Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Letters From London Part 2

When I moved to London, every few days I’d type out a really long email detailing my experiences and escapades and would send it to my parents, sisters, cousins, friends, and a few of my aunts and uncles… people I’m quite close to. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Mother printed several copies of each email I sent and handed it to anyone who enquired about my welfare… this included family friends, neighbours, her colleagues, ALL her friends, family doctor’s, various members of our extended family, petrol attendants at the local filling station, a few tellers at the Supermarket etc. etc. etc.

Needless to say I was absolutely MORTIFIED when I found out. Imagine, I’m back home for a holiday and Grace aka teller number 6 asks me if I ever saw Faeez again after that fateful day on the bus. I would have DIED right there if I wasn’t afraid that they’d find my body along with the ginormous pack of Always Ultra thin pads with wings that I had just paid for… then everyone would have known that I had my period and I would have had to die all over again…

A few months ago, Mother was sorting through some old paperwork and came across all the printed emails I wrote during that time and handed them to me. Reading through them was both excruciating and thoroughly entertaining. There were so many little things that I had completely forgotten about and reading through the emails brought back so many memories that I could actually feel myself back there, in that time, in that place, in that emotion. And in many ways, this is exactly what I want to get from this blog… to capture my thoughts, emotions, ideas, rants and experiences etc. in a specific time, place, context… to reflect on at a later time and perhaps share with my kids, nieces and nephews one day.

So I thought I’d start by sharing tiny snippets of what a 22 year old first-time-traveller-bright-eyed-somewhat-idealistic-&-na├»ve-Azra had to say all those years ago with my comments in green…

From: Azra [azra@hotmail.com]
Sent: 17 August 2004 12:06 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: Greetings from London!!
Salaams / Hello everyone! Well I’m finally here and can’t believe it. Let me tell you how it was from the beginning… My flight was ok… well whatever I can remember from it. I was knocked out for most of it and I vaguely remember a lot of turbulence but I didn’t really care because I was in lala land. I woke up as we crossed the English Channel, while the sun was rising and I just saw little patches of green everywhere. EVERYTHING is green. I’ve never seen so much green in my life. (It was my first time travelling abroad and it was the first time I was completely alone. And how I miss that green especially during our drab brown / black Winters)

From: Azra [azra@hotmail.com]
Sent: 22 August 2004 11:08 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: Global
I spent today walking around and around in circles. I was supposed to go to Victoria Station (London’s Gandhi Square) and then go to Wilton Road… I walked around the whole block asking everyone for directions and everyone directed me to different places and then eventually about 2 hours later I went back to Victoria Station and saw that the place I was looking for was right across the street!! So I spent two hours walking around in circles! Haha

Then to make things worse, when I was done, I was looking for a bus home. I left the building and spent another hour walking around in circles just to find that the bus stop was right outside the building I came out of! And I was caught in the rain too. There’s no point in blow drying my hair because it goes home every day hahaha. (I remember asking two gorgeous Policemen for directions but either they got it wrong or I wasn’t paying attention)

From: Azra [azra@hotmail.com]
Sent: 30 August 2004 10:59 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: Part 1
This afternoon on our way back home, I met the most ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS GUY I have ever seen in my life. It was like something out of a movie… my dream guy in the flesh. I was walking down the steps of a double-decker bus because there was no room upstairs and he was climbing up and for like two seconds we stopped and just stared at each other. So then I told him that there’s no place upstairs and we were both standing at the foot of the staircase and trying not to look at each other. And I couldn’t take it anymore so I asked him what’s his name and he said Faeez – he’s British, born and bred – and we just stood there next to each other, talking a little – then he had to go because we were at his stop and I secretly wanted to jump off too but I still don’t know the bus routes and was afraid that I’d never be able to find my way home! He looked at me regretfully and smiled as he left – you HAD to see this guy!!! I sooo wish I can see him again! (I never saw him again)

And then a while later this other guy from Bahrain came and started talking to me and asked for my number and I said I don’t know what it is (I really didn’t). His name is Ali and he tried to asked me out and I said no, so he gave me his number and said that if I needed anything I should give him a call – I just said ok to get rid of him. There are a lot of desperate people here. I’ve been asked out 8 times in the last 2 days! Can you believe that?!?

From: Azra [azra@hotmail.com]
Sent: 2 September 2004 12:38 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: From me
Everything has been soooo SURREAL! I was walking around, looking at Big Ben and the River and I couldn’t and still can’t believe that I’m here! I was supposed to do so much today but I decided that I’ll take the day off since I’ve been up and down these past few days and I’m a little tired. So today I’m at home and cleaning my room, packing my summer clothes away. The winter stuff is still in my suitcase, it would be pointless to unpack it since we’re all moving out at the end of the week. I’m also looking for a permanent place to stay, we’ll see what happens! (I found a place the very next day)

From: Azra [azra@hotmail.com]
Sent: 5 September 2004 11:54 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: Salaam
Remember that nice Italian guy I spoke to at Starbucks that told me not to worry, that he’s there to help me whenever I need it? Well I saw him on the bus today on my way home on my route and I got so excited but I didn’t have the guts to go and talk to him. He probably wouldn’t even remember me! Now if only I could see Faeez again! (After filling out application after application in an attempt to find a job, I was feeling spectacularly lost, friend-less and dejected in a strange city and stumbled into the nearest Starbucks. It was quiet and the Barista was a beautiful perceptive Italian guy and my face told him exactly how I felt so he asked me if I was ok. When I said “no” and told him that I was new to London and didn’t have any friends and was in the midst of the horrible task of job hunting, he consoled me and told me not to worry and that everything will work out fine and that I could always find him there if I needed help or someone to talk to. He gave me the hope I was looking for at that time)

From: Azra [azra@hotmail.com]
Sent: 7 September 2004 07:18 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: From Me
Today on the bus there was an Irish man with his son. His son must have been about 4 or 5 but he was talking non-stop, asking a lot of questions. From the corner of my eye, I could see that the guy was looking at me but it was confirmed when his son asked him why was he looking at me, quite loudly for everyone to hear. It was so funny! He told his son that he wasn’t looking at me, that he was looking outside but his son said “don’t lie you’re looking at her!” and I was desperately trying not to laugh! Then when we came to the last stop and got off the bus, the guy asked me if I was Arabian – so I said I’m South African. Then he said he doesn’t want to offend me but he thinks that I’m very beautiful, so I said thanks and then they went in the other direction. But he was so embarrassed because of his son, it was so funny and sweet!

From: Azra [azra@hotmail.com]
Sent: 10 September 2004 11:37 AM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: :)
Arshad phoned me again yesterday. I was so rude to him… again. I told him that I hate being messed around and that I’ve killed people for less etc. etc. He said for a little person I’ve got a big mouth on me – so I told him shit about that too. I told him that with friends like him, I don’t need enemies. Well I guess now he knows the real me so to speak. I wonder what’s he going to tell Zakiya about this? But I don’t care! His @ss… (Zakiya was one of my mother’s friend’s daughters and Arshad was her cousin. He was supposed to help me and made a hundred promises to help me with a number of things before I arrived in London but bailed with some lame ass excuse every time I needed his help)

From: Azra [azra@hotmail.com]
Sent: 15 September 2004 12:09 PM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: :)
Salaam / Hello
So yesterday I went on a date. Actually I was so busy yesterday and on top of that I was so tired and I didn’t feel well. It started like this…

There’s this guy, his name is Haroon. He owns a small shop where I get off from the bus to catch the other bus and he always tried to talk to me but I’m always in a hurry. So yesterday in the morning he started again – he said he just wants one hour to talk to me and he was going on and on so I just said ok – I agreed to meet him at 8 outside his shop so that we could talk.

So then I left and went to Earls Court to go to this other agency I was supposed to go to but I couldn’t find the place and my stomach was cramping a lot and I felt like throwing up so I came back and went to meet Haroon. On the way there, I met this other guy on the bus. He asked me if I had a boyfriend and I said no and that I don’t want one. So he said that he wants to be my boyfriend and I said No, because I don’t want a boyfriend. Then he suggested that we get married and I was like HELLO! NO! Then he was trying to plead his case of why we should get married and said that he really likes me blah blah blah… I just said no thanks and got off the bus.

Then I met Haroon outside his shop and he asked me where I wanted to go to (to have supper). I said anywhere with lots of light – I really wasn’t going to sit in a dimly lit place with a practical stranger. So he took me to this place on Edgeware Road – a Turkish/Moroccan place – and he ordered for both of us – didn’t even ask me what I wanted but apologised for it, said he wasn’t thinking. I said it was ok and he was telling me about his family and history blah blah blah. I was so tired I just listened.

After we ate, he decided to go to Piccadilly Circus but the cow decided to walk there! And it was quite far away. Now I was tired and still hadn’t recovered from feeling sick in the day and there we were walking and walking and walking around London. He asked me why was I so quiet so I told him that I was tired and feeling sick but it’s like he never heard me and we carried on walking and walking and walking. Then we went to get some coffee and I started getting irritable with all the walking and I was rude to him once or twice and he asked me why and I said because he doesn’t listen to me. So he still wanted to go somewhere else and I said that I wanted to go home and he put me on the bus and we said bye.

I got home just after 12 and he phoned to see if I was ok and I said yes. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I liked him, but I didn’t really like him so I won’t be seeing him again…
If he was the Faeez I met on the bus I would have probably walked all the way to Scotland without complaining.

And that was my entire evening – oh yes and I saw a star – hardly ever see stars in this place for some reason.

From: Azra [azra@hotmail.com]
Sent: 28 September 2004 09:13 AM
To: Mother, Daddy, Cousins, Friends, Aunts, Uncles
Subject: :)
I got to meet Imraan yesterday (Feroza’s cousin whatever). He was very nice, a bit of an aunty, but very nice none-the-less. He gave me a few pointers about keeping my Imaan and stuff like that and not being swayed by the rest of the crowd etc. (Feroza is a family friend and asked her cousin living in London for 6 years, Imraan, to meet me to widen my social network and introduce me to life in the UK)

I feel more at ease now that I’m settling in the new place. Work is just a bus ride away and my house mates are wonderful. We’re six in the house with two Polish girls, one French girl, one Venezuelan girl and one German girl. They’re all older than me, in their late 20’s and early 30’s and they’re all very friendly and respectful of my beliefs. Most of them are also new to London and we have a lot of similar interests like reading, travelling, art, history etc. so we go out a lot on the weekends to the movies or museums and do a lot of sight-seeing together etc. Most evenings we play UNO and have our own champions league going on. We might go to Brighton soon with the bus, so I’m looking forward to that.

Hope everyone is doing great… mail you later.

Love and Miss You Lots!
Azra

2 comments:

  1. Such fun and awesum experiences :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nadia - Yes it was a lot of fun and I managed to learn a whole lot about life too ;)

    ReplyDelete