me up, Scotty”
is a great place to live in. It has everything we are told
we could want. Entertainment galore. An endless selection
of restaurants and events. Theatres and cinemas. Beautiful
parks. Facilities and shops without end, albeit at a cost.
But a town is more than just the facilities it has to offer.
Slate grey skies for half the year and the knowledge that
it could rain any second, regardless of whether there is
a cloud to be seen are also defining characteristics of
my adopted home.
is it any wonder then that I get homesick from time to time?
You can say what you like about the traffic and the pollution
and the heat, but home is where the heart is and mine is
in Dhaka. When it's your traffic and your heat, somehow
it all seems very forgivable. Endearing even…at least from
a distance. It's funny how patriotic you can get about rickshaw-induced
have always been a science fiction fan. My husband and I
have religiously watched every episode of every incarnation
of Star Trek which the gods of TV-land have ever chosen
to bless us with. Even though many of them were actually
not very good, some parts continue to appeal. The idea that
I could stand outside under those slate grey skies and say
"beam me up, Scotty" and find myself transported
to the heat, the hustle and bustle and vitality of Gulshan
or Maghbazar holds a certain charm. Unfortunately, though,
empirical evidence suggests that it does not work. At least,
not in North West London.
is, however, a next-best-thing. In London, inevitably, there
are small concentrations of almost every ethnic group you
can think of. There are the Japanese of Hampstead. The Jews
of Golders Green. The West Indians of Brixton. The Greeks
of Ealing. The Bangladeshi community has taken over Brick
Lane, known otherwise as "Bangla Town". The Punjabis
have Southall and the Gujarati have claimed Wembley as their
home from home, aptly known as Little Gujarat.
is there that I went the other day when frustrated with
Scotty's inability or unwillingness to comply with my reasonable
request to actually be transported to Spitfire Restaurant
in Gulshan. As Brick Lane is too far for me to travel to
at short notice, I took the underground and 30 minutes later
emerged into the smells and colours of India in London.
As you walk up the stairs of the station you are greeted
by the familiar sight of paan stains on the wall and the
posters advertising the latest Hritik Roshan concert. The
women are dressed in saris and seem to resort to nothing
more than a cardigan and sandals to protect them from whatever
misery the notoriously unpredictable English climate may
throw their way. The streets, instead of the usual rows
of tidy shop fronts and clear pavements, are covered with
stalls and the goods which cannot fit inside the shops.
As you walk down the road you are surrounded by saris, fresh
fruits, the CDs and DVDs from the latest Bollywood Blockbusters
and Hindi music seems to be everywhere. Every now and then
you might wander past a food shop and be tempted by the
smell of some spicy deep fried delicacy as opposed to MacDonalds
or the local fish and chip shop.
most recent visit was on a Friday. It was a comforting and
familiar feeling to see all the men coming back from Jummah
prayers. I was unable to resist two boxes of Alphonso mangoes
which beckoned me from across the street and only afterwards
realised that I would actually have to carry them back home.
That, however, was a hardship which I was very happy to
endure. Window-shopping can be a good thing too, especially
when you are walking past Lakha Jewellers or Variety Silk
House. In total I must have spent a good couple of hours
just walking around the streets, soaking up the atmosphere
and trying out my Bollywood acquired Hindi on the unsuspecting
shopkeepers. It was, however, more than just therapeutic.
Little Gujarat is like a tiny piece of the subcontinent
in the middle of the London Metropolis.
the time I left to go home, I was no longer troubled by
the grey sky or frustrated about the need to take my umbrella
with me everywhere I go. After spending time feeling closer
to home, I was, in fact, not even angry with Scotty any