I seem to be waking up at the crack of dawn these days. After 6 months of living inside a windowless cabin that’s pitch black with the lights off, I’ve become hyper-sensitive to morning sunlight. I had planned to take full advantage of these bonus hours and go on morning runs, but then I remembered that I hate running. I only run if I have a really good reason. Like if I was late for something or trying to get away from the scene of a crime.
After being on the ship for so long, there have been other subtle changes as well. For instance, I seem to grin a lot and occasionally say hello to strangers whom I pass. On the ship, we are required to smile and greet all guests, so it’s just become a force of habit. Smiling and greeting Londoners, especially on the Tube is amusing. The common reaction is a look of unadulterated fear, while quickly looking away. The first time I took the Tube in 2004, I happened to make eye contact with the guy sitting opposite me. “Hi, how’s it going?” I offered. He hurriedly got off at the next stop.
I arranged to meet an old flatmate Trevor, for lunch in Brixton. I used to live here 5 years ago and am surprised at how gentrified it’s become. We had a lunch of wood-fire pizza and wine at Franco Manca. Normally, when you go out for lunch in London you need to be prepared to sell a lung in order to afford it. But this place was actually quite cheap. Within minutes, a piping hot pizza was in front of me. I went to add parmesan cheese to my pizza, generously pouring the grainy brown stuff all over it. Wait a minute, is parmesan cheese brown? At the moment, the waitress ran up to me with a shocked expression and gasped “That. Was. Sugar.”
The owner came over, burst out laughing and offered to replace it. Which was great because I’m pretty sure brown sugar doesn’t go well with pizza. Soon after, he brought over a new pizza and jokingly put the brown sugar out of arm’s reach.
The pizza was delicious. Like I’ve had pizza in Italy before and this was better. Apparently everything was organic as well, which I was under the impression is just a scam to make people living in polluted cities feel less paranoid about not getting cancer. But it was tasty, so maybe I’m wrong.
Another thing I noticed about London, is that everyone was eating and drinking at break-neck speed. Everyone seemed to be in a rush, even though it was a Saturday as if they had a fire to attend to or need to pee really bad. Meanwhile I am still firmly set to “ship-life” speed. I was happy to eat and drink slowly, and just enjoy being in the present.