We sauntered down Cowley Road, full of Rice Box noodles and spicy spare ribs, to enjoy the milder, lighter evening and see who we’d bump into.
I hadn’t realised there were so many Indians in Oxford. At any rate, most of them were out last night, euphorically celebrating their World Cup win. From groups of cheering teenagers with flags painted on their faces, to the cruising honking cars with windows down and whistling joyfulness spilling out. Not to mention the solitary cyclist bearing his huge Indian flag with pride.
The mosque was bathed in warm sunshine, that kind of deep light that seems to have been slow-cooking silently behind the clouds all day only to reveal the fullness of its flavour right at the last minute, to be savoured by those with the time to appreciate it. Groups of young people were hanging around outside eXpress Pizza next to the closed-down Halal Food Centre, a man pinned up a sign in the new window of yet another Polski Skelp, and a Kurdish teenager had time to chat.
I love that Cowley Road is a place where people just are. I breathe in Asia and Europe, the past and the present, and catch a sense of now and of reality. Everywhere seems to hold a memory or tell a story and it’s the place where I look around with a heart that breaks yet feels at home.
A pang of nostalgia told me that I’ll miss all this. I was, however, cheered by the discovery that that the Nepalese over the road is the proud winner of the Golden Poppadom Award. We returned home happy.