London Underground And The Madness of Oxford Street

I might as well leave it at that. I do not think that this subject requires any more analysis.

I arrived London wearing a dress, thinking it was summer. Well technically it is, only it is quite chilly and alas my dress failed me. I found a store as quickly as I could and purchased a few odds and ends to keep me warm. I knew there was a reason I seemed to gravitate more towards countries in the Mediterranean. Last night, I was in a really light mood, and my sister and I were having a laugh and being silly. We were checking off a few reasons why we may or may never come back to London (Heathrow and Victoria Coach station are excluded) and the UK generally really.

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1. One ride on the tube costs more than it costs me to fuel my car for a week. It is an expensive place, and the pound is strong isn’t it?
2. There are cameras everywhere. No peeing in the street. Or is there??
3. Oxford street has too many people on it, it feels like a scene from the Apocalypse.
4. I can never find my way around the city and end up walking miles and miles until my bones creak (hey I have improved my Map reading skills).
5. There is too much bread eaten here; everything is wrapped in bread. Nothing is spicy.
6. For some reason, people always step on my feet in the underground rush and nobody ever says sorry.
7. The folks at some local radio station are very happy to talk about all the mugging and murdering going on in London (am not joking, I have to find the name, not sure why this reception is constantly tuned to it). It’s pretty scary.
8. Too many homeless people, I wonder if there are programs to deal with the issues.
9. The city is incredibly diverse and I have heard more languages on the bus than in any other country
10. I can photograph anything and anybody, nobody cares really, nobody has attempted to take my camera and smash it.
11. Street food is amazing and costs only GBP5 for chinese, and indian and whatever else you fancy really.
12. There is a lot of culture, and a lot of effort has gone into preserving this.
13. People seem quite aware of the issues plaguing our world, lots of protests going on around the city. One could go to one protest per day. The police does not turn water on the protesters
14. The universities are great in London and have an amazing array of books and research facilities.
15. Everyone back home gives you a list of stuff to buy for them without money, because they assume that you pick gold off the streets and buy stuff.

In all, this seems like a really great city for anyone interested in International Development, I have seen loads of offices from DFID, to VSO, to Save the Children, and met quite a few development people here. So much work is done in the field by these NGOs and their engine rooms are in this city.
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I am off to take in a bit of culture today; Madam Tussaud’s, the London Eye, a show at the West End. Will put up pictures tomorrow. By the way; my photography course is yielding some excellent pictures (the pictures here are all mine) which I shall share soon enough.

Omne Bonum Veniat!

Istanbul’s Riots: A Big Deal?

This post is quite a selfish one. I have not found a single idea in my head to blog about for the last three weeks, it’s the worst blog drought that I have experienced, and I have lived a short blog life so far. In my defense though, work has been incredibly busy, so many things have happened that have left me emotionally drained and unable to read or blog. I should really blog about those, my work, my journey, my plans. In the next post perhaps. I have also travelled quite a bit in the last one month to areas where the internet was spotty at best. Thus I have sometimes missed posts that I would ordinarily have caught. Am still playing catch up.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Photo source:

But the next two weeks will be full of posts mostly because I am on leave! For two whole weeks! Blogging, photography, books and food. I just bought Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book “Americanah” to read on my vacation. If she were a man, I would marry her! What an amazing writer. As I write this up, am about to leave the house to catch a flight to good old England, I hope the weather is nice this time around, I always end up in the UK when its freezing (or maybe it’s just Scotland). My friends have planned some good times for this trip, and I have a wedding to attend on saturday. I am excited to be getting away for a bit, but more excited at the possibility of going to Istanbul after England! Yes, the only city which has been the capital of three empires! It had better work out, because we have bought non-refundable, non-cancellable, non-anything-but-fly ticket. But everyone is dampening my spirits by asking my sister and I if we are aware of the riots going on in Turkey.

Holiday mode
Holiday Mode:
Photo source:

Now, people have called me and compared the riots to the Arab spring movement which lasts for months and months in each country. Syria is still ongoing. But my understanding is that this is a different kind of fight really. The people feel that their government is not listening, and must take the opinion of the citizenry into consideration before selling off all the lands and trees and green areas that are as old as their ancestry, to developers. One thing has led to another and it seems this is like the “occupy movement”. There is no ambivalence in this for me at all, the way I see it is that a lot of have obviously exchanged hands (paperwork, profit) and the government does not want to back down. But isn’t that the point of a democracy? That the elected officials must listen to the voice of the people who voted for them? I hope that this blows over, I hope that more lives are not lost, I hope that this does not become as big a deal and as sad as Syria. I find that there is always a disconnect between the people and the men and women who sit in the parliament and in the state houses; the latter lose touch, selfish interests abound, which sometimes are bigger than them. Sometimes they forget the people and basically fight to advance the ideals and motives of their political parties and political godfathers. I sincerely hope this blows over and the greater good of the people of Turkey supersedes.

Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque
Photo source: National Geographic

Now having said that, I hope I have a good vacation. Istanbul is on my mind, the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazaar. In London, I shall be taking some photography classes, and hopefully blogging everyday. Yay! If you have a favourite place in both cities, please recommend them, the food, the shopping, the sights, I shall try it. I am like a child right now, my mind is wide open.