An American Asian in London

So I'm back from London and Paris. It was the first time my wife and I visited Europe. It's always interesting to see how people live in other parts of the world. London has a very distinct look with its neighborhood streets and buildings. Here's the street of the hotel where my wife and I stayed at:

A lot of the London streets aren't straight and tend to curve slightly, which gives it an interesting perspective. Not only that, but you know you're in London when you see the red double decker buses, red telephone boothes and retro style taxi cabs. The subway or "the Tube" is kind of crazy, but leave it to the British to have very orderly, but rapid streams of people walking briskly through the stations and on to the trains.

In contrast, the Paris subway has less people, but more chaos. I thought London streets were distinct, but Paris streets are even more distinct and have a very Old World look to them. Perhaps we walked through the bad part of town, but Paris seemed a little dirty, and not in a naughty, sexy time way. Everybody smokes, and there are cigarette butts littering the streets.

There were a lot of Africans in Paris, and a lot of Indians in London. I can't say I saw very many Asians in Paris. There's a small Chinatown in London, but the Chinese make up only 1% of the city population. I have to say that my wife and I turned quite a few heads in both London and Paris, not necessarily because we were Asian, but because we were Asians speaking English with American accents. Of course I'm sure the French hated my butchering of the French language, and the Brits were annoyed with my wife and I doing mock English accents all the time.

Two things that my wife and I missed about the States were 1) the food and 2) the service. Food in Europe is much more simple, understated and smaller. Not to mention expensive. There's no supersizing. The Indian food in London was excellent, but not exactly filling. Sandwiches in Paris emphasize fresh bread and cheese, not how much meat you can pack in to give you lockjaw.

I guess since America is a country of immigrants, we have a greater hunger for all things. The children of immigrants want more. Which is why food that comes to America from other countries evolves into something bigger, tastier and more varied. Pizza and pasta are very simple and plain in Italy, but boy do we pack on the toppings here in the States. Sushi is simple in Japan, but Asian Americans have introduced some colorful and flavorful rolls.

Not only do Americans constantly want bigger, better and more, but we want it right now. Restaurant service is a bit slower in Europe, where customers enjoy their leisure time and don't like their food to be rushed. My wife and I found it particularly aggravating.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed London and Paris. If it weren't for the cramped conditions of the city, I wouldn't mind living in London for a short time.

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