I wake up at 5 that morning. Sleepily, I brave through the winter-turned autumn cold and shower without a heater; I strap on my backpack and leave the dingy hostel I have been staying for the past 3 nights. Walking to the station, I revel in the solitude of dawn. The color is still a shade of muted black and I imagine myself gliding with the mist – onwards to my next great adventure with the namesake of Belgium. I have a travelling companion this time; she and I are supposed to meet at St. Pancras at 6.30 am- our train to Brussels is at 6.50am.
It is all planned to perfection.
I will board the earliest train at 5.38am, comfortably reach the main station at 6.15am and voila – another mundane train journey ticked.
With just a handful of us in the tube, we busk in our sleepiness until the train stops midway. Initially, we think nothing of it. It is just a temporary halt. The minutes turn into 5, 10, 15 – I begin to get impatient and restless. How ever am I going to make it? The announcements go on and on about a signal failure but the latest one apologizes and announces that the entire Bakerloo Line is down and we would have to clear the tube. Excuse me? The Pink Panther theme song begins playing in my head. One by one, we walk to the end of the train and get down with the help of officers in charge. Walking on rail tracks is fun, yes? This is an opportunity not everyone gets. You don’t just raise your hand and say, Hey, today I want to walk on a 107 years old rail tracks in London! but I am more angry than anything. I could picture it in my head – my plan is no longer perfection, it has been utterly ruined.
Harried and pressed for time, I rush out of the station, hail a cab and urge the driver to speed to the station. In his perfectly British accent he says, “We will see what we can do, love”.
I reach the station at exactly 6.49am.
Amazing. Amidst my anxiety and agitation of this unplanned turn of events, I am duly impressed by the speed of the cab. Tipping the driver, I run across the stretch of the station with awkwardness – I just can’t seem to dash across with my 19kg backpack. Bummer. I reach my travelling partner – yes! I made it! But, the train just departed. Fuck that very minute of our lives.
At the end of it all, S and I have to buy a new ticket for her and get mine replaced free of charge due to my legit reason for missing the train. We split her ticket cost equally. There is a sense of denial in me that this happened in London and of all days the Bakerloo line breaks down, it is on the very date and timing I am supposed to leave the city. It amazes me sometimes, how the universe aligns itself in a perfect constellation of serendipity or the exact opposite –and we, are left to respond to it regardless.
In retrospect, it does make my week more interesting and I am not spiteful it happened – as the saying goes, shit happens in life – and this is definitely mild in comparison. S and I have our fun ultimately as we bum through Belgium, Amsterdam and Berlin. The takeaway from this?
Take the cab next time and life is indeed and very much an adventure.
(Photos taken by Ron Fisher, Duncan Davidson, and Reporter#20299 on Demotix.com)