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.

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.

“Where is that accent from again?”

Let me begin by saying, like all naive Dubaians, I never used to believe I had an accent. An immigration official at LAX airport set me straight. After a gruelling sixteen hour flight to Los Angeles, the last thing I expected as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes was an immigration official asking me “So, what accent is that you’ve got…it’s pretty interesting.” One thing led to another, as they often do when one is travelling and at their most-vulnerable best, and the next thing I knew, I was being led to be strip-searched and interrogated for three and a half hours, all on the basis of an accent the blessed officer “couldn’t quite place”, naturally arousing suspicion. United States of Paranoia.

It did make me think though, how would I categorise my accent? Born and raised in Dubai, the Cosmopolitan melting pot that it is infused me with a global fusion of an accent. I told the officer the same thing I tell foreigners when asked about my accent “I’m a French citizen, though I was born in the Middle East where I went to an International School. I watch far too much American television, grew up with a Sri Lankan nanny, have a Canadian sister, Indian parents, a South African best friend and a Mancunian fiancé- of course I sound strange” The best part is, I would be considered decidedly uninspiring and boring in Dubai, with others affected by even stranger concoctions of nationalities, dialects and accents.

The fact of the matter is that those who live around here are constantly bombarded with different accents every single day. Live in Dubai for more than a year and you’ll realise you’re living a multi-national existence rivalled by places like New York and London, famed as cities filled with diverse immigrants. The interesting part is, unlike New York and London, where immigrants tend to stick together and form close-knit communities like Chinatown and Little Italy, Dubai is too small and too concentrated for such segregation to take place for long. There is absolutely no escaping the bombardment of accents and languages that hit a Dubaian as soon as they step out the front door in the morning, making it next to impossible to escape the ‘Dubai accent’.

Take for example a simple day out buying groceries from your neighbourhood hypermarket. As soon as you park your car you are accosted by a Sri Lankan gentleman asking if you would wish to have your car washed as you shop. You head over to pick up a trolley where a friendly South Indian security guard greets you as you enter the crowded hyperspace. You bump into your Australian neighbour as you pick up milk, and after exchanging pleasantries head over to the deli counter where you are served fresh olives by a Jordanian. You buy meat from the Pathani butcher behind the meat counter, and when you can’t find eggs, a cheerful Bangladeshi supermarket stacker directs you in the right aisle. You head over to scan and pay for your items, as your Philipina cashier asks if you would like to pay by cash or card all while a swift, Nepalese boy bags your groceries. You head back to your car, make small talk with a Local policeman giving a ticket to an illegally parked car, jump in and drive home. Over the course of 20 minutes and the simple act of getting groceries, you were faced with 9 different accents. Isn’t it but sociologically inevitable to find this infusion of accents creeping into your own?

The Dubai accent is a mish-mash of Arab phrases, British spelling, American slang and Indian-inspired diction with a generous peppering of Philipino voice inflections and Persian lingo, all blended together with the individual’s home-grown tone. Chameleon-like in its quality to borrow from what it sees around itself, the Dubai accent is pretty much synonymous with the Dubai expat entity itself. It takes defining aspects of the dynamic stuff it is exposed to, and infuses it with one’s own touch, coming up with a unique hybrid accent that leaves many stumped. As one lives life in this crazy little bubble we call Dubai, we don’t just learn to curse in five different languages and say “Good Morning” in another seven, we actually get influenced enough by the accents we hear swimming around us to start sounding a little bit different ourselves. Whether it’s imbibing phrases like ‘yalla, ‘kaisa hai’ and ‘cheers mate’, to being able to sound like a perfect parody of put-on Americanese with an ‘awesome, how you doooin’ that could put a Southern California cheerleader to shame. The Dubai accent is a feisty little fighter, making its mark even in the most fastidious of environments.

So for all those expats who have just moved and plan to stick around for a while, be prepared to expect changes to start affecting your accent after a couple of months. You can run but you can’t hide…The Dubai Accent triumphs over all, from the strongest Kenyan baritone to the most pronounced Yorkshire blend.

As always, I end with a quote:

“I have travelled more than anyone I know and I have noticed that even the Angels speak English with an accent”- Mark Twain

If it suits the Angels, it suits me fine…

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

LolaStarHearts

I'd write a little faster

milkteef

I'd write a little faster

Zoella

I'd write a little faster

If I had six minutes to live...

I'd write a little faster

zanyplanet

Caution: Crazy/ weird/ insane stuff posted ahead! Read at your own risk :P

How To Marry Me

I'd write a little faster

london is a man

I'd write a little faster

My Journey with Lupus

I'd write a little faster

Third World Goes Forth

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Adventures in Somewhereland

Living the High Life in Hong Kong