And off he goes – in a flash! A man with a cold, senseless face suited head to toe with a firm grasp on his suitcase, making him appear empowered as he storms past the city streets.
And here she is – a young woman asking strangers to take pictures of her as she poses enthusiastically in front of the London Eye, and the lavish, tall and luxurious skyline that surrounds it.
And here I am – carelessly and aimlessly walking around the city with no other intention other than to be inspired and soak in the London air. I turn to my left, and I see the rapid and rushed movements of the customers collecting the fruits and vegetables in the market place, the smell of the wholesome food strong with warmth as it fills my lungs and makes me feel whole. I turn to my right, and I see men and women identical to one another walking with extreme haste to the train station, recklessly pushing to tap their oysters and make it on time to their meetings.
I look up into the sky – I see a grey cloud of pollution looming over me, sucking up the city’s vibrancy and what it has to offer.
But then I start walking and I am greeted by an Indian woman, a black man, a white man and a Chinese elderly lady. I say “Hi” to each of them and they say a “Hi” back. Intertwined is an attached essence of their background and ethnicity. I begin to feel at ease and appreciate the various cultures that I am surrounded by.
On my travels, I come across a woman, as if I am staring into a mirror – a black female who is also a Muslim indicated by the layers of material wrapped around her head. I confidently say “Hello, my name is Amina. And yours?”
She rapidly responds by saying, “Hello there, I’m Hafsa.” Her voice is masked with a level of formality to correspond with her two-piece black suit and notebook in one hand.
“What brings you to London?” I ask, with immense curiosity.
“I moved from Kenya 10 years ago – there was nothing for me there. I struggled hard to even get an education. I was broken. I needed strength, and an opportunity. I took a risk, and fought hard to destroy social perceptions of me. Here I am: a successful, established business woman in London”.
I stood there, in awe.
Whilst recollecting my thoughts, Hafsa interrupted me by saying, “Ha-ha – yes! It’s possible. Bear this in mind. Allow the sights to captivate your mind and inspire you. Allow the sounds to make your heart race and drive your passions. Allow yourself to submerge into the very depths of the ocean, and grasp onto every pristine fish in your way. ” And with that, and a simple yet reassuring tap on my shoulder, she spotted a taxi and ran after it in her high heels, zooming away into the distance.
I remain standing there, drowning in my thoughts. A girl from the rural unknown parts of England always being labelled a minority and first hand seeing what makes London so great made me feel, inspired.
I took a deep breath in, inhaling London along with the beeping noises, the hustling and the bustling of the market places and the ‘brooms’ of the motorbikes.
Bye London, I whisper. See you again soon.