Zara stood at the kitchen window, her fingers laced around a glass of tea. The years in Abu Dhabi had sharpened her gaze. She had forgotten about the heat here in the kitchen, the only room without a ceiling fan. She had brought with her a new microwave and food processor, not realising that these contraptions would require explanations for her mother. The technology stood gleaming, out of place on the clean but faded counters, beside the dull metal pots of her childhood.
“So,” she said in Malayalam “our niece has already befriended the neighbourhood boys and is gossiping with the servants. Excellent work.”
Inspired by this
Dear A Very Potter Musical,
I was not the best of Harry Potter fans when I first found you. Granted, I can still quote the opening of Philosopher’s Stone but I never queued up at midnight and I, as of yet, am still to dress up as any of those characters. But I do love the books, so when I stumbled across a cover inspired by you, I was intrigued enough to follow the breadcrumbs back to that fuzzy YouTube video of old, which opens with a young man sitting alone in the dark.
I do not need to look at viewer statistics to tell you that if your makers had had a target demographic when setting out, it would have looked a lot like me. You were (are) a Harry Potter parody musical that found a cult following online, mainly made up of slightly geeky, musical theatre loving, teenage girls. I am currently a third of the way through law school, a Wicked poster hangs beside my bed and at the time, I was fifteen. Draw your own conclusions.
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Kerala is an anomaly when compared to the rest of India prosperity wise – it’s fairly suburban due to the Gulf money coming in, which has led to what the locals call ‘an immigration problem’. A lot of the construction companies and restraints are starting to hire the Bengalis that have begun to seep into the state in droves, claiming that they will do the menial jobs the locals won’t – of course the latter in their turn complain about the north Indians, coming in and taking all their jobs. The rhetoric is bizzarely similar to London ears and also weirdly comforting. So borders change and job demands ebb and flow and people next week will be annoyed about something else and the BJP’s nationalist streak will (hopefully) be crushed by international pressure. This too shall pass.
Around the corner from my grandparents’ house, a KFC has just opened. Economic imperialism? Probably. A relief for my Western food starved sister? Definitely. Arabic food’s all the rage here too and we’ve been fed plenty off it, especially by relatives who have all been crying out about how skeletal I look (I don’t) as proof of the evils of my degree (many, but nothing food related, believe me).
We went to the beach today and an old man started playing a popular song on the violin. My Dad tipped him and the fiddler told us (in damn good English) to look him up on YouTube. Aah rustic India, how I’ve missed you.
"On a cold windswept street , this was a lovely, warm„ cheerful place with a big stove in winter, tables and shelves of books, new books in the window and photographs on the wall of famous writers both dead and living."
Ernest Hemingway on ‘Shakespeare and Company’ in ‘A Moveable Feast’
I took a long plane journey last week, with a seven year old. Perhaps you’ve never sat in the crèche part upfront before. To my left there were two toddlers fighting over a sugar packet. In front was a small boy who peered in between the seats, looking at my little sister. She was quite taken with him. If our lives were at all Bolly or Hollywoodesque a description fitting her would show up in a missed connections classified in about a decade…’the girl in 17b’….
Dubai must be an annoying place to live for the visually not quite perfect. I’ve spent more summers than I can remember here and I am still surprised when my glasses steam up stepping outside. British weather has not programmed me for heat. I sort of wilt, but everything indoor here is air conditioned. This is Dubai after all where the central mall is the place to go skiing in the Middle East. It is filled with tourists but worth a visit for the dancing fountains outside. Still, the best parts of the city are frequently on the outskirts or outside – any and all shawarma stalls for example, are excellent places to stop at if peckish at one am. And if you fancy exploring the urban bit of the city, which is in fact the ignored emirate of Sharjah, I’d take a walk along the old canal and maybe take a ride on the big wheel. Also, visit a gold souk. In a city that is frantically aping the West in a bid to recover from the credit crunch, these bizarre labyrinths are a rare scrap of Arabic culture.
Another plane journey, another crèche upfront, this time to Kerala. In the airport stood a gaggle of teenage girls wearing World Challenge t-shirts. I quite clearly remember being in Heathrow and then in the international terminal at Kenya, rushing around and trying to consume as much food as possible before my group set off. I was sixteen and logically those girls must have been too but they looked far younger. And incredibly fresh faced. I stood grinning to myself at the gate, wondering what a state they’d be in upon return. I wouldn’t take that trip to Uganda back for the world and more but that didn’t stop my mother gasping with horror when I stumbled back through Arrivals.
What I love about take off is that no matter where you are travelling from or to or who you are surrounded by – this plane was far more family laden than the previous one – everyone does the same thing. We all tilt our heads to gaze out at the sky and more importantly, at the sight below. Perhaps the way to give our regular landbound lives due credit is to fly.
n. a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head—a crisp analysis, a cathartic dialogue, a devastating comeback—which serves as a kind of psychological batting cage where you can connect more deeply with people than in the small ball of everyday life, which is a frustratingly cautious game of change-up pitches, sacrifice bunts, and intentional walks.