Tag Archives: scotland

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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The Blue Man

When he takes off his ever-present feddora, you see that he is bald. The place above his ears, and the back of his neck is dark, where hair should be. He is balding not bald by design, but either way, he looks quite alright clean-shaven. It complements his eccentric nature.

He walks fast, he speaks fast, he thinks fast, maybe because he is extremely knowledgeable. He’s one of those people whose intelligence intimidates. It’s not that other people aren’t intelligent, but everything he does is based on facts, on more than ‘passing glance’ research; but yet it’s not all about reading, it’s very distilled thoughts, thoughts distilled in a very quick brain, a very intelligent man. He’s not young though, you can’t really tell how old he is, but you can guess from things he says – when he tells you about his trip to Barbados 20 years ago…maybe he went to Barbados when he was 5, but he describes it in too much detail plus while there he took himself for a concert and was warned against buying drugs. 5 year olds don’t go to Barbados and get threatened. He says he’s been a vegetarian 17 years…the earliest you can imagine someone would make that decision is at least 15…it’s not easy to see a younger person make such a choice and not fade off the fad when barbecues come calling.

He doesn’t like things with his name and address on them, so he keeps a shredder in his living room, where he shreds his HSBC account debit cards, once they’re expired. His living room. His living room is sparse, very sparse. A white lamp sits in the corner, it’s a nice lamp, the short stand makes has a marble design. It sits in a hole in the wall, a tasteful kind of design, where a shelf is basically cut out of the wall, you understand? Next to the lamp are the 2 couches, and at the other corner is a red lamp, tall and proud. Next to that lamp is the window, that reaches to the other corner of the room, where the TV sits, a 27 inch Samsung. He doesn’t see the point of a bigger TV, the maximum he would have is maybe  a 42 inch. Next to the TV, is the electric fireplace, and on the mantle, that’s what it’s called right?, sits many pennies, strewn all over the place. Brown and coppery, this is the UK, so those are 1p and 2p coins. You always seem to collect an abundance of change in this country. Finally, there’s the last corner, and that only has the door that leads to the rest of the 3 bedroom flat.

His accent is thick, it takes a while before you fully start to understand what he is saying. Often though, you might not hear what he says. And he repeats it, pronouncing each word slowly, and you can hear the slight impatience in his voice. He likes to talk, and get fast responses. He doesn’t often pose to think about a question you have asked him, unless it’s to listen to a song, and halfway through he already has his opinion, backed up with facts and some statements (he’s a musician). He always has an answer, a man set in his ways, another thing that betrays his age. Younger people are not as set in their ways, you only need to look at yourself. Certain things have become part of your fabric the older you got, certain opinions, outlooks, routines, how you like your food etc. He is very particular. He rolls his tobacco in a certain way, he buys the non-additive kind, he likes his tea done in a certain way, he likes his loud coffee machine cleaned in a certain way, he likes his 12 year old kettle, he likes his grapefruit marijuana. He smokes every day, it expands the mind. He is anal actually, i.e. very particular about things, but often it comes across as a consequence or as proof of his intelligence, you can’t really tell what comes first, being intelligent, or being anal. He has very high expectations of himself, you can tell by how upset he gets when he spills something, even if it’s only for 5 seconds, so maybe his high expectations of himself make him anal? You don’t know.

But then again, is he really anal? His living room, the sparse space, is not neat, and not particularly clean. His kitchen, though is VERY clean, but the dustbin isn’t, it’s full stains on the outside, from things like discarded tea bags – he drinks lots of tea.  There are bags waiting haphazardly around, paper bags waiting for recycling. He’s just eccentric and definitely enigmatic. He talks a lot, but even after 2 days, you are not sure you know a whole lot about him. He lets slip one or 2 things about his family in conversation, and has a photo of a relative in his living room – the only photo around- and once mentions that he was the victim of a horrific drug-crazed gang, the cctv showed them jumping on his unconscious head… he said. Maybe that’s what makes him cautious, he often warns you about going this way and that way.

Like his opinions, his cooking is also well-researched. He has 3 course meals- starter, mains and desert, they taste like they should cost a good deal of money. He won’t really accept help in his kitchen,  you get the feeling that it’s not because he is being hospitable but because he has a way that he does it, a rhythm that only he can play and that he enjoys having complete control of (he’s a percussionist), although I suppose he would allow Jamie Oliver to cook in his kitchen, or maybe that woman from Mke Nyumbani. BTW, this in no way should discredit his hospitality, because he is almost as hospitable as a Pakistani. So he cooks, and you eat, you try not to eat too fast, just so you have time to savour each spoon/fork – full. You would eat with your fingers if you could, food always tastes better from your own skin.

His accent is thick, Scottish. He seems care-free but as we have established, is not. He sets you up in a bedroom, a proper bedroom, the first after a month of travelling/holidaying. The theme in the room is light blue, a soft, powdery, calming blue. The table stands next to the bed have a blue lamp each. Opposite you against the wall is a drawer with a blue vase on top, in that blue vase is a blue plastic flower. On that drawer are 2 porcelain birds, they don’t have eyes or legs, just fat happy blue bodies. He gives you a green towel that he cleaned because you were coming.

It’s peaceful here. This Glasgow experience is nice.

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