Category Archives: Experiences

Hippie Ville

I once stayed in a house that reminded me of  Jesse’s house, remember in season 2 where he buys his parents’ house and then at some point throws parties that last days? this house looks and feels like it can be that kind of house, it even has graffiti all over the walls. the only difference is that the music is live (one of the rooms doubles up as a practice room for the many musicians that live or are always crushing here.

there’s a housemate who nobody really likes. she doesn’t hang out with the rest, and apparently is really bad with peoples’ money. she takes long to pay her debts. she’s interesting to watch,  the way she only seems to appear when there’s nobody else about. her teeth kind of stick out, and she’s dyed her hair red. she smells really nice.

Manchester is the place, off a road called the curry mile ’cause it has seven million, five hundred and forty-seven thousand, three-hundred and eighty-six Indian and Pakistani restaurants (7,547,386) . If  I was allowed to write wikipedia based on one-off experiences,  I’d write that Manchester also has one of the biggest Somali communities in the world outside helsinki-finland, or maybe all those people i saw were in one family. btw, is it rude that when i saw the trailer for Captain Philips i wanted to tag all my Somali friends and ask if they were in it…is that acceptable? I thought it would be funny, but a little too raw. #moha

In this house, in the kitchen, there’s a guy slowly crab-walking his way towards me.  he’s  short, arrogant and french-vietnamese and has seen it fit that I stand in his presence, now that I am a fellow musician.

‘never stop playing muzik…’, he says as he lights up his cigarette in this kitchen with no rules…we had just been to a pub that was kind of an open-mic for instrumentalists/bands. we ended up playing together, him on the guitar and me on the drums.

‘ you know…my parentz, zey force me to do muzik when i was a kid. i ‘ated it at first, but zen when i waz a teenager i started to take it seriously…i never looked back since, and look at me now…’ he pauses for everyone in the room to google him,

‘…muzik is my life…’

Frenchie exits stage left, and emerging in the centre is an odd-ball. he doesn’t live here, but he really wants to belong in this  crowd of hippies, he wants to be a hippy, because it’s cool to be a hippy. it’s cool not to conform, especially to capitalism, it’s cool to have a mulika-mwizi as a status symbol of your rejection of the system when half of your UK agemates have i-phones. you possibly do party drugs, play music, appreciate strange art/are an artist yourself, and enjoy philosophical discussions, you often embrace Indian/asian religion… pretty similar to the original hippy movement. while there are people that genuinely believe in this as a way-of-life, there are those who are drawn to the movement and the ‘lawlessness’.  i saw this guy that’s now in the kitchen on the streets earlier, with his guitar and presumably girlfriend, howling (literally) about pirates, it was just bad…he has a fake gun and wears a pirate hat, apparently he’s promoting some pirate party. Moha are you going? #moha #johnniedeppmohamed

there’s the guy with the pony tail looking through the fridge right now. all the food is from the bin. UK supermarkets throw away food on the expiry date. by law they are not allowed to give it out to homeless people, or hippies (or students). it’s not really expired to be honest, it’s just that food here has a short shelf-life, that’s how extreme consumerism works, the system is designed to be like that. keep people buying, even when they don’t need to. tell them they need it. so yeah, good food is thrown away. and hippies collect and eat it- it’s called skip diving, skip being the name of the huge bins used. the pony-tail guy has whipped up food and we eat it, food from the bin never tasted that good.

food is not the only thing skipped in this house, their bikes too are from the trash and some of their clothes as well. it’s a university city, so thousands of students moving out of dorms throw stuff, why bother when you can buy a new one next term. i imagine rows of homeless people, dressed in designer clothes, eating 3-course meals with all the cutlery. i might never skip-dive,  but i see the sense in it when a system is designed to be wasteful.

the trash-chef has a brother, i meet him later. they’re from eastern europe. they grew up rough, he tells me some really tragic stories from his past, stuff i wouldn’t even write about out of respect. he works loads of hours at the docks, shifting crate after crate, but his passion is his music. he hopes to make it someday. he’s going home to visit after a long time, he seems to have mixed feelings about it. he’s a good guy, but he’s got too much going on in his mind, he’s like one of those people on a tight rope. he makes me feel like im watching a grey movie, everything’s monotone, even the highs and lows.

there’s also a spanish girl, who looks like she stepped out of a magazine. you can tell she’s pretty rough as well, she’s here to make a life, not to ‘travel and have fun’. she has no time to skip for fun, but she’ll skip for need. she’s astonishingly hot, and it just makes this house even more interesting. she’s just a friend, not a housemate, but i can tell that most of the guys want her for a roomate.

there’s a girl that’s just come from outside, because she was talking to the cab-guy for 1hour after he dropped us at the house. it started when she spoke a few Urdu words from her pakistani roots, and somehow their conversation morphed into Islamic values and pre-marital sex. She sits cross-legged on the counter, and in between puffs on her joint, she debates about the virtues of celibacy and asks philosophical questions about contraception…she talks about how children are a gift from God and shouldn’t be planned…that’s what the cab-guy told her, and she says she sees the light in that. Cab guy needs to abandon his cab and become a motivational speaker or…or maybe she was just high.

i sleep in a hole in this house. that’s not figurative, it literally is a hole. a hole that can only be locked from the outside. the guy with the fuzzy hair, the one who wears glasses that make lights look like love-hearts, jokes and says that they won’t lock me in. that’s not a comforting thought, especially coming from someone whose stories usually involve acid or some other drug. i don’t want to be locked in there, it looks like the kind of place you could be locked in for days. ‘Kenyan reappears in manchester after 10 years’ kinda headline. im a light sleeper though, id hear it even if someone tried it as a joke.

I thought it was bordering on violation of privacy if I posted photos of their faces, so I reached a compromise here.

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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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