Exotic cars are hot wheels for teens in deprived London borough
By Hannah Vinter
LONDON (Reuters) - Teens in a deprived area of east London are sparing no expense when it comes to impressing their friends for a few hours by hiring exotic cars with a price tag that can sometimes rival the cost of the flats where they live.
Lamborghinis, Ferraris and even Bentleys that once were the preferred wheels of the wealthy are showing up on the gritty streets of Tower Hamlets, rented by 16-year-olds to celebrate their National Record of Achievement (NRA) ceremony, a prom-like celebration at the end of compulsory schooling.
"It's showing off, basically. Playing music, going from area to area to area," said Foyzur Rahman, a pupil at Swanlea School, who attended the ceremony this year and split a 400-pound ($610) fee with a friend to rent an Audi S4 for four days.
"Showing off your car, just everyone looking at you. It's like your spotlight," Rahman said.
"When every NRA comes you just feel excited for the kids," said Ibrahim Hussain who went through the rite of passage last year and works part-time at his brother's car-hire business, which rents out vehicles for the ceremonies.
"Certain people obviously don't want to spend the money, you can understand that, their parents might be not working. But certain kids, obviously, they're crazy, they'll save up from young and they just want to hire it," Hussain said.
Tower Hamlets is home to the largest Bangladeshi community in Britain, and the majority of pupils taking part are of Bangladeshi origin.
Abdul Hasnath, a senior youth worker with the Osmani Trust youth and community organization, said the prom-like celebrations probably caught on 14 or 15 years ago, with pupils hiring limousines, but have gotten more lavish - and expensive - since. Continued...