Ahh. . London. .I will miss thee. .

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Saturday, February 25, 2006

My bags being re-packed, heavy coats and longjohns given away, I am ready a bit early. Spending some time in the internet cafe on the corner to give a fond farewell to a very user-friendly city, albeit confusing to get around in.

Went to finally meet an internet friend, Chris, who has been living here as an EU resident with his Irish wife for a couple of years now. Met up at the 'walkabout' pub, a place with an *ahem* aussie theme to it. Fortunately one of my newfound friends from the hostel was an authentic Australian, name of Justin, and set us straight on what what was factual and what was fanciful. Also with us was another hostel friend- Edouard, from France, whose ten day immersion in English had him speaking better than his girlfriend did after a year's study in Ireland.

I vaguely recognized Chris, I had seen bands he played with in boson years before, and he proceeded to school us on the ways of London.

What I learned from Chris:

1. London is fashion conscious. An 8-inch bleached blonde Mohawk makes people think you were a roadie for the Clash, or something. (this could be a good or a bad thing, depending upon the venue). .
2. London loves it's music! People turn up for shows, local radio plays local music, people know the words to songs after only a few songs. Men dance, and surprisingly, the women dance with them. Bands get actual money and aid from record companies. The music is well done, even when you don't hear a hit.
Instruments and amps, like practice rooms are generally of high quality and rented by the hour or day.
3. Only amateurs, tourists and suburbanites take the tube. Those in the know take the bus to get around, saves money. Besides, the tube turns into a pumpkin at midnight, and if your fave pub is one of those that stays open till there is no one left, you need to take the "night bus," which, although it's maps are extremely cryptic, does get one to their destination after four or five bus changes.
4. The further you get from the tube stations, the less tourists there are, and the pubs and clubs also become incrementally hipper, cooler, and less expensive.
5. The clothing is all cheaply made and bought, and is of low quality. One might, living here, go through three or four cheap jackets in a season. No-one buys quality and keeps it for a long time, they just buy quantity, and discard as needed.

What I figured out on my own:

1. There are no Brits in London. Unless they're on holiday from Bath, or some such.
This town makes New York city look homogenous in it's ethnicity. Every language, and every color of the rainbow here. And, seemingly, all almost in equal shares.
2. You can spot an American because he tries to pull on the push entry door of shops, and is not sure which way to look before crossing the street. Also the jangling of a huge pocketful of coins of which he has no idea how to use.
3. Everyone drinks. They drink for lunch. The food sucks, except for Indian food, and kebabs, of which no-one here seems to know the difference. I hope I don't have to eat beans and sausage with eggs for a long time to come. Toast is considered a vegetable, and at least for me, TUMS are considered a fruit.
4. In addition to the lefty drive thing, everything else is backwards as well. See "annoying push doors" above. Door locks, light switches, and even some water taps all go the "wrong" way. and yet, somehow, most people keep to the right on sidewalks and escalators. (see next )
5. Get the heck out of the way on the escalator. No problem for me, because I'm always moving fast also. Stand to the right so that women carrying heavy loads of shopping or a stroller can run past you at full speed up the escalator. (of course, if you're savvy, you take the bus, and so avoid this potential problem).
6. An 8-inch bleached blonde mohawk makes people get the heck out of your way.
7. Justin the Aussie has the "mojo. . " It's amazing, the birds just walk up and flirt with him out of the clear blue sky. .(or the smoky red basement pub. .)
8. The sun never comes out in winter, and when it does, people open up all doors and windows, no matter what the temperature.
9. No-one actually talks like the announcers on the BBC. They have some kind of special camp at which they train the newsies to lilt, and to pronounce in that intrinsic fashion. .
10. Pounds and Pounds. Expensive!! Here a pound, there a pound, everywhere a pound pound. Here--you want a pound?, well, alright, here you go. . Make way for ducklings. . .just go. . .
I have decided to just make a pound-sized hole in my pocket when I return here, so that the pound coins will just meter themselves out of my life on their own, in a regular fashion. Of course the hole in my pocket would have to be not be quite big enough for the other coins, which, though larger in size, are of lesser value, and seem to have purpose at all for being other than to confound foreigners.

I learned ever so much more, but what with all the fogginess of lack of sleep, heartburn and hangover, I can't quite remember all what I was going to say. . .I do know one thing for sure, however, I AM ENAMOURED WITH LONDON!! This city rocks. I am almost a little sad to be leaving, but I do know of course that I will be back by September or so because of my "spare" RT ticket. .

I have met many friends, and knowing how way leads on to way in life, it is quite possible some of us will be meeting again. In fact, it is safe to say so, as I will be looking up another hostel buddy in Sydney when I get there, and I have also invited half of Europe to visit me in Boston. .

And so now dear friends and readers, it is off to Mumbai, where, being a little apprehensive about the culture shock, I have reserved a hotel room for a couple of days, and a pickup from the airport. Spending a relative bit more than I had hoped for my first nights in India, but as compared to London, a mere afternoon's expenditure. . .

Goodnight, and Good Luck. . .from. . The BBC. . In Kinchasa. . Pictures soon. .
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