The London Dream

February 1, 2013 , by Tribeni Gurung, Leave your thoughts
The London Dream » My Dreams Mag
London is an international hotspot: its global status attracts millions of people each year—tourists, immigrants and students. However, the magnificence of the city also has a malicious side, especially for those wishing to pursue their dreams in London. A social construction of London conceals the realities and struggles of achieving ‘The London Dream.’ Having lived in London my entire life, this article explores my experiences of pursuing my dreams in such a dynamic city and also my observations of Nepalese students hit by the reality of London life to accomplish the ideology of ‘The London Dream.’ Despite being brought up in London, the decisions and experiences I undertook shaped my dreams, all of which originated in Nepal.

Monday morning: two words despised by most individuals.

I’m sitting on a packed train waiting for my journey from Ealing to Holborn.  Sitting beside me is a middle-aged man, dressed smartly in a suit, scrolling through his BlackBerry.  On the other side of me, a young girl steadily applies her mascara and inspects her impeccable skill, and also the result, in her compact mirror from all possible angles.  In front of me stands a sea of commuters, red-eyed and somnolent, some flicking through this morning’s Metro whilst others drinking coffee bought from the nearby Costa.  I ask myself; how can one tube carriage fit so many people? But this is London.

I was born in London to Nepali parents and have been brought up in West London. So my British-Nepali heritage is always something to talk about. I can never escape ‘the’ question: Do you see yourself as Nepali or British? My answer, “I’m a Londoner.”

There is no denying that my love for London has increased since attending university in Central London. The city has everything and yet there are hidden ‘gems’ waiting to be discovered in this electrifying city. From the West End theatres and one of Europe’s largest shopping centres to tennis at Wimbledon and concerts at Wembley,  these are too good to be true.

However, growing up in a small suburb in West London always made me feel detached from the ‘real’ London – the real London where Tower Bridge stands, the real London next to the Thames and the real London where the Queen resides.  But in reality, the real London seems like a dream. Whilst iconic landmarks have portrayed London to be divine, the reality of struggle and survival in this dynamic city subtly hides underneath its beauty.

It’s obvious that London is a multicultural city with the more than 200 nationalities; immigration and migration is intensifying in this modern metropolis. But why are so many people attracted to London?

I could get a partial answer to my question—if not all—when I travelled to Nepal in the summer of 2010. I taught English in a Buddhist monastery.

The young monks considered me as a foreigner, considering my upbringing in London. But at the same time, I was one of them for my heritage is rooted in Nepal.

During my time at the monastery, the young monks were eager to know about my life in London—the house I live, the places I go to and the people I socialise with. Their questions marked a curiosity about the ‘outside world.’

I recall a young monk excitedly expressing: “Miss, I want to go to London one day.”

“Why do you want to go to London?” I interrogated.

“I want to go to the places Salman Khan has been,” he replied.

I gathered that perceptions of London were based on what people had seen or heard from others. Perhaps even stepping on the London soil was simply a dream—the London Dream.

During these years I have met many Nepali students who have moved to the UK to fulfill their dreams. Though their stories are unique, they all share a common beginning: “I came to London for greater opportunities.”

But what opportunities, and how are they going to pursue them?

The excitement of coming to the UK and pursuing the so-called ‘London Dream’ is hindered by the reality of living and surviving in London. Soaring bills, low job prospects and unpredictable immigration reforms add up in making it seem as if the ‘London Dream’ were impossible and unachievable.

You also miss your family, festivals and yes, momos. Loneliness and the tough London life slowly kick in.  The real London seems far from real when people are faced with the struggles of everyday life – surely there is some form of ideology upholding the idea that London is ‘the place to be’.

Conversely, it cannot be generalised that all immigrants, migrants and students have experienced such a poor welcome from London. The city may not always be held responsible for their circumstances and consequences.

Despite difficulties, dreams can be achieved in this amazing city. An increase of successful Nepalis in different sectors has proved their capability of achieving their dreams while settled in London.  Nepalis are slowly but highly being recognised in the likes of sports, fashion and business – the ideal dreams that one may aspire.

Alternatively, there are dreams that do not have to be measured in success. These not-so-obvious dreams can be personal and more satisfying compared to the ‘big’ dreams.  Achieving a dream or being successful is rather personal in which only an individual is able to understand subjectively. Dreams therefore, are a subjective construction.  Even if stepping on London soil is one’s dream, then be it. If visiting Old Trafford is a dream, then see it.  If becoming an entrepreneur is a dream, then live it.

As for me, there is no doubt I’m in love with this incredible city. Living in London has enabled me to acknowledge all the opportunities that surround me. I’ve always been taught to ‘follow your dreams’ and that ‘the world is your oyster,’ which has, at times, left me vulnerable in choosing the path I want to pursue successfully.

Though I have been living in London, Nepal helped me shape my life’s goal. I always wanted to help people, and it was in Nepal that I took this spontaneous decision of teaching. It is indeed one of the best decisions of my life.

Completing this teaching project has made me successful, as this anonymous quote claims: Success is not measured by the amount of wealth we have made; rather it is measured by how well we use our skills, talent and knowledge and how well these influence those around us.”

Teaching in Nepal has inspired me to craft my dream along with experience.

At this point, I have come to realise that I don’t create my dreams but my dreams create me. As for London, for some Nepalis moving to this mega metropolis can be a first step in achieving their dreams. Moving to London in achieving their dreams could be an aspect toward realising that dream. But I haven’t been able to comprehend the meaning of the ‘London Dream.’ It’s a dream I may never understand. But then again, maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner.

Photo: Shuttlestock

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