Thursday, December 22, 2005

Welcome to the land of the Bengal Tiger (or the other reason why that Nike T-shirt cost you £20 instead of £50)

Tourists? What tourists?

Well, I’m finally here, welcome to Dhaka, capital city of this tiny South Asian country we call Bangladesh. On arrival at the airport from Dubai I was slightly amazed by the doubling of terminal space especially at Immigration because its usually pretty crowded. I however wasn’t surprised at the different tourism board (not the one above) billboards practically begging the occasional pleasure-seeking tourist to ‘avail’ the city’s tourist facilities. I’ve got to admit if there’s one thing this country is really good at its institutionalized begging!

If its not the tourism board it’s the government asking foreign countries for financial assistance. Hell, Bangladesh is home to the largest Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in the world (in terms of staff numbers) which more or less does what the government should be doing – developing the country!

I’ve tried promising myself that I won’t verbally abuse this country by pointing out all that’s wrong with it whilst knowing very well that its still in its infancy – the country only gained independence from Pakistan in 1971 – visit this link for a concise history of the country. But what else is there to be said for a country that’s been voted the most corrupt not once, not twice but five times in a row.

Here’s an interesting viewpoint: Due to what appears to be the extreme backwardness of the country, one must learn to do without certain things we take for granted back home. For example, if your skin colour is a considerably lighter shade of brown (i.e. you look foreign) your best bet to not be picked out from the crowds on the street (probably by pick-pockets or street-side hawkers or worse...kidnappers) is to take a plunge in your fashion-sense (what IS fashion anyway?) and wear very crappy clothes be they hand-me-downs from the cousins here or the crappiest trouser-shirt combination. I guess it’s the same old story in many developing countries cos’ almost everyone’s an opportunist on the street!

I’m just so frustrated with the pace of change here, every time I come here its like going back to the 80’s if not the 70’s and I don’t just mean the local equivalent of elevator music (or ‘Muzac’ to give it its proper name) or the upscale stores all still playing Chris De Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’ or something of that era (yuck)!

Still, things are changing albeit at snail’s pace, I was here back in 2002 and I guess very few things have changed in Dhaka city, of the few the most noticeable must be the absence of the black and yellow three-wheeled ‘Baby Taxis’ or tuk-tuks as they’re known elsewhere in Asia. I remember just how much noise and air pollution they’d produce and how dangerously ill-balanced they were.
Now, all of these baby taxis have been replaced by green-coloured larger three-wheeled ‘CNG’s (or Compressed Natural Gas) baby taxis. They run much cleaner and quieter than their predecessors. This still hasn’t had much of an impact on the smog situation in the city but it’s a definite improvement. Most vehicles in the country are slowly being converted to CNG as its proving to be more efficient than petrol or diesel and its cheaper.

About my visit to Bangladesh this time around, I’ve made it a point to visit as few relatives as humanly possible as I’ve planned to travel around this allegedly beautiful country. Staying with the ‘rellies’ – as I like to call them, is the social equivalent of sinking sand, once you step in you can’t step out! Hence my previous decision. Of course there will always be the initial chorus of gasps from them but I’ve managed to hold my ground so far with the further aid of Mother dearest who usually has her way of smoothing over the cracks my explanations leave behind (my Bengali leaves little to be desired and it can get me into sticky situations with people here).

So the shortlist of places to visit this time around is as follows:

- The Tea Gardens of Sylhet in the North East of the country

- The dizzying heights of the Hill tracts of Chittagong in the South East

- The worlds longest uninterrupted sand beach in Cox’s Bazar and hopefully the
beautiful Island of Saint Martin in the Bay of Bengal

I sort of had an idea to go to the protected forests of the Sundarbans where you’ve got the best chance of spotting the native yet highly reserved Royal Bengal tiger and possibly the world’s largest mangrove forest but that plan got shelved due to the lack of time. In fact the whole trip to Oz has been shelved because my best friend from school Mo won’t be in Melbourne in time, so I’ve had to reallocate the time spent there to here in Bangladesh and to Singapore and Malaysia.

Oh well like the stand-up comedian Steven Wright once said, ‘You can’t have everything, where’d you put it?’. I’ll be posting more of my views as and when I get time and as usual they’ll not always be of much informative significance, just my usual two Pence (or Cents depending on where you’re reading this from).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In the land of Syriana doing the the Touristy thing

Just got back from a desert safari that I felt almost compelled to go on as I was so damn bored towards the end of my stay in Dubai. It was interesting, amusing and damn cheap to say the least! Our driver and guide, Jasim came around to my place at 3pm just like the company said he would the day before when I booked the tour.

In Jasim's Landcruiser I met Amanda and her mom from London and we went to pick up 2 more passengers at DragonMart, a huge series of warehouse-looking buildings arranged in the shape of a Chinese dragon when viewed from the air. You’ll find just about everything Chinese at DragonMart and our last 2 passengers were no exception!

We waited for them outside the complex for what seemed like half an hour and Jasim was getting restless as we only had about 3 more hours of daylight left. When they finally did show up they could barely speak a word of English – not surprising as many of the people who work at DragonMart are ‘fresh-off-the-boat’ Chinese – so they stayed quiet for pretty much the whole time and kept smiling a lot as you do when you don’t know any other line of communication.

Whilst en-route to the dunes I did ask them what their names were and they politely asked me if I wanted the Chinese version or the English version, I knew I’d never be able to remember the former so they said ‘call us Jefferson and Lawrence’, not in so many words of course!

Once at the dunes we stopped briefly to deflate the tyres to spread the weight of the car on the fine sand so we don’t sink. The dune-bashing itself was to put it plainly KICKASS! Rollercoasters don’t even come close to it simply because they’re a little too predictable, but with dune-bashing and other extreme pleasures in life you just don’t know whether or not you’re going to tip over or get stuck. We did, however get stuck in between two dunes and Jasim’s brother who was in one of the other Landcruisers bailed us out.

I should be getting some kind of royalty for this pic shouldn't I?

We stopped at the top of one of the bigger dunes to take in the view of the miles and miles of auburn sand around us and then we messed around with some old snowboards and did a little sandboarding down the side of the dune before we meandered our way down to the camp.

On a side note: Readers may be interested to know that most parts of the new George Clooney Political thriller Syriana were filmed right out here on the outskirts of Dubai city and the desert. After watching the film I recognized the buildings in the marina area and it just seemed so damn surreal to be out here.

About the film well, I think by now most people know what my current tastes in films are so you’ll also know that this film is totally highly rated by yours truly! And the fact the George Clooney is the executive producer of the film which definitely puts him in my very short list of favourite Hollywood actors who have any kind of moral credibility.

Bottom line…go support this film (preferably by watching it!) and its creators because they work for a Film house called Participant Productions which is (hopefully) working to promote towards noble causes around the world! For a quick run down of my favourite films of probably all-time – even though they all seem to have come out in 2005, are and in no particular order:

The Constant Gardener
Lord of War
and Syriana

Back to the desert safari…

At the camp some people chose to go for a rather subdued camel ride whilst some others went on the quads for a bit of dune-bashing of their own. Suffice to say I shelled out the 50 Dirhams (friggin expensive if you ask me) for the 15 minutes of amateur petrol-powered 4-wheel action. Word of advice when riding on dunes with a motorized vehicle: Scout the ridge of the dune you want to jump off of or go over before actually doing so, and NEVER HESITATE when you’re at the edge. I, however found this out the hard way and got bucked off my quad.

After all that crazy tourist activity we sat down at camp for some shisha, dinner and some belly-dancing by a very pasty looking Eastern-European lady (so much for authenticity eh?).

(belly dancing with an obviously inept and uncomfortable-looking German tourist)

I didn’t let my investigative (some might call it being nosy) instincts go by the wayside just because I was enjoying myself, I got to know some of the people working at the camp who were answering to our every whim thus making it a memorable day for us tourists. I found out that most of them were from Bangladesh and the Indian subcontinent (surprise, surprise). I asked them about their life out here in the middle of nowhere and I found myself enthralled in their stories of the day-to-day hardships they face.

They seem to live on a salary of about 400 Dhs a month, that’s £30 or $55 - I spent half of that on the whole safari!, and they’ve got to sleep rough in the flimsy sheltered areas of the camp site come rain or shine. Venturing outside of the camp area to, say the city is not prohibited but with the amount that these guys are paid its financially impossible, that coupled with the fact that roughly half of what they earn usually gets sent back home to help their families build a proper house or put their siblings through school.

Here’s the result of the least I could do ‘for’ them:

That’s right, I could only take a photo with them to give them the recognition they deserve lest I should forget the hardships people go through for the comfort of others. I had nothing to offer them but words of comfort and understanding and yet I wish I could give them something of tangible benefit.

I could go on about all this for another few web pages but I’ll spare you the unnecessary heartache you may feel for people you don’t even know and hence who hold no particular significance.

This’ll have to be my last entry before jetting off Eastwards to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Once I’m there and if I get a decent Internet connection I’ll put my introductory entry with interesting facts about the country.

And finally I leave you with this, a breathtakingly beautiful desert sunset…

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Remember that rental car?

Hey everyone how's life I know not much has changed in the space of a few days, and if it has I hope its for the better. Does anyone remember how I was whining about that crappy Nissan Sunny all them moons ago (...actually it was the last entry), and does anyone remember how I was going to hopefully upload some pics of that banged up piece of you-know-what? Well the thing decided to die on us the day before yesterday not once but twice that same day! It wasn't the battery, it wasn't the lack of fuel, it WAS however the lack of servicing of the alternator and dynamo that charges the battery for the next time you start the car.

The worst thing is that the rental company doesn't seem to see things from our point of view, people like them make me sick, they expect us to sort out the problem and take the car down to their office instead of them coming to us! Can you imagine the nerve?!! Rental companies like this wouldn't last a second in the UK, watchdog agencies would be all over them. Infact its not even a matter of where in the world these people would be held accountable, its the friggin principle! Why do we (people who are completely new to Dubai or at least don't know the roads at all) be expected to be responsible for taking the car back to the rental office for the second time?!!!

Anyhow I've come to the conclusion that I want to limit the number of pictures I put up on my blog as I believe it 'cheapens' the quality of my overall material and does nothing more than make it look like the countless number of cheesy cloned personals or friend's networks sites out there.

I hate to disappoint but for those who know me through my blogging or just those who know me, I'm sure you'll understand where I'm coming from. Ok I'm hopefully suppose to meet up with Jaco to go to Jumeirah beach at noon and its noon now so I'm running late so I'll be back soon, hopefully I should be able to sort out some kitesurfing whilst we're all still here so if I get pictures from that I'll put them up despite what I just said about flooding this blog with photos.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Dubai on four wheels

Finally I got my first taste of what its like to drive in this place even though the car that we rented was on the serious side of abused to say the least. It’s a 6 year old Nissan Sunny with horrible wheel alignment so I keep veering too the right if I’m not too careful in compensating for this dirty little snag. The breaks squeal like (not squeak) and they’re as sensitive as hell. On the upside its an automatic and we’re paying about £10 a day for the…ahem ‘privilege’ as its next to impossible to get around this city without a car.

Getting a UAE license was pretty simple given the horrendous load of bureaucracy you’ve got to go through in this part of world for anything that’s remotely official. Dad and I just had to show our UK licenses and the traffic department officials did the rest on production of some moolah (approx £17). As I’m not a resident of this country I can only get a 6-month license, Dad’s already a resident so he gets a near-permanent 10-year license, no driving test no nothing for both of us…brilliant!

Since the car’s an automatic, I don’t need to worry about shifting gears but even so I find myself reaching out with my left hand only to find out that I’m in an automatic jalopy that takes a decade to shift up a gear (plus I think the exhaust’s gone) - the steering wheel’s on the left side like the rest of the world I guess, I thought I’d have trouble staying on the right side of the road but it was fairly straightforward.

When it comes to the national pastime of driving I think this place is pretty much up there with the likes of Qatar where I grew up and any other country in the Arabian Gulf (or ‘Khaleej’ as its know in Arabic). Also you’re pretty much roadkill if you don’t drive certain models of vehicles or at the least, you’re asking to be treated like crap. So you can imagine what the driver of a banged up old Nissan Sunny must be feeling like when crawling down Sheikh Zayed road during rush hour surrounded by brand spanking new BMW 7 series’, Ford Mustangs, Toyota Land Cruisers and Range Rovers. (Sigh) Some day eh?

Ok, ok now the actual driving experience of this region goes something like this:

- Expect to get cut up, a lot!
- Don’t expect anyone to give you space to manoeuvre from lane to lane
- Don’t expect people to indicate which way they’re turning
- Expect to cuss at the crappy driving/walking of your fellow road users…
- …Don’t expect to be heard or noticed though

I knew I’d expect all this as I recognize it from when I was in Doha. It’s the kind of driving experience that you can either bravely fight against or like the 99% of everyone who settles down here ‘do what the locals do’ as I guarantee you, you will lose your sanity if you try and maintain the former!

A lot of westerners (ok white people, there I said it) live in my area and I’m constantly amazed at how ‘localized’ their driving habits have become, I really can’t tell them apart from the Emirati arabs. That reminds me of a point I don’t believe I made the last time I was in Dubai. There’s not a single local arab person on the streets, ok I exaggerated so you see one or two but that’s it! Most of the people here tend to be Indian, they should rename this county the United Indian Emirates, after all most of this country’s present wealth (be it in tourism, property or any other industry) is being generated by them! Oh well I shouldn’t complain too much seeing as I could be seen as a pretentious moron living in an upmarket residence dispensing his idle thoughts on all the wrongs of the world.

I’d rather not be seen in that light, so if a member of the Inland Revenue is reading this I am just a poor humble University student carrying out research work on the social and moral decay of the modern Middle East for my final year Journalism thesis and am not just lazing around poolside soaking up the rays and squandering the tax-payers cash. Infact I'm not squandering any money (seriously), I'm too skint and I just managed to scrape together enough for this trip.

Oh my will ya look at the time and cousin’s here to pick me up to go to the beach…to review the ills of a proposed designated nudist area of course, must dash.

(I hope to put some pics of the rental car for your amusement in the next entry, actually by British standards it could be seen as a luxury...)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

IKEA’nt believe its here!

Before going further here's a random pic of the balcony from where I write my blogs whilst in Dubai, there's really no particular reason why I put this here but I thought I'd just stick this up here.

Although I can pick up around three wireless hubs in the vicinity of the apartment, the signals are usually too weak to piggyback on so strictly speaking I don't directly blog from the balcony although that would be a nice thought.
Ok bad title not to mention its probably been used a million times, but I’ve got mixed feelings about the furniture we ordered. First the plans that my sister and I meticulously drew up for the furniture and design layout were almost trashed by mom and dad’s unbelievably infuriating frugalness in the face of the masses of potential this apartment has when furnished and furnished well!
Also, the high ceilings in the living room and bedroom have some major cheapo bulbs in very basic bakelite sockets. I couldn’t stress enough how important lighting is in a place you eventually want to rent out. Suffice to say that my idea for some nice low hanging ceiling lights in both rooms never even got a decent hearing.
We still haven’t got any curtains and if it wasn’t for the old man’s ever-changing moods about whether or not to furnish the apartment in the first place I’d still be sitting on the floor writing this friggin entry.
Ok I’m seething…again, I’m going to start thinking about the millions of people on earth who have nothing over their heads and nothing to eat, hopefully that should calm me down.
Right I’m still mighty pissed off, this is definitely the last time I help them out when it comes to choosing stuff for the house…any house!! Here, enjoy some photos I took while I go apeshit thinking of the numerous ways my spirit has been crushed time after time by my parents.
The living room, it looked small when we first got here but now its growing on me and it all seems fine and dandy

This is the other corner of the room looking from the couch to the small dining table and chairs, yeah I know it looks very bare but its suppose to be a blank canvas for whoever moves into the apartment

The Ikea bed all dressed up so it looks good enough for a brochure or something...

By the time I got to uploading this bathroom photo I thought to myself 'I really don't know why I'm sharing these pics, they have no particular value to anyone who reads this' oh well at least you can see that I dressed the bathroom with - thats right you guessed it, an Ikea shower curtain and I must say it does certainly go with the scheme.

Well that more or less should give anyone who thinks that the UAE or indeed other Arab states are very backward and that these people are too busy riding camels and making tents to be in the real estate business let alone the oil business.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

And the pool’s great too…

This entry goes out to all the dudes at VMC (Mr. Bloyce I do believe you’ll be a tad bit displeased and I truly hope this does not affect our working relationship…). I ventured out the central courtyard swimming pool, gym and playground area. I took my trusty camera with me to take some choice shots of the area. I was tempted to snap away at a couple of chicks on the poolside but I restrained myself (probably to the detriment of all the people at work watching over Simon’s shoulder as he reads this!

Thats the view from my front door, looking into the courtyard and pool and gym area

Boy that tripod sure came in handy...

I don't want to rub it in but the weather really is this good even in December (approx 30c)

As I know no one around here - and I didn’t want to trouble anyone to take photos of me (which I never like taking) I brought my little tripod down for some nice poolside shots. While I was setting this all up a friendly South African girl (steady now boys…) came up to me and offered to help me take some photos, I declined because I figured I had the tripod and I didn’t want to bug anyone. A few seconds later I thought to my slothful self ‘hey maybe I can capitalize on this here situation and make some friends while I’m here stuck a million miles from civilization as it were.

So I went up to her and a guy who seemed like her boyfriend lazing on the sun beds and just struck up a conversation explaining why I was taking the pictures. As it turned out they were both visiting their parents from South Africa and they just happened to meet at the Rugby Seven’s tournament that was held here last week They only became friends as they found out they both lived in the same apartment complex. I introduced myself and they did likewise as ‘Jaco’ from in between Pretoria and J’burg and Natasha from Cape Town.

So I spent the better part of the afternoon chilling by the pool with them, I didn’t expect much to come of it so I proposed we meet up at the pool again the next day and plan a day out or something seeing as we’re all here for limited amounts of time. Since communication is a problem here I told them my apartment number and gave them my email address as that seems to be a rather lasting way to keep in touch these days.

Ok that just about all for now but I’m trying to sort out a bit of a desert outing and dune bashing with my cousin Eaymon (who I forgot to mention earlier) this weekend so I guess I’ll have more pics then.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Dubai Dubai Duplicitous Dubai (part Deux)

Just arrived at our new one-bedroom apartment in a nice but mostly deserted part of the overall new ‘upmarket’ housing developments in Dubai called ‘The Greens’. Its not that far from ‘The Springs’ villa which we bought into just over a year ago. ‘What about the weather?’ I hear you ask, its absolutely ideal this time of year for anyone more accustomed to European Summer temperatures, during the day the mercury hits the lower 30’s (that’s centigrade) and in the evening it gets to around 25C plus, the calm and cool breezes blowing in from the Arabian Gulf make for a nice pleasant climate especially as I write this from the 3rd floor balcony (pictures to follow).

The city’s as a whole is under constant change and development and if you think a GPS navigator could help you out over here, think again. The road layouts here change faster than you can say ‘Slave Labour’ (for more on what I think about life in this part of the world click here ). We’re thinking of renting out a car as it works out a lot cheaper than hiring a taxi to go anywhere at approximately £8 a pop. Considering we live about 15-20 miles away from downtown Dubai where groceries and general shopping tends to be cheaper because the newer developments like ours on the outskirts tend to fall under the category of what I like to call a ‘Freshly Arrived Lamb to The Slaughter’ or FALTS ( I just made that up as I type this!).

Anyhow the surrounding area as I’ve mentioned is still under construction so it pretty much looks like a bad weekend getaway to a sleazy hotel in Majorca when you look out the balcony or just have a wander around outside. But apart from all that the actual apartment complex where we’re at is pretty nicely manicured and peaceful.

Ok I’m sleepy now as I’ve usually been towards the end of my entries lately so I’ll call it a day.

Monday, November 28, 2005

'Going over to Michael's house...'

The title of this blog's a slightly different take on the lyrics of an Eel's song called 'Susan's house' because I just happened to remember it and thought I'd rip off the name of the song, a most excellent song in my opinion.

So anyways I've sort of been bumming around at home moreso since the sister left for Connecticut last Saturday. So I thought since I'm not working today - nor does it look like I'll get any work before I leave in the next two days, I might as well go up to see an old school friend in a place called Horsham which is about an hour's train ride from london, its basically in the English countryside in the county of Sussex.

Michael's the only person I know with too much free time on his hands just like me, so any time is a good time to visit him and while away the hours in each other's company.

So he picked me up from Horsham station and we just went to his place to chill out and listen to some funny odd music (and pretty random music in my opinion, although he'll hate me for saying that). Especially music by the Bonzo Dog band, a rather bohemian sounding 60's British band....I really have nothing more to say about them. We messed about on his PC and I helped him install a P2P file-sharing software that I've used....yay!

After all that strenuous activity we decided to go and grab a pizza at Pizza Hut and then watch a movie. Once we sat down to our table and ordered our pizza I decided to have a bowl of salad so I went down to the salad bar and I suddenly felt like the only brown person in the whole of Horsham as my paranoia got the best of me and made me think that all the white customers were looking at me. I wonder what gave me away, was it my disheveled look combined with brown skin and the standard issue military skrim warm neck band that looked a bit like a skimask? I'll let you be the judge of that, observe:

Do I look like a threat to society? Note: I just took this picture now for authenticity

Horsham's a very white area but NOT bigotted but nevertheless I felt a sudden chill in the air. Again I can be very suceptible to bouts of paranoia so don't take any notice of what I just said, infact look at it as filler if anything.

So after we had a few interesting short debates over media consiparcy theories and the other social ills in the world over our pizza, we made a bee line for the cinema across the car park and watched a gem of a film called 'The Constant Gardener'. Its an independent film directed by Fernando Meirelles who also directed City of God - a film I've yet to see, but its right up there with Lord of War and Crash in my opinion and will probably be up there with Syriana when that comes out here in March. The film is an amazing present-day thriller with a real axe-to-grind storyline about the corruption of drug companies and how they abuse the third world by paying western rich governments to turn a blind eye. Its the kind of all-encompassing universally hard hitting message that really attracts me to films of this genre.

It really makes a change from the Hollywood crap we must endure, and if it gets people thinking and taking positive action against the status quo then all the better! I don't intend to sit around working for bluechip companies for the rest of my life thereby making the rich richer and the poor poorer in some indirect way. Once I get my immediate priorities straightened out I'm going to at least make an active effort to do something more worthwhile with the little time I have on earth, I think we all should.

This isn't me ranting on about some obscure humanitarian cause and it sure as hell aint a passing fad or phase. There's far too much wrong with the world for this to be JUST a 'phase'! Don't get me wrong, this isn't my ultimate mission statement its purely how I've been feeling about the world that I've found myself growing up in over the past 10 years.

(Sigh...) I'm going to have to shelve these thoughts of peace and justice for now and get my life back on track, besides I need to catch some serious Z's.

But before I go, I've been meaning to give a mention to fellow blogger and school friend Nafie aka 'random culture' for a long time now. His mother died of cancer a few months ago now and I'd like to think that he still checks my blog and knows that my heartfelt prayers are with him Inshallah! Take care bro and I hope you've come to the conclusion that this is simply a part of life as that should help to ease the pain for everyone in your family.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Da Sistah's in da house

Yay, my big sister's come over from Connecticut for a week's break which is nice especially since we found out she's expecting and hasn't been feeling 100% lately so its nice having her around! She's my only sibling so we make the most of each other's company especially since we only see each other about once a year these days. I must say I first met the news with a pretty lukewarm response because she never struck me as the maternal type, also the fact that I'm an uncle to so many other of my cousins' children sorta wore out the novelty ages ago. Nevertheless this little 'jellybean' (I came to that conclusion on viewing the latest ultrasound snaps) is my 'own' flesh and bone moreso than all the other kids I'm an uncle to, so that in it self is probably cool.

I must say the most surreal thing about it all is knowing that the little jellybean shaped being is actually in her at this very moment in time, I mean think about it, its just really amazing how the body can accommodate something like that. Oh well its all uncharted territory for me so thanks for bearing with me so far.

Anyways I'll be leaving for Dubai next Thursday with the folks and start furnishing the apartment we just bought on a shoestring/Ikea budget of around £1000 which my sister arrived at while putting her pretty dormant interior design skills to work. It'll be interesting to see how far we stretch that in reality but I'm sure mom's going to find a few bargains here and there, I mean its Dubai - The Hong Kong of the Middle East, we're bound to find some good stuff up for haggling.

I'm still working on getting through to my man Mo in Melbourne to find out if he's going to be there when I go because he's one of the very few good old school friends from my Doha days I still keep in touch with and I'd like to keep it that way.

Right well I've more or less exhausted my mental faculties for tonight and I'd like to think I have more interesting less self-obsessed things to talk about in the next entry.....hang on this is a blog is it not?!! If I can be self-centered here where the hell can I be!!! Ok I'm tired now. Laterz y'all!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Supermarket tunes

Is it just me or are supermarkets getting more in-yer-face when it comes to self-promotion? My local superstore is Tesco (for the benefit of all non-UK residents Tesco is the biggest supermarket retailer in the country) and on every aisle there's at least one little LCD screen looming above from the top shelf. Their seemingly soft low-volume non-threatning jingles playing alongside promotional spots for the latest Pot noodles just drives me nuts hours - sometimes even days after my last visit!

They stick to your brain like shit to a blanket its unbelievable! Talk about product placement! Subliminal doesn't even begin to describe how obscenely ingenious these marketing people are. Who needs cold callers while you're in the shower when you got annoying jingles to remind you of an omnipresent supermarket chain subtley encroaching on your buying habits if not your nearest national heritage site.

I'm no anarchist, not by a long shot (I'm far too lazy for that) but this thing we call 'Globalization' really is sucking the soul out of communities by killing off smaller businesses and services e.g. local pharamacies, coffee shops, grocery stores etc. Maybe this the trade off for the global population explosion we've been experiencing over the past century or so and its only natural that the powers that be come up with a solution to satisfy the masses. Except as far as I can see the masses who need to benefit the most from globalization are the biggest losers and in juxtaposition these very people are the biggest contributers to lining the pockets of fat cat company bosses who in turn lobby the most powerful governments in the world to partake in some of the most heinous acts against humanity and the planet.

Yes that Big Mac really does come from rather unsavoury cow parts and the cattle graze on increasingly large areas of once-virgin Amazonian rainforest, all so you can get a normal hamburger for 99p and get another totally free and rest assured that your favourite fastfood joint is 'giving back to the community'. Mmmm I'm Lovin' it!

Well thats one extra thing to think about when you're waiting in line for your latte at your 'friendly neighbourhood' Starbucks whilst listening to the latest Bob Dylan album playing in the background.

I know where I'll be shopping next week, thats right Tesco because they wield the power of economies of scale and I, like my fellow beings in this rat race love getting my £1.20 loaf of bread for 70p at 7pm. Having said that I haven't bought Marks and Spencer stuff for years and have sworn off Burger King and McDonalds not only because I hate their hypocrytic work ethics and everthing they stand for but I'm trying my best not to have a corornary at the age of 22.

Ok so the moral of my rightfully placed angst-ridden observation is: Think about how you caught yourself humming a completely ridiculous tune in front of the computer at work or at home.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Emran: The story so far

Ok, for the regulars of my blog, you'll know that a little while ago I was looking to join azafady - an animal conservation organization in Madagascar (based here in London), and then there was the fact that I was trying to look for some kind of work at local newspapers or publications so I can pursue a career in Journalism, thereby proving to the nay-sayers in my life that I actually AM capable of taking control of my own life!

Alas, none of that has happened, although both projects are still on the general agenda, I've just got a little pre-occupied with other stuff that's come up in recent days. Stuff like my pretty much impromptu decision to go to Dubai to check out some more properties then visit the 'rellies' (thats 'relatives' for those not in the know) back in Bangladesh and then go to Australia to visit my cousins and a good friend of mine from my school days in Doha. All this is going to happen towards the end of November and the end of January next year. So I've been saving up especially for my trip to Oz as I've never been there and I want to make the most of my two weeks in the nice hot Aussie summer! So I'm pretty much stuck doing the games testing just to save up for all this.

Hopefully, inshallah (God willing in Arabic) this trip WILL happen. I'm also hoping to go and visit my big sister in May and go to my friend 'Hamsta's' graduation to name a few things that have also suddenly crept onto my agenda. I've thought long and hard about the volunteering thing and I think I'll probably take another gap year after my final year and totally dedicate my time to that rather than do it in a half-baked fashion this year.

The journalism job searching will still go on regardless because I need the experience no matter how little it is as I simply don't see myself spending endless hours in front of a screen; answering calls or just generally sitting down in one place for the rest of my natural life. Although someone's gotta do that kind of job to make this IT-driven world of ours go round, I'd rather it wasn't me. Modesty aside, I think I have better purposes to serve in life.

Anyways now that y'all are pretty much upto speed on my life I thought I'd share a few cartoons I read in some recent papers which I found quite funny.

Note: I'm not trying to make any particular statment with these cartoons, I just find them generally funny, click on them to view larger versions.

Also I thought I'd stick in a Tracy Chapman song called 'Change' that happens to spell out how I'm feeling lately...enjoy)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

One month of spiritual detox, a lifetime of implimentation

Ramadan Kareem, Ramadan Mubarak or just plain old Happy Ramadan!
Whatever way you say it, if you're a Muslim you'll know what I mean! Even if you're not, you may have even heard of this word 'Ramadan', or even better you actually have a good idea of what it means. If its all Greek to you then here's a very short and compressed description of what exactly Ramadan is:
  • Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (there are 12 months in all) which follows the lunar calendar
  • Ramadan is the month during which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) by the Angel Gabriel ('Jibreel' in Arabic), it happened on the 27th day of the month
  • Consequently the current Islamic year is 1426 as it is calculated from the year the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) made his journey (or Hijra) from the city of Mecca to the city of Medina on the east coast of modern-day Saudi Arabia as he and his followers were being persecuted for preaching about 'this strange new religion' there
  • Muslims around the world must fast from a few hours before dawn till sun down, that means you can't eat or drink anything for this entire period
  • Ramadan typically lasts for approximately 30 days depending on the sighting of the new moon
  • The festival of Eid-al-fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan when for 3 days Muslims around the world are in a celebratory mood but are never more than a thought away from remembering the less fortunate of thier fellow human-beings and so all Muslims who are able to, must give a certain portion of their and their dependents' wealth in charity which is known as 'Zakaah' or 'Zakaah-al-fitr' before or on the first day of Eid. This compulsory 'wealth-shedding' excercise is as Dr. Bilal Philips (a well known scholar) explains a method whereby 'The rich are obliged to come in direct contact with the poor, and the poor are put in contact with the extremely poor. This contact between the various levels of society helps to build real bonds of brotherhood and love within the Islamic community and trains those who have, to be generous to those who do not have.'

  • The philosophy behind fasting during Ramadan is to purify one's soul; strengthen it spiritually as a fasting person must abstain from the regular evils of daily life e.g. partaking in immoral acts such as using bad language, lusting after the opposite sex be it in thought or in action. On a practical and more scientific note, it gives the digestive system a well-earned break. And lastly but not least, you get to experience what your poor hungry fellow human-being must endure on a daily basis in the poorest parts of the world

I hope that's cleared a few possible misconceptions up, I've endevoured to dispel any possible or potential misconceptions as much as I can. I also don't profess to know more about Islam than the next Muslim you might meet as I am on a constant journey to learn (and perhaps re-learn) about my spiritual identity in addition to the wordly one that has manifested itself in so many different ways over the years.

If this has gone some way in intriguing your interest in Islam and you would like to know more, I'd humbly refer you to which seems to have balanced answers to just about any questions Muslims and non-Muslims alike have.

Anyhow, I'd like to wish everyone, regardless of your religion (or lack thereof) a Happy and prosperous Ramadan and I truly hope you find the contentment that every one of you yearn for whether conciously or subconciously. Thanks for bearing with me in this entry, normal irregular service shall resume uhhh soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Yes you're seeing correctly....this is a NEW entry

My oh my this has been a long hiatus, never did I think I'd shy away from writing regularly to my blog. The reason? I couldn't be bothered and was also working quite a bit and couldn't think up anymore tripe to talk about or at least embellish. I had simply lost my train of thought and motivation. Now, that's just about changed so I'm back on the spiel wagon and I come bearing gifts of the photographic kind...lucky you! So as I'm easing back into the regularity of blogging I'll stick some nice little shots of my trip to Alton Towers (as filler), a well-known theme park about 150 miles north of London.

We rented a car for the day and there were 4 (Joe, his girl Christine, Moses and I) of us so it was a pretty smooth operation getting everyone to be free in the middle of the week. The cool thing was that no bratty school-aged kids were there and so the lines for the rides were pretty short consisting of only Uni students and tourists which was cool.

So without much ado here are the pics:

Me taking advantage of a photo op with the rental car pretending its mine...

Mos and I infront of the post office in Alton where we stopped for directions to Alton Towers. I, subsequently found out that the shorts I'm wearing here were torn which Joe kindly took photographic evidence of here:

All pictures of me that follow this 'wardrobe malfuction' have me wearing my cargos which I thought were too warm for the day, incase one is wondering

Once again I've sold myself cheap! Ummm any takers? Thanks I'll be here all night! Hey what can I say, we were bored waiting in line for 'Air' which is a rollercoaster where you're lying upside down thus giving one the opportunity to make spit bombs in the hope that one would land on the person behind's face while moving at nearly 60 mph (I managed not to get a fresh one slapped onto me incase anyone's wondering)!

I like this sign at the Air ride so much that I just had to take a pic of it, I think you can see the great irony of the sign and what's been done to it pretty much makes itself evident

In front of Rita (not to be confused with the recent natural disaster in the States....ok crap joke I know), its bascially highly acclaimed rollercoaster that is known for its speed (0-60mph in 2.5 seconds!), so thats me on the left, Joe, Xtine and Mos being a monkey behind us (what is up with the 'victory' sign or is it suppose to mean peace?)

Us infront of some random castle in the theme park, I can't remember the name but its a genuine quaint. Next stop: 'Oblivion'

This is what Oblivion is known for, its sheer drop into a black hole in the ground, I caught these poor bastards at the moment they rolled over the apex and were about to go vertical

Me showing Joe, who exactly is gonna be driving through the hedges and farmland on the way home with a subtle gesture of waving the friggin car keys at him!

Ahhh sunbathing in a car park, then again I could just be posing for yet another self-glamorizing photo do I feel gay!

Ok well that's all folks, for now. I had problems loading these last few pics and I just couldn't be asked to mess around with this entry until tonight so you'll have to excuse me as there's pillow with my name on it, and I believe its screaming my name out as well! Hey, if socializing isn't your forte just talk to random bits of furniture, after a while it starts to make sense. I have a feeling I'm gonna regret writing that last sentence, probably cos' I'm half asleep right now.

Anyhoo ciao for now!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Aaaah so this is what 'tagging' is...

I've been tagged by Mybrid/Hybrid (did you just change your blog name?) so here's my list cos' I've got nothing better else to do so this is a nice bit of filler for today...just when I was feeling lazy too! (Note: these are in no particular order of preference/importance):

Seven things you plan to do before you die:

1) Learn to truly live and be content with myself

2) Meet a girl who's as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and who isn't afraid to role up her sleeves and get her hands dirty or (GASP) break a finger nail!

3) Be the first to discover something or some place

4) Experience zero gravity

5) Meet all the nice friend's I've made online one day

6) Fix my Dad's laptop (that's right I'm still struggling with it!)

7) Learn Arabic, Spanish and oh what the hell Japanese! (I believe Mybrid's got me down for Hebrew as well!)

Seven things you can do:

1) Tie my own shoelaces on my right foot

2) Tie my own shoelaces on my left foot ;)

3) Think with reasoning and perspective (believe it or not)

4) My good friend Mohammed (you know who you are, Hamsta!) just told me I'm funnier than all his friends, so I guess I'm a good laugh - whether my audience is laughing with me or at me is another matter

5) I eat as much as I want and still never get fat (hmm maybe I'm tempting fate by saying that, guess its the metabolism and not me so I'm not sure if it really counts)

6) Ok now I'm really scratching the bottom of the barrel but my spelling and grammar's pretty good (kudos to MS Word LOL!)

7) The ability to verbally demean myself infront of people at very crucial moments (must work on that one)

Seven things you can't do:

1) Fix my Dad's laptop (really its friggin irritating!)

2) Watch reality TV shows, the corn factor just makes me break out in hives BLEH!

3) Not check my inboxes everyday looking for genuine e-mails

4) Sing or dance (which aren't the worst things about me I assure you!)

5) Drink alcohol or eat pork (doesn't bother me in the slightest really)

6) Grow taller

7) My inability to stop using parentheses (Have you realized yet?)

Seven things that attract you to the opposite sex:

1) Someone who's appropriate at the right times

2) Tomboyishness and can give as good as she gets

3) Someone who's rough around the edges and doesn't care cos' she BELIEVES in who she is

4) Minimal or no makeup OR that 'natural look' (I hate caked-up makeup)

5) Great skin (is there room for vanity here?)

6) Nice defined facial structure (ideally)

7) Someone who's easy to talk to and unpretentious

Seven things you say most:

1) 'Crap' (I'm trying to cut down on swearing in the traditional sense)

2) Scheisse (pronounced 'Shy-za' = Shit in German, hey swearing in a foreign language doesn't nullify my endevours from point No. 1 ...does it?! )

3) 'Hey how's it going?' (I'm gonna get so haunted by this now everytime I say it)

4) 'Why me?'

5) 'I'll do it later' or even worse, 'tomorrow' (you wanna know how to procrasitnate, you come to me!)

6) 'AAAAAAAAArgh' (the non-pirate version)

7) 'I forgot' as my parent's will be only too happy to testify (can't be too good once you're in a relationship LOL!)

Seven celebrity crushes:

1) Jessica Alba

2) Jennifer Garner

3) Liz Hurley

4) Jolene Blalock

5) Monica Bellucci

6) Eva Mendes

7) Jennifer Esposito

There ya go now do I have to send this to someone within 10 hours otherwise something 'Bad' will happen to me?

PS. Just surfed onto and found an interesting link about how to get people to read your blog and become regular visitors, pretty good stuff and the article's called 'How to: Run a Sticky blog'. Thought some readers might like it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

'Please insert Recovery CD # 2'

Ahhh if only life was as easy as an instant system recovery disc to quickly erase all past crap memories and reinstall a fresh copy of Life 2.0! I just want a fresh start dammit! Yes I'm still reeling from yesterday's crappiness but I've got lots of things to be doing today so I guess fixing dad's laptop by resintalling all the pre-installed software is somewhat closer to living the above dream!

Then its onto the main rig I'm writing this entry on to replace the Power Source Unit (PSU) - without it your PC will not all, cos' I'm running it on the spare 330Watt one temporarily and I got Joe (pause for a pic of him muwahahaha!)

This is Joe at his 22nd a couple of years ago and I know he's gonna kill me for putting this up!

Note: The Barbie cake we bought him as an 'afterthought' nyuk nyuk (what are friend's for eh?)

to buy a decent 460Watt one for me on Ebay cos' he's that kinda guy! I have no patience for online bidding and stuff like that, to me its total mind-F***k. I just wanna make a straight up transaction like on Amazon or Play.

But I've digressed yet again, so where was I, oh yes after installing the PSU I gotta sort out the piling junk thats overflowing from my drawers, I've got an unhealthy infatuation with post-it notes (courtesy of my sister supplying me with a lifetime's worth from the numerous drug reps she sees and all of 'em conventions she goes to). So my mom's yelled at me to stop leaving all these annoying little scribbled notes all over the place and just get a little notepad or something.

Then I'll try and phone the MD of Azafady, a non-profit volunteer organization which specializes in conservation work in Madagascar. I've been meaning to volunteer for a long time now and I thought since I'm taking a gap year I might as well put my time to some use by helping others and maybe I'll feel a lot better about myself as a person and if I gain a few extra skills here and there then all the better! So as I'm still looking for a good stable job I'll start off work in the London office of Azafady and then they'll help me raise the £2000 I need to make the trip to Madagascar.

So there you have it, that be my itinerary for today, its pretty mundane stuff but I thought I'd share it with y'all cos' I'm sure you've enjoyed the ride so far! Oh Mybrid, I'm having trouble with posting pics on my blog entries and I wanted to know how you did with your pics in your recent entry. I tried the 'Add image' function when I was typing this but the pic just doesn't show up in the entry. Anyways holla back at me.


Monday, August 22, 2005

'The jokes no longer with him, its about him, at him, on him....'

Why why why?!!! Why must the big G mock me like this?!! I've been feeling so crappy over the past couple of days and it all finally culminated in a great ol piss-down on me during the whole day. I thought I had my whole day planned out today, but I started feeling all sluggish from the morning onwards, breakfast time rolled into lunch and lunch ended up being my brunch. I watched crappy daytime TV and conveniently missed my creative writing class today and just ended up going down to Kingston to see Joe and take my Dad's F'ed up laptop to backup the hard disk up at his place. It's been raining all day and in typical shitty british (I'm denying the use of a capital 'b' here cos' I'm pissed off!) fashion, the sky clears up in the night when there's no sun no light no nothing!!! How F'in useless is that?!!

Anyways I only managed to make copies of his essential files and burn it all onto DVD and then bring back the laptop to sort it out at home so umm that was fun! The bus ride home was shitty, I was reading a copy of 'The Guide' a weekly supplement from last Saturday's Guardian, cos' I have nothing better else to read and its not exactly like the scenery outside's any better! I was reading a review of a local band called The Magic Numbers and I must confess I've never heard of them nor have I ever heard their music but I did sorta like their spirit from what I read. The reason? - because they totally dissed Richard Bacon (I'm not gonna even allow this prick the dignity of a link) this asshole of a TV presenter on Top of the Pops recently by being the first band/act/group to walk out on the show!

'But why?' I hear you say, because Mr Bacon's intro line before the band were to show up on stage was and I quote 'A big fat melting pot of talent'. Now according to the band members its not so much the fact that he was taking pot shots at their non-conforming commercially-unfriendly podgy figures but its the tone with which he referred to them. After all they openly admit that they take the piss out of each other's 'fattiness' on a regular basis.

Anyways with all the talk of controversy out of the way, is the band any good? I really couldn't say cos' I still haven't bothered to sample their musical talents as I'm gonna hit the sack in a few minutes and I really can't be asked to download anything right now especially as it won't prolong my life or general well-being in any way shape or form. But I'm sure they're a good band seeing as they consist of some pretty cultured folk (two sets of 2 brothers-and-sisters) 2 of whom grew up in Trinidad and then moved to New York and then back to London to meet their future band members who were at the time their neighbours.

So back to the crappy bus ride, I was feeling mighty queasy whilst thoroughly engrossed in these entertainment reviews, it must have been the horrible musty air quality in the top deck of the bus - this is usually enough to make me feel sick and reach the point of almost hurling onto the floor, so I just had to stop reading and just sit back and breathe in and out. I just couldn't wait to get out of the bus and into the somewhat fresher air of South West London (insert vomit here) and get drenched in the process. So I finally got off and on the tube home I was sorta feeling a little more relieved, I guess I felt the world was closing in on me today and I must say I have had these little bouts of travel-sickness, anxiety and clostrophobia all rolled into one before.

There's probably a medical term for what's taken me two paragraphs to describe but hey I like to elaborate. Anyways didn't I say I was gonna go to bed now? So go away and leave me alone to curl up and revel in my sorrow at least for tonight :(

Friday, August 19, 2005

Got Chi power?

Ni Hao!

So ya think ya got your karma in order or your chakras in check? No? Well then shame on you! I discovered this little gem of a game (still in development) by way of subscribing to the 'Steam' service of Valve software, the people behind the best gaming franchise of all time Half-life and Half-life 2. Anyhoo the game in review I guess is called Ragdoll Kungfu and its gotta be seen to be believed! Who would've thought that playing with a bunch of dolls albeit in a virtual environment could be so much fun!

I should point out that as the game is in development still I haven't had a chance to try it out but I will be one of the first to do so when it finally comes out! The sheer simplicity of the idea of toy mannequins used to beat each other up is just genius to me and why didn't anyone think of this before?! You control the doll with strings just like in real life but UNLIKE real life you don't have to worry about the strings getting tangled up during play thus freeing you to experiment with endless amounts of unique moves! Street Fighter, eat your heart out!

It takes me back to my days in primary school (Doha English Speaking School) when we used to play with Transformers and them ever-so-popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and we'd play fight with them as one does when one is a kid (nyuk nyuk nyuk).

I guess the market for a game such as Ragdoll Kungfu is gonna be pretty restricted at first but I can deffinitely see it catching on, on PC's around the world where kids and 'big kids' alike will just love playing this game. It's funny as hell to watch (with no gore at all) as well just incase you still think this is a blood sport!

Ok I got nothing else to talk about so I'm calling it quits for today. Download the game when it comes out or something if you're into general randomized silliness like me.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Verdict on 'Crash'

Wow just wow! My god when did Hollywood suddenly get all grown-up? This film just blew me away, I mean I knew it was a deep film but little did I know how deep it was! Paul Haggis sure knows how to spin a yarn! Of course I shouldn't be too surprised seeing as he is responsible for the likes of Due South - what a kick ass cop show/series, and Million Dollar Baby (I must confess I still haven't seen this yet but it looks pretty good).

Back to 'Crash', this is one tasty movie, I followed every single second of this masterpiece from beginning to end (yes people, even the credits!). I let the whole film just sink in and it felt good! I could relate to it in so many different ways its unbelievable, from the way the Iranian shopkeeper treated the latino locksmith with contempt and suspicion to the way the upper-class black film director felt when him and his wife were racially mistreated by the LAPD.

I guess I really shouldn't give away much of the film cos' it's a film that really needs to be seen with fresh eyes and unadulterated preconceptions.

Hope to have some more interesting stuff to report this coming week.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The day salad saved my life

Mmmmmmmmmm crunchy, green, sweet and juicy salad consisting of mangetout sugar snap peas, baby carrots, little gem lettuce, green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes a dab of salad cream and some Onion Salad Crispies for that extra crispiness.

Yes I have truly been saved by some good ol' homemade fresh salad, never have I looked forward to a bunch of everyday vegetables with so much glee...never I say! The reason for this sudden conversion to the ways of the herbivore? - I guess I was really craving some good greens today more than any other time in my life. My hands were literally shaking from not getting those crunchy veg's in me quickly enough. I must have been reacting to the 4 can's of fizzy drinks I had at work (cos’ they're free) after what like 3 months now!

Plus I'm sorta getting sick of the whole eat-meat-all-the-time regime. Anyways I was craving this salad during the whole day of work today I was like chanting a mantra inside me while I was munching away on Pringles and my salami sandwiches (Yuk meat!!). Oh well I guess this blissful feeling can't last for long, I wish I was always this addicted to vegetables, I mean I usually love vegetables but I gotsta have my meat too!

Besides I've got blockage and I need some good old roughage to get me regular again, there I said it!

Well as I can't seem to delve into what I did at work today courtesy of this entry I'll just move on and give you some interesting facts I learnt from today's Guardian:

Fact 1: Wikipedia- The world's largest free online encyclopaedia has a staff number of just ONE person, the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales (here's his blog if you're interested). 'Wikipedia has become more than just a hobby - for some it is almost a religion.' reports 'Online', a weekly techie supplement in The Guardian. Thats't not surprising seeing that there are nearly 4000 regular users who actively partake in sharing their knowledge by making around 100 edits a month to the millions of Wikipedia articles, each! The nice thing about about the Wikimedia movement is that it strongly advocates the free flow ('Free' being the key word here) of information in the name of isn't that a novel idea hmmm Microsoft?

Oh boy I'm so bushed now, I guess we'll just have to leave it at Fact 1 for today people, I need to take a shower and get some sleep before I wake up again at 4:30am to get ready for work. I might fill you in on more interesting things I learnt today.

Oh Mybrid I just read your entry for today, sorry to hear your frustrations of your workplace, see blogging's good for ya cos’ it helps you vent and hopefully in the process see some sense even though your husband sorta took care of the 'sense' department for you this time! I was sorta surprised to hear about it all especially after how you described it to me in such pleasant terms before and how you're getting on so well and enjoying it all.

Maybe you should look at my entry on getting into trouble for blogging about your workplace (August 9th), it’s my shameless attempt to get you to read my blog even more but can ya blame me?!

Ok its 12am now and I don't really see a point to writing an entry at this time of the day (or night…its all the same to me), suffice to say I don't have the luxury of a PC at work like SOME people cough cough Nafie! Righto I need to catch some Zee's.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Its time to get Lost

Ok so I've been looking forward to this show since I heard about its very existence and to put it plainly I just wanna know what all the fuss is about! The show is of course Lost and the pilot episode starts today in the UK on Channel 4 - the connoisseurs, in my opinion of 'real news', quality documentaries and quality entertainment barring Big Brother of course and its ilk!

Anyhoo here's the scenario:

A passenger aeroplane has crashed on a deserted (or is it?) tropical Island and they have to deal with not only each other's cultural, social and/or political backgrounds but also with the whole staying alive routine.

There's apparently a whole women's volleyball team in it so umm that should be interesting ;). And don't think you ladies have been left neglected cos' there's a hunky hero in the shape of Matthew Fox (the big brother from Party of Five).

There's also a typically shady dude from the 'Middle East' (although he looks nothing like an Arab, just cos' ur brown and you're the only actor who can fit the role of everybody's favourite bad guy isn't an excuse for bad type-casting by the largely ignorant/biased production studios!!). Anyways his name in the show is Sayid Jarrah (wow how Arab-sounding NOT!!) but his real name is Naveen Andrews (oh the irony!).

So thats my little input for the show...I'm expecting my commission from ABC anytime now...I SAID ANYTIME NOW!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those who die or have a coronary if they miss an episode of Desperate Houswives or GASP! 24. Which sorta leads me to a little impromptu list of my all-time favourite TV shows in no particular order of importance:

Due South
Mission Impossible (the series)
The A Team
Party of Five

That's all I can remember for now but it should hopefully get some sort of a debate going between me and my two esteemed regular audience members Mybrid and Nafie.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Tokenism: The word of the present

Yes its been a pretty uneventful week and I'm pretty strict on what I and what I don't include in this blog now more so than ever. Ya see I came across an article online titled 'Can you be fired for blogging?' and seeing as I do pretty much work for one of the most secretive organizations on earth albeit on a part-time basis, I'd do well to steer clear of divulging on what I do for 8 hours a day other than the fact that I test the latest X-box titles and equipment.

Yes you guessed right I work for Microsoft and yes they will personally make your life a living misery if you dare to cross them. Other than that they're the nicest bunch 'o folks you could hope to really they are! I'm not sure if I've said too much or not, I guess I haven't said anything worth remembering or making a buck out of.

Moving swiftly on I went down to Kingston today to sort some stuff out for Uni and as my friend Joe wasn't at home I went down to blow some dough on some Haagen Dazs and a movie at the Odeon there. It was War of the Worlds if you must know and it pretty much sucked as only Tom Cruise knows how to suck. I was this close to buying a ticket for the much hyped about Skeleton Key courtesy of my man Nafie's blog, I'll spare you the link there cos' personally I think the film plot line stinks and if you're still interested in knowing the aint gonna find it here!

Hey I'm allowed to have strong feelings about the glossy airbrushed crapola that passes for a film in Hollywood these days! Besides I don't think I quite got the gist of the film from watching the trailer for Skeleton Key the first 500 times on TV! Its not so much a trailer as Kate Hudson isn't so much the daughter of Goldie Hawn, FFS! get it together people!

And I also wanted to watch Charlie and the chocolate factory but I sorta copped out at the last second cos' I thought It's better watched on DVD. Oh well maybe I'll watch it soon, that Crash film doesn't look too bad either, infact its JUST the kind of thinker of a film I'd like to watch cos' I've watched far too many no-brainers at the big screen and I'd rather watch something with a more meaty storyline.

Ahh about the title of this entry - Tokenism that is, its a subject thats at the forefront of my mind these days and I guess everyone to a certain extent is guilty of it, here's a few high profile examples to get your mental juices flowing:

Bush practices it when his adminstration decided to 'hand over' power to the so-called interim government in Iraq

Blair practices it when his government decides its high time it started listening to the Muslim youth in Britain by first inviting a choice few 'leaders of the Muslim community' to 10 Downing St to 'discuss' the London bombings and how to 'deal' with 'Islamic extremism in Britain' (Have I used quite enough quote marks yet?)

Michael Jackson practices it when when he promised not to invite boys back to his Neverland ranch (I honestly don't know I thought of this example cos' its pretty weak and as always I need filler)

Husband's to an extent practice it when their wives ask them 'Does my butt look big in this?'

Ok I think its pretty clear that my random thoughts are beginning to seep through so now's a good time as ever to conclude this entry and stop talking a complete load of Bollocks as the English say! But I think y'all know what I'm getting at.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

'I'm gonna flip out like a ninja cos' that's what ninja's do...'

Man this aint good....I'm feeling pretty emotionally good of late but I'm just afraid that it'll all fizzle out if I just mope around at home and do nothing. Although having said that I did download a few nice Coldplay tracks today...woot woot! I like 'Talk' (I didn't know there were two different versions of that song with completely different lyrics so thats cool), 'A message' and 'Hardest part' which are probably the only decent tracks I think on the new X&Y album. Whether this counts as something constructive is another story but I guess its something.

Was visiting a site on my favourites list that I forgot about for a while, I don't know why I added it to my favourites list. I shortly found out why though, its filled with the type of rancor for the utter crappy triteness of modern pop culture that I so adore to hate! This guy says it all for me and in a more articulate and eloquent manner. I think you'll find this site pretty random and basic-looking but you'll soon find out thats its more to do with substance rather than visual panache. So here it is The Best page in the Universe! I should warn you that this guy completely lets loose on all sorts of subjects and political correctness is not something he takes seriously.

Another site I love visiting just to top up on my random spurts of happiness from time to time is, contrary to the name however its another pretty bland rubbish looking site, but again as always with me its more to do with substance rather than preeesentayshun! Before I go any further I want to stick this little link in cos' it's the only thing that actually links to the title of this entry so here's the one for the ninja song I just love (yeah I know its crap)!

Some of you British visitors might recognize the material especially the disturbing headbanging kittens on this site from late night shows on Channel 4 some time ago. And don't think you Yanks have escaped the wrath of Joel Veitch's crazy looking mutated/mutliated (use as required) gerbils from them wierd Quizno's TV commercials advertising the sheer freshness of the 'toasted bread sandwiches', here's a little uhh explanation about why this restaurant chain used these 'things' as their marketing mascots.

Anyhow I'm just using these links as filler for the lack of anything of 'substance' (ahh the irony) I could say. My weekend's been another one of complete boredom but I guess in the famous words of that Beatle's song 'I just don't know what to do with myself' or something like that, if I got the words wrong....BLOW ME!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

No love for the jobless

Ahh the joy of not having any set routine in daily life, boy does it make you one lazy ass mofo! Anyhoo didn't manage to go to the council yesterday and its getting a little desperate cos I need to let them know I'm still a student and that I shouldn't need to pay local council tax and stuff before the end of the month. I just looked out the window and its pissing down so I think I'll just have to do it all over the phone thats if I get through the automated services!

On the upside I did manage to find some interesting looking jobs at the local job center yesterday, one that really caught my eye was for a local newspaper as a journalist, and I didn't even need any experience just a good command of English - hopefully my English isn't too bad - and good keyboard skills. And the other jobs were just some boring run of the mill type part-time jobs.

Nothing else happening today apart from the mechanic coming over to fix the wheel bearing on my car today. Don't know if he can do if its going to be pouring down all day today, guess I'll just have to wait and see.

On the attempted bombings last week, I believe they've caught 6 guys but I don't think any of them are the bombers. Either way Blair's pissing his pants right now, so much so that he's thinking of putting phone-tapping measures into law which is nice cos there's nothing more I like than having MI5 listening into everything that I DON'T say on the phone. I guess If I had to choose between this and having 7 slugs buried into my skull by 5 over-zealous Met officers IIIIIIIIIII think I'd choose the former.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Taskforce Tuesday!

Right hopefully this little spurt of serotonin in my head this morning will last long enough for me to make it out of the house and get some actual work done today! First stop, the bank and then the local council office for 'studenty' stuff. I just don't seem to have the amount of intelligent creative crap to write at this time of the morning like my good friend Nafie does! Somehow he just seems to spew it out by the bucketloads!

I personally find my stimulating crap writing abilities kick in sometime around my next episode of utter frustation with daily life, which is why my entries so far have been somewhat irregular and pretty much an impulse-driven affair. Whoa what a mouthful, hey now I see how he does it! Anyways I better get going and who knows I might just add to this here entry later on today depending on my mood!

ciao for now!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Ode to the one called 'Pesado'

Note: This really isn't an Ode but I felt like using the word.

So here I am again frolicking in my self-imposed state of denial of reality, and to be honest it feels pretty darn good - I guess ignorance really can be bliss. Anyways I recently caught up with my good online penpal/friend Vivian, she's Ecuadorian and a nice person....hey I don't know her too well apart from the fact that she loves Yuca bread! Vivian agreed to teach me everyday spoken Spanish on Skype and in return I teach her everyday English Slang, I'd say its a pretty fair exchange ;)!

Well anyways she asked me to post some pictures of her on my blog in the mistaken notion that she'd actually become famous because lets face it, who hasn't heard of ''! So without further ado - World I give you the amazing, the Glamorous Viviaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan! Ahem.

I presume this is Vivian in her bedroom

Vivian, her sister and future brother in-law going to a football match...I think

Vivian, her boyfriend Ivan, sister and future brother in-law going to a football match and in an elevator...I think

Monday, July 18, 2005

Open season on brown people!

I've been feeling really down and depressed lately so that should neatly explain my absence. Well part of the reason for my feeling this way was sort of brought about with the bombings and an overall sad feeling I've been having because I've been dreading getting my final results for my degree. And my fears as far as the results go were somewhat realized as I have officially failed but at the same time I have been given the chance to retake my final year with it being counted as a 'first attempt' which means that the examination board won't take into consideration my first attempt at final year which is great (if that makes sense)!

On the down side I'm still going through the depressive cycle and because of this I'm really not feeling ready to retake my final year this October. On top of all this I'm taking heat from the folks who don't seem to see what I'm going through inside. Now I have tried explaining things to them but it aint working and its not likely to anytime soon. Anyhow I guess its all a test for me so I shall just have to take it in my stride.

On a slightly different note, I guess they've ID'ed the 4 London bombers and how they prepared for their missions. I'm sure you all know where I stand on this but I thought I'd add this interesting little link to a weekly BBC Worldservice radio show called 'The Interview' which I heard in the wee hours of last Saturday morning when I was dosing in and out of sleep. Its basically a 30 minute topical interview with interesting guests.

This week it was the turn of British-Pakistani Journalist and film-maker Naveed Akhtar, and the reason why I'm putting this link up now is because he so eloquently explains the entire background and environment from which the 4 bombers appeared it just begs to be understood without a doubt!

I hope you get a chance to hear (and/or record) the show before the link gets updated for the next show this coming Saturday (July 23rd). I guess this is what's been on my mind for the last few days and the general uncertainty of my own future as if things weren't 'interesting' enough already!

And with that bitter taste in your mouth I shall leave ye!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Nothing to report

Yes you heard me...I got nothing to say but I thought I'd fill the void as I'm sure you're getting slightly uncomfortable by the silence...or perhaps not. So ummmm....uhhhhh....have you lost weight?

Ok ok I really haven't been out today cos apparently most of the bombers have been caught or there are some still on the loose and I don't really want to make myself a target by going out unnecessarily. Nice time to be unemployed I'll say! Having said that I might just go for a jog after doing this.

There's an annoying kid from the neighbourhood riding around in his 'fartmobile' aka a Moped, the sound of which never fails to irritate me. I dread the day he manages to afford a banged up Ford Fiesta which he pimps with all his pocket money so it ends up looking like P Diddy's maid's car.

Right I'm babbling now so I'll call it quits but bascially this has been an uneventful day, one I'd say is in a long list of uneventful days. Oh before I do go, I was at the Osterley Park Pharmacy (my local pharmacy) picking some stuff up and I found out that my pharmacist died of bone cancer a couple of weeks ago so that's sorta brought down the mood for me today, she was a good person who always gave us some extra insight into the medication we'd be buying from her.

Oh well thats it for now.

Laterz y'all.

PS. Notice how I've used orange to make this entry look half as interesting as the others.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

London's burning

It finally happened, the authorities have been saying it since 9/11 it was bound to happen sooner or later and there's no doubt that this is only the beginning if you know anything about the goings on in the Middle east and on Islam as not just a religion but an entire way of life by which 1.2 billion people on earth would ideally follow.

Alas this is one brush by which many (without deeper insight) in the West will paint all Muslims no matter what their politicians say and to me thats what's more important. Getting the message across to the billions of lay persons who simply don't know any better about this 'strange religion' they find themselves hearing of every time a bomb blows up in one of their major cities.

Now don't get me wrong, I am in no way condoning what happened here last Thursday and that killing innocent people of any race, creed and cultural background is completely wrong and what's more there's nothing in Islam that says you should do such heinous acts.

Having said all that, this seems to be the only platform from which these people will get their voices heard no matter how deplorable their methods of attention-grabbing are. I know what they're trying to say and there are many like me who know what they are trying to say but there are also high-ranking powerful people who hear what they're saying and just decide to ignore it and simply put a bland PC statement of spin thats acceptable from all quarters into the public domain.

This may not have anything to do with the war in Iraq, it might not even have anything to do with the war in Afghanistan or the current 'War on Terrorism' but one thing's for sure, these people have a lot of pent up anger within them and its an anger and a feeling of distrust that needs to be HONESTLY addressed and given some serious airtime. The terrorists who planted these bombs or flew the 2 aircraft into the World Trade center aren't 'Attacking our way of life' as our leaders put it, infact they couldn't care less how we choose to lead our lives.

All they want is for our governments to stop meddling in their countries and bleeding them dry of all their natural resources, now tell me is that too much to ask for from any person who simply is concerned about the well being of their own country? Before answering this question seriously think about this and REALLY put everything into perspective for once in your life.

If you still have any doubts about where my true feelings lie, they lie on the side of pure and unadulterated justice, I am not partisan on this very important issue, I just don't want to see the endless practice of double standards (when dealing with terrorism in poorer countries) by the rich and powerful countries of the world which just happen to be in the West.

All this unecessary carnage can end tomorrow if the strongest nations on earth will simply stop decieving the billions of poor and innocent people on earth by 'installing' puppet governments and thus fuel further hatred for those governments and in the end the West in general.

All this will do is give these powerful nations just another excuse to come and 'rescue' or 'liberate' the people of 'rogue states' from the governments they helped to install in the first place. I say to anyone living in the UK or US and any of the other member countries of the so-called 'coalition of the willing' to rally against the policies of your governments and what they deem to be rogue states just because they don't happen to agree with Washington's or London's idea of what a democracy should be!

Come on people wake up and smell reality, stop sleeping your whole life away, as long as there are people suffering in the world who are being ruled by unjust rulers regardless of being a bi-product of the West's foreign polices make your voices heard!

Rally against these governments even if they turn on you and threaten to kill you or your families.

This isn't just the Muslim in me speaking this is the Humanity in me as well and they are both very much intertwined ideals that I hold onto dearly!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Conclusion to my visit to Dubai

I thought I'd make a conclusive report to what I've seen and done in this pretty spectacular city rising from the desert as it were. So here goes nothing.

To visit Dubai is great as the novelty is not likely to wear off at least for another week, to live in Dubai simply drives the nail of self-obsessiveness and boredom further into one's head. I agree there's quite a lot of nice scenery here but at the same time I get the feeling that this place just tries way too hard to get your undivided attention by throwing money in the direction of major new developments such as the 'Burj Dubai' - the world's tallest buidling apparently.

Everything's a competition for these people, they have to have the biggest, tallest, most luxurious and expensive of everything. Anything less is simply not considered. Of course most of these developments are being built by the government through their development arm EMAAR so they can afford to splash their cash as it were.

And guess who has to toil away in the 45C degree heat day in day out building these superstructures without the possibility of ever being able to set foot inside these huge projects that their two hands helped to build and just admire their work. Yep you guessed it those same labourers I spoke about about 3 posts ago. What's more is that they may not even get paid for years of hard labour they put into making Dubai what it is today!

To me Dubai is really nice and beautiful, but it has no soul and probably will never have one because of the sheer fact that the powers that be are interested in one thing and one thing only...Money! They don't seem to see that you can't simply manufacture entire communities overnight and think that people will flock from all corners of the globe just because your flogging a few hundred square kilometers of land around in the middle of nowhere.

It all seems really artificial and contrived to me and you see it in the way the middle to upper classes behave there, none of it is real. So the bottom line is Dubai is a whole lot of nothing! Still I think it'll only manage to be a playground for mostly people without any idea of what stories of misery are made in this part of the world on a daily basis. If you thought slavery has gone the way of the DoDo then all you have to do is visit a construction site in the the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and I'm not sure about Oman but I would'nt be surprised if it were there too!

Doha to me still seems like home and it still has a sense of that 'small town charm' that Dubai seems to have lost somewhere on building its way to international glory, one that will probably be short-lived if the arab mentality is anything to go by.

Well thats all for now, hope my flight tomorrow is nice and smooth looking forward to taking some inflight pics and vids, don't know if you can post shorts clips here...oh well nevermind,

Ciao for now