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Living in London, New York ... The Politics, Cost of Living; Education.
Prior to coming to London in October, 1973, I was inspired by the Queen … the Monarchy … and my curiosity was filled with excitement when the good news came. Post some initial medical examinations which I took in Grenada, WI, I had visited Barbados and obtained a student visa for travel. I was truly elated, and so when I arrived at the airport, I was prepared for a new and different experience.
London is a busy city, always buzzing with life. It is also very cosmopolitan and in some ways, has become a victim of its success: crowded trains; high cost of living; little or no affordable housing, etc. Here people are busy either at work or going shopping and doing their social errands: taking the kids to nanny’s or school as the case may be.
Still, I love the vibrancy of this City, which, including the suburbs, houses close to some 12,000,000 people. It has its famous Parks such as Hyde Park, Richmond and Battersea Park. There are landmarks such as the Chard, London Eye, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, of course, as well the famous Madame Tussauds or St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, for both locals and interested tourists.
London also houses some fantastic museums and art galleries. Some great places to visit and shop are Piccadilly Circus, Knightsbridge, Harrods and Oxford Street and many traditional and ethnic restaurants have evolved over time, catering for the 300 plus ethnicities that exists here. Food and transportation is – in my view – generally more expensive than some European cities, as well as New York. But there are some great restaurants and chefs.
I first visited America in 1978, five years after I arrived in London. My father, Neville Hutchinson, had sent me the necessary papers to file for my Green Card, and so using this, I arrived in what to me was a relatively strange country and away from home: England.
Statue of Liberty
Nevertheless, I spent eight months, during which time I got a job, did the High School Equivalency Diploma and was preparing for the State Board License, to become a Registered Nurse (RN). I returned to London, but have since visited 3-5 times yearly for 20 years and at least twice yearly in the last 13 years. I guess I initially found the Health, Educational and Parliamentary system very unusual indeed!
Brooklyn and its subways were quite different to London, as was the street designs and understanding how they work. ‘Do a right at the next block’ was initially quite unfamiliar, and I also had to get used to the transportation system. By and large America presented the opportunity to work; to study, free from the clutter of the studious mind such as in London, where the ordinary or advanced level certificates were very important to progress in one’s career.
I felt that America offered more freedom, opportunities … the knowledge that if I was prepared to work hard, there was very little barriers standing in the way. My father lived and thought all his life like an entrepreneur. He read the Financial Times, Times magazine, worked at the America Stock Exchange on Wall Street and mixed with the socially elite.
I could easily have got used to this. Actually, I only swung full circle when I read a book in September 1982 while in London, married with one son and a total re-birthing started which, by God’s Grace, has lasted till this very day some 34 years later.
Manhattan is like London, brilliant and superb at nights and buzzing with activity during the day. The city of New York, and especially the Borough of Manhattan is so vibrant, so alive! Central Park is huge and famous; Port Authority and Grand Central is always full of life and the people are open and liberal, sometimes too much so, but would generally help if you seem unfamiliar with things or are truly lost indeed! Happens!
As to the bridges, they are a marvel of great inventions and water itself signifies Consciousness which does so much for the serenity of my well-being! The Cathedrals in New York are also famous, enhancing the beauty and reverence of the ideals of the American dream.
Coney Island and the Statue of Liberty are worth visiting, and the latter still stand as a symbol of Liberty, Equality and Justice for all. I loved visiting Maryland where my X lives; especially Silver Springs with all its green; its solitude as well as amusement Arcades, and good food. Virginia was also quite appealing to me as well as Connecticut and as far afield as Chicago. Few go to America without visiting the White House grounds and there is a very Native American museum not too far away.
It was nice to visit Philadelphia, and to be reminded of America’s great and good Thomas Jefferson; to visit Austin, Texas, and spend a day in what is essentially a great American City. My sister lives in Houston, an oil industrial city, which is awfully hot!
Politics is like Science. Perhaps they are like brothers and sisters, in the sense that they both act as conduits to influence our lives in a diversity of similar ways: school, environment, workforce, laws, nature … science takes over when it comes to great inventions, whether it’s the Law of Gravity; the discovery of the Atom and hydrogen bombs, of Penicillin, electricity or modern day electronical systems, which can become frightening in the wrong hands.
I see only Spirit, by the way. In my world there are no two’s, no boxes. So politics and science are playing critical and essential roles, all as a part of this one giant plan of the Absolute Supreme. In a flower garden, they all carry fragrances, but the rose will have its own beauty; the lotus its own charm and the daffodil its own elegance. Yet together, they enhance and contribute to the entire garden.
American Politics is sometimes more colourful, encourages more pageantry … more circus…the system of congress and two terms is also special and unique. I rather enjoy that one individual is not given more than eight years, as this can become dangerous as we have seen in some countries.
The British system, to an extent, follows the way of the Crown, parliamentary democracy with a Prime Minister, rather than a President as in the U.S. It is currently bound by or affected by an EU legal system and I feel that America has a less knotted one. It is not tied to anyone.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The United Nations is a potent force not only in American but in world politics, working towards the ideal of a better, more humane and just system for all. This includes Education, and both our great Countries have taken credit for the outstanding abilities of their universities, whether it be Oxford, MIT, Stanford, Cambridge, Harvard or California Institute of Technology.
Of course Britain has the private Grammar schools and America has perhaps a more open system, where everyone with ambition, is allowed to excel. Colleges are quite useful for this.
All in all, I love both countries, one for its dynamism and speed, courage and great inventions; the other for its nobility, self-giving and sacrifice; its willingness to come forward and serve less fortunate countries in times of need. Britain is not so great in the sense of an Empire anymore, and perhaps America seems to be drifting, or rather unsteady with the higher ideals of Washington, Payne, Lincoln, Luther King Jnr, Jefferson, Emerson …
Yet they both share much in common and indeed some of the strengths that I have mentioned, do merge or overlap. The belief in Something Higher or in Christianity is common to both and I suppose that they believe they are both doing their best for their respective citizens. I wish them well.
Manatita. 5th November, 2016.