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Walking Around a Neighbourhood in London

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It's half-term, and my kids are doing a music camp. So, today I walked around a neighbourhood I don't know very well and looked around. I found an indoor market and walked in. There were lots of shops with colourful clothes that I could never pull off. I counted five barber shops. I looked up and noticed I was a minority. I felt out of place. I stuck my chin out and walked around some more and looked at the shoes I would never even try.

Then, I walked out of the market and down the street. And I came across another market, not half a block away. I was impressed. I walked in. Here, I was not a minority. I would say about half the people were white. I counted three barber shops. I walked around this market and looked at the posh cafés, the hip pizza chain, the vegan chocolate shops, and the shoes I would never even try. I don't particularly like shoes.

And I sat down at one of the posh coffee shops and thought about gentrification vs integration. And how we manage to get it wrong every single time. And how I hope those markets got it right for once. Because what I like the most about London, in general, is the people. I love walking down the streets and seeing people from all over the world who live here or come to visit. I like that my kids have friends who are different from them. I never did.

Growing up, I only heard a single story. Our story. I'm a white Ashkenazi Jew, and there were no other voices back then in Israel. It wasn't patriotic. Then I moved to a different country. Although I lived in the whitest city in Canada, the university presented an excellent diversity hotspot. A funny thing happens when you're an immigrant. You learn to listen to stories that are not like yours. At first, it's because almost no one has a story like yours, unlike the place you came from. Then, it's because you find these stories interesting. You discover that you are curious about other stories. I LOVE hearing people's stories. I would love to listen to yours.


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