Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Urban Diary

The double decker slows down to a smooth halt as it arrives at the bus stop. After the doors burst open, there’s a hissing sound indicating that the ramp is being lowered to assist a passenger who might find it difficult climbing up the steps. In this case it is a Jamaican lady, or maybe Trinidadian or Barbadian or Dominican. The truth is that I don’t know, but that she is from the Caribbean I have no doubt. Her sartorial choices betray that fact. There is her peach-coloured church hat with the white borders to begin with, her long, loose-fitting buttoned-up, beige or cream dress, her black and flat shoes. Above all, it is her humble but proud demeanour that announces she belongs to an organisation like the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Her eyes look tired, perhaps from too much Bible-reading. There is a half-smile on her face that seems to say “I’ve seen it all, son, and then some more”. Her white hair with still a few streaks of dark in it is not combed and yet it suits her perfectly.

Sunlight bathes the lower deck. A young man gives up his seat for the elderly woman. Perhaps she reminds him of his own grandmother. For a fleeting moment, as the black of their skins rub together accidentally, I can hear the susurrus of history pages being turned and the whisper of an old forgotten hymn being recalled.

The bus goes past the community centre, the new, Turkish-run banqueting hall and the recently refurbished police station. I press the red button and stand up. As I walk past the Jamaican/Trinidadian/Barbadian/Dominican lady, I look into her eyes. They might be tired from too much Bible-reading, but they are still full of life.

© 2014

Photo taken by the blog author

Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 21st September at 10am (GMT)


  1. Still a lot inside those eyes indeed, hopefully the brain too lol

  2. A most fine vignette, CiL.

    A ride on a bus can be most revealing to someone who is not lost in a book or in his own thoughts or, these days, talking on or playing with some electronic gadget. It can be like going on a tour -- looking at faces and wondering about the lives they hide or reveal, as your imagination might lead you .... neat work here ....

  3. What an absolutely gorgeous image. And it made my yearn to sit down with that woman and listen to her life.
    Thank you.

  4. Lovely - just one of a million reasons to love cosmopolitan London!

  5. I loved this. I'm also pleased to read that a young man gave up his seat ... I thought that was out of fashion these days. Sorry for the sarcasm, I really did enjoy the picture you painted of a wise old lady.

  6. I wonder what a stranger would when he or she looks into my eyes. I enjoyed your post Cubano, felt the village in you.

  7. This is powerful, and thank you so much for posting this. I also appreciate how you elaborated on how the double decker buses work, because we don't have these here in Montreal. It is good that there is a ramp for the disabled. In Montreal, we have what we call accordion style buses, because this style of bus is kind of like two buses in one, separated in the middle with what looks like an accordion.

    Thank you so much for your comment on my blog post, you are welcome by anytime. The Just for Laughs gags that I post...a good majority of them are done right here in Montreal, where they are located. I am so glad you enjoy them and that they make you laugh.

    Warm hugs to you, I love your blog.

  8. Most beautiful thing I've read today. Such clarity and poignancy. Thanks!

  9. It is strange how a person's eyes never matter how much the body changes, the eyes remain the does the story they tell.

    Aah..such a heart-warming story...oh I simply adore this.:)

    Have a Fabulous weekend...

  10. i'm glad that there still is life.. i love to watch people on the bus or train....they all have their story and just by how they look and move they share a bit of it

  11. Estoy leyendo y viendo perfectamente la imagen que relatas.
    Me gusta mucho como escribes.

    Saludos desde Chipiona (Cádiz)

  12. It is true, no matter how much we age our eyes remain the same.

    We used to have "accordions" in London, too. I wrote about their sad demise a while ago as part of this Urban Diary series (

    Many thanks for your kind comments. Have a nice weekend.

    Greetings from London.

  13. You did a wonderful job capturing the moment with your words. Not only are you very observant, but your words fairly sing. And resonate. Just wonderful!

  14. I love this - a slice of life in the city.

  15. My current goal is to try to figure out how to make my writing "tighter"--since I do so love lots of words. This post will serve as inspiration to me; it is shortish. But it is so very full.

  16. I may at times be tired from meds, but never, ever from too much bible reading. (since I never do any at all)

    Magnetism humming from her, perhaps? That area is a hodgepodge, but you focus in on a little piece of the life very nicely.

  17. Nicely observed piece of writing and lovely insight into a multicultural city



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