WELL-TRAV­ELLED COU­PLE FIND COM­FORT IN OLD MON­TREAL

Pair grew up in Pak­istan, but work trans­fer brought them from Switzer­land to Canada

Montreal Gazette - - HOME FRONT - HELGA LOVERSEED

Fizza Hameed grew up in La­hore, Pak­istan, as did her hus­band Ali Ma­lik, and when she learned he was be­ing trans­ferred to Mon­treal — they were liv­ing in Geneva at the time — she had no idea what lay ahead.

She freely ad­mits she knew “noth­ing at all about Mon­treal” and thought it was prob­a­bly a “typ­i­cal North Amer­i­can city” — not nearly as in­ter­est­ing as a city in Europe, an area of the world that she loves.

Mov­ing here in 2016 came as a rev­e­la­tion.

Like so many peo­ple who come to Mon­treal from other parts of the world, Hameed loves that the city is “a per­fect bal­ance be­tween a Euro­pean city and a North Amer­i­can one,” with the crea­ture com­forts of the New World (such as big­ger apart­ments) and the charm and life­style of the Old World.

Hameed, 30, had done a fair amount of trav­el­ling be­fore com­ing here.

As a stu­dent, she lived in Wales (she holds a de­gree in mar­ket­ing from Cardiff Uni­ver­sity) and both she and Ma­lik, 31, have va­ca­tioned in ex­otic places, pop­ping back to Pak­istan now and again to visit their fam­i­lies.

Ma­lik worked for the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IATA) in Geneva and when the op­por­tu­nity for a pro­mo­tion to its head of­fice arose, the cou­ple jumped at the chance to live in a new coun­try.

Af­ter stay­ing for a cou­ple of months in a fur­nished prop­erty, which they found on Airbnb, they moved into their cur­rent abode — a two-bed­room, two-bath­room, open-plan apart­ment on the 12th floor of a rental block in Old Mon­treal.

Q You said the fur­nished apart­ment was just an in­terim ar­range­ment?

A Yes. We were wait­ing for our stuff to ar­rive from Geneva and be­cause we didn’t know the city, we needed time to look around for a place to live.

Q Did it take you very long to find this place?

A About three months. We had cer­tain cri­te­ria. Ali wanted to be within walk­ing dis­tance of his of­fice. We wanted some­where with plenty of light and also a place that had two bed­rooms and two bath­rooms.

Q Why two bath­rooms?

A We of­ten have vis­its from fam­ily and friends and try­ing to make do with one bath­room isn’t very prac­ti­cal. Our home in Geneva was smaller than this one and at one point, we had six vis­i­tors crammed into our apart­ment, sleep­ing all over the place and shar­ing the one and only bath­room. It was crazy!

Q So this apart­ment solved that prob­lem?

A Ex­actly!

Q Did you have all this fur­ni­ture in your apart­ment in Geneva?

A Yes, but our things are from Geneva and also from Pak­istan. I nicked a few pieces from my par­ents’ home.

Q I love your yel­low arm­chairs. Where did they come from?

A We bought them at Ikea in Geneva.

Q And the side ta­ble by the win­dow?

A That’s from Pak­istan. The top is mar­ble and the legs are made of brass.

Q I like the way you’ve used your din­ing ta­ble as a di­vider be­tween the liv­ing room and the kitchen.

A We were lucky. It fit­ted the space ex­actly.

Q Such as?

A This wooden bowl from South Africa and the dec­o­ra­tive leather book, which is re­ally a box made to look like a book.

(These or­na­ments sit on top of a steamer trunk, which serves as a cof­fee ta­ble, in the liv­ing room. The trunk is po­si­tioned in front of a sec­tional sofa and two mus­tard-coloured, retro-style arm­chairs.)

Q I see you’ve got a lot of paint­ings. Have you been col­lect­ing art for very long ?

A It’s a mu­tual in­ter­est that Ali and I have but we re­ally didn’t start col­lect­ing art in a se­ri­ous way un­til af­ter we were mar­ried.

Q What’s the story be­hind the street scene in the guest bed­room?

A It’s an oil paint­ing by a Pak­istani artist called M. Ilyas. It de­picts the bazaar in La­hore, show­ing how it looked in the past, in my grand­par­ents’ time, when there were don­key carts and so on.

Q What on Earth are those things un­der­neath it? They look sus­pi­ciously like tree trunks.

A That’s ex­actly what they are. I sud­denly got a no­tion that I wanted some tree trunks to use as a dec­o­ra­tion and as side ta­bles, so I asked my fa­ther if he could find me some. He did and he shipped them out to us in a con­tainer!

Q Be­ing on the 12th floor, you’ve got quite the view, but there seems to be a lot of con­struc­tion go­ing on down below.

A When we first moved here, there was a park­ing lot next door but now there’s an­other tall build­ing go­ing up. The floors are grad­u­ally ris­ing and even­tu­ally we’ll lose our view com­pletely.

Q How long is that go­ing to take?

A Prob­a­bly an­other year or so, but at that point we’ll have to move. A lot of peo­ple have moved al­ready.

PHO­TOS: ALLEN McIN­NIS

Yel­low arm­chairs bought at Ikea in Geneva help to brighten the com­fort­able liv­ing room in Fizza Hameed and Ali Ma­lik’s open plan apart­ment in Old Mon­treal.

Fizza Hameed loves that Mon­treal is “a per­fect bal­ance be­tween a Euro­pean city and a North Amer­i­can one.”

The din­ing ta­ble sep­a­rates the open kitchen from the liv­ing room area.

A spare bed­room, right, and a sec­ond bath­room were a must for when fam­ily and friends visit the cou­ple in Mon­treal.

Sou­venirs from abroad adorn the fridge door.

Trav­el­ling has in­spired some decor.

Decor for the liv­ing room.

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