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Long commutes and strange sports

Ah, the joys of commuting! And the power of jinx! Just yesterday I had a stray thought that there had not been major transportation problems on my commute for quite a while. Lo and behold, today was a disaster.

When I arrived at my train station in the morning, the monitors were showing most of the trains cancelled due to “landslide and fire at London Bridge”. Some trains were diverted to another London station. A station worker, though, was barking into a megaphone: “Ladies and gentlemen, they found vast quantities of oxygen ignited next to large quantities of diesel. I am dead serious. On your return back, you are likely to have the same conditions. If you do not have to travel today, I suggest that you go home”. Some people did leave the station, although I have no idea whether they thought it a splendid idea to stay home for the day or simply figured alternative routes.

Due to my eleven meetings scheduled for the day, I had to stoically wait for the train. Luckily, I do not need to go all the way to the city, and even diverted service would stop at Lewisham, where I change for DLR. The first arriving train, however, was packed to the limit – impossible to get on. Some hapless travellers tried to penetrate the wall of human bodies and shouted “Move down” to the people inside, but with very little success…

I decided to wait for the next train, in about twenty minutes, and then make a decision whether to return home and call into all of my meetings or try an alternative route and arrive at the office by mid-day. The next train, thankfully, had enough room for people at Mottingham. And even for most people at the next station. But afterwards, history repeated itself with hapless blokes trying to get on and shouting “Move down” – only I was fighting for my personal space inside the carriage.

In the end, the trip only took about half an hour extra. Not entirely disastrous. But mindful of the guy with the megaphone, I decided to go a completely different route on my way home, one that I never used before. It involves taking the tube from Canary Wharf in the direction opposite of the city for one single station and then getting on a direct bus that stops not far from home. That fairly simple exercise did not go too well either, as the bus broke down just about quarter the way in and everybody had to get off. While me and five dozen other lucky people were waiting for the next bus, the driver suddenly announced that he had fixed the problem, and everybody rushed on board again. The bus then proceeded along circuitous and painfully slow route to the destination. When I finally started to recognize the environs (i.e., we were approaching my stop), an order came from the lower deck to change to the bus behind us… Overall, another hour and a half on public transport. It’s as if I never left Tri-State area…

Becky, meanwhile, learned to play a weird team game in school, called rounders. It’s in a way like baseball, but not really. There are nine players to a team. There are four poles (which one could call bases), but they are positioned in a trapezoidal shape in front of the batter. One team defends when another team bats. The inning consists of every player on a team having a go, regardless of the number of outs. Each at-bat consists of a single pitch – whether you hit it or not, you run. Your aim is to round as many bases as you can, but you only get a point if you round all four in one go; you get half a point for reaching the second base right away. Getting to the base is formalized by whacking the pole with your bat – you do not get rid of it when you start running. The defense gets you out if they whack the top of the pole with the ball while you are running towards it. Whew!

Becky, apparently, made enough of an impact in her phys-ed class to get conscripted into varsity team. Her debut was a valiant losing effort to a neighboring school.

They change sports every few weeks at her school, by the way. They already went through netball (which is to basketball what пионербол was to volleyball), field hockey, gymnastics, sports dancing and swimming. Now it’s tennis and rounders. Interesting approach!

Kimmy, on the other hand, is much into dinosaurs these days, because that is what they study in her second grade. On our couple of trips to the Natural History museum during winter, she was scared of the dino displays. Now she is begging to go there and take another look.

She also is growing to be a fellow impressionist admirer. We bought her a children’s book at one of the exhibitions that we visited last weekend, about a girl who is introduced to impressionism and Degas’ dancers in particular. Kimmy read it through several times already.

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