Approximately one week ago, having said farewell to my dear Tango Aurorites in Oxfordshire and my darling mother, which was emotionally quite difficult, my old beat up white Mercedes and I finally started on the road to Argentina, and where better to start this journey than my old home town, the big bad city of London.
London and I’ve had a love/hate relationship over the years. Although I was born in London (in Clapham hospital to be precise), my parents immigrated to India when I was a year old. My father, the son of a Ugandan businessman, originally came to London in the 1970s, prior to the mass exodus of Ugandan Asians, and he became a fairly successful Insurance broker. While on a holiday to India, he fell head over heals for my stunningly beautiful mother, whom he insisted on marrying before he returned home. A few years later my parents decided to move to India to the beautiful cosy town of Bangalore, as it was known then. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on one’s perspective, their relationship was not to last. When I was aged 9, following a particularly dramatic night when my father’s infidelity came to light , my parents separated. Soon after, ‘he’ (as he was referred to thereafter), suddenly disappeared from my life without any notice and we later discovered that he returned to Uganda to start a life with his new wife. Although he and I had a number of telephone conversations over the years , which I suspect usually occurred while he was under the influence of alcohol, I never laid eyes on him again as he finally died in 1995 of Cancer.
Following my parents’ separation , it was decided that I should return to England to live with my father’s eldest sister, Aunty Hamida (affectionately known as ‘Aunty Bai’) and her husband. The couple had 3 lovely daughters who very kindly took me in. So at the tender age of 10, off I flew to London on my own, in my brand new bespoke fitted yellow jacket, which was allegedly designed to cater for a cool climate, by Indian standards . Having read and heard about London from relatives and books, I imagined London to be a cold place where it snowed and where the streets were lined with gold, which I took very literally. So imagine my surprise to find that it wasn’t freezing at all in the month of July, and the streets weren’t actually lined with gold at all, but in some cases were actually quite grubby.
As I grew up and went to school in London, in time I came to see this marvelous city in all its glory and its ugliness. As an adult, having worked in a variety of industries in various boroughs, I can appreciate why it draws people in from all over the world and I still continue to enjoy its culture and eclectic vibrance, the amazing food, the music, the arts, the club scene, the green parks, the architecture, and more importantly the economic opportunities which can be very appealing. However, a few years ago, I found it was all too much for me and I decided that I needed to live in a calmer , less densely populated, greener environment . However, I still have many fond memories of this brilliant huge metropolis, which all came flooding back as I drove through my home town.
As the 2nd milonga (social dance) on my Tango journey ,’La Perla Milonga’ (hosted by Tracey Tyack-King and Leonarda Acosta of Tango Fandango), was scheduled to take place on the Upper Richmond Road in Putney, I decided to visit my lovely cousin Shelina , who lives closeby. Shelina was the eldest of the three cousins I mentioned earlier with whom I lived on my arrival to London. Shelina still keeps in touch with me and this gave us the chance to spend some time together and have a catchup. It also meant that I would have the opportunity to hang out in Richmond Park, the emerald jewel in the crown of London, which is a little haven which allows you to escape from the hustle and bustle of London life. I often came here for long walks, or drove through for example if I was on my way to University or while I worked in Richmond.
As Saturday night approached, I got myself mentally prepared for dancing at a milonga where for the 1st time in my Tango dancing history I wouldn’t know anyone one in the crowd. So off I went with my mixed bunch of blue and white balloons with the Parkinsons UK logo, which Shels very kindly helped me blow up. On arriving at The Dance Lab, I walked up some stairs to discover a ballroom which was magically lit in a shade of red, which made it feel like a fairy tale. I was greeted by the lovely Tracey and Leonardo, two well respected Tango teachers. Despite the fact that we had never met before, they made me feel at ease and very generously did everything they could to help support me with fund raising for Parkinson’s UK.
Although , my leg injury from the previous week was still lingering around , it felt a lot better and I managed to get quite a few dances in before I finally left the ballroom sometime after midnight, feeling a sense of exhilaration and relief that I had managed to survive my 1st London milonga without having suffered any injuries or caused any to the lovely ladies I danced with. As an added bonus, my dear old friend and teacher, Mr Leroy Tango Cat , also made a guest appearance , which was a lovely surprise. What a coincidence ??
Time to rest the leg and get ready for Milonga no. 3
Next stop: ‘The Winter Ball’ (Islington)
If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog, please remember that the purpose of this journey is to raise funds for people with Parkinson’s. So please don’t forget to donate. Every little helps and its easy as all you need to do, is click on the link below. Debit/ Credit cards of all countries/major currencies are accepted
Many thanks for your ongoing support.