It is obvious during rush hour on London’s underground the pandemic is just another memory lost in its subterranean tunnels.
The underground is busy. I resigned myself to standing for the entire journey to Southall from Tottenham Court Road tube on the newly opened Elizabeth line. To my surprise, as I prepared to steady myself for the journey, a young man offered his seat to me.
He looked about seventeen years of age. He stood up and beckoned me to sit down pointing at the seat he had just made vacant. I was surprised for a number of reasons, but at the foremost of my mind, are you serious? I first looked around thinking he must be referring to someone else. Do I look that old?
He looked at me again and insisted. I acknowledged the kind gesture with a big smile but declined the considerate offer.
Next tube station was Bond Street and the young man again offered his seat to me and I happily accepted this time as I could see he was getting ready to leave. Nothing to do with age!
An elderly Asian couple then boarded the carriage. A woman who appeared to be in her 20s and sitting in the seat next to me and a turbaned man in his 30s who was sitting across from me, both offered their seats to the elderly couple.
The elderly couple were taken aback by the gesture. Their profuse thanks suggested they were not used to such considerate behaviour. They were touched.
Then a young man who was sitting on the other side to me, as if wanting to be part of these exchanges, offered his seat to the young woman who had just offered her seat to the elderly couple.
At this point we all laughed in unison. Something wonderful had just taken place that broke the ice of alienation usually experienced in tube carriages filled with people who try hard to avoid any sort of connection.
The young person who first offered his seat to me, who had by this time left the train did not get to witness what his gesture had started but it made my day, and no doubt it did the same for the others. The unassuming young person who had started this wave of gratitude was not present to witness what he had left behind. I pondered on this.
People are nice, they want to do good, they want to look after each other, they want to feel connected and have a sense of connection and a shared experience that is joyful. He had no idea what he left behind but whatever it was, it connected us for a moment. That connection was pregnant with reverence and joy that still remains with me. Little things matter and what we leave behind makes a difference.
The last Poulstone blog was written three years ago in March 2020. It was written when the first lock down was announced. I said in that blog, see you on the other side. How were we to know the other side would take so long to get to and once there, filled with uncertainty.
Poulstone wakes up from the pandemic years realising there is a lot of work to do. It is finding its direction through the compass points of reverence, connection, joy and what we leave behind. It’s our new mantra. … and little things matter.
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5 March 2023
Rajesh & Divya