Monthly Archives: October 2013

Keeping it real

I love this library in Southwark London, well, maybe I don’t love it, but I find it interesting…and it’s not about the books, because they’re way too few, and I’m not much of a reader either – embarrassing ? Internet pseudo-philosophers, bloggers, amateur photobloggers, instagramers,  social commentators think so – and I realize I fall under most of these groups.

I like this library because I’m sitting at the window, and right in-front of me around a table are 5 older women, older meaning they are all at least 40, and some maybe heading towards 60. They have tea and biscuits in-front of them, and I wish I could take a picture of their faces as they read some book – or rather one lady reads aloud and the others I assume read along. They’re all in drab clothes, they’re ‘simple’ women, here for fellowship and hopefully a good book – a book club. I wish I could take a picture of it, not because it’s glamorous, not because they’re making duck faces and doing selfies ( that annoys the hell out of me and I don’t know why). I want to take the pictures because these women are real.

I like this library because there’s a mysterious guy at the counter, with a hoody on, mysterious because I can’t see his face, and because when the librarian asked him his name, he said he doesn’t like saying his name in public, and would rather write it down. Ironically he speaks loudly.

I like taking pictures of real people.  I like photos of real moments.

Here they are on facebook.



3rd World Traveller

Today is my birthday, happy  birthday to me yay.

I like that this place smells like the kitchen in the first house I lived in in Karachi. It’s a bit chilly though.

There were 2 teenage girls in the kitchen next door to ‘the lounge’ (a miserable collection of black plastic chairs and tables)  just now, I managed a gruff ‘Hey’ in my slightly drunk state, I didn’t want to say more lest I started laughing at nothing – the one that was standing said hi back, the other one seated with her legs close to her chest said nothing, regarding me with a cold stare, the way teenagers do. It’s my birthday today, it’s interesting how I automatically disregarded  them as kids, teenagers, and retired to my laptop- sphagetti dwindling in the saucepan (sufurias are called saucepans, did you know?) in the kitchen.

I was not meant to spend my birthday alone, I was meant to be somewhere, I am not sure where in continental Europe. But alas, as long as the GDP of your country is bad, you are looked at as a potential candidate for state-leeching, an illegal immigrant. Do I look like an illegal immigrant to you? (I asked in a rejection email to the German embassy). Do I look like I would come to the UK for my masters and then run away to Germany to work in McDonalds or some kebab shop for less than minimum wage, hmmm? They didn’t reply the email…I guess they didn’t like my tone.

Resilience is something travel has taught me, not that I pass off as a world-traveller and adventurer – because I am not, but simply because of all the bullshit you have to jump through with a low-GDP passport. It has taught me to apply carefully, to plan (though I still suck at planning and with the ‘correct’ passport I would be the kind of person who just goes anywhere anytime- no planning). When I tried to go to Pakistan, they kept me waiting for 2 months for my visa (it was a work visa to be fair, and those always take longer, add to that Pakistan’s state paranoia that foreigners are spies or terrorists…lol)

The pasta turned out horribly btw, yuck. But my hostel is too far from a McD’s or someother illegal immigrant nest. I have done a couple of such jobs here, so I’m not being a snob, take it in context.

Resilience when the German embassy rejected my application and subsequent appeal. Resilience when undeterred I re-applied through the Dutch embassy – they smoke weed, they encourage midget prostitution (I literally saw a midget working in the Red Light District) they must be understanding people – then they refused as well. They didn’t even bother giving me an English translation of the formal refusal – they actually said that they could not ‘give me an English translation’. WTF, Dutch is only spoken in 4 countries…The British embassy had refused me too fyi, when I applied for my student visa here, but I have a kick-ass lawyer for a relative who strung some jargon that made them overturn their decision. For good measure, resilience is when you piss in a park in Amsterdam because there are no public toilets, and the supermarket lady (more like girl) says no to your request to urinate in her premises – not presence, premises! She wouldn’t even know it happened! I’m not like that guy in my high-school that used to have dark-orange pee, any doctors, please say that was a condition…because it was plain scary.

So I am in Edinburgh now, Scotland’s capital, not Glasgow like many, including me, assume. Edinburgh is the only city that I can truly say is amazing. It just is, and I won’t bother trying to describe why, with all its hidden passages, narrow corridors, old-as-slavery buildings, and friendly people. The other night, I was in a pub with a birthday party going on. One person said hi, another one did, and at the end of the night I was part of Indana’s party ( a Zambian guy with struggling dreadlocks and flairs), following them to a some free-style ‘chap-hop’ gig and plans were made for the next night, that saw me watch a new acquaintance play ‘West African drums’ in an all-white band…Edinburgh is a really nice place.

Resilience, that’s what I am going to take with me this year of my life. So I will finish this damn pasta in a resilient manner.

PS, did you know if you’re a member of the Commonwealth, you can go to Jamaica visa-free…hm…

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