The London Affair by Niha Shah

Niha Shah shares her travel experience to London…

You know how when you’ve just met someone (rather interesting), your face tone suddenly begins turning chandelier-bright, and your mood is always daisy- fresh? You sleep smiling for no good reason, and you wake up smiling even wider? It’s like your happiness has been switched on to auto-pilot mode and even a normal cafe feels as happening as Disneyland?

Yup! That was me, all day, every day for exactly 6 days and 7 nights. Why? Well that’s because I had just been on the most exciting, fulfilling and romantic first date of my life. I had just been on my first date, with London.

As the dreams of the next holiday continue to lure us, memories of my 2019 winter escape to London surfaced before my eyes.

Just like every ingredient in a perfectly blended Pina Colada surprises you with a burst of flavours in the very first sip, London too had just the right mix of feathers in its cap, to wow anybody who came looking for WOW. With friends (who I’d now pass as certified tour guides) showing me around the city, as each day gave into night, I found myself being drawn in, waiting to discover more pages of this journal called London.

This happened to be my first solo trip anywhere actually, giving me the chance to soak in, all the sweet nothings that the lanes of London were whispering to me in my quiet, long walks around. I remember so vividly, the time I made my way to The Shard on a chilly, winter night. My magenta-painted toenails shying away amidst the winter boots staring at my rather brave/ silly choice of bare heels. Roads glistening with hazy dewdrops, and streets decked with Christmas lights in their full magnificence. I felt the never-felt-before joy, of being a solo tourist, because I realized, in the times that I was all by myself, I was discovering a land in a way, that connects you to what it truly stands for:

Its people and their stories.

There aren’t enough words to admire that man preparing fresh Nutella- strawberry crepes at his mini roadside stall, offering warmth in return for just 4 pounds. Or enough praise to honour the kindness of 12-violinists singing their heart out on a crowded Oxford Street, to make an ordinary Tuesday of every Londoner passing by, a little less ordinary! The smile on the face of that man proposing to his lady love at the iconic Trafalgar Square. Or the excitement of that photographer who finally got his perfect night shot of the London Eye. The romance of Central London and its countryside beauties, of Hyde Park and its yellow leaves. The chemistry between the morning fog and evening rains, the secret love story of bonfires and hot chocolate.

Every night, as I would rummage through my purse, I realized that, besides my hotel room key, a crumpled London Tube Map, and a couple, cute Big Ben fridge magnets, I had collected and brought back so many STORIES. Stories that I had become a part of, just by being there. Silently, happily living that moment with them. Moments, where the vibe did the talking, and the heart did the dancing. Sharing a bond with complete strangers, that brewed on a love for all mankind around, embracing diversity in thoughts and journeys. I’d say, it is these very moments that we live for. The kind that touch your soul and reach your heart. The kind that last for seconds but remain forever.

LONDON. A 6-letter named city, and countless reasons to fall in love! Believe me when I say that, in this 43AD- found city, there is much more to feel, than any travel agent will ever be able to tell you. My advice? Ask no one. Plan nothing. Rip off that piece of paper that you built off your Google results on typing

“Things to do in London”. Boots on & Wi-Fi off; take to the streets and just start walking. Listen, while London talks to you; taking you by surprise every step of the way! All you need is a little curiosity, a map from your lovely hotel receptionist and a heart that expects THE UNEXPECTED.

Niha Shah is a brand manager at Y.K. Almoayyed & Sons. Post her Masters from Melbourne, research is now her favorite chariot, on her quest to learn more each day. She values integrity in life, brevity in conversations and novelty in experiences.