London is Calling and I Am Unable to Answer





Today, I am supposed to be in London. 


I should have been landed at Heathrow in the morning, frazzled and giddy. I would have been riding the tube and starting the day with a full English breakfast and black pudding, inhaling London and exhaling the mundane island life. I’d have marvelled and gushed on all the beautifully spoken English words around me and hoping the waiter would call me ‘luv’. Then, I’d have dropped my luggage on the airbnb flat in Hampstead or Soho or Notting Hill. I should have been on my literary pilgrimage, on the land where English was born, where all of my favourite writers come from. 


I have everything mapped out. My London would have been museums (Tate! British Museum! V&A!), West Ends (Hamilton! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!), The British Library, parks, pubs, and bookshops. My uber-chic London gal pal, S, has promised to take me to visit her favourite bookshops – Daunt, Words on Water (floating bookstore, good Lord!) and Libreria (no phone allowed). I am supposed to eat at Ottolenghi and St. John (sucking all the morsels of life out of its legendary bone marrow and parsley salad). I should have been on a whiskey tour, intoxicated enough to do a re-enactment of my Jane Eyre fantasy, perhaps bumping onto some Mr. Rochester-esque gentleman (sans loony wife) on the green hills of Inverness. There were so many hopeful plans and wistful whiskeys. Alas, it is not meant to be. 


This pandemic has killed the dream I dreamed. I doubt that London will happen anytime soon. I have Egypt, Lebanon and Uzbekistan on the travel bucket list but I will probably have to burn that list too. At this very moment, travel seems fat-fetched and unthinkable. 


Gone were my helicon days of low-fare tickets and long weekend jet-setting. I kept thinking on how I took flying for granted. Going to Bangkok just to get wet for Songkran or flying to Tehran on a flight that cost less than a dinner at a three-starred Michelin restaurant is the thing of the past. I also kept thinking of how privileged I was and how glad I am that I said ‘yes’ to any travel opportunities that came my way. 


There is a possibility that I wouldn’t be able to afford travelling in the next few years. When the airlines open their routes, the ticket price will probably be exorbitant. They wouldn’t be able to fill all the seats due to physical distancing. Then, there will be the nauseating immigration process, from filling up forms to 14 days quarantine (let’s just look at Eiffel Tower from our airbnb for two weeks, shall we?). Not until a vaccine is found and everyone is vaccinated or the virus disappeared, can we go back to how it was and roam the globe. But, it will be a different world.


I doubt that a world populated by bikini-clad and six-packed influencers who lived off influencing people to “take only memories, leave only footprints” will remains. Ibn Battuta must be spinning on his grave, witnessing how his morsel of medieval exploration is being misused as captions for posers in front of Giza Pyramid who claims that “travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”. 


For the longest time, travelling is an inseparable part of who I am. I was Eve-who-travels. I’ve always been curious about the world. Having lived on the same island almost my entire life, travel is the only chance I have of tasting a different life. There’s almost nothing that makes me happier than waking up in a foreign place, discovering other custom or food or smell. I love the feeling of being a kid in a candy store, of being awed, of being magically overwhelmed from simply being alive. Plus, to be honest, it gives me and I suspect everyone else, a cool cred. 


I am still trying to make peace with the fact that I will just be Eve. The only travelling that I’ll be doing is the armchair kind. To make up for it, I read voraciously. I’ve finished 22 books since the beginning of this year, finally tackling the unread piles of books at home. I’ve been to fictional and real destinations, from Ho Chi Minh (Andrew X. Pham’s Catfish and Mandala) to Earthsea (Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Farthest Shore). I’ve also been watching a lot of shows, too much stand-up comedy and Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix. 


On a bitter sweet turn of events, Somebody Feed Phil’s latest season featured London. Phil went as far as to dine with Yotam Ottolenghi at Rovi, eat fish and chips, and went on a food galore at Borough Hall Market. I almost cried when romantic stills of London pops up. I was this close to be there. I know London will always be there and someday, hopefully not long from now, I will discover its beauties and experience its notorious weather.


Until then, I will be here. Living a travel-less life, learning that to be still doesn’t mean that inside I am not still travelling. 



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Hello! I’m Eve Tedja

I have been a professional writer for four years.


During that time, I have worked as a permanent contributor for Let’s eat! Magazine, Hello Bali, epicure, and published my articles in several other magazines like Venture, Panorama, Bravacasa, and Bali & Beyond.


Words, sentences, stories... these are my passion. I love to take new challenges in writing for various format and media. I create contents for websites, blogs, and communication materials. I’ve also worked as a copywriter, translator, coffee book editor, social media coordinator, media consultant, and even writing for a specialty coffee packaging.


Interior design, travel, environment, culinary, culture, history, and social issues are some of the themes that I have worked with in the past. I love getting involves with individuals, companies, organizations, and communities with stories to tell.


I am available for assignment worldwide. Reach me at eve(dot)tedja(at)gmail(dot)com.

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