London is one of my favourite cities in the world. I seem to just blend in with the cosmopolitan vibe of that city. The English weather and the tea sessions with scones are a few of my favourite things. As usual, my last visit a few months back was filled with trepidation of meeting my son who is studying there. I wanted to see how well he is doing there, without me and his first six months away from home. I was hoping he would be teary-eyed to see me and tell me how much he missed home. To my utter horror, he looked fairer, happier and had a hint of a slightly proper British accent. I asked him if he missed India and he said not yet. I tried hard to tell him home is where Mom is. And continued my barrage of questions and asked what was his favourite thing to do in London? He said the women are beautiful and he loved watching the pretty girls. He saw my face and quickly added he enjoyed to study and be in his room reading and overlooking the roads below and the buildings ahead. The little liar!
I settled after the jet lag and must admit it wasn’t a bad one. He told me after you have rested, will take you to my favourite places. I told him I wanted to especially go to Camden market. The vibe of Camden had an irresistible urge for me to feel like an unnamed person in that confluence of different cultures.
There were different stores selling kitschy art, jewellery and bags that shouted loud “FAKE CC” and glasses and artists who sell handmade silk flowers on chokers, earrings and finger rings.
I realised I just gravitate towards the non-conforming fashion forward movement. And I was awestruck with this store in Camden that was called Shanti. I knew I would find a hungover Britisher selling Karma bracelets, incense sticks and Ganesha statues.
Her store in Camden had the most beautiful delicate pieces of jewellery made with stones, metal and wood.
I smiled at her and she wasn’t sure if I was Indian or Spanish. She saw me admire the wooden finger ring. And in her typical English customary greeting, she asked me “Love you want that one”? I was taken aback because my first response would be “I love you too”. I composed myself and realised I am in London where it’s good manners to say darling, love and exclaim your appreciation or trepidation with “Good Gracious Me”!
I tried the ring on and she said again “Love if you want it you can take it, but you can’t try it on”. I was embarrassed but with practised composure, I told her “Love I want that packed”. She told me I had a good choice and only I had noticed the various gradation in the seasoned wood colour of the ring. I hadn’t noticed but didn’t want to tell her that. I was pleased with myself in keeping quiet.
She packed my ring and as I was leaving the store, I overheard her telling another customer, “Love you got good choice”. I just learnt that to be a good sales lady you have to pump your customers’ ego and make them feel special.
I sit with my brown-black finger ring and can’t find much gradation in the colours but I surely know that when I meet my friends I exclaim, “Love you look super today”! And I always get a smile back. I just learnt love is a universal emotion and everyone craves to hear it and to be able to respond back too.
Camden is a haunt for all things eclectic and kitschy. The ring is one of my favourites, among my collection of London memorabilia. As I wait for my ale and fish fingers with tartare sauce. My Shanti ring sits pretty on my fingers.