Being Talked About

Life, Love and Assimilation received good feedback from many sources but it also provoked a number of negative reactions from both the public and people who I know personally. This week has been particularly interesting as East End Life (local newspaper distributed in Tower Hamlets) decided to run a review written in Bengali. Up to this point, I have been somewhat insulated from the “elder generation” as they haven’t read my book or read about it. This is mainly due to the fact that many of the elder generation cannot read English very well or at all. The East End Life review goes into some detail about the content and nature of the book (i.e. negative experiences with the community, drug addiction, inclusion of sex scenes) and thus reveals all to the elder Bengali community, exposing my heathen-ness. 

My mother read the article. She knew I had written a book but not the specific nature of it and whilst she did not discuss the article with me, I was cringing and whingeing and generally dying. Having already alienated three of my siblings through the book, I wasn’t quite ready to be disowned by my parents too. Ok, that’s an exaggeration but you know what I mean. So anyway, I was planning damage control when the rebellious side of me said, “So what?” 

And those two words calmed me down. Damn right! So what if it has sex scenes? Sex happens. So what if it discusses drug addiction? It’s rife in Tower Hamlets, no-one can deny that. So what if I’m meant to be a good little girl? I have a voice and I’ll say what I want with it. My sister told me that it’s probably best if I stopped doing promotion for a while or downplayed it a little but I said NO WAY. I am not backing down. I am not staging a retreat. Let people say what they want to say. After all as Mr. Wilde so astutely proclaimed, there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.


What is it good for?

I am dreading another picture of a war-torn land; the one picture that will make me stop and stare, transfixed, letting it darken something inside me. I know it sounds melodramatic but that is exactly what happens. There are countless of “good” pictures of war and famine; pictures that effectively portray the horror and pain. The most famous, of course, is the picture of a young, naked Vietnamese girl running from a napalm attack on her village. That picture has haunted millions over the years and rightly so. When I first saw it, I have to say, it wasn’t the girl in the picture that affected me as much as the boy on the left. His face is twisted in such terror and agony, it tore at me. The only way I got rid of the horror I felt was to find out about the subjects in the photograph and deconstruct and demystify it. In that way, it lost some of its power which is both a good and bad thing (http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0008/ng_intro.htm).

The napalm picture was the one picture that horrified me most but usually, it is the more poignant pictures that affect me. Below are two pictures that have done that in the past.

The cover of a copy of the Economist I bought a few years back. It is a simple but touching picture that I chose to keep.

A detained Iraqi man comforts his 4-year-old-son at a holding center for prisoners of war near An Najaf, Iraq. The picture was taken on 31 March 2003.
Photographer: Jean-Marc Bouju of The Associated Press. 

These pictures are beautiful but saddening and kind of heartbreaking all at the same time. With George W. Bush decrying Kofi Annan’s plan of action with regards to the Israel-Lebanon conflict (“I don't like his ceasefire plan. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything sorts out.”) and his power-hungry and jingoistic attitude, we can expect a multitude of pictures coming out of Lebanon showing blood and body parts and missing limbs. But, somehow, it’s these pictures of children with sadness in their eyes that make me feel worse.


Stem of my Belief

On certain occasions, when discussing ethical or particularly controversial issues, I have occasionally thought, “I wonder what Islam says about this,” with the obvious intention of adopting Islam’s stance as my own. Whilst this is the correct thing to do from my religion’s point of view, it does disconcert me to some extent. Instead of forming my own opinions about an issue, am I really willing to blindly accept a specific view or its polar opposite depending on what Islamic scholars interpret from the Qur’an? Should I ditch my “original opinions” if they are deemed wrong from an Islamic point of view? Perhaps that is the right thing to do but it just doesn’t sit well with me. Surely it is better to believe something by questioning it and subsequently understanding it rather than blindly accepting it? So, what is the root of this train of thought? 

Stem Cell Research. 

Those three little words represent an issue that has bought about discord and dissent and has divided opinion like very few before it. It has certainly divided my opinions. On one hand, embryonic stem cell research destroys a human life and inherently, as humans, we believe that this is wrong. But it is not just the destruction of life that makes me uneasy, it’s also the creation of it; isn’t this almost like playing God?

On the other hand, stem cell research and therapeutic cloning could be the answer to serious illnesses and provide hope for people with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

So what is right? I can understand and identify with both points of view but I don’t want to sit on the fence. If push came to shove, I would (reluctantly) say I am pro-stem cell research. I respect the sanctity of life but I think that the creation and destruction of a collection of cells without a nervous system may be worth it to save a “real” human being’s life and/or to cure them of a degenerative disease. Saying that is not easy for me but it is what I would lean towards if I was forced to. I believe that as long as there are strict rules guiding the research and that we don’t somehow branch off into liberal eugenics, stem cell research can be justified.

After I made my decision, I decided to find out what, specifically, was Islam’s stance. Naturally I assumed that Islam would be anti-stem cell research because of the strict ruling on abortion so I was extremely surprised to find from several sources that there was substantial support for it by Islamic scholars. Many say that the Shari’ah (Islamic Law), differentiates between actual life and potential life; that a young embryo outside the womb is not considered a person and the use of it for stem cell research does not violate Islamic law.* Ultimately, this tallies with my personal opinion. Whilst this puts me in the same boat as the person who would blindly accept Islam’s ruling, I am glad that I thought it through and came to a conclusion of my own accord. I actually have deep respect for the people who can accept, “Believe this because Islam tells you to” but I, personally, like to do a little more digging. That way, I will believe what I’m meant to because I believe it and not purely because I’m meant to.

* http://www.islam101.com/science/stemCells.htm has a good article on the matter by Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, the Former president of the Islamic Society of North America.


Nonpolitical Animal

I find myself clapping after a statement made by David Cameron MP. I stop mid-clap in shock and disgust. I look around to make sure that no one has witnessed this act, which of course will make it easier to pretend that it didn’t happen. There are many reasons why one would dislike Cameron; his tendency to change his views to suit his audience, the fact that he voted in favour of the Iraq war, disagreement with his political views and policies, etc etc so why do I personally dislike him? Alas, I cannot say it is because I have carried out a discerning analysis of his political views and concluded that they do not align with my own. I cannot say it is because of his chameleon-like habit of changing his colours and skipping from right to left and left back to right. The reason I dislike him is because he is smarmy. Yes, you heard me. Smarmy. He has this self-serving pompous look about him. No, I can’t back this up with specific observations; it’s just a vibe that I get from him. The way he speaks: smarmy, the way he smiles: smarmy, the way he gesticulates: smarmy

Maybe it is some sort of inverse prejudice; Cameron is the son of a stockbroker and was educated at Eton and Oxford. He grew up in Oxfordshire, read Philosophy, Politics and Economics and dabbled with recreational drugs. If that doesn’t smack of toffness, I don’t know what does. Basically, he’s a million miles away from me and most “normal” people. How can he possibly relate to my experiences and my problems? The closest he has ever got to my community is indulging in a saccharine photo-opportunity at a local primary school.

I mean, could this picture get any less genuine? It’s like, “Let’s have girls in scarves behind me to say that ‘Yes, I like Muslims’ and why not have me sitting on the floor to show that they are equal or even above me? It will portray a strong sense of humility in me and I’ll sit here and make all these important looking gestures and..[etc etc etc]” *Smarmy smile*
I just really really dislike him.

But then again, most of my political leanings are based on equally irrelevant factors. I listen to the debates in the House of Commons not because I think they are insightful or interesting but because I love the banter, jesting and lighthearted derision that takes place. I like the tradition and the big, fancy terms and titles such as, “The Right Honorable Gentleman”, and “Serjeant at Arms” and even “The Leader of the Opposition”. 

Equally lightweight is the reason why Teflon Tony held a special place in my heart for many years; in 1998 with the burgeoning growth of the internet, I read that using one finger, Tony typed in a message for Cherie with the flowers he was ordering for her online. Perhaps that too was a ploy to show his “human” side but it worked with me. It made me like him and surely, that is half the political battle won?

Perhaps I should examine political agendas in depth rather than making decisions on whether or not I like a politician. After all, surely it is an abhorrent crime to like any of them?


I [Heart] London

I’m wilting. Wilting like a dead flower or a weeping willow or, erm, things that wilt. It is simply too hot. And I don’t want to be quintessentially British and complain about the hot weather (even though that’s exactly what I’m doing) so I will try and be positive. It’s great that we’re having nice weather. London in the summertime is beautiful and special and beautiful and special (it’s the heat). So special that Anthony Keidis even wrote a song about it. But it’s not hard for me to sing the praises of London in the summertime because I love London all year round.

I sold my car years ago so I don’t have to worry about the congestion charge. I don’t have my own place so I don’t have to think about council tax just yet (though house prices are darkening the horizon). I grew up in East London so lack of green spaces is something I’m used to and I can be just as rude and cold as the next person so that doesn’t usually affect me too much. The only thing I can complain about is the Northern Line but even that I can avoid if I need to. And whilst this weather is making me droop and wilt and create my own little hole in the ozone layer with the amount of Impulse Body Spray I’m using, I’m still not going to complain because London is great. 

London is great because the view from St. Paul’s Cathedral is beautiful. London is great because you will find a Muslim person eating lunch next to a Jewish person on a park bench. London is great because of the Somerset House fountains at night and because of the Serpentine. London is great because you can be as pretentious as you want and shop on Carnaby Street or laugh at pretentious people shopping on Carnaby Street. London is great because of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey and Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. It’s great because of that dinosaur in the Natural History Museum. The gorgeous Jose Mourinho lives here. We have Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath and Richmond Park and the Queen’s Walk. You can find any type of cuisine you like. The restaurants are amazing. We don’t speak French. Abbey Road. The London Eye (don’t judge unless you’ve been on it). Brick Lane and Chinatown and Spitafields and Billingsgate and Shoreditch and damnit, even Hackney. 300 languages. Great universities. Wembley Stadium. The music and entertainment. Canary Wharf lit up at night. Maple Krispy Kreme donuts. 

*Realises there’s gum stuck on her shoe*



Suzanne (from my publishers) calls me up to ask me about the shoot she mentioned. I tell her that I don’t really have time at the moment and anyway, I would rather put up pictures of me being me rather than me being a dolled up, air-brushed, sanitized version of me. Unfortunately she thinks this is a “great idea!” because I’m “more accessible that way”. “More accessible?” I say. “I’m already accessible! If I were more accessible, I’d be posting up my number in phone boxes across London.” She laughs and insists that I send a few pictures over. I sigh and relent.

I have already mentioned that the hard drive on my home PC gave up on me. The main thing I was worried about was my music but you know, music can always be collected again. I didn’t think twice about my pictures because I thought they were backed up on my work PC. So after I said bye to Suzanne, I started looking through the pictures on my work PC and realised that half my collection is missing; holiday pictures, pictures of family and friends and almost every moment I held close to my heart. Gone. I’m in a panic. The only hope I have is a couple of CDs that are lying in my room somewhere which I used to backup some of my stuff before I reformatted my PC about ten months ago. Sure, it won’t be up to date but at least it’s something. Now I’m scavenging my e-mail, my work PC’s hard drive and photobucket to try and collate the half I have left…

A Suitable Boy

Now that I can comment on arranged marriage with some authority, I thought it was time I sat down and did so. I debated whether or not to talk about it since it is a personal matter but a) I think I’ve done all the “airing of the dirty laundry” I could possibly do and b) I think I owe it to the readers who used to follow my “Young, free and… desperate?” blog. Those readers can tell you that my parents were looking for a groom for over a year. This, in turn, prompted me to search for one on my own time. I know it’s not “the done thing” but I figured I could do a better job than my parents. Cue the egotistical lawyer who executed his lies with such panache, you could hang them in the Tate and call it art. Cue the invesment wanbanker who was still tugging on mummy’s apron strings. Cue the guy that straightened his air and was only *slightly* inbred. This didn’t give me much hope and my parents weren’t faring any better (if I wanted a man with shifty eyes and a dubious occupation, I’d don a skirt and head to King’s Cross). 

So I was pretty much giving up hope. Yes, it’s great to be able to luxuriate in the idea of, “It’ll happen when it’s meant to,” or “Give up looking and someone will drop into your lap,” but when you have two generations of Abdullahs and a whole host of extended family breathing down your neck, it kinda starts to worry you! There were times when I was pressured, times when I was coaxed, times when I was pushed but I held my ground and said no to every unsuitable proposal that came my way. If it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right… right?

So what made me relent? What made me say yes to a man I had only spoken to once? A friend once told me he would have to feel thunderbolts and lightning if he was to say yes to a proposal. Did I feel this way? Well, no, but I wasn’t expecting to. I was looking for a man who had a good job, who could hold a decent conversation with me and who was remotely attractive. I wanted a man who was sensible and who I could build a life with. I found these things in the man I’m going to marry. He made me feel comfortable, at ease and I was able to be myself instead of the wallflower that some men expect. As I have always said, marriage isn’t like playing with lego; you can’t pick up any two pieces and make them fit and yes, maybe that worries me a little bit; can you really make a life-changing decision based on the fact that you think you’re a good judge of character? I can only go on past experience. I would say 100% of the people I liked on first meeting, I still like to this day and vice versa so perhaps, first impressions are good enough. 

I’m on my fourth paragraph and I still don’t know if I have made my point. Ok, here are my reasons for saying yes in order of importance:
  • I am ready and I want to. Seeing friends and family move on made me open up to the idea of getting married. I’ve taken care of myself all my life, I just think it would be nice to have someone else in my corner.
  • He is suitable (good job, good disposition).
  • My father really wants this so I am partly doing it for him. I get that it's the rest of my life but I'll make it work. After all, he dedicated all his life to us.
  • Arranged marriage means I get to keep my core to myself. Being in love means you're totally exposed and vulnerable. This way, my marriage can be made to work. Yes, it's clinical and yes, it seems cold but by detaching that whole mass of complications, a relationship becomes much much simpler. I've experienced being in love so I can say with authority that I am willing to give that up in place for something that can work long-term; warmth, companionship, etc.
  • I will have someone to pop down to Sainsbury's when I feel like some Pralines & Cream Haagen Dazs.
So, yeah, I think that covers everything. Yes, it’s a leap of faith but y’know, I’m a faithful person. If this was meant to happen, it will. If it wasn’t, it won’t and I sleep at night because I truly, truly, believe that.


A good idea?

I have Keny Arkana blasting angry lyrics in my ear but as I step through the doors of the Idea Store, I find my hands reaching to silence her. I think I’m still living in the age where you keep quiet in a library and though no one can hear her screaming in my headphones, I still silence her out of some archaic respect for libraries. I know that the idea store is not a library per se but it houses books and that is qualification enough for me. 

It’s when I make my way upstairs that I question if I’m the only one who has this respect. The Idea Store is a mix between a learning centre, computer lab, library and café so it is understandable why people would laugh and converse as usual BUT I hear loud mobile ringtones, people shouting at each other across distances and young girls and boys flirting and exchanging numbers. In fact, as I look around, I’m actually the only one who is trying to choose some books.

Two young girls are talking to a boy on speakerphone. “Yes, we’re lesbians, I’m stroking her leg right now,” claims one of the girls, laughing raucously (as an aside, this girl was wearing a headscarf).
The boy on the other end of the line gives some unintelligible response.
“Nah, nah. You can join in if you link us up,” she replies.

The boy laughs and mumbles back what I can only assume is an equally eloquent reply. I cringe and move on. I realise I’m being supercilious on many levels but I can’t help but feel that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea stores are a great, er, idea. Yes, I love my dusty, creaky old libraries but I also think the modern look and feel of the idea stores and the services they provide are fantastic and the initiative has my resounding support. It’s great that their computer labs and free internet service are heavily used. It’s great that their café is a place for social gatherings and general chilling-out. It’s great that the courses they run are popular and have a high uptake, it’s great that their CDs and DVDs generate funding through regular loans.

I just think it would be especially great if their books were read as well.


From Vanity to the Bonfire

So I was walking home yesterday and I passed a girl wearing a headscarf, which one would think is commendable but along with a headscarf she was also sporting a low cut top, skin-tight jeans and a thick layer of makeup. 

Bitchy Kia thought, “What’s the point of wearing a headscarf? This girl obviously has no modesty.”
Normal Kia responded with, “At least she’s wearing a scarf which is more than we can say for ourselves!”
“At least I’m not a hypocrite,” countered Bitchy Kia.
“Well, yeah, but still… said Normal Kia.
And it’s that “still” which is the reason I’m writing this. It’s that “still” I have to address sooner or later.

I don’t wear a headscarf and I never have. It’s always been “One day” or “When I’m ready” or “When I get married” but now that marriage is on the horizon, for some reason I still don’t feel like “Yes, this is a milestone and yes, this means I’m ready and willing.” So I have to stop and ask myself why I’m not ready. There’s no time like the present, right? Well, I *think* that the only honest answer I can come up with is pure vanity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the “Mirror mirror, on the wall” type and we all know my views on makeup and jewellery but I still house enough vanity to not cover my hair. It’s not vanity in the sense of “I want to be looked at and deemed as attractive” but more a source of confidence. Am I an awful and despicable person? Am I a shameless heathen?

I understand the reasons why Muslim women are required to wear the headscarf and I can understand how it can be liberating on many levels but personally, I still don’t want to do it. I know we don’t get to pick and choose which parts of Islam we adhere to, it doesn’t work like that but show me a person without weakness and we’ll talk about that some more. I have at certain points in my youth thought, “Why must we cover ourselves from head to toe just because men can’t help but leer, I mean, look at us? Surely they’re the ones who should be punished. After all, men don’t have to cover up to this extent because women will leer at them!” As I have grown older however, I have come to understand the importance of modesty and am now a little less, er, subversive(?) but once again, I still don’t want to wear a headscarf. When will I get my epiphany? Will marriage be the kick up the a** that I need? Will I find sudden maturity and understanding and depth of character? When will I be ready?
I don’t know the answers but when I find them, I’ll be sure to let you know.

I’ll let you whip me if I misbehave

Ok, I’m sorry about the overly provocative title. I just wanted to make it official how much I love (love love) SexyBack; the new Justin Timberlake track. The absence of the Neptunes on his new album made me a little “hmm…” but this gets a definite thumbs up from my humble self. Go ahead, be gone with it.



Excuse me if this entry is a little disorganised. I’m feeling woozy from a mixture of Costa Coffee Frescato and Italy’s win last night. I had a relatively decent weekend. There was much controversy over my book but I’m not one to worry myself over that. Had a relatively decent shopping trip; I managed to find a suit in a size six so I would say that’s pretty successful! And before you suspect me of anorexia, any woman will tell you that Next sizes are massive. I think it’s a corporate ploy to make customers feel good about themselves. But anyway, yes, was very pleased to find a suit that actually made me look semi-professional rather than like a little girl who has dressed up in mummy’s work clothes. I couldn’t resist the pull of Borders - bought some non-fiction so that has got to be ok, right? (Watching the English, Freakonomics and City of God) and bought some bits and pieces to add to my “Asian Woman Extraordinaire” arsenal. In addition to this, I cooked two dishes on Sunday which were greeted with a positive reception so I’m slowly, slowly getting there.

Yes, I do realise that my pretence about my blog entries actually focusing on something is slowly deteriorating (what’s all this but a ramble about nothing in particular?) but as I said, I have Frescato coursing through my veins and am in no mood to really talk about anything important. I would promise a cerebral and important entry for tomorrow but I managed to bugger up my computer over the weekend – I didn’t try entering the BIOS but I suspect the hard drive is spent. If not, will have to reformat it. Lord, It’s just one thing after another! Maybe when I get married, I’ll just give it all up and become a housewife. But, hey, you know what they say about the grass so I shouldn’t complain. *Yawns and stretches*


Books v. Bangles

A quick slap on the wrist to start the day since I am spending way too much money on unnecessary things (but are books really unnecessary?). I was hanging around in Borders yesterday (bookshops are almost my most favourite place in the world to be) waiting for a friend before dinner and I have to say the simple “3 for 2” idea is pure genius because people like me simply can’t walk out without buying some books. I bought Two Lives by Vikram Seth, We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (and I still haven’t got through the last triplet of Never Let Me Go, The Time Traveller’s Wife and The Historian). I actually already have a copy of The Kite Runner. I won’t go into my reasons for buying a second copy right now. What I will say is that is is a fantastic book and highly recommended.

Anyway, that’s all preamble to the real point: buying stuff I want versus buying stuff I need. Usually I’m perfectly happy to fritter my money away on books and CDs but right now, I have an ever-growing list of things to buy for “The Wedding”; stuff like a ton of shalwar kameezes and sarees and bangles and makeup and *yawn* jewellery and *yawn* hairclips, etc etc etc. And I’m one of those strange girls that dislike shopping (I’m serious, I must have some sort of hybrid (X), (½ X, ½ Y) chromosome setup) so I have just bought 20 shalwar kameezes online from Rupali in one fell swoop (I hope they fit).

And while we’re on the subject of being all girly, my Princess Diaries transformation isn’t going so well. We went to the “Spider Park” in Stepney Green last Sunday and whilst three of my sisters sat on the bench and chatted, I climbed the spider frame all the way to the top and ran around and played “It” with my nieces and nephew. Hardly “elegant” behaviour. Oh well, there’s plenty of time for that after marriage.

So anyway, yes, I have to stop gravitating towards bookshops and start gravitating towards Asian clothes shops. I have a few months but for a girl who hardly has any girly stuff, it’s all tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.


Coconuts and bananas

Semi-busy day. Started off with a quick chat with Sonia Deol on BBC Asian Network. They wanted an East Ender’s view on the Olympics a year on after London was elected as the host. Then I took the bane of my existence (the Northern Line) to work. Forgot to pick up a copy of the Eastern Eye (I have a short article in there this week) and finally made it into work. Late. But it’s ok because I’m here now. Listening to Otis. Wasting time.

So anyway, no, I haven’t suddenly decided to adopt a healthier diet, the title of this entry actually refers to things I have been called in the past. I’m sure most British-Asians are familiar with the term “coconut” to mean an Asian person who acts/thinks like a White person (i.e. “Brown on the outside, White on the inside”). This term can also be adapted to “banana” in order suit people who have a lighter skin tone (i.e. “Yellow on the outside. White on the inside”). I have been called “coconut”, “banana” and “posh” on more than one occasion, often by people who I have met for the first time. Apparently, the first and foremost reason I am called this is the way I speak; I speak English, not a hybrid of “rudeboy slang” and text-speak.

The second reason is because I am not really into Bollywood or Bhangra. But am I really a coconut just because I prefer Ike and Tina to Metx and Trix? (Though it does take a very specific kind of genius to come up with “Check one, check two. Here we go with the bhangra crew!”). And yes, I would rather go and see the latest Hollywood rather than Bollywood flick (Three hours of “Boy meets Girl. Boy loses Girl. Boy gets Girl back” loses its appeal after a while) but that doesn’t mean to say I think and act like a White person and it doesn’t mean I automatically write something off because it is a product of the Asian community. I’m not a massive fan of Bollywood or Bhangra but I love “Akheer” by Juggy D and I count “Lagaan” as one of my favourite films, Asian or otherwise. I’m not going to list every Asian song/film/product* I like because it’s unecessary and kind of silly. All I really need to say is that I appreciate good music and good films whichever genre they belong to and wherever they come from. I am discerning, not prejudiced. 

Overall, I guess this entry is kind off pointless because to be perfectly honest with you, being called those things doesn’t really bother me at all. I know it isn’t meant offensively and I wouldn’t dream of taking it that way. I know that I value my background and my roots as much as anyone. Respect (for elders, for each other and for yourself) is the defining characteristic of Asian culture and that is something I am 100% proud of.

* If I was, I’d have to put Arjun Rampal in there somewhere. Yum.


iOn iThe iPod

Yes, I finally relented and became a fully-fledged member of the iPod generation earlier this year. After years of stating, “An mp3 player from Tesco can do exactly the same thing,” the seductive powers of the nano proved the futility of my resistance. Call me a conformist, I don’t care. I know I’m being paranoid but I can’t help but think that people use them as status symbols so I try to mask the fact that I’m one of “them” by using black headphones (it’s my neurosis, leave it alone). Anyway, here’s what’s on the playlist of this evil symbol of decadence:

Adrienne – The Calling (Soft rock)
Better Days – Goo Goo Dolls (The one song I’m listening to most at the moment)
Wherever You Will Go – The Calling (Beautiful song if you’re in the right mood)
The Setup – Obie Trice (The token hip-hop track)
Terri Baaton – Raghav (See? I’m not a coconut! – more on this later)
So Good – Destiny’s Child (Must have chosen this without too much thought)
Pieces of Me – Ashlee Simpson (I still maintain that this is a good song!)
Party and Bullshit – Rah Digga (Hip-hop)
Numb/Encore – Linkin Park/Jay-Z (Good, good, good)
Never Let Me Down – Kanye West (Still undecided about Kanye)

And to prove that I didn’t deliberately leave out any particularly embarrassing songs that may have been on my current playlist, I will admit that my CD player at home has none other than Color Me Badd’s (sickening band that were famous c.1991) album in it *gulp*.

I can’t say that that snippet is actually very representative of my tastes but then again, maybe it is as there is a mix. My favourite artists/bands are: N*E*R*D, Mariah Carey, Prince, OutKast, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Bon Jovi, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M, Ryan Leslie, Lauryn Hill, 112, John Legend, Nas, Robin Thicke, The White Stripes, Traci Chapman, and erm, that’s all I can think of at the moment…


We don’t call him Ismail

I am hereby publicly thanking a Mr. Kashif Ismail Ali for putting up with all my stupid questions (though one could argue that there is no such thing as a stupid question), teaching me about slaves and masters (not nearly as exciting as it sounds) and generally keeping my feet on the ground. No, we don’t call him Ismail. We call him our Sensei. Great Jedi Master upon High filled with limitless wisdom and knowledge.


Immaterial Girl

“You have got to be kidding me!” I say to my sister.
She shakes her head. “It’s fine. It’s pretty much average. They’ll be happy with that price.”
I look at the gold necklace, bracelet and earrings laid out in front of me. “But that’s three months’ salary! How can anyone possibly justify spending that much on useless tat?”
She gives me her best ‘Keep-your-voice-down’ look. “It’s not like we’re paying for it,” she says.
“I don’t care who’s paying for it. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I don’t even wear jewellery.”
“It’s tradition,” she tells me. “Whether or not you wear jewellery is immaterial.”
I start thinking about pawn shops.

We’re out wedding shopping. It’s tradition for the groom’s side to buy the bride’s wedding gold and my family have forced me to go traipsing around Green Street on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to choose my regalia. I’m hot and sticky, and shopping is the last thing on my mind. Thankfully, I know my tastes and I encounter little argument with regards to my choices so it’s all done relatively painlessly. I say 'relatively' because I did have to throw a few death stares and make a few snide remarks when my two sisters started stopping at every other stall to look at shawls and sandals for themselves. So the choices get made fairly easily BUT I still can’t get over the price tag.

Who in their right mind spends so much on jewellery? I’m the kind of person who would rather spend £10 on something that’s worth it than £2 on something that’s not. And jewellery comes pretty low on my value scale. Obviously that's not the general consensus or else I wouldn’t be reeling from the price of a simple gold set. It’s just that it’s enough to travel around the world. Luxuriously. Twice. With a hired Johnny Depp lookalike.

I guess what it boils down to is individual choice and what each person holds in high regard. I have come across people who count “Own a Louis Vuitton bag” amongst their ambitions. I mean, seriously? When I tell my sister this, she says there must be at least one material thing I wish to own “someday”. I said, “Sure, I want to own a house but that’s not wanting a possession for possession’s sake." She says, “There’s got to be something else.” I tell her that I actually have a list somewhere that contains my 'Life To-Do List'. So when I got home, I dug it out to check and this is the complete, unedited version:

Pass my driving test

Get a First (2003)
Publish a book (2006, 2009)
Buy a house (2007)
Find my partner in crime (2010)
Learn to ride a horse (2011)
Learn to ride a bike (2011) 

Travel the world
Read the classics
Learn fluent Spanish
Go fishing
Learn to ride a motorbike
Learn to tie a tie
Introduce a slang word

After reading through it, I gave myself a satisfied pat on the back. I mean, sure, I have some strange things on the list but I like to think most of the things on there would be a little more fulfilling than owning a Louis Vuitton bag. As for the jewellery set, I can’t really sell it since it is, essentially, a gift so I’ll keep it somewhere safe and pretend that it really means something.