Saturday, June 06, 2015

Kuiering with London

You can be in a place, without being in a place. You can know a person, without knowing a person. 

When I moved to London in 2008 I stayed with friends for a week, and then found a place to rent. I looked at 5 places in one day, and ended up taking the first place I had looked at. My brother lived round the corner and my niece was brand new. Thinking about where to stay didn't take me very long. I think this is the process many people go through when they move to a new place which is why you end up getting clumps. South West London is arguably the tenth province of South Africa. Reverse Colonisation. Just like Tetley Tea being bought by Tata. I end up seeing just as many people around as I would in Joburg, Durban or Cape Town. A similar thing could be said of Sydney. I bumped into my school headmaster when visiting. Amazing coincidence? Well about 5 people who read that post where within a stone's throw of that chance meeting. 

London is vast. You could go to a new coffee shop or restaurant every week and never run out. But I didn't. I settled into a pattern fairly quickly. To avoid the bad weather, I found an indoor form of exercise just down the road. A couple of years in, I started renting an art studio in Wimbledon. The underground commute took me to and from work without much scene change. Between Yoga, work and my art studio I ticked along very nicely. I had a few favourite restaurants and coffee shops. I would go and see friends. I was also very lucky that my work took me back to South Africa regularly. Basically there wasn't space or need to do much wondering or wandering.

Having come back now from Australia and New Zealand, I have started approaching London in a similar way. I have 'been' to various parts of London without actually absorbing them. This morning I am in Brixton at an awesome little Crepe/Coffee shop called Senzala. Get the 'Morning Glory' breakfast crepe. It's awesome. The place reminds me of the Oxford Covered Market which is one of my favourites.

One of the team building tricks I have heard of is for people to do 5 minute presentations on subjects unrelated to work which they are passionate about. Like living in a city for years without discovering new bits, people can end up working together without finding out what puts the sparkle in their colleagues eyes. I don't buy the separation of work and play. We spend so much time with the people we work with, and I am convinced that there is a trust premium that comes from letting down your guard.

The same goes for close friends, family or relationships. Unless you are around each other 24/7, life goes on when you are not around. Like London having new restaurants opening all the time, we are not the same person today we were yesterday. Every seven years our bodies are almost completely replaced by the stuff we eat. New ideas and experiences change our minds in the same way.

We can always get to know the people we know by making time to kuier. I am enjoying kuiering with London.
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