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Monday, April 11, 2005

"The most cosmopolitan place on earth"

I've finally got my hands on a copy of the Guardian's brilliant supplement on multicultural London: "London: the world in one city. A special celebration of the most cosmopolitan place on earth," which was published in the January 21 edition. You can look at it online, but unfortunately the huge colour map of 'ethnic concentrations' and the maps of ethnic and religious population densities don't work so well in pdf form (unless you have a very large colour printer). Aside from the obvious things (Edgeware Road is a Lebanese/Arab concentration; Brixton is Jamaican; Brick Lane is Bangladeshi; Elephant and Castle is Columbian/Ecuadorian), the big map taught me all sorts of things about my own city that I would never have known. For example, that Balham High Street is Polish, Chessington is Tamil, Hanger Hill is both Japanese and Iranian, and Chichele Road is Baltic/East European.

Among the articles in the supplement, there's a nice, if somewhat unrevealing, piece on London's Koreatown: New Malden. There's definitely still something very new and slightly transient about the London Korean community as this comment from an interviewee makes clear:
"We are looked upon as a very unusual community," she says, "because we don't really open up to other communities in the borough." Language, it seems, is the main enemy. "Even though I've been here so long, I still have problems," admits Ree, who is so English that she takes a box of PG Tips with her when she visits Korea.
If you want a bit of a feel of what it's like round my way, check out this piece on the West African community of Peckham.


At April 12, 2005 10:27 PM, Blogger hanjuju said...

Um, what IS a box of PG Tips?

At April 13, 2005 10:01 AM, Blogger kotaji said...

It's a brand of strong English-style tea. Actually it's not very good and I don't like it that much, but somehow it is symbolic of being English.


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