“With the tyrant vanquished, the Sun may shine brighter. But, be warned, we are still prone to heat stroke.”
It’s another normal rainy day in summer, London. Tammy and I met up at Spitalfields market for Dr Martens but ended up with two pairs of shoes from Office. One axiom in life is: do not get what you want or you’d have no excuse for another date. On our way to Brick Lane Street Coffee we came across Kahaila, and decided to try this one instead. The flat white here is more bitter than at Brick Lane Coffee (which I might safely say offers the best flat white in East London). Different from the bohemian style of Brick Lane Coffee, Kahaila looks like a gallery space with brick walls, spotlights, wooden tables and chairs, and a lovely skylight.
Every table is occupied by a couple of Apple owners. Tammy seems to be the only one using non-Apple laptop. She has a Toshiba one, but she looks like a Japanese girl anyway. I often imagine that if, for some mysterious reason, all the Apple products around the world exploded at the same time, there would be no one left in Europe and North America. Cities like New York and London would be evacuated. I often imagine this scene, and think it might not be a bad idea to emigrate some people, including myself, to iHeaven or iHell since certain areas on Earth are overpopulated.
On weekdays, however, Kahaila is not a very crowed place. The light is tender, the music is soft (soft as Bon Iver), and the workers here won’t unexpectedly burst into laughter. Having seen six people getting into the toilet and fumbling for the light, I remind myself by writing this down: the light is outside the toilet, left-hand side, for I may well come back some time.
By Summer Fu
It’s quarter past five and Summer and I, whilst charging towards the epicentre of London, have fallen upon Fork Deli. We’ve been to the British Library. It was something of a role reversal as I had never been there and a Taiwanese person was my tour guide. There were certain access points for which I did not have the necessary clearance codes. At the entrance you just walk through and men in aviator sunglasses check your bags. After saying ‘move along, sir,’ a secretarial looking woman checks your identification: passport, drivers license, both are required. Then comes the retina scan, for which you have to look briefly at an advert for the London Olympics, and a fingerprint test which checks your library record throughout London’s libraries. Any fines and you’re out. They then ask that you remove any telecommunications devices and writing instruments, any revolutionary literature or movies in foreign languages, ask you to sign a declaration pledging allegiance to the crown and upload your location on Facebook… and you’re in.
I fell at the literature hurdle. I waited outside and read Walter Benjamin while Summer attempted to get out some books. Unfortunately she failed one of the tests that is required for loaning books: she was unable to recite the numbers on the barcode for her library card while the staff threw screaming cats at her.
So we left and headed South, meandering through the pleasant streets that are commonplace around this My Fair Lady part of London. We ended up in here. I learnt some Chinese swear words and how to say ‘I live in London.’
Allow me to indulge in some pompous language and say, oh how this café is a delight. We have a delightful raisin danish, and my coffee is fine, just fine. Fine meaning good, like ‘the weather is fine’; not fine like OK. Summer’s hot chocolate is ‘too sweet’; she’s a very difficult person to please. A quarter of the room is dedicated to shelves of stuff – Teapigs tea, bowls of olives, jams and peanut butter. I have managed to pluck a chilli and ginger recipe from the side which will no doubt serve as a bookmark someday, rather than mutating into a tasty dish.
The Flaming Lips is on the stereo. The room is never empty but never busy. The guy behind the bar is never overwhelmed and is quite the convivial gent. People sit in twos and talk about things. Try as I might I cannot hear what they are talking about, I guess it’s private. One might write a novel in cafés such as this, and if I lived closer and had the time and intelligence to write one then I would stop by here for that.