Gang Aft Agley

 

An adventure, and some quite random reflections. 

This ‘academic year’, I had taken a gap year. A year of not having attended any formal educational establishment. I have very much learnt that life is more than dictated schedules of nine to five, and that some very good things can come from states of utter uncertainty — if one has faith, that is. My own gap year was, in no way, a pause year in terms of life. It had simply been another year of it. Life: waking up every morning; eating, learning, laughing, having existential crises, writing. Up until the other bookend of the day: going to sleep.

Time, and how I had been spending mine.

Did I find that I ‘found myself’, this year? Well, perhaps such a question escapes the point. Maybe it is not about ‘finding oneself’. It is simply about you (you are yourself already) and about how you are living.

All life is but a series of days. And each individual day contains, within it, life. 

 

Religion

I reckon we all need it. And that we know that we have a Creator. Who made us this perfect? And that all around us, there are signs for all of we who are willing to have faith. Things get quite confusing at times, I know. But may we always find our way back home.

I have learnt that nothing is better than ‘Ilm, and the stuff that gives the heart true serenity — nothing at all. And, while all the rest of the world might be always-in-a-hurry, almost perpetually in motion, I hope that our hearts remain steadfast, always beating in recognition of the One who made them, responsive to the facts of their own blessed aliveness.

Welcome to a world that has almost completely forgotten God. Where, ironically, the West operates upon originally Christian ideals (the Protestant Work Ethic, notions of human rights) but in such twisted and hypocritical ways. And belief, one finds, can understandably be extremely hard, at times.

But how blessed I feel, to be Muslim. Subhan Allah. 

When it comes to Islam, the emphasis is very much on Pure Monotheism. In this world, pretty much everyone is enslaved to at least one thing. Devoting oneself to something; directing one’s efforts towards these things, organising one’s time around it. Even the way we think about the education system, sometimes. Seemingly benign. But actually rather (significantly) detrimental: eat well and sleep well so you can perform wellEducation is the primary consideration: a deity, almost. Etc. And obedience to these systems, or sacrificial devotions to… national flags and such, being the very centrepieces of these lives of ours: this is something that I am desperate to disconnect from. Otherwise it simply would not be Pure Monotheism, would it?

 

In the most dark and difficult parts of this year, the doors of the mosque were always open, for me to walk right through. And, those portions of the evening spent in the part of my local mosque that is dimly illuminated by panels of light from the corridor, which would stretch out right across the carpeted floor. A women-only space. Those evenings are quite unforgettable; I have rarely ever known a deeper kind of peace.

 

People, Connections 

This year especially, I find I have learnt much about friendship, and about family. The connections ‘of the womb’, and those of the soul. Allahummabārik, some of my kindred spirits, my soulmates, are cousins of mine, while others of them, I had been fortunate enough to meet at school, or elsewhere. They are the people whom I know want the best for me, and for whom I want nothing but the best, too.

Spending time with them. I feel so at ease; it is something different. Peace and play, and a unique sort of spiritual fulfilment. And they are nothing less than the lights of my life, if I am to be honest; my world.

Considerations of family, and of ‘home’, should not be pushed to the side. And my heart had really missed that sort of true quality time (whereby my attentions had been, for the most part, undivided) that I had been able to spend with particular family members, this year.

I have realised that I do not wish to be liked (or, loved) based on such things as my scholastic activities, nor even the things (books, media) I may consume. Nor for how I might look on paper, or on a phone screen. Not for outside, ephemeral, image-based factors. No, no. I want for my connections to always be so terribly (terrifically) real; the places where existing as I am is truly enough.

I cannot imagine my life without you in it.”

When it comes to matters of the soul, and its messenger of choice: love, my mind seems to generate this imagery of a treehouse. A place of resort, hidden away in the greenery. And I think of cosiness, and the wood and the Earth. About putting the rest of the world away; feeling entirely safe. Spaces for reflection, and in which to spread one’s wings. Kind eyes, shoulders to lean on; all that is good, and true, and beautiful, concentrated into this small home of wood. Excitement, too: buzzes of true connectivity. And nowhere in the world do you feel more significant and genuinely alive than in this little treehouse, tucked away somewhere who-knows-where. Nobody ‘gets’ you like they do. (Nobody needs to ‘get’ you like they do.)

The basis need not be the state of being near identical, to them. No, no. It is less about ‘finding oneself in others’, and more, I think, about finding oneself (a distinctively different entity) with certain others. Interactions: you move, they move. And resulting equilibria. Two beings, together. I am not sure how to fully express it in words, actually.

And only closeness can bring about… closeness. Nothing else. Physical proximity, the eyes, and the hands, and the spirit. Bonds, and how they are watered, nurtured. And real closeness is the most important thing ever.

Forget the labels. Forget about whom you are only ‘meant to’ like, and focus on your real loves, to have, and to hold, and to eat with, and to be an absolute idiot with. Who will stand with you in the warmth; who will sit there with you, in warm silences, for when it is cold.

With them, one’s heart is full. Without them, life is empty. Their smiles light up the entire world; they are whom your heart longs to always know. They are yours, and you are theirs.

And I write about this stuff because I know it is the most important thing in the entire world: the connections of one’s soul.

 

Life. And you.

These days are passing us by; they are almost as long as they are short. And you, dear one:

you will be fine. 

 

Are you ‘enough’? Well, what sort of a question is that? You have always been enough; will, to the right people, always be enough.

And, you, you, you: there is no better person for you to be!

 

‘Who we are’, as well as our subjective experiences of life: these are determined by the things we acquire. Within each of us, there are the seeds of potential(s). Potential(s) for good, and those for evil. And, for what we can be, and for how well we can be them. The potential(s) within me are necessarily going to be different than those within you.

What sort(s) of potential do you find you, as an individual, may hold? And how are you going to acquire the good stuff? And how are you going to focus on you and tending attentively to your own unique set of seeds?

 

So long as the centre is sound, know that all else will be fine, too.

 

 

The Road to Scotland 

Travelling is fun. But whom you go with is everything: the shapers of your experience. And, trite but true: life is a journey. Whom one’s companions are, for the ride: this a most crucial consideration, indeed.

I have always loved Scotland. Even before visiting… though not in a delusional, idealistic way. For everything Scotland is, she is wonderful. Cloudy skies and rain included. Scotland is certainly worth a 10-hour car journey with my sometimes hyperactive little cousins for; even worth enduring the adults who would not stop blasting cheesy Bengali music much of the way through.

Being with certain people, I find, never fails to ignite my spirit. My little cousin Isa, for example: my best frenemy. A grandfatherly figure in the form of a child. Often ‘grumpy’, always sarcastic. Whenever he sees me with a book in my hands, he is known to call me a “boring nerd”. And, whenever I see him with a book in his hands (the little hypocrite!) I call him the very same thing. Nine years of age, and probably already the most responsible adult I know. And I love it when Isa has all these things to tell me about the things he has read. Or when he annoys me and we chase each other around; when my little grandfather-like cousin suddenly cannot stop laughing. When his siblings and I go crazy together, while he just sits and stares at us disapprovingly. Though he is my cousin, I also consider him to be my brother, and nothing but.

Cousin Moosa, also. But I have chosen to rename him ‘Throckmorton’. While in Scotland, we stopped off at an awesome hillside ‘garden nursery’ [where one woman, by herself, tends to a very diverse, vibrant, array of flowering plants. There is also a wooden viewing hut, towards the top, from which one can gaze upon all the flowers, and at the massive glistening lake below!] I was awestruck by the sheer botanical variety: all these petals of yellow, and of red. The Earth really does laugh in flowers! In blues, in purples, and whites. Clusters of blossoms, ribbon-like designs, orchid arches, and more.

Throckmorton’s commentary, upon seeing the very same gorgeous garden that I had very much fallen in love with, had included the following:

“They just dash seeds in, and hope for the best!”

He added, while exploring:

Brexit means Brexit. I love Brexit!”

We took a cable car up to the top of a mountain in the Nevis range. I shared a gondola with Moosa and Maryam. Moosa decided to shake our carriage vigorously, in spite of how high up we had been, promptly before opening one of the little windows, to play at being a McDonald’s drive-thru worker, taking the fast food orders of… the mountains around us.

My cousin Maryam, who is, to me, my little sister. How glad I am that not all of my cousins are boys. Maryam is warmth and loveliness, and madness, and humour, and home, all wrapped up into one gorgeous human being.

And, their dad: my uncle. Adventurer extraordinaire; an amazing travel-planner. He knows how to plan things well, and he also knows how to (very effectively) be spontaneous. Scotland, as everybody who knows him knows of him, is his ‘true home’. So he had been more than happy to drive for those ten hours, since it meant that Scotland was to be our destination.

Then, my own dad: the most generous person I know, Allahummabārik. Whenever we go on these big trips, being the great foodie that he is, my dad tends to take care of what we eat, cooking for us, and finding different (great) food places. So we got to enjoy some of his homemade meat and chicken curry; some Moroccan food; Scottish fish and chips, and more. I really do think that Scottish fish and chips are the best in existence: probably because they seem to only use fresh fish, over there.

A Hadith tells us to live, in this world, as though we are “travellers”, wayfarers. What might this mean? When one travels, one knows to pack only the essentials. To explore, and to keep moving, and to walk upon the Earth with humility. To love places, but to not get too attached to them. And to know that this is certainly not all there is: one day, we will go Home.

 

While in Scotland, I could not help but think: if the landscapes of this one country are this sublime, imagine how wonderful Jannah must be!

 

Wow. 

In Scotland, the mountains touch the sky, and then the clouds roll right off of them. The very air is simply different, there. And something about the place just made me want to… lay down and hug the Earth or something.

For me, the place epitomises, at once, the notion of ‘home’, as well as that of ‘adventure’. At precisely the same time, and with zero contradiction. Age-old, and yet (courtesy of how its waters are always in motion, for example) ever-new. The landscape makes me think of dinosaurs, and of mythical tales, kind souls and warriors, unbridled spirits. And interspersed throughout those magnificent folding glens are a number of castle ruins!

 

Don’t know where we’re going 

but we know where we belong.”

 

— Harry Styles

 

Mountains and forests, needle-like trees: obedient rows and rows of them. And bodies of water, drenched in the most beautiful shades of blue. The silvery loch: half-water, half-mirror. Clusters of thistle bushes, little welcome bursts of purple. A train darting past, weaving through the hills, the very image of grace. What a dream, and, a true one at that!

A perfect mess of beautiful things…

 

“One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world’s end somewhere, and holds fast to the days.”

Willa Cather

 

For this trip, we had stayed at a lovely Edwardian house near River Ness [and I always find I much prefer staying at places that are not hotels. For a more ‘authentic’ experience (that is not really ‘authentic’,) of course.]

I quite love the look of tartan. Some tartan designs that incorporate purple into them: I found out that their dyes are made from Scottish heather! And I also found everything about the clans of Scotland truly fascinating. Age-old traditions, kilts, excellent manners, honour and compassion, communities centred on strong ties of kinship.

 

“And We made you into nations and tribes, so that you may become mutually acquainted.” 

— Holy Qur’an, [49:13]

 

My family members (and, indeed, this does seem to be quite common among Bengali adults) tend to compare most countries to their home one, Bangladesh. Fields, bagpipe music, lakes, clan systems. They find, in ‘most everything, something to compare with Bengali things.

When it comes to comparisons with the clan system, the Indian subcontinent in general has its caste system. Bangladesh has its ‘Baris’. Villages. From small family units, to bigger extended ones. Then, housing estates, and Baris. Then, towns and cities, and provinces, and, finally, the nation as a whole. Ideas pertaining to nations and tribes: I am able to really appreciate them insofar as they are of value; able to be, to a reasonable level, appreciated.

But when there is excessive (delusional) pride in a nation — or in a Bari, or in a clan. When one family or tribe looks down on the entirety of another one, generalising unfairly, saying that they are (all) ‘stingy’ or ‘ill-mannered’, or whatnot. Such attitudes of reification are erroneous and ahistorical. I simply cannot stand such mentalities.

We were created as a very social species; we organise ourselves, naturally, into nations and tribes. We are meant to become mutually acquainted; to appreciate cultures outside of our own. To recognise that ‘culture’ is not ever solid and stagnant. It is dynamic; always in motion, changing, just like how we ourselves are. Culture informs who we are, and we, in turn, very much also (continually) inform what it is.

I do so love things that are rooted in tradition. Such things can grant us strength and solidity. And I also love that we can also change things. Move to different places; marry outside of our own ‘cultures’. Appreciate the stories and customs of clans of old; recognise that they, too, had been ‘new’, once. We could even begin new clans and traditions of our own, too!

In Scotland, I had woken up as early as I could manage. Compared to some people, I suppose I ‘sleep in’ a lot. But, compared to cousin Maryam, I do not sleep much at all! While she and everyone else had still been asleep, I went outside for a little walk. Mainly to look at the flowers. I stopped by a cluster of them, and found a bee, doing its thing. I was quite mesmerised by it. And, suddenly, much to my surprise, I turned around to find Moosa and Maryam standing right there, behind me. We somehow started… serenading the bee, with a bee song. As you do. And the amazing little creature buzzed away precisely when our (glorious, gloriously out-of-tune) song had come to an end.

Maryam and I went to the river together, to explore; we walked for a while through the forest. I decided to try to sketch a map, in case we got lost. Well, despite (somewhat-) meticulously sketching out this map of mine, we did indeed get lost. So that was fun!

In the Scottish forests, I had stumbled upon many a mushroom [I think mushrooms are awesome]. And [can you tell that I love flowers?] flowers galore. 

In Bengali, it is something of a no-no to refer to one’s elders by name. Older brothers and male cousins, for instance, are addressed as ‘Bhai’, out of respect, while sisters are called ‘Afa’ or ‘Didi’. When Maryam had been much younger, she had given me the title ‘Fuldi’, which essentially means ‘flower sister’. Now all my younger cousins address me as this. And I am now able to see just how much of an example of ‘nominative determinism’ this has turned out to be.

The link between flowers and humanity is truly fascinating, is it not? How the little (and sometimes large) petalled things plaster our plates, our clothes, our works of art. We extract from them their unique scents for our perfumes; spices are made from them; we write poems about them. We wear them in our hair; base our Mendhi patterns off of them; decorate our rooms and wedding halls with them. They have a distinctively therapeutic quality about them, too, and thus find themselves in bunches, in vases beside hospital beds, in monasteries, in therapists’ offices. We gift them to others, as tokens of our love, of our sympathies, our thanks, and more.

Researchers have found (and I guess it goes without saying) that women in particular have a particular affinity toward flowers. And if you want to see a woman’s genuine (Duchenne) smile, as opposed to her ‘social’ or polite smile, you best give her some flowers!  [Source: ‘Country Life’ magazine, I cannae lie].

Flowers are, to quote the aforementioned magazine, “ineluctable emissaries of beauty”. Beauty makes us feel something; we have, within us, certain faculties that are primed to recognise it. Beauty tells us something about proportion, and about harmony, and Oneness. It inspires in us a yearning for something. I very much think it is one of the ways through which one can come to recognise, and be reminded of, one’s Creator.

While in the Highlands, I had learnt so much. Like about how, in Scotland, they speak Gaelic (pronounced Gallik) while in Ireland, they speak Gaelic (pronounced Gay-lik). And that ‘Mac’ is a surname prefix meaning ‘son [of]’. That a ‘glen’ is a steep-sided hill, a narrow valley; that, when one shouts something while standing in between several mountains, the ensuing echo is truly a thing to behold! I so love that one can learn, not just from books, but from random quotes etched into fences, from signposts, from people, from random leaflets, and, of course, from Country Life magazines…

 

The name ‘Inverness’ comes from the Gaelic ‘Inbhir Nis’. An ‘Inbhir’ refers to ‘a confluence of waters’. Two distinctive bodies of water; where it is that they meet. What a wonderful word indeed.

For one of our activities, we took a boat down Loch Ness. And, while on this cruise, we got to see something rather remarkable: a full rainbow, extending from one side of the mile-wide lake, right to the other! Subhan Allah!

My uncle never fails to make us feel like we are true adventurers. We climbed onto Carr Bridge, whose parapets are no longer there. It was terrifying, but quite an exhilarating experience, also.

We also went to see a waterfall, hidden in the deep heart of yet another forest. Upon entry into this forest, we found a giant tree, on an elevated platform of mud. Half of its roots were exposed, and a makeshift swing had been affixed to one of its lofty branches. To sit on the swing, one had to climb onto the platform. And then, jump, and swing. Of course, my uncle had been the first to give it a go. And then I, and then cousin Isa. And it was awesome!

 

Mind, and Experience 

All of what we do, and see, and are… our minds are, for us, our filters and processors of reality. Whether one is a prince, or a pauper. Living in a palace, or in a small box room. I do not intend to dismiss the difficulties of socioeconomic struggles, for instance, here. And I also know that mental health conditions can make the mind a rather terrible and terrifying place through which to exist, but…

Often to a great degree, and sometimes only to a certain one, the mind is the most important thing. There is nothing better than a fertile, grateful mind.

Irrespective of how one can dress up one’s experiences — on social media, for instance — ultimately, it is one’s own subjective and personal experience that really counts.

 

The smallest things do have this remarkable tendency to turn out to be the most significant ones. Stupid moments; unbridled joy and laughter. Madness. A good warm meal — a shared one — after hours and hours spent outdoors, and so on.

I so want for my mindset to be a grateful one. In Arabic, the word for this is ‘Shakoor’. Etymologically, this word has its roots in the phenomenon of cattle grazing on small amounts of grass, and, from this, producing much milk. A lot from a little; wholesomeness, too. In the Qur’an, some very apt and interesting imagery is used to express the delineation between those who are ‘Ash-Shakoor’, and those who are not: like fields. Some fields, when the rain comes, they return much vegetation. And some remain bare, for the most part.

And I find I am certainly guilty. Sometimes, on my ‘homebody’ days, for example: when I am indoors, learning about things, watching a movie perhaps, making myself something nice to eat… I find myself secretly lamenting that I am not outside, with my friends or cousins, having ‘social fun’, and experiencing things firsthand. Yet, sometimes when I am with good company, ‘truly experiencing’ life, I quietly want to slip away and go home. But life is both ‘doxis’ and ‘praxis’, and the ‘praxis’ parts — really living for oneself and one’s own mind — ought to be the supreme consideration, methinks. And I simply need to learn to be far more grateful. Shakoor, no matter what.

If one does not cultivate a mindset of Shakoor,  it simply does not matter how much rain one’s field receives. It is about what one does with one’s blessings and such; how we savour individual things [and, foolishly, we humans often convince ourselves that, when we are unable to sufficiently savour any particular individual thing, the solution must be to simply get more and more of the thing, so as to cultivate gratitude!]

It is about how grateful one can be; what one is able to create from things, and, in turn, return. 

 

In general, the value of things comes to be known, via contrasts. In Ramadan, fasting all day, and then quenching one’s thirst, satisfying one’s hunger. Food and drink taste the best when one comes to know what it feels like to be without them.

Patience is important. And nostalgia is, more often than not, a queen of melodrama. These are things that I know. And I must remember to know them (know to remember them), too.

I must embrace such facts, with all of my heart: that I must learn to love exactly where I am now. My entire universe, materially contained within whichever room or garden or whatever I find myself within. And it should not be about working on outer shells so much; it should not at all be about the neglect of the ‘inner’. No, for ultimately, it is all about that ultimate filter of ours: the understander, the decider. Our minds.

 

The Big and Small 

I really think that some of the most awesome things in life are the most ‘paradoxical’ ones.

Contradictions in terms, yet perfectly sound, in truth.

Like when one can say precisely what one wishes to say to another, through the medium of Silence.

When one feels stunningly significant in ‘smallness’. Two lovers on a park bench, or a family at their home. A small part of the world, they find they inhabit, and, yet, the entirety of it, at the very same time.

When small moments feel timeless.

When one finds himself in such a state of cowardice, that it (paradoxically) makes him brave. 

When you feel you have known a new friend forever. Somehow.

When beauty is so true that it feels… untrue, surreal.

And so on.

We are fundamentally spiritual beings, enmeshed within these material envelopes of ours. We are known to seek out what might be most meaningful — and it is the soul that seeks, while the body is its physical enabler, a vehicle.

I have been thinking some more about materialism, and about consumerism. And about how commercial advertising works: which parts of our psychologies it all appeals to. What it is, in us, that the reliance on things, and the need for more, might (claim to) empower.

We are all seeking something spiritual. Answers to our questions; for things to make sense. Are we really ‘more’ with more? 

In truth, when we seek out a thing, what we yearn for is its essence, methinks. Even with things like supercars: people are mainly seeking out the experience of driving them.

With friends, one may (claim to) have hundreds and hundreds of them. But it is only the essence of friendships that really counts. Better to have one true, deep friendship, than a hundred shallow ones. In fact, often, having less allows one to channel more focus and nurture into the things we do have. Thus, the ‘spiritual essences’ of what we are fortunate enough to have, are made more powerful.

The spiritual essences of things are not quantifiable in the way that we find material things are. And they are everything: their material accompaniments matter to a degree, but it is all about what these things truly carry. 

In a similar vein, what is knowledge without wisdom? Or, religion (its ‘practice’) without spirituality? And so on. 

I believe in ‘staple’ things, with regard to most things. A couple of ‘staple’ things, and the knowledge that having more will not actually do ‘more’ for me, for my soul.

The feelings of excitement that often come from encountering novelty are hardly an excuse.

You may be well-acquainted with the phenomenon too: seeing a beautiful coat or something, enticingly displayed in a department store. It is your style, exactly. Even though you have a coat at home. Is that one as nice as this one?

[Yes. It is. If the coat you had at home had been brand new and on this mannequin, and if this one on display had already been in your possession, you would probably consider buying it, too. Favouring it above the one you already have, in that instance. Simply because it is new. 

Maybe you want to feel somewhat more ‘new’, too. New look, new me. But listen here, woman! It is the essence and the function of things that matter!

Aesthetics are cool, too. You recognise beauty in things. But owning another beautiful thing is unlikely to somehow make your life more beautiful…]

When I think of… what I suppose I am trying to say, here… about how a single grain of sand could absolutely be better than an entire beach in terms of spiritual truth [especially if it exists in a state of recognition of Oneness, in consciousness of its Creator] I think of…

An apple tree on a hill, on a field in the middle of nowhere. And the way the goldenness of sun might trickle right onto it, and around it.

 

I do not want to live an empty life. Empty of that unquantifiable spiritual goodness, I mean. And nothing but the thing itself can fill its place:

the stuff of the periphery cannot ever be substitutes for the soundness of the centre.

 

I want to enjoy where I am now. Not put numbers or anything to it. My experiences are my own, and yours are yours. It matters not what others might see of it — your own encounters and adventures and such. The spirit of the stuff matters, though. And what it all is, really, for you. 

My life is mine, and your life is yours. And, why should we let so many other people hold us so ‘socially accountable’? Why ought we allow their opinions to forge, for us, mental prisons? One must learn to only really care about the opinions of those whose opinions should matter to us. For good reasons. Not just to have as many abstract stamps of approval from as many random people as we can get them from. From the wrong people, these do not really mean anything at all.

 

Some may think of you this unfavourable thing, or that. And this, while some others are able to see entire galaxies in each of your eyes…

 

“I believe that the most beautiful things are worth waiting for, and that the sweetest fruits require patience”

a quote that is engraved into the front of my current journal (which is actually a notebook designed for Bible studies. And she is thick.)

 

Secrets of Life (i.e. the things that I think I ought to remember, throughout it) : 

  1. People change people. And, no person is sent to you by accident.
  2. Life is ever-unfolding, with every single second. Everything we seek is carefully hidden… so that we might find it. 
  3. Nature will never let you down.
  4. Allah (our Creator) is always there, for you to turn towards. Never, ever underestimate the power of sincere Du’a. 
  5. There is a lot to learn, even from mountains, and from their springs. When you sit with your back against a mighty mountain, you push onto the Earth. And the Earth pushes onto you, gently, right back. Reminding you that you are of the Earth, and you are a part of it.

And, springs: do you see how they flow over and through dirt-ridden rock, yet remain un-muddied by them? In fact, quite remarkably, they are only purified, enriched, by them!

Springs know how best to flow. How to gush, even.

 

Humanity

is farming. And trade. Friendships, and family. Home, and adventure. Food and coming together. Journeys and learning. Schools. Religion. The universe, explored via the human intellect, through the sciences, and the arts. Our words, our questions, and the answers we arrive at.

Love and triumph.

Emotional connection and comfort. Tenderness and gentleness. New birth.

Conflict and disagreement. Discomfort: and how it can manifest as either humour, or disgust, or fear. Or any two of them, together. Social expectations, judgement, pressure. Lies and hypocrisy.

Hope and novelty. Nostalgia.

Illness, and uncertainty. Aloneness. Violence and war. Loss and grief. Death, in the end.

 

The most important thing, for us, is the soul. And all its related considerations.

 

And The Mountains Echoed 

In Scotland, while breathing in that splendidly crisp air, being doused in its hopeful rains, while hopping into little pools of water…. and, while being surrounded by the gorgeous sturdy shoulders of the Highlands: I got this distinctive and true feeling that everything was going to turn out just fine. Somehow.

 

An undeniable, perhaps apprehension-inducing, but quite-reassuring-actually truth: 

 

You

Do

Not

Know

What is coming for you.

Until you necessarily meet it.

 

I find I am especially fond of those things that can set my soul on fire, in those quiet, magnificent, blaze-less ways. Where one can feel the thrum of majestic Earth; pockets of concentrations of the state of being alive. When you are on the back of a motorcycle [in Bangladesh, for example, where, in some parts, there are no road signs or anything whatsoever!] or when you are laughing with your friends so much that your insides hurt. And, when things are done more slowly, and with intention.

The mountains of Scotland, with their luscious greens, rolling waters, dots of orange, clusters of pink. What they say about stillness and strength. I whispered a little prayer at their feet. And the mountains, in return:

they roared. 

 


Sadia Ahmed J., 2020 

For Wapping

Wapping, a small former parish town in East London, is a place that truly embodies a ‘tale of two cities’. The district begins at the riverbank, where muddied but gleaming Thames water crashes upon small broken-pottery-laden shores. The Met Police Marine Unit is situated there, along with some other small quirks and gems. And Wapping ends where village-like serenity does: the Highway, where trucks, Lamborghinis, and Mercedes-drivers (the latter of which are presumably on their way to their jobs in Canary Wharf and the City) all coalesce.

What I like about Wapping is that it is truly a liminal place. Always moving, yet timeless, caught between times. A village trapped in the midst of a city. Quaint is the best word for it, I think.

Take a walk through Wapping, and you take a walk through a living history book or a museum. This is, I think, as preserved as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century London gets, really. The gorgeous and majestic Tower of London on one side, looming over the road to Tower Bridge.

Walk too far one way, and you get to Peckham. A bustling place, full of energy, in its own right, but simply not comparable to this place. Walk too far the other way, and you get to that rather unfortunate little place that is known as Shadwell… and then, Whitechapel. These places have their good parts, too, don’t get me wrong. But (you guessed it.) they are just not Wapping. 

How unique this place is, and how grateful I am to have grown up here. The other day, a friend of mine told me that she had come here for a visit – specifically, she went to the marina part, where chic little cafes overlook a substantial collection of yachts. The ‘Dickens’ Inn’ is here too, a former brewery dating back to the 18th Century.

The teeming waterside life of Wapping’s former days actually inspired some of Charles Dickens’ writing: he used to come here sometimes, as a child. The workhouses, the docks, the warehouses (which have now all been redeveloped, turned into ridiculously expensive living spaces). The way the lazy summer sun hits these still-cobbled streets. The quaint little pubs, the riverside parks. There is no place I have ever been to that is quite like Wapping.

Wapping Lane: a post office, a pharmacy, a bakery, a greengrocer’s, a butcher’s. A fish and chip shop. A gambling shop, too (rather unfavourably, in my own opinion). A few churches, and my former neighbour – the priest – who laments at the noisiness of the little boys who play upstairs, and at the growing presence of these “thugs” who he says will be borne from the nascent council flats nearby. Then, another pub, and a small café (one of those deliberately vintage-looking ones that charge extortionate prices for almond-based coffee, frequented by all those yoga mums, ‘babyccino’ buyers and and whatnot. But still, I love it).

It is nice that one can set foot into Shadwell, and into Central London, from nucleus Wapping. But, thankfully, there is always this place – peace without boredom, city without too much of it – to return to.

On one side dwell and play the truly wealthy. The yacht-owners, the ones who frequent all these dainty riverside restaurants. Their homes have concierge offices; they are tall and made of glass. The fountains and private rose gardens probably exist primarily to be enjoyed by them, but it’s nice that anyone who passes by can enjoy the view, too.

On the other side, the somewhat less wealthy. The Cockney accents. “‘Ello love!” “You aw’ight babe?” The drunk man who is always fixing something in his flat. The council homes, rows of little ones, and all their washing lines. The lovely old lady who is forever outside, tending to her plants, and feeding the birds. Occasionally, a conversation betwixt two – maybe about the weather, or an angrier one about how certain dog owners do not clean up after their dogs, or about the price of bread at our local bakery.

Dame Helen Mirren lives here. So does Rio Ferdinand. Graham Norton, too: I see him fairly often, actually, at Waitrose.

There are the white working-class people (the ones who chose to remain here, during those periods of ‘White Flight’), and there are all these Bengali ones. There are the sort of ‘hipster’-y people who are increasingly moving in: all these young-ish professionals who live alone; the under-bridge warehouses that have been converted into food places. There used to be a thriving Jewish community here in the East End, too. Here was where the Battle of Cable Street had taken place, years and years ago.

Someday everything that is taking place here right now will be a thing of ‘years and years ago’, too.

And I think I like taking my place, here in the middle of things. It allows one to walk this way, and then that. And you belong to all of it, but you belong to none of it at the same time. There are no obligations; you find yourself untied to anything at all. And, yet, there you are, firmly rooted in the actual midst of things. Everything unfolds right before you. The little wooden bridge that takes you from one side of the canal to the other [the one that used to always be impossibly slippery during the colder months!]

Good things come from balances, from middles. And here Wapping is, you see: caught right in the middle of things.


Sadia Ahmed J., 2020 

Adventures in Europe

Road trips are always a good idea. Just you, the open road, good company and snacks galore. Multiply this by the excitement of travelling to three different countries in a 17-seater minibus with 16 members of your raucous and extremely enthusiastic Muslim Desi family. Now that’s a recipe for enjoyment. 

MONDAY 25/07/16

At 10 AM this morning, we set off on our epic adventure. My uncle is the designated driver for this trip; he has aptly stocked up on energy drinks to sustain him. We have hired an impressive 17-seater minibus for this journey; it comes equipped with plug sockets, a changing compartment at the back, tables and a small refrigerator! To make this trip a proper Desi family trip, my nan and aunts have prepared a large pot of Biryani to take with us, as well as various snacks, such as cookies, samosas and more. Food is, undoubtedly, a crucial component of the South Asian life, and travelling is no exception.

As usual, I packed my bags minimally, being the raving minimalist I am. I am taking a backpack and a small vintage suitcase, as well as a satchel for walks and the like. Inside my satchel, I have stored my Swiss army knife, which I purchased from Saudi, as it usually proves immensely useful.

For the first stage of our road trip, we stopped at a train station in New Romney- the world’s smallest public railway. As the carriages were so minuscule, my cousins bumped their heads as they entered. We took a steam train to Dymchurch, a small village in Kent, and spent some time on the beach, soaking up some sun and frolicking in the sea. The train journey was very serene, and the views were picturesque. I absolutely adore vintage-style trains; they are, by far, my favourite mode of transportation.

TUESDAY 26/07/16

It is 3 AM, but I am not yet tired. Yesterday, at roughly 6 PM, we finally reached the Eurotunnel, and took the shuttle to Calais. After an excruciatingly long drive (during which my cousins refused to stop harassing me) we reached Paris. This is my fourth time visiting this city, but this visit has given me a whole new perspective.

After our arrival, the Eiffel Tower hosted a spectacular light show, almost as if to welcome us to the city.

Many claim that Paris is a city of lights and romance, however I would disagree. Though the skyline is undeniably breathtaking, by night Paris appears to be a city of drunken hooligans, Pokemon-Goers and bewildered tourists.

A group of street vendors followed us down the street and (assuming we were Arab) yelled offers at us in Arabic- “Assalamualaikum! Habibi! Wahid! Khamsa!” A drunk man also pursued us, shouting senselessly, desperate for us to respond. He mentioned something about Senegal, then walked away. Despite the numerous drunkards around, we encountered zero actual problems, and we are now at our hotel for the night, in a small Parisian district called Gennevilliers.

This morning, I awoke at roughly 9 AM, after approximately five hours of sleep. We drove to Champ De Mars again for a second glimpse and a spot of souvenir shopping. This time, our experience was unperturbed by intoxicated fools or irritating street vendors.

After that, we visited an idyllic shopping district in the heart of Paris, which is lined with hundreds of chic designer boutiques- after all, the city is renowned for being a global fashion hub. Parisian architecture gives the city a uniquely classic feel. I am especially infatuated with the cafes with outdoor eating areas, as well as the iron-cast railings on the balconies.

The rustic design of some buildings here contrasts with and compliments the more modern architecture, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou- a museum complex with a very eccentric exterior design.

For lunch, we had sandwiches and iced tea at a halal restaurant adjacent to the shopping district.

We are currently in Brussels, Belgium. The general atmosphere here is very calm and considerably less frenetic than that of Paris. The locals are very amicable and respectful. There are many Muslims here, but few Desi Muslims. Everybody is contently coexisting, and it is very difficult to believe that a terrorist attack occurred here just a few months ago.

Our first stop here in Belgium was at the Atomium Museum- a strange monument that is shaped like a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.

As a certified nerd, I thoroughly enjoy visiting museums, especially in different countries. The security measures in place here (understandably) resemble those at the Houses of Parliament! To enter the gift shop, for example, we had to pass through a metal detector and some turnstiles. A soldier with a sniper was guarding the site. Incidentally, the sales assistant at the gift shop asked if we are Saudi Arabian or Maghrebi. People keep mistaking us for Arabs- perhaps this is because Desi Muslims are a rare sight here.

We found a steep hill behind the museum, and I climbed it in my flip-flops. After that, my aunt challenged me to a barefoot race in the car park, and I won!

Our penultimate stop in Brussels was at a small recreational village called ‘Mini Europe’, which houses miniature representations of various European monuments.

Travelling is no excuse to disregard our prayers, so we prayed at the the Grand Mosque of Brussels- the only mosque in the entire city. The interior design there is spectacular. Along with visiting museums, praying at mosques in various different places is another favourite activity of mine.

WEDNESDAY 27/07/16

We are now at our hotel for the night here in Amsterdam. What an awe-inspiring city, famous for its canals, legal drugs, and, of course, its notorious ‘Red Light District’. We still managed to enjoy the city while avoiding the latter two.

We arrived at Dam Square at roughly 11 PM last night. The area was teeming with drunk people and drug users, but everyone was very civil and polite nonetheless.

Standing on a bridge adorned with hundreds of lights, I absorbed the inherent splendour of the scenery: the vintage canoes parked along the river bank, the homely edifices contrasting with the bizarre modern architecture. There were thousands of bikes fastened to poles and bridges, and there were more bikes than cars on the roads.

My cousin Moosa and I are now in the dining area of the hotel, enjoying croissants and freshly brewed cappuccinos.

Last night, we managed to catch a precursory glimpse of the thriving city life in inner Amsterdam. Today, we are exploring the more rural regions of the city. We walked through a cheese factory (where a worker in traditional Dutch attire said ‘Assalamualaikum’ to us) as well as a clog museum. The entire area smells potently of expired milk due to the cheese production.

We took a riverboat to Zaanse Schans, the world’s oldest industrial area, which boasts twenty well-preserved functional windmills, and many historic houses. It also has many museums and workshops. On the boat, my cousins and I waved at the locals (like the pathetic tourists we are) and they waved back enthusiastically.

We entered, and explored, a sawmill, where logs are cut into lumber. There, we learnt more about the history of Amsterdam, including its repatriation and renovation after the Second World War.

Subsequently, we visited another museum- the Amsterdam Science Museum, otherwise known as the NEMO museum. Being a physics enthusiast, I savoured the fascinating exhibits unreservedly- the solar powered pieces in particular. The rooftop of the museum is slanted, and when we walked up (through the fountains) to the highest point, we were able to see a panoramic view of the city.

For lunch, we had fast food, though I added extra salad to my meal in a poor attempt to compensate for my poor nutritional choices throughout this trip.

We are now on our way back to Calais. We have stopped at a service station in order to refresh ourselves and pray- we prayed on the roadside, near another Muslim family.


Sadia Ahmed, 2016

Twitter: @sadiaahmedj | Instagram/Snapchat: sadiaahmedj | Youtube

An Urban Countryside

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London is undoubtedly a truly magnificent city, arguably most famous for its high-rise business districts and iconic landmarks. Normally, in order to get a break away from the incessant buzz of the city, I escape to the mountainous regions of Rhayader, Wales, or the tranquil beaches of Folkestone, Kent. This time, however, I managed to escape from the fumes and urban bustle of London without actually leaving the beautiful city.

Walthamstow is a picturesque town in North East London. It comprises scenic forests and hills, as well as lakes where one can hire rowboats for no more than £5 per person, per hour. The atmosphere of the lake park in Walthamstow is very family-oriented and pleasant- the perfect location for picnics, football, walks along specially designated nature trails, and dreamy (though manually propelled) rowboat voyages.

For more information about Waltham Forest London parks, visit: http://www.ourparks.org.uk/borough/waltham-forest

Swiss Cheese and Baguettes

From Friday 13th to Sunday 15th November, my family and I enjoyed a splendid weekend break to Saint Louis in France (near the French-Swiss border) after only a week or so of planning. In my view, spontaneous trips are by far the best kind, and are often cheaper than all-inclusive trips during the school holidays, when airport queues are longer, the activities on offer are far too cliche, and having an adventure is simply not an option. 

 

I apologise for the delay in posting this article. Recently, I have been immensely preoccupied with exam revision, homework and coursework. Education is, no doubt, an intrinsically beautiful thing, however stress is an inevitable product of it.

I have decided to use a slightly different layout for this article; I shall share with you a handful of edited excerpts from my journal:

12/11/15: Tomorrow, at 4:00, we shall leave for Switzerland. I am experiencing some mixed feelings about this trip. On the one hand, I am very excited to learn more about another part of the world- about the landscape, customs and people of Switzerland. On the other hand, I am terrified. According to numerous online reports, Islamophobia is widely prevalent there.

13/11/15 7:18: We are all aboard the plane. Getting here has been a predictably unpleasant experience. Flying with Ryanair has, so far, been a worse one. Many of the staff members were alarmingly rude. For example, when my necklace triggered the metal detector, the woman at Security remarked, in a very impudent manner, “That’s a surprise”.

Additionally, when we told the lady at the departure gate that my aunt has severe learning disabilities, and so is unable to respond to her questions, she said, without a shred of consideration, “So what? You understand, don’t you?”.

Tutting is the language of Ryanair staff.

11:13: We have rented a car from Sixt, and are attempting to configure the Sat-Nav, whose display settings are currently set to French.

12:48: We are eating at a kebab shop- Kebab de l’Europe. Saint Louis is absolutely beautiful. Contrary to my own prejudices, the people here are so very amicable and jovial. I may be generalising here, but the people of Saint Louis are far more courteous than the people of East London!

19:22: The ‘Aparthotel’ is very homely and pleasant.

For lunch, I enjoyed an oversized Margherita pizza. Then, for dinner, I rebelliously had a banana, two biscuits and a few brioche slices with chocolate spread, all of which I purchased earlier during our explorative walk around the town.

21:26: We have just returned from an evening vehicular cruise. We crossed the French-Swiss border and drove around Basel, Switzerland. We were fortunate enough to have seen the River Rhein- the very river that divides Germany, Switzerland and France.

For dinner, the sequel, I had noodles, which dad purchased from a nearby Japanese restaurant. I ate outside, on the balcony.

The streets of Basel are very different to the streets of Saint Louis, though both are astoundingly beautiful. The streets of Basel are a lot busier, and resemble the frenetic streets of London a lot more.

Today, it is Friday the thirteenth, but (save from my Ryanair experience) I’ve had an ironically pleasant day. Dad has been experiencing some difficulty adapting to the different road rules here. He is finding avoiding collisions with trams the most difficult aspect of driving here to overcome.

14/11/15 9:40: We are at Basel zoo. For breakfast, I made myself some instant porridge. As I sat down to eat, I noticed that my mum was watching the news on TV with a worried facial expression: yet another terrorist attack has taken place in Paris. Government officials suspect that ‘Islamist’ militants were behind the attacks. I am terrified.

Mum is fearful of the potential backlash that Muslims in France and Britain will undoubtedly face.

11:26: Our trip to the zoo was very enjoyable, though the animals all looked severely malnourished in comparison to those in London zoo. Seeing the lethargic animals made me ponder on the notion of freedom.

We are now at a Turkish restaurant- Yasar Imbiss- in Basel. After lunch, while everyone else finished their meals, I played football outside with the owner’s son, Ali.

16:00: We are currently aboard a train, going halfway up the tallest mountain in Europe. I love train journeys, and I love mountains. My heart is content.

16:54: Earlier, Sweetie and I went hiking.  It is very cold, but we are warming ourselves up with some hot beverages at a mountain lodge. The atmosphere of this place is replete with rustic charm. The sun is setting, and I honestly cannot put into words how majestic this view is.

23:o1: At roughly 20:30, we returned to the hotel. After having an invigorating shower, I checked my Twitter newsfeed. In the wake of the the aforementioned terror attacks, some people are denigrating all Muslims! I firmly believe that, in order to eradicate such global cancers, we must all  (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) stand together. ISIS does not represent me, and it never will.

I am absolutely, categorically in love with Switzerland and its people. Wow.

 

 

 

 

A Space Adventure

The Royal Observatory in London is paradise for every astronomer aficionado in or around London. Located in Greenwich (near three other prominent museums) the Royal Observatory is home to an exceptional astrodome, numerous fascinating artefacts and exhibits, and the renowned Meridian Line.

 

 Since ancient times, human beings have been observing the skies for religious, navigational and timekeeping purposes. Through substantial technological advancements, we have discovered thousands of unprecedented and extraordinary secrets, regarding our creation, existence and place in the universe.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are”

We now know that our Earth is awe-inspiringly unique, as it is the only known habitable planet that nurtures life, and so many different variations of life. Human beings, elephants, whales and even the tiniest ant- nothing of the sort appears to exist anywhere else in our observable universe. But our observable universe (the vast portion of sky that may be seen through powerful telescopes) is only an infinitesimal fragment of our universe, which by the way, is rapidly expanding. Some believe that our universe is infinite, but this is one speculation that cannot be proven for sure.

“The important thing is to never stop questioning”- Albert Einstein

My trip to the Royal Observatory was extremely informative and stimulating; even my cousin Shahara (who generally detests sci-fi, stars and all things technical) thought the planetarium was, and I quote: “sick”, which (contextually) is a colloquial term meaning “remarkable”. There were exhibits regarding dark matter, spectroscopy and the evolution of telescopes, which had been absolutely integral to knowing what we do today. Essentially, telescopes are time machines, as they look back in time: it takes millions of light years for the light of even proximal stars to reach us.

After viewing and handling a few artefacts (including a 4.5 billion-year-old clump from a meteorite, which we were informed would be the oldest physical thing we’d ever handle) we proceeded to the picnic area to enjoy the contents of my aunt’s hefty picnic bag.

We then made our way (through a complex maze of padlocked gates, no-go areas and a very stern security guard, who insisted that we must walk at a leisurely pace) to the astrodome, in order to view a showing of ‘Dark Universe’, narrated by American astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. To express my thoughts about the atmosphere, the factual explanations and the show itself in a concise manner, it was absolutely epic, though the duration was far too compendious for my liking. Given the chance, I’d be more than willing to spend at least three hours in the astrodome.

“We are all made of stardust”. Quite literally, too.

Amongst the many spectacles the Royal Observatory has on offer, the Prime Meridian (the exact geographical line that divides the East and West hemispheres- longitude 0° of the world) could be the most popular. This line is so bewilderingly popular that masses of people are willing to pay a dear fee merely to stand upon it (and post corresponding pictures online), so that one foot is on the literal east side of the world, the other on the west. 

 

 I found it witty that they sell pairs of socks in the gift shop, consisting of an East one and a West one.

Directly adjacent to the Prime Meridian line is an elevated hill that overlooks an outstanding view: the O2 Arena in the far right corner, the cluster of bank headquarters and media organisations that make up Canary Wharf, hundreds of houses stretching beyond the horizon, all clashing with the tranquility of the surrounding green space.

 

  We enjoyed a spot of footy, took several snapshots of the scenery (as you do) and climbed a tree.

The tree was broad and sturdy, one of hundreds of neighbors. I’m no dendrochronologist, but this tree had to be at least 120 years of age. After climbing the tree with a surprising amount of confidence, I dithered as I looked down. Nervously outstretching my foot to find an orifice in which to rest my foot, I must have taken five minutes to find a route back down. 

 

 A nearby young girl, with her arms folded, a look of complacency and impatience across her face, remarked: “I could get up and down by the time you come down.” Her arrogance was met with a simple, “I don’t care” by me.

After this tree debacle, which left me flustered and abashed, we visited the gift shop. There was a wide variety of aesthetically intriguing (especially for an astronomy fanatic like myself) products for relatively pleasant prices. I purchased a postcard for 75p (for my collection, of course) a ruler for £2 (which depicts the planets in our solar system, and a few congruent facts about them) and a NASA pin badge for 75p. I was very satisfied with my purchases.

After the show, my three-year-old cousin Isa (who, much to my astonishment, did not fall asleep or fidget once) exclaimed enthusiastically, dynamically gesticulating with his hands: “I loved seeing the planets and shooting stars! When they exploded, they looked like fireworks! It was so cool!”

 

  In retrospect, the Royal Observatory is highly recommended for a great family day out, and for an insight into the mysterious universe around our home planet.

 Peering into darkness, we stand on the threshold of great discovery.

Going to Battle

The train journey was somewhat comfortable, especially due to the presence of coffee and snacks galore. The train journey was somewhat comfortable, especially due to the presence of coffee and snacks galore.

If one were to question a handful of well-educated adults regarding a specific date in history without the aid of a smartphone or such (take, for example, the birth year of our very own Queen), it is an almost undoubted truth that the majority will fail to answer correctly, perhaps with the excuse of such information being unnecessary. If the same handful of adults were to be asked about the Battle of Hastings, however, it is an undisputed fact that they will be aware of the date ‘1066’ as well as a few other trivial facts. Why? Because the Battle of Hastings was a pivotal event that completely altered the course of English history.

This notorious battle took place seven miles to the north of Hastings, in the beautiful (though eerily undisturbed) present-day market-town and civil parish in East Sussex, known as Battle accordingly. I was fortunate enough to have visited this momentous erstwhile battleground.

Upon disembarking from the train (after a gruelling two-hour journey, excluding the delays due to major engineering works, it being the Easter holidays) I was met with an air of tranquility, and the rare view of a landscape utterly devoid of modern buildings. From the station car park, the only building in view was Battle Station, which resembles a small church, and is surprisingly hailed for being one of the finest Gothic-style small stations in Britain.

The nucleus of Battle is its renowned Abbey, which William the Conqueror built under the pope’s orders, to serve as a penance for the loss of life during the conflict. Today, a thriving community encompasses the Abbey, living atop the very grounds that witnessed the Normal invasion and downfall of the Saxons.

With good reason, Battle is acclaimed to be one of the ‘Top Ten Hidden Gems of Europe” by Lonely Planet, harbouring not only striking historical significance, but also a vibrant culture stemming from it: the town now comprises award-winning restaurants, artisan shops, local history museums, art galleries, country pubs, picturesque pubs, castles and occasional quirky events.

A day trip in this town is ardently recommended, so as to absorb the delightful attributes on offer.

For more information regarding Battle and how to get there, contact:


Thanks for reading!

© Sadia Ahmed 2015

A Royal Market

Vendors selling their wares at Queen's Market, London.
Vendors selling their wares at Queen’s Market, London.

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Upon leaving Upton Park Station, the faint image of a distant, yet strikingly vibrant, fruit stall comes into view.
QUEEN’S Market in Newham, London is a street market adjacent to Green Street. The market holds a rich cultural history, but is perhaps better known for being the former work place of the ‘One Pound Fish’ man, whose musical earworm took the world by storm back in 2012.

The market is bustling to the brim with various stalls and their vendors (predominantly of Pakistani origin) promoting their wares by chanting indecipherable offers, behind arbitrarily positioned stalls beneath a dilapidated structure. Repugnant liquids ooze from numerous drains, and after every four steps or so, you will encounter a litter specimen of some sort: the market evidently has not been cleaned sufficiently for a number of days. Despite the distasteful appearance, the content of the market is satisfactory- a range of products, from fish to Asian clothes, are sold here, for appealing prices. The general atmosphere is somewhat agreeable and very diverse, encompassing a wide range of cultures and people. In one corner, a vendor sells exquisitely patterned African material, whilst elsewhere, an Indian vendor sells clips, hair-bands, ribbons and henna tubes. I would recommend Queen’s Market for a brief walk and a spot of cultural exploration (especially with regard to cuisine), and perhaps for the purchase of a few knick knacks and groceries, but certainly not for clothing. There are undoubtedly better market options for clothes in London; Hipsters, make not the mistake of visiting Queen’s Market to fulfil your contrarian needs…

For more information regarding Queen’s Market and its surrounding commodities, contact:


Like, comment and follow to express satisfaction! Alternatively, email me directly at sadiadventures@outlook.com.

Thanks for reading!

© Sadia Ahmed 2015