Love For London Town
I step outside into the sunlight from the dregs of the underground, where my senses are overwhelmed by the life of the city. The air is thick and opaque, clinging to my skin like a dirty mist. I smell smoke, from people around me and the traffic that congests our roads. There’s an ongoing murmur of conversations, a woman sits at the side of the road begging, a man stands by the entrance of a shop playing the accordion, somewhere in the distance a madman shrieks curses to himself. Most don’t look at one another, most go to extreme lengths to avoid and ignore each other.
I am home.
I’ve made it a game for myself - a social experiment perhaps, that whenever I return from any travels, I make a mental note of how I perceive my city. It’s as if I’m seeing it with new eyes, fresh senses and an open mind. When back from France, I remarked how dirty our streets were. When back from Italy, I moaned about how overcrowded our areas were. When back from Nigeria, I observed how lonely we all seemed. After recently coming back from California, I thought the city looked so sad and grey.
The first few days back from any holiday are disorientating. You experience an inner turmoil, while your settings forcibly drag you out fantasy mode and back to the reality of your responsibilities. You fight it for as long as you can but eventually you give in and a resentment forms inside you. You’re angry at the air pollution, angry and the pushy rush-hour tribe, angry at the lack of sunshine. You claim you’re over the city because what’s so special about it anyway?
In my short existence thus far, I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of cool cities and pretty paradises but I can confidently confirm that yes, London is unique. Even with its over the top prices, its overflowing population and its “British summers", give this place a bit of sunshine and London comes alive like no where else. I could mention the incredible art here, the eclectic fashion, the history-making music but it’s more than that. It’s the multicultural nature of the city - the diversity in Brixton, the mix of class in Notting Hill and the clash between the sane and insane in Camden.
London is the world’s melting point of cultures and that is why we are one of the greatest cities in the world.
Yes, places like Paris, LA and Amsterdam have numerous communities speaking different languages and practicing different faiths but these groups are unfortunately segregated from one another. They create their own little suburbs and rarely branch into each other’s neighbourhoods. In London, there isn’t enough space for each culture to separate itself off. We all have to squeeze in where we can and just bloody get along! As a result, we teach each other, inspire one another and network hard.
For that sense of community and that exposure to a whole host of people who look nothing like me and think differently to me, I’m willing to take all the rush hour madness that the city can throw at me! London, love you long time!