So after four and a half years in Kuala Lumpur, we have returned to London. My first impression? It is cold here. It has been quite a shock to go from the tropics to a Northern European climate. Plus, it is summer! Winter is coming, and I am not looking forward to it.
Other than that London seems vaguely the same. It is still incredibly expensive. The media continues to be full of stories of either impending disaster or glorious future success – depending on the proprietor’s political leanings. When we left it was Austerity, now it is Brexit. The trains are still broken on an alarmingly regular basis for what seem like nonsense reasons. Companies say nice things and are polite in public, but obviously couldn’t care less when time to get things done. People are everywhere, everything seems crowded, everyone is super busy.
Forgotten when I left, but quickly remembered on return: terrorism motivated attacks are common enough to be largely ignored by the local populace. Seriously, I have never seen a Londoner concerned about the London terrorist incidents that dominate the international news when they occur. If you ever see a news item claiming that Londoners are feeling scared, worried or “under siege” then they are talking nonsense.
There have been a few small changes too. Contactless payments are ubiquitous. I tried to pay for my lunch with cash soon after arriving and got a very dirty look from the cashier as they made an exaggerated gesture to open the till. It is as if I was an old man counting out pennies, which I suppose I was from a customer throughput point of view. There is also a huge increase in the number of “gentleman’s barbers”. Male grooming is definitely more overt. Hipsters abound!
Overall, I can not claim to be happy to be back. That is despite finding a job very quickly in an interesting fintech AI startup. It has also been good to catch up with old friends. I will probably be required by work to stay in town over the coming months. However, I sincerely hope this will be my last ever London winter.