London – some time later…

Some weeks ago, I went to San Francisco for Intel Developers Forum, to present a Moblin training session. It was my first business travel since my relocation to London, and many colleges I haven’t seen in a while wanted to know how the whole moving thing was working out for me. As I was telling them and repeating it several times, I started missing home, and this time home meant London. It’s said that you are really adapted to a place after six months, and this is my sixth month, so I guess I made the transition already.

While I was away, the stuff I missed most were my flat, my bed, my pillow, my things. After so much trouble to get everything the way I wanted (cancerian, argh…) – from finding someone to assembly my wardrobe bought piece by piece at IKEA (which have stores almost as far as a galaxy far far away…), to paint and assembly the legs and lift the 32kg glass top for my computer table all by myself, to the wall stickers – so it’s natural I want to enjoy it. But there are many things I like in here as well.

The most practical effect is feeling safe. As any other big city, London has its crimes and problems, but it’s completely different from Sao Paulo, where I used to drive with one eye always in the mirror, always scare to drive home late, avoided using my cell phone on the street and didn’t watched the news anymore to avoid panic syndrome. This fact alone already makes it worthy. Now I need to stop reading news from Brazil so often, because every time I do it depresses me, and I feel sad for friends and family, although makes me happier for leaving. Here, even some neighborhoods considered ‘dangerous’ like Brixton aren’t that bad; three guys in the office live there and said it isn’t so bad.

But I think my favorite thing is that any day, anywhere, you will hear at least half dozen different languages: French, Japanese, German, many others I don’t recognize and of course, Portuguese. It’s unbelievable the amount of Brazilian in this city, there isn’t a single day where I don’t hear one, from socialites-wannabes posing for pictures next to the Big Ben to friends talking on the bus – always the louder ones. My new PT is Brazilian (and I’m her personal nerd :D), as well another PT and the receptionist at the gym – our little mafia. At the office with about 20 people, I guess only half are British. It’s normal to see women in saris or veils in the street, and even in burkhas; they go side by side with the micro skirts on the tube. Meanwhile, in Brazil, a student was harassed and threatened to be raped because she went to university (university!!!) on a mini dress…

It took me about two weeks to start understand and assimilate the accent, although I still need to concentrate when someone Scottish is speaking. But now I can understand the comedy shows on the telly 🙂 for the accent and the events of that week. Make fun out of the prime minister is always on the agenda. The sense of humor here is very different, acid, sarcastic (I love it), pushing – and sometimes crossing – the boundaries of offensive, but that boundary goes different for each person. I bought the dvds of the original The Office, with Ricky Gervais; I had watched the American one before, with Steve Carrel. The difference between the two shows reflects perfectly the British sense of humor. While watching the American version, I very often felt sorry for Carrel’s character. When I was watching the original, it was the first time I physically hated a fictional character. Every time Gervais character used to enter the scene, I wanted to punch him. Coincidentally, on the same weekend I caught one of his stand-ups on the TV. While most of the time I was laughing so hard I was crying, sometimes I couldn’t believe he was actually saying that. Another precious moment was listening – also on TV – Phill Jupitus talking about an insane guy who entered the lions’ cage on London zoo, and about his arachnophobia. Update: I thought Gervais was bad(in a good way), but I found out he is just middleweight. Watching Jim Jefferies, I discovered the heavyweights…

Food is the main thing people from other places complain about, and for me it seems to be the thing people from here remember most when out. It’s not impossible to have a decent diet – you either have to be really rich, or to know how to cook. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a sandwich based diet. I prepare most of my meals, and eat out about 3 to 4 times a week. Most of the time eating out means to buy a soup or sandwich on EAT – or POD, since Matthew taught me EAT is corporate-evil and POD is familiar-nice – and have it in the office’s kitchen with everybody else. This is also an exercise for me, trying to follow and understand the jokes; it feels kind of trying to understand the internal jokes on Friends without seeing the previous seasons (haaaaah, Unagui…). Sometimes I just listen, sometimes I just daydream away , and other times I ask what that means – not always, because there must be nothing else more boring than explaining jokes all the time 🙂 Some bring food from home, and it’s really easy to find vegetarian options – I’m not a vegetarian but I like to have vegetables as well. The thing I miss most is a good sushi, I can only find fast-food options or hear about 100 pounds per person restaurants – and for this money, I rather do a course.

This month I also went out dancing a couple of times – finally!!! It’s funny for me to be in a place where most people don’t have a clue about dancing to the rhythm to the music 🙂 most local women tend to overdo the ‘trying to be sexy’ dancing, I guess – which never works. Germanic people seem to be stuck on the robot dancing style, while the Brazilians think dancing needs overdoing facial expressions and playing with the hair. But what I really don’t understand is why men going out trying to score don’t realize the ones that learn how to dance or at least go to the dance floor have their changes multiplied…

I got here during the summer, and we had plenty of lovely, sunny days with blue sky. There were days when the temperature reached 30oC! People tell me how lucky I was to be here during summer and to have time to adjust, those who arrive during winter get depressed very quickly. Winter season is only beginning, and we already have an average of 10oC. Yesterday was one of those days for what London is known for, gray, cold, rainy, although the rain is that thin thing that goes everywhere than a proper rain for what you need an umbrella. We had a day like this sometime ago, and a woman in the office told me the suicide rate must had peaked that day. This doesn’t bother me yet, but for many people it’s unbearable. I think the weather only aggravate one’s mood, and those not happy here want to go back or move away. However, I have no plans for going anywhere so soon, only if it’s for visiting…

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