The British Asian Blog

Life as it is @tbablog

2020 in review

I can describe 2020 best in three words:

Appreciation. Realisation. Determination.

A year of your life is a chapter. I tend to be brutally honest with each chapter of my life that concludes. Admittedly, by far, I happen to conclude positive chapters where I feel I have made good progress on many fronts. 2020, however, is a chapter that stands out as a totally negative one.

You, reading this, will agree that 2020 is a year we all want to forget and quickly want to wipe it from our memories.

I don’t think there is an industry out there that hasn’t been hit hard by the unprecedented pandemic. It has been a challenge to us all and unfortunately, our normal way of life may never be the same or at least aspects of it.

Going into 2021 let me describe what my focus will be in three words:

Rejuvenation. Acceleration. Concentration.

Can you describe in three words for year 2020 and 2021?

Jacob Blake – A New Normal

As sad as it sounds but the killing(s) of black people by law enforcement, in the US, has become ‘a new normal’.

Hand Written Letter

Despite living in a modern era, I like the feeling of holding a fountain pen and using it to scratch ink on a fresh piece of paper.

I write letters and I love it.

I have a number of people that I write to on a, not so, regular basis mainly in the UK but a few dotted around the world. It surprises them when they receive a handwritten letter from me, and their desire is as mine is, and weeks later (or occasionally month or two later) I receive a response in like.

My fixation started in the late ’90s while in boarding school as a student, the computer rooms were extremely far away from my dormitory. Traveling the regular distance to the computer rooms, navigating through long corridors, the many doors I had to pass through and the creaking of old wooden floors along the way just made it an undesirable activity to do. So I decided to write handwritten notes and handed them over to fellow students to pass on, as messengers, to their destinations.

I was gifted a fountain pen on my return home on one summer holiday with a few cartridges and a bottle of ink. I discovered my fix. It was my fix and I was addicted.

Writing should be normal. It shouldn’t feel special. Yet I find myself, in amongst people, to be probably the only one who writes. They find it fascinating and I too but for different reasons.

Unlike writing an email or any block of text on a personal computer, you have unlimited amounts of error correction that can be done at any time. This makes your brain race a thousand miles per second to rush out the words knowing that any error can be immediately corrected. Writing by hand is different, each word needs to be created carefully along with the carefully crafted sentences. You can embed a link to other pieces of information so you need to describe in few words as possible your points and they need to be as clear as possible. It isn’t easy and does turn into passion.

A few weeks back in Costas/Leeds, I was comfortably writing away with my paper spread and inks out and a fountain pen scratching away that I noticed a girl snap few pictures of me with her phone. She confessed to Snapchat them as it was rare to find anyone writing away – I agreed it is rare.

Writing now has become a kind of Art. Like all artists, the best piece of work comes to fruition when in the mood, likewise, writing has the same artistic level complexity. The best writing is done when you are in the mood.

If you want to find a subtle art, then go buy a decent fountain pen and accompanying ink set, and lets make art together, lets write to each other!

Just Walk

People have forgotten to walk and how!

Shaadi Ke Baad – Side Effects

Shaadi Ke Baad = After Marriage

Remember me?

Most of you will have read, in past posts, that I am now married.  For those who didn’t, well, now you know.

This blog has a loyal following.  People of all backgrounds, in different parts of the world with mottled age groups.  You all, still despite my laxity, still check in for updates and to know what is new.  Thank you.  I know this because of the background statistics I see.

I see, some are alarmed, some have raised their eyebrows at the thought of me being married.  I know, irrelevant of your disbelief, I am married and it is true.

Whilst the post married life is good, in fact, really good there are Shaadi Ke Baad Side Effects (after marriage side effects).  So I’ve decided to take the burden off my chest, write them here, and share with y’all.

You can have a really good laugh at my expense.  I do deserve it, at least, for forsaking this blog for this long.

A brief precis I’ll touch upon as part of my ‘Shaadi Ke Baad Side Effects’:

  • With marrying Simren, came along a gay man.  A gay man who has a boy friend which makes two of them.  This is no laughing matter.  One who scans me head to toe, then bites his lips and giggles.  The other, who constantly consciously and subconsciously compares his physical physique to mine.
  • I inherited a Dell Pentium 4 desk top PC with her which does random things. She refuses to depart with it.
  • The looks I have received when introducing “This is Simren, my wife, she is a lawyer”.
  • Walking into our house to constantly find the furniture reorganised. Freakishly heavy lifting alone (or with the two gay men).
  • Ongoing discussion of what should be the constant home temperature.
  • Her statement “You’re no longer a gangster, big shot, at home” on a couple of times.
  • Her super ability to be super organised.
  • Last but not least, Sex, Sex and more Sex.
  • Much more to follow

As always I will write anonymously.  This way, I can be open and honest, and know that nothing will come back on me.

Shaadi Ke Baad Side Effects are experiences which, I am sure, you all (that are married or have been) have had to some degree.  So, I’d like to know your stories, your side effects and what you did to overcome them.

That said – stay tuned.

1 year, 2 months and 25 days later…

It, indeed, has been 1y 2m and 25d since I last published on here.

That’s 451 days.  Bloody hell 451 days of going AWOL in this space.

I am back now and I will continue to post.

One thing that has revived my thoughts in continuing to write is BBC – The Big British Asian Summer and their attempt to celebrate this fusion.  Rightly so and its commendable how they’ve engineered, carefully thought out, discussions centred around British Asians.  Admittedly I’ve not listened to all nor contributed but hey – I have this platform right and I’ll show my appreciation too – my way.

So with this, I’ll begin sharing more of my ramblings, mess ups and how life is now being married to Simren*

I think one standout questions asked by BBC as part of The Big British Asian Summer is:  Are British Asian more socially conservative than the rest of the UK?

This question, my friends, is a big one.  What are you thoughts (see poll below)?

 

Check in again here, as I’m writing again!

 

*name changed to protect Identity

 

TREES

I’ve been playing sports ever since I could run.  Football, Cricket, Tennis, Swimming and so on.  You can imagine the toll it takes on one’s body.  So, in January 2017 I decided to give up all competitive sports for 3 months and stick to the usual Gym, Walking and jogging.

For me being this active to suddenly take a break was a big deal.  A shock to some.

It’s remarkable how a change, such as this, can make you discover allot more about yourself.

I mean, from one who would play indoor 5-a-side football 3 to 4 times a week, Indoor Cricket net practice (in winter) followed by Cricket for a league every Saturday and Sunday in summer.  Swimming and Tennis frequently, and Gymnasium, jogging and walking in addition – imagine the amount of personal time this takes up each day and each week?

During my 3 months’ hiatus from Sports, I discovered so much about myself.  Stuff that I think could not rise to the surface due to the amount of Sports activities I have been doing.

One thing I discovered is my appreciation for Trees.  I discovered trees.  No seriously I discovered trees in their beauty.  I was out early January in my rear (very long) orchard and the light breeze was rattling the branches of the trees.  Upon close inspection, I realised the trees had extended into one another.  I stood in amongst them, which I’ve done before, but not as alert as I was now.

Trees are indeed beautiful.  Natural and yet so free.  I have 26 trees in my rear orchard, and many more small ones (or baby ones).  They’re all individual from each other, yet some from the same family tree.  I’ve gone through the trouble of loaning some books from my local library (keep the library going too) about trees, and have successfully managed to identify all of them.

Just like human beings, trees are the same.  They all have their own individuality and their own growing characteristics.  I’ve learnt how they grow, how long they can grow and over what period.  I’ve also discovered trees can too have illnesses and diseases that can severely harm them and or even kill them.  I’m currently learning about the different types of treatments that can help condition a tree, help it for winter and prepare it for summer.

I’ve asked my nephews/nieces to help identify names for the trees.  The name thus far I like is Hulk.  Hulk is by far the largest of the trees.  One which allows my nephews and nieces to climb and spend hours exploring it.  It looks big, aggressive and overpowering yet Hulk is humble, arched over and child friendly.  Names for the rest – is working progress.

As a child, I have almost no memories of me ever climbing trees and exploring them.  I recall games being played around trees.  I feel sad about that.  Not sure why this is, because as a child at my family home in Leeds we have plenty of trees.  I plan to explore them soon and identify each tree at the house.

I’m not sure where this, sudden enthusiasm about trees, has come from but for sure I now appreciate trees, what they offer and how they naturally are and how they help our living conditions.

Yes – I discovered trees.

Engagement Ke Side-effects: Demons

*name changed to protect identity

It has been difficult several months since our engagement.  I’m tempted to tell you in very fine detail but I see that you are focused on two important parts of your life, your career and our wedding.  I’ve battled my demons before, but since our engagement, my new demons or rather big compared to the past – they make me weaker.  You see me, I stand outside my car on the curb leaning my back on the bonnet of my Range Rover.  I see you park your car and walk over to me.  You have a giggling walk – you half walk and half run towards me. You push yourself and lean into me, you reach up and run your hands through my hair.  Gosh that feels good, it’s soothing and it’s meaningful.  “How are you” you say, and your hands are still in my hair.  Only if I could tell you that I’m weakening from within.  I use to be strong but I don’t feel it anymore.  I use to get what I want – even the camaraderie of another women ‘as and when’ but limited to sex only, now I can’t.  I want to tell you that I am fighting my demons and believe me Simren*, I am fighting them hard – with everything I have got.

“A little tired” I reply and display my cheeky smile.  You look up at me, into my eyes, I look back and I love what I see.  Your innocent eyes, the shape of them, the curled eyelashes and the smoothness of your skin, fresh and young – But I look away, I fear you may see into my heart – the truth that I am hiding and hiding the war I am fighting with my demons.  It isn’t a pleasant war and, for sure, I don’t want you to see it.

We get into my car, I drive, I have a habit of sitting comfortably in my seat – as if I’m learning deliberately on to your side.  I have my left-hand relaxing on the central column.  You slide your hand and lock your fingers into mine.  I look towards you; you hum away and look out of the window at the store fronts.  You connected your hand to mine via a subconscious action and I feel privileged.  Your hand is cold yet soft.  I like it, it is like a reassurance and I equally respond.  I squeeze your hand a little hard, I can see from the side of my vision you turn and look at me “easy tiger” you say.  I laugh and continue staring ahead.

Ah yes these words “easy tiger” do feed my demons.  Thoughts spring into my mind.  Thoughts of how these words have been uttered to me before.  These thoughts you don’t want to know.  They use to spur me on during my extra circular activities with women.  A kind of trigger to suggest I’m just going beyond the point of pleasure and into pain.  Then these words didn’t bring me a notch lower but increase in intensity, in rhythm, physically and went on to inflict more pain, until they screamed “stop, stop that’s enough” or physically escaped out of position.  I can’t see myself do this to you Simren.  I glance back at you to reaffirm this understanding and you do, you are innocent, you are unaware and you have underestimated this beast.  I am a beast, I’ve learnt to tame and discipline myself, but for how long.  After all a beast is a beast.

We arrive at our destination.  You, like an excited kid, want to jump out of the car.  I ask you to wait “hold on stay seated”.  You are confused, you need to get used to it.  It is a gentleman’s norm to walk over to the passenger side and open the door for you.  I offer my arm and you hug it and leap off from the passenger side.  I feel your chest and arms wrap around my arm and I’m pleasantly surprised.  The demons are back and I need to fight them again.

You walk in before me, your hand leading me behind you.  I smell the fragrance of your hair, as the air plays with it.  I’m sure I smelt raspberry, which is soft and delicate.  You simply stop at the reception, slightly taken back by the design, darkness and uniqueness of this place.  It can be overpowering if you haven’t been here before.  Admittedly it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  Here you’ll usually find barristers, politicians, directors and other powerful entities dinning – a show of power, privilege and to some extent the wealth.  You look confused and I take this opportunity to walk ahead of you.  We’re greeted and he talks to me by name.  You looked surprised that I’m familiar to this place, that they know me by my name.  Without any hesitation, we’re asked if we want to be seated at our table.  I offer you to walk in front, and you are still confused, taken back and wondering.

“We’ve done as you wished sir, you have the best table on this floor”.  I hint to you to let him take off your coat for you.  It’s the norm here.  You still look confused and slightly overwhelmed.  I like it.  In fact, I find it very attractive.  The slightly confused actions of your coat being taken off for you and you taking it off at the same time makes me smirk and leer.  It is always ladies first, here.

Being here, being so very well acquainted to this place and the surprised yet confused look on your face make me wonder what you are wondering.  I look at you and I see you are the prettiest thing here, but how do I say it to you.  Anything I say will not settle in you.  I reach out over the table, under the lamp my cufflink sparkle, you nervously bring out your left hand from under the table and place it in mine.  Now it’s warm, it’s soft and the skin feels young.  I squeeze it, like I did in the car to reassure you that it is all about you.  Yes, it is all about you.  The place is new to you but you are new to me.  I’ve become weaker in fighting my demons, the demons that so want me to commit my first mistake with you before we become official, official in the eyes of the world.  You try to reach over to my tie “You’re so far away from me” and I acknowledge.  I shuffle my chair closer to you; I’m always trying to come closer to you even physically.  You need to understand Simren, you are the longest I’ve known a girl without having gone as far as I have done with others.  This isn’t normal for me.  I must learn to respect you, you will symbolise how I look at others in a few months and I need to make sure you see that I am fighting, I am fighting these demons with everything I have.

I will fight! I will win!

Engagement Ke Side-effects: WhatsApp

On 5th May of 2016, I wrote about my intentions of implementing a 24-hour Internet ban once every week.  You can read about that here.  The timing of this couldn’t have been any better – the engagement ceremonies were just few months away.

It is now fitting to write my experience of the 24-hour Internet ban and how this played in my favour with Simren.

I decided to introduce this Internet Ban on a Wednesday of each week.  This meant on Tuesday midnight till Wednesday midnight I would switch off my Internet access.  I would only access my emails and that too when I was ‘only’ working, and boy oh boy was it hard or what.

I remember the first few Wednesdays, I’d:

  • Repeatedly pick up my phone and think ‘why I haven’t received any messages on BBM, WhatsApp, Viber, Google Hangouts, Telegram, Skype and Twitter’. Let alone the various other email mediums.
  • It made me anxious to know who was trying to reach me, and what if I was missing something important.
  • I repeatedly and subconsciously kept reaching for my mobile device(s) and then realising that I just repeated the same actions just a few minutes ago.
  • I made a few weird and confused facial expressions when during points 1, 2 and 3 as above.

It was weird.

I have now mastered it and I couldn’t any happier over this.

I learnt that:

  • If someone needed me, they’d simply call or text me – even in an emergency.
  • 80% of content I receive over social media application doesn’t benefit me or improve any aspects of my life.
  • If I spent my time reading the 80% of content that doesn’t benefit me or improve any aspects of my life, then I’d be spending ‘an extremely large portion’ of my free time doing something which has no material, spiritual or physical benefit to me at all.
  • I managed to spend more time on improving my life and doing things I enjoyed like street photography, riding my motorbike, reading, writing, cooking, gardening and making more phone calls to check in with people.

This has now changed my mindset dramatically.  I am now finding myself switching off my Internet on my device(s) 2 days a week (Wednesday and Sunday).  I can do the same from 10pm every evening, throughout the night and early morning till about 10am.  I am not watching or reading everything that is sent to me.  I can scan the content in seconds and decide whether to read/watch it or totally ignore it.

In short, I am probably most productive now then I have ever been in the last few years.  I’m being more proactive and getting more stuff done now then I could do before introducing the Internet Ban.

Simren is like me.  She doesn’t use much of social media on her mobile device(s) and that’s her own choice.  She seems to think that despite being more connected socially and virtually we are further physically apart.  In other words, these communication apps simply keep us further apart.  I couldn’t agree with her anymore.

Leading up to our engagement, she realised that I wasn’t on social apps much (by the last login signature each app displays).  She quizzed me over this, and I had to tell a little lie, by saying that I’ve always been like this.  I’ve kept my distance from social media but I value my time and I value physical interactions with people and she loved it.

I further explained how I had complete control of when I use the Internet on my device(s).  What she didn’t know and I haven’t told her, is that I’ve just recently got the hang of it and the confidence to make the Internet a valueless aspect in my life.  I went on further explaining how I switch it off and on (as above).  I could see her facial expressions change like a kitten – she found these little things cute and very much like herself.

It helped being in control of my devices.  For example, when Simren and I would be together (mostly only with the extended family or at an event) I wouldn’t even acknowledge my mobile device(s) until I either had a text or a phone call.  She picked this up.  She realised I was different from the rest.  This is made her snuggle into me more and more.

Now, since our engagement, I don’t have to bother answer questions which I use to get from other ladies in my life “why aren’t you responding to my message”, or “why aren’t you answering my skype call” and or the best “you were checking into the app 4 hours after I sent you a message but you ignored me”.  Simren knows if she needs me she’s got to ring me or very least text me.  This is what I call freedom.

Am I Superman or what.

Never Give Up

I remember Simren once said to me “…because you never give up”, upon me asking her what changed her mind about me.  If you have been following my blog over the years, you would have read my blog posts about how Simren and I met.

Our happenstance and subsequent encounters were full of troubles, fights and just odium.  She wanted nothing to do with me.  She hated the fact that I was actively and openly having relationships with women without pledge, including a very close friend of hers, she detested the fact that I was living a life where only one person mattered (me) and that my show of lavish, profligate lifestyle was just an ego booster, a statement I was making which demonstrated my insecurities and arrogance.  

This went on for years.  From myside, all I wanted was Simren.  I was prepared to go any lengths to get her and I was willing to change, all that she hated about me, for her.  In my books, that was a big statement.  If you want to know more about Simren and my relationship – just search for ‘Simren’ on my blog search field.

In the end, my desire to want her, my persistence and passion not to give up turned her hate into Love.

That’s the message I wanted to bring to you, never give up.

In life, I’ve been through highs and lows, I’ve been to thick and thins and I’ve been knocked down (almost out) on many a times.  One thing that I have done in all circumstances and situations is I never gave up.

It is true, the outcome(s) are not always clear and I’ve never been able to measure or gauge the end results in most cases but so long as you give it 100% and apply your faith, desire and persistence it’ll work out in your favour.

In ‘never give up’ attitude, at times, the longer you keep at it the stronger the emotions run to do just the opposite.  The fear of ‘not getting anywhere’ or ‘am I wasting my time’ just keeps wanting to knock you down.  The lack of results, in your favour, look grim and disheartening but you’ll soon realise that you are being conditioned not to accept failure as an option.  You are perfecting your character.  You are winning this battle.  You are learning and building your arsenal with relevant and valuable tools and skillsets, which otherwise you’d never experience.

I’ve touched on this before on previous blog posts and I’ll mention it again – it is germane.  I found myself at a boarding school hundreds of miles away from my family, at the age of 13.  Being a British Asian, and probably one of just a few colour students at a predominately affluent, wealthy and white boarding school meant that I wasn’t going to get it easy.  It wasn’t going to be easy and I needed to build myself up to learn and adopt to ‘never give up’.

Don’t be surprised to learn that when this morning, I received a phone call from my appointed solicitors/barristers that I’d been given the approval and the ‘go ahead’ for a very important venture to begin after almost 4 years of delay, I was jubilant yet realistic.  The uphill struggle, against all odds and despite all the ‘so called’ experts and their advice that it’ll ‘never happen and will never be approved’, I’ve gone ahead and proved to myself, yet again, a very important lesson ‘never give up’.

When I, briefly, spoke to Simren over the phone this lunch time, she mentioned it again “…because you never gave up” and if you are reading this blog post, and have come down to this far in reading what I have to write then go on a little further.  The next sentence you’ll read is probably the most important advice I could ever give you.

Never Give Up!

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