Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Fly Be Free" in Camden Town

I recently paid another visit to Camden Town and was reminded of how much culture is alive in this town. You really get to see the diversity and influence of other cultures in Britain through the liveliness of the area and marketplace. It is one of my favorite places to see and experience the city life in London. Similar to Piccadilly Circus, which earlier I mentioned I thoroughly enjoyed, Camden town shows off the life and culture of London through the diverse food vendors and shops. During my first visit to the Camden Lock Market, I was immediately allured by the different scents of food ranging from Chinese to Italian to Greek. This was perfect after a long, hot walk through Primrose where we overlooked the city of London atop the green, grassy and city's tallest hill.

the pattern of my tapestry 

The first thing I bought at Camden Market was fresh handmade lemonade. I was able to watch him squeeze the lemons and add the sugar and water while he was so friendly asking me how my day was and where I am from. This friendliness continued from everyone as I walked on through the market. Each vendor was offering samples which were delicious I got to try chicken, lamb, hummus, and much more before I bought a plate of Chinese spring rolls 6 for £1! After the marketplace I went through the little shops admiring the items for sale. There were printed tank tops, jewelry, and handcrafted iPhone cases with designs like trees and flowers carved into them. Not only were these items remarkable, each person's booth was decorated with colorful cloths or lights, some had music playing and incense burning making it more enticing to step in and look around. I ended up talking to one man for quite some time before I purchased a tapestry he was selling. We discussed America and how he is planning to move to San Jose and he opened up each big tapestry I asked to see so I could examine the design and the quality. And even when I was hesitant to buy one of them, he graciously pointed me in the direction of other shops that also sold tapestries. This surprised me because he was not insistent on me buying the one he was selling or annoyed with the fact that he had to refold the ones I touched. I know American retail workers hate this. I ended up going to the other two places to explore my options and see what else Camden Lock had to offer. The other places had great selections and were cheaper, honestly, but I really enjoyed the first man's company and decided to go back and buy the one from him. He smiled, recognizing me and pulled out the tapestry I initially wanted to buy. This experience was so pleasant I had no problem with it being slightly more expensive then the other ones I saw.

Compared to Spitalfields Market after we visited Brick Lane, Camden Market not only had more reasonable prices but the atmosphere was more animated and colorful. The Spitalfields Market set-up had plain tents over tables that displayed their items; the spiritless presentation did not draw me in like the festive Camden Market where you could get lost in the tunnels of artwork and apparel. 

I continued through Camden Lock with a smile on my face as all the vendors greeted me and it made me realize the significance of diversity in England. So many different cultures and groups are contributing to making this the growing place that it is.

Everything about Camden town displayed a sense of culture from the food to the smells to the bright colors of the buildings - it is such a visual and sensational place to be. I eventually had to return because of this and this time I noticed across the street from the market was an endless block of tattoo and piercing shops. I thought, "Wow this place is so creative and full of art." Not only did my tapestry display a beautiful art piece, but clearly Camden is full of talented artists to have so many standing tattoo shops open right next to each other. On the walk down this block it began to pour and, being from sunny California, I was wearing a tank top, shorts, and flip flops with no umbrella - seriously ill prepared, I know. I thought I could handle a little rain but this was more than a little when I heard thunder so a man standing outside his tattoo shop invited me in to wait out the rain. Another great experience with the people of Camden Town! I had been planning to get another tattoo at some point and with such a great experience and time to waste I thought now would be quite memorable. I was adding a visual piece of art to my body in one of the most picturesque places in London I have been to. I went to talk to the tattoo artist and he was calm and friendly allowing me to give direction of what I wanted, a reasonable price, and start immediately. I was continuously impressed. As he was prepping, he was engaging in conversation and playing music I listen to back home. He even unknowingly played my most recent favorite song as he was tattooing me - and I screamed, "I love this song!" And he agreed and we laughed. This connected us immediately and we exchanged Facebook information and the next day Nora and I met him at Piccadilly Circus for a drink! It was intriguing to know that music brings people together even from different countries. Camden town displays a true sense of diversity and culture bringing together people from different groups and uniting them through food, art, and music.

significance is a saying by my grandfather

Nora and I with the tattoo artist Neko in Piccadilly Circus

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