Tag Archives: transit

Field Notes | Walking to Strand Campus

Time: (morning rush)

8:30am – 9:30am (typical London workday is 9-5 or 10-6);shops generally open between 10 and 11am; larger chain restaurants open between 7 and 9am, smaller cafes and restaurants may not open until 10 or later)

People and Activities: (varied by area)

St Katherine’s Docks – sparsely populated, mostly men and women on their way to the Tower Hill Tube Station (business professionals) wearing suits or business-appropriate attire, assumed middle class, many taking personal calls on mobile phones, most walking alone, occasional solo runners, little interaction with others, restaurant staff setting up chairs & table settings for the day, short queue at the pop-up coffee vendor’s stall

Tower of London – largely tourists standing at rails to photograph the tower and each other; some professionals entering/leaving Tower Hill subway to access tube/train stations; generally benign, but occasionally brusque, interactions between the two as tourists stroll or stop and professionals attempt to hurry; tourists are primarily individuals, couples, or small family groups (no large, guided tours, no students); conversation primarily around the poppies for the WWI display in the Tower moat

Financial District – almost entirely business professionals streaming out of the tube station and toward their offices on the streets opposite; 2 charity canvassers attempt (rather unsuccessfully) to stop and chat with passers-by (myself included, though I too ignore them). Two men stand amidst the crowd handing out newspapers and another distributes fliers, presumably for a special taking place at the restaurant in which he works (he’s wearing a white apron); mostly white, middle class, English-speakers (those who speak at all) traveling alone or in pairs as they seem to have met up with a colleague along the way

St. Paul’s Cathedral – at this time in the morning, St. Paul’s is still rather quiet; business professionals walk by. Similar situation to St. Katherine’s Docks re:professionals and occasional runners; a few more family groups of tourists but again no large groups as it is still early

Fleet Street/Temple – greater number of young people around (whom I assume to be students) and more casually dressed business professionals; shops are beginning to open up, and tourists stand in small huddles on street corners consulting maps

General – Driving traffic is moderate, we are a bit past the morning rush by the time I enter the city; mainly cabs, buses, and personal vehicles but occasional construction trucks pass by; about two dozen cyclists pass along the way (from experience, this number would have been much greater earlier in the morning) and these seem to be young professionals, and predominantly white men (equal parts wearing jeans or cycling gear and suits; all carrying bags)


Flying over South Africa


Breaking Stride

One step, Two steps
Grabbing the pavement
Dragging it behind
Creating a breeze where the humid air
Has deemed such a luxury.

My feet and face are out of place in this slow-town, Ho-town, where thoughts are processed simply,  singly, deliberately.

I hardly glance at the group of men hissing and calling to me, beckoning me come. I smile. I wave. I continue.

“Sister, buy something. How much you want?” The woman waves her arm over woven trays covered in okra and peppers. I pass her as well.

“Becky! Good morning!” I have forgotten his name, or perhaps I never learned it, but he will surely greet me again as he has each morning. No need to stop today.

My mind races with a thousands thoughts that demand constant movement for proper categorization. My eyes dart from stall to stall, noting the absence of certain merchant friends and the sudden availability of new things to buy.

I pause.

I do need eggs –
“2 cedi please. Thank you, sister.”

I carry on.

Don’t Play in Traffic

Horns honking to announce their approach.
Women shouting their goods for sale.
Children trudging en masse to school.
Men hauling concrete and roofing sheets.
Homeless scooting along the ground.
Goats rambling about underfoot.
Chickens screeching, caught in the gutter.
Dogs slinking through the sea of legs.
Bicycles swerving every direction.
Buses slowing, but never stopping.
Taxis cutting off the walking route.
Police directing cars from the streetside.
Bowls of food balanced on heads.
Bread tumbling from open-air carts.
Secondhand clothes flapping in the breeze.
Tro-tro mates pushing to their open doors.

Playing in traffic is my daily commute.