Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I told you I haven't finished..

Hey there Little Brother (I'm not naming you incase one day you become famous, and I'm sure you will because you're one of the most intellegent people I know so you deserve to be, and someone decides to Google you, comes across this webpage and thinks 'WTF kind of family did he grow up in'?!)

You're going to university tomorrow. Wow. You know, sometimes I think you're older than me (to be fair, so do most people. The nearly-two-foot height difference doesn't help) because of how in control you are. Most of the time though, I think of you as the baby brother I used to drag around nursery. I feel very defensive and protective of you. I know you can throw a punch (scars prove it) but I still have an inherent need to make sure you're okay. Follow my advice:

Don’t be judgemental. Talk to everyone. Spread your wings. You are genuinely one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life and I wish you had the confidence to realise IT'S GOOD to talk and be heard. People want to know what you're thinking! People want to cry with laughter, like I often do.

Ring home everyday. Even if it's only for 5 minutes - let Mum and Dad hear your voice and feel like you haven't outgrown them. Especially now the house is so quiet, with no kids to look after, our duty to them is even more important. And call ME everyday..for 10 minutes. When you're bored waiting to be served in the Asda queue, just ring to fill in the gap. Tell me every mundane detail because I will appreciate, and smile at, it.

Don't take more than £30 on a night out because you'll end up buying more drinks than anticipated - for you or for other people. Don't develop a drinking problem. Always drink less than you can think you can handle but enough to get you merry. Don't be the dickhead who's always wasted and can't handle himself. If someone tries to make you do something you don't want to, defend yourself and tell them to fuck off.

Keep your room clean.

University is about education - remember that. Even if your first year doesn't count, you WILL regret missing lectures when the same topic comes up a year later and you're sitting there baffled. Don't aim to get 40%. If you flop your second year, your tutors will look at your crap first year results and think you deserve it. Always strive for perfection. Saying all of this however..don't live in the library just yet.


Remember it’s okay to be homesick. Everyone is at some point during university. Just keep yourself occupied and distract yourself. DO NOT MOPE IN YOUR ROOM. I used to phone home every day and cry down the phone to Mum saying I hated university and wanted to come home. I am SO glad I didn’t. It took me 3 weeks to think ‘this place isn’t so bad’ and 4 to love it. Don’t give up hope. IF you do quit uni (which will be highly offensive to me by the way, because you know how much I wanted to go to Leeds), it’s not the end of the world. Mum and Dad will flip out, I’m sure, but if you’re not enjoying yourself then there’s no point forcing yourself through something you’ll probably give up on further down the line. You won’t be happy meaning you won’t work, resulting in shit grades and a ridiculous amount of money spent for 3 wasted years.

Challenge yourself.

When we were in 6th Form all the teachers used to make out like uni was going to be the highlight of your life, it won't get better than those few years. I'm not sure that's the case with every person - but it'll definitely be the period of your life where you realise you aren't what you thought you were, and neither are other people. This can be a good or bad thing. If it's good, go with it. If it's bad, aim to change it. Never settle. Be who you want to be, but still be YOU. Have fun. Be scared but remember 'the nerves will carry you through' (that's an Oades quote).

Oh and make a bloody Facebook profile so I can stalk you.

You'll be okay.

Laya x

Monday, 15 August 2011

My autobiography

Nearly a year ago I came up with an idea to busy myself: write an on-going autobiography. The difference was that it had to be told with a photo, which I described for at least 1000 words (thus embodying 'a picture is worth 1000 words'). This was my first entry:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The picture above was taken in my last A-Level Drama lesson and basically exemplifies how we spent 4 hours a week in school: pissing around with our friends and teachers, who were also our friends.

It was one of the saddest moments, walking out of the Drama Studio which had a knack of smelling like 13 year old trying-to-cover-their-puberty-smell-with-Lynx-and-hopelessly-failing boys, realising I would never return as a student.

It was also very sad finding out I got a fucking B in Drama.

I have loved acting for as long as I can remember, which is why it’s kind of depressing I’ve fallen out of it and actually become shy. I don’t know when I had that turning point. I doubt many would have foreseen that change of heart when I was acting out ‘Cinderella’, throwing my shoe so excitedly that it hit the chandelier in our living room as my Prince Charming (portrayed brilliantly by my older brother – something which has only just dawned on me is slightly inappropriate) ran after me.

I doubt my mum would have foreseen that either. I still remember her face floating in the audience whilst I was acting like a child who was mentally, and literally, torn in half by her divorcing parents (an idea, by the way, conjured by a 10 year old me... directorial genius, obviously). Or the other time I decided to brat out and refuse to give up a prop WHILST ON STAGE because my head was screaming ‘it’s pretty, keep it!’. To be fair, it was a pretty ring – therefore Daniel’s embarrassment (at being made to think it was his fault the ring wouldn’t come off my finger) was totally worth it.

Thinking about it now, it wouldn’t surprise me if I stopped liking to act because I simply became a typical teenager aware of the fact that we are always being judged. Despite my middle-child-syndrome (it DOES EXIST) and constant desire for approval, despite my noticeable attire which is too big and/or colourful and/or clashing and despite wearing little makeup in order to ‘present my ugliness to the world so that they become accustomed to it’, I am a massive pansy who does not like judgement in people’s eyes.

Why, people in ‘The Trial’, do you think I hated being the stripper?! Thank you for that Miss. I appreciate the casting...especially when Mr scary bald Italian/Canadian head of year approached me immediately after the performance saying ‘I felt uncomfortable watching you’. Thanks Sir. Thanks for eradicating that awkward moment of my life with an un-awkward comment.

That, by the way, is sarcasm.

The seven years that I studied Drama were...interesting. I had five teachers from start to finish, three men and two women. I’m pretty sure two of those men were gay and at least two teachers were mentally unstable – though casual reminiscing makes me question if that is, in fact, accurate. I’m debating whether or not to backspace and type ‘all’. I think you have to be a little bit insane because of the knobhead children you’re bound to teach.

I was a bit of a moron sometimes...hard to believe, I know.

Cue a list of some of the reasons I got into trouble with these crazy and/or gay teachers:

1) Not being able to work out whether or not my hand was larger than another boy’s. It wasn’t. This was my first ever lone detention and was massively crushing to the soul.
2) Not doing homework (x many)
3) Running out of class without asking. I had a sudden desire to vomit. I did not make it to the toilets and still remember the awkwardness of walking around my own bile-y puddle after class pretending it did not belong to me. Skills.
4) Dropping a microphone when specifically being told not to literally seconds before. This resulted in Crazy Man 1 screaming ‘FUCKKKKKK!’ at me as the feedback blared from the speakers, echoing and amplifying as if acting as backing music. It is still a moment I wish I was not such a retard about. I knew the wire was there so why the hell did I still stumble over it?!
5) Messing around in rehearsals and performances. To everyone I ever worked with who complained about this: shut up. I was good MOST of the time. In fairness, gobbing over everyone whilst laughing hysterically was unprofessional...

Teachers definitely needed a sense of organised chaos. ‘Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t’. I wish we did Shakespeare for one of our performances; how can you take Drama and Theatre Studies without performing a bit of the cliché pieces?! The closest we ever came was watching and reviewing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2009 version of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. I can say with great authority: it was a piece of shit. In fact I recall writing in the exam ‘Stephen Boxer was the only redeeming aspect of this performance’ and then went on to insulting everything. It was awful. My eyes glazed over. They don’t even glaze over when I’m watching DIY SOS.

Post-exam talk made me feel ridiculously panicky...everyone seemed to have said they liked it! Shit. Have I just talked myself into failing? Dun dun duuuun.

Answer: No. It was my coursework that got me that bastard B.

Saying all of this however, studying Drama for A-Levels was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I mock everyone who mocked Drama for being easy (which it’s not! Try rehearsing with some of the monkeys I had in class and doing tonnes of coursework for a play you struggle to remember 10 weeks later), took Chemistry despite hating it, and will have a life in a career they don’t enjoy.

That’s what subject snobbery does to you.

I did something I like and go to a comparatively crap university than many of my counterparts. BUT while you were fawning over a Bunsen burner and examining disulphide bridges, I made an amazing group of friends and exercised my gaydar skills.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Hussain Manawer's 17th birthday present to me

So I decided to revisit my MySpace page and came across the poem below. It made me smile again so I thought I'd put it on a website I visit more than twice a year. I've decided to include commentary in red:

I was about to go to sleep, but I just remembered
When I see you running around Highlands X-mas parties in Decembers
I can't remember how we first met
But Ilford IG1 is where this fairytale was set
An ambitious girl would never touch a cigarette This is true, I won't make myself a hypocrite after getting my dad to quit
Instead sit at home and wait for her Shrek To this day I have no idea wth this means
I've known you for years and you never get vexed
You're the girl who wouldn't care and just wear a vest At school I think I became known for the girl who wore weird shit. Particularly memorable outfits include a blue bow on my head (which is in fashion now! To which Daniel commented 'can you take that off? It's confusing me about your gender'), knee high stripey black and pink socks with a stripey black and white skirt and a pink top, my farmer skirt. And although it's not an outfit, I feel like the day I straightened one side of my hair and left the other curly needs to be mentioned.
These lyrics are shit, that was my warm up, YES!
The police ain't got a reason to arrest you or me
If you ain't clocked, I'm talking about a girl called Jall, Tee Hussain is one of the few people that still embraces a disgusting mispronouncing of my name, due to my nursery teacher Mrs Hobbs...Who I delivered a parcel to the other day and she remembered me! :)
She's got a warm heart and she will cruise like Penelope
If I was a buff girl I would say 'she's a threat to me!'
Your heart is warm like a heater
You're the queen of speed like your name was Rita
And I feel bare sorry for you, coz each year you grow like a centimeter! 5ft1.5" bitches!
But it's not the height, it's about what's inside that counts
Like Wayne Wonder, along you will bounce
Bounce off all the walls, stand up real tall
I'll be the shoulder when you cry and a voice when you call
I didn't get you a card coz I ain't got debit, and didn't send you a text coz I ain't got credit!
These are all quotes coz I just said it
I know you're feeling it
I can see your face when you read it I was actually smiling by the time he came to this part
Even though you're small, from the rest you're elevated
Your personality shines like it's been laminated
This is blue ink, but if your heart read it, it's gold plated
I know it ain't all that but I hope it's highly rated
I use small words like you, no need for a theasaurus
You have a sharp horn like a rhinosaurus
Let me end it with Happy Birthday Tejasaurus!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


I know this is not the time to get excited that people (who I don't even know!) are quoting my Facebook status about the London riots, but I'm starting to feel drunk with fame!

Here it is:

Veil your selfishness with a weak excuse about Democracy and Justice. Burn your neighbours' cars, destroy the bus that takes your little brother to school, smash the shops your mum goes to and steal from a family business. Scare everyone into staying at home as they watch London burn. Then complain about how you don't get jobs, how you get stereotyped and how you are the Victim...?

Shurrup fool!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Berlusconi is the most quotable man ever

I study Italian. One of the highlights of this is that I get to understand politics in a way that I have never been able to with my own country. It sounds ridiculous but I find it really hard to keep up with everything going on whilst learning about whatever happened before.

Anyway, below is an essay I did this semester about Italian feminism. Generally I'm happy I got a 2:1 because I only managed to attend 3 of the 10 seminars available (and wasn't actually present for the one about the Italian revolts) BUT considering it is THE ONLY univeristy essay I've spent more than 2 days on, I wish I got a 1st :( Read it.

According to Umberto Eco, “1968 has profoundly changed the way that all of us, at least in Europe, behave and relate to one another”. Do you agree with this statement? Explore at least one area of the late 1960s revolt in Italy (i.e. women, students, and workers’ revolt) and discuss its impact on contemporary society and culture.

Considering 1968 was a monumental year in Italy’s modern history, it is unsurprising that Umberto Eco labelled it as a period which ‘profoundly changed the way that all of us…behave’. Following the social insecurities following World War Two, Europe drastically began to change as people learnt to stand up for their beliefs and rights. Italy in particular saw the longest and most widespread revolution – such as the ‘Hot Autumn of 1969’ - involving students, workers and women . Although we can indeed appreciate Italian feminism influenced contemporary Italy and Europe, it does not necessarily mean this was a positive change whose effect went as far as Eco claims. This essay will look progressively at the role of Italian women: starting with their position at home, and then in politics and society, to establish how true Eco’s analysis of the feminist movement is.

When investigating Italian feminism it is critical to understand women’s role prior to the social reforms. Being a woman in Italy was about being a wife and a mother. Neo-realist films, which were designed to reflect life, like ‘Ladri di Biciclette’ portrayed post-war Italian women as housewives who were bound to their home and were at the centre of the family. This was, by proxy, the centre of the country – for Italy is so traditionally dependent on the family unit. Despite this, women had very little authority. The subordinate duties assigned to women earlier during student and workers’ protests resulted in a backlash and resentment against men. Inspired by North American conscious-raising feminist groups, predominantly middle-class Italian women rejected large institutions to meet in small groups to stress upon ‘autocoscienza’ or self-awareness . Although it has never been unusual for women to discuss their lives with one another, these city-based meetings emphasised on literature and finding common ground to facilitate a sense of community. Paulo Bono correctly claimed women’s ‘cultural centres... [are] one of the hallmarks of Italian feminism’ . This tactic was particularly effective as it removed bureaucracy to restructure society from the bottom up. Women enhanced philosophies on marriage and realised they should be romantic rather than sacrosanct or economic . Feminist groups such as ‘Rivolta Femminile’ formed to oppose marriage as ‘the site of male domination’ . Subsequently the Divorce Law was passed in 1974, many years after France, suggesting Italy was not particularly revolutionary. Nevertheless, this was the first drastic step in changing the definition of a ‘wife’ and explains the rise in divorce, remarriage, co-habiting couples, children born out of wedlock and ‘prolonged adulthood’ - where women live with their parents until it is biologically too late to have children, or are discouraged by the increased financial dependency they now bring . Following their duty as literal ‘wives’ was Italian women’s obligation as ‘housewives’. Radicals like ‘Lotta Feminista’ entwined their feminist ideologies with those against capitalism , paralleling their views with Marxism – whilst also remaining highly aware of Marx’s ignorance of the unpaid work women do. This brought about ‘wages for housework’ : a movement highlighting women as extremely useful assets to the economy because they can produce a whole generation of labourers. They demanded financial and social recognition and fewer hours . The campaign brought women’s role into question and denounced the Italian workplace as misogynistic and unfair. Women were starting to gain control of their lives.

The next and most deep-rooted perception of womanhood is their ‘inherent’ role as mothers. It is the general consensus that Italian women were opposing Catholic and Fascist ideologies which encourage stereotypical notions by preaching ‘war is to man what motherhood is to woman’ , through schemes such as Mussolini’s ‘Battle for Births’. Now Italy has a falling birth rate of 1.39 children per woman – a perplexing statistic as ninety percent of Italians are Roman Catholic, a sect with traditionally large families. Only one third of the Italian Catholic population is actually practising . Due to very similar trends in Catholic Spain we may debate whether the movement from the religion, preaching women’s subservience to men , is a cause or an effect of Italian feminism. The slogan 'l'utero è mio e lo gestisco io' (‘the womb is mine and I will look after it’) beautifully encapsulates Italian women’s biggest success: access to civil rights. Women’s fiction such as ‘La Ragazza con La Treccia’ reflects concerns regarding pregnancy conflicting with personal interests. In the story we see a fifteen year old girl going to a backstreet clinic because, until 1978, abortion was illegal and could result in five years in prison . Having played a part in the legalisation of divorce, the Radical Party also had a big role in winning the referendum for abortion. The impetus of Italian feminism came from this intertwining with politics and controversial subject matter which interested many. The legalisation of contraception in 1971 and then abortion has since reduced the likelihood of health complications due to clinics being monitored, made it easier for women to have careers (a topic yet to be explored) and also – as mentioned earlier- led to a falling birth rate. The outcome is a declining, ageing population, which has meant less revenue from taxes - making it extremely difficult for rural areas in particular to develop - and is undermining the pension system . Places like Laviano, a Napolese village, are offering up to ten thousand Euros – in addition to the one thousand Euro 2003 ‘baby bonus’ initiative which was introduced by Berlusconi in an attempt to bring up the birth-rate to at least replacement level . The problem is country-wide as the Northern Lombardy region is providing four and a half thousand Euros to women who do not have an abortion . Women are now in control and actually being paid to be mothers – at the cost of social balance.

Hitler and Mussolini both believed women had no role in the workplace but should know how to be a housewife. As stated earlier, the movement emphasised on improving and understanding the self. Therefore, many women reject or delay marriage and motherhood for education, where more graduate than men - and with better grades . As Lumley points out, 'feminists began to supply goods and services for the market they had helped to create' . But despite all of their attempts, there still seems an intrinsic sexism and patriarchy present in Italy which we cannot ignore. Pay rates around seventeen percent less than males, and the unlikely chance of being in a high-powered job, indicates a gender gap we would be more accustomed to seeing in a less economically developed country . This could suggest why so few women are prevalent in government positions. Women’s suffrage was put into effect in June 1946 because of their efforts during the Fascist regime. Perhaps this heightened their self-belief that they would be able to dictate their own lives and bring women’s issues to the forefront of a chiefly masculine cabinet. However, member of the Italian Senate, Emma Bonino claimed ‘power is always negotiated among the usual group of men’ and believes a restructuring is required for women to be taken seriously in politics. Feminist conflicts with Catholic principles, so integral to Italian politics, would mean we would expect to see a withdrawal of women’s votes for the Christian Democrats following 1968. They did fall and were replaced in 1994 by Forza Italia, the party led by Berlusconi. Although fifty-five percent of their votes came from women, this does not necessarily indicate the success of Italian feminism . In a recent survey conducted by RAI, more than sixty percent of Berlusconi’s voters claimed they would support him again - regardless of accusations of having sex with an underage prostitute , being obviously misogynistic by calling the predominantly female Spanish cabinet ‘too pink’ and apparently appointing ministers based on their looks . This conveys how little the Italian feminist movement has progressed.

It has been argued that the changes following the revolts in 1968 were inevitable, but accelerated , due to an increasingly modernised Italy. If we dissected Lepore’s opinion in regards to all the aspects covered, it would seem very plausible. For instance, women’s access to the vote and work would have been necessary to fuel Italy’s development and rapid involvement in world economies. Eventually this would fabricate a female market. As urban areas became more cosmopolitan, there would be a natural exchange of opinions and a gradual movement away from ‘born into’ religions, i.e. Catholicism. Better healthcare and the need to work would lead to fewer births, digressing from Catholic ideals. Although this essay has highlighted the positive effects of the movement, it predominantly believes Eco was overly optimistic in his evaluation of Italy’s influence in Europe because the process of dismantling stereotypes, so engrained in Italian culture, is still in its infancy. After reading Sarah Vine’s opinions where she writes ‘The quiet power-play is what feminism in Italy is really all about. It is not feminism in the traditional sense of the word’ , it has become clear that we cannot really determine the success of Italian feminism if our cultures are so obviously different. Effects have clearly been more positive for Italian women than the country as a whole. The movement was about the self but one of the reasons Italian feminism had the resonance it did was because it was ‘an era of collective action’ . During protests, from December 1967-February 1968, students abandoned norms and females would reject heels for trousers in protest . Women were becoming involved in politics. It is this communal anti-establishment attitude and desire for a utopian society that made the revolts acceptable, even embraceable, and was the driving force behind their success. It is why there are so many new communities and so much more opportunity for Italian women today. In that sense, Eco was correct: ‘relations...[will] never be the same again’.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

3 months since 3 became 2.

'One day, years from now, you're going to look back and wonder how on Earth you managed the last 6 months. But you will.'

- Maria Guarnieri

There's literally not a day I don't think about either of them when I wake up or fall asleep. I know I'm starting to get better because I'm not as obsessive as I used to be. I don't lay in bed all day tormenting myself with 'what ifs' but now I think up ideas for 'what can'. Death is one of the cruel sacrifices that comes with having the ability to LIVE. See things, meet people, have an impact. I don't want Nik or Jasmin's death to be in vain. It's so cringey and cliched to say 'I'm going to live life to the fullest now' (and also kind of rude - did it take someone to die for you to realise not to waste the few years you have here?) but that's just the way it is.

Anyone who knows me will know how seriously I take dreams. For as long as I can remember, they've been really vivid and sometimes seem to foretell stuff that's going to happen later. Recently all my dreams are about change and how I don't want to accept it (today's for example was about being forced to marry in a purple dress I loathed). Politicians preach 'change' to get votes but you're VOTING for it, it's optional. When your own life overhauls, when there's an extra bedroom in your house with no one to sleep in it or a phonecall to be made that cannot be received, it scares the shit out of you. Because when someone dies you're crying for many reasons: the things they never got to do, the things you never said, the things you did say but ultimately, it's the fact that from this moment on your life will never be the same. It was a horrible realisation that from now on I only have 1 brother. Or do I say 'I have two but one died'? I still haven't worked this out. I feel like I'm still the middle child because that's all I've been for the last 20 years (bar 8 days), but as Nish (the younger one) pointed out 'one day we're going to be in our 40s and remember we had an older brother'. Just typing that made me sad.

When Maria said those wise, and comforting, words to me in her office I thought to myself 'what's been getting me through?'. I honestly have no idea. Maybe it's a mix of embracing my nostalgia (listening to songs and going to places I associate with them, telling stories, staring at photos and reading old messages) and developing new tastes (watching episodes of 'Have I Got News For You' that I know Nik will never watch, eating foods that used to make me gag). Maybe I'm just forgetting what it is I miss. Or maybe it's my long-standing belief that 'everything happens for a reason'. I just don't know what it is yet.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Family tree

‘Take one day at a time’ they say. ‘Time heals all wounds’.

But, like a weed that insists on ruining my


tainting the perfectly designed flowerbed of my life, I begin to remember and

continue to regret

I can’t unlearn what I’ve already been taught, I have to let it fade into far realms where my French conjugation tables lurk like ninjas who will one day, I’m sure, save me from the plights of a typical ignorant English-speaker

I sw---ing my legs on the edge of my mind.

I turn my head back

to the murky shadows, swaying seductively (swaying seductively), and contemplate walking in but fear being AMBUSHED by emotions and truths which I don’t know how to fight?

‘Pray’, I am told.

To who?

How can I forgive, let alone worship, something which has severed a branch from my family tree?

It wasn’t beautiful, okay, but it was mine.

It was meant to grow large, protective, canopies which shielded us from Life’s prevailing winds and God’s

Now a side’s missing and all I see are more parasitic wEEds taking advantage of the fact that the oak tree is not as kingly as it once was.

My feet tangle in the haphazardly strewn reeds and I fall,

My hands descend in front of my face, less than a few inches apart and

, in between them,

Is something different.

It’s reaching towards the sun, which is shining through the gaping hole from the missing branch, and is as toxic green as Nature itself.

It’s a seedling.

It is Life.

‘Take one day at a time’ they say. ‘Time heals all wounds’. But, like a weed that insists on ruining my lawn, tainting the perfectly designed flowerbed of my life, I begin to remember and continue to regret. I can’t unlearn what I’ve already been taught, I have to let it fade into far realms where my French conjugation tables lurk like ninjas who will one day, I’m sure, save me from the plights of a typical ignorant English-speaker. I swing my legs on the edge of my mind. I turn my head back to the murky shadows, swaying seductively, and contemplate walking in but fear being ambushed by emotions and truths which I don’t know how to fight. ‘Pray’, I am told. To who? How can I forgive, let alone worship, something which has severed a branch from my family tree? It wasn’t beautiful, okay, but it was mine. It was meant to grow large, protective, canopies which shielded us from Life’s prevailing winds and God’s heavy tears. Now a side’s missing and all I see are more parasitic weeds taking advantage of the fact that the oak tree is not as kingly as it once was. My feet tangle in the haphazardly strewn reeds and I fall, fall, fall. My hands descend in front of my face, less than a few inches apart and, in between them, is something different. It’s reaching towards the sun, which is shining through the gaping hole from the missing branch, and is as toxic green as Nature itself. It's a seedling. It is Life.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

How to see a dead body

Nothing will prepare you for seeing anyone dead. You could have known them your whole life or had a brief encounter many years ago, but there will always be that strange gasp your entire body seems to have upon seeing this corpse. You might draw away from the body (that’s what it is now really isn’t it?) out of fear, maybe even disgust. You don’t want to remember someone you love looking like that. Death is scary. Sometimes you just stare and soak up every detail as best as you can to realise that yes, he is dead. This is the last time you will see her so you must remember her lips, even if they’re not smiling like normal, or the shape of her infamous eyebrows. You must stroke his hair because, even though you kept some, it will never be the same. It will never be attached to him. You will never again tell him his head looks like a chip pan and to go and wash it. Remember the details. Be sad and regretful the moment you realise you’ve instantly ruined your image of them. When you regurgitate a childhood memory for the thousandth time since they’ve died, your mind will immediately pull up a distorted picture of them sprawled on the floor where your mum found them. You hate this. All you can think about is his face when you saw him dead for the first time, in the funeral parlour and then at the funeral itself - but at the same time you don’t remember it at all, just descriptions that you gave immediately after all three experiences. You make it up in your head. A purple face, blood near the eyes, bloated. It didn’t look like him, you tell yourself. It didn’t look like him. It didn’t look like him.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Truths about grief

Grief can make you a schizophrenic bitch. You are irrational and do things the ‘old’ you would never do – such as steal bricks from gardens.

Grief can make you impulsive because you realise just how precious life is. For short, but powerful, bursts of time you think 'fuck it' and book trips to Thailand.

Grief can make you a walking tempest, a ball of pure rage. You hate everything. You compare everyone. You begin to resent friends who are alive for not being the ones who are dead.

Grief can make you Hollywood your life. You have an internal monologue for insignificant moments and create a soundtrack on iTunes labelled ‘Nik’ which you play when feeling particularly emo.

Grief can make you passionate and lethargic. You will never sleep as much, and as little, when grieving.

Grief can make you cry when you’re watching 'Lion King' but make you smile when listening to ‘Motownphilly’.

Grief can make you amazingly alone, but more claustrophobic and suffocated than ever. Everyone avoids you but everyone asks how you are?

Grief reminds you how nice some people are and surprises you when you find some people aren’t.

Grief can make you search for anything that is able to express the emotions you know are lurking somewhere there, but don’t know the names of.

Grief can make you feel old, because you feel more than ever before, and young because of how helpless you have now become.

Grief can make you wallow in self-pity but angry at others for doing the same. Everything is put into your perspective.

Grief can make you obsessive over the wellbeing of everyone you love. Every ache should be seen to by a doctor - and every doctor doesn't know what they're doing because, well, why did they die so young?

Grief reminds you just how bittersweet life is and brings back the fact that one day, if you’ve lived right,

People will be grieving over you.

For some reason, this is not scary at all.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Pick me, pick me!

Recently I was walking around aimlessly on Oxford Street and was approached by one of those charity fundraisers who emotionally blackmail you into giving money.

I did the typical thing of pretending I was busier than I was because 1) CBA 2) I give £10 a month to Christian Aid, which I can barely afford considering I'm no longer working at Tussauds (but was blackmailed into doing so) and 3) I recall this charity getting you to choose a child to sponsor based on their photo

This begs the question: what the fuck?!

How depressing is this? If I give money to a charity, I don't want to choose who it goes to based on their appearance! We've all seen 'Eastenders' - remember how shocked everyone was to find out sweet little Lisa shot Phil?

I don't want to be like 'yes, this adorable child with a nice smile by far trumps the munter. Therefore I shall endow them with £5 a month in return for updates on their progress at school where they bully others and pee in their teacher's coffee mug'.

The whole process just seems paradoxical: the moral act of charity is suddenly tainted by a disgustingly shallow way to go about it.

It reminds me of when we went to my granddad’s village in India after he had died. We stocked up on loads of stationary etc. to give to the children, almost to give him good karma. We gave stuff to every single mini Indian there. Some of the kids would pretend they didn't get anything so would come around again but we refused. That's not cool. Don't be that person. I remember no individuals from this afternoon - just a vague cloud of brownness - and believe that's what charity should be about.

Who are we to say one person in a given community is more in need and more worthy of our help?

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Monday, 4 April 2011

Jersey bore

Oh my God.

Monday night TV became shit enough for me to watch 15 minutes of 'Jersey Shore' where characters/people are made famous for being fucking ridiculous.

I'm probably not the target audience but when I looked on the ‘JS’ Facebook page, I saw all the people on my friends list who 'like' the show are either my age or older. Why? Is it captivating because it's so pointless, like 'The Hills', where you watch JUST INCASE something good happens or is it the kind of thing people genuinely enjoy these days?

I read online 'Snooki' was paid $32,000 - $2000 more than Toni Morrison - to speak at Rutgers, an American university. Toni Morrison is particularly well known in the UK as her book 'Beloved' is often an English set-text however it is more her general outspokenness about racial inequality that makes her the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning scholar that so few know her for.

Fair enough, the talk was based in New Jersey so staff thought 'maybe we should get someone Jersey-esque' but why not get John Travolta (duh), Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, Kirsten Dunst, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, Ray Liotta, Frank Sinatra Jr., Meryl Streep, Bruce Springsteen, Ashley Tisdale, Dionne Warwick, Tate Donovan, Anne Hathaway, Chris Rock, Stevie Wonder or ANYONE you recognise that I don't on the extensive list of people connected to New Jersey found on Wikipedia? Because students voted on it.

In the same way JCRs here have a small fund designated for socials, so does Rutgers. To ensure student satisfaction and manifest the idea of a 'fun' university for prospective business (i.e. tuition fees) the committee suggested Snooki - who took more than 2000 votes. That's the sad thing. In attempt to win student support the university has probably undercut its reputation for being ACADEMIC. I know, it's crazy that we should actually LEARN while at uni!

I completely understand that the popularity and contemporary nature of 'Jersey Shore' is what makes Snooki look so appealing. Nevertheless what intelligent and inspiring things could a woman who bitches, and then lies about the bitching, ON TV (this is the episode I saw today) say to students who believe in academia enough to pay several thousands of dollars to attend uni - for jobs which will hopefully clear this debt? Oh right, 'study hard, but party harder'. No wonder RU parents are pissed. I could have given that advice for 32p let alone $32,000 (bear in mind that'd get me less far than if I'd accepted my fare in dollars. This is how generous I am and how shit the advice is).

I am in no way justifying the fact that Toni Morrison normally gets $60,000 for gigs because this too is an outrage (I cringed for typing that but it's true) but this Snooki-getting-paid-more malarkey is a par (see Urban Dictionary). The fact that modern students don't care about 'the bigger picture' and are more intent on spending their parents money on alcohol for nights they don't even remember is the greatest tragedy. One in which I am a character. Even then, I still would’ve voted for the Jonas Brothers over Snooki.

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Orange County:

Principal: People, June is just around the corner - let's talk graduation speakers... Ideas?

Nerdy Guy: Toni Morrison... she's in town that same weekend for a book signing. She's won the Nobel Prize.

Principal: Interesting... Dana, didn't you say you have a cousin who was friends with Britney Spears?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The things I used to write

I miss being this descriptive! I have no idea why I wrote either of these things but they're amusing :)


The room was painted in a graceful red that silently hummed an eloquent melody. The room smelt of ancient tomes lined against the ballroom wall. The floorboards were stained in a deep mahogany. I looked above my head and saw the most magnificent chandelier made out of only the finest diamonds. The room was truly beautiful and I was lost in a daze until I was woken up by a load thud. It was Ma’am

“What?! What on earth are you doing here you filthy brat! Have I not made myself clear- it is forbidden to enter this room let alone the adults floor!” her voice echoed throughout the four walls I was trapped in- with her. I simply looked at my feet, wondering if it was a rhetorical question or not. “Well then? Have you not something to say to me?” I did not know what the answer was.

Ten minutes later I was forced to polish the floorboards and clean Mistress Reed’s shoes. It was uncanny how my own aunt treated me, I thought to myself as I dragged my limp body across the floor. I looked around me and was flustered in a pool of colour. The picture rail clutched onto a painting of a women in a pink dress that floated around her like a cream-topped meringue. She was being pranced around with a gentleman dressed in a black waistcoat and top hat. It’s just like Ashputtel I sighed to myself.


‘Who the HELL stole my Mars Bar?!’ I roared, louder than most other 5ft girls. 12R silenced instantly and swung around in their seats to face The New Girl. Oh crud.
Wishing for myself to melt back into the distance, be swallowed up by the gum-stained ground or just DIE, I gasped and clamped my lips shut with my hand. This was officially the worst moment of my curricular life (Apart from the time where I walked out of PE without my skirt on allowing teachers and pupils alike to point and laugh at the knickers my mother bought from BHS as a multipack, patterned with ‘Glitter Babe’ all over the butt. I originally refused to wear them. ‘I’m 15 Mum, not 5’. But after being reminded that it would be a long, long time before anyone important sees them (a funeral director when I’m 80 knowing my luck), I supported the Pants Of Shame. Oh the horror.). I had drawn attention to myself in an all brown school! I know I’m brown myself but GOD, that doesn’t mean I’m used to brown people. After having been educated in a boarding school named Sir Winfred’s, you tend to adopt their Caucasian manners (napkin on lap, not understanding a word of Hindi, easy pronunciation of the letter ‘v’ etc.). Brown people scare the Indian out of me.
‘Oh BHAGWAN, you mind not screaming in my ear Newbie? That’s the last thing I need in the morning,’ said Narier as he took out his earphones who was the first Brown Boy to talk to me outside my own family- hence my silence. ‘Cat’s lost her tongue now!’ he informed the rest of the already informed class, smiling cheesily at me as if aware I was peeing my non-BHS pants. No response. ‘What’s this about a stolen Mars Bar?’
‘My Mars Bar was..stolen’ I finish stupidly.
‘No kidding Sherlock. So you get all garam about CHOCOLATE..?’
Suddenly his face solidifies, mirroring that of a typical Disney Channel bully, and he again adresses the spectators- ‘well?!’
Silence. The class is frozen, fearful. Guess he IS a bully.
‘If you lot don’t find her chocolate, you’re all gonna paaaay,’ he almost sings as he reaches into the uniform blazer pocket, ’10..9..’
Erruption. I find myself on the movie set for Titanic and people begin freaking out, bending over tables, crawling under chairs, fingering the floor surface as if reading Braille for the sodding chocolate.
Rude Boys began tipping out the contents of everyone’s bags onto the floor, Emos stopped bitching about the Rude Boys and rummaged through drawers.
‘6..5..’ he smiled. I begun get the impression that this boy was a masochist.
‘Oh my God! Hurry up, hurry up! He’s paagal man, he’ll kill us!’ screamed a well-groomed, make up- plastered, fake gold-covered girl.
‘4..3...’ Nariers voice began to grow impatient, angry. Would he kill me too?
‘Mars Mars Mars Mars Mars Mars’ one scrawny little boy whispered to himself without pause as he paced the room.
‘2..’ the smile returned as he pouted at me and winked. Oh my God. My heart fluttered. Wedding bells (which now I look back and realise is a full sign of my lack of brown-ness) began chiming in my head.
And in exact unison- ‘1!’
‘Mars Bar!’ a bulky Sikh boy cried with it clutched in his sweaty palm and he raised himself up from the floor.
Cheers. Fanfare. A whole bleeding fireworks show should’ve happened.
Narier again reached into his blazer. Everyone, including myself, fell to the floor and looked up to see the class bully laughing as he sprayed a jet of water from a toy keyring into the air. The atmosphere changed. His smile was wiped off his face as his mouth shouted ‘it was a joke! It was a joke!’ and his mind thought ‘run!’. So he did, the class minus me in tow.
I was alone in a room with The Mars Bar in my palm. I looked at it.
‘This isn’t even mine!’ I exclaimed.

The dead interesting dinner party

5 dead people I fancy hanging out with...

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Helen Kellar. I was a very odd child growing up. I’ve never read a single ‘Goosebumps’ story but around about the age of 8 I developed a slight obsession (as I am prone to do) with Helen Kellar after repetitively reading her biography. Helen became blind AND deaf when she was less than 2 years old but with the help of her teacher and friend, Anne Sullivan, she learnt how to speak, read and write. In my opinion this woman embodies everything amazing about human courage and determination. We can do anything.

Hitler. I know this is such a typical one but the man is a fucking mystery. I just wanna be like ‘hey man, what were you thinking? I really feel like you just need a hug and a bit of Robbie Williams to soothe your soul. Your aura’s looking a little bit crazy today. Also, perhaps you really should’ve shaved off that moustache because you totally ruined the look for everyone. Oh and you DO realise you don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes, yes?’

Roald Dahl. I really struggled with this one because there are so many dead writers I would love to chat to (C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Ted Hughes, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Vladimir Nabakov, John Milton, Jack Kerouac, Franz Kafka, Roger Hargreaves...this isn’t even all of the possibilities) but Dahl won because he is hilarious and wrote some of the best children’s fiction ever. He made me want to read and his books have the added benefit of being equally amazing as films. Roald Dahl just seems like a nice guy.

Marvin Gaye. Equal opportunities, and all that. Even though technically he’d be a guest at my Dead Person’s Dinner Party, I’d still make him sing and dance around like a performing monkey. I heard about Marvin on the grapevine and thought ‘there ain’t no mountain high enough’ to stop me from getting this event on. Yeh. I punned.

Eve. No imaginary dinner party is complete without a religious figure. Why didn’t I invite someone from Jainism? Because we don’t have the same level of controversy in our religion and also, because I want to know what the hell really happened with the Forbidden Fruit. It's like wanting to find out a cliff hanger before realising the show has been cancelled. I also think Eve would provide an interesting perspective of God before he became famous.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

When I grow up I wanna be a Jayshree

'All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.' - Oscar Wilde

Wilde was often right with his witty one-liners but this time, he wasn’t. Despite my mother's poor dress sense which resembles a marshmallow, nosey disposition and general need to embarrass me; I would be very happy to be half the woman Jayshree is.

Here are reasons why my mummy is better than yours:

1. She is the least materialistic person I have ever met. Mum hadn't even heard of Swarovski until I was like 'errr you do realise you're giving me ridiculously expensive earrings?'. She taught me to be natural and grateful.

2. She uses slang. Not only does Jayshree understand what 'butters' means, but she also feels the need to say it - it's gone past being used for ironic purposes. This makes me cringe. However there have been a few occasions when she says things incorrectly. In attempt to say 'he stole from me' she said 'he jacked me off'. I don't want to know about my mother being jacked off, thanks.

3. She can be amazingly immature and often cries with laughter about stupid things e.g. when she hung two baby carrots from her ears like earrings EDIT: She cried with laughter again when she read and rememebered this moment

4. She is stoic and handles things like the Duchess of Malfi when shit goes down. She is not a blubbering mess who whines about how crap their life is. My mum has balls.

5. She always revises with me, even when she has no idea WTF is going on, and manages to make it Indian. 'Quatre is 4 in French.. Just think of Gujurati for scissors! (Katre)'

6. She is not a typical Indian woman. My mum is opinionated and assertive about things that matter. She encourages me to try new things and do what I want - as long as it's not stupid

7. She has accepted the fact that I will probably marry a white man. This is a big deal.

8. She takes the piss out of me. Not in 'A Child Called It' kind of way but she just talks to me like she's one of my friends. For instance, I bumped into a friend’s Gujarati grandma while on the phone to Mum and my instant response was ‘Kemcho!’... How my mother laughed. She also pissed herself when I fell into the toilet after having only just gone past potty training. Supportive.

9. She cooks the best food ever. Most people think their Mum's food is amazing but that's because they haven't tried Jayshree's. This is why I am fat.

10. She taught me to love unconditionally and forgive often.

11. She always knows when I'm drunk, even if I simply text her with ‘alright babes?’. This woman is a ninja.

12. She saves me newspaper articles, pictures or anything she thinks I might like so when I come back home from uni I tend to have to sift through a pile of animal photos

13. She has Facebook and regularly insults or embarrasses me on it

14. She smells nice :)

15. She is very talented and can swear at me in Gujarati and English in the same sentence

16. She knows who I’m referring to when I randomly exclaim ‘Jason!’ (Mraz) or ‘JT!’ (John Travolta) or ‘Dad!’ (Mr. O’Sullivan) and then rolls her eyes in a way that says ‘what kind of person did I raise’

17. She can see the positive side to anything. A few years ago, after an angiogram and having just learnt how to text (a minute a letter), she sent me a message saying ‘Don't come too early, I’m radioactive L.O.L’. At last she knows the dots are unnecessary.

18. She sits with me every time I watch 'Love Actually' or 'Bridget Jones' Diary' (this may also be due to the Colin Firth Factor).

19. She knitted me the only scarf I ever wear – something which looks like a Care Bear vomited on

20. She is a massive nerd who used to do the algebra, which I cried over not understanding, for fun.

I get it from my momma!

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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Central Line

This is my line and my claim to London. I am not from Essex, shut up. The Central Line is often the hottest and filled with the most pissed off people... I love it :)

Ilford Boys' natural habitat is from Mile End to Gants Hill. Despite their name this term can be applied to most cliches in East London. You can recognise an Ilford Boy by his trousers - which are worn to a level ensuring impressive exposure of his boxers. Think of them as the La Senza's vs. the M&S' his mother lovingly bought. Ilford Boys also tend to sport 'lines' on their face or cut into their hair (though my living in Leicester has meant I'm not completely sure how popular this trend is at the moment). Real Ilford Boys opt to wear mass-produced and overpriced labels which a very distant relative back in their homeland (almost always Asian) created - and then proceed to mock people who don't. Contrastingly, Ilford Girls (who pretty much equate to 'Harrow Girls') embrace too much liquid eyeliner and foundation for what was an already pretty face. You can often tell when it is about to rain because, in the distance, a wailing sound screaming 'my hair!' can be heard. This is because Ilford Girls have incredibly straight hair. Water is its kryptonite. Every girl brought up in the East has gone through this phase but some never make it out. Sadface.

Patrick hangs around the Stratford - Holborn area. He tends to perv quite openly at the attractive 20-something blondes whose Basic Instinct is to 'pull a Sharon Stone'. Mr Bateman considers himself a ladies man, if he does say so himself. The middle aged man who often tags along beside him never notices this carriage flirting and has become accustomed to Bateman's lack of eye contact when he talks at him about the annual turnover of a company his colleague feigned interest in to get the job. Sometimes there are Mrs. Batemans. When the two combine it leads to an overwhelming realisation that, yes, we are in the 21st century where women can have powerful jobs too. Yes, women can wear tailored suits and be taken seriously. Go girl power and feminism and hairyness! Then they begin cooing, and exchanging DNA through saliva, and make it very uncomfortable for other rush hour passengers who are already struggling to find something to look at after having exhausted their reading materials (the ads) in the morning. Everyone proceeds to mentally 'awkward turtle'.

From Holborn to White City you can find every Londoner’s favourite group: tourists! Technically each type of tourist should have its own group - from the unnecessarily untrusting Chinese to the unnecessarily trusting Americans (who we don't trust). Nevertheless there are several ways to spot a tourist besides the quintessential 'I <3 London' T-Shirts (which I have, suggesting it’s crap evidence anyway). For example: did you know an adult Tourist rarely ever sits down? This is likely to be because they are not trained in the art of ruthlessly shoving someone to get that seat. Tourists also seem to have an unnatural addiction to H&M, especially when they come from a country which already has H&M stores. The clue as to whether someone is a Tourist is the speed in which they travel. Using Speed Equals Distance Over Time establish whether the person in question is moving at less than half the rate you are. Obviously account for illness and disabilities, otherwise this is a fool-proof way of working out whether the dude in front of you is a Tourist or someone you can tut at.

White City-onwards is out of the way and should be kept that way. Face it.

Friday, 18 March 2011

The 30 Day Song Challenge (in 1 Day)

day 01 - your favourite song: Dancing in the Moonlight - Toploader

I don't know anyone who dislikes this song, and if they do, they're lame.

day 02 - your least favourite song: Rude Boy - Rihanna

How can people sing songs like this with their parents watching?!

day 03 - a song that makes you happy: Keep on Moving - Five

:) My first ever concert at Wembley Arena. I also ate my first ever Burger King burger that day.

day 04 - a song that makes you sad: Champagne Supernova - Oasis

This song used to make me happy but now it just reminds me of my brother's funeral as this was the song we played just before he got cremated (it was his favourite)

day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone: It's Too Late - Evermore

Jasmin: Have you heard of this band called 'Evermore'?
Me: ...WHAT!?

This was so not her kind of music.

day 06 - a song that reminds you of somewhere: Great Pretender - Freddie Mercury

Last summer I worked for Madame Tussauds London. There's a room the staff call 'World Stage' where MJ, Beyoncé and all those big stars' models are where a few music videos are played on loop. By the end of the 7 weeks you want to punch someone in the face everytime you hear them but, for some reason, I loved this one. I think it's because the video is so weird you can't stop staring at it.

day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event: Turn Me On - Kevin Lyttle

The Year 8 disco. Several pointless memories: Sarah and I pulled Mr Consiglio up to dance, Nick Hogan asked out Sezin, Miguel and I did that locking hands and spinning thing that cowboys do to a Steps song :)

day 08 - a song that you know all the words to: Teenage Dirtbag - Wheatus

day 09 - a song that you can dance to: Ignition - R. Kelly

I don't care if he Golden Showered an underage girl, the man makes me believe I can fly!

day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep: To Be Alone With You – Sufjan Stevens

day 11 - a song from your favourite band: Motownphilly – Boyz II Men

ONE of my favourite bands anyway. They sang this TWICE when Jasmin and I saw this, I nearly wet myself

day 12 - a song from a band you hate: Shake It – Metro Station

I hope they lose their voices.

day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure: Mysterious Girl – Peter Andre

day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love: AC-DC - You Shook Me All Night Long

I'm pretty sure Daniel S. sent this to me on MSN years ago. It makes me smile.

day 15 - a song that describes you: A Beautiful Mess - Jason Mraz ;)

I would love to be the kind of girl Jason sings about.

day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate: Hurt – Johnny Cash

Nik's best friend told me he used to sing and play this on guitar. I never knew this before he died but now I hate listening to it.

day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio: California Girls - Katy Perry

day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio: Float On - Goldspot

People would stop being assholes if they listened to this shit

day 19 - a song from your favourite album: Butterfly - Jason Mraz


day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry: Just Like a Pill - Pink

Jasmin Jethwa recommendation. Works.

day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy: Porcelain - Moby

Shut your eyes and imagine you're lying on a beach

day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad: Let Go – Frou Frou

day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding: Lady - Modjo

If I marry Daniel

day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral: Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve

day 25 - a song that makes you laugh: Eamon – Fuck It

Because 1) the lyrics are hilarious 2) his voice is hilarious 3) I associate it with when Geogia and Carissa came to Leicester which is when 1) I learnt what 'minesweeping' was 2) I learnt the repercussions of minesweeping after I vommed 3) We met Philip

day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument: Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

Very vaguely on guitar - an instrument too big for me to hold properly so I rest it on my lap

day 27 - a song that you wish you could play: Apologize – OneRepublic


day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty: I don't even understand this one?!

day 29 - a song from your childhood: I Want To Hold Your Hand - The Beatles

My mother is a Beatles fan, and she taught me the words to this song, and my dad's more about Elvis. I like both.

day 30 - your favourite song at this time last year: Kids - MGMT

Flat 2 bitches.

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Deep, non?

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Nikul Shah

Dear Nik,

I never told you exactly how much I love you. You named me, you were my first word, you bought me my first album, looked after me the first time I got drunk and basically wrote my personal statement. It was you that I told first ‘I’m going to Leicester’. Every step of my life you have been there and now I have to make it without my big brother.

When we were growing up I was always so jealous of you: The Golden Boy. My Bs were just shadows of all your As and A*s but it was YOU who first said ‘well done’ to me. Don’t think you weren’t a know-it-all though...You still felt the need to butt in with a sarcastic comment (or 4) and then we’d argue like cat and dog. But still, you never held grudges against me – even after I puked in your face in Kenya or kept you awake the whole flight to India because I was singing the same song for about 9 hours.

Nik, you always knew what to say to make me angry but you’d always make me laugh twice as hard. I’ve forgotten the number of times I screamed the house down after you’d wait for ridiculous lengths of time in the dark just to scare me. Thank you for sending me post with stupid nicknames that only you used like ‘Teglet’ and signing me up to Christian and lesbian support groups, thinking you were funny. And the impressions or accents... you, Nish and I would spend so many hours on Goodness Gracious Me sketches and All Saints dance routines because of you.

Everyone in our family has experienced your culinary skills. Whether these were good or bad experiences is another question. Chilli paneer, good. Cheesecake, good. Thai curry, overly experimental. You could be putting milk on cereal and manage to destroy the kitchen and accumulate two sinkfuls worth of dishes - which Mum had to wash.

You always looked after our guinea pigs or went to the hospital to see Nani but the night after Jasmin died is when I realised how caring you really are. I’ll never stop being grateful for how you stayed awake all night with me, talking me out of shock and making me realise the pain of losing my oldest friend would stop hurting so much one day. You looked after me and framed my favourite photo of us. You were so good with unexpected gestures and never expected anything back – I still remember how surprised you were when I said ‘thank you’. That night you said ‘I know I haven’t always been the best brother but, I promise, I’m here for you now’ – and you were.

So much has changed for me in such a short space of time, I’m not sure how it’s going to work. Let’s make a deal Nik. Look after Bapuji, Jasmin and all the boys and I promise I’ll look after our family forever. Enjoy yourself, live as fast as you did with us, keep dancing badly and we’ll always say your name with a smile.

Laya Bha.

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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The idea, not the person

I leave you to handle my car, my coffee, my money, my children, my smile, my food, my dog, my future.

I have faith in the knowledge that you will not run away, you will not abandon me.

I trust you with my desires and purposes of the day.

The day makes the year and the year makes my life.

I trust you with my life.

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Tuesday, 25 January 2011


For as long as I have my faculties about me,
You will have yours.

When I see ‘Chancery Lane’ my brain takes a train
To you

When blossoms blossom, and the wind wretches them away
They fall at your feet

When I hear that band, that song, that tune
We speak

Every spice scenting her perfume,
Every voice within this crowd,
Every colour in that rainbow,
Every flavour his tongue greets
Every embrace which warms my soul

Is you.

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Sunday, 23 January 2011

Well-behaved women never made history

When sitting in the backseat of my mother’s Micra listening to ‘I am a Passenger’ (lol, seriously) my eye came across the new Christian Bale and Mark Walberg boxing film poster. Being me I automatically started analysing how ‘Fight Club’ portrays our increasingly flaccid idea of ‘masculinity’. This then lead me to question ‘femininity’... Et voilà!

‘Gender’ and ‘sex’, I think, are generally considered synonymous. We assume a woman is feminine, and a man is masculine – and anyone defying these social norms is defying their inherent biological design. But that is exactly the point: on the one hand there are the social constructs designed to inform us what it means to be ‘feminine’, and on the other is our biology – which needs no explanation if your Year 6 teacher did their job properly.

This gives rise to the question: do we WANT to be feminine? Do we want to become another stereotype, another product of what is expected of us rather than what we want to be? Society holds women back enough. Being ambitious makes you masculine, being promiscuous makes you a slut and being opinionated makes you a ‘fucking feminist’.

Before people get confused and starting thinking I am a feminist, I’m not. Well I am to the extent where I think we should be given equal rights etc. but not one of those ‘male dominance is undercutting us’ types - like that woman in ‘Legally Blonde’ who was petitioning for the next term to be called ‘winter ovester’...WHAT IS THAT!? Nevertheless, even though I understand why Elle is Elle, I do cringe when I see her just constantly decked out in pink like a fluffy 8 year old.

A lot of people associate the colour pink with girls and femininity but this is only a very recent fabrication. Up until the 1940s pink was attributed to men because of the ‘masculinity’ of red, and the fact that pink was closer to it. On the other hand, blue (Virgin Mary’s colour) was for girls because it was considered more refined. The fact that Ross Geller would have not even needed to defend his 'salmon pink' shirt back when Queen Victoria was rocking, and the ability to completely overhaul symbolism, is just more evidence that the notion of femininity is man-made (in the larger, non-feminist sense).

The fundamental ideas of feminism's death though the increase in figurative and literal trouser-wearing, votes and political correctness has led to a decrease in birth-rates because 1) women are focusing on their careers, which they (OMG!) can now have 2) this ultimately means they have less time on their 'biological clock' and so 3) have fewer children than a woman of the same age in India, who got married when she was like 18. Considering the traditional notion of femininity is being ignored, it seems as though the modern age’s advancements has led to a gradual deconstruction of masculinity too – based on the growing number of self-proclaimed ‘metrosexuals’.

Suddenly it is okay to be a man who is aesthetically feminine. It’s okay to go on the sun beds and even get eyelash tints like some postman I saw the other day on ‘Take Me Out’ (though he didn’t actually get any dates). Femininity is definitely not about your sex, it’s about expectations.

Oddly though, there still remains the desire to APPEAR feminine. Women will pay too much for plastic surgery, haircuts, feet-crippling heels, Bambi eyelashes and/or ACT as the submissive, stupid and vulnerable '50-Cent-bitches' in relationships but NOT in the workplace. In the workplace they want to be taken seriously. Basically women are aspiring for a balance between Miss Trunchbull’s personality and Miss Honey’s looks. Or Hilary Clinton - though even she seems to be riding a little on the fact that her husband was once in office, riding Monica Lewinsky.

I’m bored of myself now so to conclude: I have no real purpose for this blog post. It is simply the result of a very long and boring car journey to Kingsbury.

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Jasper, the metrosexual guinea pig.

Friday, 21 January 2011

The Mraz Challenge

I know I sound like a massive emo but I’m actually not.

I’d like to think apart from my characteristic Piscean mood-swings (yes, I’ve finally accepted I believe in that hippy, let's-hump-the-ground-to-convey-our-love-for-earth stuff) and occasional feeling of ‘oh fuck’, I’m a very happy person.

Jason Mraz (my favourite singer ever! I took the picture during his performance on 04/04/2009 in Hammersmith) put up a blog post listing, in 90 seconds, everything he is grateful for. He then encouraged everyone reading it to do the same.

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I can't think that fast so erm, here are 5 minutes' worth of gratitude:

+ My family and friends (obviously including the pigs and my seamonkeys)
+ Jasmin
+ Literature
+ All the films, TV shows and songs that have ever made me cry
+ London
+ Theatre
+ Any famous person I pine over including but not limited to: John Travolta, Jason Mraz, Christian Bale, Leonardo Di Caprio
+ Salvador Dalí
+ Salty popcorn
+ Buildings and views that awe me into silence
+ Candles and playing with melted wax
+ Late night phone calls
+ Stamps on my passport
+ Snorting with laughter
+ Polar bears
+ Laughing at the jokes in my head
+ Making people awkward for my own amusement
+ Good hair days
+ Incense sticks
+ Gem stones
+ Sea shells
+ Hippies
+ The smell of old books. Sniff the QMUL library, you will jizz in your pants.
+ Coconut
+ Biblical metaphors
+ Eggs
+ Bright nail varnish
+ Vanilla lattes
+ My camera. Best 16th birthday present ever.
+ Greek mythology
+ Family holidays
+ Photos taken in photo booths
+ Christmas TV
+ Kit-Kat
+ Making pot-porri
+ Clashing colours
+ Laurence Llewelyn Bowen
+ Booze
+ Museums
+ Fossils
+ Sunflowers
+ White lillies
+ Lavender
+ Songs with retarded lyrics
+ Accents. Especially European ones.
+ Pyjamas (aka my wardrobe)
+ Funny racist people who make me feel intellectually superior
+ Bike riding
+ Mr Potter
+ The feeling in my stomach when I miss a step or go on a rollercoaster
+ Indian food
+ Night skies that make me feel all warm, fuzzy and insignificant. But in a good way.
+ Google. The closest we will ever get to omniscience.
+ Olives
+ Weird dance moves ('reverse driving', 'the cool down' and 'milking the cow' are particular favourites)
+ Crunchy peanut butter
+ Feeling like I’m in a music video and strutting when my iPod’s on
+ The '90s
+ Hand-written letters
+ Garlic
+ Wise, crazy people I meet on public transport
+ Old photos where you think ‘why did I think that looked good?’
+ Remembering lyrics to songs I forgot existed
+ The Great Spoon of Ilford!
+ Leicester
+ Spell-check
+ Blue Peter before it had that shitty green badge
+ Free samples, sales and any legal method of saving money
+ Cute kids. No paedo.
+ Cute animals. No beasty.
+ Pretty people
+ People who buy weird and imperfect fruit
+ Flash mobs - especially 'No Pants Day'
+ The seasons and fickle British weather
+ Drinking alcohol outside when it's sunny
+ Mum's tea
+ Texts or calls from people I lost contact with
+ Lucid dreaming
+ My teachers
+ Silver jewellery
+ Mix tapes made by my friends
+ People who recycle
+ Fruit
+ Roasted chestnuts


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

99 Flakes are no longer 99p

Nothing is original except youth. You can be whatever the hell you want.

I was a painter, then an astronaught and then a wrestler.

I would be Delia Smith and cook with dandelions, chopping them up with slate from the garden and then garnish my dish (also made from dandelion) with coriander. She put coriander in everything.

I would drink my Ribena wine and shout at my brother for saying 'yeah' instead of 'present' during registration and mock him, and the other children, with my reflection in the mirror. We had such a good rapport.

My mother only ever bought me two Barbies my whole life, a grudge I still hold today. One's hair turned pink when in contact with water, and the other who rollerskated (though really she just fell flat on her perfect face). This forced me to hang around with my brothers and think punching in the stomach is a perfectly acceptable form of play.

I had the wildest imagination and spoke with such conviction that others believed me when I told them my cardboard box was a portal into a world where bears walked around with their handbags and would make a broth-like dish for the nearby privileged white girl. I'm sure that's Goldilocks-inspired.


I burn toast,
I get pissed on rosé,
I look in the mirror to check I look okay,
I walk past all the toys bundled in carrier bags
And say 'bye' to my brothers without looking them in the eye.
Every statement is a question and
Every wandering thought is disturbed by a prevailing reality.

Everything is vanilla.

I thought you're meant to improve with age?

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Friday, 26 November 2010


People might think ‘how many fingers did she put into a plug socket?!’ when they see you but they still see ME. Curls, I love you.

I get called Simba and/or Mufasa but seriously, Hakuna Matata (it means 'no worries')! Curls, I love you.

I have to use, and have no, GHDs. 180 degrees of ceramic heat technology struggle to handle you - but 180 minutes would struggle to create the same level of frizzy, unmanageable perfection. Curls, I love you.

I lose rulers and packets of ketchup in your Amazonian mess. Thank you for an original storage device others lack. Curls, I love you.

Sometimes you confuse people on my ethnicity. This permits me with the opportunity to create an alter-ego. Curls, I love you.

Curls, you really wind (me) up.

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(Yes, I took some liberties)

My brain talks to me. Seriously, it won’t shut up.

It may just be the most self-less brain in the world - It’s always concerned about me.

‘What the hell have you done with your life?’ it asks, genuinely concerned.

It creates panic and then changes its mind:

‘Don’t worry, it’ll work out in the end’

‘Brain’, I say, ‘stop talking’

I’m pretty sure it’s bi-polar, the number of mood swings it has.

My brain then randomly bursts into song at 3am with lyrics everyone else has forgotten about. I don’t need a radio for a rendition of The Lighthouse Family...

Shut up, brain. I’m trying to sleep!

On it goes singing. ‘What’s the next line?’ it asks, indifferent to my frustrations.

‘You will always keep me flying high in the sky of love’, I say – now bored of the fight and resorting to rolling my eyes and sighing restlessly.

‘Oh by the way, you need to buy some toothpaste tomorrow. Write it down before you forget!’

...Thanks Brain :)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

14.02.1991 - 14.11.2010

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The last time I ever saw Jasmin she came to my house at about 10pm and we just sat in her car wearing pyjamas. We chatted for several hours until she announced she was hungry so we went to the McDonald’s drive-thru to eat apple pie, the server eyeing our clothes.

Even before finding out she had died, I considered it one of the best times I had shared with her because it just exemplified everything about us: comfort. Jasmin was always the first person I called whenever something went wrong. When we were younger we would just sit for hours on one of those green boxes at the bottom of Vaughan Gardens crying or laughing. I went back there after hearing the news and saw it wasn’t there anymore.

Several months ago we both agreed that if we had met later in life there was no way we’d be friends because our tastes were SO different. I’m relieved I never had to test that theory because I am grateful for those years I got to share with Jasmin. She was my first, oldest and best friend. We saw each other grow up to be pretty much polar opposites and yet be ridiculously similar because we grew into each other.

We often joked about how we were never in sync – when one was strong and confident, the other was timid and nervous. Maybe this happened for a reason – we had to be there for each other. Jasmin always called me her ‘safety net’ and I always told her she underestimated herself; she could do a lot more than she ever thought. And she did. The past year she came out of her shell and threw herself in at the deep end – moving out for university to study for a profession she genuinely wanted, working, and partying.

When we were eating our apple pies in the McDonald’s car park she was talking so excitedly about the people she had met and the things she had done. I just stopped her, smiling, and said ‘you’ve changed...are you happy?’ she just tilted her head in that way she always did, grinned and said ‘yeah’. That moment is my only real comfort now. I know she was so happy with her life when she went - she died at a high point.

I’m proud to call her my friend. Jasmin always laughed so loudly and with such ease (once we sat in the living room with my mother and she was in hysterics, basically ruining a story, trying to explain how her Ba said ‘chicken flu’ instead of ‘bird flu’... It really wasn’t that funny), she was cheeky (phoning my mum with the genius lie of telling her she had arranged a surprise party so I could stay out even later than planned) and defensive (basically beating up another girl she disliked for laughing at her joke, which also made Jasmin the school hero for a long time). She was so fun to be around and made me do things that I would never otherwise (notably go on the Space Mountain rollercoaster in Paris, where she cried more than I did, screaming ‘TEJ I LOVE YOU!’). I knew Jasmin would be an amazing mum as she’d shout ‘put on a jacket!’ when we went out. Then again, she was also a massive party animal and I will always be impressed by her ability to pretend she was completely sober - immediately after singing something ridiculously off-key.

Few people realised exactly how sentimental Jasmin was. One time we went to the park and were running around hitting the trees to make blossom fall down. A lady walked past and Jasmin looked at her straight in the eye and smiled (she always did that with strangers) and then held out one of the blossoms. Jasmin carried on watching the woman as she walked off, and beamed with surprise saying ‘she put it in her pocket!’ That memory is so vivid because it was one of a whole week we had spent together, immediately after an argument which we grew up to laugh about, when my mum asked us ‘aren’t you bored of each other yet?’ and in unison we said ‘no’.

I have no regrets in terms of saying things I should have, Jasmin knew exactly what she meant to me. Ever since the day she got me 3 bracelets and I gave her one back, I haven’t taken them off. I still wear the friendship necklace I got when we were 8 and Jasmin was meant to move to Mauritius. We would randomly text the other one with lyrics or just saying ‘I love you!’ I only regret not seeing her the night before she passed away, like we had planned earlier, and not taking more photos with her or recording her crazy laugh. I have so many stories about Jasmin and could talk about her forever because she’s been at every step.

I’ll never, ever get over or forget Jasmin. I will always love and aspire to be like her as she was the closest I’ve had to a sister. Every time I bumped into a teacher from nursery, primary or high school I’d be asked ‘how are you? ... How’s Jasmin?’ I am so grateful for those years I shared with her. Jasmin’s death has made me appreciate life just that little bit more and I intend on living every aspect of it with more energy and positivity – constantly thinking of her. We will never be alone.

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Sometimes drills make wholes
You just have to turn on the power

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Follow This.

Follow God Follow Mum Follow Dad Follow Brother Follow Sister Follow Teacher Follow Boss Follow Friend Follow Girlfriend Follow Boyfriend Follow Law Follow TV Follow Radio Follow Billboard Follow GPS Follow Magazine Follow Arrows Follow Guides Follow Fashion Follow Them

Now follow your fucking Brain.

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Things to (do to make customer) buy:

1) Bulk-order a low costing, raw commodity and ‘add value’
2) Hire an ‘innovative’ (i.e. ‘ruthless’) businessman who designs a figure to parallel ‘Tony the Tiger’
3) Prise your way into the family home and kidnap children’s minds
4) Encourage them to influence peers
5) Abuse parent’s love for the kids and guilt them into spending money
6) Let everyone believe we are who we say we are

I walk unsuspectingly into an ocean of promises which are portrayed so attractively in their perfect packaging so beautifully crafted to craft my will-be-beautiful thoughts. So many offers to help me save money (so many ways to sell my soul).

Buy 1 get 1 free on happy families when you buy this box of ‘Kellogg’s Corn Flakes’.

Spend £3 on bifidus digestivum for a digestive problem you never noticed until the advert and get a free, completely unrelated product

50% off a deodorant that makes you ‘The Sex’

...Empty wallet. Open your eyes.

Thank you for shopping at the 'Dreams Supermarket'. The place where you’re told you need pointless crap to become happy.

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'The people who truly deface our neighbourhoods are the companies that scrawl their giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff...Well, they started this fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back.' - Banksy

Friday, 24 September 2010

Oh, Hollywood

Dear Hollywood,

I'm writing this to tell you how confusing you have made my and, I'm sure, others' life. There are so many questions you’ve put in our heads:

1) Is life meant to be poignant like in 'American Beauty' or is it all basically a load of shits and giggles? I stared at a crisp packet for a long time. When I realised it was a cheese and onion one I thought 'this is definitely being filmed' but then people started whispering and I heard 'fetish' more than once. Ricky Fitts is not the only misunderstood, artistic soul.

2) Where are these men that I fall in love with every time I go to the cinema - and why do they fall in love with annoying women like Rose DeWitt Bukater? Do they not ever hang out in East London? I own granny pants just like Bridget Jones and have yet to find someone who finds that attractive. Hugh Grant, please, let's rendezvous.

3) Are there any evening classes I can take to learn how to speak that poetically? Also, perhaps I'm a prude but is it really necessary for Kat to cry in front of a class in '10 Things I Hate About You'? What happened to pride? I thought modern Hollywood is obsessed with aesthetics and looking good. She looks terrible.

4) Should I consider an explosion normal, and never bother turning around or say 'FUCK!' when I feel a slight burning sensation on the back of my head? Maybe in comparison to your protagonists I've lived a sheltered life.

5) I know stereotypes exist because they have truth in them but I have never met a magical black person before. Magical people in Hollywood are always black like that guy in 'The Green Mile' or the Oracle in 'The Matrix' (obviously bar Harry Potter because the wizarding community is not so elitist). Where do I find these magi?

I could do with some help resurrecting the mouse that burnt to death in the explosion which distracted me from the good looking chap who I could have wooed with the vast Shakespeare quotes my English degree has forced me to absorb, across the road.

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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Nel mio tempo libero mi piace scrivere

I don’t know where I came from
Those words were long lost
Now, instead of ‘kemcho’ I say ‘hello’ to my boss
The lines of communication
Were severed when I was young
My grandma shakes her head in disappointment
If only it was in Gujarati I had sung
The further I move
Away from my origins
The further I move
From an Indian kitchen
No shaak and rotli,
Just pasta and pie
No bhaat or puri
But pizza from the delivery guy
I don’t know where I came from
But I know where I am going
Studio l’inglese e l’italiano
Ma, Gujarati, non parlo

Friday, 17 September 2010


Evidently my earlier plans in maintaining a blog failed so I'm in no doubt they will fail again. Nevertheless it's nice to lie now and then..it makes you feel dangerous. Therefore:

I'm gonna blog.

Below is some crap that I wrote...probably whilst feeling hideous

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Take off your makeup with wet wipes you paid £4 for. They were on sale.

It’s stained with life-changing waterproof mascara (£20), man-alluring eye shadow (£15), mineral face-smothering foundation (£20) and all the nonsense you’re another insecure sucker for. Total for a new face: £55

...And that’s excluding the makeup utensils you utilised in making a man want to utilise you.

You get loyalty points though - This changes everything. This makes it okay.

Strip off from the body-shaping garms and rip away the names a kid sewed on for the thousandth time - which you pay to advertise

Cut the acrylic talons and stare at your misshapen cuticles

Has the world ended?

De-jangle those bangles

Go blind but let us see the natural colour of your eyes!

Wash out the plastic from your hair and shades that don’t belong to you but the woman on the box

Hide from the sun (unless it’s to play the games you’ve long forgotten...Hopscotch!) and tell skin cancer to find some other fool

You’ve adopted an image. It’s so engrained you can’t even trace where from, when...why?

What made you hate this perfect body that is testament to all that has been (your parents, their parents, their parent’s parents) and all that may be (when you’re a parent)?

Embrace the fat, there’s more to hug.

Embrace the frizz and scars because character is rare these days.

It’s all very well for Christina Aguilera to tell us we’re beautiful when she looks like that. Shut up, what do you know?

Not me though. Each and every one of you is more beautiful when your beauty belongs to you and not a twisty-top bottle.

Look in the mirror, wearing only what came free.

When was the last time you saw yourself in yourself look so cheap, and yet so rich?

You’re priceless.

My gift to you is yourself back.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2008

I have just

lost my blogspot virginity. Wow... I feel like a new woman.

I created this because a while ago I used to blog and people loved them but then I developed a social life and discovered the woes of GCSEs, hence the decline in posts. Now, when I really should be concentrating on life-deciding A-Levels, I have decided to blog. Ironic really.