Daily Archives: August 8, 2010

Finally back to words: On City Walking and Beauty

I haven’t written much these last few weeks. I have immersed myself in the fictional world of London, fictional because in a matter of some days I will leave central London where I have played and return to the real world of life, hard work and Kampala days. I have had my fill of the Great Shiny West and have had the wonderful opportunity to re connect with old friends, family and even a school teacher who I had not seen since I was 14!

Walking in a city has been a true highlight, as has been making full use of London transport and British Rail. As my pictures hopefully showed I have always looked up, around and under to see what delights London has offered. Occasionally I came home and wrote about it, especially after a very special 3 days in Amsterdam. But nothing but photos could be published until now. So here below are some Great Shiny West thoughts.

There are few things I enjoy as much as walking in a city. I am not the treadmill sort, but give me a city with windows and people and architecture and I can walk for hours. Amsterdam is the perfect walking city and during my 3 days there I walked most of it. And if I stopped for a glass of wine, a Manchego or goat cheese salad or even a few hours passed happily in a coffee shop, then I was even happier. Everything that I had been missing about the Great Big Shiny West was satisfied in those three days. The city is not only beautiful but I have never seen a population of more attractive people. Yes, they are mainly young and on bikes, and yes I had just come out of a severe drought in the eye candy department, but even so, this is a city of very good looking people. Even the waiters and taxi drivers and ticket sellers at the museums are well turned out with a dose of style.I actually assumed that our taxi driver was a guest our hotel when I saw him adjusting his tie in the hallway mirror. He was dressed in grey trousers, a while linen shirt and a positively pink tie. Men in Amsterdam are not shy to don pink socks, a linen jacket in a shade of lime or trousers rolled up at the ankles. The girls have exchanged jeans for simple frocks that flip just suggestively when they ride their bikes. Lipstick and flowing locks are de rigueur.

I need the pretty, the beautiful, the art, the man made architectural icon. I studied History of Art and consider myself an esthete. I have always considered that there is no need for anything functional to be ugly. In fact there is no need, at all, for the ugly. And this is not a question of money, rather one of attitude and consideration of ones environment. In Kampala recently, on a small street I saw a house with flowers in pots all along the line marking where the house ended and the next one began. As I looked, I realized how rare it was to have taken that decision to beautify the living area. I also realized how much I had taken for granted that every body did that.  Uganda is abundant in physical beauty. I have  a hard time with the lack of man made beauty. For those naysayers who ask “ who has time to worry over aesthetics when we are just surviving?” I say first look at look at India and second no one in Kampala is starving.

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