Tag Archives: London

New cat cafe in London

2 Mar

So I have heard that a new cat café is opening in London. My friends are excited but I don’t really get why, as if cats are these exotic creatures that are rarely sighted.  More importantly though, I am incredibly uneasy about this increasing love for cats. I know this will be an unpopular post but I take comfort in the fact that at the beginning of every disaster movie there’s always the one guy who has warned everyone but nobody listens to him. Woefully, I have been receiving the same reaction but I feel I must continue to warn others of my experiences.  

 Cats. I don’t like the way they look at me. Like they know me, like they can see inside my soul and know all my deepest secrets. I actually have the same beef with babies. Look I adore babies, often I even want to kidnap them, but sometimes I feel like they judge me. The way they look at me, so intently, like they’re studying me. “It’s rude to stare” I yell at them when their parents leave the room. But they don’t stop staring, they only stare more.

But cats, their eyes have malice, ill intent. And the cats in Yemen are on a totally different level of creepy. When I was stayed there for a few months last year, I began to view my life as simply a series of encounters with the cats. The time a cat turned his head 180 degrees to continue staring at me as I walked past him, the time we went home to find 6 cats had taken up residence inside because someone had left the door open, the time a cat circled the house from the outside, following me as I moved from room to room. It occupied my days and it begun to be how I knew my days. No more Mondays and Tuesdays.  It was simply the day I was traumatised by that cat, the next day was known as the second day after I was traumatised by that cat, etc. and this cycle renewed itself with every fresh incident.

But there was one cat, part time resident of my Grandma’s garden,  that will forever stay with me. He used to wail like a baby.

“Who’s that baby crying?” I would ask.

“That’s a cat” they would reply, and a deathly pallor spread would over me. Then one day I saw him. Oh this cat. He didn’t walk like the other cats. He was grey and tall, his shapely muscles protruded out of his skin and he held his head held up high as if he frequently lifted weights with one paw.  Other cats shuffled out of his way when he walked down the street. Regrettably, I told my cousins of my fear of this cat.  “Your baby is crying outside for you” they then taunted whenever it wailed.

 There is no conclusion to this post, this is simply a warning from a humble soul. I can only hope documenting these experiences will one day be useful to somebody, but perhaps by then, it will be too late. 

Ramadan kareem!

19 Jul

A very late Ramadan Kareem!  This month is magic. A few days before Ramadan, I didn’t feel spiritually prepared to make the most of it, but on the eve of it, I swear magic was in the air. I know a lot of the excitement is down to the calls from family and friends giving glad tidings, and the Ramadan musical jingles, those pretty lanterns, and the melodic sounds of prayer on the TV, but the spiritual focus means it is more wholesome than the shallow, and eventually draining, sense of excitement.

Beyond the spiritual benefits, what I am particularly struck by is seeing the merging of belief and practice in the greatest way. In this month, the most fundamental structures of our life-night and day, feeding ourselves at set times- gets so jumbled up in the most extreme way. Particularly now, when we’re breaking fast at 9.20 pm, I generally finish eating, obligatory and voluntary prayers, and chores by 12.30/1am, utterly exhausted. So I change and snuggle in to bed, and die for one hour, before I must get up again to eat and pray before the fast begins. And I think to myself, in what other circumstances would I accept such disruption to my life? I am fascinated by the human capacity to sacrifice, without any sense of resentment. And the power humans have in letting their rational and emotional side rule over physical needs. It’s an incredibly fulfilling feeling, and it even makes me love the disruption, and the exhaustion, the time pressure, and the discipline, all in the pursuit of something greater.  

Snow in London!

20 Jan

How absolutely stunning is London right now? I want to write about how beautiful it is, but I can’t yet express myself at that level. You know that moment when you look out the window and you gasp ? I love that the gasp is involuntary. It actually feels magical and I understand why CS Lewis chose that Narnia had this setting. I had a little photoshoot with my Faisal but unfortunately, a SLR camera doth not a professional photographer make.


Attempt 1.


Attempt 2: I could argue that this was a deliberate attempt to make Faisal look like a snowman.


Attempt 3: Yes, Faisal is blurry but doesn’t the background look incredible? I love the colour of the sky. It has an effect on me I can’t explain. Image

In my defence, I have really shaky hands.

Is there a sense of community in London?

13 Jan

On Thursday, I watched DIY SOS because I couldn’t find the freeview remote to change the channel. They were renovating the house of a lady who, with 3 children of her own and a full time job, took in her best friend’s 5 children after she and her husband died within the space of 2 years. It was just heartbreaking. I don’t think I’ve seen such an incredible woman. She was so so gentle and so so strong. The way she interacted with the children was incredible. She said that she tried not to cry because she knew if started she would never stop. Taking control of your emotions, your heartbreak, your exhaustion, to be able to do all these amazing things-how do you describe something like that?

I didn’t mean for this to be an emotional post, and it’s taken me by surprise how I am still coming to terms with this wonderful lady. The point of this post was actually to mention the end of the episode. It was already a very uplifting episode but the presenter Nick Knowles gave a little speech at the end that felt a bit forced and unnecessary, along the lines of “You see, people say there’s no community in England, but look at how many people came to volunteer to help this family. There is a sense of community in England”. It was a bit suspicious to be honest, a very David Cameron’s Big Society thing to say. My first reaction was “huh?”.  Maybe in greater England but in London? Unless by communities, he means gangs.  To be fair there are ethnic communities, but I see these as being based on ethnicity and not being a Londoner. Don’t get me wrong, I adore London. But a sense of community, or looking out for one another, or even acknowledging each other’s presence, are not things I would associate with London.

Perhaps I am being a bit bleak. I was walking to the station one morning last week, and I see a car has pulled over in front of me. As I walk past, an elderly Indian lady calls me over and offers me a lift to the station. I thank her but refuse, telling her that I enjoy the walk because it makes me feel fresh. The real reason was that all I could imagine was those reconstruction films they show on Crimewatch, with the voiceover saying “she was last seen entering a blue BMW on her way to the station”, with the viewers at home thinking, “why the hell did she enter a stranger’s car?”. And you KNOW that’s what you would have thought.  I’m pretty sure this lady has stopped for me before, but last time with her husband. I definitely, no doubt about it, assume good intentions on her part and think she is lovely for doing so, but its just so uncommon in London that I cant help but be precautious. Isn’t that the sensible thing to do? Or perhaps is it because of people like me that there will never be a sense of community in London?