Bustling London, the ultimate melting pot, is the ideal place to hold the globalized Olympics, although the riots of last summer showed that true tolerance is hard to achieve, especially in a city where the wealthy can send their dogs to jog on the pet treadmill at the Pet Spa in Harrod’s. The gigantic diamonds and bathtub-sized gold punch bowl among the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London evoke equal parts wonder and outrage.
After three months of drenching, record rain, the sun has been blazing for four days, and it seems the entire population has decamped in the parks, or any patch of green will do. Sunburned Londoners looking forward to what they call naked volleyball — that is, beach volleyball — at the Horse Guards Parade.
And if it rains, as it did on the queen’s Diamond Jubilee boat parade, Mayor Boris Johnson has told Londoners to do what they have always done: Grin and bear it with a stiff upper lip. Queue with order and dignity. Keep calm and carry on.
Inside his beautiful, cramped laundrette, Rahmani, 24, sings along to a mix he made of American crooners Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He cleans dress shirts for the rich and helps an Asian woman who doesn’t speak English use the coin-operated dryer.
His fiancee snagged Olympic tickets to swimming Sunday, but what he really wanted to see was Becks playing football. Becks won’t be a hero of this Olympics. Nor will chief organizer Seb Coe, former gold medalist and Member of Parliament.
The heroes of London 2012 are likely to be athletes such as runner Mohammed Farah, who left Somalia at age 8. He wears the Union Jack uniform. For him, just like Rahmani, London is home.