Right before I left Uganda, I wrote a post about the things I’d thought I’d miss after leaving, and those I’d be happy to leave behind. I was operating on the assumption that life in the UK would be more similar to life in the US than to life in Uganda. In most respects, that assumption has held up.
But in several not insignificant aspects, my experience thus far in London has borne a lot of similarities to life in Kampala. To wit:
1. Most people are speaking a language I don’t speak, but could switch to English if I needed to talk to them. The main difference of course is that in Uganda, most people were speaking the same language (Luganda), while in London, virtually every language on the planet is being spoken.
2. Many of the shops are owned by Indians.
3. Accessibility of goods. This is one of the things I thought I would miss most about Uganda. Once again, when I imagined shopping in London, I was thinking about American cities. I thought that there would probably be lots of corner stores with junk and convenience food, but that to find actual food and other necessities, I’d have to trek a bit further.
Maybe in other parts of London shopping is more difficult, but our flat is right by the East Street Market, where produce and all sorts of other things are on sale every day. If that weren’t enough, our neighbourhood has loads of cheap ethnic grocery stores, pound stores and just about everything else.
4. Pictures of the head of state. Granted, this isn’t quite at the level it was in Uganda, where just about every establishment had a picture of President Yoweri Museveni near its entrance. Further, perhaps the situation here right now is unique to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Further still, the Queen is largely a figurehead so her presence on window posters or giant murals overlooking the Thames seems rather less threatening than that of a strongman dictator looking down as I walk out of a store.