Journal entry 1: February 6, 2020
I exit Barking Station and turn right on the Station Parade. I notice a fairly busy Turkish restaurant at the corner followed by off-license shops. A halal butcher is located on the opposite side of the road. A police car is parked in front of the butcher’s shop, and four police officers are standing next to it and chatting. People seem indifferent to police presence as nobody is looking at them.
I keep walking down the road. An open market hosting about 40 stalls stretches on the road between Ripple Road and East Street. An assortment of products that cater to everyday needs -including fruits, vegetables, flowers, clothes, shoes, bags, phone batteries, and carpets- are on display, awaiting their buyers. The prices are noticeably cheap compared to similar local markets in London such as Roman Road Market. Most of the price tags on fruits and vegetable stalls are for £1.
I turn left towards Clockhouse Ave in the direction of the Town Hall, where I have an appointment with a councillor. I walk past a large square surrounded by a recently constructed, high-rise apartment building on the left-hand side, and a garden with benches and another high-rise building. The height of these buildings standing side by side seems to absorb the liveliness and intimacy of the street where the open market and small-scale retail units are located.
The ground floor of one of these buildings hosts Relish café, through which I walk to enter the Barking Learning Centre. About 20 people are using the desktops in the centre, while others sit on sofas and benches in the hall reading newspapers. They are migrants of different ages, ethnicities, and genders. The Town Hall abuts this high-rise. Opposite, you can see a construction site where a new apartment block, which promises to house 526 families, is coming up.