London now seems quite dull

Earnest Hemingway once famously said that he found London rather dull, and, believe it or not, I thing I now know what he meant. I took myself up to Stratford this afternoon, just to withdraw some money and have a walk around the olympic park. That area is developing nicely, with swanky modern buildings popping up all over the place, but what struck me most was how quiet and orderly it was: everything worked, and everybody obeyed the rules. Tube trains came and went on time; electric doors opened and shut as they should. On the roads people drove calmly and considerately, obeying the  traffic laws. Compared to where I was a couple of weeks ago, in fact it felt quite clinical. Compared to Delhi or Jaipur, there is a sterility to London which now seems rather boring. The pavements are well maintained and the grass is nicely cut, and while such things are normally very welcome, London now seems unexciting. There are a lot of cool new things in development here, but that will always be the case in any thriving first world city. What I found myself missing this afternoon was character and excitement – a type of exoticism I found in Indian cities which went hand in hand with the noise and chaos. Perhaps I have simply been living here too long, but after nine years in London, for all the cool cultural stuff which happens here, it’s starting to feel a bit too tame. I know I can get to where I want to go on public transport, but that now almost seems inhuman and sterile to me, as if it is too efficient in a way. The chaos of Indian cities gave them a feeling of excitement which London seems to lack: it now feels quiet and small, orderly and boring.

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