Squandered time, forced intimacy with strangers and surrendering control to delays - for many, commuting is the least pleasurable part of the day.
Commuting became a prominent part of my life when I took my first job in London. Half a year in, I had given it up as wasted time and survived by zoning-out among the yawns and elbows of peak-hour crowds. I arrived at the office stressed, stewed through the day and returned to the Underground gritting my teeth.
Then, unpacking the last of my moving-boxes, I came across old travel diaries from Bolivia. Turning the pages, I was reminded in the pleasure I had taken in recording the crowds in La Paz. The margins contained sketches of strict traffic police, jazz musicians and determined women with heavy loads, billowing skirts and bowler hats tackling the sloping streets of the capital city.
I determined to look upon my new home city with the same inquisitive eye. With this ambition, my attitude towards my commute transformed. Rather than considering it dead-time filled with grey suits and freemium games, sketching the people sharing the carriage forced me to recognise the great diversity around me and observe the many ways commuters in London and abroad cope with this very modern source of stress.
I still want to remain unnoticed on my daily circuit, but it’s in order to capture an honest portrait, rather than to disappear in the crowd.
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