Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Londoner moment

I have repeatedly been claiming that London is not one of the cities I feel myself completely attached to, like I do with Istanbul, Berlin or New York even, recently. However, today, I felt once again that I have somewhat become a Londoner in the last 2 years. It was not an instant of someone asking me directions and I could say it right away, no, I've been having them quite often. It was a much unexpected situation.

I was riding my bicycle from the LSE, where I work, towards Bermondsey, to attend the screening of the docu-drama "The Age of Stupid" held on a boat near a wharf, one of these converted agglomerations by the beautiful Thames riverside, where used to stand large warehouses and shipping facilities. D. had invited me to this event, held by the new ecomonics foundation. I am hoping to write on another entry about my complicated feelings and thoughts over the whole 'green' issue as well as issues of reformation and revolution... However, let me go back to my mini-story here.

I decided to cycle from the north side of the river and take the atmospheric Tower Bridge to cross over the river. It is always a joy to walk over Tower Bridge, but cycling on it is another experience. Thanks to the nice weather and long summer days, I was to have a really nice view passing over it, too. Only a few minutes before I would turn into the bridge 2 cabs almost crashed into each other in front of me, making one maneuver right in front of me, causing me a full stop, followed by a huge truck that could not anticipate my stop and passed my unprotected vehicle and self right at my ear level. After recovering from the shock, I noticed the huge queue of cars before the bridge.

As I switftly rode past the cars, I realised that the bridge was open to allow possibly for a ship to pass and people, cars, and bicycles alike have all stacked on each side of the open bridge. Just by when I got to the bridge the platform closed, the barrier between them lifted and cyclists, in front of all the cars, started pedalling through the bridge. The cars, ever impatient, started taking over some cycles, pedestrians walking on and running away from all vehicles, and tourists taking picture of all of this mess.... And there I was, in the middle of it, cycling through it as this happens every day. I saw so many tourists being so excited about this. Polish tourists (or residents alike) who never dreamt of setting a foot in London years and years ago, Italian kids as they pop up from everywhere, an Indian descent or a south American wanderer. Everyone was taking pictures of what looked like a Tour de France, or a mayhem of cars-cycles, or a mass protest, rolling down Tower Bridge, whilst the sun was setting in the west, over London Bridge, and dying beams of it reflected through the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf in the east.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures, as I was being taken pictures of. But at that moment, in the middle of all this excitement, I was milly enjoying being observed, keeping my cool and perfect timing of getting on the bridge and trying to make it to my desired place on time. I was like a proper Londoner for that instance, and I have to admit, I liked it.

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