Author Archive for: ‘Karim’


Socks (One)

My first impressions of London when I arrived there at age seven, were magical. Until the day my mother took me to buy socks. You see, until then, buying socks had always been fun. Growing up in Nairobi with my grandparents, my earliest memories included visiting the ‘Banyani’ Hindu shopkeepers, like Mr. Patel’s, on Nagara Road. You didn’t go there …

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Malaika (Two)

Heathrow airport, my parents. This is London. I am home. That drive through the town of London was too good! I am getting used to white people now. This is just like in the James Bond film I saw at Twentieth Cinema in Nairobi. Red double decker buses and police bobbies with those funny helmets. The school term here has …

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BEA Stamp

Jonathan (Three)

“Because I don’t like the taste of tea in a bone china cup!” “What is the boy talking about Dr. Baird? Bone china cups..?” “The little laddie is delirious, Miss Miller – he’s just sauntering in and out of his fainting spell. I just spoke to the mother on the phone.” “Is it serious?” “Oooh nooo nooo– not in the …

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Badgers (Four)


“… I vow to thee my country all earthly things aa-above Entire and whole and perr-fect, the service of my love…” Another tedious Assembly. I try to watch the other children and see what they are doing. Sometimes I think of lunch. I had semolina pudding the other day. It tastes a bit like Indian khir. But the custard and jam …

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Conkers (Five)

“Now, let us discuss this matter of the theft of the Sanskrit words… you spoke with the school headmistress, Miss Sunderland, about the matter?” “Yes,” I said, “and she said to me, ‘I am sorry about the sandal business.’” “Good.” “But Bapuji,” I started, puzzled, “just one question. I mean to say, if people take words, it is a theft …

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Samsara (Six)

She said: “Oh, so it’s a writers’ convention, then?” “That is what Miss Sunderland said when you told her about my journey to these Himalayas?” Bapuji asked. “Yes, Bapuji,” I replied. “Well she is correct. Look here, these are the yogis that wrote the Upanishads. They are all the writers. They live in those mountain caves. So Miss Sunderland was …

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Beheadhead (Seven)

Miss Peters, Sebastian, Sebastian’s mother and I were all sitting in Miss Sunderland’s office during a recess break. The last time I was in Miss Sunderland’s office was when I had politely interrupted her elevensies to teach her about stealing words from Sanskrit, respectfully addressing her as ‘twit.’ “We can all learn from our mistakes,” Sebastian’s mother offered. “My dear …

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The Gulab Archipelago

Downstairs was England. Upstairs was India. In English, I said “uncle Salim.” In Gujarati, I said “Salim Uncle.” Downstairs, it was shepherd’s pie and treacle tart with runny yellow custard. Upstairs, it was spicy samosas and sweet gulab jamun in a glistening sticky syrup. Epilogue The seven Badgers Stories occurred when I was about seven years old. It was now …

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