5 things that happen to you when living in London

Just like all those cheesy articles on the world wide web, I’ve decided to share some of the thoughts I have (so far) on living in this surreal city called London. I am totally conscious of not having the trained fingertips to write about the subjects I’m more interested in or in love with, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of sharing. This simple, common, random need: sharing. So it begins something like that…

1. You enjoy the discomfort zone
You know what they say about comfort zones. All that fuss about getting out of yours, although nobody tells you what really happens when you do. I’ve noticed that your entire body changes. Or maybe you become aware of your own body and you don’t really know whose is it. This doesn’t happen over night, but you’re no longer afraid of making mistakes and you’re no longer afraid of getting lost. In fact, you don’t even think it’s possible to get lost, even when you certainly are. You walk a lot. And you enjoy it, even if it rains or it’s too cold. A few months ago, back home, you would have taken a taxi.

2. You pay the most expensive rent in Europe and you don’t mind
Rent is expensive, food is expensive, public transport is expensive, going out is expensive. And yet, you don’t care. In the meantime, there are thousands of FREE events, museums, festivals, etc every single day. Which leads me to —>

3. You may feel frustrated : too much happiness / not knowing what to chose
In terms of cultural activities. You often find yourself running from a poetry class to a museum to a dance show and then you realize your fridge is empty but hey what the hell – does that even matter? of course not, you’re literally enjoying every moment. Yep, you would love to have some savings, to begin building up your future and to be more serious. But maybe it’s your last year in the 20s and .. whoa hold on a second, I’m a bit confused dot com

4. You thrive when someone says “you look like a londoner!”.
Because you are one. And you have this urge to “import” all your friends. You’re so excited that everyone you talk to may think you’re nuts. But that craving is slowly decreasing as you start to realize that –>

5. The past becomes a dangerous place
In fact, there is no past anymore. There is no place for your past in this city. Not that you wouldn’t want it to be. It doesn’t fit in. You try to skip back but you find blanks and there’s no time to re-imagine the blanks. One day has not enough hours for you to live in, so why would you spend those hours remembering whatsoever?

velociped

sir john soane museum

Imprisoned by the past – pentru că încă am angoasa paginii albe. Încă nu pot să scriu atunci când văd că nu e scris nimic. Nu sunt cursivă, nu sunt fluentă în nicio limbă omenească – pe care s-o pot transcrie și da spre citire mai departe. Însă de curând am reînceput să visez. Adică, așa, cu ochii deschiși ca un adolescent. Oricât de scârbă mi-ar fi acum de anii aceia, între 18 – 23, poate chiar și 24, 25, am reînceput.

Nu știu cum să descriu răsăritul ăla de soare care-mi crește din vârful degetelor de la picioare până-n vârful capului, de fiecare dată când mă pierd și mă găsesc în Londra. Dimineața aceea perfectă ca un fluid care mă umple. Nu știu și poate nici nu vreau, pentru că niciunul din prietenii mei nu mă cred atunci când le spun că sunt fericită din cauza orașului. Orașul mă vindecă. Oricât de tristă aș fi, îmi ajunge un minut pe london bridge, dimineața. Oamenii vindecă. Nu contează că merg cu spatele, în stația de bus, dau de un stâlp și spun „Sorry!”. Zâmbesc cu gura până la urechi. Stâlpii vindecă. Așa că nu am cum să le explic de ce. Probabil dacă le-aș spune „Mă simt acasă!” m-ar desconsidera. Cum aș îndrăzni să mă simt aici acasă? Nu, nu mă simt acasă. Mă simt aproape o Yūrei bântuind casa visurilor mele, (re)modelată de nimeni altul decât Sir John Soane, exact pe când mi-ar fi plăcut mie să trăiesc: pe la începutul lui 1800. Bântuind fiecare colțișor, fiecare cameră secretă, luând micul dejun în camera de mic dejun (evident), răsfoind ediții rare și prețioase din Montaigne. Cam pe-atunci pe când a apărut velocipedul.

Warsaw is not a city

My first step in Warsaw was one that got me out of the train and into a shopping mall. Funny enough, I thought, swimming through a sea of people, starving and pretty tired. I had no choice (and no excuse) so I had a lunch in there, comforting myself with the thought that I was soon going to get out and explore the tale of Wars the fishmonger and Sawa the siren.

40 hours

And so it began. With my moon glasses on, I started the countdown, as I had only 2 days to visit the city.

Quite dizzy, a bit confused, I have to be honest; Warsaw slapped me in the face with its curious fingers. My eyes were overwhelmed by sky scrapers, communist council houses and street art on ancient ruins. “Kamienico” – meaning “my little house” brought me back to my nostalgic – and natural – stage, that of a travelling European’s. Warsaw is strange, I thought, and something’s very special about it. The past here plays a big role in (de)constructing the city. The well kept, restored, looked after, shouted at and never forgotten past, that’s all there is. 85% of the city being destroyed makes it impossible for people to forget the past. As for the visitors like me, there are a lot of signs and marks on the ground. One of them really hits you, the line that marks the passing from the city into the ghetto. 74 years ago, in March 1940, one could find posters at the corners of the streets towards the Jewish district reading “Danger! Epidemic zone!” I can only imagine the horror stories that people had to live in there not a long time ago. Seeing the ruins of that bridge leading to the ghetto was enough for me to get shivers down my spine and remind me of what I’ve seen a few days before in Auschwitz. A battle begun inside my stomach, thinking about the failure of the Warsaw uprising; I imagined myself there, fighting and struggling to eat vegetarian pierogi topped with pork cracklings.

Honey craft beer, rose jam doughnuts and a sort of cabbage in a jar

I bought a 24 hours travelling pass for 15 zlotys (about £3) and used all public transport available to get to Hipsters’ Place – the actual Plac Konstytucji. Not impressed with etymologies, I chose to test all kinds of beers, even though I’m not a beer person: cinnamon beer, ginger, honey, black, red, pale, unfiltered, polish, Czech and the list goes on. After a while, strolling on Nowy Swiat (which basically means “The new World” street), I had the best rose jam doughnuts in the world. Later I found myself in Prague district, a neighborhood renowned for being home of bohemian cafes and art galleries, a place where young artists would spend a night in pubs that serve all food in jars, like you would get it from your parents if they would send you a package from home (only an east European will understand this).

The old Old Town and the new Old Town

If you go to Stare Miasto you can still see the ghosts of the old town, a few bits of the old castle on the river Vistula; to be honest, it feels a bit strange to walk from South to North, discovering the streets of what is now called the New Old Town. It feels strange and yet it is inspiring. As if you can’t be sure if you’re living in the past or future. As if you’re on a stage and asked to improvise. Warsaw is not a city, I thought. But I’m so happy to be here!