It was wonderful to be able to open the windows and let in the fresh air but the snag was the whole of London rushed in as well. Well, that was my first whiff of spring in this country as the pangs of homesickness started to fade away as I discovered friends, Malaysian restaurants and work; though not necessarily in that order.
The world outside my window was a multicultural one, judging from the smell and the snippets of conversations that drifted in through the net curtains. From my window came the whiff of donna kebab twirling tantalisingly around the grill, while customers queued up patiently for their orders. It was a more welcoming smell then the stench of boiled cabbage or grilled smoked salmon escaping from under the doors, wafting along the corridors of our apartment. Once in a while came the sweet aroma of sisha, perhaps swept across by the wind from Edgware Road that was and still is a little Beirut in London. Out in the streets, there was the unmistakeable fragrance of attar that clung on to you even if you just had a slight brush with someone Middle Eastern in the shops.
Indian and Chinese restaurants had always flourished in this area where tourists from all over the world converged in search of their own cuisines away from home.
Further afield, I could see trees and flowers in full bloom in Kensington Gardens and at anytime of the day, there’d be streams of people walking to the park, either to feed the ducks, take their children for a stroll or just for a roll in the grass. I quite fancy the idea of a roll in the grass, if not for the stains on the clothes and grass in the hair. This, I suspect, was the result of too much afternoon TV on my own.
I had my favourite spot under a tree, where I sat with a book unopened and unread as I watched the world go by, reflecting on what was it that brought me to this place called London. People seemed to be friendlier as the days got brighter. They stopped to say “Hello, luv!” and went on their way, with their Times or Guardian tucked under their arms and little obedient puppies following behind. Little old ladies would head purposefully for the lake, with bits of stale bread in plastic bags to feed their little friends in the lake.
Spring brought a big sigh of relief as I was able to free myself from unsightly leg warmers, itch inducing tights, gloves and scarves and kick off my knee high leather boots to walk freely in my kebaya along Queensway.
It was that kind of an evening yesterday in Queensway. But, no boots to kick off and no kebaya to fit in. And a roll in the grass was just a fantasy that never materialised. We took the number 7 home instead, catfood in Tesco bag and the evening papers tucked under our arms.
Other listless entries:
Listless in London 1
Listless in London 2
One Autumn Day in the Life of a Malay Mak Cik in an English Town