Walking through the neighborhood with my 78-year old mum visiting me, I see someone I know standing in the door of one of the local squat pubs. So I go over, and while my mum admires the huge murals outside. I chat with this fellow-foodsaver. The pub is a distribution point for saved food, bread & cake have just arrived.
So I tell my mum to go inside and take some. She obviously feels a bit awkward, until one the people outside, an elder, broadshouldered batcaver all dressed in black and wearing a Crass shirt and a nice fluffy mohawk, steps into the doorway, and almost knightly and very insistingly invites her in. A bit shy, she has no choice but to step inside, still feeling very out of place and trying her best not too look at all the weird hairdo’s and tattoos. Then she discovers the cakes…. and yes, they’re fresh from the bakery, and yes, they are for free…. We didn’t stay for a drink, but my mum immediately popped into the small art gallery next door to have another look inside :).
Thing is, sometimes what surprises my visitors says more of how my original country has changed, than about the more positive aspects of this city.
My mum wondering how all these little craft and other shops survive and aren’t taken over by huge chains. Enjoys the cheap indian food, and swallows hard when her wine arrives, the glass is so big. Stopping at a supermarket open til midnight, and my mum exclaiming how cute, how cute, and I wonder why, it’s just a very normal supermarket, until she tells me, there’s only one girl behind the counter, this late at night, and nobody thinks it’s dangerous. I of course have to inform her about the not-so-nice backgrounds, no minimum wage means, yes, the food is cheap, but either the owners works at least 12 hours a day, or that the bread is so cheap because the person on the other side of the counter works 40 hours a week, and still is dependent on “social service money”.
But yah, I rather live in a poor city which smells bad, is dirty, and where the drunks hang outside, than to worry about walking the streets alone after dark, my mum actually asked me if it wasn’t too risky for a woman on her own.