The watched/read it list

Talk about starting with a difficult one!

I can’t possibly list all my must-watch movies and must-read books. Which self respecting movie buff/reading nerd can possibly do such a thing? It’s like asking a girl to choose her favourite lipstick. Ok scratch that- its like asking me to pick my favourite lipstick. Ok, now I’m breaking out in hives.

I think the key to answering this question is pretending you’re on a quiz show…where you must answer off the top of your head. So the top of my head is telling me to say this…

My top five must-watch no matter how you do it movies of all time *gulp*

1. Dirty Dancing
This movie has my all time favourite soundtrack; it is 2013 and I can still listen to it on repeat, that my friends, is timeless. And who can knock Patrick Swayze shimmying those hips in that inimitable way! A fantastic coming of age story, the movie was as much about social change in the 60s as it was about a simple, oft-repeated love story.

2. The Pursuit of Happyness
The ultimate rags to riches story. This movie never fails to inspire. Chris Gardiner’s story of a father who works against all odds to provide a better life for his son, is not just Will Smith’s best work till date but a story with a personal significance for me. Chris’ character always reminds me of my father, the ultimate dad who never let’s disappointment stop him in his quest to achieve a better life for his family. It makes me cry every single time, and the fact that it is a true story just makes it the ultimate feel-good film.

3. Monsoon Wedding
You have to have an Indian family to really appreciate a big fat Indian wedding, but Monsoon Wedding is one of those films that captures the essence of a shaadi like no Bollywood film ever has. The big, loud crazy family, with the colour, laughter, and of course deep, dark secrets makes this film an absolute must-watch. As realistic as they come, yet filled with all the bonhomie, dramatics and an adorable love story to perfectly capture the essence of India in the monsoons set against the backdrop of the best kind of wedding- the Indian kind.

4. Aladdin
This has to be my favourite Disney film ever. Set in Arabia, Aladdin brought Disney fairy tales somewhere very close to home. Aladdin has to be the most charismatic Disney beau and Princess Jasmine has done for brunette, doe-eyed beauties what Marilyn did for blondes. Robin Williams as the Genie, and of course Abu the monkey, make this a timeless classic I can never cease to enjoy watching.

5. Devil’s Advocate
This is a fairly new addition to my list since I only saw this movie a few years ago. An amazing Milton inspired tale of the age old battle against the Devil set against a backdrop of Manhattan’s criminal law scene. Aside from a stunningly fragile Charlize and the perfect lawyer Keanu, the films obvious stand out is Pacino playing the Devil himself with his zingy, double entendre and raw magnetism. I love the way it has captured New York and managed to bring the classic Paradise Lost into a Hollywood blockbuster. A must-watch for sure.

There. I did it. Like ripping off a band aid. Now for the books.

My top five die only after you read them books of all time. *double gulp*

1. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
I re-visit this book time and time again and never get tired of re-reading the story of Gogol. I have never read a book that was so easy to read, easy to relate to all whilst being some of the most beautiful, simplistic prose ever written by an Indian Diaspora writer. Lahiri captures the first and second generation immigrant’s identity so perfectly, and while the book is more than a little melancholy in places, it always lights up my soul just stepping into the beautifully crafted and painstakingly described world of the Ganguli’s.

2. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Oddly enough, one lazy summer on our Annual month long vacation in India, my mother introduced me, a 14 year old, to the crazy world of The Godfather. The movie happened to come on television and my mum and I watched it, her talking me through every single scene and detailing at every minute how brilliant the film was, but how I must read the book. She gave me the back story to every single character that the film skirts over but the book details in intimate brilliance and like her, I was hooked. I bought the book the next day and read it feverishly in four hours, devouring every brilliant word. Coppolla bought Puzo’s story of the Italian underworld to the masses, and one sleepy afternoon in India, my mother bought it into my life. An absolute must-read for the characters that have now been immortalised in that movie. A true fan can only every appreciate the movie once they have read this amazing book.

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
One of my childhood favourites. I love that this book was written in the early 1900s, yet the lessons and character resonate so strongly even today in 2013. I simply love the sisterhood and the way each sister is etched out, and their simple journeys through life with all the mirth and mischief in between. One of my favourite classics.

4. The Shining by Stephen King
I never thought it could be possible to be absolutely shit-scared by a book. The horror echoes through every single, gripping page. The movie is a mere shadow in comparison to the way the tension builds and the madness erupts through King’s evocative imagery. I’ve read this about a dozen times and I need to sleep with the light on at every hotel room I go to ever since.

5. The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling
Words cannot sum up what a big fan I am. I can re-read these a million times and always get lost in the symbolism, the beautiful parallel world and the simple but enchanting prose every single time. Frankly, I think this is as much a ‘children’s’ book as 50 Shades of Grey is literature. If you haven’t bitten the bullet yet…do it. NOW!

There you have it, the top of my head’s must-watch/must-read list.

“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself” – Oscar Wilde

May a bag of popcorn, a comfy sofa and great lighting always be at your behest,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster.

Things every woman should write down

So here we are again.

A fork in the road when we determine whether our relationship will go on as many before; to start of spontaneously with an exciting flurry of activity, only to die down by virtue of complacency and fail spectacularly into disrepair along the road. 

I’m not entirely convinced blogging suits my erratic, writer’s block-ridden soul…especially not blogging regularly. I start off with the best intentions, life catches up, then I fall into a guilt/shame/avoidance spiral which makes it hard to look this lonely little blog in the face to remind it that I do really love it, and I’m sorry I haven’t been showing it lately.

Nonetheless, a new year has brought with it a great many new beginnings and a few great endings. So in the spirit of all things fresh out of their plastic wrapping, I hereby declare I am going to give this blog some fresh words to keep it pumping. For a few weeks at least until spiral above re-invents itself.

I think the trick is in the title. If I had six minutes left to live…what would I write about? So get comfy dear blog and haunting blogreaders, I have a been inspired by this wonderful being who chanced upon an article on Oprah.com on ’15 Things Every Woman Should Write Down’. According to my blogger friend

The article encourages women to write down a list of fifteen things that are meant to make us think and feel in the moment and be there for us to go back and read. To help us feel better or enlightened.

Along with her, I’ll be doing a fifteen day exercise writing down things every woman should write down. Here is the list:

  1. The watched/read it list
  2. Grandma’s words of wisdom
  3. Your true happiness
  4. The mistake you never want to make
  5. Your best friend’s recipe
  6. Your favourite failure
  7. The most unexpected compliment you ever got
  8. A personal syllabus
  9. A deep dark secret
  10. What Younger You would like about Present You
  11. That one quote
  12. The hardest thing to forgive
  13. The best surprise you’ve ever had
  14. An amendment to the bucket list
  15. Last night’s dream

Feel free to join in the fun, after all, as it was once so aptly said:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

May the sight of new words, an email alert promising an hour of relaxing reading and the optimistic creativity of a new beginning always be with you,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster

Hope not hate

You just need to turn on the television, or open a newspaper to feel the negative energy swamping our Planet.

Hate- the all encompassing word that sums up everything we see and encounter in the media and in real life every single day.

Terrorism, depravity, extremism in all forms. A terrorist blowing up innocent lives for an unknown cause in Pakistan, a deranged lunatic shooting down a camp of young children in Norway, a young woman being raped and killed in the most inhumane manner in Delhi, the list never ceases to amaze.

What do we learn from all this? Do we get desensitised? Do we learn to turn the other cheek and absorb it all but learn nothing or are the only lessons to learn that humans are evil, humanity doesnt exist, we are ill prepared for the future and our planet is in mortal peril

No.

I believe in hope not hate. I believe the lessons we ought to take away are lessons of peace and positivity in the face of the lowest low

For every suicide bomber, there is a nameless, faceless man who defends our religion with a simple act of human kindness. We have inspiration all around us, we should soak it up- rather than complain about how the media portrays Muslims. We should instead endeavour to be the best Muslims we can be and be kind to our neighbours and represent Islam the best way we know how- if it means one person goes away learning something new- we are fighting a winning battle.

For every deranged lunatic gunning down a camp of promising young leaders, we have a generation of young people who are getting out of their comfortable status quo to give something back to the planet. The sisters and brothers of those kids who were killed don’t grow up seething with blood rage wanting an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ with a dramatic to rival a Tarantino movie. No- instead they deal with the unbearable loss, they learn and they live on. They create charitable foundations, they feel for the plight of those who have been through similar or worse situations. 

For every young woman raped, pillaged and murdered; there are those who march all day and all night, who teach their sons, who give strength to their daughters, those who shout and scream and allow the memory to spur them to live on and demand change and re-write history.

The human spirit triumphs in adversity. Life goes on. Negativity gets more face time than the moderate and the temperate and the triumph.

You don’t hear enough about people stepping out of their circumstances and making the most of what they’ve got. You don’t hear enough about the other side of unspeakable violence; the sadness and the strength it gives.  You don’t hear enough about the social change we need and the lessons we put into practice.

Lest we forget, the road is perilous and treacherous but it is filled with invisible flowers that line the streets which we have to put on rose-coloured glasses to see.

My advice to you: be happy, be good, we can overcome this. Hope can overcome hate, one step at a time.

As always, I leave you with a quote:

“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it. “- Fyodor Dostoevsky

I don’t profess to see God’s will in poor children starving or innocent people being harmed, but I do see that for every life lost in vain, there is another born to greatness. We are living proof that the impossible is possible and that for every lot of sadness and hate and despair, there is more than enough happiness, hope and light to  counter it all and make the world we live in a better place. We just need to Hope. Hope always wins over Hate.

I wish you hope, and lots of it, to fill your life and lighten your burdens,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster

It’s a Grace Van Cutsem sort of day…

Image

Grace Van Cutsem, the tiny frowning bridesmaid at The ol’ shindig Kate and Wills had back in April 2011.

She is one of my biggest heroes  and the archetypal poster girl for days when really, you just want to have a whine and a moan and really C.B.A to be nice.

As today is officially Grace Van Cutsem day, I present, my top five list of annoyances:

  1. The smell of fake tan- On a crowded train, at bitchy o’clock in the morning, there is nothing more gag-inducing than the wonderful smell of fake tan. A truly grotesque combination of smelly socks, month-old biscuits and rusty copper, why anybody would ever subject themselves and others to this wonderful scent is beyond me. People spend millions on this stuff, just look around at the pasty/orange faces around you. Why oh why have the cosmetic companies not found a way to make this vile stuff smell like blueberries yet?
  2. People who live their dramas through Facebook/Twitter- Social Media is a precarious platform that seems to invite the most self-indulgent members of society to air their dirty linens in public while hunched behind a computer screen in a dark room. It buggers my mind beyond belief when I log on and read statuses like “OMG Can’t believe some people in the world…whatevs im over it, lets go out and party girls” or tweets like “People are so hurtful sometimes wow today has been eye opening”. If I poked my eyeballs out with a fork (as I am often inclined to do) upon reading this garbage, I would be on my seventy fifth set of fake eyes by now. Firstly, buddy, the thinly veiled attempts at being “subtle” are not fooling anyone, we all know your scumbag boyfriend was a scumbag once again or that your love/hate relationship with your sister is more hate than love; who are you kidding, really? Also, and more importantly, WHO in the name of all that is noble and not full of shit GIVES a Fudge.Under.Cool.Knife? Keep your drama to yourself and post happy Instagram’d pictures of your cute puppy instead.
  3. Cheapskates- Right, this is probably my biggest gripe ever and a guaranteed sure-fire way to earn my utter disdain. I am by no means Miss Moneybags, and never have been, but miserly cheapskates turn me into a right mardy bum. I can’t stand people who drive Italian Supercars, wear snazzy custom-made suits and yet cough and guffaw when they have to fork out a fiver to contribute to the Office Cake Fund and yet scoff down the Krispy Kremes like the best of us. I know we’re in a recession, people should all be watching their pennies, but really, I hate people who are cheap. There I said it.
  4. Little bits of crap in between my keyboard- It is gross enough I have about four weeks of desk-chained lunch crumbs hiding and practically cackling with evil bacteria-filled laughter, what’s worse is no amount of scraping, squishing, squeezing, poking dislodges any of the tenacious buggers. Answers on a postcard on how to have a clean (and hygienic) workspace please, I’m convinced my keyboard is breaking me out in hives.
  5. Geographically superior Nonces- You know, I get it really. Dubai vs. Abu Dhabi, London vs. Up Norff, NYC vs. LA, Mumbai vs. Delhi, Yorkshire vs. Lancashire, , Jo’burg vs. Cape Town…geographical rivalries have existed since time immemorial. As a citizen of the world, and a proud resident of more places than fit on a small piece of paper, it truly disturbs me when people get all  superior  about where they live. I understand pride and joy in your home town or where you live, but I don’t get this new wave idea that to justify you live in the greatest city/country/town/village on Planet E, it must mean everywhere else is a shit hole. This jaunty put-others-down attitude pisses me right off.

The above list is by no means exhaustive, but really the main things that are making me want to go renegade, Grace Van Cutsem style and just cover my chubby hands over my little ears and put on a proper moany face.

A quote that pretty much sums up life:

“Some people deserve a high five…in the face…with a chair.”- Anonymous

May stamping feet, smoke out of ears and wrinkly frowns always be with you,

If I had six minutes to live, I’d write a little faster xxx

As the wind kindles a fire…

I’ve been a naughty blogger again. I promised myself I would blog at least once a month but October passed in a haze of exam pain and November flew in an impromptu sunshine escape, so I do have my excuses, as well rehearsed as they may be. Cross my heart though, this blog post has been on my mind near constantly in the last 5 weeks.

It is a pretty delicious feeling when you are bubbling over to write about something, but just waiting for the perfect planetary alignment that will spare you a half hour to do so.

I know one universal truth in my long study of human behaviour; people really don’t dig long distance relationships. If I had a penny for every time I heard someone scoff and sneer and say “I don’t do Long Distance…it never works out” I would be a billionaire on the cover of Forbes magazine standing next to Oprah and The Queen (HRH).

In actual fact, for me at least, long distance relationships are all I have ever known. Rewind back a quarter of a century ago, as soon as I arrived into the world kicking and screaming, I stepped neatly into my parent’s world of long distance love. Not with each other of course, but as expatriates, they had left house and home and grandma and grandpas and dads and mums and sisters and brothers to set up shop in a shady Desert in the middle of nowhere. As a second-generation expat brat, I took on that long distance love from the moment I took my first breath.

Anecdotes of our babbling babyisms and coochie coo pictures of my sister and I sleeping, bathing, eating, frowning and giggling made it across the Arabian Sea in small blue airmail letters for grandparents and uncles and aunties and cousins to fawn over. A mere baby, I probably had no idea that this was the first of a very great many series of long distance love in my life.

The still point of my carefree turning world probably came when I was about eleven years old though, when my older sister got married and moved away. Not just a sea away, like my grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins, but a whole couple of continents away. At the time I was thrilled to bits because, well I would finally get my own room. Subjugated to share in a neat and tidy lavender cocoon with matching carpets and curtains and very floral and pretty things, I was thrilled to bits about the possibilities of all the changes I would bring in once the older, responsible, mature, moody, regimental big sister was gone. I drew posters and made plans, blissfully unaware I was about to get a serious crash course in love, longing and distance.

At the time I would’ve laughed if I told you that I would miss her unbearable. In fact, I distinctly remember, on her wedding day, when everyone was emotional, I bawled like a baby and my sister laughed at me saying “Omg are you actually crying?!” She laughed as I wept. We have this on her Wedding video. She laughed because that’s what she does, she laughs at me, and I cried because I think it hit me; life was about to change big style.

Being eleven is pretty dumb to start with, but when your sister moves away and everything starts changing, it fast becomes very dumb. I discovered through lonely nights that being an (almost) only child is really not all it is cracked up to be. I longed to have her around, to laugh with, talk to, annoy, get mad at, beat up etc. I yearned to hear her (previously mean) voice and to have her tell me off, laugh at me or be her little slave girl who ran to buy her chocolate from the grocery store in a heart beat. I realised we wasted so much time fighting and that the lavender room really wasn’t that bad, going so far that I hesitated to change a single detail of it for a good five years. I forgot to ask her what her absolute favourite dream was or who she wanted to be when she grew up. A few years later as I started to grow up a bit and got a permanent internet connection, we emailed back and forth, maintaining and nurturing our long distance relationship between all the hundred things that fill up daily lives.

If that were my only foray into long distance relationships, maybe I would be a bit more cynical too, but moving on to high school I was lucky enough to meet some absolutely fantastic people and develop lasting relationships which to this day I count as my lifelines. When we all moved to different countries for University, the technology really came in handy and emails came in thick and fast, making the long distance relationships much easier.

Those emails were my life line through some pretty hard and incredibly fulfilling times. Through them I laughed, cried, and was as deeply engrossed in their daily lives as they were in mine. I remember the memorable ones, from forays into idealistic student activism to tales of vices and hedonism; from massive successes with work and careers to devastating fails with love. We grew together and maintained the love through careful cultivation and millions and millions of terabytes of emails. Though the emails took the edge off, the yearning never stopped.

By the time I met the Boy of my Dreams, I was almost a smiling Buddha when it came to long distance. It didn’t disturb us for one moment that from the very onset, we were a very long distance relationship. From the moment we met till the day we married , we maintained 2 years through distances from 70 miles to 7000.  No doubt being in a long distance relationship can be very difficult. No matter how many new means of communication, somehow typed words on a screen or a somewhat grainy image off a webcam do not make up for whispered sweet nothings and the power of actual human touch.

Yet, yes yet, I am a hardcore advocate of the long-distance love.

Till today, at this established and ripe old age of 25, I still conduct family gossip sessions with my mum on BBM, while simultaneously following my best friend’s wedding planning on a blog and when I’m lucky indulging in impromptu skype sessions with my two beautiful nephews who giggle, gurgle and smile almost close enough to cuddle from deep yonder of a 12.5″ screen.

The yearning never goes away, and it can sometimes be physically painful to know that all my best friends and much of my family are so far away and without possibility of when I can definitely see them next.  It is a precarious position to be in, to love so much but to be so far apart it actually hurts.

As I help one of my bestie’s in South Africa to decide over which wedding dress to go far and simultaneously keep my sister entertained with a good old chin-wag as she waits at the bus stop for my little nephew to come home (thank god for BBM) I can’t help but think the secret to long distance relationship is, as always, best summed up in a quote:

“L’absence diminue les médiocres passions, et augmente les grandes, comme le vent éteint les bougies et allume le feu*”- François de La Rochefoucald

*Loosely translated: Absence extinguishes the minor passions and increases the great ones, as the wind blows out a candle and kindles a fire.

May all your long distance relationships be akin to the wind kindling a great, passionate and full of love fire

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster xxx

The worth of human life

So today is 10th of September 2011. I don’t usually blog this often but there is something I need to get off my chest. In hope and earnestness, I present to you the current state of the world.

The media hysteria is starting to heat up considerably, because tomorrow is September 11th 2011 and it marks the ten-year anniversary of when a handful of hijackers flew commercial airliners into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. I have a lot of opinions on the matter, but I will keep my view on the mass hysteria that surrounds the 9/11 attacks to myself for now.

I do so with a great deal of restraint, because ultimately I feel like we are losing the bigger picture. Ah, that elusive big picture which makes us hone into the grand scheme of things rather than the personal, the particular and the specific.

Over the coming few hours if you grab a newspaper, log in to read articles or blogs, or catch the 9’o clock run down, chances are somehow somewhere, wherever in the world you are, you will be subject to a discourse on the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

10 years on…the tragedy, the great loss, the most shocking outcomes, the victories (death of Osama, ding dong the witch is dead, hurrah etc.) the defeats (so many other attacks that followed, Islamic Extremism still prevails, watch your back, don’t trust thy neighbour, those crazy Moslems, the world divided, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sharm el Sheikh, Bali, Mumbai etc.) what we can learn, what we should do, what we should think and what we should believe. All because a bunch of crazies raped the sanctity of Great Country United States of America and carried out an attack on home soil harming home civilians.

I’m saying it here and while  I may be vilified for it, here goes:

I really, really couldn’t care less about 9/11 for a moment longer.

Here is why:

I stand in respect to all those who have lost loved ones at any moment in any given time, especially so where those loved ones are innocent civilians caught in the wretched web of shady politics, power-hungry leaders or ill-advised, illogical extremists. However, I think it is time we stop ignoring the giant pink elephant in the room and stop focusing on an event that happened 10 years ago, to instead shift our valuable time and effort to something that is taking place under our very noses:

The catastrophic famine in the horn of Africa means 12 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

750,000 people are at risk of death in Somalia.

4.6 million people in Ethiopia, 4 million people in Somalia, 3.5 million people in Kenya and 120,000 people in Djibouti are in desperate need for the very basic aide.

The mind boggles. Have we become so insensitive to human life that figures like thousands and millions mean nothing anymore? For us, in the land of plenty and excess, are we that ignorant or shallow that we have the heart to spend time, money and useful brain space on obsessing over an event that happened 10 years ago, rather than thinking, worrying, and doing something about an even more catastrophic event that is taking place under our noses right this very second?

I appreciate charity and issues of poverty make some people uncomfortable. It doesn’t draw in the crowds, because there is no bear to bait, it is just the one simple emotion of empathy and the one constructive act of help that is needed. There is no political discourse, no bad guy, no endless obsessing…just the act of giving that is needed.

I am an optimistic person so I am going to repress my inner demon that says, the worth of the life of one person who died on 9/11 is far greater to our world than the worth of the life of one person suffering from the famine in Africa at this moment. What other explanation can there be other than : 3000 deaths on 9/11 are worth talking about 10 years later, while a potential 750,000 deaths happening today are not worth talking about for more than 10 minutes.

Give one pound if you can afford it. Give more if you can. Everytime you leave an unfinished bite of food on your plate just take a minute to consider that no matter how ‘un-appetising’ that morsel seems, for someone out there it is the solution to the predicament of prolonged life or instant death. Charity is personal. Don’t yell about it. Don’t expect an award. Do it because you are guilty, hopeful, upset, angry, helpful, whatever. Do it because you are human…Just give.

Never forget:

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.”- Mohandas Gandhi

Don’t let the future be witness to the fact that, to us today, the worth of each human life is not equal. Do something.

http://www.msf.org.uk/somalia_appeal2.aspx?gclid=CIGZ2fPHkqsCFQcNtAodFV50tw

http://www.unicef.org.uk/landing-pages/donate-east-africa/?gclid=CJCi__rHkqsCFdQOfAod4BkYtw&sissr=1

https://donate.oxfam.org.uk/eastafrica?pscid=ps_ggl_G-042-Emergencies-East-Africa

http://www.actionaid.org.uk/100044/sponsor_a_child_today.html?&mkwid=sNVNJIlLL&pcrid=7323203883&plid=&kword=charity&gclid=CJmPhKzIkqsCFZQOfAod_zNpuQ

The Ballad of the nine to five

So, apparently I am terrible at this regular blogging business. Juggling a marriage, a career, a big family, ten thousand stupidly hard exams and some semblance of a social life is a lot harder than it seems. 24 hours in a day just isn’t enough.

For anyone else who juggles for a living, you know the feeling: you may be doing a great job at satisfactorily dealing with all the balls, but you still are and always will be a clown.

So I am back! Today I am wearing my blogger hat, and I am going to talk about the one place I often spend 12 hours of my valuable 24 hour day. Work.

According the the Great People’s (well lazy students and can’t be bothered curious types) Encyclopedia or Wikipedia as it is popularly known,

Work may refer to:

Human labor:

Other than the manual labour bit, I think the above succinctly summarises what I, and millions like me, do for a living. Some of us are lucky enough to get paid to have a 9-5(ish) job. The thing they fail to tell you as a wide-eyed naive graduate, or an eager, hopeful job seeker is that most jobs are pretty much the same. I mean, the value they produce may have differing strengths, but ultimately, the work that goes into the work, often follows the same pattern.
The Pattern
1) After snoozing the life out of your alarm clock, wake up at some ungodly hour, thinking I really ought to sleep a bit earlier.
2) Rifle through an uninspiring wardrobe to try and pick an outfit to wear. This has been made harder by Corporate culture attempting to put some power/control back in your hands and stating the firm dress policy as : Business Casual. Whatever the heck that means. Pull out the same-ish variation of outfit and attempt to accesorize with a brightly coloured accessory.
3) Rub sleep out of eyes and slap on some war paint.
4) Commute uselessly for several minutes/hours. Complain about it, in your head/out loud to anyone caring to listen, constantly. Traffic is shit. Public transport is shittier.
5) Reach your desk and sift through 14,000 emails of which about 63% relate to you. Of the 63% related to you, 86% require to be dealt with urgently. First cup of black coffee, no sugar.
6) Ignore the emails and check facebook. Twice. If feeling particularly uninspired, read The Financial Times and check twitter. Second cup of Black coffee, no sugar.
7) Have banter with colleagues. Somebody will bring in cakes/donuts/biscuits/sweets because of a special occaison. Eye up cakes suspiciously, google “How many calories in a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Donut” obsessively and then proceed to scoff down 2.5 in the space of 7 minutes. Swear to yourself you will run up and down the stairs to make up for it.
8) Deal with a few of the urgent emails. Feel very hardworking and accomplished.
9) Start thinking about what to do with the rest of your tasks for the day. Feel mildly nauseated by the length of your to-do list so go on a coffee run instead. Third cup of Black coffee, no sugar of the day.
10) Surely it can’t be lunchtime already?! Where does the day fly! Check facebook again and head to the on-site restaurant with colleagues to have more banter.
11) Return from lunch, attend to 2 of the 28 things on your to-do list. Simultaneously chat to your mum, best friend and husband on BBM. Who said women can’t multi task?
12) Attend the first of your three scheduled meetings for the day. Try very best to look professional and pay attention, but casually drift off and think about what to buy on ASOS on your weekly online shopping trip. When asked for comments, look wise and answer “I do agree with you Joe, I think it is really important we keep the trajectory flowing on this….” Never. Fails.
13) Return from meeting. Attend to seven of the 28 to-do tasks. Feel pooped and do an ASOS faux shop (the kind where you add everything you love to your basket…only to get a minor shock at the total, push X on the browser and feel somewhat guilty but sated.)
14) Re-check facebook, feel guilty and panic-plow through another two tasks before going to another snooze-fest meeting.
15) Return from meeting feeling inspired, attend to some more tasks. Find the list has magically increased multiple-fold and start having a mild anxiety attack. Hyperventilate in bathroom stall for few minutes, then resume work.
16) Do constructive, rewarding, hard work for the rest of the day. In between checking facebook and attending more snooze-fest meetings of course.
17) Look at the clock…6pm- another mild anxiety attack.
18) Finally make the executive decision to put all un-done tasks on to-do list (now as long as three Harry Potters) for tomorrow and guiltily start to pack up. Cast furtive glances to make sure nobody else looks like they are thinking “what a slacker”, promise self to work hard ALL day tomorrow with NO facebook/asos faux shop/coffee runs and run for it.
19) Reach the exit, and realise, you forgot something SUPER important that just HAS to be done tonight. Resignedly trudge back upstairs, pack up your laptop to complete work from home that evening, between half-watching telly and spending quality time with your husband, who is doing something very similar.
20) Commute uselessly for several minutes/hours. Complain about it, in your head/out loud to anyone caring to listen, constantly. Traffic is shit. Public transport is shittier.
So whatever it is you do, if you are required to do it in a Corporate-esque environment, sat mostly behind a desk for the required hours of 9am to 5pm (ha!) The Pattern above is probably pretty familiar for most of your working days. Most, not all of course.
For those of you who have a different, varied job which involves being in exotic locations, doing varied, consistently exciting and challenging work every single minute of your working life: bite me.
In that spirit:
“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”- Martin Luther King Jr.
Right, better get back to work then.
May the blue sky trajectory, four-box model and endless cups of black coffee be with you,
If I had six minute to live…I’d write a little faster x

Men are from Mars

I always think of myself as a very feminine person. I had an older sister and generally have always only ever had close girlfriends. I tend to empathise and associate best with females. I have never been one of those girls who gets on better with men, or who has had lots of guy-friends. To be honest, most of the time I believe men are an entirely foreign and somewhat bewildering species far removed from everything I know to be true.

Compound this with the fact that I haven’t had many close male relationships other than one with my father who, as anyone who knows him can say with authority, is a man very much in touch with his feminine side. As a household it was a calm, girly, estrogen-heavy environment. Nobody really played (or watched) sport and shopping wasn’t seen as a chore. My dad, who basically had to sink or swim with two girls and a strong-willed wife, probably knows more about curtains than cricket.

So when I met The Boy, I was as caught up in the rush of romance as I was intrigued to finally become best friends with a real, proper boy. We’ve been together four years and while The Boy is far from a dry-wall breaking beer slugging boorish alpha male type, he is the closest I have ever been to a member of the alien species.

The Boy rocks my world on a daily basis; everyone who knows us knows we are a somewhat annoyingly happy couple. I have so enjoyed getting to know my first male best friend, but often there have been moments that have ranged from gentle bemusement, the kind that leaves you with a gentle self-smile to utmost hair-splitting tear-inducing jaw-clenching frustration. I have come to the conclusion that all this comes from the fact that as I had always suspected, Men are from Mars. God Bless them but they are utterly mad.

I like lists. So here is a list of my top ten mad observations of things I never ever will understand about men. Most of these are from My Boy, but I’m sure all men exhibit these behaviours in some form or the other.

Things I never ever will understand about men

1. What is it with men and the bloody Playstation/Xbox? I have seen my very intelligent and engaging Boy turn into a googly-eyed silent thing with super-twitchy fingers. I get that men like video games because it gives them an alternate reality where everything is good or evil and mindless violence has a great deal of purpose…but what I refuse to get is why on earth four hours at a time without food, sleep or communication with humans, gets whiled away in front of this wretched contraption without so much as a grunt in response to your well-meaning questions. To The Boy’s credit, he tends to buy the latest game (often about 5 seconds after it is released to the general public,) play it like a maniac within the first 2 days, clock it and move back to being a loving caring talking husband. I tried to get involved and play a game once (Little Big Planet 2 for the record) but it all moved to fast and I got all stressed out because I kept dying and he got all stressed out because I kept hitting A when I should’ve been hitting X, and it all just went a bit west. So, men and video games…I just don’t get it.

2. I can remember our first date, our first holiday, the first time someone addressed us as “Mr and Mrs Boy”, the dress I wore on our 8th date etc. etc. He, like most men, often can’t even remember his own birthday. I am constantly reminding him of social dates for the diary, family birthday’s, even pay days! You’d think, right: men have bad memories. Not True. What year did Messi get scouted? When was the last time England got to the semi-finals of a World Cup? What were you doing at the exact moment Beckham missed that penalty? The answers to all these questions and several other thousand useless ones are taking up very important and premium space in men’s brains. No wonder they will never remember that you committed to your friend’s sister’s neighbour’s engagement party  the day of the Champion’s League Final.

3. I went through a phase, when I was a fashion student, of wearing mostly Vintage finds from a super cool warehouse deep in the East End. It got me through fashion week and almost every day of being surrounded by far more fashionable people at college. I still look back and think of my authentic 80’s bomber jacket, my 50’s tea dresses, my dominatrix black leather corset-waist belt and my grandad cricket jumper with the kind of fondness reserved for one’s first born child. The Boy thought each and every single item was utterly mad. He would often go from shaking his head to full on laughing his head off at my finds. I was even forbidden from using the word “vintage” for a while. Palazzo pants, Harem pants, Midi skirts, High-waisted sailor shorts, Block-coloured platforms, Blue eyeliner, Tuxedo jackets…all very haute according to the fashion powers that be; all deemed utterly repulsive by men. They just don’t get it. And for that, I just don’t get them!

4. Hi, I’m if i had six minutes to live, and I’m a beauty product-aholic. I have a somewhat chronic makeup/bath and body product addiction. My room is absolutely filled with every single type of beauty product ever invented. I can’t help but pick up every single shiny new bottle when I stop by Boots…it is a problem I am seeking help for. My Boy is very intrigued by my potions and lotions and is always eagerly buzzing around my dressing table to see if there are any items I suggest he should use. He always pretends to be really nonchalant about it but I can see his face light up when I suggest he should moisturise or exfoliate…they would never buy their own products but find it perfectly fine to pinch ours, claiming to “test it out to make sure we aren’t getting poisoned”. Right.

5. We go on a lot of drives. I always feel perfectly safe with him at the wheel but I will never understand why somewhere, deep down inside even the most sensible boy, there is a racer-boy at heart. I have often caught my Boy driving like he is on the Monaco Grand Prix track, cornering country roads in our tiny Aubergine Mazda 2 as if on rails. I believe Top Gear may be to blame for this phenomenon but answers on a postcard are welcome with your thoughts and experiences on the matter.

6. Men often say the wrong thing. My well-meaning Boy, like hundreds before him tends to have foot in mouth disease sometimes. Whether it is my makeup, my weight, my volatile relationship with a particular girlfriend or a problem I encountered at work…if men aren’t careful sometimes those ‘inside’ thoughts come outside without so much as a pause for breath and you’re left shocked at the impact of that casual but so hurtful (and often irritatingly spot on) remark. “Yes maybe that dress isn’t the most flattering option” or “why pay £100 for a gym membership you never use?” or “maybe she hasn’t called because she doesn’t have much to say to you” or “he probably was being short because you did it wrong”. To their credit they are mostly apologetic and often very soothing after the incriminating foot-in-mouth comment has cleared the air…but sometimes it might still mean a night on the sofa.

7. The Boy and I have many things in common like our love for Nando’s, bad pop music and scented candles. One thing we most certainly do not is our taste in movies. I will never understand why American bullshit comedies make him laugh till he literally cries, and movies about Robots that turn into cars are given epic status when to me they are and always will be, the most hollow depths of Bad Hollywood and a general bane to society.

8. Now I don’t know if this is just The Boy, or men in general, but they bloody eat LOADS and very fast. Sitting for a meal with my Boy is like being on one of those ridiculous burger-eating competitions on telly, you just eat as much as you can, as fast as possible and need to be reminded to chew. It doesn’t help that his hearty appetite is matched by a very slender frame, whereas I’m pretty much the other (and wrong) way round. One word: un-freakin’-fair.

You have to give them credit where it is due though, they may be frustrating but they are a whole lot bloody simpler than women. Once you come to terms with the above eight points and some variations therewithin, you often don’t encounter much more complexity.

So, as always, I sign off with a quote:

“The greatest truths are the simplest: so likewise are the greatest men.”- Julius Charles Hare

May many violent  PS3 games, bad American comedies and useless amounts of football trivia be with you,

If I had six minute to live…I’d write a little faster x

The good, the bad and the rainy

So September 29th 2004 marked the day I landed at Heathrow Airport after a six-and-a-half hour flight to a country I had never before visited and which was to be, for all accounts and purposes, my home for the next 3 years at least.

Welcome to England!

Today marks my 6 year and 9 month anniversary on what has been an absolutely mad journey. I know it is the biggest super cliché that ever existed, but stating that I arrived as a girl and stand before you today as a woman, wouldn’t quite even begin to cover it.

I’ve learnt a lot of things. I am a fast learner; that was the first thing I learnt.

I also learnt that I was a crazy product of similarly somewhat crazy but well-meaning parents. That can be the only explanation for agreeing and actively encouraging their youngest-born to travel over three thousand miles to a country that hadn’t been part of family-fun summer holidays, and specifically to a town nobody in the family could place on a map, to a University attended by students who might as well have been aliens.

So this journey was doomed to be perilously difficult, exciting, risky, problematic, fantastic, liberating, compromising, joyful, mirthful…even Webster’s has run out of synonyms now. Through this journey I have often felt like an alien myself, with my weird accent (that changes every year and is a touch moody) and my weird half-Dubai, half-not self riding the tides as they presented themselves to me. Now on the eve of becoming well and truly British* better now than ever to muse on the journey and the little things I have picked up along the way.

I have lived in Lancaster, London, Blackburn/Manchester and travelled all over the country, so I feel I have some authority when I muse on the mad things I have learnt about being British. This list is by no means exhaustive.

The Good

-Now, it is largely a myth that British people are unfriendly or stuck up. Brits are actually very friendly, just in a rather stoic, hardly expressive way. One thing I have observed without a doubt is the further up North you go, the nicer and friendlier people become.

-My rose-coloured glasses may be a bright fuschia, but as a lover of Shakespeare, History and Kings and Queens, the history that seeps through every inch of life and co-exists beautifully with modern Britain just lights me up inside. I love that the house I live in has been around for centuries. It makes me very excited that the library I study in is a Victorian Gothic building that looks like a Harry Potter set. I absolutely love that every cobble stone you walk on has been tread on by millions before with their millions of stories. I was born in a city that was perhaps just a little bit older than me, so I love being a very tiny couplet in this long saga that is Britain.

-Most people think I have a few screws loose in this sense but I adore the Royal Family and always have. I am a tad obsessive, and with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge making royalty chic again, I’m very glad my madness for all things pomp and circumstance related is somewhat acceptable in normal society once again.

-People tend to take for granted things they never had to fight for. I love the fact that I have freedom to choose to be and do whatever my heart desires and I am not held back because of the colour of my skin or the fact that I am a female. They may have an atrocious habit of meddling in other countries matters but when it comes to giving me rights and opportunities and freedom, I am a satisfied citizen. I also really like that I can walk around most places without men rudely staring at me and infuriatingly undressing me with their lecherous eyes. Women in England, you take this for granted, trust me.

-As a former fashion student in one of the world’s most exciting and creatively stimulating fashion capitals I truly believe in the power of British fashion. A frankly incredible high street and some of the most inspiring talent that all starts out in the handy cutting rooms of Central Saint Martin’s and goes on to Couture in Milan and Paris, nobody does fashion like the Brits. Unafraid to push the boundaries and constantly evolving, Britain shows the fashion world the vital importance of those trailblazing newbies who go on to write history. God Save McQueen!

-I know people whinge and complain about it, but the National Health Service freakin’ rocks, in my humble opinion. I am very grateful for the NHS and I hope we never lose the equal opportunities and fair treatment to all that it works so hard to provide.

-The mentalist accents, that vary not just from city to city, but sometimes from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. I love the sheer number of them and am absolutely bemused by just how this tiny little island can house so many different and absolutely unique accents. My personal favourite? Scousers rule!

The Bad

-So the Brits like their drink, big surprise. I’ve come to find the Brits don’t like their drink, they actually probably hate alcohol, and themselves. There is no other reason for the sheer abuse of alcohol and the disturbing binge drinking that is far too commonplace. Not just confined to racy teenagers or lazy students, binge drinking has swept the nation and is causing numerous social problems. It is intimidating, frustrating and frankly, a gross discredit and the inevitable downfall of an otherwise great nation.

-Jamie Oliver and Gordan Ramsay look away now. British food is diabolical. Firstly, I find it hard to find a specific national dish which is both palatable and good for you. Secondly, Heinz baked beans are a national favourite and they make me want to cry a little. People eat far too much pork (as a non-pork eater, trust me this is very true) and generally eating out is hard work. Now I know I was very spoilt living in a Muslim country where everything is Halal and plentiful, but I don’t just find being a pseudo-vegetarian/pescetarian difficult…I think eating out is too expensive and often a shoddy experience. Brits just don’t do good food. Sad but true. The only exception to this rule are my wonderful sister in laws, who are all absolutely gobsmackingly brilliant cooks.

-It is very hard work being a moderate British Muslim in today’s Britain. Hard work on two counts, as on one side you’ve got hate-spewing neo-nazi renegade EDL and BNP supporters and on the other side you’ve got the equally hateful extreme-to-the-max Jihadi mad so-called Muslims. Both parties infuriate the living daylights out of me and hundreds of thousands of peace-loving, moderate, integrated British Muslims like my family and myself.

– Whether the kind you get by baking to a virtual crisp inside an oven, or the bright orange biscuit-smelling kind out a bottle, for as long as I shall live I shall never understand the allure and chase of the fake tan. Women, you look utterly ridiculous and browner than me. Stop it you’re scaring me!

The Rainy

-It rains a lot. I will stand by the fact that it doesn’t rain as much as I expected, but this is mainly because I thought rain meant a monsoon-type deluge rather than the misty pitter-patter and general cloudiness that hangs over the great Island. Umbrellas are useless, especially in Scotland where the wind just laughs at your shiny new £8 umbrella with pink polka dots, rendering it useless in 3.4 seconds.

-It snows occasionally. None of the country seems able to cope when this happens.

-The sun shines quite often. Once temperatures creep over 25 degrees, the country doesn’t seem very able to cope with this either.

-British Summer Time means the day starts at 4am and ends at 10pm. This is exhilarating and bloody confusing for a near-equator living foreigner for whom evening is around about 6pm all year round, and it is officially dark by 10pm. In the summer, the days stretch so long, you often sleep when it is as light as it was when you woke up.

-British Winter Time means the day starts, officially at about 9am (though with the perma-cloud, there are weeks there never seems to be a start) and ends around 3:30pm. This is hands down the most depressing and disconcerting time of the year. You wake for work in the dark; you get home in the dark too. For office-9-5 desk jobs, this is positively soul crushing. If it weren’t for the general joie de vivre and Christmas Markets, I reckon I would get pretty suicidal every December.

-British Spring Time is hands down the most beautiful and green season in the whole world. The colour green in all its tones and shades seems to have been born of British countryside. The North-West and Scotland are particularly stunning. When the sun shines, the trees are green, there is a crisp breeze and squirrels bandy about, you do often feel like you’re in the middle of a Harlequin Romance novel.

-The weather turns very quickly, so British people need to be dressed and prepared for the random heat wave/glorious spring/misty rain shower/chilling winter/powerful rain deluge/aching sunshine/painful hail storm/a lightning strike at all times. I often have squidgy shoes and feel far too hot in my coat.

I am a sucker for quotable quotes, and every blog post shall be concluded with a particularly significant one, so to sum it all up:

“A family with the wrong members in control; that, perhaps, is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase.” -George Orwell

May pomp, chips and rain be with you,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster x

*3 Bank accounts with some British moolah, check; 2 British degrees and half of a professional qualification, check; A British love story and lovely properly British husband J, check; A whole host of British in-laws/family, check; A Properly British job, check; British passport and my very own little British babies, soon to be check TBC…the list goes on.

If the shoe fits…

It all started one unsuspecting Thursday night at Barasti, enjoying some cocktails under the stars and engaging in some blatant people-watching. An attractive girl in her 20s walks past in a dress I spotted earlier in a high street store. Another cocktail, meet an old friend, grimace over the DJ’s choice of muzak, some more people-watching, oh! What do I spot? Another attractive girl wearing the exact same dress. Shock! Horror! If this was the Oscar’s there would be a cat-fight right about now. As the night progressed into the early hours, friends were made and more people were watched, I counted six girls wearing the incriminating dress from the affordable high-street store. Six! And lest the dear reader wonder if perhaps I was suffering from double-vision thanks to those cocktails, let it be known, the strongest ingredient in there was some sharp Pineapple juice. Six young attractive girls wearing a block-printed, slinky jersey dress from High Street Store du jour. I was appalled! Don’t think I’m a high-street snob either, I found it equally infuriating when a couple of seasons ago a certain identical version of the Louis Vuitton speedy was spotted on multiple arms of fashionistas all over Mall of the Emirates. Where has all the creativity gone?

It made me think about fashion in Dubai on a deeper level. Cities like London, Milan, Paris and Tokyo are heralded as much for their designer togs as they are for the avant-garde individualism represented by young people in their ‘street’ togs. The advent and unbridled popularity of blogs like ‘The cool Hunter’ have represented that the fashion-conscious aren’t just interested with what the couturiers are creating. Fashion is intensely and increasingly influenced in a down-up manner. With the Punk and Mod movement in the 60s hitting London, designers like Vivienne Westwood claimed with great authority that Punk was all about the people. Her collections were as much about young fashion students ripping their jeans and wearing knuckle-dusters as jewellery as her mind’s own creative ministrations. With it’s newly launched fashion week, multitudes of designer boutiques and fast-fashion troves where does Dubai’s burgeoning fashion scene stand in terms of a defined street style?

If the episode at Barasti is anything to go by, Dubai’s street style may have a long way to go. Asking several fashion friends in the know they all lament over Dubai’s lack of originality. “Everywhere I go I see people following trends, I hardly ever see anyone starting a trend or following a path less beaten to inspire a trend”, says Natalie Robehmed, “When I visit London I may see many girls wearing exactly what style.com says is ‘in’ for the season, but I also get to experience some innovation and creativity, people stepping outside the box”

From the ornate Harajuku girls of Tokyo, to the ethnic beauties of Mumbai, the well-coiffed Parisians to the eclectic East Londoners, the beachy keen babes of Miami to the head-to-toe black New Yorkers, every city has their signature style that doesn’t just take its inspiration from trends but also works of practicality and circumstantial conveniences. Taking inspiration from history, culture and making sure to keep the weatherman’s warnings in mind, a street style is derived by a need to experiment with one’s look, be creative and not worry about breaking or making fashion rules. Taking the plunge into the unknown can be intimidating but it sure beats having the same dress and the same pair of shoes and the same handbag as your equally fashionable friend.

Though perhaps we fashion-cynics are being a little harsh. Dubai is a pretty young Emirate and it does show some evidence of having particular aspects to its fashion personality that can be deemed quintessentially Dubai. Stalk a neighbourhood mall and aside from the perfectly trendy, you’ll soon notice a few quirks that make Dubai’s street style an emerging persona. O.T.T Swarovski crystals, glitzy stilettos, a little bit of leopard skin here, a few beachy-keen summer dresses there, lots of sheer black Abayas, the most bling version of designer Sunglasses one can lay their hands on, super-sized leather totes in loud colours…you may have to squint and look hard, but a gleaming street style is just waiting to emerge. Perhaps it’s a beacon of hope for those waiting patiently for a fashion revolution here in Dubai, but there is hope.

So it all rests on you. Stop going for the tried-and-tested, take a chance! If your heart tells you you’d love to wear a pair of wellingtons under an abaya, go crazy! Feel like ditching your trustworthy little black dress combo? Wear your mum’s old wedding dress and accessorize with a smile- you could well be the mascot for Dubai’s street style revolution.

A very important person once told me he believed every city was a shoe. If East London is a pair of re-issued patent leather Doctor Martens, Paris is a pair of smart, Prada loafers and Mumbai is a pair of Kohlapuri ‘Chapals’, what would Dubai’s shoe alter-ego be? The truth is the shoe would probably be a particularly glitzy pair of heels, decadent, luxurious, hella expensive and just a little bit too much.

As is trend around these neighbourhoods, a quote:

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” – Oscar Wilde

May the Doc Martens, Prada loafers and Kohlapuri chapals be with you,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster xxx

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