Sense of Direction, London

{From a couch in a London burrow}

 Maps for the London Tube splash bold colored-lines across the walls, policemen on roadways whistle traffic orders shrilly, and London crowds surge forward with purpose hurrying you along whether you wanted to fast-march down that seemingly never-ending escalator or not. There’s a beat to London that you can fall into step with, a polite but smirking ebb and flow to the cosmopolitan six million that travel the Tube everyday.

I’ve moved base to my aunt’s house in London since the end of my Oxford program and will be here for the next three weeks until the leaves turn to red and burnt gold and the wind – or in this case, the Eurostar – takes me across the Channel to Paris. In a way, I’m just waiting. I simultaneously have nothing and everything to do, as I’m helping my spunky younger sister, Devina move back into boarding school at TASIS in Surrey tomorrow and will later work around coordinating all the odds and ends of both our errands.

It’s a little like standing still with a compass; the arrow isn’t quite sure where to veer so it shifts about unsteadily, invariably leading us back this past week to the brightly lit shops of Regent & Oxford Street. Here too directives command the scene: posh designer brands set the season’s tone on Bond Street which tumble down orange skirts and broad-brimmed hats down the block to similar knockoffs at H&M and River Island, where obedient trend-followers hurry into fitting room queues.

Meanwhile, time lulls or rushes in a singular direction, as all of us who’ve ever wanted to control it know. In ten days, I’ll be turning twenty, cutting away the safety net of blaming any foolish action or indecisive behavior on “being a teenager.” To echo a common sentiment of many of my peers across the U.S. this year: I thought I’d be a lot more figured out by the time I became a twennysumthin.’ The various colleges on campus try to sweep us into degrees much in the same way the London crowds surge us along. I strongly want for some inner compass to stop the rush of time and ambition long enough to map out a decisively desirable path to blockade against the nightmarish situation of my future self finding me on a long escalator to law or business school still anxiously wondering whether I’m even moving along the right boldly colored life line.

There’s a blurry line between the angst of early teen years and later teen existential crises. What we once bemoaned and felt awe-inspired by at sleepovers from sleeping bags in my parents’ living room has in a way just shifted locations to conversation on friends’ dorm room futons and twin-sized bunks. There’s always an urge to spin life’s compass; to challenge whether North is actually where you want to head as college searches morph to graduate school quests which further glide towards “true responsible adulthood…” namely an actual career that pays actual bills that you didn’t just pick based on the last TV show you got obsessed with.

But then there are those wonderful moments like today, when I’m still nineteen and just finished eating a crêpe and falafel with Devina on the top floor of Selfridges, comfortable in the knowledge that we knew exactly what street and stop we were going to head towards on the Victoria Line. My sense of direction and purpose in life for once was certain as we got off the Oxford Circus escalator…right before my new season’s maroon hat decided to challenge all winds and fly across the platforms. We called after the deaf traitor, our chase surprising the populous enough to break the crowd into amused individuals, some who even helped rein back the winged hat. For a moment all order and direction seemed far away and we laugh together with strangers. But the train came in accordance with the timetable and well trained, the organized purposeful crowd returned.

Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

4 thoughts

  1. Excellent read. Don’t worry too much about the future. Concentrate on the present. The success in future is entirely dependent on your work in the present.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love reading your posts. This one is so different and interesting. I feel I was there with you as you moved with the crowds down that long escalator or when your hat flew away! Each one of your posts has something new to offer and that’s why I enjoy them. Keep them coming…I look forward to reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Nikita, I just loved this post. Very nice interplay of deep inner thoughts and mundane day to day external surroundings. Keep them coming, the next one is awaited eagerly.

    AarTee

    Liked by 1 person

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