Last Evening in London
The taxi driver dropped me off right in front of Catharine’s door a few minutes before 1730, thanked me when I paid the fare and said he enjoyed talking to me, adding ‘it’s very nice meeting you.’ Right after he disappeared under the sunny skies of London, into Whitechapel’s busy streets.
Catharine was waiting for me so she can leave for the interview. Catharine (I think) is doing her PhD on Hinduism and is thus very familiar with very Indian things which most foreigners may never understand. She goes to the Hindu temple somewhere in London often to listen to sermons and also build contacts that are good for her PhD. That evening she was to interview some Hindu philosopher. Catharine showed me around the house and said I could help myself to anything I wanted – showed me where the food was, what drinks she had and left me with her computer which was in a lovely balcony on a beautiful table. It was a brilliant day in London, beautifully sunny and I was alone in the house. I opened my accounts to find Denis’ reference, it made me smile. I left a reference for Denis and Artur.
I then found my friend from Hyderabad, Sin online. Originally from Kolkata, Sinjini lives in Cardiff and was disappointed that I couldn’t meet her. Sin and I met on my previous job when she reported to me as a content writer and I was the Marketing Communications Manager, the only time I was a ‘boss’ to someone. I didn’t like it one bit. Being a boss is so boring, so I kept my role only to the title and played a team member. Thus, it wasn’t very difficult to strike a friendship with Sin who is much elder to me. I was disappointed in myself for not planning a visit to her. We tried to make up for it by chatting online and sharing a smoke, she lit a cigarette in Cardiff and I did the same in London, in Catharine’s balcony. Cheeky, yes, but we are both Indians! It’s normal! I noticed a full crate of beer bottles in the balcony which Catharine told me was ‘home-made,’ made by her boyfriend Markus.
Catharine had told me that Markus would be home much earlier than her. And soon there was Markus. Catharine tells me that Markus is a techie and works for a small firm but is very well paid, one reason why he can afford a flat in Whitechapel all my himself. Markus isn’t the friendliest stranger you will meet but he’s not nasty either. He smokes his tobacco from a pipe and is least interested in Hindu fundamentalism or India.
I bid Sin farewell on Gtalk and friended Markus who had a job at hand – bake a cake. He was making strawberry cake for Catharine, it was her birthday two days ago, he couldn’t manage to bake it any earlier. I helped Markus around the kitchen. Catharine returned home just when we were putting finishing touches on the cake. She then blew the candles and enjoyed it. I felt lucky to be a part of the celebration.
I had taken a few gifts for Catharine and Markus, he seemed to like his – the blue cap.
It was my last evening in London. I had no clue when I will be back there. Catharine helped me make the most of it by showing me around the area and taking a walk with me in the famed Brick Lane! I am so thankful to her for doing this despite being very tired. Brick Lane is amazing, I couldn’t believe the street signs were in Bengali!
I think about immigration quite often for it is fascinating to me how I cannot make up my mind whether it is a blessing or a curse. I am Indian, I would love, love, love to live in England. If I did, that would make me an immigrant. If I were English, I am not sure if I would like so many people from another part of the world come and live in my country, my city and turn it into something of their own, destroying the history of my place. I just don’t know if immigration is a great thing or it is not and though I wish there were never any boundaries in the world, culture is something I would be happy if it is preserved. But on second thoughts, how would I ever experience somebody else’s culture if they didn’t let me into it. I don’t know if there’s anything more complex than this!
I had my last round of fish and chips, passed the ‘Beigel Bake’ but was so so unpardonably stupid that I didn’t know this was the oldest bakery in London! And I got nothing from there! Not even a bagel! I hate myself for this.
I was also lucky to find a Wenlock in a sari. The Beigel Bake is likely to be there on my next visit (whenever that is) but not the Sari Wenlock, so lucky!
It was around 12 am, a very interesting time to walk around Brick Lane. We then got into a great-looking, red pub just because it looked super interesting. Catharine and I had some Swedish drink, I don’t remember what it was. I should ask Catharine.
We walked back home and I slept on Catharine’s couch, very nervous about tomorrow. I knew I would be until I got to Gatwick. I couldn’t sleep much for the wonderful events of the last 12 days danced in front of me and kept running in my head. It was a very emotional night.
The next morning I set off to Gatwick quite early, leaving Catharine’s home at around 0830 to take my 1425 flight. Catharine helped me with the Tube again and reaching Victoria Station was just super easy. From there I took a great train to Gatwick, super fast and reached there well in advance around 12 pm.
While at Gatwick, I shopped some more but not much for I had only a few last pennies left. I sat in the airport lounge stunned that I never heard of these names before to where people were getting ready to fly – Dalaman, Paphos, Heraklion, Faro (I think is in Portugal, I faintly remember a picture calendar that had a lovely picture clicked in something like Faro), Taba, Lamaca, Arrecife, Mallorca (familiar, but I don’t know where it is), Malaga, Turin (familiar but never looked it up) … Before I noticed, I had tears running down my face to realize how big, bright and beautiful the world is and how little of it will open up to me. It’s embarrassing when that happens because I don’t like anybody seeing me cry, so I got lost in the lethal smoke of the smoking room.