The Weeknd and Weird Racism

I get attached to so many things; I get attached to certain songs. I’ll play a certain song over and over until I get tired of it. Until I’ll hear it a year later and suddenly feel like I’m hearing from a long lost friend.

When I was in London, music was my friend.

*to recap: posts about awful time in London here

Sometimes, I’ll hear a snippet of a song and it’ll hit me so hard with a memory, I’ll stand, dazed, for a few seconds.

Music helped me on the 40 minute commute to work, when I was packed in with strangers on a fast train heading to London Bridge. My claustrophobia notwithstanding, I’d keep getting my face smushed into somebody or the other’s jacket/collar/sleeve. I’d also be able to smell people’s breaths 50 times a day. I never thought I’d get this up close and personal with random people in an unknown city; I could have told you that the squat blond woman who stood next to me had taken her coffee too strong; I could also have blithely informed you that the man in the red parka who sat across from me had consumed an almond croissant earlier that morning.

Strangers, strangers everywhere, and the dulcet tunes of The Weeknd in my ear: what a way to live.

I remember which song I was listening to when I was sitting in a bus headed to Trafalgar Square on a Monday (Coming Down – The Weeknd). There I was, sitting by myself, not happy, but I guess not unhappy either, when a frail old woman parked herself next to me. I moved aside to make room and she muttered something at me. Right headphone out, I was half connected to the world again.

“Sorry, what did you say?”

“You don’t have to move, I’m not fat or nothing.”

I did a silent double take, murmured an apology and popped the music back in. This time, the song didn’t really help: I felt weird and out of place. Five minutes later, when it was time to get off, I leaned forward, pressed the button to signal my stop and turned to excuse myself so I could scoot out.

“What the hell is wrong with you Arabs that you can’t say ‘excuse me?'”

All I’d wanted to do was be nice and polite. Also, I’m not Arab.

Another song (Same Old Song – The Weeknd) blaring in my ear, I made my way out of the bus, suddenly feeling the loneliest I’d ever felt on a sidewalk amidst hundreds of people.

The incident disoriented me so much, that someone could be this rude for absolutely no reason, and I decided to just walk home.

So I skipped to the next song (Life of the Party – The Weeknd), turned up the volume and began the journey back. And this is how most of my days went.

Ah, random misplaced attachment.


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