The ties that bind..
Hi Jiae, I really enjoyed your last post. Just like you, I’ve never liked commuting. At the moment I’m working quite near where I live so fortunately I can get 2 buses which aren't too crowded. When I used to work in central London I had to take the tube every morning and evening at rush hour. I hated it – crammed into a carriage like a tin of sardines, your face wedged into someone’s armpit. It drains your energy and makes you feel like a robot, part of some great big, meaningless machine, going endlessly back and forth...
I think what you say about cities is true. People are anonymous. We often don’t know our neighbours, and we spend most of our time surrounded by people we have never met and will never meet again. I don’t think it means we are selfish, or even indifferent. I would say that it's a kind of 'survival instinct'. If you behaved as if you were in a village or small town, said ‘hello’ to everybody, left your front door unlocked, walked slowly and so on, you wouldn’t survive very long. I grew up in London, and I’ve always lived in cities, so it’s not really new for me, but I agree that it can feel a bit inhuman sometimes. Worldwide, the number of people living in cities and urban areas is now greater than the number living in rural areas. The question is, how do we, as humans, adapt to this way of life? Are there any solutions?
Recently, an event called 'The Big Lunch' was organised by the Eden Project. (By the way, did you have a chance to visit the Eden Project while you were here?)
The Eden Project
Here’s a paragraph from their website. What do you think? Is it a good idea?
Most of us are shy, many of us lead single lives and even when we are together often go our own way. Ninety-seven per cent of neighbourhoods are more fragmented than they were 30 years ago. We just don’t gel the way we used to. Isn’t it crazy that 10 million of us are networking regularly online yet we barely know who lives next-door? Yet, inside almost everyone there is a notion that despite our differences, the ties that bind us are important. The Big Lunch is your excuse to cut loose. You’re all invited. Every man, woman, child, cat, dog and bird from every type of community, from best-kept hamlets to inner city estates to prisons and hospitals, all are welcome. All we ask is that you come as you, open-minded and up-for-it.
fragmented - consisting of many different parts
gel - in this context, 'gel' means to form relationships and connections with each other
networking - communicating with lots of other people, part of a network (like the BBC LE community)
notion - an idea or belief
the ties that bind - the links which connect us, for example family or community
cut loose - another way to say this is 'to let your hair down'. To behave in a less controlled way than usual, relax, stop being so formal
hamlet - a very small village
up-for-it - willing to try something
The idea was simply to get people all over the country to have lunch together outside in their street. It seemed to work quite well in some places, although I must confess that I didn't see anybody having lunch in my street. Maybe next year.....
Cities are big, anonymous places, but just the other day, I was on the platform at King’s Cross station, waiting for my train, when somebody said ‘hello’. I awoke from my daydream and saw a vaguely familiar face grinning at me. A split second of uncertainty was dispelled when he introduced himself, and as he did so I remembered him. Akihiro, a Japanese student I had taught for a few weeks about 5 years ago! He’s quite a well-known football commentator back in Japan and I remember he often used to be away watching and commentating on Champions League football matches. (we were all quite envious at the time...)
So you see....it’s a small world!
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