I never feel more like a rat in a maze than I do in a Metro or subway system.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s an energy. So many different kinds of people moving en mass, all with different agendas, it’s electric, but the the underground shuffle is a soulless place. There’s very little eye contact, even fewer smiles, and lots of rushing to get where ever that very important place is that we are all traveling.
I like to observe when I’m smushed up against a door or hugging a pole with four other people. I look at what people are wearing, which ones sit verses stand, good shoes and bad shoes, who has headphones on. I try to imagine what they are listening too, what makes the journey less…well, less lemming like. I also look at what people are reading. This last trip all the books were in French, but I tried to see if I recognized any of the titles. French is a tough language, there are lots of words, I gave up.
People move through these systems, individual human beings with jobs and cozy couches, families and friends, but all of that is stripped away when they scatter through the tunnels like mice. I look for the soul, partly because I’m on vacation and I have the time, but also because I want to know, I’m curious.
In Paris, there is one station where you literally come around the corner like a critter looking for cheese and you see what is in the video above. I took my own video, but I keep putting my finger over the damn microphone, so this one is much better. The music fills the entire station and most people keep walking, but their pace is different, a little slower.
Some people stop, they listen and their faces warm and they are not just a black coat or a nice suit. When they listen to the music, I can see them, kissing a lover, watching a movie or throwing laundry in the dryer, for just a second.
It’s so lovely. It is as if these musicians saw the void, felt the cold, and they decided to offer up some sunshine, warmth, for a few euros. Human beings are really wonderful sometimes.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Lulled to Sleep.