Everyone has a favourite city in the world. No doubt the city where one was born, spent one’s childhood, and gone to school occupies a pride of place in one’s memories. It is the natural inclination of the human mind to fondly recollect happy memories from past events with nostalgia. Let us first define the characteristics that would make one classify a city as ‘great’, though one’s subjective views count more when asked about one’s favourite city! These are listed below, though the order is not indicative of the relative superiority of any one criterion.
Many would be inclined to regard area and population as major criteria, compelling us to consider large cities like Sao Palo, Tokyo, New York, London, Los Angeles, and Paris, to name a few By the same token it would be difficult to ignore even New Delhi and Bombay.
Extremely beautiful and quiet little towns like Interlaken in Switzerland, Banf in Canada, La Jolla in America and Lusaka in Africa may be considered favourite cities by a few, even though they lack the above characteristics and are known only for their ‘heavenly beauty’. But then should we not judge all cities by the quality of life they offer to the common man by way of easy availability of transportation and communication facilities rather than the world famous products sold by their shops or the Lamborghinis, Porches and the BMWs that cruise down their streets.
In terms of sheer magnitude of human achievement, New York would be the leader, making one wonder how man had ever been able to build those skyscrapers marking the Manhattan skyline, rivalled only by the giddy free-ways of Los Angeles that defy gravity!
Another criterion would be the historic fame of a city London, Rome and New Delhi would fall under this category whereas, New York would take the first position for technological advancement and for being the financial capital of the world, and Los Angeles would have pre-eminence as a city with the largest number of freeways and motor vehicles. New York, London and Paris would also have to be ranked first for their fine museums and art galleries but London, Rome and Paris would outshine all American cities in respect of tradition and cultural heritage. Cities like New Delhi, Athens and Rome also would have to be included in this last group.
New York is said to never ‘sleep’. It sustains a level of excitement and a pace of life which is to say the least staggering. One would have to also include Las Vegas, whose neon signs turn night into day and whose casinos churn out millionaires every night, Tokyo which has more ‘night-clubs’ than Paris and Rome combined, and Bangkok devoted to the worship of Aphrodite and Bacchus would also have to be included in this group. But then, New York, like so many other big cities, can also be intimidating, impersonal and insulting, when it shows you its violent and ugly face.
Thus, one’s favourite city would necessarily be subjective, though some of the criteria discussed above would definitely add ‘weightage’.
To me it must have some measure of all the criteria mentioned earlier but a few additional qualities—a harmonious blend of the old and the new, of tradition and modernity reflected in each and every aspect of the city, and above all three elusive qualities—style, dignity and romance. London alone has all these and every visit to that great Metropolis only strengthens that conviction. London steeped in history, has also ‘class’, a harmonious blend of fact and fiction. Therefore London to me is Savile Row and Sherlock Holmes, Harrods and Selfridges, Wimbledon and Ascot, Harley street and Simpson’s Piccadilly, not to mention, Madame Tussaud’s and Rolls Royce, a large and colourful mosaic, that represents all the triumphs of man on this little planet of ours
The term “bespoke” as applied to fine tailoring is understood to have originated in Savile Row, and came to mean a suit cut and made by hand. The member tailors are typically required to put at least 50 hours of hand labour into each two-piece suit.
Thus Savile Row’s reputation was built on bespoke tailoring where each suit is made to individually fit. The term has been in common use for tailoring since the 17th century. Savile Row tailors argue that “bespoke”, in relation to tailoring, is understood to mean a suit cut and made by hand. Dickens, Dr. Livingstone, Tsar Alexander II of Russia, Buffalo Bill, Sir Winston Churchill and Emperor Hirohito of Japan got their “bespoke suits” made in Savile Row. Gregory Peck was an esteemed client for nearly 50 years – Huntsman made around 160 outfits for him, both for on-screen and off.
In Ian Fleming’s novel there is no mention of Savile Row but in the movie Dr. No, when Lestrade admires James Bond’s suit , Sean Connery replies “My tailor, Savile Row”
As Samuel Johnson had said When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.