Showing posts from September, 2016

Scaly Surroundings: Part II

Fred woke up with a start.  He thought he smelt something strange – a burning cigarette, his brain identified once it had yawned awake. 
Marie slept hidden under the blanket with her knees pulled up and pointed towards him. He was thirsty. The water bottle was unsurprisingly empty on the desk.
Fred was happy Marie was too asleep to say I told you so.  He got out of bed and as he walked by the window, he smelled the cigarette smoke again.  The air was still enough outside for smells to hang heavily suspended in the same spot.
He fumbled with the switches on each floor so he could see where he was going.  He ignored the skeleton who was still hanging out by the window in his room with damp shirts and vests.  Downstairs, the TV was glowing blue.  There was no other sound except for the muted mutter of whatever show was on.  Fred glanced at his watch and saw that it was almost 4 am. What in the world…
He opened the tap and filled his bottle. He had decided not to turn on the light in the k…

Scaly Surroundings: Part I

The bright pink trolley bag rumbled over the pebbled sidewalk like an empty stomach as Fred and his wife Marie made their way to the house they had booked over a website for two nights.  The house had had decent reviews but as Marie followed Fred to the door, she felt a shadow pass over her head.  She looked up to see if it was a cloud but for once, the English sky was bright and sunny.
Fred knocked on the door but there was no answer.  He pressed the bell but there was no sound.  They called on their host’s number but nobody picked up. 
“How annoying,” muttered Marie, pressing the bell again, which suddenly came off the wall and into her palm. No wonder there was no sound. The couple decided to go get lunch in the nearby town center and wait for the host to respond.
About an hour later, just as Marie was pointing out the pasta sauce on Fred’s chin for him to wipe off, they received a polite message from their host. Apologies. Please come now, I am home.
And so they found themselves in …

The Birds Sound Different in England

I woke up today to complete silence.Later, when I sat near the window I heard the sweet twitter of birds, faint, polite, cute.Quite a difference from the loud caw-cawing of the crows that came to perch on the AC right outside our bedroom window in Karachi and wouldn’t stop their yelling for several long painful minutes.
We’re in Nottingham now – currently moving from one AirBnb to another, nomads wearing the same pair of jeans for the last eight days, realizing how useful a washing machine can be and wondering if we will ever be able to wear sandals or open-toe shoes again.
From the comforts of life in Pakistan to the start of a brand new story in England.
When did time slip off its clunky wooden shoes and replace them with silver roller blades? Sometimes it feels like if we’re always chasing after time, our arms outstretched but our eyes glued to our TV screens or phones or laptops, making it difficult to catch up. And I bet Time rolls her eyes, muttering, you know all you have to do i…

Ceylon Dreams IX: Exploring Colombo Without a Camera

Three tips for the traveler – 1.Tip generously (maybe save a few bucks on buying three pairs of elephant-printed pants and reallocate to the drivers and guides who give you good service) 2.Perhaps use a registered taxi service rather than go with a random tuk-tuk driver’s brother who happens to own a car 3.Always, always do a thorough check of your rooms and cars before exiting (don’t forget to lift the bundle of blankets on the bed and peer under)
It doesn’t take a scientist to notice that our generation (and actually all generations in this day and age) is obsessed with taking pictures. We lose the moment, the emotion, the scents, the tastes just because we want to capture it all on a cell phone. Only to forget about it for the next months to come. Unless we post it immediately to Facebook or Instagram or Whateverchat and then check obsessively for the number of likes, determining how good a cup of coffee or how beautiful a sunset was, not on the actual experience but on the clicking o…

Ceylon Dreams VIII: The Day of the Camera

Sometimes, I make mistakes.
Our fancy hotel turned out to be more expensive than budgeted because of a stupid asterisk that I hadn’t paid attention to (taxes exclusive. Whoops.) We scrambled through our finances and made a few mental calculations (my mental calculations are on an actual calculator). The last leg of our trip was going to be in Colombo, where Fahad had his work conference. Which is why we were to check in to a proper hotel there the next day, which also meant that a significant chunk of our over-utilized budget was going to be spent on this uber-fancy place. I quickly checked the prices online and gulped – “I hope you get some company discount, buddy.” The little imps of stress quickly climbed onto our shoulders and stayed there for the rest of the day, every now and then pulling our hair and whispering in our ears to remind us of how we might be in a little bit of trouble.
We had decided to go with our tuk-tuk driver’s brother, who had a taxi, and was giving us a better …

Ceylon Dreams VII: Beachin` Awesome

Bentota is a very cool beach town.  Quite possible to see all of it in a day or you could spend more time on the beach and spread out the attractions across two days. There was one wide road along which many of the hotels, resorts and restaurants were located. This was our first actual hotel and I’m ashamed to admit how excited we were to see the TV (in our defense, we didn’t actually see much on it). Our balcony looked out at the river where people whizzed on banana boats and jet skis all day and evening, and if we walked out of our door there were wide windows facing the sea. The beach was beautiful, the sands a lovely shiny sandy golden yellow, and the water a deep blue, not too different from our Karachi beaches (when they’re not blackened by oil spills and garbage).
After the breakfast buffet (the only buffet that I actually enjoy is breakfast. Definitely my favorite meal time), we took a boat to the reception (I’m not sure if we loved the idea of always having to wait for a boat…

Ceylon Dreams VI: A Door Closed, A Raft Opened

The little house – it actually belonged to a British man who used to live here and then converted it into a guesthouse before leaving – was cozier than a sheepdog. There was a small kitchen and living room with beautiful mirrors, dark wooden chairs and dining table, and a chic cart-turned-into-a-coffee table (straight from Pinterest), plush sofas with lilac and white cushions. Every time I sat in the lounge the hotelier would bring me a cup of coffee.
Our room was tiny with a lovely window down which the rain streamed steadily, the bed was soft, white and comfortable and the rain outside made you want to stay under the soft cloudy blankets forever. The sound of the rain on the tin roof, the cozy blankets, hot cups of coffee and our 9-year-old matching LUMS hoodies – and even though we were back in our guesthouse at 5 pm, the rain called for an early evening –  we were content as two kittens in a basket. Still no TV but we watched Youtube videos on my phone – Fahad’s selection of siniste…