Jesus Pastie Eating Christ….getting settled is taking longer than expected.
I have built so many pieces of furniture in the last few days.
I don’t want to see a screwdriver again for a long time.
Haven’t had much of a chance to really explore London because I have been waiting for deliveries, or building, or unpacking, or putting things away. BUT – I have walked up and down the high street of my borough and I am in heaven.
I haven’t lived amongst people of my ilk since I left Kuwait. And although I lived in what is supposed to be a melting pot city (yeah, right), I never saw many of my peeps outside of Yemeni bodega owners.
But this place….this place.
Lebanese people everywhere. Restaurants, grocers, shisha bars.
Persian places galore.
I hear the languages of my childhood. The smells all remind me of my mom and aunt’s kitchen.
And the other day I almost broke down in the middle of an Iceland because they had Coco Pops on a shelf. I ate this religiously as a kid. And when I came to America the alternative – Chocolate Rice Krispies – was not a substitute. It paled in comparison. It has been 23 years since I’ve seen this. Everywhere I go see things from my life in Kuwait.
Aero bars, Cadbury flakes, Smarties, Mars, Lion, Ahmad Tea, Maggi in a bottle, Olive Oil in a Can.
Yes, I know you can find some of these things in New York. But in select specialty stores. I see this in every store I go into. It’s amazing. It makes me happy.
However, I will say that some things take adjusting to:
- Hard Water….this does not mix well with Ethnic hair. I’m gonna have to start conditioning with Olive Oil.
- Bath Gel…you can really tell how the world differs from America when I wonder why all the bottles of shower Tempest or Becalmed?gel are so small. They are in actuality normal size – I am just used to the American notion of “normal” which is super-size to everyone else.
- Change…lord I have made a fool of myself twice now trying to figure out the denomination of the coins since the worth is not commensurate with size. It has been…hilarious.
- Cheers Mate…I have started saying thing. I tend to shift my speech depending on what group I am with, so I can feel the accent and idioms creep in. Today I think I straddled the line somewhere between Toronto and Minnesota while saying Cheers, mate.
- Rubbing Alcohol – 5 pharmacies later and I am convinced that this does not exist Oh, Socrates…in this country or if it does, it ain’t cheaper than 10 pounds. The last person I asked about it looked at me as if I had just ran over his cat and did the “drinking” motion. I thought he was joking and razzing me. Until I realized people use whiskey to disinfect. Right.
- The Weather…there is no figuring it out. So far every day has included: cold, chill, sun, rain, damp, warmth. How in the hell do you dress for this kind of weather?
- Fridges…again – American overabundance has not served me well. Fridges here are half what we are used to. But I realized this is because food goes bad faster here. Because it’s actually real food and not processed or chemicalized. WHAT a notion.
- The tube is cleaner. Nice. With padded seats. And no A/C. Fuck me hard. AND – the same damn philosophy ads from the NYC stations are here too.
- People are so….nice. No, really. They are. With the exception of one Eritrean shop girl who asked me if I was Lebanese then proceeded to tell me I don’t look enough like one, everyone is kind and respectful. Granted, I am dealing with a 2 mile stretch of land in a much larger city, but, this was definitely not my experience when I landed in NYC.
Next week the goal is to go around in the city. Explore. Find markets. Used bookstores. Go an relish in an old-ass Gothic cathedral. Eat a pastie. Have some damn good fish and chips.