Friends and Family, Life in London
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Nadia the First., part b

This is the second part of the first visit from Nadia. Written 2 months apart, 9 months after the actual visit (September, 2023).

Part i.i here

After seeing some art, science and plants, the next step on Nadia’s Grand Adventure to England was to check out my neighbourhood.

Which, *sob*, is not my ex-neighbourhood, given the recent move.

(Which also explains the whole long-time-no-post thing. Life is busy y’all).

I took her through my favourite graveyard, we perused the local Saturday market, tried some Indian sweets, and pretended to be birds for a bit. Again.

Also we looked cute.

It wouldn’t be a visit to Walthamstow without a quick bathe in the neon glow that is God’s Own Junkyard…

______

So we did that too.

This one obviously deserves a ‘who wore it better’.

…. and, I’m sorry Nadia, but Joram clearly has the seggsier look.

From Walthamstow, we hopped a train and headed into the city, partially to find food, and partially to meet up with Sameer, who seems to have allergies related to leaving the city’s Zone 1 centre.

Sameer’s friend Sabine was also in town… so we used the presence of two extra people to buy and eat a large amount of foods:

And the greatest of these was:

Araw!

The best icecream bar none. With flavours like ‘mango sticky rice’, ‘ube halaya’, pandan onde onde’, ‘roasted banana tahini’ and so on.

We got the tasting plate and I was delighted.

Unfortunatley, the shop was only a pop-up, and was gone a week or so later.

Fortunately, they deliver. And one of the first things I did when we moved house was order 5 pints direct to our new freezer.

After a bit more scoffing, we went to see some bricks (Bricklane), and some animals (did you know London has a Cityfarm?).

Someone took this photo:

Which looks a bit like I am trying to stroke a wooden goat.

But, dear reader, there is a cat riding that goat!

We wandered around a bit more, mostly randomly, and happened to stumble across a very cool art collection called ‘The Order of Things’ by artist Naira Mushtaq.

Violent and colonial, with a very engaging colour scheme.

After a bit more walking, we stumbled across a fig tree, that was desperately trying to pass it’s figs outside of the private property that constrained it.

We helped it out.

After saying farewell to Sabine, we all headed up to the Skygarden, which is a garden/lookout/bar thing in London that is free and that therefore has to be booked about 6 months in advance.

Quite nice, and comes with both plants and views!

After a bit of resting at Sameer’s flat, we headed across the river to Lyaness, to be fancy cocktail people.

I really appreciate that the bar likes to pick a theme, and go with it. In this case, they had 5 (weird) core ingredients- that you could taste by themselves- and built several different cocktails around each of these ingredients.

On Sunday, we in order to take a break from all things British with Aussie Lamingtons…

… and then spent the entire day watching the Mahabharata.

The Mahabharata is an Indian epic, and when I mean epic it is EPIC. The length of the thing is about ten times that of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined. And while it’s broadly about the struggles of two branches of a family for control of a throne, it’s a mythical mixture with historical and religious background, stories within stories, and a whole lot of ‘main’ charachters.

On top of the story, there are of course also lessons- the Mahabharata is famously one of the first discussions of how to be fair in issues of war- for example ensuring that like can only attack like, that just means are used, that just cause is invoked, and that captives and wounded are treated fairly.

A big kudos to Nadia and Sabine for joining: we booked this before we knew they were visiting, and they were keen to join for 5+ hours of Indian storytelling (across two parts!).

The first half of the show, which was two hours and fourty minutes, basically only got as far as introducing us to all the charachters.

Despite the length and complexity and near-impossible task of somehow wrangling something like that into a watchable show, it was INCREDIBLE.

Actually engaging the whole way through and translated in such a way as to be understandable for those of us who had never heard of any of the people or myths involved. On top of that- it was surprising, with whirling dancers, live music, and actual opera inserted at one point (apparently this was Krishna explaining someting to Arjun- the Bhagvad Gita) .

I’m honestly hoping it comes back to London so we can rewatch it (it’s going to be in Canada this year for anyone in that region!).

In between the two parts, Nadia and I also got to join a dinner (we ran out of tickets, so Sameer went to dinner outside with Sabine), where the Narrator/writer talked with her ‘aunty’ about the development of the piece.

Here’s the Nadia Review: I went in with no expectations except that it would suck if i had to suffer through X hours of a boring show. Luckily the show was amazing, with different elements (Dance, Video, singing) thst kept me up, although I was exhausted from sightseing from the previous days. Amazing narrator and actors, which made me want to know more about this story and the Indian culture.

And here’s the Guardian, in case you want to also see some pictures!

The next morning, Nadia left early to the airport, and sometime later in week we managed to spend a bit more time with Sabine, and our favourite Giulia.

And, because I’m terrible with writing about individual events (I hear epics are IN this season), I’ll shoehorn in here the fact that we also got a very brief visit from Pra (who had a terrible flight experience trying to get from Australia to Ireland) just before Nadia dropped in….

And that some time after it all Nina, Sameer and I went to see the also-Indian-themed The Empress. The play weaves the stories of an Indian sailor and an ayah (nursemaid) with the more famous historical tales of Abdul Karim (friend of Queen Vicky) and Naoroji (the first Indian MP).

All up, I appreciate what it was trying to do, but I found that there was just too much happening- it all felt a bit rushed and a little bit too cliche to me.

And that’s all from Nadia Part I!

September 27 – October 2, 2023, and some times around it all.

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