A Friday Morning Commute

8am. 52 bus: Kensal Rise to Notting Hill

London is in a heat wave. The air is muggy and thick and unpleasant. People are sticky. The bus was sweltering. With every movement, a waft of body odour. Crowded, shoulder to shoulder on the lower deck.

For half hour, I tried to block out the type of noise that drills through any possibility of concentration – or sanity, for that matter: A small baby with a shrill, consistent, inconsolable scream; an old man continually tapping his cane on the metal pole, a steady ting, ting, ting, ting; bass beats of early-morning trance leaking through cheap headphones; a child’s endless monologue of gibberish enhanced by the negligent parent’s failure to respond.

 Thank god it’s Friday.

Now, a tall caramel macchiato, open windows. Across the car park, translucent curtains flap seductively like the bottom of a white night dress waving in a slight breeze. Instead of babies and bass, there is the dull sound of traffic on Notting Hill Gate, the low bangs of distant construction – shouts, pounding, saws. There is, in near proximity to my open window, the high, melodic chirp of birds on a wire.

Morning Map of Moments

  • Funny how trying to learn a new language can keep you up at night, head running through words and phrases. Silly things like Aami ackta mota kalo biral ardoor korbo. I want to cuddle a fat black cat. Only, I’d rather say “fluffy”. Does anyone know the Bengali word for “fluffy”?
  • Speaking of felines…while walking to work, a shiny white-coated cat with a black tail looks at me and then rolls in a small patch of sun on a dusty concrete driveway.
  • 52 bus, southbound toward Victoria. Next to me, a man in skinny gray jeans with floppy indie hair, absently reading a copy of the Metro, doodling circles in the margins with a red pen. I can hear the tones of Manic Street Preachers on his iPod.
  • A bright yellow book with the cut out words Guerrilla Advertising lands on my desk. I flip it open to page 30. A campaign for World Water Day in Sydney. Public bins with handles, giant straws or slices of lemon perched on the rim placed in public spaces with a series of messages: “Polluted water kills 6,000 people a day.” “Over a billion people drink worse.” “A fifth of the world can’t get clean drinking water.” The bins were all overflowing with rubbish. Clever.