There was a strange moment; it must have lasted all of half a second; walking through Green Park in London, watching the cherry blossom fall, the pigeons peck. A man in his late thirties, trim, short, cropped hair, he shouts as his daughter, ‘Come here, this minute!’ only, he is talking in Hebrew. You see, it is a thing, at least as far as I am aware (I can’t account for other languages), that Israelis when out and about tend to blether away at full volume, knowing that the majority will have no clue what they are talking about – sure, there will be the odd biblical scholar walking past, or perhaps an Arab aware of the similarity in sentence structure and word-root, but, by and large, they are talking a language a little like the people who used Apple Macs before 2007 – they were special with their own internal logic, systems and processes – who knows; Hebrew might have an iPhone moment and take-over, although I suspect this is unlikely. Anyway, this guy, shouting at his daughter, and the moment he said this, and my hearing, we made eye contact; I almost stopped in my tracks as I had the sense that he knew that I knew what he was saying; perhaps not the full-circuit of him knowing that I knew he knew, but you never know. There was that split second. No one stopped walking, his daughter certainly didn’t – she ran-off after a squirrel, and I continued. A moment in time. Lost but for the mental note I made. Interesting to consider how much of our life consists of these fragments; discontinuities of experience. Should we make more of them, or are they best consigned to the ether? Mindfulness and moments in time, they drag you out of rumination.
2 thoughts on “Eye contact”
I recall, in the late 1980s, after living for a couple of years in Israel, and having picked up a bit (although not a lot) of Hebrew, I was sitting on a London underground train on my way home from work in the City. An elderly couple sitting opposite me were browsing nervously over an Underground map discussing, well, arguing, over which stop to take to arrive at their destination. They were talking in Hebrew. I interrupted their discussion, and much to their surprise, and to the surprise over most of the other passengers on the train, who can’t have had the first clue what language the couple were using, told them that their correct station was the one after next. A hush descended, and the couple, a little stunned, smiled, showed obvious relief, and put their map away. A similar moment, Rod…
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Yours had a happier ending