“This is the last call for flight CY326 to London Heathrow boarding at gate 6” blared the speakers at Cyprus’ Larnaca International airport. “Dammit! ” thought Michalis as he ran for gate 6 “I knew I should have woken up at six instead of seven o’clock” but as usual, he did not heed his brother’s warning that he should be at the airport two hours before the flight. He finally made it to the gate and nearly missed the bus that was going to take him to the plane. He was quite nervous as this was the first time he had ever been in a plane, let alone left the country.
The longest time he had ever spent away from his home was four weeks when he went camping in the mountains of Troodos. He decided that he was just going to have to relax and think about something else. Michalis was going to England to start a new life. He was carrying only three hundred English pounds, but from what he had heardm, it was a great place to live and there were jobs for everyone. He was an unskilled but hard worker and would do any job as long as it payed, but he got tired of Cyprus and all those bloody tourists.
He wanted to expand his knowledge of the world, and not spend his whole life on one little island, doing the same boring job. He had it all figured out. His friend had hooked him up with a really cheap apartment in a place called Soho; Michalis had never heard of it but it sounded nice. When he got his things moved in, he would go and see a friend of his who said he had a job for him. After that, who knows? He will just go where ever fate takes him. The plane touched down at 8:30 pm London time, half an hour late.
The first thing he noticed when he came out of the airport was the bitter cold. He expected it to be cold, after all it was mid winter, but not this cold. He hailed a cab and gave the driver the address. All throughout the journey, he looked out of the window, and was amazed at how huge the place was. Back home in Nicosia it was so small and you knew practically everyone you saw. As he got closer to his destination, he was surprised at the amount of prostitutes he saw on the streets, but he did not let the apparent shabbiness of the area get him down.
The taxi pulled up to the front of the building, “How much? ” said Michalis. “Fifty five pounds mate” answered the driver in a gruff cockney accent, “What?! That’s far too much! “, “Look mate, in this country that’s how it is, now pay up! ” (he had obviously noticed the foreign accent). So as to avoid any further trouble Michalis paid the driver but made a point of giving him no tip. Michalis was not encouraged by the site of the ‘lobby’. There was a desk but it looked as if had not been manned for years, he was glad that he got the key from his friend.
The building very obviously did not have a cleaner, and if it did, he was probably playing a sick joke on all of the tenants. His room was on the third floor and so he decided against using the elavator for obvious reasons. On his way up the stairs, despite ecnountering a number of rodents, he also saw a man who was lying on the stairs either dead or passed out; Michalis was not going to stop and check. As soon as he saw the flat, he began wondering whether sleeping on the stairs was a better idea. It made the lobby look like Buckingham Palace.
He was too tired to care, and fell asleep almost as soon as his head touched the pillow. He woke up to the sound of a fight going on outside his room. As far as he could make out it was the landlord asking for a tenant’s rent. No matter; all he wanted to do was start work. His friend owned a Cypriot restaurant in Sheperd’s Bush, and he had told Michalis that it was within walking distance of the Sheperd’s Bush Central Line underground station and had given him directions over the phone. He was given a job as a waiter there, and though it took him a while to get used to it, he worked at it and got better.
As the months passed he started thinking more and more about Cyprus and started to miss it. One day as he was taking his afternoon break in Sheperd’s Bush Green watching the people pass by, he found himself thinking about how when he used to watch people go by in Nicosia he knew at least eighty per cent of them. In London, he knew hardly any one. “What the hell am I doing here?! ” he thought, “I don’t belong here; I belong where I was raised, I like living in a small place where everyone is still friendly to each other.
Not like here where I have to constantly look behind me to make sure that I am not being followed by muggers. ” He realized that he had a better chance to make more of his life in his home country rather than this monster of a city. He was just not cut out for that kind of lifestlye. The next week he was on his way to the airport in yet another extortionately expensive taxicab, with a driver who could not stop talking for the whole journey. Michalis made the mistake of telling him that he was from Cyprus. “Oh! I’ve been to Cyprus before.
Two summers ago, it was so cheap that I took the folks too…… ” On arrival at Heathrow, Michalis again had to run to his gate. However, this time it was Heathrow, not little Larnaca. By the time he got to the gate he was so tired he could barely stand, but he made it. He fell asleep even before take off and dreamed about returning home after almost a year. His dream helped him realise how foolish he was to leave in the first place, he did not even think before he acted. But no matter now, that whole year was just a blip in his life, soon to be forgotten.