I feel the most homesick in the aisles of the supermarket. I have no idea why, it creeps up on me. Yesterday it was because I couldn’t find stock to make gravy, other trips to the Tesco (yes there is Tesco here and weirdly Boots) it’s the packaging that has set me off, a Tesco packet, not kidding, makes me long for home.
We walk around our neighbourhood at dusk as it’s the only time of day that the sun doesn’t feel like it’s burning holes in your eyes. It’s a circular route, we chat to the neighbours and they play peekaboo with little one, we say hi to the chickens and fighting cockerels, hi to the local kids and birds in cages. I say ‘we’ I mean ‘I’ the crazy ferang mum and my husband points to every bush and tree, telling me “you can eat that, you can eat that” apparently our neighbourhood is basically a big salad!
I love it, truly, I have never in my life growing up in London experienced such friendly neighbours. Since we’ve lived here we have received a tonne of papaya, fresh fish and baby food already cooked mushed and frozen!! Everyone knows my daughter’s name and she babbles and smiles at every opportunity.
I get smiled at on my cycle to work by total strangers, my herding job is much more enjoyable now I’ve found ways to get quiet – Wheels on the Bus works wonders – I love the sounds at night here, although as I type I can hear strange sounds from our laundry basket and I wonder what creature we’ve brought upstairs. I love the pouring, heaven has opened rain you get here, so loud against the tin car roof. The food is incredible, full on southern style spicy and so damn cheap, we get a whole, deliciously cooked and huge fish for £3. Most of all and what has been the biggest influence in my life and influential choice to be here is the sabai sabai* mentality that you love/hate depending on the situation, yeah I can chill when the bus is an hour late but no I can’t chill when it finally arrives and I have to sit in the middle between two seats on a plank of wood (true story)
But, even in my silly joy living here and the fact that I got a foot massage today for £4 and a haircut for 2. I yearn for England. I yearn for cups of tea after a walk around Holland park and a playground that doesn’t look like the playground at the end of the world in Terminator 2! I long for chilly days wearing leggings, boots and a jacket while walking in the grey London drizzle. I would love to be able to wash the dishes without sweating and stand in my kitchen without being swarmed by mosquitoes. Weekends feel much harder when all I want is to wonder down Portobello road, visit my fav cafe and second hand shops with my best mate and baby of course. I miss my mum too, she’s a firecracker and a good friend. But what I don’t miss is Woolwich town centre or moody people on the tube, everyone being so guarded and paranoid, being rushed at supermarket checkout which making me freak out and drop stuff, the grey, expensive food and crap Thai curries.
To many, this post will seem ungrateful for the beautiful life I have here of my choosing but if you’ve lived abroad you know, yes it’s sunny here but I’m not sitting by the pool drinking a pina coladas, I’m running around after 3 years olds with sweat running down my back, until today I had no idea how long my hair is as I NEVER have it out and two words; boob sweat.
It’s a catch 22 situation
a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.
My reality is I will never feel truly at home now, not in the UK or Thailand. My heart exists in both of these places and while I keep finding £1 coins in the bottom of my bag I’ll continue missing the UK, until I’m there then I’ll miss proper papaya salads and home here.
*sabai means easy and if you reading this Adrian, you are more than welcome to put $5 in my account as you said you would, right?!