Russell Square, Central London

London was not my first choice for the fieldwork component of my master’s degree in public health, but after opportunities in Saigon, Hong Kong, and even the Sudan fell through, it was my only option. I shelved my notions of adventures in exotic, maybe even dangerous places, and touched down in Heathrow on the Fourth of July for something staid and European.

My hotel was only three blocks from the Russell Square Tube station. I passed through it every day en route to the office where I was helping to put together a conference on pandemic flu. I found the Tube convenient and charming, from the odd message “This line for Cockfosters” (Cockfosters is a town at the end of the Piccadilly Line) to the mechanical yet oddly maternal warning to “Mind the gap” between the train and the platform.

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