Saturday morning I took myself off to the meditation class at my local Buddhist centre
( £8 donation, includes Biscuits and a selection of teas) – two hours meditation can be exhausting
I haven’t been to the centre for a month or two, I realise I have missed it a lot. The meditation for definite, but just as much the post class chin-wag, I don’t know which is the best bit.
What I love about the Buddhist centre is the people, maybe because they are Notting Hill types, or maybe because they are interested in Buddhism, but whatever, they are a fascinating eclectic bunch.
Some slightly round the bend, some totally nuts, some surprisingly normal, I like them, though refuse to classify in which category I best fit.
We meditate in the basement, a crowd of twenty plus in a smallish room, it’s quite chilly so blankets are supplied to wrap oneself in. I bring my own, on my travels I’ve secured a decent supply of wraps, scarves and blankets, today I am wrapped in a blanket of camel and sheep’s wool, purchased for a couple of hundred rupees in Rajasthan. It looks rather fine and I am just a tad smug in it, I do need to work on this attachment shit, terribly non-Buddhist, but I have to say it is rather pleasant feeling a little smug wrapped in my special blanket, I am the best dressed man in the room. High Five.
After our allotted two hours the class ends, people drift off, a small group usually go for a coffee at a local cafe today we head for “The Cow”, that well known West London watering-hole is to be our haunt.
The Cow is a great little bar with good pub food, it’s also trendy, but the coffee is excellent, there’s an Italian fellow in charge who does a darned good cup of the black stuff, God bless him. As we sat and quaffed our Italian caffeine ( real Italian men don’t do decaf) one of the classmates said that lots of Celebs frequented The Cow, on queue a tall dishevelled and distinctly weary fellow hiding behind dark glasses entered and sat at the bar, he looked familiar, after a few moments it dawned on me it was Rhys Ifans, aka Spike from Notting Hill. He looked as though he could well have been on a very late night, or just hung-over, I wouldn’t like to make a judgement call on which, but it all adds to the Notting Hill scene.
Once we got over the minor celeb appearance the conversations between class-goers develop. I begin talking to a Canadian woman at the class, we are sitting very close, it’s a little cramped. She is in her early thirties, blonde, not really my cup of tea, but she has just lipsticked up, one of those shiny wet look lipsticks, her lips are rather pouty, I am staring at them as we talk, I try to stop myself. She begins to talk about relationships, she tells me she has split up with her Ex. but still lives with them. In my mind I am thinking bloody marvellous, this is going to be fun, not, and how quickly can I change the subject, I cannot be bothered with some dull conversation about how terrible her life is and that her Ex. is horrible. But then she says those words, “Yes, me and my ex are really good friends, in fact She is my best friend now”. Bang, I am now fascinated, a dull miserable conversation about an Ex is spiced up by a Lesbo story-line, count me in……………….
As conversations turn we always seem to do a sort of a speed-dating thing, where people move positions and you end up talking to somebody else, I move on to a Scottish girl who was living in Cambridge but visiting a class-regular and decided to tag along.
As one does I ask the question what do you do…………the reply, I am a Primate Behaviourist.
Well, that’s a conversation opener if there ever was one. Call me old fashioned, but if I meet someone in Notting Hill who works in TV, or Politics, or is a writer, in this neck of the woods quite frankly it’s all a bit dull. But tell me you work with Primates and you’ve just come back from the Jungles of Borneo where you studied Orang-utans and you have my undivided attention, doubly so if you are female and very attractive, My new friend tells me about her adventures in Borneo, I hear about Orang-utans and cheek jowls, apparently the size of the cheeks is directly linked to the dominance of the male. The bigger the more dominant, I find myself thinking of the human world, if it were the same and one’s cheeks were the mark of a man. But no, we would just end up having our cheeks surgically enhanced, that would be rather amusing, doubtless some men would end up with the most enormous prosthetic jowls, no it wouldn’t work, evolution knows best.
My friend tells me about her other travels, about being robbed at gunpoint in Papua New Guinea whilst in a market in the capital, and finally about leaving Borneo, she loved the work, she learnt Malay and was fluent, but ultimately she said that she realised she would never be accepted by the locals, wherever she went, she was always a foreigner, in a way she became like her work, a figure of curiosity and study, the watcher became the watched. She pined for the UK and came back.
My third main conversation was with a South-African guy who’s a regular at the class. A fine chap, friendly and engaging, he told me about his month long surfing holiday in South Africa this Christmas, there was some bit about Sharks in the water, but to be honest I remember little about it, you see he was interrupted by another Notting Hill darling who said that my blanket was fantastic and really suited me, I cannot remember anything about Mr.South-Africas near death experience, no, all I remember was how nonchalantly I dropped in where I had bought my blanket, a street market on the edge of the Thar Desert a couple of weeks ago, oh sometimes I really like being me.