The British Asian Blog

Life as it is @tbablog

Category: Relationships

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!

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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]

2015 In Review

It is 17th of February 2016 now, about a month and a half since 2015 as a year slipped into the times of yore.  I had intended to right a more meticulous and scrupulous review for 2015, but, time is of the essence and time is for sure, thus not on my side.

So instead I’ve opted for a safer approach in my review, and indeed, an extremely short one by my blogging principles and standards.

There are three words that perfectly sum up 2015 for me:

Recuperation, Realisation and Appreciation.

Like every year for the past 5 to 6 years, allot has happened in 2015, much more than what I can afford to write about.  Key and significant events, or rather key triggers, that have occurred in 2015 will have a colossal, life changing (or so I hope) results in 2016, such as:

Simren and I will be getting engaged in 2016.  A dedicated post about this is on the horizon.

My family (parents/siblings) will be seeing more of me, particularly when I’m not travelling abroad, as some changes I made in late 2015 going into the present means delegating and entrusting some UK based business/entrepreneurial responsibilities and overseeing to a personal assistant I have been forced to have, albeit, at the moment on a 4 months trail period.  That’s right; I’ve finally given in to peer pressure from the crew and took on a 22 year old personal assistant.  Again, a post about this will be up soon.

Anyway, 2016 I hope, for us all is a better year and a more fruitful one too.

Stay tuned for more regular posts from me and shenanigans I go through in my life.  As always I write my posts as on ‘life as it is’ and it is, indeed, the best way.

From A Broken Heart : Tumhe Dillagi Bhool Jaani Padegi

A broken heart sent this song/video link to me via WhatsApp.  I guess her objective was or is to make a heart made of stone realise, understand and connect to the suffering.  After hearing this video, one which I haven’t heard in years, got be hooked – thus wanted to share it here with you folks.

Enjoy!

Note:  Apologies in advance for those who don’t understand the language.  Allow me to explain in a nutshell:  This song lyrics are universal (and is from and or applies to any gender who’ve experienced a broken heart).  The person with the broken heart is tired of the world making fun and mockery out of her/him.  The broken heart is telling the world in return, come and see, for yourself how a broken heart lives, suffers and survives  then when you, in return, will have a broken heart you won’t dare laugh and make mockery of me, or anyone else, ever again.

Fifty Shades Of Grey

How close to the truth is this.  For my life…

…I mean, I’ve heard about Fifty Shades Of Grey the book and all (who hasn’t) but never took much notice – until now, when my acquaintance from South Asia sent me a link to the trailer.

As a guy, this for me is just too close for comfort

My heart was in my mouth…

 

Am I Charlie? The Problem of maintaining a moderate view

Source: Nury Vittachi

[Author]

‘Je suis Charlie’I am Charlie – is the rallying call in Europe and even around the world but … am I Charlie? Can I really identify with the men who died and what they stood for? And if not, then who do I identify with?

We were all, quite understandably, shocked and appalled by the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and the subsequent murders which took place in Paris. Every form of media outlet was awash with stories, claims, opinions and debates and the social media busied itself with endless shares of cartoons from around the world. Overnight #JeSuisCharlie became a household term and the largest march of solidarity in French history took to the streets of Paris joined by many of the world’s most important people.

No one, to my knowledge, is condoning the attacks (bar the rants of radical extremists)but the sound of reason is certainly being drowned out by those who would have us believe it is right to point the finger at Muslims and condemn them in every conceivable way. We seem to believe that ‘incitement to hatred’ is a one-way affair – that only Muslims are – and can be – guilty of this. If you’re white, Western and (preferably) atheist then it is quite reasonable and acceptable to mock, jeer and call for an end to whole ways of life for billions of people. My aim in this post is to highlight some of the important articles on the internet which tell a different story in the hope (possibly vain) that this might redress the balance a little.

Although I have, of course, been following the news regarding the murders last week and their effect on whole communities of people, it was after reading a post on Facebook by writer Nury Vittachi that I felt the urge to add my contribution. Nury asserts that though it is right to condemn the barbarity of the attacks this doesn’t mean it is right to condone the actions and beliefs of Charlie Hebdo itself. He points out that it is a lie to believe we have the right to uncensored free speech:

EVERY country implants limits on free speech. Most commonly, defamation is banned… Hate speech is banned in almost every country. Material that can be seen as incitement to violence is banned… The publication of matter which violates “the offense principle” is prohibited to stop people causing a significant degree of offense to society or segments of society.

Does the material published by Charlie Hebdo violate any of these principles, in France, or in YOUR country, or in other countries? The answer is almost definitely yes.”

I shared his post on my Facebook and was immediately engaged in discussion with someone whose views worried me immensely. This man made it clear he considered all religious beliefs – particularly the concept of blasphemy –  ‘ridiculous’ and was offended that people are ‘required to respect these fairy tales’. He spewed out commonly cited extremes of religious thought to back his claims and would not accept my argument that, for many people who have a faith, insulting their God or prophet(s) is the same as abusing a family member. ‘How would you like it,’ I argued, ‘if someone called your wife or daughter a whore and jeered at you publicly day after day, encouraging others to do the same?’ Call my wife a bitch and sooner or later I’m going to snap I said – and his response was chilling: “If you do commit murder because of it, you’ll rightly go to prison. That said, at least your wife is real…if you can’t see the difference, there’s no helping you is there?”

His intolerance towards religion is chilling because I see comments like his repeatedly – incensed and violent in language – all over the internet on every media platform and daily wherever religion is discussed. Atheists have taken such a stronghold in every social and political stream that people seem to be blind to their own intolerance. It’s a given fact that religious people hold silly, made-up beliefs and no argument to refute this is accepted.

A friend, over Christmas, shared a link to a small news item where an English church minister blurted out to children during a service that ‘Santa Claus doesn’t exist’. My friend was angry at her cruelty but then labelled her a hypocrite because of her own beliefs. I was a little shocked that he equated a belief in the words of Jesus (a man rooted in history) with the fairy-tale of the fat man who climbs down several billion chimneys every Christmas Eve. I was stunned that a woman telling the truth (for no adult believes in Santa to my knowledge) was condemned for it on the basis of her own faith alone. It was a silly thing to say – no argument there – and the article made it clear she regretted her words the moment she said them, giving an apology straight away. It was an offhand remark and one that drunken uncles are guilty of every year at family gatherings. It is, after all, nothing but a story to entertain small children with and adults forget this sometimes.

It wasn’t so much the news item as the unquestionable assertion that religion has no basis in reality which concerned me considering nearly 6 billion people on the planet believe in some kind of deity or spiritual realm. I maintain that it is this arrogance which is the root behind the religious motivated acts of terrorism more than any other factor. When your religiously-centred culture is under constant attack – in word and deed – from others who believe you ridiculous and even, at times, inhuman is it any wonder that some of the disenfranchised rise up and take matters into their own, bitter and angry hands?

Corey Oakley writes about these attacks specifically on Muslims:

“For the last decade and a half the United States, backed to varying degrees by the governments of other Western countries, has rained violence and destruction on the Arab and Muslim world with a ferocity that has few parallels in the history of modern warfare.

It was not pencils and pens – let alone ideas – that left Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan shattered and hundreds of thousands of human beings dead. Not twelve. Hundreds of thousands. All with stories, with lives, with families. Tens of millions who have lost friends, family, homes and watched their country be torn apart.

To the victims of military occupation; to the people in the houses that bore the brunt of “shock and awe” bombing in Iraq; to those whose bodies were disfigured by white phosphorous and depleted uranium; to the parents of children who disappeared into the torture cells of Abu Ghraib; to all of them – what but cruel mockery is the contention that Western “civilisation” fights its wars with the pen and not the sword?”

Oakley goes on to assert that we ignore facts like the persecution of Algerian Muslims by the secular French (the two gunmen last week were Algerian) and other secular attacks. In fact, if we were to score secularist against religious terrorism in Europe the secularists would win hands down. What the press doesn’t like to admit is that just 2% of terrorist attacks in Europe were religiously motivated!

terrorism EU 2

This is a staggering statistic.

Beenish Ahmed asserts that Islamic-based terrorism in America is also all but non-existent:

“Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina, has called Muslim Americans “a minuscule threat to public safety.”

In his most recent report tracking Islamist militancy in America, he included this startling figure. “The United States suffered approximately 14,000 murders in 2013. Since 9/11, Muslim-American terrorism has claimed 37 lives in the United States, out of more than 190,000 murders during this period.””

One could begin to suspect that there is a conspiracy here to ghettoize Muslims in a manner reminiscent of Nazi Germany. That far right groups are gaining political ground in Europe makes this more than mere rhetoric. It wasn’t for no reason at all that Le Pen wasn’t invited to the march in Paris last week.

Elizabeth Plank takes up exactly this theme when she revealed that the Charlie Hebdo attack was not the only terrorist action which took place over the same 24 hour period. Yet why was only the Paris attack given considerable air time? she asks:

“On Tuesday morning, the NAACP offices in Colorado Springs, Colorado, came under attack when someone who is believed be a balding white man in his 40s dropped an explosive device that went off a few feet from the building. And on Wednesday morning, news broke of a horrifying mass shooting at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in France that left 12 dead and several wounded.

Both acts were motivated by radical ideology, but only one of them is being covered by the 24-hour news cycle. What gives?”

She goes on to demonstrate how language is used completely differently to report the two attacks. The bomb planted by a white man was ‘isolated act of violence’ but the Paris murders was ‘an act of terrorism’.

It’s not the first time this has happened either, Plank points out:

“…after a white man in Texas purposely crashed his plane into a building known to house IRS staff and left a note describing his plans for mass murder in 2010, a police chief described his acts as “a criminal act by a lone individual” rather than terrorism. When Elliot Rodger espoused his radical anti-woman ideology and killed six people near the University of California, Santa Barbara last year, newspapers like the Santa Barbara Independent , described him as a “lone gunman.” And Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Rodger’s acts were “the work of a madman.” “

It really does seem the media want us to believe separate things about similar acts. But it’s not just the hypocrisy of reporting terrorism (or not) but the blindness towards our own acts which concerns me greatly. As Jared Keller notes concerning the political leaders found ‘linking arms’ on the march of solidarity with 3.7 million others on the streets of Paris, many of them had no right to be there.

“But as Reporters Without Borders points out, their policies at home are far from compatible with the solidarity for free speech on display throughout France.

The organization said Sunday that it was “appalled by the presence of leaders from countries where journalists and bloggers are systematically persecuted such as Egypt (which is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in RWB’s press freedom index), Russia (148th), Turkey (154th) and United Arab Emirates (118th).””

He quotes the tweets of student Daniel Wickham which list the Human Rights record of 21 of the 40 world leaders who gathered in Paris for the march. The mind boggles at how easily we lay aside what we know about our leaders when we hear the rallying call to solidarity.

Human Rights records brings me back nicely to the issue of religion with which we started. The person who commented on my Facebook post seemed adamant that religion is responsible for so much inhumanity in the world and he’s right – it is. But what media and scholars rarely tell us is that secular states have Human Rights records just as appalling. Over half of the countries listed by the IHRRI at the bottom of the ranking are secular states. China, North Korea, Vietnam and many more have terrible records and we should not forget the awful death toll in communist Russia especially during Stalin’s time where some experts estimate more than 20 million people were killed in the name of secular government.

The final big lie we all seem happy to swallow is the one which implicitly suggests all Muslims are secretly condoning the terrorist actions of Islamic extremists. ‘Why don’t they speak out against it?’ we ask ourselves. ‘If they were really one of us then they would publicly condemn these actions. But they don’t’.

This, I believe, is our worst crime in many ways (speaking as a white westerner). As filmmaker Kamran Pasha reveals, every single major Muslim group in the USA has spoken out condemning terrorist acts. You can find a list of these here but Pasha’s article links to many other sources as evidence to his claims.

His addendum to the article fills me with despair. No sooner had he demonstrated that Muslims are active in their condemnation of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists than he was then accused of it being nothing but empty words:

“In response to this article, the new meme is being promulgated: “Muslims condemn terrorism, but it’s all talk! Sure, Muslims say they condemn terrorism, but there’s no action!”

Where do I begin to respond to this kind of nonsense? There are 1. 5 billion Muslims living their lives in peace, trying to put food on the table for their families. Over six million of them live here in America as patriotic citizens. They work hard, pay their taxes, and have ZERO contact with the criminal underworld where these terrorists breed.

I have never, ever met a terrorist in real life (it is ridiculous that I even have to say this). If I met one, I would turn him in to the authorities, as would every other Muslim I know. Since I don’t have access to this shadowy underworld, I live my life on the surface in broad daylight, working in my community to promote interfaith cooperation, peace and prosperity. It is that grassroots effort that Muslims do to promote good in this world that receives ZERO coverage in the media. I could list every single good thing I and other Muslims have ever done to make the world a better, safer place, but people who hold this attitude don’t care. It will never be enough. If I listed 1 million positive things Muslims are doing in their daily lives today on this planet, they would respond: “Why can’t you name a billion things you’ve done? See, you’re not doing enough!”

So I ask those who are outraged at this supposed Muslim inaction: “What have YOU done to defeat racism in this world?” List every single thing you have ever done to fight the Ku Klux Klan. List it here, right now. Times, dates and hyperlinks please. The response would be that I am crazy — average Americans have nothing to do with the KKK, and don’t need to justify their daily actions in support of righteousness to me or anyone else. But that same common sense response is rejected when a Muslim uses it.”

Which brings me to my final point (which in turn brings us back to my initial questions). Can I say Je suis Charlie? For all I’ve stated above, I do believe in the right to free speech and the right to live our lives in peace without fear of violent action against us. But I also believe that it is human nature that when you throw stones at people sooner or later they will hurl rocks back. The cartoonists and journalists at Charlie Hebdo are being hailed as heroes because they knew their lives were at risk and persisted with their work. The latest edition out today has sold in millions rather than its normal circulation of tens of thousands in part as people pay homage to the men. But I can find only one hero among the dead.

While #JeSuisCharlie went viral around the world, so did #JeSuisAhmed and rightly so. That a Muslim police officer died protecting the rights of others to offend him has not been lost on the world. This is the only man to come out of this unblemished in my opinion. He caused no offence, killed no one, committed no act of insult or terrorism – and was executed for his pains.

I don’t know to what extent I can say I am Charlie or I am Ahmed for I am too distantly removed to truly say I stand in their place. I don’t know to what extent I want to, if I’m honest. But I do know that the claim of secularists that ‘at least we don’t kill people for our beliefs‘ is a stupid and dangerous one. For while we choose to ignore one side and build up the other, while we dismiss one opinion and overstate another, while we consider it our right to abuse, ridicule and offend but cry foul when some choose to retaliate – while all this continues whatever flag we choose to wave will have blood on it and we’re all responsible for that.

[source and reference]

[kenthinksaloud]

Letter to my, then, teenage self

Letter to my younger self

Dude:

I’m writing to you using my Samsung Galaxy S3 smart phone.  Never you mind.

You’re 14 and you’re going to rock (later) in life.  So far it’s been notoriously dazzling.

Regards

The future You – Age 20-something.

P.S.  July and August of 2013 will be a key milestone and a turning point in your life in so far as finance and wealth is concerned, its make or break time.  Oh, and the crazy, eyebrow raising and funny experiments you’re going to do with food, when you return for 2nd term at Berkshire in Sept, will later on in life make you a guy who can cook impressively – the creativity and no-short-of-magic will work with them each time.

 

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.

And so…

…It doesn’t get any easier or better.

It isn’t pain no more but complete numbness. Only if I had ignored the heart, remained arrogant and narcissistic, maybe – just maybe – I’d remain sane.

Nothing further to say…

Rapid Progress: Leeds, London to Bangalore and Mumbai

I’m less than 24 hours away from flying out to India only while being back from India less than 3 months.  This is what I call ‘rapid progress’ and why shouldn’t it be, as time is of essence as always.  You may recall, I wrote about change in my life and the reasons why I am now engaged in business in India.  This visit to India is going up another stage for the venture I am involved in.

Now that this will be my third visit to India in less than two years means that I have already established a solid base and network in India – and I must extol thanks to my acquaintance who has put her heart and mind in accommodating me and in ensuring that all my expectations, requirements and desires are met both personally and for the venture we both are involved in.  Our relationship has grown ever so strong, more so recently, and on that basis our foundations together are becoming more and more solid by the day – what does help is the exchange of large amount of cash from both parties to kick start this venture literally done on verbal agreement, despite my banking portfolio-manager raising his eyebrow at the arrangement.  Had either one of us been dealing with someone else, verbal agreement would never cross our minds but a written agreement, so the trust element of our relationship is at an all time high.

My stay in India will be mostly business with some pleasure, and I hope my stay there for 8 nights mainly in Prabhadevi with some travelling to other cities back and forth will be enough to complete some objectives – mainly getting the ball rolling for recruiting staff for our new venture.  It’s going to be a tough task.  The elite customer base (who have to go through a stringent vetting process) has now topped 4,600 members only in Bangalore and Mumbai alone not to mention numbers in other cities like Delhi or cities in UK and US.  This is prior to our launch date pencilled in for July this year and well before a marketing strategy has been designed, let alone advertising this new venture through a series of private clubs and networks.  This achievement is a mini success.  Something I predicted when we discussed this venture prior to my involvement.

I must say it’s amazing how the word of mouth along with the reputation of my acquaintance in India can achieve all this effortlessly.

So the recruitment drive, in my view, is a big deal.  Any progress in this space needs to be right the first time.  Once this is well under way in India, a similar recruitment drive will be conducted here in the UK.  I guess in the UK it’s more stress-free or less stressful, especially when the various recruitment agencies are prepared to do all the donkey work for you.

This week also completes two months of working in London.  If you are up to date with my change post written prior to my last visit to India in December 2012, you will know the reasons of why I relocated from working in Leeds to London and in particular Vauxhall where I continue with my existing career and Knightsbridge where the offices for the new venture has been established.  The lifestyle change meant that in the New Year, once I got back from spending the entire December of 2012 in India, I had to continue with my existing career and establish a firm base for our new venture, but from London.

It’s been an interesting change with new experiences and where some experiences stretched far longer than what I’d experienced previously.  Travelling by train from Leeds to Kings Cross every Monday morning, then to return on a Thursday afternoon/evening each week for two months has been an interesting experience.  It’s my preferred method of travelling between Leeds and London, where the alternatives are to either drive or fly between both locations.  I’ve tried all three options but I do prefer the train commute, the very least it gives me just over 2 hours of much needed productivity time where I can conduct my business and attend matters which require my attention, where otherwise isn’t available with the other travel options.

Travelling by train between Leeds and London, I have experienced some interesting encounters with people, most are worthy of a dedicate post – like for example, the two teenage girls sitting opposite me on the first class cabin seeking advice from me on their trouble teenage relationships and then having to speak to another girl friend of theirs over the phone to repeat my advice, or the gay guy who burst into tears after falling out with his boyfriend over the phone and then confiding in me the whole duration from London to Leeds, to the racist chap thinking he was a smart arse who I then shredded into fine bits after he made a racist remark to a black student on the train or to the Australian women who was convinced I was a close friend of her ex husband and that I was following her.

The relocation during the week to London has meant having to sell both of my cars in January.  As part of my relocation to London I have been given a company car, this for the time being is sufficient for me to drive around.  It also gives me the opportunity to order a new 4×4 on a 2013 registered plate with my personal choice of colour (Diamond White), interior and gadgets which is scheduled for delivery come end of April this year.

So, with this rapid progress, I bid you farewell for a short while and I hope to catch up with you guys once I touch base in India in two days time.

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