If you follow us on social media, you will know we recently returned from a couple weeks away in sunny South Africa. For those of you who don’t know, I born and raised in South Africa and it’s where I spent the better part of my life. While, over the last four and a half years, I have grown to love (and, like any proper Londoner, occasionally hate) the bustling city of London and its (often) grey and gloomy skies, South Africa will always be home for me and nothing comes close to the warmth and familiarity of family and old friends, the easy going lifestyle and sense of community that South Africa offers. The mindblowingly spectacular selection of halal food on offer and the rather favourable Sterling/Rand exchange rate might also contribute to the reason why I frequent South Africa every chance I get.
This trip was a little different from the usual visit home as my little sister got married, and so it was a trip filled with chaotic last minute and contingency planning, far too much good food and the wonderful festivity of wedding celebrations. Having not attended a wedding since my own almost five years ago, I was especially excited. That was obviously before I realised how sleep deprived I would be on my return to London and the office!
While I usually try to maintain somewhat healthy eating habits for the most part, a trip home – as any true Asian will attest – is filled with stuffing your face. From home-cooked favourites and deep fried snacks for tea time to some of the best Halal junk food the world has to offer, I can always be sure to return from a trip to South Africa at least a few kilos heavier. This trip proved no different and as my time there coincided with a series of family birthdays (my own included), it also provided the opportunity to consume copious quantities of cake.
As anyone in the know will confirm, no trip to Pretoria is complete without a sandwich from a local institution – Mohideens! Worth every calorie and all the subsequent burpees I will no doubt have to do to make up for it.
The first week of my trip was spent prepping for the wedding and all the many functions that go hand in hand with the actual day, trying to find a sufficiently awe inspiring dress and doing all the last minute errands that come with Big Fat Asian weddings. It was the far less hectic and exhausting part of my trip before all the actual wedding madness kicked in. I managed to squeeze in some quality time with my favourite people and get a little (actual) Facetime with my brand new nephew.
Our time in South Africa also happened to be the prettiest time of the year with gorgeous Jacaranda trees blanketing areas of Pretoria in a purple haze. (Note to self: A few weeks of glorious summer in South Africa followed by chilly, dark and incredibly short days in London, is not recommended for the future).
All in all, a somewhat chaotic trip – every visit home seems to fly by but add to that the madness of a Big Fat Asian wedding and it all feels somewhat blurry.
I might be a bit biased but I think, despite all its problems, the vibrancy, charismatic charm and raw beauty of South Africa is hard to beat.
Maybe I have been away too long but I find myself nostalgic for all things truly South African that just can’t be found anywhere else in the world. If you’ve been to South Africa, leave us a comment letting us know if you agree. And if you’re considering a visit, feel free to hit us up for some insider tips.
For more snippets of our travels and other bits behind the scenes of Muslim By Design, check out our Instagram feed.