“The city may win, but too often its citizens seem to lose. Every urban childhood is shaped by an onrush of extraordinary people and experiences – some delicious, like the sense of power that comes from a preteen’s first subway trip alone; some less so, like a first exposure to urban gunfire… [f]or every Fifth Avenue, there’s a Mumbai slum; for every Sorbonne, there’s a D.C. high school guarded by metal detectors.”
– The Triumph of the City, Edward Glaeser
Anyway, an update at long last, since I am feeling some kind of breathing space at the moment (and perhaps am feeling inspired from the 7Up series – I quoted from 21Up last post, and highly recommend everyone to watch the series). My third year in London is good as always, passing too quickly – quicker now that I’m 23. However I still feel the vivacity living from day to day. It is by such a stroke of luck that I made it here, and I really cherish my position. Life would certainly have been very different had I come to this city unendowed with the privileges I had in my early life. I don’t think I could imagine what it would have been like.
I am taking things a little slower than I did last year, aware of the need to balance my life with studies this time. Ironically this means speeding up some parts of my life, like getting from place to place – I take the Tube a lot more now. Not much time to take the scenic route. Last (academic) year was a year where I had to run to school more than half the time, and I don’t want those scares in my final year. I’m still a little crazy/ obsessed about things (not people, which is a step in the right direction) but perhaps I control myself better now.
London remains great though and I am glad for the little perks – like waking up in the middle of the night to go to the fish market every two months or so – and I could see how one could never tire of this city. It’s large enough to indulge eclectic fancies (this is unfortunately a reason why Singapore may never become a creative hub), yet small enough for close-knit communities. I feel that I could unreservedly declare that London is my favourite city in the world right now – but three years is enough, I tell myself; I only know that I will miss it when I depart.
What lies ahead? Even with my next 6-7 years ahead planned for me, I can’t be sure. As my understanding and feelings for London have matured, I feel differently about Singapore, about the world, and my place in all of it. I can’t see myself living the “comfortable life” for all of my time in this world – but situations do mould people, and I have six years of a (good? bad?) situation to look forward to. I can only hope to retain some of the energy and naïve idealism that have characterised much of my three years here.
Meanwhile, there is much to be done.
[Video: An almost transcendental interpretation of the Adagio movement of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major, played by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Ettore Gracis. Michelangeli was better known for his pinpoint precision, yet there is so much emotional depth underlining the tranquility of this rendition.]