killed; take that as awkward moment number 8,000 of our London trip.

The story:
We had just gotten on a bus headed towards Waterloo station; it was fairly packed and we had our big bag, me- my REI travelpack and Kristyn - her roller carry-on. We were slightly obtuse as we struggled and squished onto the bus. The bus started moving and we went a few stops.  We stopped.  I saw a man push a button on the top of the door to get off.  Then an old man mumbled (read: spoke British English) and I'm pretty sure he asked to get off.  I did the natural thing.  I pressed the button.  As I pressed the button the bus started moving.  The door still opened and we were moving in a big double decker bus BUT WITH THE DOORS OPEN. A stream of curses came out of the bus drivers mouth as the doors closed.  I caught: "YOU BLOODY IDIOTS...DOOR OPEN...ON MY BUS..." But that is about all I did catch because at that point my heart had dropped and I was trembling with a mixture of embarrassment and disbelief.  I realized what had happened as I looked up at the button above the door, clearly marked: emergency button.

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