I stepped off the train at Kings Cross and hurried towards the underground. I was late. I’d told my sister K that I’d be arriving in ten minutes, and the tube journey was going to take at least fifteen. Swerving around a few slower people I nearly collided with someone in a suit hurrying in the other direction, and suddenly I broke into a grin.
I was in London. Around me were endless different faces, took the time to soak in the different voices, clothes, and even the smell… Grinning manically, I hurried down the escalator on the left side, muttering “excuse me”s, smile expanding. Unusually I breathed in the dingy warm air of the tube deeply, smiled at the people who were fervently avoiding my gaze, reading or listening to music. When I appeared above ground and started walking home with my amazing and patient sister I had no problem with the direction of the traffic, was delighted by the busses and continued to grin at the houses, all huddled together along the high streets. I was finally at home again.
Sis and I had planned a full program for the few hours we had together. We planned everything from music to exercise and taking in the highlights of London Town. More than anything, though, I was looking forward to time off with my sister, exploring her version of London, this area entirely unknown to me.
My sister and I had two days together and we started with a night out in a concert. Perhaps it was just the big city effect, but just the walk to and at the concert I noticed all sorts of people in different styles, looks and cultures. A South African artist, Jeremy Loops, was giving the concert, and as a result there were plenty of South Africans in attendance, plus an assortment of other Londoners. I was incredibly impressed with all of these different faces, clothes and languages. The performer created a bizarre mixture of country, pop, and dance. We had bizarre conversations with others, danced and enjoyed the music, amused at all of the different characters.
After a longer sleep, we picked up our mam at the train station and then all headed to the London Zoo. Because sister K is studying wildlife management, she knows the zoo and the animals very well, and she led us around. Our tour led us past the penguins, where we enjoyed lunch before visiting tigers, lions and reptiles. We walked with the lemurs and visited the nocturnal animals before realising that it was nearly closing time and calling it a day.
Unfortunately it was also already time for me to get ready to head back to Italy, to Turin, to places less familiar, with less family and less international faces.