I am sitting on the doorsteps in the heart of Chelsea waiting for my clients. I am a photographer and thanks to my trade I move a lot around the city in search of new beautiful locations.
I am holding a large Starbucks latte in one hand and a raspberry muffin in another. I am wearing flat soled ballerina shoes and a blue dotty scarf. This is a common londoner’s looks: ballerina shoes all year round and a scarf for when it gets colder.
Places where we live change us, ever so slightly. London prompts me to stand in queue even when I am alone on a bus stop. And to wear scarf and mittens instead of coat in autumn – they are easier to hide in my bag when sun appears unexpected. And to grab a coffee whenever I locate a coffee shop. And to consider the tube the best city transport ever – no one in London goes to work by other means. London taught me to smile to strangers, and to say “sorry” when someone accidentally steps on my ballerina-clad foot, to gaze about, to look around, to be a careful observer – you never know what you will see around the corner. That is why I feel uneasy when I do not have a camera, or at least an iPhone with me – how else can I catch my impressions.
Places, I know, have heart and soul. They might reveal themselves right away, but sometimes they leave you cold and indifferent. You meet places just like you meet people. Often smaller places are easier to understand: all those instantly lovable little cafes with a handful of customers, those remote desolate gardens, those single benches in the middle of parks that look like oases of comfort and inspiration. But sometimes… you arrive in a big, vibrant, crowded city, the place from your school-books, the-capital-of-great-britain cliché in your mind, where you never really wanted to travel, and you realize it’s your soul place. The two of you meet and it’s magic.
Don’t expect London, my true gentleman, unbosom himself at once. He will watch you first to understand which part of himself he can show you. You will listen to jazz in a taxi if you love jazz, you will get an extra cookie with your morning coffee if you love cookies, you will meet someone you always wanted to meet. It’s true. And it’s London.