Enemy in the blanket – a legal immigrant in Watford

October 18, 2008

He thought I was Japanese. He got excited to hear my farewell salam to the caretaker and hencefort started adressing me as brother.

He is a Maroc. A proud berber, a devout Muslim. He is trying to find an honest living in his new country but the manner  he gets his citizenship is a Home Offce thriller. It is the very thing that the Home Office and Border control and the National Front would love to expose.

But he is a typical arab, anything Israel is bad. Jews are the cause of his misery, an Arabic DNA, alright.

Did you go through the tunnel? No I did not. I bought a Spanish Passport from the Spanish enclave for 1000 pounds. With the passport i travelled through spain, france and then crossed the channel by ferry.

How did you get your British passport? Easy brother. I paid a girl 6000 pounds to go to the registry. Then presto I have the citizenship. We agreed that after some time we get separated.

Can you get me a girl? No problem brother. We are brothers, Mashallah…

What do you think of this country? No good brother, everything is riba and Jewish. They kill all the muslims and now their money is gone. Gordon cannot do anything.

Where do you live? In watford, brother. They give me a council flat.

As we approached Heathrow I insisted that he put on the CD. Jema al Fina and music of the desert, the kind that inspired led zep’s kashmir.


Back In London Part 2

October 12, 2008

Surprise surprise. The immigration officer was exceedingly nice and polite. We chatted about his visit to Malaysia, the Blue mosque, the Masjid Negara and Masjid Jame. I am a muslim he confided. My salam was genuinely responded from the heart.

The Christmas shopping has started. There was a crawl along Kensington High Street.

It is nice to know that my alma mater  UCL is now  Seventh in the World Best University Ranking. UCL the Godless University, the term used by the Church for the fiercely secular University. I will give Sinead a call, if we could go out for a drink.

The 8 o’clock news was a mix of the worldly. The financial meltdown has not really hit the High Street. The Daily Mail has the unburied dead as its headlines. The high  cost of caretakers and funerals are causing unclaimed bodies in mortuaries. There was a special coverage on Mogadishu, the lawless capital.

I agree, the UK has its fair share of the third world, but it is the first world access to information and official news that I always miss about the oldcountry.

As for today, my Unggal has unilaterally planned for my iternary of Open Houses.


Kippers, rhubabs, milk and parks in London

February 11, 2008

What are the little things I look for whenever I am in London

Kippers, rhubabs, milk, and parks. ( and fowles and borders}

I enjoy a breakfast of  smoked kippers. There are kippers and there are good kippers.  You will not go wrong with kippers from Selfridges or Harrods

Kippers are  smoked herrings the equivalent of “tambans”, a tasty but bony fish. It is not a popular fish Malaysia, mainly because of the bones.  Even in KL I will always be on the lookout for  tambans.  It is difficult to get them. I guess it is  so cheap it is not able to cover the logistic cost of bringing them from Mersing or Besut. So it end up in keropok lekor. In Bagan, The lower variety is known as tamban jubor because it looks as if the fish has suffered long bout of diarohrea, The British has managed to add value to the lowly herrings by producing smoked kippers. I am however beginning to believe that Canadian kippers are better.

A poor student that I was and working in the bakery during summer breaks, milk at 8 pence, was my staple diet. I preferred the silver label, a low fat version. Now milk is nearly a pound a litre and the lonely wives do not have the milkmen for company any more. Nicking a pint on the doorstep of Westbourne avenue flats and Notting Hill  on the way back from a night of gin rummy or poker were the nearest I could get into trouble.

The British milk is smooth, fresh and cool,  a contrast to the synthetic  UHT NZ milk we get here.

And rhubab. Why can’t we find rhubabs here.? It is soury and coupled that with custards and cream, it gets you drooling. I managed to get an oven ready rhubab pie from Summerfields. I could not also resist the rhubab ice cream combination at the Dorchester

There is a raw joke I read in Anthony Burgess autobiaography. When he was doing the Army concert Round, the comedian would ask . Do you manure your rhubab? Yes , roared the crowd.………….No I dont. I put custard in my rhubab.  A Raw joke during the war, that was.

The parks ?. Here I am sharing the sights with you. I spent a good 3 hours in the park. After coffee and rhubab  at the Dorchester, I walked across to the park. The Serpentine is still home to the beautiful swans. Along the way I talked to the squirrels. I ended up at Lancaster gate. A short walk away is Malaysia Hall. My English dinner was patin asam pedas, telur asin, sotong sambal, followed by kuih lopis. Not quite an English lunch.