Tuesday, 6 September 2016

London Diaries - My Love Affair with London

As I stood on my balcony on the Thames, the morning ferries were busy getting the commuters to their destinations. A few years ago I would have been one amongst them; today I was watching them and wondering when did my love affair with this incredible city actually begin...

I meandered my way through the maze of pin stripe suits, tattoos, designer bags and heels; my earphones belting out Dire Straits. It was the lunch rush and once upon a time I would have been rushing to get my teriyaki; today I was smiling with a Pain au Chocolat in my hand.

As I got out at London Bridge and made my way to Hay's Galleria, the only thought in my head was, when did I fall in love with London. A walk along the river towards Southwark yielded no answers but brought back memories that made me smile wider and wider. I saw places that once were on my wish list but today were par for course. Oh how incredibly has this city changed my life!

Passing Shakespeare's Globe I remembered how 10 years ago I stood in the rain to watch the Merchant of Venice but just a few months ago had been sitting in some of the best seats watching Taming of the Shrew. At Tate Modern as the busker played It Must Have Been Love I began to sing along and that is when it hit me. London was not love at first sight! No it was not!

As a teenager I visited this city for the first time. The Tower Bridge, Les Miserables and the London Dungeon intimidated me. The architectural brilliance overawed me. The sheer expanse and expense scared me. I was unable to appreciate the various shades of London's spectrum; and I ran away vowing never to return.

Returning to Europe in 2003 I was determined to move to Frankfurt. I spoke fluent German and was certified by the Goethe Institute and no less. That should have been enough. Yet it was not to be; my German was not good business German and opportunities in Frankfurt were few and far in between for inexperienced wannabes like me.

It was not even then that I turned to London. I tried my luck in Rotterdam and Luxembourg. Finance was what I wanted to do and the cities had some opportunities for English speakers. So I travelled, spent a night in a friend's attic as I prepared for an interview; but never contemplated giving London a chance.

Somewhere I feel London was watching me and smiling at my stupidity and reluctance. The internship opportunity came out of the blue and I walked into London's open arms in the summer of 2003. A few months later I started working for a German bank based out of London. I had been gifted it all - the desire to start in the world of finance with a German firm and in a city that show cased the world to me. The rest as they say is history.

As I sit across the river bank overlooking Vintner's Place, watching tourists and families walk by as I write; I know why this trip is special. It's my city asking me to open up again, not to make the mistakes I made with my initial perceptions of London; to give opportunities another chance.

I came to London as a nobody and took risks that were unusual but see where it got me! It's probably time to take another leap of faith and give another opportunity a chance. It may yield nothing or it may empty life's treasure trove at my feet. I will never know till I take the plunge, would I! I should not expect a second chance everytime; after all there is only one London in the world.

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