London: A nostalgia

Osama Siddiqui

Many people may think of London as a beautiful city but for me it is a great feeling, a nostalgia which I want to have again and again. Being a part of the era of a Bollywood movie Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayen Gy in which London has been sketched in such a beautiful way that anyone watching the movie would dream to visit the place. Besides, reading Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan as well as Jinnah of Pakistan by Stanley Wolpert, I also wished a lot to be in London. Fortunately, I got a chance to visit the United Kingdom for academic purpose and explored it to my best.

The very first time when I landed in London, I realized that this is the melting pot of the entire world’s ethnicities. However, the most beautiful thing for me in London was to witness the entire Indian subcontinent there. The way they had formed friendships that were fossilized for years. They stood with each other during the toughest of the times made me realize how our thinking pattern was the same, based on studies and acquiring a good job. Endless discussion on Bollywood, cricket, politics and sometimes partition was a common factor.

Most children do not end up having a strong emotional support in the UK but I was blessed with that as my maternal family has been living there for decades. My maternal grandfather’s brother who has been like a grandfather to me showed his love in every single aspect during my stay over there. Since he left Pakistan in 1962, he and I used to communicate on different socio-political issues.

Though there have been several disagreements in our discussion on different topics still there has been no debate on my love for him and his love for me. Nano and I used to discuss Bollywood’s old films and sing occasionally. Nana’s children Sabih Mamo and Shama Khala have been very kind toward me. They were the first generation born outside Pakistan to Pakistani parents having all the warmth a family is ready to give. Nana took me to his favorite place – the Royal Air Force Museum. It was love at first sight as it was my childhood dream to join Air Force, however, my experiences changed my passion later on in life.

Sabih Mano has been to the same university I went in the UK. He had philosophy as a major in his honors. He gave me some tough time when it came to critical thinking as we both used to discuss politics and its different dynamics. He has undoubtedly been the most logical man I have ever seen in life. It is not because he is my uncle but because he asked for logical arguments and academic referencing. This improved my critical thinking fiercely as I hardly gave up debating. I read intensely to find answers to his questions.

Walking around Central London with him, he introduced a lot of aspects of London to me. He is definitely the maestro of London. Shama Khala on the other hand is very much like my mother. The difference is that my mother was born in Pakistan and she was born in England. Both have set same rules for discipline and possess a warm hearted nature, so it was easy to strike conversations with her as well.

I visited South Hall also known as “Little India” with her in London, where I got an essence of South Asia in London. The food and the people in that particular area were absolutely fantastic. My childhood friend Shahwaiz Zeb is now a local resident of London. He used to arrange Afghan food with a lot of childhood anecdotes. It was such a warm experience to speak Peshawari Hindko with him in London.

The most beautiful thing about London is the River Thames and everyone should at least have the ferry ride where one can see London through waters. One can imagine how the Royal British Navy used to pass through it. The Central London was always busy. One can not find anyone looking here or there. The London Bridge had tourists from all over the world. All the people wanted to experience what they once dreamt of. I could not resist but took photos of mine while posing the Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan pose.

Since the topic of Shah Rukh Khan came in, visiting Madam Tussauds was a unique experience. Without a doubt I straight away went towards the statue of Shah Rukh Khan and had a picture with that. Then there were the Royal Family’s statues. I took photos with them but there was no comparison to Princess Diana who has always been my special attention. Seeing statues of the famous sportsmen who performed brilliantly during our childhood was also a fascinating experience. This included the phenomenal Sachin Tendulkar and the iconic footballer Pele.

Then came the famous British Library that I had to visit to see some of the documents that I wanted to see from a very long time. It was strange that I was not allowed to see the documents which was disappointing but it gave me a reason to come and see England again. The finest experience was to see the statues of famous leaders of the world in Parliament Square Gardens. There I got photographs with Mahatma Gandhi who was the leader of the Indian people and Sir Charles Napier who had left no stone unturned to rule the Indian subcontinent. London may not end here and one can write a book on it, however, these are my favorite memories that I like to reminisce.

The writer attended Cardiff University and completed his Masters of Science in Business Management. He has great passion for modern South Asian history, politics, political marketing and films. He may be reached at: He also tweets @osamasidd97.

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There are 1 comments for this article

  1. Aqsa Feb-01-2024 08:14:pm

    Interesting article.when I'm free I used to read this article little by little in every finally I read this . it's very interesting story as author

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