A Swindian love letter to London
It’s been a chaotic few weeks around here, with political turmoil being the order of the day, and tensions running high. As a non-UK and non-EU citizen living here, I feel incredibly at home. Sure, the tube is stuffy, and yes, it is difficult to meet new people, and of course it’s expensive, and there are definitely times when my patience wears thin as I weave my way through horrendous crowds (being vertically challenged is both a help and a hindrance here). But time and time again, I look around and realise: I absolutely love you. You have given me incredible food, world-class theatre, a platform and inspiration for my blog, and countless wonderful memories. When the grey drizzle persists even in July, it’s easy to forget what is lurking beneath that sheen of moisture, and it is, quite simply, the greatest city I’ve ever experienced.
What is the catalyst for this letter? Partly current politics, but mostly, it was something inherently British: a Queue. Yesterday, I set my alarm for 5am and set off to Wimbledon to queue for a ground pass to the hallowed tennis grounds. 7 hours and £25 later, I was wandering the outside courts. I cheered on Federer from the top of Henman Hill, peered into Court 12 and saw an epic match between Tomic and Pouille (9-7 in the fifth!), got rained on, and finally got a re-sale ticket to the first row of Court 1, watching a Swindian duo (Hingis/Paes) smash their way to the next round. At the end of the day, I was completely exhausted, but also excruciatingly happy. I still find it incredible how Wimbledon tickets are available to anybody who has dedication and patience to Queue (yep, it is capitalised), and it is an event of yours I absolutely adore.
Of course, this love letter wouldn’t be complete without an ode to your food. Thanks to your openness, people from all around the world have set up shop here, and so I have sampled Eritrean, Israeli, Japanese, Burmese, Greek, Lebanese, Indian, French, Cambodian, and just good old steak. No matter what obscure cuisine I crave, it’s never more than a tube ride away. And that’s before I even get to your amazing markets, with fresh and cheap food as far as the eye can see! It scares me to think that some of these people may soon be restricted from entering the UK, and how your diversity and openness (in foodie as well as other matters) could decrease in the future.
My dear London, as well as food, you provide artistic experiences in absolute abundance. Discovering Pineapple Studios, a place where I can truly let go and dance my heart out, has been paramount in getting through any stress I have, as well as the endless days of rain. It is my undisputed favourite place here, and knowing that I can pop by anytime, without having to sign up, and pay a mere £7 for a dance class of the highest quality, makes my heart swell.
I could wax lyrical about many more things, like your amazing literary connections (I still get a thrill every time I pass Baker Street), your awesome views (secret tip: Primrose Hill), your downright weird and quirky experiences (6am yoga and rave, anybody?!), but there is one more I must mention: music and theatre. You are home to talent like I’ve never dreamed of. I’ve taken in the world-famous shows like Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. I’ve snapped up last-minute tickets to Shakespeare and seen my favourite artists Kris Drever and Frank Turner perform in tiny Camden pubs. But more than that, it’s your openness to all things non-commercial. The best piece of theatre I’ve seen in the past four years was a small play in Dalston called Scenes from 68 Years, a stunningly visualised play with impeccable acting, which brought me to tears on multiple occasions. Showing the Palestinian conflict through dual roles and using nothing but the simplest scenery, I was absolutely blown away by the sheer talent and emotional dialogue.
I adore travelling, and in fact, I’ll be leaving you in October to do just that. I am simultaneously terrified and excited to be exploring South America for 6 months, and I am also both happy and sad to leave you behind. I sure as hell won’t miss the Central Line, but I know I will miss popping over to Pineapple Studios on a Saturday, grabbing a bacon naan roll from Dishoom, wandering through Regent’s Park, and climbing up Primrose Hill to gaze upon what feels like my very own empire.
London, we’ve been through a lot in four years. I’ve walked your streets, weaved through tourists, gazed at your skyline, eaten a lot of your food, and marveled at your street art. You are crazy, overcrowded, expensive, diverse, and culinary. You are full of theatre, dance, traffic, flowers, friends, and festivals. You refuse to change with the times (*ahem* Night Tube *ahem*), whilst embracing the best of technology (I could not live without Citymapper). Please do not let this referendum change who you are. I will enjoy every moment of my time away, but I also know I will yearn for you when it’s all over.