Sunday, 20 May 2012


As I mentioned in my ACI2000 post, it's very community here, which I like a lot. And a big part of that is trust - people trust one another here in a way they don't in cities in the UK.

Some examples

I go to a couple of little shops regularly. No-one here ever has change, so they often let me take a coke without paying and I pay them back the next day. Or I pay too much and run up an account. I like that I am trusted to do this. Same with the ladies who sell mangoes outside. Of course, given the difficulty in getting change, it's the only way to manage.

In bars, at least the cheap ones like the Hotel Princesse, they don't keep a running tab of what you're drinking. They just collect all the bottles in a corner of the table and when you're done they count them and tell you what you owe. It'd be easy to hide a bottle or two, but no-one would. With food they often just ask you what you had. Again, you could lie about it, but that would bring down the system, so no-one would.

Parents are happy for kids to run around the neighbourhood on their own, whether there are adults there or not. Our street is usually full of people, but not always, and there are enough strangers there that I don't think you'd see that in the UK. I'm a random person they see going to and from work but who they don't speak to, but they're happy for me to play with their kids on the makeshift swing some of them made out of rope (aside: this looks and sounds more fun than it is. I ended up on the floor in a dusty heap being relieved I wasn't carrying Oxfam's laptop bag at the time). I could be an axe murderer, but I'm not and most people aren't.

In the UK we get that in villages, but not in towns. A lot of it is a factor of the level of development - everything is cheap, but there isn't enough change. There are only small shops, rather than big bland supermarkets, so you know your shopkeeper. Mine is a big Man U fan, so I have spent most of the last week making fun of him, though he did admit it was a good game. No-one has a job, so they spend their days on the streets selling mangoes, and know their neighbours. But it's also a function of the area - my sister seems to know everyone who works on the Walworth Road, and at the opposite end of the spectrum my friends who live in nice villages know everyone there. Conclusion: I think that if I move back to the UK I'll try and find somewhere where I can talk to people.

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