DAY 27 in London:
First things first, a stretch, then breakfast.
We visited V&A (Victoria & Albert) on this day, aka. ‘the world’s leading museum of art and design’ and the recently crowned Museum of the Year 2016. I understood why it has become one of Miriam’s favourite museums — it is full of wondrous storytelling and absolutely visually compelling. Miriam took a particular liking to a statue of Countess Emily Georgiana of Winchelsea and Nottingham which had a poem — Pt. I & Pt. II — written by the Countess before she died engraved in it, as a form of comfort for her husband after she passed on. We also visited the John Madejski Garden, where Miriam ‘became’ Venus (ref. to this), and The Fabric of India exhibition, where we saw incredible, intricately designed textile and discovered that ‘thumb rings’ were already a thing in ca. 1700.
Moving on, we emerged once again into the sun and basked in the warmth as we made our way to a place I’ve been dreaming of ever since I’ve been a young girl: Hyde Park, not without a stop at the grand Harrods of course. (Have You seen jelly this amazing? Only in Harrods.) My Hyde Park dream was about 10 years in the making. The idea of it was first planted in my mind when I read Michael Coleman’s ‘The Bear Kingdom’ trilogy and felt so deeply for the protagonist, Benjamin Wildfire. Benjamin Wildfire is a young human boy living in a world where bears are rulers and humans are their slaves. The only promise for hope is ‘Hide Park’ where humans roam free without fear or pain. Innocent 10 y/o me labelled Hide Park as heaven on Earth and vowed that I would find this magical place one day.
Hyde Park was everything I imagined it to be and more. Trees bordered the park like guards, muffling the sounds of the busy city and creating a peaceful haven for us as we strolled to the heart of the park where the ducks waddled freely in the lake (featured above). The sky was painted a bright blue with only a few wispy clouds here and there to complete the masterpiece that was heaven, and, attempting to soak in the peace of where we were, we cozied ourselves on the prickly grass and I lied down, opening my eyes a few minutes later to a world tinged wit teal blue.
Miriam was getting excited as lunch time drew closer and closer, for she was about to show me her favourite place to get food in London: Vantra Vitao. Everything they make and serve is Vegan, gluten-free, and free from processed sugar, and one will find ‘sumptuous food that nourishes optimum wellbeing, and a sustainable relationship with our planet’. We bought takeaway boxes, which is basically a free ticket to unlimited amounts of Vegan dishes, ranging from curries to dips to soups to noodle dishes to rice — the only catch being that You are limited by the amount of Your takeaway box. The secret to getting more is simply to squish everything down as You go. 😉 (Miriam’s box literally couldn’t be contained at the end of it hahaha!)
Our hearts were full, our boxes were fuller (obviously), and we made our way to Soho Square, where we very luckily scored seats on an empty bench. One thing that I realised at this point was how our conversations morphed since Day 1. Right there and then, our topics shifted to those closer to our hearts, and I don’t mean just things which made us happy, but rather also things which brought us sorrow and worry. Trust. I always feel vulnerable and almost fragile when I open up to anyone (because I feel exposed) or when anyone opens up to me (because I feel like I really want to help this person fix their problems but I know I can’t and I end up feeling useless), but somehow with a gem of a friend, these insecurities go away and I feel nothing but understanding and reassurance. Warmth. I remember us talking about what we have learned from the trip thus far and how it differed for us both — it’s always refreshing to hear the same experiences being described, dissected and understood from another point of view.
The food adventure didn’t stop there — we continued our journey to Yorica! aka. the place with the best dairy-free frozen yoghurt and ice cream in the world. I know this is a bold statement, but mi oh my, I don’t know how frozen yoghurt can get any better than Yorica!‘s. Plus, Hannah, who isn’t the biggest fan of the dairy-free movement, loved it. 😉 I was feeling playful then, and dared Hannah to wave to a male passer-by, who, after some surprise/ confusion, returned the wave with a big smile!
Making our way to the bus stop with our tummies filled to the brim, we walk past a butchery with a man inside (on the other side of a glass window) who was signalling for us to come inside and try the meat he had just finished slicing. We smiled and mouthed, “we’re Vegan,” shaking our heads as we did. He didn’t seem to get us, because he chuckled, pointed at himself and mouthed back at us, “me too!”
Simren hadn’t gotten back yet by the time the rest of us — Miriam, Hannah, Reshem and I — reached the house, and so we decided to go for a walk-jog-run at a nearby park. Hannah and Reshem picked up speed quite quickly and Miriam and I were left a little way behind, with occasional bursts of ‘shaaaaaark’ during which we’d stretch both hands behind us, sprint for a short while and decrease the distance between us and the leading pair. Apart from the beautiful tunes coming from a guitar player we passed by, we were gifted with silence to slow down the pace from the day. It didn’t stay that way for long, though, for we filled the silence with more conversations (there seems to be a delightfully never-ending list of topics for us to talk about). We marvelled at talented graffiti artistes, and talked about abortion and how mentally challenged individuals feel more than we give them credit for, but my favourite part was when we talked about the misconstrued impressions one could form of someone else if this ‘someone else’ were to only be known from afar or virtually.
The magic of travelling is that masks (if any) shed within the first few days — messy morning hair, accidental burps, outbursts of tears upon missing home, and inherent character traits or matters of the heart that influence everything one does… all of it comes to light. The Miriam that came to light was ‘far more relatable and less terrifyingly perfect’. Getting to know You was probably the greatest highlight of our trip. ❤
“I am not what you see. I am what time and effort and interaction slowly unveil.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
The last night of our 28-day trip was spent with free Lush face masks and conflicted emotions — I didn’t want this to end, but I so desperately wanted to be in my family’s arms again. “Thank You for the memories,” we said to each other before we drifted off to sleep…