Saturday, September 10, 2011

The weeks gone by

I had planned to write this piece before I even left India. Just did not know when I would befriend the city enough to be able to do justice to the culture that this city is so famously known for. And after the three weeks that have gone by getting to know London, there are mixed feelings. The positives are definitely attributable to London itself and the negative ones are nowhere related to it. I have no benchmarks because this is the only country that I have come to besides my own and needless to say, there is no comparison to India, not just because it is exemplary but because it is home and any expression about home is bound to be tainted with favoritism for obvious reasons...

The enthusiasm that I had when I entered London was quite high just because I was longing so much for a change. Being the restless soul that I am, I get weary of my surroundings and people very easily and a change always does good. And besides, I was stepping into the actual career of my dreams, probably the closest that I can get to the real investment banking world in its magnanimous persona in the near future. So it was all supposed to be an adventure. And more or less, it has been that way! The city has done justice to all my expectations. If you are someone who loves to be alone, who enjoys personal time so much so that you prefer time with yourself over being in a crowd, well perhaps this city is one of the best options. 

It takes no time to be part of the crowd, the crowd that I am referring to, being a part of a particular genre of people. If you go anywhere in the city of London (that is just one square mile at the center of the city, the rest being referred to as Greater London), you see the standard set of crowd, especially on a weekday morning. A sea of people who take the tube, a Starbucks in one hand, a newspaper/novel in the other, earphones making sure that people know you do not want to be disturbed from your personal space, looking up from their book once in a while to see if they reached Moorgate/Bank/Monument (tube stations), then walking at a speed from the station to their workplace that is enough to win a marathon, all the while mailing someone on their Blackberry or calling their bankers/bosses to tell that they have already mailed the work from yesterday at 4 in the morning!!! It's the same kind of people, whether man or woman and all of them dressed in exemplary fashion and looking super fit by the way! 

It's easy to be part of that crowd because you need to know no one unlike back home where travelling by Mumbai local gives you a bunch of friends referred to as "Train buddies". This is not to say that people here are unfriendly. They are quite the opposite actually. I was impressed by so many gestures, a cab driver wishing you a good day, a driver stopping in the middle of the road to let the pedestrians cross first even at the peak hour, people willing to help newcomers get familiar with the city and lots more. But I have never seen personal space my entire life the way I have seen the past three weeks. You don't know if you like it or dislike it. You know you are a part of something big (holds true only if you have the same dream for a career as I had since I was 16!!!) but you also know that so are the thousands of others walking alongside you.

The city in itself is a paradise, the architecture of a shopping mall is no less than a castle and you sometimes get the out of the world feeling, when you look at a St.Paul's Cathedral from a Millennium Bridge at 3 in the morning. That's beauty at its best. You are always alone but you never feel alone for if you stop a moment and look around you see that there are so many like you. Hanging out as a group isn't the norm here which was a shocker for me. But you have to give this one to me. History has given me too many shared laughter and such strong bonds of camaraderie. And as far as I am concerned, misery and euphoria, both needs company!! 

I haven't seen much of London other that the fifth floor of 10, Aldermanbury, London Wall and to be honest, settling in was hard. I had a tough time getting used to this lifestyle because there are a few people that I always need to fall back on and they all are 4,500 miles away. My health didn't support much either and above all the work is taxing beyond levels. But things are falling into place now, because as my dearest friend said yesterday, when you have to be working 20 hours a day, meeting no one but your colleagues, struggling to take out couple of hours to do just anything besides work, you may as well do it with a smile!! And when you think of it that way, things seem all peaceful again. It's strange how much of a role perspective can play in your life.

Well, giving it time did work! I am falling for this city.. Slowly but surely!


  1. Your friend was probably right da - and consequently your last line about perspective - even if I say so myself because I have never worked close to 20 hours a day. However, having had pretty much "insular" days for months on end (about three now, since my visit home) I know it makes sense.

    The piece is beautiful. It makes me yearn to see London even more. Some day, I may; even if I don't I am happy - and proud - I have got a "human" glimpse of it through your eyes :)


  2. You will just do awesome there. Njoy the city while you are there cuz once you are back, there will be something bout that city that you will surely miss... You always do...

    Have a good stay!!! Cheers!!!