If you’ve ever visited London you will agree that the most morbid place in the city is none other than its lifeline – the Tube (or the London Underground as its known elsewhere). And if you are a Londoner then you will probably know why. The only place where no matter what happens, nobody talks to each other, nobody looks at anything else but a gadget or newspaper in their hands and nobody most certainly will smile back at you even though your bodies are literally stuck to theirs. Maybe that’s the reason why! But in general no matter how happy you are, the Tube can always shoot your spirits down.
However I witnessed the strangest thing the other day. My wife came to visit me at work with our new born daughter and we decided to go back home together on the Tube. The entire experience of going on a 45 min Tube journey with a little infant was fascinating. Firstly people were kind. Instead of elbowing us away like they always do, they actually made way for us to get in first. Next, you notice that almost everyone who can, will want to get a glimpse of the baby. As if its an alien from outer space who’s escaped from the highly restricted facility. And obviously, nothing pokes the deepest cockles of your heart than the beautiful smile of a baby. This instantly changes the mood in the carriage and suddenly everyone wants to talk about her. “How old is she”, asks a brave old lady trying to break the silence. Almost as if it was the question everyone had on their minds but she was the only one to take the initiative to actually ask. “Three months”, says my wife and a couple of other ladies go “Awww”. And that’s it. Suddenly everyone’s talking about her, to her and also creating all sorts of fiction like “She loves the underground” or “She is so comfortable” or even “She is such a calm baby”. I think there is a secret code all babies share. Just like a software will stop working as soon as you have to demo it to an audience, a calm baby, if called calm will always prove you otherwise! Somebody made the eternal mistake of touching the calm baby on her hand and that was it. The next thing you know she is wailing her lungs out – so much so that I was actually contemplating getting off at the next stop. Silence again. Some others who were blissfully unaware of all this now actually look up from their smartphones and question our parenting skills with murmurs about how some parents can’t keep their kids quiet. They perhaps don’t have or have never had children is what I positively conclude and ignore them.
Two more stops and the missus is successful in getting the calmer incarnation of the baby back. Phew. That’s when I realise I have never heard so much noise of the underground before. It’s amazing how you almost never see little babies on the Tube on weekdays during commuting hours. But this experience truly shows that we Londoners are not a weird self-involved narcissist robot species after all. All it takes is a little infant to get our human side back!