The Neighbourhood

Posted: July 20, 2010 in People, Photos, Places
Tags: , , , , ,

Free Beer!, originally uploaded by raven_b.

It’s over 10 days now since we moved into this new house. The first week flew by quickly – buying basic stuff, setting up the house, receiving & setting up the air shipment and so on. It’s only over the last 4 days that I really got to walk around the neighbourhood.

So far, I like what I see, but not too much. The neighbourhood is not half as lively as the St. Paul area we were staying in earlier. I won’t even try to compare either to our Bandra locality, forget the more active parts of Bombay.

The distinct absence of people on the streets is matched evenly by the presence of some really nice cars parked casually around the streets – an Alfa Romeo in the parkway, a well-preserved vintage Merc convertible on the road and a barely 2-year old Jaguar rotting under a ton of leaves. The car I’ve loved for a long time and never seen in India, the Mini (Cooper/BMW), is as numerous as the Suzuki Swift in Bombay! Very beautiful cars which, with usually just one person per car, must also be very lonely pieces of metal.

From cars to houses. After having looked at half the houses in this city while house-hunting, I can say with some authority, there aren’t many areas with more beautiful houses. Specially when you account for the relatively small plot sizes here. Of course, this is only based on the exterior view as the interiors can vary a lot. But then again, like with the streets, most houses seem either empty (credit crunch?) or extremely under-populated. But yes, if you are looking for a family house, have a car and money to spare, this is one of the best areas in this city to live. Wide peaceful roads, good parks and schools in the neighbourhood and close to the city-centre.

Moving on to the non-residential parts. Apart from the very quiet street we’re based on, there are a few relatively interesting areas nearby. About 5 mins walk towards on side of the street are a Pizza Express, a couple of coffee shops, a Sheesha bar(!!), a few pubs and the usual smattering of grocery stores and other utility stores. A few minutes walk on the other side is the Kilburn high street – wide, long, empty (of people). My favourite coffee shop in the area lies about a 10 min walk away – Cafe Roma – near the Maida Vale station. It’s a nice warm neighbourhood cafe and also one of the very few places here where the coffee matches what I was used to in India.

People. Not much to say here. Charlie, the caretaker, is a friendly & helpful chap. About 50, he lives with a tiny dog for company. I think he & his dog are just as happy to see me as I’m to see them. A trio of lonely souls all of us! Apart from Charlie, the Abbey road coffee shop fellas nearby also seem friendly, after the chat we had earlier (inspired by the Croatian football jersey that I was wearing). The girls at Cafe Roma are friendly and warm but haven’t had a chance to chat with them in my 2/3 visits there so far. That’s it. Yes, that’s all the people I know in my neighbourhood.

So I’ve tumbled from a steaming hot, over populated, dirty, (overtly) poor yet extremely friendly corner of Bombay into a cold, grossly under populated, over-clean and relatively rich corner of London. And just for that, very frequently these days, I’m sad.

P.S.: The photo is from the ‘old’ St. Paul neighbourhood. Still looking for some quirky signs in this one  :)
P.P.S.: The cycles arrive this weekend. Let’s see what can make of this neighbourhood then with all that increased mobility ;)

  1. Sherene says:

    I have a morbid fear of suburbia…your neighborhood is lovely but the quiet streets reminded me of suburbs when I visited so I stay put in my part-grungy, part-edgy, poorer part of town for now :) Suggestion for next lease – Bloomsbury! Super lively part of town while still being ‘posh’ but without the pretentiousness, IMO.

    • raven says:

      Bloomsbury? You’re so not over that area :)

      Yes, this area is way too suburban in its look & feel. And I’m not liking it. The only good part is that the (mostly) empty, wide and clean streets make cycling comfortable for partner, so she’s more than willing to cycle all the time :D

      And now that you’ve hyped up Bloomsbury so much, I’m thinking of planning a cycle ride around that area. Part-grungy, part-edgy & poor(er) is exactly what I need to help me recover from this bout of Bombay-sickness (to be interpreted like home-sickness).

  2. ~j~ says:

    Hugs all the way from a rainy, not-so-steaming-hot-these-days, over populated, dirty, (overtly) poor yet extremely friendly corner of Bombay :)

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