My Forever After (II)

I sit up in bed and look over at Afreen as she peacefully sleeps in the adjacent bed. Murderous thoughts infiltrate my mind as I replay the incident from earlier that afternoon…

<flashback: near death experience>

I know I’m in trouble the moment that I hear Afreen’s voice. The latest victim of her endless chatter is our diving instructor who is yet to notice that I’m missing. Caught under our diving glass boat, it’s not long before I realise that being rescued is now out of the question – I need to fight for survival.

What seems like an eternity later, having freed myself from the clutches of the deadly Red Sea, my hands firmly grip the stainless-steel boarding ladder like a boa constrictor choking its prey. As I pause to catch my breath, I feel slightly deflated by the thought that I hadn’t actually turned into a mermaid under water (yes, a childhood dream that I still carry around as a soon-to-be thirty-seven-year-old adult), but I’m also secretly excited by the unexpected adventure. I quickly turn to the girls and tell them that I almost drowned. Tamara’s reaction is of natural shock, but I notice a wave of confusion wash over Afreen’s face. Pausing to gather her thoughts, she replies: ‘oh… actually… I saw you from the glass below… and did wonder why you were under the boat…’.  My eyes widen with horror as the tinge of excitement swiftly exists my body. ‘Wait. You saw me struggle UNDER THE BOAT… and you didn’t think to raise the alarm?!!!’ I snap back. ‘Erm… well… I thought you were having fun… oops, sorry…’ she says, looking appropriately guilty.

<fast-forward: planning a murder>

As I survey her still body that night, I wonder whether suffocating her with a pillow will be as easy as it seemed in the ‘90s Bollywood movies. Pillow in hand, as I contemplate my next move, my phone buzzes. ‘Oh, fuck right off’ I whisper irritably, as I notice a message from Ahmed. We haven’t spoken in over six months, what could he possibly want now? As I start reading his messages, I’m instantly puzzled – he is being overly nice and apologising for hurting me. Hurt? Why would I be hurt? ‘Can we please be friends – like, as in just friends, I do really like you…’ his message reads. I’m utterly confused… we weren’t exactly dating in the first place, but I neither have the energy nor the crayons to explain this to the dimwit. His message has irked me though. My body temperature starts rising in response to my growing rage and I fire back a furious response. ‘Frankly – no. I invest in my friends. I take friendship seriously. Who are you even? Who is the real Ahmed??! I can’t figure you out, so no, sorry – we can’t be friends’ I say without stopping for breath. Of course, I’m aware that his vocabulary is limited to a handful of two syllable words, so I’m not expecting a reply.  Within a matter of minutes however, Ahmed manages to answer all my questions with four simple words…

‘Ok… basically, I’m married’.

 If you haven’t read part 1 of the story – catch it here.

<ten months earlier>

It’s definitely not a date this time I tell myself sternly as I pull on a casual printed dress that shouts ‘zero effort’. Minutes before I leave, I receive another change of location request because he is running late. I take a long slow hiss of indrawn breath and wonder why I’m entertaining this moron. The pervert within me however raises a knowing eyebrow but I quickly dismiss the internal suggestion that his dimples may have something to do with it. Hot or not, there is no denying that this man’s personality is as disappointing as a grey sprinkle on a rainbow cupcake.

I make my way to Aldgate East wondering how our non-date will go. I chuckle to myself as I imagine turning up in a bridal outfit to freak him out. As I exit the station and catch a glimpse of his lushness in his blue checked collarless shirt, my irritability is swiftly overthrown by an avalanche of lust as he once again grows on me like a cluster of E. coli on room-temperature ground beef. As the mischief in my eyes collides with his, I know that staying annoyed will be a struggle.

We walk to Big Moe’s American-themed Diner where I strategically opt for a kids meal to make space for my favourite dessert – an orgasmic fresh Belgian waffle with a drizzle of delightful Nutella… ummm…  I’m somewhat surprised by the energetic pull between us which seems to run deeper than the physical attraction. The conversation flows like a dream and as I make my way home that evening, I begin to wonder how this gorgeous, funny, one-dimpled, intelligent fine piece of ass can be as dull as dishwater over messages.

Over the course of the next three months, Ahmed and I meet several times. I’m never quite sure what to make of him, but I do conclude that he is definitely not dating material – his communication skills around our meetings still give the impression that he has precisely one brain cell that dings arounds in his skull like a Classic Windows 98 screen saver. Frustrated by his communication style, I think of cutting him loose on more than one occasion – but just then we meet, and I’m reminded of how insanely in sync we are.

It takes a while before I see the first sign of vulnerability. One evening in Spring, between our silly chats, he tells me about his father’s recent fall and his worries about his parents’ health. I also let my guard slip a quarter of an inch as his concerns echo my own for my parents. We spend the rest of the evening having our first mature adult conversation and I begin to wonder whether I have really misjudged him – that is of course until I don’t hear back from him for several months.

Fast-forward: October 2019

‘Ok… basically, I’m married’.

I place my phone face down on the bed and exhale. Thoughts of killing Afreen now seem a distant memory as I try to process what I’ve just read. Fuck. The lack of consistency over messages now makes perfect sense – how did I not figure it out?! Deciding that he was simply not worth my time, I grab my phone to block his number. I’m surprised to see that I have a further 64 unread messages from him – so his vocabulary does extend beyond ‘hey hey’, ‘haha’, ‘lol, joker’ and ‘sure thing’ – the utter prick, I mutter under my breath as I lean back and start reading through his messages.

As I get to the end, I have an uneasy feeling that he really isn’t in a good place. Don’t you dare even think of being kind to him says the mean girl in my head… don’t you fucking dare. Wait, hear me out – I try to reason with her. He didn’t have to reach out several months later and admit this… what if he is suicidal – do I really want to push him over the edge?! I lower the mean girl’s volume in my head and remind myself that I wasn’t emotionally invested so I could afford to be kind. ‘Well, I won’t spell out how fucked up this is, but right now… I think you need a friend’ I quickly type and hit send before she has time to intervene.

‘Dude – no, just no’ replies my close friend Binal when I send her a WhatsApp message to tell her what just happened. ‘But he has a child – what if he is suicidal?’ I say. ‘You can’t take on another project. Wasn’t Oskan enough of a project for you? and anyway, you don’t want his wife coming after you’ she says, holding her ground. ‘I hear you B, but this will be a quick one – a few weeks and he will be gone, I just need to make sure he is okay’. ‘Okay fine– you do you, but please be careful’ she says, knowing the stubborn Leo had made up her mind.

Ahmed and I meet at a Costa Coffee shop in Holborn the week after I return from Egypt. I’m not my usual chatty self, and neither is he – he looks troubled. I wrap both hands around my mug of green tea and hold it close to my chest– a sure sign that I’m feeling awkward and uncomfortable. He starts with an apology, which he repeats several times during our conversation. ‘You know, you could have just told me that you were married, practically all my male friends are… that was silly’ I finally say. ‘I know…’ he whispers.

Over the next few weeks, I learn more about his situation. I see raw honesty like I’ve never seen before – it’s almost like watching someone go through a spiritual cleanse. ‘I hate to say this, but I actually think he is good for you’ says Binal when I tell about personal things I’ve shared with Ahmed during our chats. ‘It seems you’re both helping each other and have developed a genuine and rare friendship’ she concludes.

Two years on and I can’t imagine life without him – we are family. Ahmed became the boy best friend that I always wanted – a bit like Martin from primary school who helped me chase racist trashy Trevor (with the dirty nails) through the playground and held him down whilst I kicked him in the shin. He is the type of friend that I can threaten to divorce every Thursday evening, but I know he will still be there to give me his rubbish dating advice on Friday morning. He knows my secrets and boy do I know his… I’ve seen him sad and I’ve seen him happy – making love hearts from herbs on his wife’s pizza (pass me the sick bucket). He is the sort of shameless friend that will buy you an Easter Egg but then eat it himself when he has his 2am craving for something sweet.  Ahmed is the guy that I’ll turn to at midnight with a request for an urgent call back. When he jumps out of bed and calls, I will ask him the most important question he has been asked all year: ‘would you kiss a fat man’s hairy belly to save my life?’.  Of course, he will say ‘no’ and when I get offended, he will say: ‘Bubbles, I know you. If I agree to kiss his belly tonight, tomorrow you will ask me to kiss other parts of his body – so let’s not… now go to sleep’.

Ahmed is far from perfect. He almost always runs late; he refuses to turn down the collar of his coat; he will lose things you get for him – including his personalised guitar pick (but will never admit to not being able to find it); it’s a miracle if he will ever remember your birthday – even though it’s only twenty-four hours after his, and he certainly should not be the person you call after you’ve run over your ex – he will waste time trying to get you to confess to the police rather than grabbing the shovel like your girlfriends would.

Ahmed – you are living proof that good people can sometimes really really fuck up – but I’m glad that I had a moment of madness and chose to stick around. Thank you for being my anchor. Just know that if I ever have to choose between you and Salman Khan, I will at least take three steps towards you before running to Salman Khan – that is how much I love you. Oh, and I know you would kiss every fat hairy belly in the world to save my life…so… whatever.

Happy Birthday Dimpz x        

The Accidental Lawyer

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Death by dating apps

My earliest memory of online dating is the Indian matchmaking service shaadi.com. Founded in 1997, I viewed it as only being suitable for losers. As a teenager with questionable morals, I spent time on shaadi.com making fake profiles of people that I abhorred – oh, there were many. I’d give them various contagious diseases to see whether they would generate any interest. Astonishingly, I found that people ‘back home’ were still willing to marry them. My good deed was completed with the virtual match being given the phone number of their future spouse. Don’t judge me, I know I was a mean little shit..

Fast-forward a decade, coming out of a serious relationship that didn’t end in sunshine and roses, I found that ‘meeting people naturally’ was no longer a thing. You see, when you’re Muslim and you don’t drink or hang out in bars, the chances of meeting someone new reduces significantly. Prince Charming is unlikely to come looking for you whilst your mouth makes tender love to chicken breast at your local halal Nandos.

If you want to find Brown men, your only option is to head down to your local Shisha lounge. Clutching your asthma inhaler in your left hand, you’ll acrobat your way through the crowd to your 21st century Muslim Don Juan, the ‘Seducer of East London’ i.e. Abdul with the gold tooth. You will find him manspreading over a germ-infested red sofa, letting out silent, but deadly farts. Bad-boy Abz will be ‘chillin with da boyz – innit’, and if you’re wearing your lucky red knickers, he may just undress you with his cold, empty, leering eyes. Blowing smoke rings in your direction, he’ll say “alright buff ting” as you walk past, noticing that bit of coriander stuck between his teeth – no doubt, a remnant of the fish curry that his mother cooked for his dinner the night before last.

I soon came to terms with my fate. I would join the loser brigade and turn my attention online. Thankfully, Muslim online dating had improved by leaps and bounds since my teenage years of searching for life partners for the diseased antagonists in my life. We now had ‘Muslim Single Solution’, ‘Single Muslims’ and dating apps such as ‘Muzmatch’ and believe it or not, ‘Minder’.

Ready for my new adventure, I joined the dating sites and apps. Following a little trial and error, I set my profile to read as follows:

Ok so here is the criteria [split into mandatory and desired requirements]:

Mandatory –

  1. Must have an original non-tampered British passport with a security chip (protection against fraud).
  • Must have a sense of humour that goes beyond reading jokes on the back of a Penguin chocolate bar.
  • No history of domestic violence please – slap me once and I’ll punch you twice.
  • Must be family orientated. That means being more than a lodger to your family.
  • Ideally someone not on benefits; ambitious enough to have a job?

Desired:

  1. Ideally Salman Khan or maybe a look alike.. but don’t worry, Jonny Lever’s will not be discriminated against.
  • DBS cleared (enhanced preferred).
  • Ideally come from a family that won’t set me on fire for dowry.

I thought I had it all covered. Online dating can’t be that hard, can it? What could even go wrong?

Well, it seems that a lot can go wrong.. find out more in the next dose of dating disasters..

The Accidental Lawyer

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My White In Shining Armour (Part III)

If you haven’t read Parts I and II, you can find them in the ‘LinkedIn dates’ section or here: Part I & Part II

It had been a great date, but I didn’t really know where I was going with this. Well, I knew it wouldn’t, or rather couldn’t go anywhere, but the problem with being a Leo is that you always play with fire because you think you’re invincible..

After the initial few messages that night, Harry was oddly quiet. I didn’t class myself as a paranoid woman, or an over thinker. My mind was constantly full of mischief, so it was hard to dedicate too much time to thinking. Intuitively however, I knew something was wrong. Did he all of a sudden realise that he hated my company? I mean c’mon, of course not. If I must say so myself, I’m a dream to be around – well, so long as you can handle a potty mouth and a bucket load of inappropriate comments and sarcasm.   

A few days later, I figured that there was no point in waiting around, so I sent Harry a message. If I didn’t receive a response within a respectable period of time, I’d simply sit back and let my ego take over. I certainly wasn’t a chaser, and Harry would be no exception to this rule.

I did however receive a reply that evening. Call it a bombshell if you must. It started with “full disclosure…”. Harry told me that I had been his first date in several years. His marriage had recently ended, and he had children. He apologised for not saying this earlier, and that if I wanted to block him, he would understand.

Would I be justified in being mad? In the circumstances, I didn’t think so. In the weeks leading up to our meeting, we never really talked about relationships. I certainly didn’t feel the need to tell him about my past, given that he was a LinkedIn contact. In fact, we hadn’t even acknowledged that our meeting was a date until 3pm on that very same day.

Of course, whilst the “what the fuck is he thinking, surely he can’t be ready for a relationship” alarm bells were ready to ring louder than a Yale HSA 6200 alarm system, I’d have been a hypocrite for making it an issue. I had enough self-awareness to understand that it was no coincidence that I had never made it past date three in the last 5 years. The fact that the words “commitment” and “boyfriend” would send shivers down my spine were indicative of my own issues, that really, I was not ready to deal with anytime soon. What right did I have to judge Harry? So, I sent him a “don’t worry about it” message and everything just fell into place again.

I looked forward to my conversations with Harry. We talked about everything from my obsession with Bollywood’s Salman Khan, to how he went about murdering a goldfish as a 7 year old evil child (note: my instincts about him being a serial killer weren’t so wrong after all). Talking to Harry was different. I was never guarded with him like I was with others. It’s fair to say that he was a little scared of my constant threats to murder him which I did – you know, just for fun. He was also seemingly okay with me having a feisty bitch reputation, and not wanting to ruin it with – God forbid, coming across as ‘nice’. He suggested that I drop the act with him, but if he ever met my friends, he would tell them that I was a bitch.     

My friends on the other hand, were soon on to me. My dating life generally consisted of one date horror stories – and I loved it. It gave us plenty to laugh about. Needless to say, when I casually tried to mention that I’d had a decent date with a nice guy, it raised some eyebrows. The third degree grilling was amplified when they noticed that I awkwardly blushed when answering their questions – of course the girls were not intending to let this one go. It was good to know that my friends were not at all phased by the fact that he was White, or that he had children. The more pressing issue I hear you ask? His foreskin. Yes, foreskin.

Muslim men are circumcised, so this hangy little foreskin thing has been the subject of much amusement for Muslim women around the world for many years…. okay, or maybe just for us. I mean, how does the ‘head’ just ‘pop out’ of the foreskin?? Does it make a popping sound *pop*? There are plenty of questions to be asked! My personal issue with it has been more to do with hygiene – do you pull it back when you pee? How do you clean it? I’d imagine you wouldn’t take a baby bottle brush to it?      

Anyway, my third degree grilling led to obvious WhatsApp jokes from my friends that night, one of which was their ridiculous pitch to my mother as to why I should be allowed to marry a gora with foreskin and children. The message itself was cringe but hilarious, so as you do, I scribbled over the really cringe stuff (i.e. reference to his foreskin and children!) and sent Harry a screenshot of the torture I was facing. To my utter horror, he managed to read through the scribbles and learnt that we had been discussing his foreskin! I think that moment probably makes it in the top three most embarrassing moments of my life. He was gracious enough to laugh it off though, and make me feel like less of a moron than I clearly was.

We spent the Christmas break exchanging messages and photos of our families. Harry was visiting his parents with his children. This is when I learnt that I had no reason to feel sad for his parents; the ‘Rosy and Jim’ boat that I had imagined his poor and elderly parents to live on, was in fact, a super yacht. I told Harry that I had imagined it to be a Rosy and Jim boat, but didn’t quite go as far as admitting how theatrical my imagination had been.

We had planned to meet in the New Year. In exchange for me cooking him a meal, he was willing to teach me how to ride a bicycle and sit through a Bollywood movie with me. I wasn’t quite sure that this gora could handle the spice in my cooking, but I was willing to watch him suffer. In anticipation of our next meeting, I ordered him some gifts – a personalised photo frame with the names of his children, and to balance out the ‘nice’ gesture, a personalised hammer to remind him that I often threatened him with murder.  

Now, as often happens, shit hits the fan just when you start getting comfortable. I’d always known that Harry was carrying a lot of emotional baggage, particularly around the separation from his children. He was an amazing father, and in many ways his relationship with them reminded me of my own father – a man that would do absolutely anything for his children. Over the next few days it became clear that this wasn’t Ryanair 10kg emotional hand luggage, Harry was carrying Air India First Class 40kg emotional checked baggage – plus 8kg hand luggage!

You see, we were never meant to happen for more reasons than one. We were just two people chatting about work over LinkedIn (fuck you LinkedIn, fuck you!!) and perhaps, playing with fire. Neither of us were ‘looking’ but we found something special. So special that we couldn’t handle it in the end.

And just like that, it ended quicker than it had begun. His personalised gifts arrived a couple of days after our last conversation. I found the unopened packages a home under my bed. 2018 had started on a real shitty note. Just as well that I didn’t bother with a New Year’s Keto diet then I thought, as I reached for my packet of Munchies chocolate.

Now and then, when thinking of that gora, I’d tell myself to throw away the gifts that were sheltered under my bed. That way, I’d have no reason to think of him again. After all, I was a master of blocking out memories of people that were no longer in my life. The only reason I’d think of him was because of those stupid gifts, I convinced myself. Not because I cared.. But how could I throw away something with the names of someone’s children? Not just someone – Harry’s children.

Well.. either these gifts would end up with me in my old age nursing home, or maybe, as my intuition told me, our paths would cross again some day.. Maybe.

The Accidental Lawyer

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My White In Shining Armour (Part II)

My heart sinks as I look at my reflection in the mirror… “why the fuck do you look so shit?” I scold myself, as I wipe away the eyeliner that had escaped my eyes. I stick my face under the hand dryer in a lame attempt to warm up my bright red Rudolph nose. “Right, game face on bitch, you’ve got this.. if all else fails, just scare him”

If you missed Part I, catch up here.

I’d developed a bit of an obsession with sweet ‘karak’ tea in Qatar, and the smooth bastard located the Chapatti and Karak branch in Knightsbridge and suggested meeting there for tea.

In the days running up to our meeting, we continued chatting over LinkedIn. I quite liked that we hadn’t exchanged numbers yet. Weirdly, I was really looking forward to meeting this gora (White guy).

A few nights before we met, he sent me what he described as a “kind of a gay selfie” he’d taken after a drink.. Fuck right off Harry, that is so not you!! I thought, as I sat down to analyse every last pixel of this grayscale image that had landed in my Linkey inbox. Harry not only looked good, he looked extremely fucking hot. I’m talking Bradley Cooper type hotness – who by the way looks very much like our Bollywood hunk Hritek Roshan, don’t you think?! Yum! Anyway, where the hell was the posh boy with the grandad flattened hair?! The evidence in whole before me suggested that Harry was a nice guy – so naturally he ought to have a face like Shrek. My lawyer brain simply couldn’t handle the mind fuck and so I convinced myself that he’d look nothing like that in person. I mean really, what was this a Disney princess movie?!

I warned Harry before we met that I was directionally challenged, so I would try to leave early to allow myself sufficient time to get lost. He said that he was staying close to the station and if I wanted, I could meet him there and we could walk down together. Hmm… I immediately became suspicious and my imagination started running wild. Maybe all the charm was an act and he was in fact a serial killer!! How would I escape? Would my death stare be enough to scare him? Would that flying kick I was so convinced that I was capable of actually materialise?! I wasn’t sure a karak tea was worth dying over, so I said I’d meet him directly at the tea shop, just in case that flying kick of mine failed me.

On the morning of our meeting, it suddenly occurred to me – was this a date or was it two professionals simply meeting for a tea and a chat? The lines were slightly blurred so I decided to dress safe, and wear a black casual dress that didn’t shout ‘too much effort’. As if the same thoughts were going through his head, by 3pm I started receiving several messages – “so, is this a date then?” said the first. I laughed. Well, at least he was being honest and not playing it cool like I was. “I guess so?” I replied. “How am I allowed to greet you?” he enquired. I wondered why he asked, was it because I was Muslim and he was afraid I’d slap him if he went in for a kiss, hug or handshake? Or did he think my dad would be following me with an axe? I sent him a Youtube video of an Indian touching the feet of an elder person and said that was my preferred way of being greeted. He laughed and pointed out that he was my senior. Instead, he told me that he planned to go in for a single kiss to the cheek.. Why was he sounding nervous? I was convinced that it was because he looked like Shrek in real life. I didn’t mind though, Shrek had kind of grown on me.

It was a bitterly cold December night. I parked my car at the station and headed towards the train. I wasn’t at all nervous about meeting Harry, dates didn’t phase me. I was more worried about getting lost and being late. As I came out of the station, I turned on my Google Maps and as expected, started walking in the wrong direction for 7-8 minutes before I realised that the ETA to my destination had increased by several minutes. The cold was getting to me. I could feel that my nose was starting to resemble that of Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer. My eyes were watering, and I could feel that I was starting to look a real mess. I hoped he was running late so I could fix myself up before he arrived.

I eventually found the location and made my way in. I had barely caught my breath before the waitress pointed me towards a table with a big smile. How did she know who I was here to see? Of course she knew. The other guests were all Arabs. Harry stood out like a sore thumb. With a blurred vision I approached him as he stood up to greet me, a kiss on the cheek, just as he had planned. “Wow, you’re tall” are the only words that came out of my usually jabbering mouth. He awkwardly thanked me. My head was exploding with internal chatter: no really, how is he so tall? Why does he NOT look like Shrek? Are his lips thinner than mine?! Is that Black he is wearing? Fuck fuck fuck, why do I look like shit?! Is my nose still red? Yes, those lips are definitely thinner than mine. Wait.. did my frozen heart just skip a beat? His eyes… oh his fucking eyes..

I excused myself quicker than a man switching off the porno when his wife walks in. I headed straight for the ladies. I locked myself in and let out a laugh. I looked a real mess, had the damage been done? I started thinking of an action plan as I washed the germs off my hands that I had no doubt picked up on the train. I internally barked orders to myself: Right, eyes and nose. Fix those eyes and warm up your nose. Don’t take too long or he’ll think you’re taking a dump!  Once I had managed to release my head from under the hand dryer, I readjusted my poker face. As I made my way out, I was prepared. I would unleash the fiery Leo at the first sign of arrogance and have him running for the hills.

 As I walked back eyeing him up suspiciously, Harry looked at me, and said “look, I’m just going to admit, you’ve got me all nervous”. Oh. Well I’m glad he can’t hear my internal chatter. “Just the way I like it” I grinned, making myself comfortable.

“So what does your dad do?” was his opening question. I mean really, who asks that kind of a question on a first date… unless you’re a Brown aunty?! I answered with a straight face, trying not to laugh. He was clearly very nervous. He’d ask a question and cross his arms. Jaw tightly locked, his lips would compress. I watched in fascination as his paper thin lips vanished altogether. He displayed classic signs of defensiveness and anxiety… but why was this beautiful creature so anxious?

He had a Dunchenne smile, one that conveyed a sense of sincerity. His eyes were intense and this made me nervous. This feeling was almost alien to me. I was aware that I had begun fidgeting with my hair, but I hoped that my poker face was still in play.   

As our sweet karak tea arrived, he eased up a little. We talked about a lot of random things. He mentioned in passing that his retired parents had sold up and lived on a boat. I instinctively felt a little sad for them. I imagined an elderly couple struggling to pay their bills so felt they would sell their moderately sized house and downgrade to a ‘Rosy and Jim’ type boat. I hoped that they had decent showering facilities at least, as hygiene was important.

The topic moved on to alcohol. I told him that growing up I didn’t drink for religious reasons, but as an adult it was out of choice. I was a bit of rule-breaker, so would take sips of alcohol here and there. I soon realised that it was bitter and disgusting and I was quite okay not drinking. Harry tentatively suggested that we go for a drink, and if I wanted, I could take a sip of his drink. Walking into a bar or pub was no longer a problem for me. I’d been plenty of times, and quite happily sat down with a diet coke or red bull, so I agreed.

With eyes widened like a 5 year old in a candy shop, I walked through Knightsbridge eyeing up every shop window for its Christmas display. Harry on the other hand focused on finding a suitable pub or bar. I probably ought to have been a little more focused on this handsome creature, but heck, I loved Christmas and everything about it! Harry I’m afraid, would have to wait until I’d had my moment.

We soon arrived at a pub. Oh boy, it looked grimy. Standing outside, I started wondering if I still had my anti-bacterial cleaning wipes in my bag. As though he had read my mind, deciding the place was not suitable, Harry said “no, I wouldn’t do that to you”. God definitely created this man on a Sunday. Instead, we went for a long walk and he eventually walked me to the station where we hugged and parted ways..

As far as first dates go… I think that would pass as kind of okay… right?

Would I see him again? Would I break my maximum 3 dates rule? Or would this all go tits up? Stay tuned to find out what happened next..

The Accidental Lawyer

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My White In Shining Armour (Part I)

Ladies, before you raise your COVID-19 self-isolated unplucked eyebrows at me, hear me out okay. I’m no Linkey whore. I, like many others detest the unwanted attention received on LinkedIn, but sometimes, you just connect with a stranger that you thought you’d have nothing in common with..

<Rewind to October 2017>

My long hours in the office had taken over my life. The problem was that I absolutely loved what I did. I’d spent the preceding four years specialising in law relating to Modern Slavery. My clients, survivors of human trafficking, were like my family; I was fiercely protective of them and so justified every additional hour spent in the office. My dating life was non-existent, and my social life had begun to suffer.  

I earned myself a well-deserved solo break and was soon travelling to Qatar. Amidst the chaos, my phone buzzed. A LinkedIn connection request, nothing out of the ordinary. I had a quick peek at the requester’s profile – White male barrister, meh, another hoity toity barrister I thought. Fine, I accepted the request. He pinged through the usual polite “thanks for connecting” message, and I sent my usual yawn-induced “pleasure to connect” response.

His profile photo.. well, it was the sort you would expect from a posh barrister. Taken from afar, it seemed as though an Indian grandad had pat his head far too many times and flattened his hair. He was smartly dressed, with a half-assed smile and he’d probably used a Sepia filter to give his photo the old-school feel, you know, like a posh boy. Not that I was actively looking for a man, but he really wasn’t my type.

Having grown up in East London predominantly around Asian and Black people, culturally, for many years, I could never ‘fit in’ with the White folks. I didn’t drink, the clubbing scene at university was my worst nightmare, I followed a halal diet (yes, get that bloody pork away from me!), and if you spoke to me about the theatre I’d probably stab myself in the eye. Finding the cultural balance between the East and West took its sweet time, and it’s only in the last few years that I have felt that I truly am comfortable with both. I mean, I still don’t get the obsession with wine and cheese.. but I’ll let that one slide..

Now it’s not that White guys aren’t my type, I mean just look at Bradley Cooper. That man is sex on legs! Religious differences aside, I think the issue is that I’m too Asian for White guys. When I’m mad I swear in Punjabi, sometimes even in my sleep. Will a White guy be willing to learn every rude word in Punjabi, so he knows what I’m saying when I’m mad at him?  Will he really get the culture, and be okay with it? Will he tolerate my obsession with Bollywood movies? Does he really want to spend his weekends with me watching ‘90s Bollywood flicks whilst I repeat every damn dialogue because I’ve already watched the movie 264 times?! Yeah, I thought not.

Well, this is what happened next.

Scrolling through my LinkedIn feed, I saw a post from this guy, Harry. It was related to his area of work, ‘what would you do in X scenario’ – one of the options was to ‘call your dad’ – that is exactly what I would do, so I gave his post a little like and thought nothing more of it.

Not long after, I received message from Harry. A thank you for liking his post, followed by a very thoughtful message that showed he had taken the time to read my profile. He asked about my work, its challenges, and acknowledged how hard it must be. He was neither perverted, nor hoity toity. He was that weird thing that we don’t see enough of these days…. A gentleman. There was something weird about this creature, he just brightened up my day.

So when he mentioned that very same day that he would be travelling to London soon and asked whether I’d like to meet for a drink, I didn’t think “knob head” and ignore him. Instead, I told him that I didn’t really drink alcohol, but in any event, I was flying out to Qatar, and maybe we could meet for a coffee on my return. I wasn’t sure if I meant it, I was being polite, but if he remembered to message in a few weeks, I probably would.

A few days later, I had a message from Harry asking if I’d arrived safely. I spent the rest of my holiday in regular contact with him. Harry wasn’t exactly Mr Funny. I mean, I wasn’t sure if he could even read a joke on the back of a penguin bar with conviction, but he was really charming. The doughnut also didn’t realise that I received LinkedIn alerts every time he clicked on my profile – and that was frequent!  But I didn’t mind. Posh boy was clearly technologically challenged, and that in itself was a little endearing…

To be continued..

The Accidental Lawyer

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Mr Vogue

“Isn’t it too soon to be going to a dark alley… on our first date?” My mischievous eyes met his, expecting a witty response. Looking blank, he answered: “no, the coffee shop is just through here”.  Well, this looks to be a ‘fun’ date…  

Following my usual dating pattern, in the autumn of 2015, I came out of hibernation, ready to date. Fed up of the usual dating apps, the idea of going to a professional Muslim matchmaker was daunting, but I was talked into it during one of my many “well, we better get serious now” chats with my girlfriends. The matchmaker was highly rated, and she personally vetted all the men. The vetting process was unclear, but I guess not getting dick pics after a brief conversation would be sufficient; my phone was fast running out of storage space.

We were greeted by our professional matchmaker in her office – an Indian garment shop in East London. Fighting the pungent smell of clothes fresh from the Indian subcontinent, we made our way through the shop floor to her ‘private consultation room’ where we received our warm welcome: a lecture for being 30 and unmarried. Soon we were left to our own devices to look through numerous lever arch files of ‘potentials’ – think Tinder swiping exercise, albeit on paper. We giggled our way through the profiles, quickly forgetting why we were here. Instead, being the mature adults that we were, we spent our entire time taking photos of the silly profiles that made us laugh – from men in suits with Krusty the Clown bow ties, to those posing as though they had accidently sat on a cactus plant. On our way out, we thanked ‘aunty’ for her fantastic service and promised to contact the handful of potentials we had considered suitable – or not.

I had thought that was the end of my adventures with the matchmaking aunty, however a week later she called. She managed to guilt trip me into agreeing to meet an excellent match. 38, unmarried, professional and good looking – well, what harm could it really do? Shortly thereafter, I received a WhatsApp message from my match. His display picture appeared to be his face photoshopped onto the front cover of the Vogue magazine; the narcissism made me want to throw up a little in my mouth, but in my moment of madness, I decided to give him the benefit of doubt.

Having exchanged a handful of dull messages, the big day finally arrived. Communication over WhatsApp can be challenging at the best of times, so I planned on keeping an open mind. Our walk through the dark alley however confirmed my suspicions that despite his claims of being ‘really funny’ over WhatsApp messages, he was seriously lacking in that department.

As I stopped to give change to a homeless man, Mr Vogue felt the need to express his view that the homeless were lazy and played the system. Trying to keep a lid on my building rage, I ‘joked’ that he was full of empathy and compassion. We eventually found light at the end of the alley, but I certainly couldn’t see one at the end of the tunnel – and this was just the beginning.

I watched with dismay as we walked past the Costa and the Café Nero towards an unknown grimy café. I’m all for supporting small businesses, but I’d prefer to have coffee in a place that didn’t look like it hadn’t been cleaned since Pakistan lost the cricket world cup in 1999.  I could feel my heels sticking to the floor as I walked to our filthy table; I was on edge – I don’t like germs. No, really, I don’t.

I sat down awkwardly on the metal chair, folding my coat onto my lap, with my big bag placed on top for good measure. Mr Vogue didn’t seem to notice the filth, the hand sanitiser I was gripping onto for dear life, or my very obvious distress.

What I learnt about Mr Vogue during my 3 hour ordeal:

  • He woke up at 5am daily and went to the gym to workout – this was mentioned at regular intervals. He particularly focused on his legs, which by the way were as thin as my pinky finger.
  • Several times during our one-sided conversation, he expressed his view that he was quite good looking and received a lot of female attention. I’d say he was average on a good day, but that didn’t stop him from telling me that he often had to tell women to “calm down” around him.
  • He had ‘rejected’ 46 girls, but couldn’t explain why.
  • He was shorter than his claimed 5’10 height. I stood much taller at 5’9 (with heels), but I’d still have been taller at 5’6 without my heels. Perhaps his narcissist personality took up an extra 6 inches, and another 2 inches for his micropenis would take him to his 5’10 wholesome height.      
  • He maintained that he was funny – maybe the ‘leg day workout’ was the joke?
  • He sounded as though he had swallowed a bucket of helium. He had the ability to make my ears bleed.

What Mr Vogue learnt about me, based on the 3 questions he asked me in the 3 hours we spent together:

  • Yes, I had siblings
  • Yes, I enjoyed my job
  • Yes, I liked chocolate

After 3 hours of intense torture, Mr Vogue suggested we go for dessert. For his safety, I politely declined. Thoughts of murdering him in the dark alley were already starting to emerge.. I’d probably lose my practicing certificate and not be able to watch the latest Bollywood movie in prison; no, he really wasn’t worth it.

As we stood to part ways, I looked down at him and uttered the most romantic words I could think of: “for someone that spends a lot of time in the gym, your legs are tiny…”  

Needless to say, no. 47 received her rejection WhatsApp message the following morning.  It was of course, gratefully received.

The Accidental Lawyer

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