well less than the norm. usually more packed than this
thoughts

it happened on a Thursday

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“pardon?” I said, not able to hear Kevin over the familiar ‘de-duh-de-duh’ of the Tube train

“how did you know what we were talking about?” he repeated leaning from his seat closing the gangway gap

sitting back and gesturing with my hands, I replied “I don’t know”. a smile crept across my face. “when you live here for so long, when you take the Tube for so long……you just know!” I finished as we all nodded our heads in agreement. the slim blond haired lady to Kevin’s left continued to smile to herself and her paper as she had been from the conversations sudden inception until now

now how did we get to the above?

it’s funny. that same day, I was talking to someone about how even a short exchange of words on public transport here can brand you as insane and then what happens to me later but a full conversation with strangers

how it started was nothing out of the ordinary. you get on the Tube. some people look at you. others don’t. some are checking you out etc. this time I was already in a phone conversation with my lovely wife when I noticed that this father and son pair were talking about me in their indigenous tongue. thinking I was distracted (or otherwise not knowing Tube etiquette), the dad motioned to the beat-up pair of headphones (Sennheiser HD-25 I’s *fist in the air) that can always be seen straddling my fro and basically asked his son whether or not they were much cop to which the boy said in a bored or exasperated tone: “much better than that”

see at this stage, according to London Transport etiquette you’re supposed to a). ignore this and keep on talking etc b). give them looks and cut eyes for the rest of your journey or the unthinkable c). respond…in some type of fashion. I am Nii-Teiko so I usually choose the unthinkable and decided to continue in this vein

now I’m well aware at how they may freak out: a dark skinned African / Black brotha with a bassy tone posing a question that can always come off as aggressive (plus there was British Transport Police right next to us) but I like to push that. it’s important. removing people from their comfort zones

anyway it started with
“excuse me. you were talking about my headphones?”

“pardon?”

(now I admit, I did enjoy ever so slightly lean back and enjoy the uncertainty of the situation at this moment but hey…blame it on years of oppression or just me being me but yeah…it is what is is. anyway)

“my headphones. you were saying they weren’t any good?”

“no, no, no”

what it turned out to be was that the boy (whose name is Vidante I later found out) has a friend who wants to buy headphones and was looking at a pair of Monster Beats by Dre. my dislike of Beats runs quite deep (despite my possible future purchase of a pair of Beats Mixr‘s – to be explained another time) so I began educating son and father about how to purchase and what equipment. yeah…they were nervous at times, unsure where it was all heading and gauging their escape routes, but it was cool. so cool in fact that the father (whose name I then found out was Kevin) began to ask me questions about where I was from, how long had I lived here etc and also began to tell me something’s about his own life: he had a Cameroonian roommate while studying in Houston, was here on holiday but leaving the next day, had visited London many times before. a funny moment was when I asked whether he was staying for the Olympics to which he motioned to his son saying “school” in a duh way that made me feel quite small lol

an exchange

after we all shook hands, exchanged names and just before they departed he espoused about the motivational speaking platform TED and asked me to watch some particular videos on TED: the first which has been on my mental list for sometime and the second I was peripherally aware of. Kevin told me so I’m telling you. look below

told you

so yes…we can have conversations as sane human beings on London Underground. I’d just thought I’d tell you mine

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The Almighty’s Blessings

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