I spent five years of my life in London. During this time, I made some close friends there too. When we decided to move to Halifax, NS, Canada from Lahore, the only reasonable flight we were getting was the one with a long (20 hour) layover in London.
I got excited as we decided we could meet our friends in London. I instantly messaged two of my closest friends and found out that one of them could make it. Now, I had to decide the place. I instantly remembered my most favourite pub in the city called Founder’s Arms which is near the Southwark tube station. I have always preferred to get off St. Paul’s tube station and walk over Millenium bridge at gorgeous river Thames. You just cross the museum ‘Tate Modern’ and there you are. The pub offers outdoor and indoor seating. It is completely packed on the weekends. I have always loved their fish and chips.
So our PIA flight from Lahore to London Heathrow didn’t have any entertainment system. In those seven hours in the plane, Haaris and I talked to each other more than we ever have (thanks to no wifi/IFE).
London, as usual had clouds all over it. As soon as we landed, we ran out of Heathrow airport, got on to the tube (Piccadilly line) headed straight to Holborn. Changed to Central line and got off at St. Pauls. I almost remembered the tube map by heart, thanks to endless traveling on tubes. The tube had two red signals which caused delays.
Haaris especially got his mobile phone on roaming but unfortunately it didn’t work when we got out of the airport. There was no way we could contact our friends and let them know that the plan is on but we are late (due to tube delays). We ran and reached the pub. It was such a relief and pleasure to see both my and Haaris’s friend at the pub. They had reached and were waiting for us there. It really made us feel special. We couldn’t inform them about the delay and still they were there waiting for us, without any text or call from our side! We ordered my usual Fish & Chips. They were OK. This time, since I was traveling back from Pakistan, they tasted quite bland. Back in the day when I compared it to my usual UK diet, I loved them. I realised that our perceptions are all relative.
Inka (Finnish) and I were housemates in 2009 and became the best of friends as we were united in our strive for cleanliness in 9 Eleanor Road, Stratford where we spent over 1.5 years together. Since she was studying South Asian studies, she was my partner at watching indian movies at the cinema. We had some fun times iceskating, exploring Southall and slumber parties at each others places later. Inka had gotten married to her boyfriend Azeem who I had been introduced to long ago. Azeem (Indian muslim) and their son Ayan also came. It was such a pleasure meeting them both after about 7 years. She especially bought a gift along with postage stamps for me. I was over the moon as I was so happy she collected stamps and remembered to bring them for me. I felt so special and guilty that I didn’t get her anything!
Natasha (British) and Haaris studied in Manchester university together. She is now a Biophysicist at Oxford University. She came all the way from Oxford on a train to see us. It was such a pleasure meeting her for the first time. We all sat inside as it got cooler outside. Talked non-stop before it was time to go. We had to dash off to Haaris’s relatives from there who were extremely warm and hospitable.
So we reached London about 4 pm and we left it next morning at about 11:30 am. I had a great time galavanting in London with Haaris and taking him around. It felt great being back to my city with people I love.
P.S. Our next flight was Air Canada, London Heathrow direct to Halifax, Canada which was snowing when we landed (and least expected it) in April. I was literally in just two sweaters in the brutal weather. I had no idea it was -2 degrees with real feel of -12. I literally ran from the airport to the taxi full speed in the snow.