Is This London Undergrand?

Microsoft launched series of “Realize Your Potential” print advertisements to communicate about its mission “Enable people and business to realize their full potential”. Among them, the ad named HAT got Eric‘s attention when we talked about Subways in New York. “Which subway station was the picture taken?” He asked.


© Microsoft Corporation. Src

I didn’t know the answer before a picture on the Shanghai Weekly came into my sight. It was a report on the city of London with some pictures and a subtitle – “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – Samuel Johnson. The picture shows another underground station in London. It seems very similar with the one shown on the Ad.

From the Ad, I can only tell ULAS from the wall. I guess it may be a station near Universities of London Air Squadron (ULAS) in London? Is it the underground station in London named “Brompton Road Underground Station”? If anyone who can recognize this picture, it is appreciated if you can confirm where it is.

Curiosity on Life

This is a vivid example of curiosity for life – the rational motivation for many things we did. I enjoyed the time to search for the answer for the simple question “Where is this station”, and enjoyed the excitement when I happen to see the picture on my dinner table. The research time and the excitement moment are quite rewarding to me. It brings something new to life, so the life is not boring at all. Sometime the reason we travel, ask, research, and study is simply out of curiosity. Curiosity is the genuine human being’s instinct that must be satisfied. The city life, sometime, has killed the passion so people feel boring, while there are millions of poorer people who are happier.

To raise the question is more important than the research. Eric gave a good question (and interesting one) so I want to continue to research like a Sherlock Holmes. The other projects I participate sometimes are also started as good questions. For example, there is a question on the website of Confluence Project web page: What does the point 30N 119E look like? The only thing I knew was, it is a point in the Zhejiang Province which is 300+ km away from Shanghai. To find out the answer (or to satisfy my curiosity), I spent two days traveling there and one night at the miserable 10 RMB per night hotel. Upon my return, I recorded Incomplete Visit to 30N 119E. There is nothing to do with money, nothing to do with project schedule, or customer, or work item, or coding, or anything that is common in daily life.


Samuel claimed that “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. It is true. I would rather further state the same sentence to be “When a man is tired of ______, he is tired of life”. There is a blank space there and you can put almost every place name or even any noun to the blank space and I still believe the statement is near the truth. For example, we can put the follow terms. Try to read it again with the new terms.

  • Shanghai
  • Xujiahui
  • Pudong
  • China
  • my neighborhood

It is a simple philosophy many books kept telling. Some uses extreme samples. Xavier de Maistre wrote the Journey Around my Bedroom (mentioned in Art of Travel) revealing how much he could discover within his own bedroom – he got more than people travel to the world. The same philosophy was repeated in Helen Keller’s Three Days to See. It is purely about the way we treat life. Both set us thinking, wondering what we do under similar circumstances.

Update It is Paris Subway Feb 20, 2005

Thanks DongXi and Carsten to confirm the subway on the poster is Paris Subway. To be more accurate, the Porte de Lilas Station. I recognized te Lilas to be ULAS. The subway of the subway in these two cities are so similar.

Look at this picture castern found for me. It is exactly the station the poster was taken – it is even from the same angle to take it.

Image in courtesy of CREDS report

Thanks! I know I will get an answer within two days.

16 thoughts on “Is This London Undergrand?

  1. It is definitely NOT the London Underground. The Tube in London has a very distinct symbol: sort of like a hollow target sign, red circle with opaque center. I pose another interesting clue: is it ULAS or LILAS? :)

  2. May be Paris underground. The name of the station is “Porte des Lilas”. For some reason “Porte” was shortened to “Pte”.

    ok, let’s try:

    “When a man is tired of Xujiahui, he is tired of life”

    …well doesn’t quite work for me. Far from the truth to be honest, very far. Though i can feel some very strong connexions between getting bored and living in Xujiahui.

  3. Well seen, DongXi !

    Take a look at :

    There are more photos of this Paris Metro Station.

  4. DongXi and casten, YES! It is that station. I saw exactly the same image in the report carsten provided. Thank you!! It is one of my archivement in this month.

    DongXi, let me explain what I claimed – the point is, it is not the PLACE that determine whether or not you can enjoy it. It is YOU, the person in it to enjoy it. The sentence itself does not praise the city of London or the place you choose, it is praising the heart of the person. Or you can put the sentence this way: “If you even cannot enjoy Xujiahui, do you think is there any reason you will love Paris?”

  5. I think its important to travel and see as much as you can of the world and for everyone there is one (or a few) unique places of which they love. Having spent the past few years in a very small university town in the US, I constantly hear my fellow students complain of the boredom of our daily life in this small place as most of us are from major cities. In reality, this place has as much to offer as any of those places and it is our own, no crowds or anything. Its also strange to feel like I just want to finish up and graduate while my friends out of school keep telling me how much they miss school…I know the thing I will miss the most is the opportunity to travel once I graduate, that is why I really am hoping to work in Shanghai (or at least in China) where I will have many destinations convenient for weekend getaways or even a chance to discover or rediscover parts of a city that aren’t that familiar to me to begin with…

  6. Ni hao, Jian Shuo!

    I receive your blogs daily now and enjoy reading about your life

    experiences. If I come to Shanghai to work I hope to meet you and your wife Wendy. What you say about visiting different places is zhen. We bring ourselves to wherever we go. However, it is more fun to know oneself when you relate to the spirit of an environment. Agree?


  7. chengb02, exactly! The sentence I quoted does not discourage travel. It does encourage people to get prepared and using the point of view that he can enjoy his own town, or neighborhood before he go out. After that, he will definitely enjoy the trip more than just grasp the bag and go out

  8. But the chances are, that you will come back and find your beloved neighborhood NOT so beloved as before…

    As examples I like Dalian, Yichang and Hongkong better than Shanghai because of the nature environment and the kindness of the people there, said in general.

    Something to think about for the selfish Shanghainese…

  9. Carsten, I know my idea is not easy to understand. I draw the conclusion after hours (more than 20) of reading books on it. Let me try it the third time – I mean it is the person who is in the city who determine whether he can enjoy the city more than the environment itself. No one want to ignore the differences of cities and there are some general accepted cities, like Hong Kong, but a happy man will enjoy even the worst city and an unhappy man does not have the ability to enjoy the best place in the world. We can discuss the difference between Shanghai and Hong Kong and Dalian, I am interested to start a new thread, but it is the point I was discussion here. Thanks for your comment to give me the opportunity to explain the idea again

  10. It’s the station “Porte des Lilas” or “Pte des Lilas” on the 11th line (East of Paris). (brown line)

    I’m going through it everyday, so maybe I should start a blog ;-)

  11. As I wanted to say, the subway of Paris is different from the underground of London.

    In the subway of London, you have only one hall for one way (sometimes the other way is on the opposite bound of the plateform), and there is a tunnel for only one way; while in the subway of Paris, you have the 2 ways in the same tunnel.

    How’s the Shanghai’s metro ?

    The Confluence project is great, and it has been the reason needed of many of my useless trip in the nature ;-)

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