Saturday, 1 June 2019

algiers | words and visuals

roman ruins at tipasa, algeria
a saturday in early march found us at the algerian consulate in london. finding it took some effort since it is located near a business park and there is little by way of markings for direction. it was a metaphor for the application process itself because the links on the visa section do not direct one to the required information and often refused to work. when i called the consulate, i was informed that the volume of application traffic could be the reason for this.  a combination of advice from our friends l and a and some persistence led to completed applications. our passports were returned to us in ten days with a tourist visa for single entry in april.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

goodbye twenty-eighteen

brunch at home on the first of january
i often found myself wishing that twenty eighteen would hurry itself up and end, despite knowing that a new year does not mean a neat and definitive resolution of the one past. how is it, that an even numbered year can have so odd a character? (see shake to remember if you need a reminder about the absurdity and the seriousness). the political flavour of the year was toxicity, at least as determined by the oxford dictionary which picks its word of the year as a reflection of the ‘ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance’. frankie boyle’s satirical stock-taking of the year reflected the very same sentiments, so i thought of recommending a ‘year in stuff’ as an anti-dote. but even in its materiality, it is inherently pointing fingers at the unevenness and peculiarity of the world we live in. 

Saturday, 24 March 2018

a rose is a rose is a rose, the aleph review

god gave us memory so that we might have roses in december
j.m.barrie
we made gulkand for the first time in the house in bani gala. the trio of rose bushes in our little but flourishing garden were alive with blooms and thorns. the petals had been used to perfume homemade strawberry jam and steeped in boiling water with fresh lemongrass or green tea as a tisane. our cat zubeida has a penchant for roses and she too feasted on the petals. despite all this, the roses kept giving. it is baba’s memories of his mother’s preserves and a profusion rose petals that led to the first jar of the gulkand. trial, memory and recipes from the virtual world informed. rose petals combined with coarse sugar were crushed using a mortar and pestle and placed in a glass jar. the jar was left in direct sunlight to trap the heat of the sun. this greenhouse effect warmed the contents, encouraging the roses to release their essential oils. it also melted the sugar, the syrup of which is essential to keep the roses from spoiling.

this is an excerpt from my essay titled 'a rose is a rose is a rose' which recently appeared in the aleph review. the aleph review is an annual anthology published by broken leg publication, lahore, pakistan. it is a print only publication and due to copyright reasons, i am unable to share more than an excerpt. for those of you who are based in pakistan, the aleph review can be bought at saeed book bank and london books in islamabad and liberty books in lahore and karachi. it is for those who love art and literature so please do head out and buy it.  

Monday, 8 January 2018

goodbye twenty-seventeen

christmas lights on regent street, london
december arrives with certainty, irrespective of the tempo of the year. it cares not whether there are loose ends or unfinished business. i have come to love the closing days of the year. the turn of the seasons is a time to gather thought. it is to hold the past, present and future in hand (momentarily).

i was never one for winter. even on days of utmost brightness, i was aware that darkness would come early, culminating in the winter solstice. but following the shifts of the earth and trying to understand the seasons has changed this for me. i am drawn to winter solstice festivals and particularly love the persian ritual of shab-e-yalda when mithra, the angel of light was said to be born. it recognises the triumph of love, knowledge and light over evil. the longest and darkest night is seen out with storytelling, poetry and food with loved ones. i stretch this philosophy across december so that omair and i make the most of it feasting with friends and family.  

Friday, 6 October 2017

on crumble in times of grief and loss

strawberry crumble 
i hold the word loss in my mouth. it feels full and heavy. when babcia died on the last day of july, i realised that loss had crossed a boundary. until then, it had described the process of losing her. afterwards, it took to grief.

the truth is i lost babcia slowly.

over the last few years, dementia affected her memory and eventually cancer and age stole her body. when i saw her in march, she was a fraction of herself -  her bones so prominent that one could study anatomy through them. it is hard enough to lose a loved one, to do so over a protracted period of time from afar was excruciating. my grief was complicated because as i lost my grandmother, mama lost her mummy and daddy, his love and companion and whilst they were together, i was several thousand miles away.