My life has been fairly nomadic the last few years. It took more than a little getting used to having a lease and a flat again, much less finding one in a new country and the joys of opening foreign bank accounts. The first half year seemed a blur of acclimation into a vibrant city full of so many things to do at any given time.
The neighborhood I was living in was transformed while I was there by the construction of student housing by the largest art university system. My own discomfort at participating in the gentrification and art washing of the neighborhood merely by being there was never quite reconciled. I am glad I did not stay in student housing and enjoyed the Turkish, Somalian and Jewish communities around where I lived.
Projects sent me to zone 6, the outer reaches of London in many directions throughout the year. I have been and am still interested in these parts of cities. London is full of beautiful museums and world class architecture but I am as curious about the less central and more everyday wonders.
Part of what brought me to London was the excellent theatre and interactive experience scene. My younger days of frequenting concerts replaced by a mix of experimental things from sound to immersive events to interactive installations. It was what I had come to learn, to see. There was one Janet Cardiff experience that was made in the 90’s and recalled Jack the Ripper days in the neighborhood it was set in. I was equally awed by how much that area had changed since I had been there ten years ago and when I was there then. The same place experienced in one moment in four different times, each so different from the other and yet some things remained.
The colonial history of the country meant there was excellent Malaysian, African, Mauritian and Middle Eastern food on top of the traditional foods that most British people seemed to be amused that I enjoyed. What’s not to enjoy about meat pies and fried things with beer? I ate many delicious European things as well that seemed to make it over the ocean less often. It was a time when Mexican street tacos, American BBQ and Asian fusion was popular but I did not come to London to eat trends influenced by America.
It was perhaps a little too loud for me but I am grateful for the time I have had here and the amount of exploring I got to do. Funny how I end up living places I don’t think I would. That’s the thing about cities, it’s not about the big thing that may be known for because it is a mix of so many other things going on at once. I am glad I got to see a London so different from the one I knew from visiting.