22.10.07

Mother

Growing up, we are fed many ideals. Films, books, music and society have us believe that we will find a person who loves us deeply; settle down; have kids and live happily ever after. Of course, most of these illusions are dispelled at some point during our adulthood. We realise that relationships are often marred by unreachable expectations or insecurities or infidelity or any number of faults that affect us as human beings.

There is one ideal, however, that endures well into adulthood and, if you’re lucky, all the way to the grave. This ideal is that of the unconditional love that exists between a mother and her child. It is an idea that is largely common between all races, religions and nations across the world; your mother should love you unconditionally. This idea exists for a reason; many (most?) mothers DO love their children in an all-encompassing, unrivalled way. Parents bang on about how having children changed their lives and how if you don’t have kids, you “just don’t understand”.

This is all well and good but experience (both personal and secondary) has taught me that motherly love is not always unconditional. In fact, in many cases, it does not exist either at all or as strongly as it should. This is evident in the thousands of children who are abandoned or abused by their mothers every year across the world.

This has led me to question whether the idea of unconditional motherly love is a fallacy. Maybe it isn’t inherent in every single woman. Maybe maternal instinct and that magical eternal bond doesn’t just happen. Maybe the overwhelming need to protect the child you first cradle in your arms isn’t felt by every woman and maybe, that’s okay. Perhaps it is society that has convinced women that it’s what they are meant to feel when they give birth to a child.

Maybe if we weren’t brought up with the notion that we will/should have everlasting, unconditional love from our mothers, there would be many more healthy adults walking around today. After all, as I say in Life, Love & Assimilation, don’t all our fears, insecurities, and fuckups stem from our parents; the fact that they just didn’t love us enough or smothered us too much? If we weren’t conditioned to believe that our parents should love us “just because” then we wouldn’t become screwed up when we find that they do not.

Makes perfect sense, right?

Well, actually, no - it doesn't. As much as I want to make a case against maternal instinct and say that it's a result of conditioning rather than nature, I am proved wrong by the mere fact that almost every species of living creature feels the need to protect its young.

I guess I’m just terrified of having children and not being there the way I know I should. I’m astounded that people can let down every single barrier they’ve built and give someone so much power to hurt them. Yes, terrified is the word.

Kia

PS. Don’t worry, I’m not pregnant. In fact, it’s El Tiempo de el Mes at the moment. I’m going to use that as an excuse for being all emotional.

The Race

I am still here. I know I haven’t written here for months on end but I have been ridiculously busy (working, writing, healing a broken bone and moving home). I promise I will make more of an effort. I will also try to update the other parts of the site when I get a moment.
So anyway, how fantastic was the race on Sunday? It finally convinced me that there is life after Schumacher. The top four drivers were pretty predictable but what a season!

Despite being British, I was secretly (ok, not so secretly) hoping that Hamilton would lose. Despite his carefully-cultivated humility, I believe that losing will do him good in the long run. Too much, too young isn’t good for anybody and despite being relatively grounded, I think a taste of failure will build his character and make him a better driver in the long run.

As for Alonso, he put up a pretty good fight. For some reason, I don’t detest him as much as I usually do with those who have emerged victorious over Schumacher (i.e. Hill, Villeneuve and Hakkinen). I think the poor man suffered enough this season.

My man Massa did me proud despite coming fourth. He was a class act; a great sportsman who was consistent and proved his worth.

As for good old Raikkonen (I refuse to call him Iceman – as apt as it is, it’s just way too cool a nickname for him), what I said earlier this year about him being inanimate was proven yet again on Sunday. Barely cracking a smile, he celebrated his win with a painfully awkward hug with Jean Todt. It made me nostalgic about Schumacher’s heyday. He would have been grinning ear to ear, jumping on Todt’s back in delight. I guess a world championship win can’t magically conjure charisma in someone so devoid of emotion.

All in all, a great race.

4.6.07

Validation

One song, at least two different versions, perhaps more than a hundred listens and finally the line hits me today; the line that explains my life, my personality, my mind, my thought process, my pessimism and my expectations, and shows that I’m not alone in my thinking, all in one go:

Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

That’s going to save me years of therapy and self-validation.

Phew.

7.5.07

Time

He had a hard life but he did the best that he could. He laughed seldom but when he did, it lit up the room. It was a sort of short burst of a laugh but a happy one. His eyes were rimmed with greyish circles. I often wondered if they came with old age. He sometimes wore these massive glasses that made me sad because they still couldn’t help him read. He carried an old 5146 because the keys on the newer phones were too small. He had a calculator with giant buttons which also made me sad when I looked at them. He was impatient but always with good reason. He wore the best of clothes; always pristine and pressed to perfection. His suits were always perfect and his shirts a blinding white. His shoes were polished within an inch of their lives. He always looked distinguished; a gentleman; a reasonable man. He knew the worth of money and drummed it in into me. He would spend extravagantly on something that was worth it but hold back paying a small sum for something that was not. He liked good food. He ate lots of fruit; something he didn’t pass down to me. He peeled an apple with a knife, no fancy peeler for him. He always ate breakfast and he laughed at old Indian films. He liked Amitabh Bachchan but I guess that’s no different to anyone else. He didn’t keep a beard for most of his life. I complained like hell when he started to but he grew into it. He used to use that old brush type thing to lather the white foam on his face when he shaved. He smoked for decades and every decade that I was alive I fought him about it. He eventually managed to stop and went a decade smoke-free. He loved me. I used to say I was his favourite and secretly (maybe not secretly) I still think I am. He wore false teeth but still had his hair. His skin was browner than mine and more worn of course. He used to play football as a youngster. He loved going back home to Bangladesh. He always returned with this healthy, glowing vitality about him; a vitality that the British weather always stripped him of. He took care of us when he could and as best as he could. I did rely on him. We all did. He wasn’t scared of hard work. He never learned to drive and sometimes came home with bags so heavy they seared marks onto his skin. He had a khaki coloured pair of trousers that he used to wear a lot. He loved my nieces and nephews like nothing else; they brought about his playful side. He was good with kids. I’m trying to remember more. I’m trying to remember everything because I never want to forget. I don’t want to forget that he was the only man I have ever relied on. He had my best interests at heart. He was my anchor, my hero, my saviour.

He was my father.

And I miss him.

I'm Still Here

No, I haven’t been Killed In Action; I’ve been on hold with British Gas. No, seriously, I have been on hold with British Gas for over a month now. Ok, so not continuously but I have spent a good portion of that time tearing my hair out whilst listening to tinny version of Fur Elise and classical pieces that I don’t know the names of whilst waiting, praying, hoping, begging to speak to a British Gas member of staff. Of course, I still haven’t succeeded in this quest so I have fired off letters to various watchdogs and have vowed to publicise my maltreatment (too dramatic?) by their incompetent selves.
Ok, tirade over. It has been a messy month and I can’t really go into everything in detail right now so I will give you the Cliff Notes:

· Monday 16th April: I left my IT job to start another IT job but was then offered a role of Sub-Editor at Asian Woman Magazine, which, of course, I took at the drop of a hat. So far, things are going fantastically well. It is everything I expected it to be and I count myself really lucky for being one of those people who are paid to do what they love. Do grab a copy of Issue 28 (Aishwarya Rai on the cover in a red sari) as I have an article in it. I’ll be credited as Sub-Editor from Issue 29 so do grab a copy of that as well when it comes out in roughly a month’s time.
· Various dates: A spent a while trying to claw my way onto the property ladder which has proven quite slippery but hopefully soon…
· Sunday 29th April: The single worst day of my life.
· Saturday 5th May: I chopped my hair off (it was Lucy Liu in Ally McBeal but is now Lucy Liu in Ugly Betty… tho in much worse condition of course…) Apparently I look like the girl in the Petit Filous advert - the guys in the office keep sniggering and saying “make my bone stronger”. Luckily I studied a course at uni that was 80% male so I am used to that kind of humour.

Right, I think that gets us all caught up.

Kia

22.3.07

Pieces

It’s official. I’m getting soppy in my old age. Usually I am able to walk past vagrants, vagabonds, Big Issue sellers, buskers, preachers and Eastern European women peddling their children, without batting an eyelid. Today, however, I walked past an old woman selling the Big Issue and was wracked with guilt for not buying a copy. She was dressed in a thin coat and a headscarf and was standing in the rain with this really wistful look on her face. Not so much, “Yes, I get benefits and live in a cosy council flat but am suckering you out of money anyway,” kind of look but more of a “How did I get here?” kind of look. As the traffic lights turned green I almost turned around and went back but of course I didn’t. Instead I walked on with tears pricking at my eyes. Can you imagine? Me.

On top of this, I’ve been listening to emo rock music (Famous Last Words by My Chemical Romance is currently on repeat). Perhaps I’m lucky that I’m in some sort of susceptible phase because I discovered what I’ve adopted as one of my favourite poems. “In Our Tenth Year” by Simon Armitage is one of the Love Poems on the Underground and as I read it, I was entranced. I say I’m lucky because it is not often I am touched, whether it’s by a stranger or by a piece of art. I can think of only two pieces of visual art that I have ever been affected by and it’s a good feeling. So, yes, perhaps I’m getting soft but it’s okay. Sadness just proves we’re alive, right?

*Shakes herself back together again*

I need a new man

So. Post-Schumacher Formula 1. It’s just not happening for me. I told myself that I love the sport and it’ll do just fine without Schumacher, and may even be more exciting since there’s more competition but I’m afraid it just isn't happening. Schumacher has been in the sport since I started to watch it roughly 15 years ago and though his departure last year left me cold, I still had high hopes for the sport – hopes that were unceremoniously dashed on Sunday. The race was alright but without a driver to champion, I couldn’t really get into it.

The soporific Hamilton is never going to get me excited and, even as a Ferrari supporter, I can't bring myself to like Raikkonen. He's so charmless, he may as well be inanimate. Supporting Alonso is like sleeping with the enemy... a very rich, young, talented and perhaps-attractive-in-a-craggy-sort-of-way enemy but an enemy nonetheless.

And, so, I've decided that Massa is my new man (not that I could bring myself to give a damn about what happened to him during the course of the race). I'll try him for now and let you know if I manage to dredge up any sort of real passion in Malaysia.

15.3.07

Let them eat cake

I get pissed off about a lot of things (as many of you know) but yesterday that went beyond the customary grumble and moan. Yesterday I found out that the BBC is axing BBC Jam; its online education service, pending a review. The closure of the £150 million learning project is due to complaints from commercial rivals that the BBC breached the launch conditions under which it was given consent by the government and the European Commission (i.e. that content would complement commercial material rather than replace it). 

In other words, free resources are being ripped away from (at least) 170,000 users in order to make fat cats fatter. 

I know there are a lot of things wrong with the world. I know that competition should be encouraged to ensure quality in products and I know that sometimes difficult decisions need to be made to strengthen economy but this really rattled my bones. I have a strong belief that access to education and learning materials should be free. Yes, this may cripple the education software industry but surely there is something morally wrong about taking resources away from children so that a bunch of bureaucrats can drive around in a Porsche instead of a Lexus?  

Ok, ok, ok, I know it’s not as black and white as that. I know that BBC Jam may be a threat to those who earn a living in the education software industry but I still can’t get over it. Why should only those children whose parents can afford to pay for overpriced software benefit from digital learning? It is one thing to charge extortionate amounts for software but it is another thing entirely
to try and quash the free alternatives.  

It makes me really angry and I know there’s nothing I can do other than file it away in my “Life isn’t fair” box but... it’s just not fair. 

6.3.07

My life and art

Almost a year after the release of Life, Love and Assimilation, I am still asked how much of the novel is based on my life. I always provide the same answer; it is fact-based fiction. When pressed, I tell people that 60% of it is based on my experiences whereas 40% of it is fiction. Even this fails to satisfy some readers. Some pick out specific scenes and question the amount of truth in them. Others want to know if my real-life relationships are as “warped” as they are in the book.  

Earlier this year I gave a reading as part of an event at the Idea Store in Whitechapel. I thought it was pretty worthwhile but I did feel that I had dampened the mood a little since I chose a particularly scornful extract. The audience was partly made up of pre-GCSE students so perhaps I should have chosen something “softer” but as most of you know, I’m pretty damn irresponsible with things like that (i.e. I’ll say what I want regardless of anybody else).  

After the reading, I received a few e-mails asking if my relationship with my parents was really that bad. I admit that that particular excerpt was loosely based on my personal life but I was taken aback by the way people immediately conjoined my two parents.  

If Kieran’s life was truly parallel to mine, she would have made it explicit that she loves her father. She would have said how grateful she is to him; how much she respects him. She would have told us how sad she gets at the sight of old men struggling with heavy groceries because she knows that is what her father has done all his life. She would have recognised the suffering her father endured in the efforts to provide his children with a better life. She would have explained how she shunted her true desires to make her father proud and told us how heartbreaking it was to bring shame to him. She would have said sorry and she would have said I love you.  

Kieran would have said all the things she couldn’t say to her father in real life.

2.3.07

Pictures

Ok, I couldn’t help it. I tried to refrain, I really did but the second picture was too much to resist. Regular visitors will know what I think of Cameron and therefore understand how amusingI found these pictures.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I can think of my own one-fingered gesture I’d like to make at His Royal Toffness.

1.3.07

World Book Day

I’m feeling kind of guilty since World Book Day should really be a bigger deal to me than it is this year. The truth is I don’t even read a lot any more. I have at least twenty books on my shelf that I haven’t read, which is pretty damn poor for someone who is always banging on about how the youth of today doesn’t read enough. It takes me far longer to finish a book than it used to. This is partly because I’ve been busy but also because I feel kinda guilty about reading when I could spend the time writing/rewriting my own book.

As a writer, I have been asked to join many a book club and though it would be one way to encourage me to read more, I have always declined. See, reading is a pleasure for me. When you set a time limit on a book, it almost becomes a task. This is not to say I would discourage people from joining a book club, I just don’t think it’s for me. 

So anyway, there wasn’t much of a point to this entry. I just didn’t want the day to go by unmarked because I think it’s truly worthwhile.

23.2.07

Infidel

Yesterday I bought Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “Infidel” which I plan to read once I get through “The Caged Virgin” that has sat on my shelf for a month or two now. One may question why I am taking the time out to read the works of a woman that is so passionately hated within the Muslim world. I would answer their question the same way I answer questions about why I bought The Satanic Verses. I would answer the question with a question; how can you criticise a book you haven’t read? 

I remember an argument I had with an acquaintance who insisted that she didn’t need to read The Satanic Verses in order to know that it contained negative things about Islam; that she didn’t need to form her own opinion; that she was perfectly comfortable adopting Islamic scholars’ views as her own. I, on the other hand, felt that I had to read the material for myself before I was authorised to criticise or dismiss it.

I’m pretty sure I will disagree with a lot of what Hirsi Ali has to say in her book. I recently read an interview with her and was left reeling by her strong views against Islam but that didn’t mean I wanted to immediately boycott anything she produces. In fact, I think Submission Part I is quite a beautiful film. It is bold, original and involving. See, that admission itself will anger some of the people that read it. What I ask is why can’t we engage in civilised discourse without resorting to violence? If I get vicious hate mail simply because I wrote a sexually overt book, Hirsi Ali must get it a hundred-fold because of her views. Any sort of criticism of Islam is likely to incite anger because Islam is so deeply ingrained into us but does that mean we have to respond with violence and threats, effigies at the ready? Surely we’re more intelligent than that?

1.2.07

Feeling better

My cold miraculously abated for the few hours that I spent at the Outlandish gig last night. Of course it’s back with a vengeance this morning partly due to the fact that I skipped dinner last night and barely managed four hours' sleep. 

On the plus side, the gig was fantastic. The guys did really well and despite leaving two of my favourite songs (Nothing Left To Do and Fatima’s Hand) out, the playlist was stellar.
A massive thank-you to the lovely and wonderful DJ Nihal for introducing me to the guys and not piss-taking me (too much) for not acting cool. On the whole, a great night and most certainly worth losing a few hours’ sleep over.

Apart from that, nothing new to report. Just a bit headachy and sore-throaty but I’m downing Lemsip capsules faster that you can say "druggie". *Sigh* Onwards and upwards.

31.1.07

Feeling sick

I’m feeling totally crap this morning. I’ve caught a cold and as some of you know, I don’t do things by half and that includes getting ill. I’m at the beginning stages so I’m still coherent but what’s pissing me off is the fact that I’m going to an Outlandish gig tonight and have been looking forward to it for weeks and now that it rolls around, I’m feeling like a nauseous hippo being forced to sit in a clean white room when all it wants to do is go to sleep in the mud. The journey in was crap. I left my headphones at work so I couldn’t escape the drone of life around me with music. This is probably a good thing since the first song on shuffle would probably have been Tracy Chapman’s Fast Cars or something equally as depressing. As I alighted onto the platform at Liverpool Street Station, I found that my cover of graceful-but-ruthless-sophisticate-with-a-ready-scowl-for-anyone-that-gets-in-her-way had deserted me so I ended up stumbling my way in and out of people’s paths. I actually bought (and ate!) an apple this morning which should indicate just how ill I’m feeling. The construction work outside isn’t doing a lot for my headache and I can’t seem to funnel my thought stream into anything productive so that’s why I’m here having a moan. And, yeah, that’s it.

29.1.07

Thanks and apologies

I’m posting a quick note about the Playing with Words event that I attended on Saturday morning. I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who turned up to show their support. It was a really worthwhile event and went beyond my expectations.

A special thanks to Rabina Khan for organising the event and inviting me along. Thank you to the Idea Store for hosting the event. May it be the first of many to come. I’m sorry to those of you who didn’t get a chance to say hello before I rushed off. Also, I want to apologise to Channel S for rushing off before giving you an interview. Next time!

25.1.07

Great Expectations

Anytime I’ve been asked to give advice to youngsters, I tell them to follow two simple rules and they’ll be okay:

1. Stay in school
2. Don’t do drugs

It doesn’t mean that those who don’t follow those rules won’t be okay in life (I’m pretty sure uneducated rock-star drug-addicts are pretty damn content) and it doesn’t necessarily mean that by following those rules, you will achieve all your dreams but it does mean that you’ll do okay.
A friend recently asked, “Surely that’s not all the advice you can give. There’s loads of other stuff kids should do to succeed.”
I shook my head, “Nope, that’s it.”
She frowned dubiously. “Are you telling me that that’s all you’re gonna tell your kids when you have them? ‘Stay in school. Don’t do drugs’?”
I nod. “Well of course there’ll be other stuff but that’s the barebones of it.”
She shook her head. “Just you wait. There’ll be no end to the stuff you want your kids to learn and do and say.”

That conversation got me thinking about children and wondering whether I would have sky-high expectations of them the way I do with myself. I recently commented to a friend that I could have done so much more with my life. I don’t know where this hunger for more turns into greed but it is certainly one of my malaises. I have decided that if I have kids I will go easy on them and be satisfied as long as they do well in school and stay away from drugs. Oh, and one more thing. I hope that they will be readers. I seriously, honestly, genuinely think that reading in one’s youth gives a person a kind of deeper intelligence or knowledge (or maybe wisdom) that is missing from so many people. I can’t really explain this intangible quality but I hope that it settles in my children.

8.1.07

Email exchange

Kia: And, forgot to say... asking a person with dyslexia to proofread by manuscript is just asking for trouble, isn't it? (Not terribly PC I know but there you go...)
Person-with-dyslexia: Did you mean "my manuscript" there? =P
Kia: Cheeky bugger
Person-with-dyslexia: You deserved it =)

4.1.07

I'm Back

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry for abandoning you all during the Christmas period. As you can imagine, I was really busy… watching Fifty Greatest Number Ones Ever and Fifty Greatest Rock Songs Ever and Fifty Greatest Videos Ever and so on and so forth. It’s the curse of Freeview; nothing good is on but you sit and watch it anyway. I’m pretty sure it made me shed more than a few brain cells. It has also forced me into developing a liking for Ashton Kutcher. I don’t know why or how his moronic ramblings on the endless repeats of Punk’d made me begin to find him attractive but there you have it. (Not quite as scary as me wondering if Gordon Ramsay is as passionate in the bedroom as he is in the kitchen but I was hormonal so we’ll discount that).

Overdosing on TV aside, I actually managed to do something good for a change; I went for a run, twice this week. I decided to start running partly because it’s a good way to let off steam but also for the obvious reason of getting fit. I have never exercised regularly up to this point because I’m lazy and slim so never had the motivation. My diet has consisted of chips, chocolate and Nandos for years but it was only after I consumed over three quarters of a strawberry gateau in one day over the holidays that I started to question myself. Colleagues at the medical research centre I work at tell me that I’m fat on the inside and that I will get diabetes and heart disease before my time. On the other end of the spectrum, if I dare to mention the C-word to friends, they all glare at me in disparage. The C-word being Cellulite of course. Some fail to understand that it’s a curse that doesn’t discriminate between overweight unhealthy women and slim unhealthy women. So, yes, getting fit is on the cards.
Other than that, I’m a few chapters away from completing the first draft of my second book (yay me). I’m also starting to house-hunt so I’m set for a busy few months. I guess if it all starts to get on top of me, there’s always Freeview :)

Oh, and Happy New Year.