June 14, 2007

London allures

I hope you have noticed the lack of post in my blog recently. I had an exam yesterday in London and I hate exams for the amount of pressure it creates on a person.

I am writing from my friend's place near Bethnal Green in Tower hamlets, which is also known as Banglatown. The next street is the famous Brick Lane. You feel so much at home here (photos coming soon). Its normal here that your friend comes down to the street to greet you in his Lungi. London's financial hub is Liverpool street and it is located about 10-15 minutes walk from Banglatown. You will see a totally different environment there, people in complete suits, posh buidings. The great thing about London (especially these parts) is the mixture of cultures, races. They blend so well here, absolutely friction free.

And I have seen the struggles of some Bangladeshis students here. London is an expensive city and more alluring are the attractions of money. Students come here to study and when they hear the sound of penny and pounds from their part time jobs they get distracted easily. One pound equals 135 Bangladeshi Taka. If they can save 50-100 pounds a month they can support a family back in home. So they try to work as much as they can. But visa restrictions don't allow more than 20 hours a week to do a legal job, which should be enough for a human being to sustain him/herself here. Some find other ways to earn money and their education becomes less important. Their study gets prolonged and so is the time of stay here. Their ultimate goal is to stay here for 8-10 years so that they can apply for permanent residency. There are so many educational institutions (dubbed visa colleges) here who are willing to enroll you for a fee but don't bother whether you are actually studying or not.

Just providing you with a scenario of how the students live. A rented duplex house accomodates 5 students. X & Y are a married couple, X is an architect from Bangladesh and studying masters now. Y is doing a PhD which cost her £9000 a year. They both work hard to sustain and its common not to see them in the house before 10 O'Clock. P is studying law and can afford to live in a 40 sft room only. She has changed a lot since she came here first. She has no option than to do a part time work but study is still priority for her. Q & R are bachelors and live a stressed life trying to balance job and study. They all share works in the home, cook for themselves, and share only one toilette.

In a few years of time they will have a good degree and probably some well paid jobs to live more comfortably. And London makes it possible for them, because they feel close to home. As a citizen of a Commonwealth country they are eligible to vote in Great Britain from day 1 (unlike Germany where even after gaining permanent residency you are not allowed to vote). London has been named the world's top business center this year.

"We all need money, but there are degrees of desperation."


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