The Journey

On Thursday 27th September I intended to be at London Stratford at 7 pm for a charity event. I booked my train on the day of travel and just to avoid taking the tube I booked the ticket only to Euston.

I thought my brain was working faster than anything and that I had everything fixed and sorted. My aim was to get a taxi from London Euston to Stratford centre. On arrival at Euston station at 5.50 pm, I opened my Uber app and requested for an Uber pickup. However, things were not meant to go my way as an error kept on flashing on the app.

I was adamant to make it work so I wasted another 15 mins in trying to do so without any luck. I checked the time and that’s when panic started, it was 6.15 and I had no clue where I was going with no taxi available. I blamed myself on my naivety of not using the tube. Now even if I went on the tube finding my way through the underground would be a task.

I consoled myself that I have my phone and have internet and of course where there is internet there is google. I then searched for taxi companies in London. I tried calling the first taxi company that came on my google search and after taking all my details they bluntly said, unfortunately, the system is telling us that there is no taxi available nearby. What? Couldn’t that have been conveyed before wasting another 5 mins?

I then called a few other taxi companies and the waiting time stated to me was 40 minutes minimum. I tried one final company and hurrah a breakthrough. The driver was on their way and would be there in 10 mins.

That was one horrible wait as the thoughts of him not turning up kept piling in my head and the idea that I may not be able to reach the event was killing me.

Finally, the black ford appears and I sit in the taxi. I greeted the driver and he greeted me back. He apologised for the delay and asked me what time I was meant to reach Stratford. I told him it was 7 pm but that will not be possible any longer henceforth 7.30 is the aim.

The driver asked me where I was from because I am sure my face gave away the anxiety and confusion which made him ask. I told him I do not live in London and whenever I have travelled to London I always ended up in a pickle partly because of my unfamiliarity and particularly because of my own so-called smartness and overconfidence.

Here started my journey or as I like to call it my London tour. The driver knew every place of London basically in simple terms an image of the early 1970’s to present. On each road, he told me what was reconstructed and what existed there before. It was as if we were going back in a time machine with my mind picturing every detail as he explained so eloquently.

In every word, he was saying I could sense a pearl of love he had for this city of tourists. After all, it was his home for a good 30 years.  He told me this city had seen huge changes in terms of infrastructure he pointed at all the big, tall buildings and told me there was none of them present in the early 1970’s.

I didn’t even realise when my form of address changed into Uncle Nano Mia.

On every street, there was someone he was waving at and me astoundingly asking him if he knew the whole of London. He brushed it off saying that driving on these streets has formed this bond of friendship with people who he sees daily.

What struck me the most was that even though I was so worried his conversations made my mind forget  the fact that I was getting late. I enjoyed the journey so much that even the crowd of cars and tooting horns did not bother me at all.  Soon when we were at our destination I couldn’t believe we were already in Stratford. The amazing aspect was that I arrived at 7.15pm.

I asked the driver if he could pick me up at 8.45 pm the real reason was that I really wanted to hear more about London because it was as if I was not travelling but sitting in a history class.

On the way back I realised that Uncle was really fond of Green Street and how this area has been really close to his heart particularly because of the array of shops specializing in primarily South Asian goods, which reminded him of his cultural heritage.

We arrived at Euston Station at 9.15 pm and he told me to take care of myself as it was dark by now. He told me to give him a ring anytime I come again to London and he will make sure he is available to be my chauffeur.

I sat on my train with my head back on the seat and thought about the amazing and incredible journey.

Featured image | Taxi! | Vitorio Benedetti | flickr

The views and opinions expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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