London Underground x Life

Faaiz Gilani
4 min readJun 24, 2023

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One after the other, trains come and go, taking hundreds of people to their destinations…

If you ever come to a station, you would see zero interaction between people

Avada Kedavra! Voldemort, facing Harry at the end, cast the fatal curse, ensuring Harry’s demise. The young lad was ready to embrace death, which is why he went to Voldemort in the first place. As a twelve-year-old kid, reading these pages, I was keen on figuring out how the magical book would portray life after death. Would Harry be transported to a heavenly version of Gringots where an angel would proceed with his judgement, or will he open his eyes and be in the company of Sirius, Lupin, Lilly and James Potter? I had my bet on the latter, yet his arrival at King’s Cross Station, a train station, had the young reader pondering about the role of train stations for years to come. 11 years later, as he boards the underground trains and passes by King’s Cross, his mind begins pondering about a relationship between life and trains.

Be it the Elizabeth line, District or Hammersmith, a common feature is how you have no mobile service through most of the journey. In the past, this has turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to read books, listen to music or play with the babies accompanying their moms. However, recently, these journeys have elements of self-reflection associated with them. Maybe I am an overthinker who keeps himself engulfed in these thoughts? I won’t blame you for saying that, but London Underground and the train journeys resonate with life in general.

Nearly nine months ago, (but it feels like yesterday) I had my first journey on the tube. Now it feels like pure stupidity, but back then, it was the logical choice of what I am going to tell you. At a station where you would find three different train lines on the same platform, rather than learning about those and figuring out which one to board exactly, I randomly decided to sit inside one, hoping it would take me to where I wanted. There was a ⅓ probability that I would take the right one and ½ for the connecting line that I would later take, even if we factor out the possibility that I could take a train in the opposite direction (a common mistake here). Yet I found myself at the start of Oxford Street in no time! Isn’t this how life is too? Sometimes, despite hundreds of possibilities, we are cruising towards some destinations and blessings without wondering what could have possibly been different.

But luck does run out eventually. For my first whole week, somehow, I always boarded the right train until one day, while going to UCL, I realised I was going in the wrong direction. Sometimes, even in life, you end up at places where you did not to be. Come across sticky situations. You wanted something else. Resisting the urge to call it a “Canon Event”, the train took me to the wrong path, but rather than fretting over it, I decided to exit, walk across to the other platform and boarded the metro that set me back on track. I was ten minutes late to class, but at least I did make it to my destination. Same with life! Even if you start a journey with a bad outcome, rather than cursing yourself and believing the agony would continue, you need to take a step back, plan the way forward and choose another path to fix things!

These days, life is ambiguous. I know the destination but am unsure of the path I am to follow. It feels like trying to go somewhere new, using the London underground, but at night. You relied on navigating your way through the various trains using Google Maps, but the stations are buried far below the ground for internet signals to reach your ‘new compass’. A sigh of relief as you recognise familiar train routes in the hope of reaching the destination, but the uncertainty of trains late at night, meant that none of your planned routes are usable. One train, two trains, would you soon be out of options? No one there to tell you where to go as the rest are occupied with their hustle. At that moment, anxiety and fear cripple your spirit, making you wonder what is the way forward? Is there even a solution? That is how I feel these days, with life proving to be way more unpredictable than it usually is. There is a firm belief that it would all be sorted, just like how I eventually managed to reach my destinations using the underground trains, yet the uncertainty and fear of the unknown, similar to trains not working or facing severe delays at night, are wreaking havoc inside the upper half of my head.

Maybe in the future, I will look back at this time and wish to relive it. But as it stands, “Garam Garam Samosay, mera future Allah kay bharosay”, as I forget these worries and try to develop culinary skills in the kitchen instead.

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Faaiz Gilani

An aspiring writer, with no prior writing experience, talking about his experiences to help others getting bored in Quarantine……….enjoy my short stories!