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Ethiopian Hospitality in London

Typical English phone cabine
The typical, red telephone cabins are only tourist attractions these days.

Digital nomads, tour guides, take your time before and after your mission to travel on your own and for yourself. The unorganised point of view is totally different. A lot can be learned again for the job. It is a great extraction and therefore relaxation. It also is an additional possibility to meet new people again, get new contacts. It is a different type of people you meet this way and therefore very enriching and fulfilling.


After I finally had slept enough, I put a message through to my host, in whose house I would spend several nights, in the late morning, to let her know what I was up to doing. As I received no answer, I had to change my plans.

Everything seemed well planned: The luggage on wheels, leaving the hotel in a time-saving way around lunch time to take the tube to go to the market, where the host would work today. I wanted to get the keys from her appartement there, put the luggage into the appartement, to leave it again until she would come home. But it turned out to be different. As it is part of travelling, I was surprised. First of all, the way to the market turned out more strenuous than expected. Not all underground stations were equipped with an elevator, or escalator, so the pulling and tugging of the heavy suitcase, which had been packed for a month, and the second little suitcase on wheels with electronic devices, turned out to be extraordinarily arduous and hurt in the back. The marked in question was supposed to be in Hammersmith; she had shown me the space during our last meeting.

 

Baker street tube station
Here in Baker street, the oldest underground station (world’s 1st, est. 1863) in London, which is close to the Sherlock Holmes museum, it was time to change public transport again.

"Now it's time, I can't cope with any more steps.",

 

I thought, when I finally got off the underground in Hammersmith. I than pulled that cupboard to the square, which I had memorized. On the way there were kerbs to be surmounted and eyes to be protected from the dust, which had been blown there by the heavy wind. Besides the stitchy pain in my eyes, I simultaneously felt the warm sun sometimes on my head and shoulders, whenever the clouds would slip from the sun once in a while. The street musician, who was positioned in front of the station, could still be heard far away within the additional city noise. He only had put an old-fashioned sound box with the size of 1 m X 0.5 metres there, through which he shot bad heavy metal music. It was very crowded here, and therefore it was hard to see the human beings within the crowds. The little wheels of the suitase were sometimes stock in the cracks of the concrete tiles and pulling them out got on my nerves.

 

After a short walk, which seemed to be 10 times longer as it was, I arrived at the aforesaid square. It was empty. Completely empty. Not even one market stand could be seen.

 

"Mm. That can't be possible now. She wouldn't have cheated, would she? No. What for. Do I remember correctly? Had she only said back than: '... in the area'?"

 

I rolled the two pieces of luggage a bit around in the area until I had a seat on a bench after a while and checked my messages. There was nothing.

 

"All right. Think logical."

 

Than I was googling around a little, using the key word "luggage storage". Finally. There was something. I suddenly found some people in the area, who provided their space for luggage storage through an app, similar to the AirBnB app.

 

"But if that exists here, it surely also would be in the area, in which I have to go anyway... ."

 

And behold, some more clicks there was an address right on the way, where I would have to change from the underground to the bus.

 

 

Around the corner of Notting Hill Gate North, at the end of Protobello Road. Very near by there are also several important embassies.
Around the corner of Notting Hill Gate North, at the end of Protobello Road. Very near by there are also several important embassies.

At the station "Notting Hill Gate North" I pulled the stuff once again laboriously upwards, additional 2 floor levels. Over here, finally outside, I opened google maps and traipsed to the address in question. On the way here, I had noticed, that I would have to pay by credit card first. So far no problem, but the address was not to be found. No entrance, which showed the desired address. There were shops of any kind: Fast food, second hand cloths, boutiques with jewels, coffeeshops, ... . I went up and down some more times, until I finally gave up.

 

So I took the bus to my final destionation. I had no plan.

 

 

Even the inhabitatnts of London prefer sitting on top in front in the double-decker bus, which really provides a great overview. An "Oystercard" has to be charged at a machine or in a little store first, to be demonetized, when entering the bus.
Even the inhabitatnts of London prefer sitting on top in front in the double-decker bus, which really provides a great overview. An "Oystercard" has to be charged at a machine or in a little store first, to be demonetized, when entering the bus.

On arrival I rang the door bell. Nothing, like expected.

 

Now I simply rang the bell, which belonged to the appartement directly beneath on the ground floor. I could simply leave the suitcases in front of the appartement door, after someone would have let me into the house. Now the door was opened and a slim, young man with dark hair and skin opened the door and looked at me in a questioning fashion. First I didn't know either what I shall tell him:

 

„Yea, sorry, I'm from the continent. Ehr. Would you have accomodation for me, please?“

 

... a thought, which disappeared quickly. No, I had a second thought and put on my charming smile to spit out the truth for once:

 

„Hy.“

 

„Hello.“ He answered and looked even more questioning. Now it was my turn to let the situation appear somehow a bit more conventional:

 

„I am visiting your neighbour. She lives on top of you.“

 

Than a break for now. That wasn't really enough yet, so I continued:

 

„Yes, ah, she is supposed to come home later. I would like to go out in the meantime. So, er. May I leave my luggage in your place in the meantime?“

 

That wasn't even my plan, but it simply turned out that way.

 

He reacted immediately, started towards me; there still were 4 steps between the main entrance of the house and me:

 

„Yes, sure, of course.“

 

He immediately grabbed my big suitcase:

 

„Can I help you?“

 

Without waiting for an answer, he pulled the suitcase into the house. I was very happy, relieved and jumped after him:

 

„Oh, thank you so much.“

 

Trellick Tower: Planned as noble tower with appartements, close to Portobello Road and the tube station Westbourne park. It is a handy orientation point.
Trellick Tower: Planned as noble tower with appartements, close to Portobello Road and the tube station Westbourne park. It is a handy orientation point.
Typical British windows. The lower part is pushed up. Between the two parts the wind blows through. Mostly the windows are not only insulated badly, but also only consist of one layer of glass.
Typical British windows. The lower part is pushed up. Between the two parts the wind blows through. Mostly the windows are not only insulated badly, but also only consist of one layer of glass.

Having arrived at the door, he asked whether I would like to come in. He was cooking at the moment, but would love to offer me some tea. I accepted, went with him. While he continued cutting, stiring, I was slumping my tea. We were chatting magnificently. He was very open and quickly told me many personal details. Some time later, I suggested to leave and he offered to have dinner with them.

 

„I‘m sorry for my girlfriend, but she desperately needs to watch soccer. But she will join us, when I‘m done cooking. I myself, I don‘t like football.“

 

I wasn't sure now what to do, as I was waiting for my host and probably wanted to / should have dinner with her. He noticed my hesitation and added:

 

„Have you ever had Ethiopian food?“

 

I had to admit, that I never had. I was hungry anyway, so I gave it a quick thought; I was curious and it smelt so well:

 

„No, never. It smells great! What is it?“

 

„In this case it is vegetarian. There is going to be Ethiopian bread with it.“

 

Now I became even more curious:

 

„Sounds great. I‘m just not sure, when my host is going to be back.“

 

In a very neutral tone he replied:

 

„Think about it. It takes a while anyway. Do what you need to do and you can come back later and when my girlfriend is done watching football we can eat together.“

 

„Thank you. So, ok. I’m gonna go for a walk and will be back in a while. I gotta pick up my stuff anyway.“

 

„Ok, see you then.“

 

„See you, thanks.“

 

So I was walking around, I already knew the area a little from my last visit and when I came back, I was even more hungry. I rang that bell again and I was asked in once again in a friendly way. Everything looked slightly improvised in the small, very simply equipped appartement. But the friendliness and peaceful attitude of the head of the household and and later his partner, the second head of the household, communicated cosiness. Now there was an even better smell. After some sentences, a young, slim lady entered from the room next door. The complexion was the same as the one of the young gentleman. She welcomed me in a friendly way and a lively and open conversation about their country of origin, Ethiopia immediately started. Very soon her boyfriend served the food. The vegetables in sauce and special herbs was taken from the plate with thin unleavened bread and slipped into the mouth. It was delicious. During that, I learned that this bread was even vegan. A special wheed from Ethiopia, which had been turned into a dough without milk. It shall also be gluten free.

 

„Are Ethiopians vegetarians?“

 

„No. Just the bread is eaten that way. But also with meat.“

 

„What kind of meat do you eat?“

 

„Beef and a lot of chicken.“

 

“And the bread?“

 

„Made of an Ethiopian wheed and water.“

 

„Special. Nice taste. Different. Very good.“

 

„So you like it?“

 

It was nice to see, how much they enjoyed that I liked it.

 

„Yea, a lot.“

 

And I was being serious. It is difficult to describe HOW it exactely tasted, but it was VERY good and just different for once. The sice and consistency could be compared with Crèpes, or very thin, Austrian pine cakes. The color was more well-ordered, than within the European equivalent and somehow more grey. The vegetables had a great smell and the sauce was very tasty and a bit spicy. I added:

 

„I never had Ethiopian food. I must admit, that I don’t know much about Ethiopia at all.“

 

Now the young Lady participated:

 

„Well, Europeans generally don‘t know much about Africa, whereas Africans learn about European culture.“

 

„It‘s true. I don‘t know much about Africa. It isn‘t really on the syllabus in our schools.“

 

„You Europeans just don’t NEED to know about Africa. All you know, is all you need. We just have to know more. It is simply economic. Economic power determines what you know, what you need to know. If Africans want to become wealthier, they need to understand how the Europeans are doing.“

 

„Sounds logical.“

 

I was slightly ashamed. It is actually really true, that most of us know comparatively little about Africa. It would quickly be possible for us to picture where an American state was, but some African states don't even sound familiar to us.

 

The cook followed the situation as well as the conversation closely and also, whether or not we still had enough to eat on our plates.

 

One more of my questions would pop up:

 

„How is the Ethiopian school system?“

 

She was happy about my interest and answered:

 

„Very good, it is very good, we learn a lot.“

 

„As far as we know over here there is a lot of poverty in Ethiopia and we get the impression, that there isn’t much schooling at all.“

 

„Well, we were privileged and could go to school. So let’s say that those who are able to go to school get good schooling. Our system is unfair. Many people don’t have a lot of chances.“

 

„It is clearly also our fault. We want to consume cheap stuff and keep the global system of exploitation going.“

 

„I am impressed, that you realise and admit that point.“

 

„It simply is a fact.“

 

„I would love to see a wealthier Ethiopia in the future, one with chances for everyone.“

 

At this point he linked up with us again:

 

„You know, over here people don’t think about money they spend. In our country 100 Pounds are a lot of money. Over here we don’t think a lot about where things come from and who produced what. Everything is cheap.“

 

Stealing a glance on my new hat, I replied, as if I had just been cought:

 

„It is true. Instead of helping someone with these 20 Pounds, I just spent them, without thinking.“

 

She thanked me for my being so open. It felt good to get to the bottom of this. It is a very different feeling to talk about such things with people, who are from a, as we call it, development country, a term, which had been determined by the developed countries.

 

Now it was my turn to anser some questions:

 

"What would you recommend?: We want to travel in Europe. Where should we go first?"

 

I must admit, a difficult question, as Europe is so diverse and all countries have their inspirations and disadvantages. That's what I was talking about and what I had seen, what I appreciated mainly with verious countries.

 

We finished our dishes, the atmosphere continued to stay very good, open and we exchanged numbers. I was also invited and was happy to counterinvite. What stayed was the good feeling having been integrated, having learned something and it lingered for a longer while. I am positively impressed, that I had overcome my doubts and had simply pressed the bell button. It is so beautiful to be able to knock on foreign doors and to immediately have company, food, nice conversations, a widened horizon and a roof above one's head.

 

Wornington Road, area between Westbourne Park and Station Ladbroke Grove.
Wornington Road, area between Westbourne Park and Station Ladbroke Grove.

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