Thursday, 23 April 2009

A whiff of spring and a hint of summer...

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

48 comments:

Kak Elle said...

spring is here and summer next .. sungguh cantik musim2 ni kan KT?CUMA KITA DI SINI SUMMER YEAR ROUND:(

masterwordsmith said...

Kak Teh,

Your post makes me feel so nostalgic about London..Been 12 years since my last trip there.

One thing is for sure - the next time I go, I will look you up.

Thanks for such a refreshing account :-).

Salam, Kak Teh.

Madam Tai Tai said...

I could almost smell the tantalising aroma of doner kebab and the awful stench of boiled cabbage, as I read your posting ni. You really have a way with words, Kak Teh.

NanaDJ said...

Kak Teh,
Rindunya kat London dan teringinnya nak jumpa Kak Teh. Bila? Belum tentu lagi, terlalu banyak komitment buat masa ini. Insyaallah, mungkin tak lama lagi.
All is well now, I hope.
Salam Rindu.

Adam said...

heheheh.
Jom,Mamak (if you readind this) balik kampong !!
Westbourne Park Villa.

Notting Hill Carnival I am waiting for.

Jes like Eric Clapton old tune 'Hello Old Friends' its nice to see your face again.

See yeah soon Kak Teh.

I'm coming.

ray said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yg alim.

Mmmmm. Cat food in Tesco bag? kata Pak Malim sambil memakai baju bare back. Nak mintak sikit, boleh? kata Pak Malim sambil memegang koleh.

kamal latiff said...

aahh....nostalgia london, kak teh, macam balek kampong....

our days dulu2 was the red bus, kalau tunggu no 6 to kensal rise or 52 via nottinghill, when they do arrive, they came in twos.

kensington gardens reminds me of kensington church street, wonderfully cute shops winds you down to kensington high street, high fashion road.....

after all that walk, your tummy is calling nasi nasi nasi......melayu laa. there's edgware rd, york st, sussex gdns and queensway - there use to be whiteleys store at the other end of porchester terrace.... this area leinster terrace was my first bedsit.

bedsit, a bed where you sit and do all you can, thats it, nothing else - and its gloomy in winter, but come summer, alls change. you just become happier....funny but it is.

Kak Teh said...

Kak elle, summer sepanjang tahun pun bagus juga sebab tak payah pakai tebal-tebal!

paula, twelve years and you've not been back? Book yr tickets now with Air Asia...hehe and I will be there to meet you.

Kak Teh said...

MTT, thanks. I wrote when I was hungry and that must have influenced the writing, hehe!!

NanaDJ, Alhamdulillah, all is well. And you know, if ever you are , we must meet and likewise, when i am back home, I will surely let you know and we can meet up.

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Sigh..I miss London too. I miss the baked potatoes in Covent Garden, I miss the "Mind the Gap" reminder as we get on and off the train..ah so many things I miss.

Kak Teh said...

Adam@Pak Tuo, yes, Nottinghill carnival is the time to be here and I am sure that will bring back lots of memories to you and MB.

Pak Malim memakai bareback, tanya kak teh sambil mengobek..tak sejuk ka, fikir kak teh sedang meneka.

Kak Teh said...

kamal, you have taken me on a journey too - but i must tell you - Whiteleys is still there and there's still Porchester Hall at the end of the road. Leinster terrace? isnt that where Holiday Villa is?

Kak Teh said...

Ida, apakah penawarnya untuk mengubat rindu? Belilah tiket dan datang ke sini...Now is teh time - the weather is just so lovely.

siakap said...

Kak Teh,
I missed most is goreng pisang ice cream at Penang Rest. somewhere in the East Gate (kalau tak salah). Ya,Kay Teow Goreng Tok Din world la. I juga tak suka tauge. Tok Din selalu kata I cerewet kerana I selalu pesan kurang minyak, kurang pedas dan Teh tarik kurang susu.I hanya makan kerabu tauge dengan kerang jika mother I buat kerana my mum buang ekor (root)tuage.
Salam to Wan and anak-anak.

SkyJuice said...

A beautiful post, Kak Teh. I dreamt of my lovely former host parents in Sussex the other day. It's high time for a revisit. :-)

Chahya said...

Hi Kak Teh,
I esp. like your para 2.
Make me drool.
Looking for something to eat now...!

Dalam Dakapan Ibu said...

Dear Kak Teh,
I've never been to London, tak tau bila la nak sampai sana.... But reading your writings, I felt like I've been there... hmmhh...

Kak Teh said...

Siakap, the only Penang Restaurant I know was in Bayswater but it was closed down some time ago. Koayteow goreng kurang pedas and kurang taugeh sounds like my cup of tea. And I am looking forward to his koayteow goreng soon.

Insyaallah will kirim salam to AG and kids , but who do i say kirim salam? Siakap? Thanks for dropping by.

Kak Teh said...

Skyjuice, am sure you have lovely memories in Sussex. I have met many people who, on their business trips would go back and visit their host families and landlords and ladies. They had built such a close relationship - dah jadi macam extended family. But most British landlords memang suka Malaysian students. So, pay them a visit and I will treat you to teh tarik!

Chahya, the kebabs are sinful - with the grease, fat etc - tapi sedap, kan?

Kak Teh said...

DDI, I am sure one day you will be here. Sekarang airlines berlumba-lumba nak kurangkan harga and this is the time to travel. The pound streling is low too.

Pi Bani said...

Kak Teh,
Wear a kebaya and go for that roll on the grass. Must be quite scene I must say. ;)

Mama Rock said...

kak teh, satu hari akan bergolek juga diatas rumput...tunggu panas sikit lagi ya :)

bangkai said...

Now--after reading your post--it is I who is homesick...

I hate it when you write so well about London :-)

Kak Teh said...

Pi Bani, I would say, wear the kebaya, put on the knee length boot and THEn have a roll in the grass. I am sure I'd collect quite lot of money from onlookers paying me to stop1 :)

Mama rock, adding on to what I have replied to Pi Bani....perhaps the only way I can roll now is to do it on a slope. Otherwise, I will need some mechanical help to give me a shove or a head start.

Kak Teh said...

Bangkai, your visits to my blog always make me panicky. I am not exaggerating when I say I feel like a nervous daughter in law whose mother in law just appeared at the door step. While the DIL rushes around wondering whether the furniture is arranged properly, the cushions are in place, I scan my current entry to see whether the colons and their semis are where they should be. Have I made the correct pauses? Are my propely arranged? I need my ventolin now.

Zendra said...

Kak Teh, first time here after seeing you at ummm... Bang Kai's. I was studying in UK too though not in London and I'M MISSING SPRING SO MUCH, when daffodils bloom, everyone smiles, and lovers smooch ... and now I'm getting teary.
Hubby and I returned 3 years ago for a 25th anniversary trip down memory-lane, and we noticed no-one called us "duckie" or "ducks" or "love" anymore. SUDAH TUA, hahaha.

Kak Teh said...

Zendra, welcome to my humble blog. aaah, so this yr will be yr 28th anniversary. Almost sama laa kita. Ours will be the 30th this year and dah lama dah locals tak panggil i duckie. Duckies and luvlies these days are those yang pakai jeans nampak seluark dalam, cropped up tops and rings in nostrils.
We saw a couple smooching yesterday - in one of the aisle at Tesco. Hish, kita nak shopping pun susah!

Andrea Wh@tever said...

Boiled cabbage stench - yukk! I can imagine. Kebabs smells - esp lamb kebabs, I can imagine. Kak Teh in baju kebaya rolling in the hay.. ahhhh! this one I must see for myself. I can't imagine. *laughs*

Kak Teh said...

Andrea, banish the thought! An experience like that could send you off for counselling! and i dont want to feel responsible for the state of yr mind after such an ordeal!

anedra said...

fulamak..knee high boots mak teh? with kebayas?? Cayalahhh!

anedra said...

and yesss..I MISS LONDON TOOOO!!!

Kak Teh said...

alaaa anedra, knee hughboots tu masa pakai dengan skirt. Kebaya tu masa pakai musim panaih saja...tak kkan lah nak pakai sekali..ish ish ish. sungguh tak senonoh.

Kak Teh said...

yes, i've got a new sofabed for you. No need to babysit the kids anymore.

madam gold said...

Hi Kak Teh, How are you?This post makes me long for London.Got the chance to visit couple of times during my student days.
Once, in spring I visited my cousin who was a student attache there.As I was walking along the pedestrian, I could see beautiful colourful and the biggest roses in the gardens that I d never seen anywhere else.Another experience that I think I would never forget was running after the double decker bus with two of my friends in the city of London.My friend was studying there, and she was so determined to get into that bus.Seeing her running after the bus, I got no choice but to follow or else I would be left alone not knowing my way.Yes!!! we managed to catch up with the bus at the next stop.Lucky the distance from one stop to another was not that far..
London..bila la nak pi lagi...
By and stay beautiful!

GUiKP said...

I wish I can post photos here, instead of mere texts. As the pictures can tell a thousand words. Anyway, a leisurely walk in Hyde Park during spring or summer is a perfect way to spend an afternoon. We were like honeymooners hugging and cuddling with abandon, leaving the kids to their own devices, sitting/tumbling/jumping on the lawn, surrounded by daffodils.

IBU said...

Salam Kak Teh.... alamak, i have this image of a younger you clad in kebaya wearing knee high boots, strolling in the park... wah lau.... me & my imagination. The cat food in tesco bag is a bonus!! hehehe....

I just found the subfolder where Ayah store the pics of our full moon rendezvouz la Kak Teh! The teh tarik, the mee kari & the two silver haired men & two lovely ladies (ahaks) lepaking at Msia Hall... hehehe.... I pun miss pulak London tak pasal-pasal.... apa nak jadi?

Blabarella said...

The last time we were in London was in summer 2008 and the weather was awful (ie HOT!). we thought we were escaping the Cairo heat for some lovely cooler weather in London, but oh no, .. London has to be at its hottest while we were there. Shucks. Now dah balik Malaysia ni, jauh sikit nak sampai. Gotta wait a year or two until when MS is more manageable! :D

Kak Teh said...

Madam Gold, when my mak came here, she couldnt get enough of the roses and flowers in the parks. Walking with her was a chore as she would stop and admire the flowers and always wishing she could take some back.
As for running after the buses, I stopped doing that a long time ago. Cant do it now - mengah! tercungap-cungap. I dont run after anything at all, lainlah kalau di kejar anjing, kan? hehe!

Kak Teh said...

GUiKP, wah, wah wah! so the romantic laaa! I suppose the fresh spring air made the head go a bit giddy. Never mind the children, just try to recapture the past and enjoy the moment....awwwwww!!!

Ibu, the two silver haired gentlemen could have been brothers!!! Oh, never mind abt the pictures, I was just pulling yr leg. Take care and dont go falling off the stairs or anything. Do what the doc says.

Kak Teh said...

Blabs, aha! so you were here in 2008? I think you told me and also you told me it was and you and him time. But I remember the time you called - hmmm - was that 2008? How time flies.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Teh,

Rasa nya sekarang juga mau melayang ke London. Ahh...the budding of spring, how beautiful, love it as the weather warms up. Best..best..teringat those college days of lepaking by the lake watching the ducks take to water.

Isshhh...I could smell the kebab from here kak. Lapar pulak dibuat nya :))

Enjoy your weekend Kak Teh :)

Kak Teh said...

Kay, nampaknya tak ada weekend -- i think from now on, it'll be difficult to find moments to stop and smell the roses. Its going to be hectic...eh, come la to london!

lizaimen's blog said...

Dear mak teh
nak pi, nak pi, nak pi!!! Last time I was there, Hafiz was only a year old...must play kutu with mak ngah and clan so I can visit you and Azril sooooon!! Luv, Oli...

Kak Teh said...

Oli, yes main kutu and I will see you here. Let me know when you all nak main kutu as I think I nak join in sama.

Kitchen Guardian said...

Kak Teh,

I miss London, too...and I do remember those itch in my kaki....all the time hv to put on tights in winter, but yes, I love the whiff of spring...the colours of daffodils and tulips and roses and the smell of lavenders......

Kak Teh said...

KG, oooh the feeling once you get those tights off!!! what a relief!

I am still drooling after a visit to your blog.

rossie's said...

Autum and Spring is my favourite season but spring is more happy for me because of smell of flowers and colorful.

Kak Teh said...

I love all the seasons except summer because of the pollen and I get hayfever! not fair , kan?