04 April 2019

Please mind the gap

Rush hour in Amsterdam. You’re departing from Centraal Station on the metro which, already having had people onboard, is quickly filling up as you move down the line. It seems to be taking a while, so you’ll definitely be back later than you thought. It’s not a problem though—you found a seat, and you plan to stay in it. After a short while you break out from beneath the city, allowing a beautiful view of the early winter sun as it send vibrant colours across the evening sky. Back in the metro, the aircon is earning its pay check by keeping the carriages at a bearable temperature, so you and your fellow passengers are comfortable. You disembark at your stop, and perhaps hop on your bike and head home.

-26/03/19, written on metro 51 from Centraal to Zuid

The sharp corner of a folding bicycle sticks into your leg

Rush hour in London. Those extra 7 million people seem to all be sharing your exact carriage on the underground. You’re in a tin of sardines but with less air to breath. How can everyone be going along your route? Dante described the nine circles of hell, but somehow missed out the Circle Line at 5:30pm on a weekday. The sharp corner of a folding bicycle sticks into your leg, but in the crowd, it is impossible to see who the culprit is. After the journey of pain and discomfort you step eagerly from the carriage—or rather, you are carried by the swell of bodies and borne up the steps and escalators towards the promisingly fresher spaces above. As you leave the tunnels you feel a rush of warm, stale, and slightly off-smelling air whoosh from the depths at your back—the ever-present, all-consuming roar of London’s cavernous underbelly.

-29/03/19, written on the underground between Kings Cross and Liverpool Street


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