The City is no longer here, it's over there now.
After a decade in London, I have packed up and left. Not forever, but for a little while, while since my employer tempted me with the usual perks. But given that I came to London with the intention of staying for one year and ended up staying for eight, this little while could turn out to be a bit longer than anticipated.
Arriving in Toronto was not that much of a culture shock. More than anything else, it felt like a weird amalgamation of things I had experienced before in my life.
My corporate apartment feels very similar to one I called temporary home in Frankfurt. The subway, whilst clearly not the Tube, smells surprisingly similar to the one in Munich. The trading floor that I work on is indistinguishable from one I left in London. The same jokes, loud traders, and applause for whomever leaves first. The mall under the office building could be in Canary Wharf for all we know, with Tim Horton deputising for Pret A Manger.
And whilst clearly being a North American City, the Torontonians pride themselves on not being New Yorkers. The latter is almost looked on as loud, rude, and overly hectic, with the attitude north of the border being more laid back. There's little aggressive behaviour and a fair degree of common courtesy.
Of course, I don't expect to blend in seamlessly. People still look at me oddly when I talk about putting a pram in the boot of a car. Or when I ask for a mobile number. Right now, my main concern is that I will be arrested for racial abuse one morning when I order my coffee 'white'. Or that I will be run over by a car because I look in the wrong direction. Or that I will catch pneumonia because I somehow believe one doesn't need a scarf at lunchtime.
The other day I was getting a haircut and the girl asked me where I was from. After answering London she sighed, expressed her love for my old home, and couldn't understand why I would have moved to Toronto of all places.
Frankly I sometimes don't know that either. What I do know, though, is that I will do my best to enjoy my stay. And judging from first impressions, it shouldn't be that difficult.
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