Ignition! Trains. Times-Tables. And ‘Minding the Gap’.

.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Today I met my new student Erik. He is eight years old. His mum is from Spain; his dad is from Poland. And he loves… trains. There is a London train station sticker on the wall in his living room, and it says, ‘Erik Station‘ on it.

Within the space of approximately an hour, Erik and I ended up talking about a bunch of things today. While trying to better learn some times-tables.

And, I learned some things. Like about the speeds of London Underground trains. When certain models had been made. About… tramlines in Valencia, and about how five or six of them have been disassembled to make way for Metro lines, and how only a few of the tramlines now remain.

Erik is a kid who emits this nice energy, Maa Shaa Allah. His mum is lovely too. And I also learned that his father and step-mum happen to live… just across the courtyard, essentially. You can directly see their balcony, from Erik’s house.

The Metro in Warsaw. How the 100 bus here, near Tower Bridge, is fully electric. About the bells on certain buses; about how Erik’s been on a steam train before. About how he really likes white chocolate, and mint chocolate.

I learnt that there is a sleeper train that goes from London Paddington. To Cornwall, as I later Googled to discover. I learnt that it’s something of a shared experience: sitting at the front of the DLR as a child, to pretend to be the driver.

I love that we can be fascinated by things. That we can love things. That seeming ‘borders’ can just… ‘effortlessly’, and organically, be crossed [Erik: eight years old, Spanish and Polish, ethnically. etc. I: tasked with helping him learn his times-tables and with some reading. Twenty-one years old, Bengali, ethnically. And the rest.] Not to sound like Sheldon from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ here, but… I, too really love trains. I found, today, that I could talk about trains for hours, maybe, because I really do love them. I, like my fellow human beings in general, seem to love… learning, too. When I’m learning about things, and in ways that, that directly appeal to me: mind, heart, and soul.


Mind the Gap‘: between… who you ‘were’, at, say, eight years old, and whom you are, today. And: ‘Mind the Gap‘ between people who, you find, might have different skin, hair, eye colours to you, different ages, backgrounds, and so on. But: are these ‘gaps’ really even so wide, after all?


Some homework for you, then, Dear Reader:

Grab a piece of paper.

Write ‘I LoOoOoOve‘ on it. Decorate it, if you want. Add some nice elements of visual emphasis to it, if you want.

And write down the things you just know that you love. Let these things sprawl all across your page. You might want to put these things into colourful clouds, like how Erik did, with his numbers today.

Let the love pour out through your pen. Chocolate, trains, the smell o’ coffee, colourful conversations, conversations with kids… Keep writing until you, hopefully, get to that giddy feeling in that heart of yours. So filled with excitement, fascination, and the rest, that you find you could almost be sick with it. That, I think, is a feeling worth honouring:

What, do you find, ignites (and, perhaps, has ‘always’ ignited, and still endures the test of time and continues to do so) that heart, that soul, that God-gifted entire brilliant and wonderful mind of yours?

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