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 is stop – take a seat and let go of your stupid battery-operated devices – I’ll come sit right next to you and we can have a chat.

I think some of the longest days (in a good way) I’ve had are ones I which I do two things – get up before 8 am, and stay away from phones and TVs and computers.

We’re at a peculiar junction in life (I think I may have been here since I graduated from college).  There is an uneasy fear of permanence – if you add the word ‘forever’ next to anything, even things you like, it becomes too heavy to hold, makes you bend over like a heavy dumbbell, dragging you down. 
Because we are cursed with our knowledge and belief in life’s potential, we find it hard to be content.  As soon as a moment begins, we wonder about the opportunity costs attached to it.  What if, what next …

The idea of stability is boring.  Routine can get tedious, tiresome, it glues days together into an unidentifiable undistinguishable stack of newspapers nobody ever reads and that continues to pile up lonely and dusty in a corner.  And so we look for ways to break it – a trip somewhere, a change of jobs or maybe a decision to get back to books after several years.

The idea of change is exciting – but (of course there is a but) it is also scary.  And after Fahad got admitted into University of Nottingham on a scholarship and we decided that’s where we were going next, we didn’t spend too much time pondering over all the changes that would come with it.  And there is the flip side of the coin – when you wonder why you suddenly hammered the tracks you were on (the nice, smooth, boring tracks) and derailed yourself.  

We’re at that peculiar stage of life, 30 or uncomfortably close to 30, when it is a constant battle between comfort and adventure, the fear of the unknown versus the fear of the steady and the too-familiar, deciding whether we want to live in the same mould because the edges are worn and soft now or climb out and dig a new pathway, which might cut and chafe but it might be full of newness – new fears, new joys, new adventures, new possibilities.

We’re too old to be completely nonchalant about big decisions, but I think we’re still young enough to be hopeful that there is more to discover, to see, to feel and to experience.  And I’m grateful that I don’t have to do it alone. So yes – there will be cold cloudy days when a spray of rain hits my face annoyingly wet and cold, there will be waits at the bus stop for the wrong bus and getting lost and turning one-hour journeys to the market into two-hour ones because we wrote ‘Nottingham Street’ instead of ‘Nottingham Road’, there will be cutting too many onions and living sparsely in a tiny little flat because everything is expensive and even if we find a cheap deal on a side-table, how do we lug it to our house?
But I think there will also be sunny days when the gold rays make little rainbows on our eyelashes, hot coffee and baked beans on toast, beautiful green hills rolling down to neighborhoods of little red houses, walks on cobbled streets and kind bus drivers who give us concessions on tickets.

Here is to Nottingham (or 'Noh-ing-hm' as the English say) and hoping we get our little flat soon! 


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