September 16-19th , 2019
I used to visit Europe at least once every two years. My love of Latin America, specifically Buenos Aires kept me from going to Europe for the last 5 years.
But with the many changes occurring in my life, it was inevitable that I would once again be visiting the continent where I grew up. London would be my first port of call in Europe.
I grew up in London, having lived there from the ages of 3 to 10. London was not the city that it is today. It was quite a “dark” city the way I remember it. The dreary weather definitely did not help. I lived in a majority Turkish and Greek Cypriot neighborhood, a lot of London being quite segregated back then.
The London of today is quite the opposite. It’s a vibrant city and quite a melting pot of cultures. Chicken Tikka Masala is a national dish. Wow. If there ever was a breakthrough …
My cousin Rolly Bhaia picked me up from Gatwick Airport. I hadn’t seem him in 10 years! In fact I had never met his wife Parvin Bhabi and their daughter, my little niece Nipun. When I arrived at their home – I was greeted with every rich Bengali delicacy under the Sun.
How did Parvin know that the way to my heart was through food? She had been speaking to my cousins in Bangladesh who filled her in about the foods that make me tick. Nipun, too, was the sweetest little person and I was glad I finally got to meet all of them after such a long time!
Bengali Food Heaven, Bhabi, Nipun, Rolly Bhaia and Me
London will always be a special place for me. Even when we left London for Rome when I was 10, we would still go back every year. We had a house there. It was 32 Salisbury Road in Harringay, near the Manor House tube station. I next visited Bablu Bhaia. (Bhaia is a term Bengali’s used to call an older brother, cousin or family friend).
Bablu Bhaia used to stay with us in our house in London way back when. At the time, he was studying to be a chartered accountant.
After all those years, now he has a successful real estate company. I stayed with him in North London for a night and he graciously took me to my old home on Salisbury Road.
It was a real walk down memory lane as we also visited my elementary school South Harringay Junior School. These visits had special meaning to me. Having lost my father 30 years ago, and my mother 2 years ago, it was time to reflect about the past.
Losing people you love is a difficult thing. All we have left are the memories. It’s important to make an effort to keep those memories alive.
My next stop was to meet my dear friend Miguel from Argentina. Miguel runs an incredible language meet up in Buenos Aires called Mundo Lingo. The London branch of Mundo Lingo needed a little bit of sprucing up and they invited Miguel over for a bit of revitalizing. Miguel graciously hosted me for my stay in central London. We drank mate together (that’s an Argentine drink made with herbs) at his place – a little slice of Buenos Aires heaven in Londres 🙂
That evening we went to Mundo Lingo London and it did not disappoint – it was awesome to see the world come together in all it’s diversity.
These types of grassroots events give me hope for the future – there is no denying that we live in a world full of turmoil. Anything we do to bring people together can be impactful.
I even found a couple of Bengali speakers. Well the event was located in Brick Lane – so that was not really a surprise.
However, I was surprised at how gentrified the neighborhood had become. We were at 93 Feet East – an awesome venue.
Miguel was hard at work distributing the flags in the form of stickers that represented the languages that the guests spoke.
I accompanied Miguel as he wrapped up the event into the wee hours of the night and we had the requisite late night kebabs, a bit of a London tradition.
I was even able to catch up with Louise from my Antarctica adventures in January. Despite her busy schedule she stopped in for 15 minutes to visit me at Mundo Lingo. It was great to see you Louise! Thanks so much 🙂
The next morning I met up with Mehak. Mehak and I had met in Southern California during a yoga teacher training course that I had signed up for under the guidance of our common teacher Ashley Rideaux at YogaWorks in Santa Clarita. That teacher training course exceeded my expectations in both quality and in preparing me to be a competent yoga teacher. But the most unexpected outcome was the sense of family that I and my 12 others classmates developed over the 6 months of our training.
With Mehak at Buckingham Palace and the National Gallery
Mehak and I had that bond – we were from the same Yoga Family. I hadn’t seen her in several years, but we picked up where we had left off without skipping a beat. Who better than Mehak to accompany me as I revisited the tourist sites my last day in London. I had a wonderful time. Thank you Mehak!
It was so great visiting popular sights such as Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square and just reminiscing about the times that I visited with my parents. Now that they are not around, it was definitely bittersweet. But having Mehak from my Yoga Family with me made everything pretty awesome!
As I boarded my flight to Paris later that evening, I reflected on how full my four days in London had been, and how much love I had received from folks. Ranging from family members such as Rolly Bhaia, family friends such as Bablu Bhaia, family bound by yoga such as Mehak and new friends made on the icy continent of Antarctica .
The gift of family and friends is a blessing. Be sure to acknowledge all that you have and be grateful for any amount of love given to you…and pay it forward…love others in return.
September 23rd, 2019