Plan Z Rocks!

It didn’t quite go according to plan.

We three skidded into the ever elegant estate of Lainston House, breathless and wet and with worked up appetites. I lurched over the counter, resembling a sack of potatoes to be honest, and asked the lady if there were any tables free. Even as I spoke I could not help imagining in my mind my great big rhino-sized nostrils taking in the sweet scent of rose tea, gobbling down little sponge cakes so fast as to leave the waiters and waitresses completely gobsmacked, grinning with supreme satisfaction while the last of the crumbs on my lips and dimple catch the light, appearing I should think like stowaway stars.

The lady said ‘no’.  Half-term and a Saturday spelled full house. There was no room in the inn.

We were a bit gutted to say the least.

However, where a Plan A gets totally demolished a Plan Z grows in its place! We returned home and made our own afternoon tea special, a delightful medley of Azerbaijani tea served in fetching fine china with an eye-pleasing thick slice of walnut cake. And that was not to be all. The darkening dusk unfurled with it curiosity and wonder as we touched on topics from around the world, time fading as the present infused with stories of the past and of other distant lands. Ottoman Empires, Viking boats, Moroccan souks and magical amulets of bushy-tashed Maharajahs.

As I was saying, Plan Z…

Words & Pictures: ©Mazzy Khatun | UK 2018   

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When The Thermal Socks Came Out!

An unforgiving cold day, the chill glinting like steel tongues of knives and dark black ravens cawing and circling above trees stripped of leaves, a day when the flesh desired to sit by warm fires and drink steaming tea sweetened with last year’s honey, we three friends nevertheless stepped forth from the thresholds of our safe dens and met in town. In no time soon, our giggles and laughter mingled and our eyes twinkled like precious stones unearthed from faraway galaxies, and I discovered, like my good friend Mr. Camus had once said, ‘in the depths of winter, I found there was in me, an invincible summer.’ ♥

Words & Pictures: © Mazzy Khatun | UK 2018

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Monochrome Series: Friends In High Places

I have friends in high places

Like the bear in the photo 

Climber he is of dense trunks and riotous branches

Trees are blotters of the sky

In Darkest Peru

He pads by night quietly over leaf litter

Seeking odd jars of marmalade

And sometimes his sensitive snout draws him to other places

Like England, Pret Cafe, our table

The acne-faced teenagers in the puffer jackets roll their eyes,

And they snigger, whisper

But he rolls his sleeves up nevertheless

And climbs and climbs and climbs some more

My bear doesn’t care

He knows that he is rising towards us

Like dawn and waves and the beginning of time

Did I tell you that I had friends in high places? 

Words & Pictures: © Mazzy Khatun | UK 2018

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Monochrome Series: Rowdy Friends (incl. Paddington Bear)

Inspired by a recent exploration of the black-and-white photographic archives of George Lucas and Rian Johnson on the making of their respective Star Wars films, I took the plunge and began my own first ever serious experimentation with this distinct mode of seeing and cataloging the world. So accustomed to colour have I always been, as if it were the sole essence and definer of perception I was, to confess, a tad prickled by the prospect of omitting it completely from the frame. If light was the mother of optics then surely colour was the crowning blossom, that which the eye was designed to seek out and luxuriate in its infinite varieties.

I was wrong.

In my maiden foray into a world extracted of colour I learnt that far from this preconceived notion that I was about to eviscerate the very lifeblood from visual phenomena, I was instead met by a gasp of discovery. I had arrived in a world that spoke through contrast and lines and textures, where the self-administered hibernation of the visible spectrum of colour awoke in its place a new kind of interpretative fluency in the deeper dialects of nostalgia and reflection.

There are no rainbows in black-and-white because there is too much of its arc and wire, the raw and resolving and celebratory poetics of a creative Universe.

Words & Pictures: © Mazzy Khatun | UK  2018    

 

 

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Bookish Magic

She read the book attentively, and so at peace was her heart that it surely must have stilled the unseen forces that made the wooden bench what it was, breathing a sweet smiling silence all around, making listeners out of ivy and holly and the dew orbs that to the red berry was its wide ocean. 

Words and Pictures by © Mazzy Khatun | 2017 

 

Bookish Magic

Bookish Magic

On An Otherworldly Day

Sands from the Saharan Desert, a world far far away, journeyed on the backs of forceful winds, eventually spraying itself over the skies of our British Isles, and in its wake softening our sun to a quiet yet resolute timbre of red.

Below, our feet still sought adventure in the grounds of Lainston House.

Pictures and Words by © Mazzy Khatun | 2017

 

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And last, but not least…

And last, but in no way least, if I have shown even a morsel of courage to accept the writer that I am today then it is you – only you – who is the reason for my sunburst renewal. Thank you, thank you, thank you my dear friend. Alive again and always yours, M. 

And last, but not least...

Write Away: Lata Ji’s Eid Greeting Arrived Today!

Believe me, Good Magic does want to happen. It only needs the right sort of heart, a pure heart, for a match to be struck, a cosmic spark to ignite, and in exceptional cases a warm and enduring friendship vivaciously simmers and prances out of that mixture as if it were the beginning of everything. Not hardship, nor burden, the storybook of our lives is revised accordingly as it becomes an ounce weightier, basking in the glory of a new chapter, personified as so in the face of the friend whose world is waiting to be known by us.

Last year, I went to board a train from Birmingham to Winchester, a particularly long slog made all the more dreary because it turned up on the platform nearly an hour late in which time I was being mercilessly whipped about by icy rain and howling winds, my cheeks and ears transmogrifying their colour a shade closer to a recently-picked radish!

It was a fated journey. I met a stranger on a train, however it was destined not to end there, the story resisted being anything but a fleeting and forgetful wisp. Lata ji was an elderly lady of Asian descent who was sat all by herself by the rain-drenched window, her frail hands nervously crossed and clamped down on her handbag, and her tied-up bun flashing streaks of grey and silver that reminded me of my own Amma. Before I had even opened my mouth to ask her permission to take the seat next to her I already knew deep in my gut that by the time I stepped back onto the familiar Winchester platform neither of us would remain quite the same as when we had first boarded the train.

In this complicated age where the masses are daily letting themselves be hypnotised by the flickering and flicking of images on screens that fit neatly in the palm of their hands, channelling all attention to voraciously scooping up as much information as possible on the lives of other people and their movements, all I wanted to do was to sit and read. It was not to be so. Every force imaginable held me back from finding what I wanted. I struggled to reach for my novel in my bag that was unashamedly squashed by plastic containers of food and presents given to me by my affectionate relatives, and after wriggling and poking my fingers as far deep as I could possibly go, I gave up. I was making an enormous racket, fidgeting in my seat, and carelessly letting my elbow trespass over my seat so that it brushed against the lady next to me. How embarrassing was that?!

And that was when the match was struck! One knock of my elbow tapping on the elbow of the lady next to me, and there it was, a reason sprung in my heart to speak, to reach out to her, I had to, and in hindsight, I am tempted to say that perhaps I did not want to find my book after all. She was too much like my own Amma and I could not let her sit on a tediously dull and long train journey without some company.

She had no smarty pants phone. Neither did I. Already we were on the same platform! While the entire carriage of people were busily glued to their devices, only once breaking off from its spell to return to the outside world when the ticket master floated by, Lataji and I began our banter with that classic and universal British icebreaker, the subject of weather! A miserable grey, wet day, that gave the impression that train windows could weep buckets of tears too, the both of us fiercely condemned its gloomy antics and agreed that warmer and sunnier climes could not come any sooner! We told each other of our families, and since I had my camera I swelled up with excitement at the prospect of bringing my descriptions and anecdotes alive with the pictures I had taken. I frantically dug out my camera to show her all my relatives from Birmingham. I do not think she saw, or was conscious of, how I discreetly watched her eyes light up with the fire of new knowledge as I rolled through the digital reel of my camera. I do believe it was the first time that I had the pleasure of observing directly what wonderment my visual narrative world had on a reader. It was infinitely more rewarding than a million Facebook ‘Likes’. Exuberantly terrific and uplifting, I was inside a magical circumstance that ought to have been honoured, but I did not know how, so I walked deeper into the present, living and loving every moment of the conversation that I shared with this adorable old lady.

Our voices weaved through many subjects that ranged from our hobbies, jobs, famous books and their authors, the maritime history of the south of England, ancient tapestries and the romantic moors of Yorkshire. You see, she came from the north, I from the south, and yet our harmonious conversation was as if we had resumed it from where we left off many years ago. Beautiful evidence that geographic distance was a powerful illusion, we were talking away as if we came from a mapless world altogether.

I like remembering how we laughed together on that journey, we did not have to think about how to do that, they came naturally and freely, at times our chuckles made a big show of just how authentic they were as I became helpless and shed a tear or two of joy, disintegrating my eyeliner with triumph! We had been friends for a long time, in spirit, and it took this one journey on a train to finally satisfy the conventional sensory diet of our everyday eyes.

As I was nearing to Winchester we both knew well what we would ask of each other. I looked at her tiny phone, she looked at mine, and we decidedly grabbed for a pen and paper and exchanged addresses and numbers. I promised that I would write her letters and explained to her that I had a great many pen-pals around the world. At first she was surprised that someone of my more youthful generation still dabbled in epistolary modes of communication. I replied that I was born in the wrong time, and she laughed and patted me on the arm, although I suspect very much that she always knew that. She had decided, somewhere along in the journey, that I was too much of a lovable eccentric, the girl who defiantly chose to walk apart from the crowd, and that is why it was not that difficult for her to see why I still stocked letter-writing stationary on my desk and kept a diligent eye out for the post.

After a farewell tied in warm hugs and good wishes, as authentic as Amma’s, I jumped off the train and onto Winchester platform, waving fondly at Lata ji as her train pulled out of the station and made its way to Southampton. She was visiting a friend. A few days later I gave myself the chance to show Lataji that I was a woman of her word. I kept my promise and wrote her a letter, and at Christmas time she sent one back to me. You can read that story and sample her heartfelt letter in my WordPress blog ‘On The Matter Of A Red Letter Day Because Two Strangers On A Train Became Friends!

Though I am busy these days engaged in preparatory research work for my postgraduate degree for September, as well as, making the most of the summer holidays by trotting off on mini adventures with my mates, I returned home today and before I dumped my bags on the dining room chair I momentarily forgot how to breathe. I had spotted the tell-tale, bright red envelope glowing like a supergiant star from the far end of the table. I tussled with myself about what to do first. Should I freshen up or read the letter? I opted for a compromise. I drank a cup of water and then I sat down and carefully peeled open the rectangular piece of papery ruby.

I shed tear after tear after tear of joy. My dearest Lata ji had sent me an Eid card. Its cover, in delicate and economical strokes, depicted an orange sun peering from between the fronds of sloping palm trees, below two shores flanked still waters while a girl braved a bridge, a yoke across her shoulder, and on each a wide basket of goods hung down. It magnificently summarised the essence of Arundhati’s spirit and the burden of the unknown that she must face on this journey. The beautiful letter that accompanied the card did little to deviate from the theme. Lata ji asks me of the varied challenges of my own life and she makes it clear that she is of the faith that I have the power to overcome them. To this day Lata ji has no access to my WordPress world and therefore she has no clue of what I have been up to of late. In light of that fact, I am awestruck, I am a miniature thunder of applause, I am breathlessly ecstatic and I am more things to which I cannot frame the words to because the computer will go positively bonkers if I keep doing that, but, I am truly satiated to the roof with invincible proof that the truest of friendships are a population of skilled mind readers.

I have yet to write to Lata ji to let her know that I had applied and have been accepted to study a postgraduate degree in Writing for Children, and that when September rolls in the storybook of my life is about to get happily weightier. Should I tell her or should I let her read my mind?

I think I will buy more First Class stamps tomorrow… ♥♥♥

Write Away: Lata Ji’s Eid Greeting Arrived Today!

“… I returned home today and before I dumped my bags on the dining room chair I momentarily forgot how to breathe. I had spotted the tell-tale, bright red envelope glowing like a supergiant star from the far end of the table…”

Write Away: Lata Ji’s Eid Greeting Arrived Today!

“… It magnificently summarised the essence of Arundhati’s spirit and the burden of the unknown that she must face on this journey…”

Write Away: Lata Ji’s Eid Greeting Arrived Today!

“… I am truly satiated to the roof with invincible proof that the truest of friendships are a population of skilled mind readers…

Write Away: Lata Ji’s Eid Greeting Arrived Today!

“… I shed tear after tear after tear of joy...”

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | My Home | Winchester | UK 2016

Bank Holiday Mega Fun: Find A Famous Five!

It is absolutely imperative that if You wish to make this a legendary space odyssey then ensure that You administer the most flawless dosage of Your Jedi mind tricks to secure the co-operation of five of the most competent navigators in Your catchment area! A solid bit of stellar teamwork in the dough mix of Your story will help to consolidate its epic timbre. If You are unconvinced by the arguments of my case then do cast Your minds back and remember that our dear Han would not have gone far without the co-operation of his incomprehensible grunting carpet, Mr Wookie, who was a proper dab hand at chucking the right clunky spanners to his partner, and was also an impromptu tactile counsellor since the soft wall of his brown locks were always a formidable cushion for those feeling a little out of their depth! Now that is an ace partnership in action!

Last night I headed out to town with five of my closest mates whose beautiful and lively visages belie their true awesomeness, a hidden repository of talents belonging to that genre of science fiction – except this is not fiction! A Famous Five with more fierce bang in their engines than all the London fireworks put together and that have ever been set off to usher in the new year, each one of these ladies is a prestigious space cadet proudly in alliance with the Rebel Fleet! And we, buzzing with the delicious suspense of a new adventure, chose to meet and confer round a table inside one of our primary rebel bases here in Winchester which coincidentally, of course, is a public building that likes to moonlight itself as a venue known for its authentic Italian cuisine! Giggle, giggle!

If You have a knack for observant analysis, Your eyes will hone in on with immediate effect on Elsie’s hand supporting her other arm. To the untrained mind it appears so ordinary that You wish You could just pick up the laptop and dunk it in the fish bowl – sorry Banku! – however I might be able to desist You from going bonkers at this stage! Do not think that rest is what these fighters find relief in after a boring Monday morning lecture at the local University. There is serious work to be done, and that is why I have them often practising their overarm slings, tossing and pitching orange spheres whilst simultaneously steering an original Rebel Alliance Starfighter vessel through Winchester’s notorious one-way system. No, I am not making any of this up! Crikey, Your dullard scepticism should be classed as an illegal substance! Gigggggle!!!

Solidarity among Your mates is essential to achieving the ultimate Victory among the stars! Ouch, blimin’ betel nuts – oh, wait a mo, hellllllo, what do we have here…?

May the Force be with You!
Rebel Leader 15, Mazzy ♥♥♥

Bank Holiday Mega Fun: Find Five Of The Finest Compactable Space Cadets!

“… Solidarity among Your mates is essential to achieving the ultimate Victory among the stars…”

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016

 

Bear Feet Need Not Always Be Bare!

In children’s books words are the deft-defying ambassadors of adventure, beauty, intrigue, delicious frightfulness and hope, the latter is as fantastically dogged and hard-nosed as a rhino who thinks he can beat anyone in the ring because he has just rummaged through a fresh bag of Haribos that has served to induce a huge energy surge in his legs! Whoopsee! Giggle, giggle!

So, with tea and cake in mind, but decidedly deferred till a little later in the day, Katie and I, who are both completely buffoon about books, skidded into Winchester’s only dedicated shop designed to cater for the appetites of those who cannot live without words, and we began to inhale, gulp and wash down the papery treasures neatly laid out in piles on various tables whose order somewhat defied logic. I prefer the exile of systematic pathways in such places, for books were meant to discover You as much as You are meant to discover them, an odd but comforting sentiment that is most effectively reinforced when there is an element of haphazardness in the layout of the fortress – a maze of sorts –  where You never quite know which literary mass will cross Your path. A bit like Life itself, since we never know who is walking round the corner, and  who on our path shall become ‘a star-cross Lover’, except I tend to take editorial liberties at such junctions, prodding Destiny to pen me something far more nicer than that of the tragic ending of Shakespeare’s masterpiece!

Well, today, of all days, a character born out of words swirled his fabulous attire of wonders in my path! Katie and I, in the middle of the bookshop, felt at once as if we were swept off our feet and placed in the very core of the capital itself! Whatever was it that made us believe that we had transported ourselves to one of the most bustling train stations of all of England?

Because and behold and be bewitched…

We had suddenly spotted a certain extremely cuddlesome, furry immigrant!

He told us that he came from Darkest Peru and that his Aunty Lucy had, with breaking heart, sent him to our world so that he may find a loving family and a new home.

A worrying marmalade habit he admitted to, this chap was in possession of the real artefact which he kept safely under his floppy hat in case of those nasty, disastrous moments of Code 5 emergencies!

And, incidentally, it was being found on a London train station that had inspired his rather exceedingly strange but affectionately poised name.

I speak of Paddington, of course!

I do have every right in the universe to whack You on the head with my Poppins umbrella should You have not correctly guessed the figure in question from the first clue alone! Ahem, ahem!

Katie and I jumped with strawberry-flavoured joy to see our dear old Paddy, a modest little bear, lost and unwanted in one of the largest cities in the world, and yet who eventually comes to realise that there was more to him than he had expected. A life of horrid rejection and loneliness is turned on its head thanks to a discovery more splendid than finding gold or diamonds or the lost world of Atlantis! A family to match the colour and bohemianism and outgoing spirit as his own, when the Browns open their doors and arms to the orphan bear, he promptly returns to being his happy self that at times he himself notices that it becomes incredibly tricky to tell the difference between love, marmalade and the sunrise! It was all the same to him because true happiness does that to a bear!

Katie, it is a Sign! We’ve found a rare Paddy Bear, look at those waterproof red wellies he’s got on!” The words blabbed out of my mouth at a speed of knots and if You remember we were in a bookshop, temples of respectable silence, that my rattling of the vocal chords stirred a few heads out of their trances to poke stares at me. I must say none of it was hostile, there were smiles of agreement and a few fond smirks that acknowledged that it was perfectly acceptable for two grown women to be thoroughly passionate about a children’s book character! That is Winchester for You! Giggle, giggle!

May I remind You that Paddy Bear in the film DOES NOT wear any sturdy footwear throughout his time on screen which was a little let down for those of us who had grown up with the books, though it must be said, his pudgy paws all exposed allowed me to admire them in a way I had never done so in the past. He does have the most adorable set of feet, dear Reader, and no matter the grossness of the terrains he must clamber and climb I can never imagine those little digits of his – no not numbers – to ever be smote with stinky feet! It is a bare – sorry – bear thing to be endowed with such stench-busting traits!

Mazzy darling, take the photograph!” Katie was on all stations go! An auspicious acquisition, a bear with no bare feet, equipped with hardy footwear and ready to take on the barbaric temperaments of the British weather system, my friend urged me not to hesitate a second more and I gladly obliged her legitimate whim and took the shot!

The moral of this short tale, as short as the hero in it and the heroine who wrote it, is that time NEVER stands still and nor does Destiny, with a dinky self-sprinkle of Faith in oneself, You never know of all the places You will go. If You do not believe me then ask Yourself, why are YOU reading my words?

Words have the power to hold Your hands even if the weather to be walked under is wet and windy, and by reading this story – that happens to be about a story – tonight You have travelled a little closer to my Home, courtesy of a pair of Wellington boots blessed by the colours that You have already REaD of in the breast of the winter robin and in the strokes of Lata ji’s pen…  ♥♥♥

LINK [A big giver but never did he ask from anyone for a pair of Wellington boots!] https://www.facebook.com/PaddingtonBear/photos/a.157585777634955.33066.125079994218867/1002772773116247/?type=3&theater   

 

Bear Feet Need Not Always Be Bare!

“… Words have the power to hold Your hands even if the weather to be walked under is wet and windy, and by reading this story about a story tonight You have travelled a little closer to my Home, courtesy of a pair of Wellington boots…”

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester| UK 2015