Tuesday, 4 August 2009

1/2 kilo bhindi and everything else with it

“This place is crazy but I love it,” enthusiastically proclaims the impossibly tall guy in an olive green trench coat while his equally tall companion dreamily puffs on a cigarette. Your reverie on the usual 3 km walk back home in East London gets disrupted. You are standing at some weird point where Brick Lane meets Shoreditch High meets Hackney Road meets Commercial Street meets Bethnal Green Road while the two guys smoothly glide by. Suddenly you focus on your surroundings.

Your eyes fall on the two French girls carrying bulging garbage bags as they drag a large stroller and keep talking rapidly without breaking their stride. Someone is moving house you think and then think no more. Then the boys on their bicycles doing wheelies ambush you. School is out you think as your eyes spot a saree. The woman deftly crosses the street and you are still thinking about the blue and white thread pattern when a man coughs right in your face. For a moment your eyes flicker with irritation and your mind dwells on the horrors of viruses unknown.

The young man channeling Mark Ronson in a 60's button down suit, skinny tie and yes, even the hat for no reason smiles at you. And in reaction as you smile back something brushes past your legs. It is Bo or Dolly or whatever this particular mastiff is called you wonder as your eyes notice the face at the other end of the leash. You spend the next few seconds contemplating how owners start resembling their pets and come to a dead end. Few baby buggies, shopping trolleys, squealing girls and old people, in a move that is every choreographer’s dream, at the same moment come to a halt right in front of you. Weaving your way through this mini jam you mouth a few excuse mes and sorrys and rush to cross the road, as the light turns red.

You swiftly overtake the couple shuffling along carrying plastic bags filled with burger patties, white bread, toilet roll, sausages and onions. Then you spot her- the shoe shop girl. And you slow down. Of all the people you rush past she is the only one who commands attention. In her black trouser, white shirt, dirty blond hair tied in a ponytail there is nothing remarkable about her you think till you catch her eyes and her expressive face. And you are captivated. Something about her fortitude, her dignity, dare you say her life itself flashes through your mind. Though you can’t pin it down. She’s neither sad, nor happy or bitter. She just is. You imagine a vague Charles Dickens like story. And wonder should you go and talk to her. Though you immediately know that you never will. You are still thinking about her when your senses are assaulted by the smell of korma and you know you are nearly home. Quickening your steps you wonder whether the local grocer will have fresh bhindi today.


Ainara said...

You just made me miss London so much.
Hoxton Square, Old Street, Brick Lane, Shoreditch...
The part of London I used to live in.

Beautiful writing.

Anvita Lakhera said...

As always thank you Ainara.

21speed said...


Anvita Lakhera said...

Happily I hope :)