2:00pm on a Friday : I stifle a yawn as I stare at my to-do list on the table, clearly indicating my interest in those items. I try to shield my eyes from that bright yellow post-it pad and look at the distant sight outside the window. The cloud cover and tiny droplets on the panes tempt me further to pull out the book I’m carrying in my bag, and dare into a mid-day slumber on my rather comfortable recliner!
I see two colleagues pass by, murmuring at the printed sheets in their hands, and about ‘GeniusIT’ not producing the right numbers. I recognise one of them and we exchange customary smiles. I chuckle inside my head at the ironic name we’ve chosen for a system that is unable to produce what we want! Perhaps calling it ‘GuessIt’ is better suited, at least if not the numbers, it will stand true to its name. I smirk at my own joke, before regaining composure, and decide to get back to my excel sheets.
A few minutes later, I look at the light drizzle outside the window again. Small droplets begin to slide against the panes. I smile to myself thinking, London won’t remain the same if it doesn’t drizzle as lightly as is naturally possible, at least once a day! And, it can prove to be some fun when you don’t have to rush somewhere. I lightly stretch and stare at the changing shapes of the clouds. Locking my computer screen, I rummage for my tiny umbrella in the bag and make my way to the door in quick steps. Crossing the turnstile downstairs, I smile at the familiar face of our security guard. ‘Have a good weekend!’, he politely wishes as I spring open my umbrella and turn left outside the big glass doors. The small raindrops begin to pitter-patter on my umbrella, and my mind begins to play names like from a reel, of cafes and coffee shops that I may stop by a little later. I ask myself to slow down, and to not think so far ahead already. I breathe in deeply and blink a few times trying to be present in this moment. Among the raindrops, on the wet cemented ground, in the wet shoes and with the cool breeze that is enveloping me.
I cross the square and take to the sidewalk. I begin to enjoy the drizzle, that’s become a tad heavier than before. I see a number of black cabs zoom past. I follow the curve of the road, into the narrow alleys between tall office buildings. There are colourful umbrellas everywhere. I step into the archway that lines a large number of small and lovely take-out joints – salad bars, Thai, Indian, and Mexican take-aways, soups and sandwich joints, you name it. Most of them seem to be wrapping up, and closing for the day already. I take the tiny corridor that opens the archway onto the road perpendicular, joining the main street. Traffic here is heavy, but orderly still for a Friday afternoon. I cross the street at the signal and take to the sidewalk at the other end.
Walking on the main streets in central London can sometimes feel like a quick time-travelling exercise. Each corner turns into a different landscape, a different era. The Victorian church-spires and cathedral domes stand tall among the new glass skyscrapers and high-rises. London’s architecture and skyline are perhaps a testimony to how we can adapt to changing times while retaining some of our old self intact, within. Deep in thought, I stand at a corner and capture the views into my phone-camera. I decide to take sepia prints of it later, when I get home.
The drizzle has finally taken a pause. I walk some more, and wonder if the sun will show up. The forecast says clear weather for the rest of the evening. Wanting some tea now, I google the nearest cafe and make my way there. It’s abuzz with people but not crowded, thankfully. I order a chai-latte and pick a corner seat. I finally pull out the book I carried in my bag all week in the hope of catching a read, lay it on the table; mix some sugar into my tea and settle in for a cozy time. The light music they are playing in the cafe adds to the mood and I begin to tap my fingers on the table.
Tip-tap, tip-tap-tap, tip-tip-tap, tip-tap-tip-tip-tap-tap… when I suddenly hear ‘Ramya, can you help me with something?’. I recognise the voice but I find it tough to place it here. And, I hear my name being called out again. I look to my right and it’s my intern, looking at me possibly as quizzically as I am looking at her right now. I sit up quickly and look around, look down at my hands on the table and it dawns upon me. Taking my face into my hands, I burst into a laughter and look up to say ‘Hi!’ to my intern again. She smiles but from the way she is looking at me, she probably thinks I am part-crazy. Or, fully maybe!
After I help her with the query, I glance at my watch. 2:25pm, on the same Friday afternoon. How easily the mind wanders, I think to myself. How our mind weaves reality with wishful thinking and paints the picture we want to be a part of, within minutes! And, that’s the brilliance of the power of imagination.
I drop a text to my husband soon afterwards, ‘Meet me at the stairs outside your office building. We are going for a walk in the city this evening!’.