Saturday, February 12, 2011

Travelogue: Orientation

One of the funniest things to happen last evening actually occurred before my friends arrived at Leicester Square. In preparation for the 2012 Olympics, there are construction projects going off all over the city. One of them (mysteriously) has closed Leicester Square.

The construction and the reason for the constriction is posted on a wall that blocks the entry to the park. The notice is explained with a map and a key to the map.(Sorry for the poor quality of this picture, it really was meant to show only that it was all plainly mapped out for you.) The wall contains directions to the businesses who border the square and the streets around the square. It also contains a map and directions to get to the local places. It could not be simpler to follow the scheme.

This led to a number of humorous reactions. From the guy who took out his mobile to call someone and say that he couldn't meet a Leicester Square because it was closed and arranging to meet at Russell Square. (Which is a tube ride away. And as he was calling from Leicester Square, I have no idea why they thought to move the meeting.) To the couple who, unable to get into the park, decided to try and jump to see over the wall at what was going on inside the park. (Please note - the flash burn in the lower part of the map of the park, is at my eye level - about six feet off the ground. This wall has to be fifteen feet high!)

But my favorite was the couple who walked up to the map, had a long and protracted discussion of how they could not orient themselves from the fountain at the center of the square because they could not get there, and then stared at the map, gesticulating in random directions.

After completely failing to satisfy themselves at this point, they drew-out a map and started comparing it to the map on the wall. The constantly were turning the map, staring off in one direction or another, rotating the map again and pointing off in another seemingly random direction. Interestingly, I got a peek at the map, and where they were pointing was nowhere near Leicester Square. It was down by the river in the area of the O2 arena.

This additional turning, pointing, discussing, and revising activity continued for a while. Finally, the couple seemed to come to agreement. They pointed off in one direction toward one of the entries of the tube. They pointed and seemed resolute. "That way." I heard one of them say.

They then walked off in a different and seemingly random other direction.

Well, it is time for me to pack the computer, get checked-out and have breakfast. My car will be here in an hour. I should be home in twenty hours. (Yeah!)

Wherever you are headed today, I wish you a good day and safe travels!

Don Bergquist - 12 February 2011 - Maida Vale, London, UK

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