London. Bitter sweet symphony.

London. City of rush, tube, double-decker buses. Multicultural. Multinational.

Every time I visit this city, it doesn’t stop to amaze me. There’s no room for relax. It’s a busy place where one has to rush. Rush or die. You’d better not walk slowly down the street. There are crowds everywhere. And you’re being pulled into these crowds. You need to follow their rules. The minute you enter the subway corridors…ekhm… the tube labyrinth I mean, you start to realize you’re in some kind of game where other P1150317a players seem to know the rules better than you do. Who’s gonna win? Who’s gonna get out of this system of corridors and escalators first? Not in a hurry? You won’t be understood. I’m sorry. It’s a brutal world. Stay away from the left side. Move your ass to the right. Leave some space to those who constantly rush. Time is money. Especially in London.

Men all suited up. With newspapers in their hands. (Seriously? newspapers? like, nowadays?) Blackberry in the pocket. Fingers ready to scroll the trackball up and down. Talking about stock exchanges, shares, Barclays or other UBS.

Women wearing black coats and black tights 60 DEN. With elegant handbags. Usually with iPhones and Louis Vuitton scarfs.

Everyone talking about their jobs. Corporate language in the air. Everyone is so busy they don’t seem to notice the beautiful sunshine outside the labyrinth of the underground corridors.

In Canary Wharf all evenings are very much alike. The bars are full of young people, suited up, with a pint of beer (or a glass of wine) in hands. Usually till late. They all talk about work. They all network with a hope to get a better job. Better paid, it is. Through the connections, obviously. That’s how it works.P1150318a

– Where do you work?

– Which organization do you work for?

– What’s your current position?

– How long have you been there?

It’s all about the corporations/banks you work for. It’s all about the fancy positions. If you’re a simple analyst (or you’ve got any other entry position), be aware your interlocutor might not stay with you for longer. The hunting begins.

In fact, the most stressful the job, the more cocktails these people get.

Single. Lonely (never would they admit this painful truth!). Workaholics. Dependent on their success. Social life? Yes, if one-night stands count. Brutal brave new world. Career is what matters. Career is actually the keyword here. These young people do not mind. Because with the money they get they can afford a very convenient life. They live in nice flats. They wear fancy clothes. They buy new technology gadgets. They can afford trips to other continents. With ease. It’s like a drug addiction. Once you taste this kind of life, you will not want to lose it. You’re free to do anything you want. Carpe diem. YOLO. Life’s beautiful. Who cares about the future? Who cares about the emotional life? Who cares about one’s feelings? There should be no commitment at all. Life’s too short.

P1150326aIn London you won’t see elderly people. It seems they have been banned to live in the city. Nor will you experience presence of the children. This city is a factory of business guys. Again, factory is the keyword. Mass production. Mass consumption.

You think you’ve got the choice? Try buying a yoghurt. How many different tastes and brands will you find in London? I hear silence. That’s what I thought.

Nowadays, with a huge need of being unique, we’re all encouraged to be just the opposite: be alike. London is, to me, one of those places, where you can see it so easily. People wearing black, the same hairdos, the same smartphones in hands, the same salads and sandwiches they eat during lunch time. Blindly following the crowds. The mass. Just look around when being underground. Zombies. Zombies everywhere.

P1150329aWhat happened to the extravagant London where unique used to be the synonym of being a Londoner? Is it only reserved now to the people living in Camden Town? Why does everything have to be global? When did we lose this need of showing our true identity to the world? Does it really have to be that way?

London. You’re beautiful. With such an impressive history. But you start to disappoint me. Badly.

4 thoughts on “London. Bitter sweet symphony.

  1. Not even 50% of this is true. Like any major city which is spread across multiple square miles you get pockets of where like minded individuals will gather. If you don’t like a particular type of individual go to the next area and you’ll find someone completely different. Funny how in canary wharf you find business people wearing business suits, hello, that’s where some major businesses are located, why expect anything else? I see millions of children in london, many who live there too, but children everywhere as it is a major place for school trips from across the world. I have a child and live in central londkn and shockingly she went to school in central london with go figure other children, a school chosen from dozens of possible schools so I’m pretty confident there are many many children in london. This is by far the worst representation of london I’ve ever read even if very well written.

  2. Hi Kathleen. Remember, this is only my point of view and you have a complete right not to agree with it 🙂 Thanks for taking your time though going through all this even if your opinion differs on that matter. I do appreciate sharing your thoughts, too.

    You see, I love London and its different parts. My best friends live there so I take every opportunity to go and visit them. I love being in the middle of micro-world, with all its cultures, languages, religions etc. But there is something about this city which I don’t find elsewhere (and yes, I have travelled to different parts of the world). What is it? This crazy corporate life. I’ve been “allergic” since I quit mine. Probably that’s why I’m not such a fan anymore. Well, I guess our perception changes with time…


  3. Well I do agree with Ka and completely disagree with you. I have no idea where your friend lives in London but the description you gave doesn’t seem to me like the real London I see every day. Go to the the so called “City” of any city – Warsaw, New York, Moscow, Madrid, Paris – name any – and guess what you will see: “the corporate life” – people suited up rushing to work, most of them with the latest gadgets in their pockets, with a newspaper in their hands or reading the news on their iphones or blackberrys.. And if you only see London through Camden & Canary Wharf that doesn’t seem like the big picture to me. I see elderly people & kids every day in every part of London… And the slogans you use “mass production”, “mass consumption” they are so easily adaptable at other locations nowadays… Correct me if I’m wrong but there is this bitterness and some sort of a jealousy in what you are saying about London as if you had some personal problem with the city… I would suggest next time you are in London leave the personal crusade behind you, try to open your eyes, broaden your mind or if you are unable to do so just stay away and do not create false image of a place you don’t really know. I live here long enough to know that your description has nothing to do with the truth.

    • Thanks, Agus, for reading the post and taking your time to comment on it.

      As any other piece of text I like to write, this one is also full of metaphores and exaggerations but I am a little surprised to see you offended by what I wrote. Truth be told, I expected various reactions. Well, apparently this is one of them 🙂
      I didn’t mean to offend anyone, just so we are clear. If you felt personally offended than I am truly sorry. That wasn’t my intention. My intention was to write a provocative text (text… not a tourist guide). And inspire people to share their opinions.
      Please note that this is just my own perception of London, a little exaggerated, but still. Mine. 😉

      Where my friends live has nothing to do how I feel about this city. (And they live pretty everywhere in London.)

      I don’t know about you (and, I believe, you don’t know about me) but I used to travel a lot and live in big capitals. Believe me, London is not like the others. I do have the comparison. I have also talked about London with my friends living in London and in other big cities. What do they admit? Firstly, (and surprisingly) that yes, London is not the city for kids nor for the elderly. Secondly, even Brussels, which is the capital city of the EU, is less exigent and there is much less hassle.

      Bitterness? Yes, I think so. The title says so 🙂
      Jealousy? Not even a pound. I had a chance to move and live and work in London. I declined.
      I used to work in Canary Wharf from time to time. I used to be one of the „suits“…
      Not interested anymore 🙂

      I will keep coming to London. There are a lot of things which I love about London. But that wasn’t part of the article though 😉 Maybe next time I’ll drop a sweet note about this city.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, I do appreciate your honesty. Take care and, who knows, talk to you soon 🙂

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