Wednesday, March 13, 2013

stories from London

London at night as seen from the balcony at my friend's place.

I have been putting blogging (and many other things) for too long, in hope that I could write when I was in the best mood to write. Today I made an attempt at rearranging my room and building a bookshelf out of cardboard boxes while avoiding all the things I 'should' do, which has now left my room in a worse state than it was before and me with barely anything done. However, enough about that now. Here I'll write about my London trip.

I am pretty sure that I've made the argument of always following your heart more than once before, and it now seems that I always have to go when it is tugged. This has extended to exhibitions of my favourite things, which forced me into getting a job over the summer so that I could visit the Harry Potter exhibition in Singapore. A few months ago, when I discovered that there would be an exhibition of Tim Walker's work in London, I went slightly mental and knew that I had to go -especially since admission was free!

My friend Christina agreed to let me crash at her place, and so we each spent a night on the bed and on the sleeping bag which she had placed next to it while I was there in London. 

It was during this trip that I got to meet Kitty Gallannaugh. I have been following Kitty's work and blog  since I was in high school, and have always loved and admired her photos in which her soul shone through as soft and sweet colours. But it wasn't just that. There are so many photographers out there, good ones, even. I remember and like Kitty even more because I remember sending an email those years ago, just to drop a note saying how much I adore her work when I first stumbled upon it, and to my surprise, she replied! So, a few weeks before I was to go, I sent her another email, asking if she'd like to meet up, and to my delight, she said 'yes'! 

We met up in Waterloo station, under the colossal clock as she suggested. It's been a while now and I can no longer remember the littlest details (I know I should've written sooner), but I remember her standing against glass panels of the small bookstore in the station when I walked up to her. Her head was dipped into her phone and she had on a lovely baby blue coat. I tapped on her arm and said 'hi', and she looked up. I had seen photos of her on the internet before and had always thought she was pretty, however, she is even prettier in person! Perhaps more than that. Her personality's lovely as a whole and it beams out of her as beauty. I could barely believe how lucky I was to be meeting her as a friend! 

She brought me to this rustic Vespa themed cafe where we had hot chocolate as thick as molten lava and sat chatting and laughing for an hour. We exchanged stories from parts of our lives, discovered that we both had crazy first word experiences as babies, and also frowned over how racist our dogs can be. As if all of that wasn't enough, she even gave me a packet of homemade fudge which was, perhaps, one of the sweetest things I've tasted in my life yet was too good and I finished it within an hour later on.

Our meeting time was limited, as I had the exhibition -which had been the primary reason I'd travelled to London- to visit before it closed and Kitty had a class to bring her dog to, so we walked back to the station. There, she bought her train ticket and stood with me for a while until it arrived, then she left through the spinning barrier while I watched till she was out of sight before I turned and left to meet Christina. 

"Please do not feed the cats: cake + cat = fat"

Christina and I went in search for some Malaysian food after the exhibition, which we had both really enjoyed. We found some at this restaurant with a strange name that went along the lines of a hare and a tortoise, and although it wasn't the best food we'd tasted, it was good to have some. It was in the wintery darkness which we walked back to Christina's place in. 

The next morning, we had breakfast together before I left. Christina sent me off at the Waterloo station, where I caught a train back to Gatewick Airport. Except that there weren't any trains that go directly to the airport and I had to change at a different station in the middle of the journey. The friendly cashier behind the counter when I was buying my tickets instructed me to go to Platform 13, however, when I got to to the platforms, I thought I saw the signs said something different so I went to another gate. The train doors there were closed, and rather confusedly, I dragged my luggage down behind me until I spotted a man in uniform. I asked him if that was the train I would take to get to Gatwick airport, and he  told me yes, but I've got to run down to the other guy at the end of the train and ask him not to shut the doors first. 'Run!' he said, as I walked down bewilderedly, so I picked up speed and raced down awkwardly with my luggage in tail. 

I got on the train in time and found myself a place. However, I was still worried that I had boarded the wrong train and that I might be late for my flight. I fidgeted around; getting up to try and read the nearest railway map that was fixed on the wall; peering out nervously at the station the train stopped at and the one that it didn't trying to figure the paths right in my mind. Until another guy in uniform walked past. I hesitated for a moment, then decided that it would be safer to ask than not ask, so I called out to him as he passed. I can't remember precisely, but I asked him something along the lines of whether the train I was on would take me to Gatwick airport and which station was it that I should get out at. I had nothing to be afraid of. He was really friendly and told me helpfully the name of the station I should get out to change at before I could catch the train that would take me to where I was to go. I smiled and thanked him profusely, and was only then able to sink back into my seat in relieve to watch the scene of London houses that played out from the wide train window screens. 

In a whirl of luggages and travellers, I got out at the right station. The first sign I caught pointed me towards some stairs leading to where the platform I was to go, and I started heading towards it. On my left, the train started up again, chugging on to leave the station. Suddenly, I heard a shout somewhere. I didn't think much of it, as I didn't know anyone around me and had never expected that it might be for me. Still, I turned my head, and just as the train swept past me, I spotted the guy who had assured me that I was in the right train earlier on hanging out of the door like one only sees in movies, yelling the platform's name that I was to go to, pointing me in the right direction. It startled me, but I smiled and nodded (perhaps a little too) wildly so that he could see it. The train then sped off, and I was left with the warm feeling of having been cared for, something that wonderfully, even strangers are able to kindle. 


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