Chronicles of one girl's journey to London - from conception to eventual migration.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

THE PULL

I've been working on a simple research project for my new job. And everytime I get onto a company's website, I find myself gravitating towards their "Locations" section.
Does it have a London office? I wonder to myself. If it does, my heart does a little ba-dum. I could work here when I get there! They won't say no, I'm awesome!

And then I research where exactly in London this office is (thank you Google Maps). Oh, this one's not in London. This one's in Reading (looks too much like Toronto). This one's in Edinburgh (that's not London you corporate fools). This one's in the West Midlands (not really interested in that). Then, there it is, the office that is in London. On Baker Street. BAKER STREET! The essence of London to a foreigher is Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes and the old Tussaud's. I can see the red buses and bobbies now. I can feel the pull.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BE GENTLE, IT'S MY FIRST TIME

I have never been to the UK before. Well, I've been to Heathrow Airport. I have seen Heathrow's walls time and time again. On my way to New York from Dubai, we stopped at Heathrow. On my way to Dubai from Toronto, we stopped at Heathrow. I can hail-fellow-well-met with Heathrow anytime. I can show you her hidden hallways and cleanest bathrooms.

But to actually breathe in that thick English air - I didn't get my first chance until just this October. And it went a little something like this . . .

Friday October 9th - Misha and I depart Toronto at 7.35 - no, sorry Miss, flight was delayed - 8.35 pm. Cruise high altitudes for 7 hours or so. Land in Manchester. (Right, should mention that, didn't actually go to London on this trip. We went up north instead.)

Between the 7 hour flight and 5 hour time difference, it is now . . .
Saturday October 10th - Zab and Sanam pick us up. They're late. We don't care. It is just so exciting to be with them. It is 9 am and we are on the road. On the wrong side of the road! I forgot all about that in my excitement to see them - the novelty of driving on the opposite side. Manchester's outer limits look a lot like Toronto. It's all trees and large chain stores (I saw a Staples! I was so disappointed.) We drive around for an hour or two, mostly because Zab is lost. We go to Arndale, their mall, and meet up with Qas. Eat some food. Go to our rented apartment. Check in and leave again. Walk around the city centre. It is gorgeous. Quaint and modern at the same time. How do they do it?
Back to Arndale where we meet up with Abu and Jayne. Back to the apartment. Abs and Ste meet us there. Fahad comes by for a bit. Qas misses all this because he is doing "business". We suspect he just walks around town, pretending.
That night, we are taken to a Manchester bar. It looks and acts a lot like a club. We drink. We are merry. We go home and eat and pass out.

Sunday, October 11th - We go to Blackburn to Abu and Sanam's house: The Saleh Mansion! They live with Abu's family, a joint family unlike any other. They feed us and then we all hang out. Their family makes me want children - lots and lots of loud, laughing, fighting, screaming children.
That evening, we go to Strada for Sanam's birthday dinner (a week early). Italian food with names we can't pronounce and it's not very good. But I love every minute of my life with these people so it doesn't really matter.

When we get home, Zab and I decide we need to dance. Clare Teal becomes our new favourite DJ and we pretend we are in a cabaret.

Monday, October 12th - I am woken up early by Qas leaving, and then very shortly after by Abu leaving as well. They head to work. By mid-morning, we're packed and Misha and I are being driven to the airport by Zab and Sanam. Life comes full circle. Apparently so do many streets in Manchester. Zab is lost again.
We rush, rush, rush through Manchester Airport and make our flight with enough time to get Burger King (Plane food was inedible to the point that BK seemed a better choice). And that's it . . . we're back in Toronto and home by 6 pm.

Those 2.5 days were enough to solidify what I thought I knew: I want to live there.
Looking forward, I am doing everything in my power to make this happen.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Misha and I are doing this together; this bold, unbridled move to London was not actually my idea. She came to me with it. I had planned on going to Spain (despite lack of Spanish vocabulary and no real action plan).

London was always her dream - I have just joined her on it and taken it over as being part of my dream too. Spain will happen . . . but London will happen first.

I plan to use it as the centre of all my travelling plans. My home-base while I bankrupt myself in Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Prague, India and Egypt. Big dreams.

Big dreams but not impossible dreams!

I WANT OUT

The moment of realization was a strange one. Walking into Sanam's arms at the Dubai Airport, I thought to myself: I miss this part of the world. Why am I still in North America?

Back in Dubai after 9 years in Toronto, we came to celebrate her wedding. She married an Indian boy born and bred in England. All his friends were the same. We fell in love, all of us and I think they took a little piece of me back to England with them.

Having spent the earlier half of my life in Dubai, my connection to the very centre of the globe is strong. And now it pulls me back.

Toronto is home today. The plan is for London to take on that role in May 2010.