Welcome, Stranger

Today’s Daily Prompt is particularly appropriate:

Think about the town where you currently live: its local customs, traditions, and hangouts, its slang. What would be the strangest thing about this place for a first-time visitor?

I have only been in the town where I currently live for two full days, so I still see it through the eyes of a stranger. It’s not just a town though – it’s London, one of the world’s major cities.

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I feel like this should have been a sunny photo, but I couldn’t find one I’ve taken with sunshine…

Along with New York, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney, this is one of the places where headquarters are set up, where there is work to be found and money to be made – although, of course, not for everyone. In cities in general, the wealth contrasted with poverty tends to be striking, but perhaps it’s because I come from a smaller town where the differences between people are less obvious. What each of us notes as different will always vary, because even those of us from the same place will take a different route there, figuratively speaking.

For me, the multiculturalism that London is famous for is not as much of a novelty as it would be for some people from my home town. I studied languages and lived abroad as a result, and I spent over two years working at a tourist attraction in Edinburgh, a city full of tourists even outside of Festival time. However, the Lewisham accent is quite a particular one, and hearing it every day will be a definite change!

That’s another thing about London: there are so many sections, and each of them is so different. Yesterday I was introduced to Shoreditch, where men wear their hair in buns. You could take this prompt, apply it to several areas of the city, and draw completely different conclusions each time. It is such a mixture of communities that it is difficult to pinpoint traditions and customs that would represent the whole of London.

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Happy hour: 2 for 1 cocktails at Be At One. ‘Not that edgy’, I’m told, since it’s a chain. Good though!

It’s probably unsurprisingly that there are many smaller, distinctive communities, because there are quite simply too many people in the one space for everywhere to be the same. I am used to working in the Scottish capital, with a population of half a million. London has a population almost double that of Scotland as a whole. The amount of people, particularly on the transport network, would be more overwhelming if I hadn’t been used to the Paris Métro, although there are times when you wish everyone would just slow down a little!

However, although I’ve seen a couple of examples of rudeness – like in every city – there have also been people who helped me with my case on the Underground, or who have pointed me in the right direction.

One thing that is bizarre to me in the area I live is the pavements, which seem to have several sections. And, of course, the water is weird, because I’m from Scotland and our water is the best in the world.

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All in all, I’ve been lucky to have a great first few days in London, and I’ve barely started exploring. It is so full of diversity that it must be a different city to every visitor.

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