I am in Europe for the past six years and have visited many countries during this time, but nothing like the global village that London has become!
Here one can meet people from almost all the cultures of the world. It is indeed an enriching experience.
I possess a T-shirt from Jamaica, which has been a part of my baggage for the last many years. A friend, who had visited Jamaica, had brought it for me as a gift. It is a pure cotton one and white in colour.
The T-shirt has perfect length to my taste, which is a bit longer than the normal T-shirts easily available in the stores. It fits me well; a proof that I have not gained weight in the past years. It touches my thighs and makes me comfortable while jogging. So it's been part of my jogging routine in Asia and now in Europe.
Interestingly, my humble T- shirt with just one word printed on the front, went unnoticed until I came to London. In this metropolis, its seven letter word in blue-"Jamaica," lost its anonymity.
After settling down in this new city, the first thing I wanted to find was a park, where I can breath in fresh air and breath out all my longing for home, family and my country. The search began and luckily I discovered a nice park just in the vicinity.
Early next morning, I put on my T-shirt heralding "Jamaica" on top and went out. I started jogging in the green lanes and suddenly I noticed that all the men from Caribbean and African background were looking at me. It made me conscious as this attention was totally uncalled for. Yet I continued my jogging and running.
Suddenly I saw a young man coming towards me. I turned my eyes away and carried on with my routine. He came close and stood in front of me. I stopped. He asked- "Tell me buddy, are you from the Caribbean?" I said, "No." The black guy's next question was, "Then from Africa?" Again, I said, no. He stood there for a few seconds looking at my T- shirt and then walked away slowly.
The attention that the T- shirt evokes among all the black people in the park is astonishing and I believe, it is unique to the UK.
I have started thinking of retiring my T-shirt now, to avoid the gazes. But find it hard to part with my longest jogging companion.
However, I am trying to get used to greetings from people of the Caribbean origin.
Just the other day, when I went to the park along with my Jamaican label, an African guy, who was totally drunk and carried a bottle in his hand, walked towards me with faltering steps.
He tried to stop his shaking demeanor, looked at my T-shirt, raised his other hand and said- "Good morning, buddy."
I am still procrastinating, should I bid good bye to my old T-shirt now.
One thing is clear, any symbol, however small, which is reminiscent of our native culture, fascinates us. It is a joy to see something, carrying even a fragrant whiff of the land we have left behind.
I am sure, all of us in London have found one's own "Jamaican T-shirt," sometime, somewhere, which made us stop and stare, reminding us of our roots...
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