Sure our personal devices help us create our own bubble to immerse ourselves in but I personally find gratification in bursting that bubble and watch others float in their own. Having recently come back from a year working at Disney World a majority of my office consisted of bright colours, permanent smiles and genuine hugs so it was a rude shock to come back to Sydney where wind, rain and grey were all in season. I feel like an alien in my own home town, and I felt the best way to combat this alienation was to keep busy and apply to as many jobs as possible. I was grateful to come back to was a train system, despite being it now being called SydneyTrains and not CityRail and the introduction of an Opal Card system. Despite living in the Western suburbs my train line is a straight shot into the city and I love that hour long train ride into the city. And that is where I love observing my fellow passengers.
I should have been focusing on the job interviews that I was headed to but my attention was drawn to a pair of elderly Asian ladies, I want to label them as Chinese. They have their white visors securely on their heads, thick track suit pants, tennis shoes and purple and grey jackets to warm themselves against the dreary weather we are having. They ambled to their seats and began chattering away.
With the multitude of languages that exist, a lot can be assumed by animated gestures and the tone of one’s laughter. I imagined these ladies dressed in elaborately embroidered fine silk robes discussing trade and politics. This daydream however is punctured by one word from their conversation I could understand. SKA-BA-RAH FEH. I believe there is no equivalent in their language for Scarborough Fair and one lady attempts to hum the tune of the song.
My daydream shifts. They are still in their elegant robes, but this time one is telling of her sojourns into the West and about a melody that hypnotised her. I smile to myself at this fabrication that I’ve created; it’s probably riddled with anachronisms and suddenly the daydream shifts again. They are still in their robes amiably chatting away and one goes to sip her tea, her sleeves slip and on her dainty wrist sits a white gold diamond watch. Anachronisms, my daydreams are full of them.
Next Stop Central Station.
The two ladies get up, their oriental garments vanish and their back in their frumpy jacket and sweat pants.
First interview went…well, it went. I’m at Bondi and in the time between the end of winter and spring it’s a rare sight to see a bikini or board shorts clad body on this world famous stretch of sand. And today is no exception, there is no navel gazing today because Bondi is blustery so that you have to bend slightly if you’re walking against the wind. God speed to the young mother clad in under armour pushing her baby in a pram in this weather, its good resistance training but I don’t see that in my future anytime soon.
Isn’t it a wonder as to how our temperaments come to be? I jump on the bus (tap on) from Bondi station and the bus ride into the city yet again proves for fruitful in the exercise of people watching. Now its little people…. This bub can only be 1 and a half at best. He’s dressed in a onesie that’s splattered with the moon, shooting stars and planets. He may not have the ability to form sentences but he is sure knows the power of his voice. The bus begins to move and he starts to whine. His mother is cooing and telling him it’s ok. Space onesie baby is still unsatisfied and he lets the whole bus know. He’s getting louder. He stands in his pram. Oh boy he just got louder. Why don’t I just put my headphones in and retreat into my personal bubble now? But I persevere with my observations of mother and son…. Great now she’s threatening to leave him on the bus. Sure empty threats are going to work on an incoherent infant. My perseverance is rewarded, another mother has hopped onto the bus and her baby is the sun compared to Space baby. This one is a girl; her cheeks are chubby and bright red. She’s chubby all over and stuffed into a bright blue park and completely silent.
My simple mind is fascinated.
On one hand before me is a child causing havoc with his mother not being able to calm him down while another simply sits in wide eyed silence at her surroundings. The romantic in me begins to wonder if 20 years from now I wide eyed girl falls for a loud mouthed young man whose completing his course that will one day make him an astronaut? Nicholas Sparks Novel what?!?
I get off at the stop opposite Hyde Park and just in front of Davis Jones with an hour to kill for before Interview number 2 and I know precisely where I’m going. The tea Centre with the wall behind the register crammed with tins of different kinds of tea. I sit upstairs surrounded by grey suits and dark skirts…. People really like matching the weather don’t they? I skype my heart 14 hours into the past for a little bit whilst I sip soup. He has to go back to work and my mind is left to its own devices.
I stare off into the space and a quote from the Mad Hatter written on a mirror by the stairs reminds me that magic can happen anywhere. Eight ladies walk up the stairs quietly chattering to themselves in Japanese. This I’m sure of as I catch familiar phrases of the language that my sister practiced over and over during high school. This has got to be worth the people watch! Women who come from a culture where having tea time is an intricate art form. The waitress puts together 3 square tables together and explains what the soup of the day is. 8 blank semi confused faces stare back at her. An awkward turtle is left ambling away in the wake of this awkward interaction and as the waitress takes her leave the middle aged Japanese ladies begin to giggle and discuss the menu items. The waitress comes back, takes the orders and repeats who has what just to make sure. More Japanese chatter as she leaves.
A silence that resounds with reverence descends upon the group as the waitress appears at the top of the stairs carrying a tray of upturned teacups on matching coloured plates. They wait with bated breath; the waitress unceremoniously places a saucer and teacup before each lady and disappears to get their tea. It’s subtle but there, the ladies lose an air of formality in their posture as they realise they aren’t in Japan anymore Pikachu. A language barrier appears before me and I can only assume what they are discussing by their gestures. The conversation turns to the labels stamped on the bottom of the cups.
I feel more comparisons are made to how their tea is being served, but I’ve got a manager to impress. As I’m at the counter, the waitress begins to carefully climb the stairs this time lades with scones and hot tea.
These observations occurred in the span of 4 hours however a colourful imagination took me beyond the confines of a train and bus and into China and the future. This was just a colourful account of what otherwise would have been a dreary day. So remember guys just because we can create our own little bubble or music and apps there is a great big world that exists in your mind and if you let that infiltrate your everyday you can make your day a little more exciting and bearable