London Underground, grinning man and ipods

London has its surprises. One of them I discovered was bonhomie and let’s-indulge-in-subversion generosity. In the evening I casually placed my travel card on the reader at Green Park station to find that my funds had been depleted. With a long face I stood at the counter where you get your card recharged. The ipod drumming music in my ears, and my mind muttering lots of unkind words to the fumbling long queue in front of me. I sense a hand poking my shoulder.

I turn and a grinning man hands me a day ticket (the kinds that you buy for an entire day) and I looked confused. I said “But that’s not mine, I didn’t drop anything.” Man’s grin spills wider, threatening to hook on his ears. Man says “Yes! So just go on. Am going home now.”

In the split second that I understand that he was giving his (no longer needed) ticket to a grouchy woman in the queue, he runs off waving a hand and grinning all the way out. Two seconds later, I grin.

Wendigo a few days back looked at me with disgust reserved for only a few, saying I had bought into the culture of divided spaces by getting myself an ipod. Well, apparently spaces can be eaten into even with headphones on.

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0 Responses to London Underground, grinning man and ipods

  1. reshma anand says:

    I have seen people standing outside tube stations asking for used tickets. Whenever i was faced with that my heart told me to give away the ticket that was no good to me, but i feared being on the wrong side of the law. Sometimes i did give em away – stepping aside in a quiet corner – away from the CCTV camera – which makes me chuckle now thinking about how the phrase ‘kanoon ke hath’ was popularized by hindi movies. In this country – would they call it ‘kanoon ki aankh’ ?


  2. wendigo says:

    bit peeved at how smug you are, but on the whole glad that the world has agreed to recognise the i-pod and take it in stride, just like warts, moles and pulsating pimples, that are just a part of some people, you gotta live with it.

    see for why i-pods bug me; it’s not the music thing really, just the pod part… self inflicted shells for humanity. it has to stop somewhere, and for me, (maybe i’m lucky not to be hooked on to them yet), it’s the i-pod.


  3. Marleny says:


    How happy i am to meet you! I thought i was the only lunatic that shivered whenever i saw an Ipod and/or cell phone taking a hold of an “infected” human being!!! Thanks!

    As for you Missy….aaaargh! How dare you get an Ipod??? :^)

    I thought i would stop by and say hello since i haven’t seen you for a while. Glad to hear you don’t have to stand in line for too long!



  4. Marleny says:

    I just left this link at Wendigo’s!! After all …are we monkeys or not?! :^) It’s called :Dance ,monkeys,dance!

    About standing in line… least you won’t go through so much trouble like these people when gas prices and global warming hit the roof:


  5. Sunny says:

    Heh, can’t live without my ipod now. In fact I even have episodes of Goodness Gracious Me on there incase I get excessively bored or (rarely) depressed.

    The other things is… podcasts! I got the damn NYT, Guardian, Washington Post, BBC and any other news I can get on my ipod. Listening to news while walking, now THAT’S what I’m talking about!

    Ahem, sorry.

    The thing that annoys me about tubes is that people rarely help each other, even when I see people dragging heavy luggage up the stairs. Now I cannot go past and not offer to help (once you start you’re hooked) but it’s a bit sad I don’t see many others do it.


  6. Taran says:

    Dunno about iPods… I like portable MP3 players, but don’t advertise for Apple…

    As for the subversion… I do it whenever I can. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Systems that are subverted are almost always systems that need to be subverted.


  7. Reshma: LOL! Kanoon ki aankh? It sounds slightly less weird if we could say Kanoon ki aanken no? I like sticking out my tongue at CCTVs. Or even flashing a smile.

    Wendigo: See, we’ve had this discussion before. You know exactly what I am going to say. That one doesn’t have to be engaged with all senses with a particular space. That listening to music is somewhat like reading a book. Or even wearing a perfume.

    Marleny: I warn you. Wendigo is GLUED to her cellphone. She’s always playing with it and fiddling with its controls. Heh! And please do say Hello more often! I completely miss conversations with you about the immigrant life, Spanish and other random details.

    Sunny: It’s true – people don’t really help that much. But one thing is true of all helpful places – they are also more intrusive. For me, London is a breath of fresh air. The nonintrusiveness of people makes up for its lack of social skills. Podcasts – yes – so easy to catch up with them now.

    Taran: You are the grand-daddy of subversion. Don’t we all know? ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. Pareshaan says:

    Nice post – both yours and wendigos – good stuff.


  9. Marleny says:

    Thanks for the warning! I won’t trust her! ;^)
    This non-intrusive life style seems like glory at first (coming from Cuba i was relieved to live in Maine). Nobody would ask me where i was going ,wether i was married or not,if i was planning on having babies soon,etc. It felt like the promised land of freedom! After a couple of years i started remembering the Cuban style: helpful and intrusive, loving and possesive, giving and jealous. Now i see the value in it although i’m not sure about being able to live within its frame at this point. At some point we tend to feel lost. No cultural background to turn to. We’ve given up our habits but we can’t quite grasp this new self-imposed reality. Now,that’s the story of a few immigrants i know of. Tell me yours in a couple of years,please. I would be very interested in knowing how YOU grow into it. I’m not as resilient as i was five/six years ago. But you have a very good chance of adjusting without experiencing too much pain. I’m very glad to see you….Ipod and all! :^)


  10. Marleny says:

    ….ehem….a few typos there like possessive….whether…..etc…….it’s midnight…..too late for a teacher…….night,night! Don’t let the bed bugs bite!