Bethnal Green is the epicenter of multiculturalism in London.
That is how it feels when you walk through this area. You will see women covered in burqas, saris and trending skimpy London fashions. Blonde, black and brunette heads all bob past the daily markets that line Roman Road and Bethnal Green Road, the main veins of this East London region.
Bethnal Green is a stone’s throw from Shoreditch and London city; a 7-minute bus ride or 20-minute walk to Brick Lane, which I have already written about. It is also where our new apartment is located, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Across from our flat there is a vintage store, a Bangladeshi pharmacy, and an organic grocery store (they sell organic wine in refillable glass bottles & the best Kombucha <– will write more about this later). There is also no lack of hardware and DIY stores, and there is a laundromat right under our apartment. Everything we need is here, and everyone I could imagine walks these streets. It is a microcosm of the world if I’m going to be grandiose about it.
In Norway, we often talk about the integration of refugees into society, or how a wave of religiously devout Muslims will impact our thoroughly secular society. We are distinct from Sweden or Germany, who tout multiculturalism. I believe that policy-makers should look toward places like Bethnal Green to see how real integration looks like.
This neighborhood stands as an example of the creative energies that can take place when people from all over the world and from all different backgrounds come together. It stands as an example of success for the small business owner, for young people, for professionals, for families. Victoria Park is five minutes away and bike paths are abundant. Food markets pop up in the weekend and the well-known Columbia Road Flower market takes place nearby every Sunday. If you are in London, come walk these streets and see what I’m saying with your own eyes. Everyone looks different, and I love it. I look forward to making this my new home when I move from Boston in May.
x – Nora