Turned to a dizzied tourist myself, forgetful and jetshocked, I have to hunt in my head for the language spoken here.
But this is where you live; it’s your city - London, or New York, or wherever - and its language is the language you’ve always known, the language from which being you, being me, are inseparable. In those dazed moments at stop-lights, it’s possible to be a stranger to yourself, to be so doubtful as to who you are that you have to check on things like the placards round the news-vendor’s kiosks or the uniforms of the traffic policemen. You’re a balloonist adrift, and you need anchors to tether you down.
A sociologist, I suppose, would see these as classic symptoms of alienation, more evidence to add to the already fat dossier on the evils of urban life. I feel more hospitable towards them. For at moments like this, the city goes soft; it awaits the imprint of an identity."