Brixton district in London – a pop “ghetto” area

There is always something you will never forget about your trip, and among them there is always something you are not going to talk about. I will tell you about one of the areas I have been exploring in London which I am never going to forget. You thought I would tell all my “secrets” to you people right? Sorry for disappointing you 😉

 

Let’s start to say that Brixton may be called by many as one of the most multicultural ghettos of London, located in the southern part of the city. Going out from the underground you will be in the middle of a unstoppable wave of people coming from all directions – which is actually not that different from the rest of all the streets in London – restaurants, shopping centers and street take aways, plus maybe different people singing outside the stop.

I was a bit curios about this interesting area and looked up some infos about it, among the others, here. Thanks to the little things I read so far, I could see how the almost abandoned district was once a rich area similar to that of the Swedish area Rosengård, where riots are happening and of which people are mostly aware and afraid of. The history of the Brixton district is a particular one, going from being a poor area, to one of development, then place of social riots and then again gaining a certain “respect”. By the way, Brixton got a population boost in the middle 1900s, but after it was bombed in WWII, living conditions for those who still were living there after the war were not acceptable. Social riots started and especially during 1981, Operation Swamp 81 led by the police aiming at lowering crime rates, permitted to arrest whoever was suspected of crime, leading to up to 1000 thousands arrests. Gentrification happened mostly from 1990s on, and in a few words, it has completely changed the aspect of this area, luckily still keeping the level of multiculturalism pretty high – most people living there are from the Caribbean. If you are curious about the term gentrification, you may be interested in reading this article “5 myths about gentrification“.

Even though I did not take that many photos as I thought I did, these three are more than representative of the place. The way from the metro stop to the market was surprising frightening beautiful attracting smelling tasty at the same time. People of all countries meeting in a way I am used to since I come from Italy, sitting on plastic chairs in front of their houses or shops, though immersed in a too poor situation than the one I had been used to from the previous days in London. Take away places formed by a little kitchen on the side of the street, as it was someone’s apartment kitchen, where you could see in through the open window and glimpse a big pan. For some reasons I felt I was in Thailand or India, even though I have never been there and the most population in Brixton did not come from neither those countries.

We went into the market, being welcomed by huge flags of every country in the world, mostly placed exactly close by the restaurants serving food from those countries. Going into the market, half of it – mostly the shops in the centre – were closed because of the night time, but restaurants and bars where open, creating the right atmosphere/balance (still looking for the right word for the Swedish “stämning” making you feel completely out of time and space, maybe on a dancing street in South America instead than a suburb in London. We heard some music and being the last night before traveling back to Sweden what do you think we did? We started dancing following this caribbean music, just in front of the stereo, in a street – between the 5th and the 1st avenue – where everyone was eating talking enjoying the music getting warm in a slightly chilly air of a September night. We danced starting from an empty dance floor that nothing was if not a cement path with a table by the closest wall, where we put our things and forgot the others. Funny as it gets, was to see a video of us dancing, published on the fb page of Brixton Market.

Little things about Brixton

In 2009, the Brixton pound was coined, in order to protect the variety of business and to higher the popularity of the area. I was really surprised by reading this, and wish I’d known about it before leaving from London!

Brixton is also the part of the city where David Bowie was born.

I will just say goodnight with a music video of the song “La Gozadera” putting together many countries of South America, showing flags and some streets which definitely made me think of the Brixton market. See you soon!

Camden Town and its markets

Definitely one of the most popular destinations in the huge city of London, Camden town found a chance to steal a piece of my heart as well. You could definitely decide to spend hours walking through it – I suggest though not to bring your wallet and just go around getting lost – to find places where you will come back “the next time”.

We decided to visit Camden market on Sunday, the day after a hilarious group of girls from Malmö university stepped – many for their first time – on the ground of Luton airport. Starting already from the arrival day, we have had a very tight schedule visiting numbers of organizations, both NGO and GO, offices where programs for integration, migration and much more are led, journalists, relevant people in the issue of multiculturalism, gender equality, respect and more.

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A map with some of the places we visited on Sunday

Having Sunday as a day to recover after the tiring travel – we woke up at 2 a.m. in the morning to leave from Copenhagen at 7.00 a.m. we visited pretty much, from Camden Town to Soho for a Chinese dinner all together, stopping at Primrose hill to see the city from a different view. On the way we walked to Baker street and saw the door to the apartment of the Sherlock Holmes stories. On the right side of the map is the hostel Clink 78, ten minutes walk from the underground station King’s Cross/St.Pancras. A big hostel which I definitely recommend if you are thinking about visiting London, especially if you are a backpacker. The hostel has a bar where to meet people in a very easy way with music and very kind staff. You have breakfast included in the price – and a big kitchen place, plus two or more living rooms, with tv and computers. I hope you will like the photos, I will definitely write more in the next hours/days 🙂

After this week I almost cannot see myself without all the knowledge I earned in a so full week. Really tired right now and cannot promise “real” and interesting posts, but at least I will show the originality of Camden markets, still asking myself why I did not see a wave of “Swedish” hipsters stepping by all the little stores.

Following my love for multiculturalism I will soon tell you about the suburb of Brixton – which I always mixed with Brexit, which on its side was wrongly pronounced “breakfast” by some of us in the first days. Brixton may seem as the ghetto of London, though its difference and originality – which would be loved by those famous nordic “hipsters” -definitely attracts thousands of Londoners as well as tourists, offering clothes markets during day and food places during night. I would love to write more but I’ll see you later with a deeper story about this part of the city.

City

Get off. Walk. Watch. Mind the gap. Red. Smells. Scents. Go. Run. Left. Difference. Map. Gap. Second. Ready. Culture. Diversity. Equality? Respect? Silence. Seats.

Arrived in Malmö with the train from Copenaghen half a hour ago, got a drive from the boyfriend of the organizer of the trip – who was more energetic than thirty five teenagers would be after such a busy week we have experienced.

We all slept a very few hours after a night of fun between the multicultural area of Brixton and Soho.

Meeting people dancing on streets on African rithms eating different singing the same new steps colored drinks stopping again starting moving arms hips waist hair black surprise images excitement between the fifth and the first in a market of hidden restaurants stereos tacos origami faces rythm drums and flowing convincing people bored up down moon shining and dogs barking wood of a table where sitting if not dancing serious faces moving as in films loud music lower volume up again. Dance.

London ♡

Chapter 2

The day arrived in which I finally start to be someone here in Sweden. I do not want to be too negative, but I have to admit that life without a Swedish personal number is, if not impossible, way more difficult than someone not living in Sweden – or whichever Nordic country – could imagine.

After a year of exchange where I got a temporary personal number but did not anyway have way to use it, I stayed another year in Sweden last year, just getting a student personal number, which is totally useless for everything since it is just indeed a student identification number. Full of surprise, here at Malmö university I got registred with the same code I had last year at Karlstad university. By the way! I got really emotional yesterday when someone from Skatteverket answered to my email saying that my procedure was completed and they had sent the letter to my letterbox. I could not believe how this four numbers really change you prospective!

It is a number formed by you birthday and then four numbers, calculated in a way I do not really care about right now. Since Sweden is a very bureocratic and “fair” and “right” and “serious” country – and tax paying one – they like to control and check that everything goes right. Whatever discount card you want to have you need a personal number, house ensurance, bank services without going to the bank for every least issue, booking a medical visit so that you do not need to queue after all the people who booked before you, or during you wait, book a gym – in my case! – without paying any month in advance, and getting the chance to actually have the student discount! There are thousand of things you may not be able to do without a personal number, which totally opens your doors to real life when you get it.

Yesterday it was a long and joyful day, also because after waiting my ups package coming a week later – you know, they were surprised that the entrance door was closed and they did not call, because of course not else in the world entrance doors are closed right? By the way, in the package there was this tv that I got as a present from my dad. I will connect it tomorrow when I will be able to get the right cable – and crap how I hate to go to electronic shops since I do not understand anything about these things! Today I will go to the bank and change my adress as well as leave my PN, buy cables, pay the money to get a Swedish Id card, compulsory as soon as you get a PN.

In the afternoon I will have lesson and then will meet with some of the classmates to discuss about what was spoken during the class. We came along on this after yesterday’s class and we all felt very productive and great, we’ll see how it turns out. What is sure is that we all are very mixed regarding culture and this always leads to discussion and more understanding during school.

Then I will go to Triangeln area, to watch an Italian film at Panora Folkets Bio, the film is called “Bortom Lampedusa” in Swedish, but the original title is Fuocoammare”. Italian audio with Swedish subtitles, bit of a challenge to find someone to go with, but I think some from class will follow anyway.

Something which I do not think I wrote about in the previous posts is that I will go to London on Saturday, with the foreign affairs student association at Malmö University (Utrikespolitiska Föreningen Malmö). I am so excited for the amount of meetings the organizer put together in a very full immersion in – generally – human rights issues. We are going ot visit among others, Amnesty International, Lgbtq associations and the Swedish Embassy plus much much ore. Besides the alarm clock at 4a.m. I think it will be very constructive!

I post some photos of the last days. Gosh it is just twenty minutes to ten in the morning but I am so tired already, and the mission no-coffee – except in the morning – is just at its start, but I have to make it fine preparing for the long winter! Hope I will make it to tonight when we will go at the student pub!

I am in shorts, this crazy time is getting everyone in shorts and beachwear, incredible right? 27° as highest yesterday in the afternoon, kind of sad if you think about climate change consequences, but people living in Nordic countries cannot do anything than enjoy it.

I’ll see you soon, have a nice day!