Archive for March, 2015

March 29th 2015

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Smoking

He takes a long drag on his cigarette, tilting his head sideways to avoid the flame getting in the way of his smartphone screen.

He seems passing time scrolling through some sort of a social networking app. He exhales the smoke from the corner of his mouth, and takes his foot out of the black plastic clog and rests its sole against the beige marble pillar by the entrance to an estate agents. He doesn’t even look at the advertised houses and apartments with their seven and eight digit price tags.

He straightens the oven cloth that hangs from his shoulder, deposits the cigarette in his lips, and passes the now freed hand over the scalp of his bold head. He seems to be running his fingers through the phantom hair.

Passers-by hardly notice the chef with the stained white tunic, possibly later ending up at his restaurant and eating his cooking.

He rubs the red amber beneath the ash against the side of a dustbin, before dropping it inside.

A hint of burnt plastic reaches me, as he walks back to work.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

March 22nd 2015

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

“Summer reading”

He looked Mediterranean, dark brown hair pushed back, a well-ironed shirt, the creased collar of which made me wonder whether he’d done the ironing himself.
As soon as he got on the train, he settled into a corner by the door, ignoring the empty seats nearby. He seemed keen to read something on his mobile phone, which he produced from the side-pocket of his black overcoat.
Two stops into my six-station route, the sea-blue eyes of Her stood out from the waiting crowd on the platform.
She was about to board from the next door on our carriage, but catching sight of He, she almost seamlessly changed direction and climbed into the isle where He stood.
The text of an article, or a blog, for I couldn’t tell from my seat, kept His focus firmly below her eyeline.
She seemed to like his being oblivious to her jet black hair, her intelligent demeanour and her beauty that was attracting some hardly masked staring from a couple of the male passengers.
With a single stop left before my destination, he raised his eyes. They beheld one another in a gentle, inquisitive and I-like-what-I-am-seeing-and-feeling gaze.
“Where are you from?” was all he could muster in the situation.
“Russia,” she replied in an inviting tone.
“Oh, I would love to visit. Have always had a thing for all things Russian since reading War and Peace over the summer break from college.”
She smiled.
“What’s your name?”
“Lara!”
Peace and love,
Ja’far

March 15th 2015

Sunday, March 15th, 2015
“Maria”
An espresso, a simple wooden chair and a slightly wonky table – I can see myself as an extra in a cafe scene from a Jean Gabin film in pre-Nouvelle Vague Paris.
With my simple tablet and keyboard I have my complete setup for a few hours of writing at my local coffee shop.
Behind me is a young man, dirty blond hair, green eyes and ripped jeans, feverishly speed-typing into his Mac. “If he’s not texting or chatting, Jack Kerouac would be proud!”
The table to my left shakes with the giggles and laughter of a couple of spirited, but tired-looking, middle-aged ladies talking about someone, perhaps an adored family member. This appears to be a break from whatever it is that’s exhausting them.
The two baristas are negotiating the steam for heating the milk, the till’s beeps and  and the bashing sound of the ground coffee holder against the edge of the  bin, before a refill.
The constant tapping of the man with ripped jeans seems to go through a momentary pause – “a writer’s block?,” I think to myself.
But it turns out to be a possible inspiration that causes the incomplete sentence on the screen. A third barista emerges from the floor below, clutching a long cylinder of tightly packed paper cups, which she places on top of the coffee machine.
“Thank you!” her colleague says.
As she retraces her steps towards the stairs, her dark brown eyes hold his gaze for a nanosecond, and then she is reclaimed by the lower floor.
The tapping resumes, but this is clearly an effort to regain lost momentum.
Another hour passes, and it is time for me to head home.
As I gather my belongings, I notice the laptop of the one with green eyes left unattended, though a gentleman nearby appears to be tasked with looking after it.
I decide it would be great to go for a long walk, before calling it a day. A quick call to the rest room is, therefore, in order.
As I wash my hands, I hear the office door next to the bathroom open. There is the sound of light footsteps moving about.
“Aah, there you are!” a young male’s voice says.
“Hello, can I help you?” a woman replies, sounding formal, but not confrontational.
“I am sorry, I don’t mean to bother you. I saw you upstairs, and wondered what happened to you!”
“It’s OK; I work in the office down here,” her voice carries reassuring tones.
As he’s about to mumble something potentially about meeting her again, another female voice interrupts.
“Are you OK, Maria?”
“Yes, it’s fine,” Maria of the office replies.
I delay using the hand drier and, indeed, leaving the bathroom – I don’t wish to miss or cut short the conversation on the other side of the door.
“Well, I better go. It’s really nice to meet you!” he says, his thoughts and feelings clearly  fighting his vocal chords, and willing him to say what they really want.
“Nice to meet you too!” Maria responds, still formal, but with a distant echo of disappointment.
His shuffling footsteps reflect his own recognition of a missed opportunity to meet someone possibly special.
“He seemed to like you!” the other female voice ventures.
Maria doesn’t reply; the sound of her light footsteps continues.
Peace and love,
Ja’far
“Maria”
An espresso, a simple wooden chair and a slightly wonky table – I can see myself as an extra in a cafe scene from a Jean Gabin film in pre-Nouvelle Vague Paris.
With my simple tablet and keyboard I have my complete setup for a few hours of writing at my local coffee shop.
Behind me is a young man, dirty blond hair, green eyes and ripped jeans, feverishly speed-typing into his Mac. “If he’s not texting or chatting, Jack Kerouac would be proud!”
The table to my left shakes with the giggles and laughter of a couple of spirited, but tired-looking, middle-aged ladies talking about someone, perhaps an adored family member. This appears to be a break from whatever it is that’s exhausting them.
The two baristas are negotiating the steam for heating the milk, the till’s beeps and the bashing sound of the ground coffee holder against the edge of the  bin, before a refill.
The constant tapping of the man with ripped jeans seems to go through a momentary pause – “a writer’s block?,” I think to myself.
But it turns out to be a possible inspiration that causes the incomplete sentence on the screen. A third barista emerges from the floor below, clutching a long cylinder of tightly packed paper cups, which she places on top of the coffee machine.
“Thank you!” her colleague says.
As she retraces her steps towards the stairs, her dark brown eyes hold his gaze for a nanosecond, and then she is reclaimed by the lower floor.
The tapping resumes, but this is clearly an effort to regain lost momentum.
Another hour passes, and it is time for me to head home.
As I gather my belongings, I notice the laptop of the one with green eyes left unattended, though a gentleman nearby appears to be tasked with looking after it.
I decide it would be great to go for a long walk, before calling it a day. A quick call to the rest room is, therefore, in order.
As I wash my hands, I hear the office door next to the bathroom open. There is the sound of light footsteps moving about.
“Aah, there you are!” a young male’s voice says.
“Hello, can I help you?” a woman replies, sounding formal, but not confrontational.
“I am sorry, I don’t mean to bother you. I saw you upstairs, and wondered what happened to you!”
“It’s OK; I work in the office down here,” her voice carries reassuring tones.
As he’s about to mumble something potentially about meeting her again, another female voice interrupts.
“Are you OK, Maria?”
“Yes, it’s fine,” Maria of the office replies.
I delay using the hand drier and, indeed, leaving the bathroom – I don’t wish to miss or cut short the conversation on the other side of the door.
“Well, I better go. It’s really nice to meet you!” he says, his thoughts and feelings clearly fighting his vocal chords, which are begging him to say what they really want.
“Nice to meet you too!” Maria responds, still formal, but with a distant echo of disappointment.
His shuffling footsteps reflect his own recognition of a missed opportunity to meet someone possibly special.
“He seemed to like you!” the other female voice ventures.
Maria doesn’t reply; the sound of her light footsteps continues.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

March 8th 2015

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Dinosaur

The lobby of this cinema is free the smells and odours that are produced by old re-heated nachos, popcorn and the hotdog machine that feels more of a decoration rather than a heating apparatus for food suitable for human consumption.
No, this is an arthouse institute that prides itself on its very spartan offerings of coffee and discretely packaged nuts and chocolate bars.
The space soon fills with a mainly Italian-speaking crowd. They are attending a screening  of a feature from their homeland.
I have taken refuge here from the cold outside, to read a page turner of a book I’d bought many moons ago. It was only this morning that I finally had the opportunity to start reading it.
My meeting with a friend is in three hours.
In the comfy leather arm chair next to mine sits an elegant young woman, dressed head to toe in black, with her hair tied back in a ponytail. Slick is how I would describe her style.
“Are you here for the screening?” I venture, feeling awkward seated in such close proximity to someone and not saying hello.
“Yes, but my friend is late and the film is staring in a few minutes!”
The friend never quite turns up, and the slick one disappears behind the auditorium doors on her own.
The only group that hangs around by the doors consists of a couple of women, a little boy and a girl aged five, a charismatic-looking young man in his thirties and a photographer, with a professional SLR and a large flash unit hanging from his shoulder. His small bearded head, and expensive looking spectacles, balanced over a large overweight torso remind me of a certain Italian fashion designer from the 1980s.
The kids are the most entertaining of the group, as their seemingly infinite reservoir of energy sees them climbing stairs, running along the marble corridor, saying hello again and again to other members of the party and generally adding an infectious jovial note to the ambiance.
About an hour or so into the film, a gentleman turns up and starts talking with the charismatic young man. “I will introduce you, and you will leave it to you to talk about the film, and then I will try to fit in a couple of questions from the audience.”
He turns out to be the film’s director, and a discussion ensues about the Italian film industry.
Meanwhile, the little boy has stopped running around and he is clearly upset about something.
All the adults join a search that transpires to be for a little toy dinosaur. I am tempted to help out as well, so sad the five-year old is.
Soon, someone points to a marble pillar behind which the pre-historic creature is undoubtedly taking some rest from his playmate.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

March 1st 2015

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

“Pharmacy”

“I know, the one with Richard Gere,” the thirty-something woman said, as she showed a fleeting interest in the nail varnish selection.

I was at the pharmacy for some paracetamol, but the crowded isle nearest to me had me following the woman clad in dark gym leggings, trainers and a grey wool coat with the threads of the waist belt hanging by the side. Her shoulder-length blond hair tied in the back like a ponytail completed that blend of elegance and utility that only certain women can pull off.
“I think I watched that when it first came out… may even have been at this xyz Odeon!” she let out a subdued giggle, perhaps catching herself admitting to liking that genre of films, or perhaps a teenage crush.
We had reached the end of the isle, and I was about to turn into the hay fever, cold and flu section, when the spark in her voice suddenly went flat. She was reading a message that she’d just received.
A cloud seemed to linger over her whole being, as a mascara-coloured tear travelled down from her lower left eyelid to her chin.
“What, sorry… I have to go. I will call you back,” she whispered into the phone.
Trying to compose herself, “need to pay for these things!”
And then, by the hair-dye section and the smiling women with silk-like flowing hair in charcoal black, chestnut brown and sun-washed blond, she let her tears flow, allowing herself to whimper quietly.
A middle-aged woman tried to comfort her.
“Oh, it’s nothing. I just had some good news,” she said through the tears.
Peace and love,
Ja’far