London is growing on me, even though that is slow and uncertain, its charm is starting to show through. Its pace is constant, the people a mixture of incredibly nice to terribly angry, but almost always helpful to a young American trying to get home.
I'm sitting as I write this at a little pub called The Victory, a Thai pub where they only serve food during "normal meal times" but liquor almost constantly. The atmosphere is loose and free, with American or faux American country music playing in the background and warm leather armchairs to sit in with your pint and paper. The streets outside are flooded with people, but The Victory remains a place of quiet calm where the patrons sit by themselves with pints of Stella Artois and Harps slowly warming in large glasses. I was sitting at the bar, this notebook open, talking with the barkeep about the other pubs. I expected bias, as it is so common in the states to see one bar pulling itself up over another because of predisposed thoughts, but I didn't expect the man's honesty. He was a man of Indian decent, although his Indian accent was intermixed with that of the Brits so I assumed he'd lived in the city all his life. He was telling me that the English pubs are good places to get a beer, but unless you are a local they treat you poorly. A local meant full blood UK, WASPish sort of stuff. He told me that he'd stopped going to the other pubs because they treated him poorly, despite being a british citizen, because he didn't look like a local. I'm going to have a look for myself, but what an unexpected thing to run into on Edgeware. That street, which holds the pubs the barman was talking about, is mostly owned and operated by middle eastern men with places like Fatoush and innumerable names prefixed by Al.
Almost everyone who I deal with on a regular basis would have been considered a minority in the states and they are some of the nicest and most helpful people I've met in London. We are treated coldly more often by white brits than we are by anyone else, something I've yet to understand. Maybe its because farmers beat them from the new world with bubble gum rifles and then demanded that they be friends with us. Its sort of like stealing someone's girlfriend and then demanding that the ex-boy still hang out. Whatever. I make an effort to be kind to them and they can sod right off if they choose to.
Our leaders of this program have a strange idea of what it means to come here I think. They seem to think that people who leave and return from places on their own (see "me") are not doing as they are supposed to. Part of the enjoyment I get from this city is exploring it on my own and at my age I think I'm allowed to do so. I've only almost been hit by motorcycles and busses on a few occasions, so I think I'm on par for holding my own. I guess when parents put their children under the care of professors it is obvious why said professors would be anxious about people like me. I like to explore things without worrying that the people I'm with are going to piss and moan about one thing or another. As sick as I've been recently, it is best I avoid them anyway.
My final point of learning about this city for now came when we went to West Minster College in order to register for classes and meet our main professor. By the way, I think I'm in heaven because I only have class two days out of seven. Every monday and tuesday I have class and then from wednesday to sunday I'm free. How bad ass is that?
What I learned at the college, though, is that the brit men my age that I've met so far are assholes. Asking them anything is like asking them if you can sleep with their mother and they answer just as short and angrily as you'd expect from such questions. The pair we met today looked as though they'd had a rough brush taken to their faces and when we asked them about the West Minster symbol they got angry and defensive. Tossers the lot of them, but then again they think the same of us. They stare at our women as we walk buy and glower at the three of us men as we follow suit. I'm not snogging them you filthy cheesewanks. Christ.
Anyway, I think this has gone on far too long. I'll post as I can, the 1000 minutes of internet is starting to put stress into my heart, but with as great as The Victory Pub is with atmosphere and discounts, I'm thinking that I'll spend less time inside of the apartment and more where I can get tea and beer for cheap.