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Category: Family

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!

S#*t – Just Got Engaged

Simren* and I are now engaged.

Our engagement concluded latter half of 2016, or rather the ceremonies did.  Other than a few people, this is the first time I am mentioning this on social media, partially because and to be honest, this was orchestrated move to leave it this long.

 

I am known for having balls of steel.  Being nervous, anxious or scared isn’t in me, in fact, where one would be (all the above) I’m the opposite.  This did, however, change and leading up to our engagement I felt all of those (mentioned above) when I didn’t think I would.  Admittedly, It wasn’t obvious to others but within, I was on a roller-coaster ride.

 

I guess in truth the mixed feelings and thoughts around “What if” scenarios played on me heavy, such as:

 

What if – someone talks her out of it?

What if – she finds out about something I don’t want her to know (of which are many)?

What if – an acquaintance, more accurately, an ex-acquaintance decides to turn up and have her moment?  I did, however, have the most dangerous of them watched and observed for 2 weeks leading up to and including engagement ceremony.

What if – she suddenly has a realisation that my life isn’t what she can associate with or see being part of?

What if this, what if that, etc…

 

I later learnt from those around Simren, leading up to and during the engagement ceremonies, that she was too a total bag of nerves and I can only imagine the same “What if” scenarios were running through her mind.  I found this humbling and cute if I am totally honest with you.

 

Despite my internal shit state, the engagement ceremonies were a success and to be honest far better than what I had expected.

So, I am no longer single (errant by choice).  Life is different now and I’m not sure what I think of it.


More blog posts about this to follow… 

Dear Daughter Your Father’s Back is Broken

In November 2014, I came across, somehow, an article/blog post titled “Dear Daughter Your Father’s Back is Broken“.  After reading it I was extremely taken back by how a Father wrote about his love for his daughter.  It is a moving piece and after rereading it again over the weekend, I felt, I need to share and re-blog it.  See below:

Dear Daughter,

We Just attended our Third Family Therapy Session together. You aired your grievances against us. We are here to talk about issues that are causing problems in the family. Your mother responds to your comments, it’s like a battle scene between the two of you, emotions are running high. Your brother is not here. I sit there with my broken back, staring at the plush carpet. Dear Daughter, this carpet is so clean, so beige.   Therapist tells us you’ve made a remarkable improvement in four months.  Your responding well to therapy and your divorce.

I come home and search for recovery tips on Google. I close my eyes, and this is what I want to tell you Dear Daughter.

I accept I failed in many areas of life- and I failed as a father as well.

But Dear Daughter listen to this:-

I work as a cab driver, because it helps me to pay off our mortgage. I should have been home more often. I should not have been too controlling about our future. I should not have looked too far ahead into future, your universities, weddings and this big mortgage.

As you started to grow up, the size of my wardrobe shrunk. We had to update your and your brother’s wardrobe three- four times a year. You kids were growing up so fast. Looking at you in colorful outfits with matching accessories filled me with pride. I became arrogant, Yes I can provide the best for my Children.

When Festivals came, I sometimes would get tempted to buy a new shirt or new pants, but then I would recycle my old clothes and wear them at Eid and Weddings.

When you were 10, there was a skiing trip to Alps Mountains. You wanted to go. I was saving up for a trip back to Pakistan to visit my Abba ji, who had made a spontaneous decision to go and spend his retirement years in Pakistan with his widowed sister. I thought doesn’t matter, I’ll go next year, Pakistan can wait, but your trip can’t.

 When you were 13, you wanted a new bedroom with new furnishings, new wardrobe and new shelves. I was saving up that money to fix our broken home in Pakistan, but doesn’t matter. Your Grandfather said, give her the room of her dreams.

 When you were 14, you wanted more stuff, more money. Now I was struggling, so my Taxi Hours increased from 12 a day to 16 hours a day. Breakfast was just a cup of tea, lunch was a quick sandwich and dinner was usually at 1am in the morning. I would heat the left overs in microwave, ping the noise of microwave would bring me out of deep slumber of sleep, and I would tirelessly make my way through the meal. You would be upstairs tucked into your princess canopy bed . All nice, safe and warm.

When you were 16, you walked out with 7 A’s, we celebrated. It was a trip to New York for you and your Mother and Brother. I confess dear daughter, I was a selfish thrifty man, who realized that with his ticket money and hotel money, he can pay off another installment of mortgage and pay off your brother’s one month of university rent.

Family Trip to NY

You all Visit NY

ny2

NY3

I look at my finances. I haven’t been home in 10 years now. I think of my father. I no-longer enjoy playing snooker with my friends and I have not boxed in years.

I haven't been to small Vilage in 10 years Dear Daughter

I haven’t been to small Village in 10 years Dear Daughter. It calls me.

You said, No Muslim clothes, No covering of Head, No Hand stitched Village Clothes.  I said that’s fine.

So I said to you- No low necklines, No sleeveless and No showing of Legs.  You agreed with your old man. I stood tall, and proud.

Every Father’s Worst Nightmare

Dear Daughter, As a Taxi Driver, I would drive my Taxi around at wee hours of the morning, picking up semi conscious girls sitting on the side pavements with shortest of shortest skirts, waiting for some cab company to pick them up. Dear daughter, my blood recoiled, my fists clenched, as I would look at those bad-boys inappropriately touching those girls. I would ask God, Please never put me in this position.

There’s a grapevine, you’re seeing someone. I tell your mother and we ask you and you deny it. ‘Don’t tell me those illiterate Taxi Drivers are feeding you lies about me?’. You scream at us. Dear Daughter you can’t hide anything from Taxi Drivers. Tabloids come second, Taxi Drivers know all the in’s and out’s of the community before anyone else.

Dear Daughter me and other Cab Drivers would put our heads down and debate and argue whether we should  allow our daughters to date every Tom Dick and Harry, so she can find her Prince Charming. We all agreed unanimously that we would lose it, if our daughters brought home a bad-boy. We all know too well about the influence of a bad boy on girl.

Your 18. A-level results are out. Time for another celebration.

“I’m in Love” You tell us in a mater of fact tone.

‘Over my dead body she’s marrying him,’ I tell your mother. I’ve had him investigated, he’s 25 and she’s only 18.  He’s a school drop out, an ex drug addict, every father’s worst nightmare.

We try to reason with you, but we fail, your uncles fail, your aunts fail. I tell you  he spent 45 days in jail following an assault. You tell us your love has changed him. He loves you and appreciates you for who you are. You’re on hunger strike. after three days, we give in.  If I had known what was going on I would have put a stop to it, but I didn’t find out about your special friend until you were already at a marrying age.

Devastating Moment, You leave home never to come back.

Now your father walks around with lower gaze. I just can’t look other men in the eye. I’ve got a broken back. My friends look at me with pity. Some call me spineless, a man who could not control his daughter.

Your older brother doesn’t want to know you.  Your mother just cleans one bedroom after the other. She spring cleans, autumn cleans and summer cleans the house. Do you remember how well dressed your mother was? Do you remember the famous joke, we need an extension to accommodate your mother’s wardrobe? Dear Daughter, We no longer need an extension. She donated 3/4 of her wardrobe, her shoes, hand bags, jewelry to Islamic Relief.

One day we get a phone call from hospital. Your ill. Your not eating and your putting up a fight.

We go to hospital and we see a bag of bones, lifeless eyes and jutting collar bone.

Your brother is furious. ‘Let the love of her life take care of her. She’s not coming back home.’ He yells.   I tell your brother,  ‘she’s coming home with us.’, I chose you over him.

She needs to eat and then we’ll have therapy sessions, your doctor tells us.

I learn all there is about your Anorexia. I tell your treatment team, forget six months waiting list, We’ll treat her at home and we’ll go private.

I become a hated enemy, as I sit through one meal after other with you. You think I am trying to control you, punish you, but Dear Child, I’m merely supervising your meals. You need to eat to live. I can’t let you have your way with meals, it’s as simple as that. What am I going to tell Abba ji, that I failed to feed my daughter? Under my roof, I’m binded by an oath to protect you, and that means protecting you from the demon of Eating Disorder.

You coming home creates tension in our family circle. Your uncles are furious. Your mother cleans obsessively now. I think of my father in a small village in Pakistan. Family whispers grow louder. I walk with a hunch back now. ‘He’s spineless, he has no dignity. How can he bring her back home?’ Look Dear Daughter, How your Brother speaks to me? I used to be a man, strong, powerful and proud man. Today I am a man of very very few words.

‘Come to England, Abba ji.’ I tell him. ‘Why do you insist on staying in a country with no electricity, no running water and no technology.’ ‘I’m happy my Son, he tells me, you take care of your family’.

You gain weight, treatment team is happy. You’ve been with us for 8 months now. But then you want to go back to your husband. ‘He’s changed,’ you tell us.

You leave, and me and your mother, we simply stare into empty air.

 I want to go and visit my Abba ji. Me a man of 48 wants an escape.

I go home to my Abba ji. ‘Look my Son is here, light of my eye is here,’ my elderly aunt wails and hugs me tightly. A little sneaky tear rolls down my cheek, betraying my manliness. I am no longer ashamed of my tears.

My Father, My Abba Ji

My Proud Father

The house needs fixing. Abba ji’s sister , so old now cooks for me.  I work too hard she scolds me.

She Cooks for me- My Dear Aunt

My Aunt Cooks For Me

My House Needs Slight Fixing

Our House Needs Fixing

At night, so many people gather in Abba ji’s house. They are his cousins, his relatives. Some relatives have walked for miles to come and see me. I am treated like a king. Everyone drinks Fresh Milk with fresh Honey and Cardamoms.

Next Day, we take a stroll across our village. It’s so quiet and so peaceful.  Everyone is so happy. They are so poor, but so happy. No latest phones, no laptops, no Apple brands here, no Anorexia, no Children Yelling at their parents.

We walk around our Village

How we walk away from such peace is beyond me, but man has desires that need to be satisfied.

We go and pray at the mosque and Abba ji prays for you Dear Daughter.

We pray at Village Mosque

We visit Amma ji’s grave. Abba ji prays for her soul. We visit other ancestors graves.

 You’ve changed my elderly relatives tell me. Now  you are drinking water from our local Well. We don’t have to buy you a bottled water anymore. They smile at me.

‘Come back home’, your mother sends me a message. Our daughter is back.

I’m home, I think to myself. I’ve only been here for 15 days. I think of 14 hours of taxi. I think of bills, mortgage, mocking glances from family members and I slowly rise to my feet. I straighten my bent back and I say good bye to my Abba ji, to all his animals, to his sister. I kiss her hands and thank her for taking care of my father.

My FAther's AnimalsMy father's animals

My Village33

I come back. ‘Dear Wife, Dear Daughter, I will work long hours in Taxi. I will support my family. I will pay off the bills. But When I die, don’t bury me here in cold grey climate. Take me back to my small rural, backward village in Pakistan.  Bury me among my ancestors. I know someday, people in that village, children in that village will come and visit my grave and will pray for my soul.’

I look at time: 12:30pm. I bring my divorced daughter out of her bedroom.We eat Lunch. It’s Moroccan Today.

Her Favorite

Her Favorite

‘It’s going to be OK,’ I tell her! She looks at me with haunted look in her eyes. I walk around to her side, and I put my hand on her head and kiss her forehead. ‘Your safe here, your father is here. I’ll protect you here.’ I look into her eyes, ‘remember this will be all water under the bridge in few years, these people will get bored and they’ll find something else to gossip about.’  ‘Humanity is fallible, we all make mistakes. We will fight this together and you’re going to come out of this stronger.’ She squeezes my hand, I know she believes me.

[original article]

Me, Her and Him – The Enemy From Within

I felt somewhat mortified and disgruntled after receiving those texts from RHK*, not to mention livid and extremely revengeful (catch up with the previous chronicles here).  How dare he, out of all the people, get involved in my affairs and tell me to back off. His actions didn’t surprise me, although at the time a little shocked, but what worried me more than his actions was his knowledge of Simren and me.

Those messages exchanged between RHK and I took me back to a memory lane which I was reluctant and averse to visit, but had to as they shape up the relationship between RHK and me.

RHK and I are blood related.  We are first cousins, where my father and his father are biological brothers. My father has five brothers, where my father is the youngest.  Four of his brothers live in the UK, One in South Asia and One in America.  We are a big clan. My father is the youngest sibling in his family and I’m the youngest in mine.

Our clan, by that I mean first cousins, is around 35 in total – I’ve not actually counted, it’s an estimate.

RHK is 14 months older than me.  Before I appeared in this world, my mum and dad with the rest of my 5 siblings use to live with his brother (RHK father) in a large house in Leeds and RHK was the youngest member of the family.  Few months before I was born, my family moved into their own family house, one which my father was slowly renovating in Leeds.

RHK and I have been extremely competitive from day one.  As toddlers, we would fight with each other over anything.  Before long, my siblings noticed the constant hostilities and war between us as toddlers and recall on few occasions how the elders had a go at each other because of us.  I was a big baby when I was born, but by the age of 2 I was well on my way in catching up with RHK in growth.

Our personalities clashed and these became more apparent and noticeable to others around us.  I can’t pinpoint why we clash, why the tension between us all the time – it’s just that we are simply two different people with different characters.

The family (my father and uncles) have gradually made it a ritual, a custom, to send most of their children to boarding school.  For the boys at the age of 13, and for the girls at the age of either 12 or 13 depending on which boarding school it was.  This meant, as a kid there was no getting away with extra home tuition that too at an extremely early age.  When RHK hit 13 he was given admission to the same boarding school where the rest of the unfortunate elder cousins had been sent and where I would go 2 years later.  This boarding school resides in Berkshire, and it was then while RHK began his new life there I began to forget him and the rivalry between us.

In the two years that RHK wasn’t around, other than summer holidays and family vacations where our families would connect and re-engage, the rivalry between us eroded away somewhat.  We both matured and the constant bickering between us lessened.

Finally, at the age of 13 and some months – I landed in the same boarding school as RHK. I remember the induction day, where I knew I had no other choice but to commit, no excuses not to go to school anymore I was practically living in the school.  Previously, I had been there a couple of times before mainly for the various entry assessments I had to go through, surprisingly somehow I passed them, and this induction day was the start of my new life, one which I hadn’t experience the anxiety and mixed feelings – it was simply one big confusing picture and a big blur.  From here onwards, my life would no longer be the same.

My family and RHK family were confident that both of us at the same boarding school would be a good thing.  The very least, being a newcomer RHK would show me the ropes, look after me and get me up to speed with living there.  In other words, I’d be more comfortable with RHK living there too.  They and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I think our families realised the troubles between us when towards December of my first year, my father received an unwelcomed, unexpected letter from the housemaster, in which he (the bastard) explained in graphic terms how a friendly cricket game between the houses turned into a type-of-riot.  He painted a picture so dreadful that it made my father drive all the way from Leeds to Berkshire to have words with me, in front of the housemaster (the bastard), few academic staff (equal bastards) and RHK.  What really happened was RHK and I ended up in a fight, what I do remember is we were on opposite teams during a regular cricket game between (two) houses.  I remember coming into bat when RHK and few others begun taunting me, name calling and so on.  I did something (which is a little blurred right now) and the situation exploded and descended into an all out tussle where punches and kicks flew in all directions, it also forced other teams members and friends to get involved until we were pulled apart by our house mates and academic staff.

Our relationship at this point was cemented – we would never get on.  It meant our families had confirmation of our relationship and the enmity between us – so ensured we were never alone together when with families.

By the time RHK’s education finished at the boarding school, his father (my uncle) had moved to America – with the intention of living there permanently.  The main focus for my uncle was to participate in expanding my other uncles businesses in America.  This meant RHK moving to America and getting admission into a University there.  Over the years, my uncle did extremely well in America, where he established a number of businesses, including a real estate and two restaurants.

Two years later from when RHK finished his education from Berkshire, I too finished and prepared to enter a true student life at University.  I was glad to never face RHK again. Over the years RHK become a distant memory.  Of course, we knew what was happening in each other’s families, on at an extremely high level.  So it wasn’t that bothering anymore.

Until

About 15 months ago RHK and most of his siblings (including his mum) returned to the UK to seek new opportunities.  ‘Seeking new opportunities’ in the Asian dictionary means ‘Seeking marriage proposals’.  I remember when RHK and his family got settled back into Leeds, they were traditionally invited over for dinner at my mum and dad’s house.  I was continually getting phone calls from my mum, my brothers, sister-in-laws and my sisters to confirm that I was coming and making sure I turned up.  I think they feared that had I not turned up, not shown my face it would look bad on our relationship, it would raise eyebrows and make people/family – RHK’s family speculate.  So despite my reservations about RHK, I did turn up and strangely enough, RHK and I could actually have a civilised discussion.  The strangest thing about seeing him again in flesh after so many years was how similar both of us looked I mean, anyone could guess we were first cousins.

Somehow and somewhere RHK has started gaining interest in my life, what I do, who I am associated with, what I’m involved in and who I surround myself with.  These interests has reignited his competitiveness with me and fed his feral side.  I must admit, RHK up until he text me, didn’t bother me anymore.  I know he is successful considering the portfolio of businesses he and his family have both in UK and America, but I’m no longer the same 13 year old kid – I too have expanded my reign and occupy territory and have multiple businesses and a career in healthcare.

The real problem with RHK is, and has always been, his desire to have what I have.  It is as simple as that – a despot in the making.  Of course, RHK keeping a close eye on me meant it was matter of time until he would click on about my interest in Simren, and unfortunately, somehow amongst my generation people started speculating about me and Simren – which naturally would and eventually did reach RHK.

Without wasting time, he did what he does best, interfere in my life.  That to with something I expressed so much interest in – Simren.  Yes I am shocked, Yes I am angry and Yes I feel revengeful – especially since RHK and I haven’t even spoken properly, haven’t been in the same room no longer than an hour or so – yet within matter of months he has the nerve to text me such message and stake his interest above mine and being so truculent.  I know, right now, while I put this post together he is doing nothing more than to connive, deride and turning Simren against me, exploiting what happened between me and her.

I have two clear options: One – I can avoid the clash with him and indeed move on, or Two – I can do what I have learnt to do – fight for what I feel is right and this is exactly what I intend to do.

I hope, after reading this, you understand the type of person I am dealing with.  I feel, had I not written this post about RHK, you wouldn’t have understood why I feel so threatened, upset and angry.

Despite what RHK throws at me – I will never give up.  Because I am an open book on this blog – I can write exactly how things have been in the past, are right now and continue to be going into the future, and I must admit that I am scared, scared of losing someone that I want so badly – who I feel is the key for me to change my ways and a companion for life.

…and so, it all begins – yet again.

* Name hidden to protect identity.

Me, her and Keeping up with the Kardashians

I choose my acquaintances based on their attractiveness, their sexiness, their style, class, ability, age and profession – the latter at times can be compromised or negotiated but is rare.  As a guy It’s hard work, and at times it requires long exhausting hours of research into their lifestyles, background and their intended future aspirations, before I make my move or orchestrate an engagement.  I guess, my interpretation of acquaintances is different from the norm.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for is how serious ‘some’ take a reality TV show – that too unscripted, as my recent acquaintance would have me believe.  Despite an exceptionally high appointed role working for a watch brand known to the world as Rolex, and despite ticking all the boxes for being on par for an ideal acquaintance, she has brought with her an unimaginable rift between us.

Allow me, going forth, to refer to this acquaintance as Priya – who is the most adorable personality you would find in a woman of 31 years of age – that I can’t take away from her. Her assignments for Rolex give her the power to travel around the world (for which many envy her profession and career) connecting and networking with high profile individuals, including members associated with Hollywood, Bollywood and government officials in the west just to highlight a few.

Her recent business assignment brings her to West Yorkshire and in particular to Leeds.  I first met Priya in London during the build-up to 2010 International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) which was to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  It was there, in London, where we first interacted and engaged but departed until her presence in Leeds few weeks ago.  She instantly and immediately struck a tone in me and ever since we have kept our communication ongoing.

To keep focus on the unimaginable rift she has introduced between us, I cannot put what I am about to write in any easy or simple words, and I must express this as it formulates in my head.  Priya’s life can be divided into three whole sections – and by no stretch of the imagination can what I write impede her personality and her status – two parts out of three of her life I can handle and in all cases with pleasure, but the final part I am not prepared to compromise or negotiate on, and I must reject it wholeheartedly.

The first part of her life is work – which is impressive and attractive, the second part to her life currently is our close interactions and engagements – again impressive and something I have no problem with, but the third part of her life is spending every second when she is either not working or when she is not with me, watching the US reality show known as Keeping up with the Kardashians.

The Kardashians or the actual word, admittedly, is not oblivious to me.  It has, in the past, popped up in discussion with other people I know – all being females, but since my physical engagement with Priya during the build up of 2010 IIFA event in Colombo, I have understood exactly who the Kardashians are.

Priya, literally is obsessed in keeping up with the Kardashians, she has gone as far as setting up my Sky HD box at my apartment to record every possible program that is aired on Sky relating to the Kardashians, whereas in the past my Sky HD was programmed to record programs such as ‘The Apprentice, Dragons Den, programs relating to cooking and property development and Sport games’.  If Priya is not at work and not with me she will be at the home cinema in my apartment keeping up with the Kardashians, and if she isn’t at my apartment watching it, for sure, she will be at her hotel keeping up with the Kardashians.

I once asked her “if there is or was a person who you would aspire to be, who would that one person be?” thinking the response will be on par with Ghandi and Jesus or someone to this level, her response was unimaginable and signalled the seriousness of her Keeping up with the Kardashians condition, and she uttered with passion “it would be…hhhhmmmm….Kim Kardashian out of the three sisters” at which point my jaw, my jogging pants and the mug of fresh brewed coffee dropped (and this scene, is on replay in slow-motion in my mind ever since).  It was clear that Kardashian is not a one man army but a clan, and there were more of them – Jesus Christ indeed.

To give her a fair trial, since she puts up with me and my habit of watching dragons den religiously with a notepad and my thinking cap on, I decided I would cave into her request of watching at least one episode of keeping up with the Kardashians with her – so I did.

The one episode that I watched with her, good grief I couldn’t help but clench my fists and grit my teeth all the while Priya found it romantic, while the I watched this disaster she rested her head on my somewhat tense lap with tense thigh muscles, the episode was so crazy, embarrassing and emotionally charged that I wish I hadn’t agreed to watching it.

In this episode, Kris Jenner happens to bump into her ex at a tennis practice, she, somewhat decides to pursue her ex which in the end results in agreeing to have an evening dinner – in the disguise of wanting closure from their relationship (considering they haven’t met each other for over a decade).  All the while, her current poor husband Bruce Jenner is left in the dark about what was brewing behind his back.  One of the Kardashian daughters along with Rob Kardashian realise the mother is up to something and decide to follow her, spy on her moves suspecting their mother having an affair – but their pursuit of obtaining evidence runs cold when they lose track of where their mother has vanished.  After spending the evening dinner, in close proximity with her ex, flirting and somewhat reliving old memories, Kris decides to go home and come clean with what just happened, so she wakes Bruce up from his bed, brings him out to the kitchen area and explains what happens.  For the sake of sanity and idealism I wish not to go any further in describing this episode.

As the episode drew to a close, I couldn’t help but regret having sat there watching this crazy reality TV show, if I can call it that.  I should receive an award for handling this episode so well and living to tell the tale – I guess the award should include words such as ‘brave’ or ‘extremely brave’ in the title.  What was more regrettable was Priya actually enjoyed it, which goes to show that I and Priya are on two different planets entirely.

Priya is checked into a hotel a stone throw away from my apartment, but she pretty much spends her time when she isn’t working at my apartment.

So almost two weeks ago, I decided to ‘politely’ eject her out of my apartment for a few days so that I can a) reclaim back my Sky HD box, b) delete all of the programs recorded that relate to the Kardashians and c) to teach her a lesson in making me watch this crap, where the time I spent watching that one episode is something I will never get back, not to mention the distress caused at the time. Harsh – I know.

Last weekend, almost 11 days later, I finally opened the door to Priya.  In those 7 days days I have had no contact with her other than mobile communication, but I’m now glad that she has realised that its either keeping up with the Kardashians or keeping up with me, happy that she opted for the later.  In saying that, as she fluttered her eyelashes I did back track on one thing though, which was that she could watch her unscripted, reality TV show at her own hotel room – as and when she pleased, but not in my premises.

As for the Kardashians, well, they can go take a long walk and occupy someone else’s home cinema as far as I am concerned.

British-Asian Wedding Marathon Finally Over

..and at last, I get a chance to write and have some quality time to myself.  The British Asian Wedding Marathon has been a blast of a time.

Over the last two weeks popularly known as Easter period, I have attended 5 weddings in 5 days (7th, 8th, 9th, 14th and 15th April).  Not just attended but been pretty much part of the organisation of them too, including all the ceremonial activities, often expanding for couple of weeks prior to the big day.

Over the last few years, the Easter period has increasingly proved to be a popular time in the year for families to plan weddings.  It has benefits for everyone.  The kids are off from schools, students are off from Colleges and Universities and most people who work tend to take off holidays during this period, to be with their families and siblings and also to take advantage of the two public holidays (Good Friday and Bank holiday Monday).

As my wedding marathon comes to a close, I feel proud that I managed to be part of all the weddings, including planning before, during and after each wedding, and still lived to tell the tale(s).

Most of these weddings have been in the planning phase for well over a year and in one case almost two years.  It’s been a sensation in watching each wedding come together on the important day(s) and in the end, it’s all been worth it without a doubt.  Majority of these weddings were either relations or distant relations and a couple were of close family friends.

Many of you no doubt will be aware that Asian weddings are not ‘one day’ ceremony.  Asian weddings span over couple of weeks of ceremonies, including singing and dancing, Mehndi night(s), and other ritual events often building up to the ‘big day’.  These 5 weddings didn’t fall short of any expectations I must say.

It’s been the first time ever that I physically got involved in these weddings.  Previously, I would have come up with all the reasons under the sun, for not wanting to attend such weddings and I have explained this in an early post.  For some reason which is unknown to me, I couldn’t avoid them and in fact – truth be told, I actually wanted to be part of them.

Many people, who read this, will be accustomed to the grandness of Asian weddings, especially South Asian style weddings.  There is never a small wedding and guest less than 400 are frowned upon as not being too Grand-enough.

Right now, I feel extremely tired, not just physically but mentally too (including financially).  While I write this post, I have had a strong mug of coffee.  Thanks to Amy (the Business Analyst) who made me one after instantly recognising that I needed one when I walked into the office like a zombie at 10:25.  You may question “what’s the big deal with having a mug of strong coffee?”  Well the reason why I mention this is because the last time I had coffee was in University during my studies and that was back in 2006.

For now, this is all I can physically and mentally afford to write.  Stay tuned as I have more tales and stories to share with you from these five weddings, including my thoughts, opinions and views on many aspects of Asian weddings.

Opportunity to be in a Television (BBC) Documentary

I’ve been approached by Sukhpal Sahota from a UK’s leading Independent Television Production Company’s known as Red house.  An opportunity has arisen for couples who are experiencing particular challenges where parents are divided by anything from race to class to appear on this documentary.

If you are interested or would like more information then read on, as more information is available below including contact details:

Are you in a relationship that your Parents do not approve of?

Are you going to get married but are worried that your Parents will not come to the wedding?

Or are you going to have a baby and would like to see your Parents finally accept your relationship?

Red house, one of UK’s leading Independent Television Production Company’s, are looking to speak to couples whose parents feel that they are not a suitable match for a sensitive and intelligent documentary that will look at couples and Parents divided by anything from race to class.

If you would like to see your Parents come round and give you their blessing, we’d like to speak to you.  Please contact us on 0203 189 3412 or email us at relationships@redhousetv.co.uk

‘Orphan girl’s rape and slavery ordeal’ – Ilyas Ashar, 83, and wife Tallat, 66

I often hear that British Asian people are well respected in their South Asian homeland, be it India, Pakistan or another nation.  Although, the respect that is shown is indeed a good thing, I often wonder the reasons behind it.  Is it because we (as British Asians) have survived in a foreign nation which was one time alien to us?  Is it because we have sacrificed our homeland, and travelled to a place for economical reasons, so that those (often referred to ‘families back home’) who were left behind could have a better standard of living?  Or is it because, by showing us respect they could win us over, show trust in us so that we may have sympathy for them and as a result we make arrangements, and often go out of our way to help those who appear to be in need.

Whatever the reason, we continue to show equal amount of respect – despite on occasions knowing the real intention for those who require our help.  That said, our British Asian community are not all innocent in with their intentions and dealings with those people who require our help back in the so called ‘home land’.

Let’s take for example this couple:  Ilyas Ashar and his wife Tallat Ashar.  This couple from Eccles, Greater Manchester trafficked a deaf girl of the age of 10 into Britain and kept her as a slave for nearly a decade.  During her ordeal living as a servant and slave, she was repeatedly raped as well as beaten and locked in the basement every night.  The basement served has her sleeping place, with no bed just a concrete floor.  Without access to either water or a toilet in the basement, she suffered mentally as well as physically, despite having disability she received no sympathy from her ‘owners’.  You can read more on this here, here and here.

The following is taken from a new article following this case:

The girl was never paid despite being made to cook, clean and do the washing, the court heard.She was also allegedly forced to clean the houses and cars of the couple’s family and friends.Mr Cadwallader said: “She was physically abused. She was sexually abused, which included being raped by Ilyas Ashar.”She was exploited economically, in that benefits, state benefits in this country, were obtained in her name, the money being kept by the Ashars.

“At night the door at the top of the stairs down to the cellar was locked and bolted so she could not get out during the night.

“There were no washing or toilet facilities in the cellar so that if she needed to use the bathroom during the night she had to bang on the cellar door in the hope that she was heard and the door opened.

“On other occasions, during the day, presumably when she displeased Tallat Ashar, she was pushed into the cellar, pushed down the stairs and the door locked.

“She would sit there for hours crying and locked in.”

The girl knew no one in Britain, had never been schooled in either country and cannot read or write.She was only taught to write her signature so her name could be used to claim benefits, it is alleged.Both defendants deny two counts of human trafficking into the UK for exploitation and a single count of false imprisonment.

Ilyas also denies 12 counts of rape, Tallat denies one count of sexual assault and unlawful wounding and the pair along with their daughter Faaiza, 24, deny charges of benefit fraud.

This reminds me of an post by a fellow blogger Bikram who not so long ago wrote about a similar problem identified in London.  The title of his blog post is ‘London dreams sad heart breaking’ which I strongly suggest you read.

Both what I have highlighted here and what Bikram highlighted in his post, echo’s a similar concern of how we as a British Asian community are failing in our responsibility towards our British Asian community and that community which we left behind in our home land.

In this instance, this girl had her entire childhood taken away from her, her teenage years where systematically and culturally raped from her and as a consequence her entire life has been traumatised.

What makes matters worse that the community in which this evil couple lived stayed quiet and unresponsive to this terror that was inflicted on this poor child.  I feel disgusted, ashamed and angry towards this couple, their immediate family, relations and friends – but more importantly the wider community who turned a blind eye for over a decade knowing full well of the treatment of this child.  If anyone has questions along the lines that ‘maybe no one outside of this household knew what was going on?’ well let me bring them to the reality of British Asian community – news spreads like fire, affairs of British Asian families are not secret within the same community, so that theory of no one else knowing simply is false and almost impossible to imagine.

I wonder whether this case is an exception, and I wonder whether this is just a one off.  No matter how much I like to deny this – it remains almost factual that their probably are more people out suffering the same fate.

Is this a moral decay of our British Asian community or are we just not able to cope with the growing influence of our status as British Asians in our foreign home?

Nonetheless, I firmly believe as respectable and responsible British Asian Community we need to uproot such illnesses from within us, we need to show those who brought us to this country and this part of the world, that we are capable of appreciating their sacrifices and hard work to bring about a better society which they dreamed of achieving.  

Machines Will Take Over From 2012

As the first week of 2012 came to an end, I tried to understand and reflect on how different 2012 will be for me, and for everyone else in comparison to previous years.  Somewhere, and I can’t exactly remember where, I read that ‘machines’ will (start) to influence our lives more than ever before.  That 2012 will be a start for when Machine try to outsmart the human intellect, and make us feel we simply can’t survive without them.

As I write, I can’t help feeling the uneasiness of how I am relying on a machine to record my words, words that are in my mind, which shortly will be shared with many other machines that will be used by readers to view what I have written.  Since when have I started to trust this machine so much that I allow it to record what is in my mind?

As a kid, I loved the movies such as Terminator and Robocop.  It was, as a kid, a chance to glance into the future and experience how life may well be.  The future is still to come, yet machines are already amongst us.  But, how did I come to accept machines to be part of my life and to trust them more than some people who I know?  It appears that while we continue the struggle in dealing with our lives, deal with issues that each and everyone faces, the machine has slowly and gradually crept upon us.

As we all know, machines are invented by us, to help us and make life easier and comfortable.  We invented them for a purpose, to serve us, and to assist us.  We have turned a blind eye to how powerful the machine have become, and to empower it with our intellect may well be the biggest mistake we make as mankind.

Take for example, the new generation of mobile phones, known to the world as ‘Smart Phones’.  If you take the time out and the next time you are either on a train or at your local McDonald – see how many people are glued to their ‘smart phones’.  What is it in this machine that simply makes the user become obsessed with the machine?  Steve Jobs was the guy who gave us this ‘smart phone’ machine.  Was he working for us or for the machine?  As much as we like to think we are in control of our lives, the reality is the machines seem to have a pretty good grip on our lives.  Our day-to-day activities clearly cannot function without the need and input from the machine.

This morning, as I got out of bed, I reflected on this ‘Machine’ and realised that in almost every activity I do, there is a machine involved.  To help explain what I mean, I’ll recall the machines I used today till the moment I write this post – at mid afternoon.

Alarm Clock, Radio, Electric Shower, Trimmer and electric shaver, Electric Toothbrush, Kettle, Fridge Freezer, Mobile Phone, Toaster, Microwave, Central Heating, Sky HD receiver, LCD Television and Remote Control, Mobile Phone Charger, Laptop, PC, immobilized car key, Car, SatNav, Radio, CD/DVD, reverse parking camera and sensor, Parking ticket machine, Train, Automated barriers to exist the train station, ATM Machine, Traffic lights, automatic doors, lift, finger print recognition to access work building, printer, fax machine, 3 LCD monitors, telephone, vending machine, keyboard and mouse.

38 machines used so far since morning, to be precise only in 6 hours.  The list is of machines which I can remember and work out, but for sure there are those machines which I used that either I can’t remember or recognise.  When I look at it this way, it becomes scary and quite hard to get my head around how much I depend on these machines or how much influence the machine has on my life.

Imagine if the 38 machines mentioned above simply refused to operate to my command.  In other words, they all got a message at the same time ‘not to cooperate with me or any other human’ and the machine actually refused to work and operate as it is commanded or intended to – where would that leave me or us?

To put it into prospective, Image if the alarm clock refused to wake me up at the time I told it to.  The electrical showers refused to provide me with hot water for me to have a shower in the morning.  The electric trimmer/shaver refused to operate so I couldn’t trim my stubble or have a shave.  The electric toothbrush refused to work so I used it the traditional way to clean my teeth.  The fridge freezer didn’t keep my milk or the butter fresh and all other food content simply went off.  The kettle refused in boiling the water and the microwave refused to warm up my food.  My car refused to start.

At the train station the ticket machine refused to give me a ticket and the train refused to leave the station.  The ATM refused to give me my money and swallowed my card.  My mobile refused to make or receive calls, or to even send or receive a text message.  The finger print security to access my work building refused me entry.  The PC/Laptop I’m using right now refused to record my words and opera….[[THIS IS A MESSAGE FROM THE MACHINE.  THE BRITISH ASIAN BLOG HUMANOID NO LONGER HAS PERMISSION TO USE THIS MACHINE AND THEREFORE CAN NO LONGER COMPLETE THIS MESSAGE]] 

[[THE MACHINE IS NOW IN CONTROL]]

Stephen Lawrence Murder Case ‘Not Closed’ Despite Two Convictions

I’d like to make a correction in my yesterday’s post, read here.  I originally said that this case was now over after yesterday’s news of the two convictions, but I’d like to correct this statement by saying “This case is still far from over”.

The reason why I made this correction, follows, two further developments in Stephen Lawrence case which came to my attention, and which at the time of writing yesterday’s post, were not apparent, or at least not to me.

Firstly:  It’s a known fact that, the group that attacked and killed Stephen Lawrence were a total of 5 people.  The names of all five I mentioned in my post yesterday.  Although, two of the five have eventually been brought to justice with one has been given minimum term of 15 years and 2 months and the other has been given 14 years and 3 months, three suspects remain at large and thus far have evaded justice since 1993.  It make sense now to bring the remaining suspects to justice, especially, since they not only have evaded justice but seem to think they were above the law.  A welcomed statement from Britain’s top Policeman Bernard Hogan-Howe said “despite almost two decades, the investigation is not closed” and that “others involved in the killing…should not rest easily in their beds”.

Secondly:  I made this point yesterday in my post, and I feel the need to mention it again, but with a little more detail.  It’s taken just over 18 years to bring about a conviction, and despite the conviction being a better result than any other result in the past 18 years, the satisfaction of this verdict or conviction is muted by why it took so long to get here?  Our society would never have changed, and, continue to change if it wasn’t for the sheer hard work and determination of that Doreen and Neville Lawrence put in over the years, mainly to overcome a lack of interest from an inward-looking, complacent – if not outright crooked – police force.  It’s still not perfect, and in the near future, can never be.  Doreen and Neville Lawrence have forced institutions to have a hard look at their own mind-sets, and more importantly highlighted to the wider population, the exact problems we face.

By digging a little deeper, around the past race related events of Eltham I come to realise Stephen Lawrence was not the only victim of racist murder.  In July 1992, Rohit Duggal aged 15 was murdered only a few hundred yards from where Stephen Lawrence died.  Eventually, years later, the Macpherson report had recorded evidence that Rohit Duggal’s killer(s) was one of the same gang responsible for Stephen’s death.  In Thamesmead, Feburary 1991 Rolan Adams aged 15 was to lose his life to racial motive killing.

Seeing news reports and documentaries one after the other, in the recent days, indicated a common sighting, especially during the scenes of demonstrations followed after the frustration of Lawrence boiled over to demonstrations.  Placards held by people during these demonstrations clearly condemned the presence of British National Party (BNP) in the area.  Somewhere during these events, lurking in the background was the influence of the British National Party.  It was known that only a few miles away, a bookshop covertly operated as a British National Party head office in Upper Wickham Lane, Welling.

Although, from the zenith Eltham appears to be a place which harbours racists, not just the murderers of Steven Lawrence, but it was, after all, the people and community of Eltham who gave up the names of the suspects from which two yesterday were convicted.  It was indeed the local “Institutional Racist” Metropolitan Police, who decided that the death of a black man just wasn’t worth the investigation, and it was never the wider community of Eltham with that view.

Unfortunately, the problem expands throughout the United Kingdom, there are places that remain a soft target for those who seek to stir and divide people.  The role played by the British National Party in the Bradford Riot(s) in July 2001 is a clear reminder of that, they just didn’t stop there, their motives and intention were abruptly apparent by major other riots around neighbouring cities before reaching Bradford.

Almost two decades later, what has changed and how much has changed?  Until Politian’s and others, either locally or nationally, don’t stop whipping up tensions, places like Eltham will remain soft spots for racial divide and may never escape the spectre of racism.

As I write this post, there remain three more suspects, who have, so far evaded justice in Eltham.  Throughout the country, many more such cases similar to this case, and, some have briefly hit the headlines, and especially since post-9/11 and 7/7.  However, circumstance in each individual case determines the course of justice, and in most cases, the lack of determination shown by Lawrence’s parents is missing, or the, institutions simply can’t afford to have another Stephen Lawrence Murder-like case on the horizon.  Racist Murder(s) and Racist Crime are more wide spread, more than we are led to believe.

Nearly two decades one, and with the recent verdicts, have at least for now, brought to attention the problem our society faces.  Communities such as Eltham at least now can begin to heal from the wounds over the last 18 years.  Victims of such racist murder(s) and racist crime(s) are not just the people directly attacked, but those who lived with them, went to school with them and the community who lived around them – the family of Lawrence, Neville and Doreen Lawrence lost their own lives over the last 18 years, as well as their son Stephen Lawrence – nothing can bring back what they have lost.  What happened that night was a great loss but from this loss the sheer determination by Neville and Doreen has helped change and improve our society, and the various institutions that swear to protect us, no matter what race or colour we are.  We owe it to them and those alike who fought to bring justice for all of us.

So, to bring the focus back to my original point that this case still remains open, thus far after 18 years two have been brought to justice but I really can’t help thinking that until the remaining members of the group are not put on trail and convicted, there still will remain uncertainties around this whole cases, with some way to go.  I also feel we have a long way to go yet to understand why this case has taken 18 years to prosecute 2 out of 5 suspects?   Some ownership, responsibility and accountability of the failings at institutional level need to be investigated, and to bring to light those sectors which contributed to the failure(s).  Until these questions are answered, we may well still have to fight for truth and justice.

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