Chapter II: London

I almost never talk about London but it is a big chapter of my life. I lived there for, in total, about two years. I walked the kilometres of its streets, indulged in its senses, breathed it, enjoyed it, loved it. Then I left, and with an exception of a short stint for an interview with Shell during my INSEAD year, did not come back until now, seven years after. A month ago, Louveteau and I went to London to celebrate his birthday. And just for the weekend in London, quoi. It was a good opportunity for me to reconnect with my memories of the British capital and to reflect on the aftermath of this city’s magic on me.

London has shaped me in many ways. The education I got there might not be the most relevant for my career (well, actually, you never know with education: something learnt a decade ago can suddenly come handy. Actually, that’s what usually happens.) However, the experiences I got there, the risks I took and the decisions I made, good and bad, affected many of my life choices. Maybe that’s why it seems very important to me to resurrect my time in London.

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Writing this chapter took me some time. Impressions fade over years, memories are getting replaced sooner than we realize it. London, however, stays with me in many ways, more than I probably know of.

When addresses, places, shows and fireworks leave the memory, when things, once precious, are worn out and thrown away, something inside, something forged by the dialogue with the city, by its gifts and the sacrifices it demands, by its generosity, its history, its magic, – this intangible something stays.

So I took my time to go through my first notes about London from as far as seven years ago, to reconstruct my first impressions, feelings about London, to breathe in my past. To cherish it.

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A glimpse of Marrakesh, Moroccan fauna and a fair warning about quads

Somewhere between last Christmas, my birthday and New Year, Louveteau decided that it was time for me to explore an Arab country. For some reason, he was sure that I would say no. Out of principle, I said yes. On impulse, we took last moment Transavia/ Easy Jet tickets (which costed us like Air France Paris-Rio one way) and soon after were queuing at the immigration service at Menara airport.

Fast forward: getting in Morocco was much easier than getting out (at least to me on my lavish Russian passport – who could have thought! Louveteau had to showcase his entire passport collection to enter). To leave this beautiful place, we had to gather all possible stamps, which would be a very powerful impression on its own but was overshadowed for me by the separate lines for luggage scan for men and women.

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