Yesterday we enjoyed a beautiful, chilly, Autumn, aromatic afternoon in Brick Lane. Apart from feasting on a delicious curry there – it would be rude not to, really – we soaked in the buzz and the vibe and the air of east London. Just not as much as some people did.
Brick Lane has a fascinating history and today has become known as the curry capital of the United Kingdom. Home to indoor markets, food stalls, curry houses and night clubs, it is also popular for fashion, fine art and graffiti. You cannot walk down Brick Lane without being accosted by restaurateurs touting their “very good deal” meals. I have not eaten in a restaurant there yet, because I just love the vibe of grabbing a takeaway dish, and finding a spot somewhere outside to sit and eat and watch the world go by. We did just that yesterday.
We waved off the formal establishments, and went into the Sunday Up Market. After checking out every exotic spicy food possibility you can imagine, we settled on Moroccan food. Pretty much all the meals – complete with rice or couscous and trimming – cost five quid a pop, you get a good-sized helping and it’s always yummy! We took our brimming foil dishes and plastic forks and went and sat on the kerb outside to eat our meal! It was really funny pulling our feet towards us as cars came past along the narrow road – otherwise we would seriously have had our toes flattened.
We became aware of a large, navy blue Audi gliding slowly into a parking spot on the other side of the road from us. What made us take notice was the sound of metal on metal as he glided into the car in front of him. With clearly no panic, he unhitched his vehicle from the other, reversed and then glided forward to position his car just right. He wanted to park next to the kerb, and seemingly had no objection to graunching his hubcab against the pavement – another crunching sound of metal on concrete. With no sign that he needed to extricate his car from the pavement, he and his passenger emerged from the car and set off – in slow motion – to the market. He was enormously wide-eyed and nattily dreadlocked, she was just wide-eyed. I have no doubt they had just spent the past hour parked on a middle island somewhere, Cheech and Chong style, their car filled with the sweet aroma of happy smoke. They glided off, wondrous and in awe, dude, of the market that lay ahead and oblivious of the damage he caused as he crash-landed his car.
When we finished eating, we walked through the other sections of the market. In the busy-ness of Sunday, we looked at hats, paintings, light shades, jewellery, clothing, coats, shoes, T-shirts, lingerie, vintage clothing, designer clothing and anything else you can think of. There were displays and displays of designer watches – large plastic-faced, neon-coloured, cartoon-charactered watches – and I think, on some of them, you could even tell the time.
We soon came across a huge seating area with wooden benches and tables, where we could have sat to eat our meal! I guess we would have missed out on the doobie dude, so I’m glad we sat street level.
Mr Curly Tache walked past us in the market – he had a curly, waxed moustache, his hair was neatly combed and side parted, he wore a checked shirt and purple-striped tie, pink corduroy pants (trousers) and a blue jacket. This sartorial experiment was not alone. Brick Lane is filled with alternative, fabulous, colourful, fascinating, different and beautifully-dressed people. And ordinary folk like us too. This is no place for the fashion police.
In Brick Lane, you can clash your colours, scrape your hubcaps, haggle for your curry and buy second-hand wellington boots. Anything goes and no-one’s watching. Well, there are always people watching, but no-one really cares. It's blogger heaven.
Sunshine signing off for today!