Sunday, 9 December 2012

An unusual shape.

At a birthday party last weekend, a Russian lady I quite liked said to me (reassuringly) that I was not fat, not at all. I was just an unusual shape. Hmm…

Had the most bizarre dream last night. I was writing Christmas cards the evening before, and then walked around the compound shoving them under neighbors’ doors. In the dream, I sort of continued taking cards to people, but this time, I was driving my Doha car on the streets of Baku. I decided to stop by A., my childhood friend I am no longer in touch with, to drop her card off to her. I remember the Blue Mosque she lived near, I parked my car next to the old iron gates and walked in. and there she was, sitting on an old bench in a tiny courtyard with local children. She was so happy to see me. Wait, she said, you have got to see this! And she pulled my hand to her little ground floor shack, where, right in the middle of the living room grew an enormous Christmas tree. ‘I just planted it here’ she said, ‘and the top of it is all the way in the neighbors’ flat upstairs! We drilled a whole around it, and now we both can enjoy the live tree for ages!’

Slightly unrealistic, you say? Yep. Possibly. Every little detail about that dream is unrealistic, not just the tree growing inside a tiny shack A. used to live in. She is in Moscow now, and I am in Doha. Nothing, not even Facebook, can bring us close to each other like we were back then.

I often say Oh the world is so small these days! Who cares where we live? One day you can be here, in Doha, and next day in the UK or Baku. Flights are easily available, social media helps to keep in touch...And yet, how badly do I wish sometimes, that I could, like in the dream, drive my car down from Doha to Baku, or London, or the hand-deliver my Christmas cards to all my old friends.

As a profound atheist (or am I actually more agnostic? Who cares.) I am very fond of Christmas and New Year. But, inevitably, this time of year makes me feel nostalgic. About the past, the people who are no longer here, or the friends who are too far.  About the places I wish I could just walk into, again, after many years, and find exactly the same- just like they were back then, when everything was innocent and stress free, when my friend was not working long hours in the big snowy Moscow; but was sitting on the bench crunching sunflower seeds with neighbors’ children.

Every little detail in that dream was unrealistic. And yet, every little detail was so vivid, so correct. My brain, incapable of remembering to get the cornflakes for the last three shopping trips, has managed to store away and bring back up some lovely memories. Maybe this is what it is like, to be getting old. That, and being of an unusual shape, of course. 


  1. What would be considered a usual shape? What an idiotic thing to say to anyone.

  2. My beloved and never forgotten Aunt Angelita used to greet people with a huge smile and yelling "you are beautiful!" If she told you that, she meant you had an unusual shape.
    But it's understandable from someone who grew up amidst poverty: beautiful meant well fed and for her, that was a good thing.