Saturday, 15 August 2009

Bayswater, London

(this was in July, still travelling)

Nobody lives here, people just spend a night, or two. Not more than a week, unless you're unlucky. The roads are filled with people, their luggage scurrying after them on routes from maps that don't make sense. Everyone is a visitor, most of them tourists. Just like us.

Our hotel feels like a thin veneer on a shady underworld of drug smuggling, human trafficking, illegal immigration, exploitation, organ harvesting (yes, I've seen Eastern Promises), mafia, Al Qaeda and the Vatican. We are checked in by young men of Middle-Eastern descent. And a blonde with the type of accent you can only cultivate in a former Soviet Republic. Very friendly, but you can sense that they're not in control.

They direct us to our apartment, it is far, we make complaining noises. So a friend from Turkey is summoned in his taxi to deliver us to a little square. "For you, no charge. But take my card". The stately Georgian facade now hides a warren of apartments, the originals having been stripped bare and sub-sub-subdivided. Small rooms with cheap, but shiny fittings, barely used but already falling apart. The elevator creaks, wobbles and takes 30 seconds to open its doors. Ominous in a building that is otherwise anonymous and silent.

But, late at night, as I'm lying on my uneven sleeper couch next to the open window, I can hear the humming of the city. For a long, special moment, it reminds me of all the other cities I have called home.

1 comment:

Marie said...

This is beautifully written.