Even if I were blindfolded, my feet would find their way. That’s how it was when I went to one of the regular haunts in Oxford Circus, London – Roti Chai. My feet found their way to my usual spot and the loo. It is a restaurant – food is sort of the standard fare that you would find in an Indian Fusion place. What I really devoured was the memories. We lived a few minutes away, so we haunted it quite a lot – and whenever we had a visitor, it was a must-eat place. I have memories of laughter, witty comments, and shared experiences.
That summarizes my experience of London. It’s been a decade since I left London, but every time I come here – it’s like I never left. Of course, things have changed. New buildings have sprung up, and old restaurants have renamed themselves. COVID has had an impact. New tube line – Elizabeth line has sprung up, reducing distances even more. Tubes are a tad more crowded – nothing like the trains in Bombay but in the keep calm and carry on fashion.
But, the essence of London remains the same: diversity and inclusion. There is no city like London when it comes to acceptance. A ride in a tube is a sample of various languages spoken worldwide. It’s a feast for my eyes which are subjected to Columbus, Ohio population every day. With so much diversity comes stimulating conversations – we met up with a dear friend for coffee at Rabot Cafe in Borough market on London Bridge—three things to note here. First, while we waited for him to arrive – we were a part of the vendors getting ready for the daily stalls in the market, which also included a pigeon trying to sample the ingredients. Second, the cafe’s speciality was cacao which was present in every drink on the menu. Third, the conversation and company were excellent – we talked about Sea-piracy, the Attenborough documentary, and Brexit, among other things. My hunger and thirst were satisfied at a mental, emotional and physical level. I don’t remember feeling so full in a long time at multiple levels.
London is unique as this is where my tribe is – the hustle and bustle. When Adam and I go to a restaurant, the waiter doesn’t ask if we need a separate bill as interracial couples are the norm here. And I have experienced all stages of life in London, student, employed, retired, single, dating, engaged and married. And I realize that my time at London Business School was more than just a degree, as I had the time to get to know people and form friendships that will last forever. LBS was different from other schools because I had already worked when I came to LBS as a student, and time to form such deep bonds post-work is challenging. And given that I am a snob when it comes to bringing people into my inner circle – it is almost impossible to find a company like in London.
All said and done – I can be out of London, but London cannot get out of me. Do you have something in your life that refuses to leave you?