The sun was shining very bright but it was not giving London any warmth humans could sense. The warmth was coming later possible with love. Albanny Korrow like most other males on the train platform was dressed in bithermal attire which could be comfortable in both mild summer and mild winter weather. Albanny Korrow was wearing his most predictable outfit; suede wallabies; trousers, shirt and jacket; all brown corduroy but of different shades of each other. Even his iPad cover and suitcase were brown. As he has about to embark on the train he was instantly bewitched by one of the very few ladies around.
The lady was tall, blonde, of average build and pretty but unusually dressed. She wore a dark blue bithermal sporty all-weather coat which had multiple detachment zips; it could be worn as a knee-length coat, a jacket or a gilet. Her footwear was orange converse, leggings were purple, the skirt was blue jeans and her grey jumper made of fine cotton. Her dressing also hinted she might be a colourful personality. After the curiosity of her clothes caught Albanny’s consciousness he realised that he had seen her before; they were both in an auditorium together for a few hours for some lecture. Albanny’s memory was frighteningly good; he never forgot faces, real or virtual. The lady was even his friend on LinkedIn but they had never spoken to each other. Albanny was very active on social media and had 4000 contacts of Facebook, 2000 on LinkedIn and 6000 on Twitter.
As they sat opposite each other on the train, something he had calculatedly done to share the journey with the lady, she smiled at Albanny. In his mind, he mused “why do you bewitch me with your smile, so” and smiled back. The lady’s lips, smiling or not, were a joy for Albanny; fantasising about them would only end up flogging him emotionally. It was as if both Albanny and the lady could not wait to start using their iPads as the train started pulling out of the station. Albanny logged straight into the LinkedIn account and saw her name and picture. She was Sinead Hay, professor of visual sociology at Goldsmith College, University of London. Sinead was checking her emails while Albanny added her Facebook friend. Within five minutes she had accepted his friendship as a Facebook buddy without realising he was sitting directly in front of her.
One of Albanny’s bad habits was he would stare almost rudely at anyone or anything that caught his fancy. Some of his friends called him “Notey Al” because he seemed to make copious mental notes of things that captivated him, making him oblivious to anything else around. Sinead was his latest fascination. She appeared very approachable but there was something elusive about her. Another bad habit of Albanny was his incurable proclivity for “pranking”. Albanny lived by high personal moral standards but easily lost his morality when playing pranks on people. He had lost many friends and had swarms of enemies who wanted to even the score with him just because of pranks he had played on them.
Sinead’s dress code was not congruent with the power and authority she exuded without trying. However, she was uncomfortable with his Albanny’s ceaseless staring and launched a message on her Facebook page which read, “This African guy is sitting opposite me and staring at me with Orwellian eyes, I wonder what he wants?” Albanny saw her Facebook comment and smiled. He then introduced himself to Sinead, “Hi, my name is Albanny Korrow, and may I know yours, please?” Her response was restrained, “Hi I’m Sinead, grand to meet you”. Then she gave Albanny a diamond opportunity, “How are you?” and delightedly responded, “I’m the best”. Sinead took a good like at him and then commented on her Facebook page “This African guy sitting opposite me guy thinks he is Irish”.
Albanny an ardent Hibernophile, he had Irish blood from three generations ago and liked among other things the way the Irish used the words ‘grand’ and ‘the best’ in exchanging pleasantries. It did not take Sinead long to follow up her initial Facebook comment with “I hope this guy is not going to chat me up, he is not only staring at me but be is getting friendly”.
Albanny had to keep the conversation going before she started ignoring him. He liked her very much and wanted her attention. Albanny seeking to be more significant to her, asked Sinead, “Are you off Toronto?” Her eyes narrowed and she looked a bit disconcerted. “How did you know that” she cuttingly retorted. “O! I am an amateur dress code analyst and I can often tell where a British person is travelling to by their dress code alone,” Albanny said with some doubt.
Unconvinced Sinead accusingly inquired, “what if I am going to pick up a person at the airport?” which he easily handled by saying “I see you are not carrying any luggage but you would not be dressed like that for a meet-me-at-airport engagement”. Her annoyance seemed to turn slightly into congeniality when she admitted, “You might have a point there. I am going to Toronto”. Albanny Korrow was no fashion expert; he saw her destination on her Facebook page and also her thanks to her friend, Darusia, for taking her luggage for her to Toronto the previous day.
Sinead now took the initiative to affront Albanny and it seemed she was good at it, “Why have your kept your eyes on me since we got on the train”. “I have an aesthetic dysfunction in my brain”, he replied, “I often get visually mesmerised by special people and special things”. He then added, “I just perceive, I do not objectify or judge what visually mesmerises me”. Sinead liked Albanny’s remark and quickly commented on her Facebook page “At least the guy opposite me is interesting to talk to”.
When the ticket-man on the train came up to their seats to check their tickets midway through the journey he was an irritant in the enjoyable ambience they were creating for themselves with each other; he came and he went most insignificantly. Albanny and Sinead were now into each other to the point of enthusiasm or new friendship but there was no romance vibe to it, yet. At this time Albanny should have attempted for romance because he was without a lady in his life and willing but as tempted as he was, a prank, as a rule, would do his soul better.
Albanny then stepped up his game, “Sinead, do you think I could chat up a beautiful, tall, blonde lady who exudes power and success just because we happened to be sitting opposite each other on a train? I know my place, you know”. He was benignly playing “race”. Sinead was visibly disconcerted by Albanny’s misplaced and unnecessary comment and went on the defensive-denial mode opening with “I am not that kind of person”. Albanny made it easy for her by saying “please, I apologise for projecting my insecurities on you”. But Albanny had gotten Sinead where he wanted her. She was now actually giving him unobstructed sincere attention. She was not even peeking at her iPad anymore.
When they both got chatting about their lives to each other, they were predictably matched with those of metropolitan single professionals living in London or most Western big cities; single; no kids; owned a flat with a grossly under-used kitchen (or even under-used bedroom); fed up with lodgers; had a mostly un-driven car; did incessant local and international travel; concerned about their ageing parents and the like. They never discussed their love lives or careers even though those were the two issues that have dominated their thoughts for years. Sinead was uncomfortable saying she was a professor and maybe used her unusual dressing as a distraction from the fact. Albanny, an academic preferred being addressed as Mister and always joked, “I do not get paid extra for being called Doctor”.
It became clear that Sinead was ahead of Albanny in virtually everything in life but age. Tough. As he started to lose hope in a social relationship of some sort with Sinead, she unexpectedly asked him, “Why are you single? You are tall, handsome, sound, educated, got good manners, so why?” to which he sincerely answered, “I spent my youth chasing after women that mostly turned to be commitment-phobes, so I have myself to blame”. Albanny was flattered.
The conversation could not continue because the train trip had ended and there was minor chaos for passengers sorting their luggage and alighting the train. Now both on the platform again, “We get on well on the train; it would be interesting to meet up again. What do you think?” She responded by giving him her business card. He had none to give. Albanny and Sinead then shook hands sharing the “warmth” the sun could not provide and parted ways before they got into the airport; he would have preferred a hug so much more. Albanny had carefully tailed Sinead for a while in the airport till she checked-in at a counter and sat down. Albanny knew there were going to fly the same plane to Toronto.
On Sinead’s Facebook page Albanny then commented “I have had a wonderful train ride with Prof Sinead Hay and must say she is the loveliest person I have ever met travelling. I will attend her plenary lecture and paper presentation at the Visual Realities Conference we are both attending in Toronto. I hope she will attend my paper presentation too.” Albanny waited for three minutes expectantly as Sinead found her Facebook page on her iPad, she suddenly stood up and was looking around with keen acuity. Albanny grinned happily, and in a place shielded from Sinead’s view, smugly whispered to himself “she is looking for me”.