It was already dark. It was cold. Many people were on their way home after finishing work or shopping for the festive season. The tube was full to overflowing with wrapped up passengers and presents.
There were no seats left, after we pulled out of a main station. At each next station, people left but those standing on the platforms took a look and decided to wait three minutes for another and hopefully less crowded train.
Finally, after three more stops, the crowd thinned out. Passengers no longer stood between seats. I sat down on a folding one. Opposite me, an elderly lady took another one right next to a young man. He’d been lucky enough to be able to sit down two stops earlier. His guitar box was pushed in a small space right next to his seat.
Each of them wore headphones. Both were listening to music. Both were tapping out the rhythm of their music on their thighs with both hands. It looked like a beautiful jamming session. But when each started humming with closed eyes to whatever tune came out their headphones it was clear: one listened to a classical piece and the other one to a pop song.
Yet their hands rapped on in a perfect harmony: curl, unfurl, a short movement as if directing the orchestra or band, slapper-slap-slap-slap to a fast movement, followed by tap tap – tap tap to a slow one, then another change of rhythm. Each stopped humming, but hands and fingers continued their slap, snap, up and down movements to the inaudible music.
It was fascinating to watch. An older woman and an adolescent sitting next to each other: different ages, different lives, different skin-colours and hair, different clothes, different shoes, different headphones, different musical tastes, yet their hands creating a perfectly harmonious rap.
After watching them for another two stops, I left them creating their unintentional harmonious rap song and headed into the cold night. They continued their journey, sitting next to each other, yet so immersed in their music they were totally oblivious to each other and whatever was going on around them.