Little Culture Shocks

My first day in Oxford, I arrived at 2 in the afternoon into Heathrow from Dubai, and got straight onto the express train to Paddington then in 20 minutes on the train to Oxford via a neighbouring platform. Pretty straightforward. But when I arrived, little culture shocks began. I search out a Sainsbury’s inside a shopping centre. The shopping centre is dead though the doors are open. Lights are on in Sainsbury’s as a few people push trolleys around. As I get closer I realize they are staff, and they are smirking at the funny guy reading the sign on the door saying it closed at 6.15 pm. That was me. I walk on down the streets and see a red crosses daubed on walls by decorators inside a shop. It makes me think of the two swords of the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi logos. A man stops on a staircase before completing his way down to a basement. I catch him in the corner of my eye and for a second thought for some reason that he was holding the palms of his hands out in a moment of prayer. With no supermarkets to shop in, I check out the prices in a few Pret-A-Manger type shops before moving on in disgust at the extortionate rates, hiked up even more if you want to sit in. Finally I settle on Burger King. How Gulf is that. And when I’m done, I get up without thinking and head for the door. But I catch myself, embarrassed, as a young bloke on the left notes my confusion, then pick up the tray and shove the paper and plastic remains into the designated bin. Life Further North.

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