12/8/15, late morning (11:30am), Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square
After a morning of London’s infamous weather, the rain stopped and the sun appeared. I started my journey to the tube, casually passing St. Stephen’s Church. A symbolism of history dating before 1900, placed among fancy and new establishments in Kensington. I wonder if any of the phone consumed people realize what their passing on this gloomy day. My walk continues to the Piccadilly Line with other people moving at a slow pace.
I forgot how much I dislike the Piccadilly Line, it’s so small and crowded. I was bumped by a man’s new paper while I tried to find a space for myself. I would have grabbed the pole, but a woman had her whole body wrapped around it. Finally found a place for me on this train, occupied with so many people. I can’t help, but notice the color of red beaming from different corners. Red hats, scarves, bags, and umbrellas everywhere. Is this a coincidence or the holidays are here? I hear 2 foreign languages, one being Spanish and the other Chinese I think. Such a diverse group of people in the tube car. In crowded places like this I always think what is everyone’s story? Why you are here and where are you going? What’s on your mind and what’s bothering you? All of these people surrounding me have a story to tell and I just want to listen. I want to learn about them, their culture, and how they identify.
I step off the train, the sound of Christmas fills the platform. It puts me in a good mood, I can’t help, but to smile. I found myself running with the crowd towards the lift that was about to take off. I forget how deep underground the tube actually is. Underneath the streets of London is another city of commuters. I found myself thinking about the times people used the tracks as a way of safety from the war that was happening above.
Out the station and immediately surrounded by different shops. Little groups of people wandering everywhere, looking lost as if they don’t know what shop to enter first. The Covent Garden Market is filled with the holiday spirit, I can’t help but to embrace it. I over hear families discussing Christmas list and plans. I feel out of place, I’m a plane ride away from my family who I miss more and more each day.
The Covent Market at 12pm and filled with busy workers, rushing around setting up shop. The market is simple and the atmosphere is calm. Even though the workers are rushing around, I can still feed off their happy holiday mood. I walked inside the market and found the beautiful holiday decorations.
While I gaze over the lights, I hear a women singing opera. As I look down from the balcony I see a women preforming. The people who are eating and drinking outside the Crusting Pipe resturaunt, look at the women with smiles filled with love. In the corner of my eye I see a man collecting money for the women’s performance. The women’s singing reminds me of the history of Covent Garden. This was the home for many artist, I can’t believe I’m walking on the same ground as the famous artist from the past. This used to be the center of entertainment for London and I believe it still is. More people are surrounding me, enjoying this women’s talent.
I continue to walk and stumble upon another street performer. His act was differed from the women’s in various ways. Even though he didn’t have as large of an audience like hers, he was performing in an open space that included a mic and speakers. As time passed more people started to stop by and he engaged with the crowd. I felt a strong presence of a free expression in Covent Garden, as a place where people can showcase their talents and hope for rewards.
I decided to leave the Market and head towards Trafalgar Square. On my walk I passed the back streets of many restaurants. This was where the trucks unloaded the food and the workers would bring it in. It was only 1pm so I assumed this is why business seemed slow. I knew I was getting close to Trafalgar when the atmosphere changed. The streets went from empty to crowded, I passed three different tourist groups taking photos of the National Portrait Gallery. The holiday spirit from Covent Garden continued into Trafalgar Square. I saw men dressed up as Santa Clause and women dressed as elves. I continued my journey and saw a man writing on the ground. As I approached him I realized it was street poetry. His poems were focused on the injustice happening in the world. It was interesting to see two contrasting themes in the square. His poems said “Stop bombing children, stop justifying murder, thou shall not kill” In that moment I felt sad. As people around me embraced the holiday spirit I could only think of those suffering. Innocent people being attacked and killed regularly are part of the reality we live in. His words symbolized the unpleasant events happening during the holidays.
As I continued my walk I felt a rain drop hit me. I looked up and realized the sun was leaving and it was about to rain to again. I rushed to take a few more photos and hopped on the nearest tube. I realized I was on the Bakerloo, a line I never took before. As I walked down the stairs a man asked me for directions, I helped him and then he left. The end to my journey made me realize my time here in London is done. The weather symbolizing my bittersweet emotions of flying home. The man asking me for directions shows how as a person I have lived and adapted to a culture that is not my own. London was one a strange place, but now I kind of know it like the back of my hand. It’s been a great semester, but I’m ready to leave and return to my family especially for the holidays.