Messages to my dear friend, Monica, as we share our experiences of being a mother, the things we learn from our little girls, everyday and the lessons we learn from life itself.
A Blog-dialogue across continents, countries and oceans of time and space...
(We last met in 2000 A.D, in India.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Journey of a Mum:

As I walked to the car last Friday morning, on my way to Swindon to see my brother and his family, (Raj and Shivangi were dropping me off to the Leagrave train Station) I checked my bag and shared some last-minute concerns with hubby (Where the kids' socks, underwear, day/night clothes are kept, how early they are likely to get up over the weekend, where the Paracetamol was kept, how to reach School, in case he needed to ring there, etc etc.)..I tried to calm myself down and push away the feeling that I was, somehow, abandoning my family over the next two days, to cope as best they could without me... Raj reminded me we had discussed this and decided this together already-WHY I simply needed this time: to unwind, to revitalise myself and find myself again...

The Train journey began tentatively, with me learning (again) about the various tickets, and stuffing them in the pocket on my Jacket. I lugged my backpack to the Platform and waited. A passing train hurtled past a minute later and I realised that it was, indeed, a GOOD IDEA to do this trip alone first. I would have had a hard time with the two girls, tickets, luggage etc if I were unsure of it myself! I told myself there would be plenty more chances to visit their Mama-Mami and took mental notes to listen for the warning over the PA System, and hold them back safely behind the Yellow Line, as instructed.

 As my train approached, I got onboard and settled down. Soon, it was off again, and the city stations gave way to a free-rolling meadowy landscape that made me itch to fish out my phone and take some pictures... Conscious as I was of the many people around me, I suppressed this desire, contenting myself with making the images stick in my mind instead!
Soon, we were rolling into London St Pancras International, and it was as magnificent as ever- just the way I remembered it from a previous journey alone a few years ago. At the time, I had gone to Victoria to get Mum a Visa for India. That first journey into the Great City was a true adventure for me. now, as a mum with kids who are growing up swiftly, and with my brother here for a year, I needed to make ever effort to make the twain meet!! Getting off the train into St Pancras, I soon joined the massive horde of people walking, purposefully towards the tube. I stopped briefly to consult a London Underground Map, to make sure I was heading for the correct tube station in the right direction!! If I goof up, I told myself, I'll have ended up far away in another direction...(and miss my connecting over-the-ground train, too.)
Map of the London Underground Tube network.
I mentally thanked and lauded the people who had done their homework, making so sure there was a map of the tube or string of stations before my eyes stopped moving, so I knew, at every junction of the maze, where I was supposed to be heading!! That I did not, even once, have to re-trace my steps is thanks to the nature of the Maps (both whole and part thereof, with relevant sub-stations depicted) themselves...The Designer in me was marvelling at the Font Size, placement and positioning of the signs, whether on walls, ceilings, 'stand-alone's or along tunnels to the tube.

The tube was not choc-a-bloc, as I had travelled during 'off-peak' hours, but people facing each other resolutely averted their gaze. No one smiled. There were no 'friends who took the tube together to work' kind of people about. Everybody just stuck to themselves/ their companion(s) and waited to disembark. I smiled to myself, thinking about Shivangi and her nature: remembering how she chats away at the TESCO Checkouts, looking into the eyes of perfect strangers, giving them a winning smile and saying boldly, "Hello"... This always gets her a smile and a mini-conversation always ensues!! I took this time to take stock of the surroundings, realising I'd be better-off giving the kids some of their belongings for the trip, in a backpack of their own- as they don't (yet) have a Nintendo DS, maybe even a doll or a plaything; unless it got left behind. That would be horrible...!

As I reached my destination and spent an idyllic two days being calm and chilling out with my brother and sister-in-law for company, I had time to rethink, unwind, rewind and come up with enough can-do spirit to last me a  few months. I, bravely, decided that it was now or never. If I wanted the kids to see their uncle in the holidays, I would have to get a move on and do something about it soon!

As Prachi and I went for walks, went out shopping and visited their friends, I realised how good a change can feel. On my return journey, I was much more confident, and got on and off the trains easily... I had time to really appreciate the Stations, their Architecture, the new 'Language' v/s the Old where vaulted roof structure in steel coexisted with a steel space-frame with the appearance and engineering of a tensile structure. The scale, the beauty, the light and the whole space filled me with joy and awe...!


Beautiful steel Vaults with Tensile Steel links across the span. One of the many Platforms. 

The Old and the New.
The Kireet sir & 'Frei Otto' memories:  East/west concourse, King's Cross.

The Scale of it takes your breath away...!! Lit by natural as well as artificial light...

The lattice of Steel, Glass and Natural light
Daylight catchers along the periphery
Go West!! Looking towards the westbound links.

The 'sentinel of light' Tree-like and beautiful! 

St Pancras International:

Looking (and walking) across towards St Pancras.

Old and New Juxtaposed...
Level one, Inside!! Beautiful and Poetic: Arcs and the Arches
London, 2012!! (See the Olympic rings!!??)