And it's not even New Year's Eve yet.
Thursday, December 30
Wednesday, December 29
Nicholas Cage In Good Film Shocker! Yeh, I thought that this was pretty good actually... Kinda like a modern day Indiana Jones, but of the intellectual sort. If you like conspiracies and history (especially that concerning Templar Knights and Freemasons) then you'll like this too.
One minor moan was that it didn't make full use of the 130 mins it lasted, but other than that it's worth a look.
Monday, December 27
It's the time of the year where I go and brave the crowds in order to fulfill the chore that is my annual clothes shop. Today it was at Lakeside and curiously I ended up under budget. £95 got me the following:
- A pair of brown/red jeany boot cut trousers from River Island
- A thin chocolate top from RI
- A pair of Golas from Eisenegger ("Who's a....")
- An orange top from Gap ("Risk of the day")
- A brown cardigan from Gap
- A pair of olive low ride boot cuts from Gap.
Nothing from Next this year. I'd blame the one and a half hour queue to get out, but in reality they didn't actually have anything I wanted. So no, not a fantastic range (which explains the total), but I did snag a pair of shoes which is nice. What isn't is the fact that I'm going to return both pairs of trousers since I found that they've actually been designed for guys without balls. That brings me down to a pathetic £65, and further means I'll have to venture out again for at least one other pair. Gah. If anyone is out and about, let me know if you see something 30W32L and nice.
Oh, and I also bought Boggle for a tenner. Hooray!
Friday, December 24
Aj Kal - Rishi Rich Project Ft Juggy D & Veronica
Who'd have thought I'd ever have Veronica in my playlist? Still, I think Rishi Rich comes out with pretty good stuff, and in my opinion the only real thing wrong with this track is that it's too short.
Thursday, December 23
Was googling for a topic which came on the radio this morning and found this:
Been a while since I last checked this site and it's much improved with a bigger list, more content (they even have the Battle of the Planets intro!)... And even links to buy complete series on DVD.
Worth checking out if you're my age.
Wednesday, December 22
If my Messenger is anything to go by, you'd have thought my Shaadi.com profile is more eagerly anticipated than the next Harry Potter book. Which in itself didn't really help in getting it up.
Yes, that's right. After a few days of toing and froing, I've finally got Shaadi.com to accept a profile that I'm happy with. Yes I may have been a tad stubborn standing my ground, but I thought it was a bit crap of them to keep on editing it on my behalf.
Anyway, I'm waffling. You know where to look. And much like The Half-Blood Prince, I hope it doesn't disappoint.
The BBC Asian Network has a lot to answer for:
Yeh Zamana - Wajahh
I didn't realise that this was from the Wajahh OST. Zubu may want to check out the video currently playing on B4U.
Don't Be Shy - Rouge
Gah. Another Dr. Zeus tune force-fed to me via the aforementioned radio show. A bit conventional but worth a listen. Gets me shakin' anyway.
Tuesday, December 21
Sunday, December 19
And that by a website no less. Turns out that my profile currently does at least one of the following:
(i) You give sufficient information about yourself to other members
(ii) You do not give out any false or misleading information about yourself
(iii) You do not use abusive or sexually explicit language; and finally
(iv) You do not reveal any contact information - email, phone number, postal address, website URL, etc - anywhere in your profile.
Shrug, beats me. Seems like I'll only get listed if I bend to their rules and portray myself as someone I'm not. Fascists.
Anyone know? Am I wheatish? And does "Computer Professional" sound as dodgy to you as it does to me?
Anyway in case haven't yet figured it out, yes, I've finally bitten that particular bullet. Now give me a moment while I go shoot myself. Bang.
Those wishing to take the piss can easily figure out my Profile ID. Please be kind, and remember: Serious enquiries only please.
Why now? Let's just say that a few things happened this weekend.
Me at home, alone, watching Nanhe Sitare and playing along with the quiz (50 points so far).
Anyway, Tahira (well, I think that's her name anyway) is great and has become my favourite Vectone presenter so far. She even says "Compu'er", y'know.
Thursday, December 16
Wednesday, December 15
I am of course talking about Blunkett. Now I don't give a poo about affairs and fast tracked visas (although I agree that he should go for these things alone). I'm glad he's gone after the contempt he showed for the electorate while asking them their opinion on his policies. It was kinda like:
DB: "Blah blah blah. So what do you think of that?"
Us: "Erm, you're wrong. See the thing is-"
DB (with fingers in ears): "La la la la. I can't hear you. And it doesn't matter anyway 'cos I'm a politician and so right by default."
In fact the only regret I have is that he didn't go directly because of his arrogance. Which kinda implies that the rest of the Government won't change in this respect either.
Oh well, I guess they still don't get my vote then. The thing is that, if Blair turned around and said: "Crap. What a mistake. I didn't realise he was scum. Good riddance to the tosser", I'd so vote for Labour in the next general election.
Tuesday, December 14
I'm being "introduced" to someone today. The quotes are there 'cos the person doing the introducing has piled a ton of context on both of us (or perhaps on just me) by being explicit about what they're doing. BUT IT'S OK: "There's no pressure", apparently.
They'll be more detail off-blog. But only for some of you.
Monday, December 13
Sunday, December 12
Not as bad as some are describing it, but disappointing addition to what was a good series. Quite amusingly it seems like a string of perfume ads to me, and flowed as such. Ryan Reynolds was funny at times, but other than that pretty standard fare.
This morning was my first jog since the beginning of Ramadhan (so that's around 2 months or so). It always amazes me how quickly our bodies adapt (or in this case fail) - I managed around 3 miles before I started losing breath and had to stop. That took me around 27 mins, so I'm at the 10 minute/mile mark which I'm happy with, but the distance is kinda bad considering I was doing around that every other day and twice that on Sundays this time last year for training.
Saturday, December 11
Today was our deadline for reapplying to Arabic - but I've (intentionally) missed it. So after 70 weekly classes or 140 hours or two and a bit years, I have actually decided to stop attending. Hopefully this will not imply the end of Arabic and me though, and I intend on carrying on watching, listening to and studying the language, but hopefully in a more effective way.
I'm definitely used to studying in this extra curricular way though, and I'm on the look out for something new to take up. We'll see.
Yesterday, I bought my first property. Well ok, not quite - it's a share (with my father) in a flat leasehold.
I've been holding off buying in UK since it's so scary (what with prices being all over the shop). I think I've reached that stage where I'll only buy here if a) prices/the market become sensible or more likely b) I have to for practical reasons.
Sharjah seems like a good opportunity though, since prices aren't nuts (yet) and it will hopefully take a smaller amount of time to get a return on investment there. I wasn't actually looking in the UAE though - it's only 'cos my dad asked that I'm investing. Still, it's all a bit weird making such a big and important purchase without even having a look...
Friday, December 10
Some of you might know that I'm a regular Loot user - mainly to sell. What you may not know is that I've had at least one ad posted in it every issue since I started university. A quick ball park estimate reckons that I've sold around 25 items since then, and generated total revenue of about a thousand quid. Which isn't too shabby, I think, even though it implies that I'm overly frugal.
Anyway, the reason why I'm blogging today is 'cos that after a long, long time I'm down to renewing a single ad each Friday. Could I finally exhaust the list completely?
Well the final item is my Al-Muhaffiz electronic Quran which I bought during Hajj - an impulse buy really. In fact, I so want to empty my list I'm thinking of just donating it to the local mosque - they'll make better use of it and it may even count as Lillah anyway. The main incentive, however, would be to finally (after seven years or so) not have to regularly log in weekly to the Loot website to renew any outstanding ads.
Well, until I find something else to sell, of course.
Scary stuff. So those that know me on and offline - Am I any different? Cripes. I can't imagine IM'ing my missus from another room! Although seeing as I'm gonna meet my wife on Shaadi.com anyway I may as well accept it as an inevitability... Hah.
I guess it's all about moderation. I've mentioned here about how an Internet personality isn't necessarily less genuine than an "offline" one, so maybe there is room for Internet communication between two people in a relationship? Maybe it's even healthy?
Easier to read than I had initially anticipated (although I still zoned out at times), A New History provided me with the fill in info on the place where I come from. I've been looking for exactly this for a while now.
It starts with the Aryan Invasions ("Wot? We're all White then?") at around 2000BC and ending during the recent reign of the BJP (although newer editions do contain updates apparently). The bits that I noted included the introduction of Islam to the region as well as the more recent political activity including that of Ghandi and Jinnah. The parts regarding Partition and the various Indo-Pak wars were also poignant.
One fault (and it's not that of Wolpert's) is that the detail progressively gets worse as you go back in time. Understandable I suppose, and it's not like recent history isn't interesting so it's ok. It also at times takes an "Orientalist" view while discussing things like the Aryan roots of the Hindu religion and its Holy Books and Personalities. But still that can be seen as proof of the book's objectivity I suppose.
A brilliant book and much recommended if you want to know more about India. It's a shame that I may lose access to the SOAS Library (from where I borrowed this book), 'cos there's so much more I want to read... Oh, and if you've been wondering why I've been busting out the Indian history tid bits over the last few weeks, then now you know!
It's great because I get to come in late on a Friday 'cos I know the rest of the team will too (y'know, glug glug), except I don't have to wrestle with a hangover.
Yesterday Risk (whom I work for) were taken to Quaglinos (a Conran joint, apparently). It wasn't too shabby actually and is probably one of the more fancy restaurants I've been too. The food was ok, although I was a bit miffed at not being able to order the Fish and Chips (it was dipped in butter beer or something, for heavens sake).
It worked out at around 50 quid a head (Steve and I are guessing), although of course I was cheaper seeing as I didn't drink. I did spill Steve's glass of champers though, so I guess I had my quota really.
Yeh, it was pretty fun. It's amazing how different people are out of the environment in which you've gotten to know them...
The proper company-wide Xmas Party isn't till next Tuesday, but I'm not going to that. I can't wait for the photos/gossip/late Wednesday start though...
Thursday, December 9
Ok, I think I'm jumping on the bandwagon a bit late here. See, I've always thought that it would be a wonderful idea (if a bit expensive) to be able to take piccies with my phone and upload them to an online album or something.
Now, I know that there have been services which allow this, but they seem to be filled with dodgy piccies that I wouldn't want mine to be associated with. Flickr is another similar service but with one main difference - it allows me to link to photos externally (including from this blog). It also has pretty good upload tools - pictures can be sent via a right click in Explorer, emails (and as a result, mobile phones) or even straight from a third party website. Emailed piccies can even be automatically sent to Blogger, comments and all. Great stuff.
Anyway, check it out at www.flickr.com. You might like to get a free account while you're there too - eventually all my piccies will be upped to that and depending on their sensitivity you may need a particular degree of permission to see 'em: My profile name is sshaikh.
Monday, December 6
Otherwise known as this year's Miss World. I didn't see her before the contest, but looking now she's quite nice, especially in her hat and stuff:
Man. There's gonna be some lucky High School Students in Peru.
Did anyone watch the contest this year? I remember the days when we would sit as a family and watch it together (Ashy winning in 1994 is especially memorable. Wow ten years!). Now I don't even know where or when it's on. I wonder what's changed?
So yeh, I had this dentist appointment I mentioned below. I usually just need a clean, but today Mr Dentist Guy decided that I have been brushing too hard (yeh yeh, how ironic), and that the gums of two teeth were receding and so he had to cover them with some kind of enamel cement otherwise they'll remain sensitive (not that I've noticed that they have been myself).
The treatment was rough (moreso than usual), but what surprised me was the cost for this treatment: A shade under 40 quid. I know it involves looking into people's smelly mouths, but when I hear that a dentist friend just bought a brand new SL (for which he traded in his brand new Z4), I start to wonder if that's as bad as it sounds.
I realised after that he had asked if I was still on JSA before beginning the examination. More worryingly, he always makes me sign for any treatment before he performs it. Time for a new dentist I think.
I had a dentist appointment today, and since we haven't had a chance to move dentists I had to travel back to the place I've spent most of my life for it - Leyton. I mean I regularly see friends who live there, but this time it was the actual streets I was visiting.
It was pretty poignant traveling back along the ol' route 69. Not much has changed, including the expressions on the faces of the locals. Mannerisms were also the same - it seems like people still don't know how to queue for a bus in these parts.
It's funny how some things never change. The new Walthamstow bus station is well impressive though, and it was nice catching the Victoria Line from there like I used to when traveling back and forth from uni.
Interestingly however, I don't miss the place. Maybe I'm not so averse to change as I once thought I was. Hmm.
Sunday, December 5
I'm not an expert on babies. Since Idris is the first one we've had in my extended family since the 80s, we're not really clued up on what they're supposed to be able to do, and at what age. But frankly, Idris is scaring me. Things to note are:
- He's starting to talk. He has his Ps and Qs sorted, and can ask to open cupboards, go outside, say salaams and Allahhafizs.
- He's able to copy others in reading salaat.
- He's able to spot things (aeroplanes, birds and butterflies for instance) before we are.
- Yesterday he was half controlling Mario on the Gamecube. And he knows to use the Sky remote to change channels.
- Today he was rolling roti.
- Not sure about this one. By when are kids supposed to have been potty trained?
Are these things normal for a 19 month old? I mean imitation is one thing, and I guess a lot of this is just that. Am I just cooing over him like a proud uncle?
Saturday, December 4
So yeh, it's 4pm on Saturday and I'm watching Nanhe Sitare on Vectone Urdu again. Seeing as I'm currently out of serials to watch, Vectone Bolly (and to a lesser extent Urdu) are both being well used in this house. They're something everyone in the house can watch, and for me it also provides lots of pretty hosts.
I'm sure many of you will complain that, yet again, I'm going for the Plain Janes, but whoever picks the talent at Vectone is clearly on the same wavelength as I am. Well done to Vectone for appealing to such a wide audience.
Cripes. This blog is quickly becoming overrun with posts regarding women.
No man. I'm not gonna screen capture her. That's just sick, dude.
Friday, December 3
I saw the prettiest girl I have for a while at Oxford Street Station this morning. Bottom to top: Light blue khussa (moshi?) slipper things, blue Evisu jeans (hmm, I guess I can look past that though), some equally fashionable top that I didn't recognise, a pair of pink Winnie the Pooh gloves and a denim handbag. She was Asian (of course), petite and with dark straight hair and minimal makeup. And she was fit.
She was possibly a student though, and it's a shame that she went on to use the Bakerloo Line instead of the Victoria Line like I do.
Still, I think I'll be on a high for a few hours at least. So if you need any favours, now is probably the time to ask...
Thursday, December 2
Who is that girl who hosts Vectone Bolly's (ch 831) Take One show (730-830pm, daily)? I think she's great:
Helloooo what's your lovely name me darlin'? Big up representin' West Yorkshire, I can feel your confidence ooozing over the phone. Aww bless you got it wrong, but call back and give it another go darlin'. Oh, my bad, you got it right! Woo woo. Oh-kay. Faantastic.
And she's definitely a Londoner, possibly even an Ilford girl. I think that I can watch her for ages. But no (before you suggest it), I'm not gonna pay 50p a minute to speak to her.
Shame she fancies Salman Khan though.
Amazingly I still seem to be the only one I know who watches this regularly and when its episodes premiere. Don't worry, there'll be no spoilers here.
So yes, it was another fantastically crafted episode of my currently favourite programme delivered at a time when I was losing faith in the series. A perfect number of twists, surprises, obvious leads and drama made it one of the best episodes of this initial season. In fact it was so good I had to finish watching the episode this morning on the Southbound platform on Oxford Street Station before getting into work.
Yeh, there were flaws too, but I can't remember the specifics of those. Those that are currently catching up: Make sure you earmark this ep. Hopefully you'll all catch up by the time season two begins next year.
Wednesday, December 1
Some of you may know that I'm currently working on a pet project which will eventually enable me to control my PDA from my mobile phone over a Bluetooth link. I've hit a bit of a dead end, so I thought now might be good time to blog my current progress.
The project was originally split into three parts:
1. Bluetooth Communications
The two options here were either to use the BT stack natively, or just use its COM port profile transparently. The former was more flexible, neater and potentially more functional (like being able to receive a call via your headphones), but unfortunately you have to pay to use the Widcomm Stack SDK. The latter would be easier to program around, easier to get working, and most importantly free. And so I picked that to use. It was a trivial exercise in the end.
2. Creating an "AT Engine"
SonyEricsson are great. Most people consider Nokia to be the innovators in the mobile phone industry, but I've always disagreed with that. But I digress. SE have, since the T68, provided a way for external devices to create relatively rich user interfaces on their phones by posting of AT commands over a serial link. The first innovative use of this feature was seen in Christersson's PCControl application for Windows, which effectively allowed you to run applications on and move the mouse of your desktop via your mobile phone. Actually it was this software which inspired me to create a similar application for the Pocket PC.
There isn't much information on the web on how to create these UIs though. The main source of information was via a reference PDF published by SE outlining the 100+ AT commands that you can use. Since PCControl was pretty much what I wanted to emulate I decided that it would be easier to snoop on the COM port that it used and just regurgitate what I found there. Another problem I faced was that, since the phone was effectively stateless, any UI would need to be synchronised with whatever was controlling it.
What I've ended up with is a fully event driven state machine which a host can use to create a stateful UI on an SE phone. Handset key presses (and releases) are raised as windows events, as are the state changes themselves. The engine is also platform independent so will also work on a desktop platform.
3. Interacting with client applications, specifically Windows Media Player Mobile
So now that I had a way of displaying a UI on the phone and being notified of button presses, what I needed was a way to map these to the relevant application functions (play, stop rewind etc). This is the bit that I'm currently stuck on.
I heard that Windows Media Player 9 Mobile has no real automation facility, but that WMP10M did in the form of a control. Luckily (or so I thought) Dell had released a firmware update that gave me WMP10M, which was great seeing as many other manufacturers were not doing the same.
After installing the update and completing the previous parts of the project, I discovered that there weren't actually any examples or tutorials on how to use this control in the Pocket PC (in C++ let alone C#!). What I did find was that someone had actually written a usable .NETCF automation class for WMP9M! So ironically if I had stuck with the previous version I would be finished by now. Hurmph.
So now I'm spending a great deal of time figuring out which Windows Messages that I can send to manipulate WMP10M (with little luck so far), or waiting for someone to figure out how to use the WMP10M control via .NETCF. Till then, I have a pretty good sample app (for both PPC and Windows XP) which demonstrates the AT Engine if anyone wants to give it a bash.
Tuesday, November 30
Not the total headf**k I was gearing up for, but still fairly complex in a straightforward way. It wasn't funny enough to be classes as a comedy in my opinion, but that's ok since the film had enough going for it anyway.
Exploring the philosophy of existence and delivering it in a way accessible for us dummies, it thankfully didn't get bogged down with the task of making its point. Watch if you're looking for something different, but only after you've seen The Incredibles.
Monday, November 29
Today she's that supermum (literally), Helen Parr, otherwise known as Elastigirl. Heroic and devoted to her family in equal measure she's also extremely flexible, hur hur:
Yes, she's a cartoon character. And yes, I'm worried too. Hmm. Perhaps I'll stop here...
What, more software? Those that read regularly will know that I have a habit of "blog vomiting", but if I don't do it now I'll prolly forget to before it's too late so...
Anyway: Is anyone as sick of Norton AntiVirus as I was? If so, I heartily recommend Avast! as a worthy replacement - especially since it's free. Not only that, but it works as well as NAV (perhaps even better, although NAV wasn't that bad. Others report that it's a bit of a resource hog though).
As well as the now-common e-mail protection (which, like in NAV, is the first thing I disable), this also offers IM protection (amazingly with support for Trillian) and P2P (including support for the various Kazza variants and The Mule). The interface isn't as slick as NAV's, but it does the job.
Of course the best thing is that this does away with the yearly hunt for the new version of NAV to avoid subscription renewals. You know who you are...
First some qualification: I'm a big WinAmp 5 fan and it does everything I want it to do, including making watching previously recorded shows painless. And if I was to recommend a media player right now that's the one it would be.
I had resisted installing WMP10 for a few months now for the above reason. However a chain of events led to my having to. And to be honest, I'm not too upset that I did. The main ability to synchronise playlists to my PDA (so that I now no longer have to organise the lists again on the PDA or worry about copying/converting the files themselves) is great alone, but the icings on the cake are the Auto Playlists.
These wonderful things dynamically filter your music based on previously defined criteria - filename, rating, most often listened to, most recently added - you get the picture. What this means is that you can do away with manually organising your music based on these things (or like I used to, keep separate folders for them). And like I've said these (the music and lists) can then be sent transparently to my PDA. Hooray.
If you're wondering: Bluetooth remote for PDA -> Media player control -> WMP10 Mobile -> inability to create playlists -> ability to sync playlists with WMP10 -> WMP10.
Sunday, November 28
30 new tracks to go with the 20 on the original disc, otherwise more of the same. The duet mode seems to be more of a hindrance than a feature though, and again we ended up playing just a few karaoke-friendly tracks, like Maroon 5's "This Love".
Oh and if anyone is interested I did pretty well. Only one other player was really better than me. And she was a girl, so that's ok. At least I've got proof that I can do a stunning Tony Hadley... #The man with the suit and the pace...
Saturday, November 27
Just sat down and watched what my dad filmed on his camcorder during my parents' visit to Pak. While doing so I suddenly realised that I'm well overdue for a trip. Man, I miss it.
Anyway, I'm gonna make sure I keep two weeks next year, hopefully more, exclusively for Pakistan. Seeing as there may be a Canadian trip in the works too, that doesn't leave me much time for a new country.
Thursday, November 25
Piston Pacers brawl video: http://thelastminute.typepad.com/blog/2004/11/pistons_pacers_.html
Thanks to Roh for the link.
Wednesday, November 24
Wow. So far I've played very little of the game but already I'm impressed. Maybe I'm swallowing the hype (although those that know me would baulk at that suggestion. I'm very anti-pop, apparently), but I am truly amazed.
Apparently, some people rate the GTA3 series as being "open" since you can wander off from the path of the main game and steal cars, smack people, stuff like that. Looking deeper, you'll find that this isn't actually the case - what the clever developers have done is to hard code in so many different ways of playing the game that it appears you're choosing your own arbitrary actions to perform. So when you play Pool in a bar you're playing a preprogrammed Pool simulation and not using fundamental mechanics of the game. It's all just foresight, which admittedly in itself is an achievement, but not freedom.
The guys at Valve have taken a different approach. Although the game may be heavily scripted (perhaps moreso than GTA3), the script itself is, well, acted out. I hope that you see what I mean here. Here's an example: Say you hit a set piece, like when a character is supposed to talk to you. Unlike other games which may display a cutscene where the actors move on rails, HL2 will do the whole thing in realtime with the actors behaving in different ways depending on your arbitrary position at the time. Another method used to provide this "improvisation effect" is to make the characters lips move depending on what they are saying rather than preprogramming the movements "by hand".
Anyway what that all means is that no two cutscenes, set-plays and therefore full plays of this game will be the same. That's real freedom in my opinion, and that's what makes HL2 so bloody excellent. But I'm sure it has a cracking story like the first did too though.
Oops. I had forgotten to blog this review. Anyway, a bit late, but here it is.
I'm a bit concerned at the way everyone I know who has played this game raves about it, 'cos So far I'm not. An overly complex character development system (one of the first choices you have to make is between three classes to be the base of your character - how the hell am I supposed to know which will suit? I haven't played yet!) as well as a monotonous battle system (it's realtime, and I fear for my mouse button and the repeated clicks I make it do) and uneventful storyline aren't qualities of a good game, right?
However I'm confident (after asking friends and groups) that this impression is a common one and that the game picks up once the player gains some groovy force powers and manage to leave the first planet. Alas, at the moment I've got Paper Mario to play, so I won't find out till next year.
I have been running a bit of an experiment lately. For the past week or so daily Steve's been buying a four-pack of YumYums (99p from M&S), and we've been having two each EVERY DAY. Per YumYum, that's 795KJ, 18.9g of carbs and 11.5g of fat. We're both on the light and skinny side, and I wanna see whether this improves the situation. Ok, even two YumYums a day isn't drastic, so I've also been proactive in eating the sweeties at home and around friends' (some of you might have noticed this...). No chocolate though since that stuff brings out the spots.
So who reckons I'll finally break that 10st/10%BF barrier?
Tuesday, November 23
So, the car's battery had run dry while pops was away in Pakistan and although I had jump started it last week, I must not have driven it around enough to keep it going till he got back. We received three years emergency breakdown cover with the car, so after the jump start today didn't work, we thought we had better use it.
The mechanic guy came, jumped the car and told us to take it out for 45 minutes (the M11 is well dark this at time of night, y'know...). I was well impressed actually, but then I guess you pay for that kinda service.
Yes anyway. My point is that we have now officially become another incompetent Asian family who will helplessly call out for help when faced with the most minor of issues. Sigh.
Well a looong time later and I'm still only two thirds of the way through volume one. And so I've given up. Of course I shoulda really guessed that this would happen - Ibn Kathir is more of a reference book than straightforward "prose"(?) so I was hoping for a lot when I thought I could read it cover to cover. Very dry with lots of repetition it even put me to sleep on the train a few times... Don't get me wrong, it is translated well and has tons of valuable insight and isn't even that hard to follow if you know what you're looking for. Maybe I'll give Pickthall or something a look later.
Anyway, this means that I can now finally exploit SOAS's excellent library as well as a few other books on my list, so expect a few more of these blogs from now on.
Monday, November 22
She plays Kirsten Cohen in The OC - a perfect wife and mother who is also happens to be the major breadwinner of the family too. Intelligent, kind, selfless and to top it all, hot as well.
She can't cook, but then contrary to popular belief us guys don't actually care about irrelevancies like that.
So almost after a whole year and 27(!) episodes, season one is finally over. The finale itself was pretty good - not too cliffhangy and had just the right amount of poignancy, but I think the actual fact that it was over was what struck home the most.
Still, we've been promised season two early next year. Frankly I don't know what they have left to cover.
Sunday, November 21
Otherwise known as "Let's try to salvage this weekend's movie going". Well, Bridget's latest outing wasn't too bad actually, but that may have possibly been 'cos I was still hung over from the film last night.
Are all women this psycho about relationships? And is D'Arcy what us guys are supposed to live up to? Jebus. Even I fancied him a bit. Maybe.
A predictable and emotionally cheap affair. Bad dialogue as well as an uninspiring soundtrack ("I'm here, here, here and here". I mean, come on) didn't help either. And then there was the weak plot - now I'm one to disregard an overuse of poetic licence if it delivers a gripping storyline, but all the corrupt Pakistani policemen and strict heartless Muslim parents (amongst other things) couldn't help this one.
Even my shallow side wasn't happy: The promise of a hot Muslim lawyer (Rani) didn't score any points. Preity wasn't up to her usually stunning standard either (it's almost unbelievable that the same actor starred in KHNH). For balance I'll mention a rare moment when I enjoyed in the film as being when Veer's village celebrates Doli. It was also refreshing to see a Bolly film with no nudity nor laughable "action sequences". Unfortunately I can't seem to remember much else.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh (I was expecting much more), but there really isn't much about this film that I can recommend - especially if it means sitting in a theatre for 3 hours. I wasn't alone either: Those that didn't walk out early were left struggling to stay awake. No one seemed to care toward the end and many were more interested in their mobile phones than the outcome of the film.
My advice? Wait for the DVD and create your own director's cut - you'll be through it within 45 minutes, tops. Better still, go watch Kyun? Ho Gaya Na...
ADDENDUM (from a comment posted on another blog):
This film didn't represent love. In fact it almost insulted it by battering it over the head with a farcical club. A good love story should make the audience feel with the characters and relate with what they're going through despite having no similar experience. This did neither and in places did the opposite.
That is exactly what Chopra usually delivers - VZ didn't do his talent justice, and shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as his Mohabbateins, DTPHs and DDLJs. Even the relative "lightweight" Hum Tum was more enjoyable and effective. Notice how some of the more positive reviews feel like they owe it to him to like his latest work (even though they include words like "disappointing").
The Indo-Pak message was as weak as it was in Main Hoon Naa and shouldn't have been focused on as much as it was. In fact the whole problem with the film can be wrapped up in the scene where Anupam's character quit law. Mindnumblingly silly. And don't get me started on the old-young-old-young special effects bonanza toward the end...
As for my (as well as the whole of Cineworld, Ilford on Saturday night) being heartless... Well possibly. But if so, then that just goes to prove my point: A good love (or otherwise) story would have melted the coldest of hearts and not just appeal to those that are "weaklings when it comes to emotional love stories". If anything it shows how shallow and exploitative this flick actually was.
Friday, November 19
So the other day I was coming home from Arabic Class pretty late. There I was minding my own business when at the end of the Tube carriage I saw a girl in a hijaab making out with her Muslim boyfriend/fiancee/husband. I considered the situation for a moment (it's not the first time I've seen this, and probably won't be the last - not that it's anything special, well in London anyway), then got on with listening to Spandau Ballet and reading my Metro.
Other people's reactions to this were interesting though. It was amusing seeing an uncle-jee trying not to look. And I was curious to see what happened when the fully bearded, Muslim-clothed (y'get me, right?) and topi wearing uni student came on the train (I was bitterly disappointed btw).
So why am I blogging this? I honestly don't know. I'm all for public displays of affection (and when I say "making out" it wasn't that bad), and I certainly don't think a hijaab implies anything about how a particular girl wearing one should behave. But then it isn't something you see everyday and so I thought I'd share. Have any of you ever seen this? If so, what do you reckon?
I wonder how I'll behave with my (possibly hijab wearing) partner on a train?
I've been receiving a few picture messages from friends recently (thanks guys!) but unusually they have only been accessible from the web - one of those URL password jobbies. Anyway it's all a bit inconvenient and designed for phones that can't display piccies (does anyone still have one of these?) and quick call to T-Mobile CS should sort it out. Or so I thought.
Apparently I have to send a message to be able to receive them. What the hell is that about? I didn't have any problems receiving messages on Orange (I can't recall whether I sent any other than via NowMMS - which I miss. But that's not the point anyway).
Now I know it's only 40p or whatever, but a) I think that in itself is a ripoff and will not support it just like I won't vanilla texts and b) I refuse to be held to any kind of ransom.
What this admittedly overprincipled and quite unreasonable action means is that, although I appreciate piccie messages being sent to me and although I will endeavour to get to the web and look them up, inevitably there will be times when I won't have a chance to. So, unless it's important save your money and send me an E-Mail instead.
Well I've decided that, after over two years, it's time for me to quit Arabic Class. It's a shame, mainly cos it feels like I'm giving up in the face of failure, but the fact is I keep asking myself why I'm bothering with it... I'm finding it pretty difficult to keep up with my classmates (they keep having conversations in Arabic the content of which I have little idea about), I get frustrated with it and myself and I kinda feel bad all over. So it's gots to go. It has been like this for a while too, so I don't think I'm just having a temporary rant. I have four more lessons of this term left, so maybe I'll change my mind before the end.
I dunno if it's my fault - I think I put in the effort and I've never missed a homework let alone a class, but I guess you need more than that to learn a language. Perhaps I'm supposed to watch and listen to more things in Arabic, or perhaps if I had someone to converse with I would be at a level I'd be happy with? Possibly. I don't want to give up on the language altogether though, and hopefully I'll have the initiative to try studying it in a different, and possibly more effective, way. It would be a bigger shame if I let the time and money invested go to waste.
So this means I'll now have that bit of cash and Saturday mornings free again (Friday night is paaarty night again). I'd like to try something else to replace it though - it was pretty nice going back to study and actually learning and stuff. Any ideas?
D'ya get it? Bah. Anyway, Google have come up with a new type of search, this time to search academic papers and citations. It's another example of why Google is great. It's not just the manner in which their search engine retrieves relevant results. It's not just the way they design their user interfaces either. It's the way they innovate and come out with the ideas that no one else seems to think of - you can even search shopping catalogues (although only in the USA atm)!
Anyway, Scholar Search can be found at http://scholar.google.com, and of course here's a predone search for you here.
EDIT: Or maybe not so great. I had blogged this already but the post seems to have vanished since. Which is worrying. Thank God for FeedReader, eh?
Thursday, November 18
As some of you know I'm about to foray into the wonderful world of online matrimonials. The first one I've picked is the obvious Shaadi.com, and I have a kind of idea of what to put down on my profile... But I've decided to ask you scabs for some help too.
So please, feel free to comment on what kinda stuff I should put down. There's no guarantee that I'll include your suggestions, but it will help. Be gentle though - THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF.
Wednesday, November 17
I have an Arabic vocab test tonight. It's crap timing IMO seeing as we just came out of Ramadhan/Eid week, but maybe I'm just sour that I spent the last three days or so cramming a good 300+ words (excluding irregular conjugations).
So... Do I still have the test taking ability? This isn't really a formal thing but it will be interesting to see if I'm still as studious as I was in school.
Tuesday, November 16
Monday, November 15
Ramadhan is over and the music restarts. I wonder which tunes I have to catch up on?
Leave (Get Out) - Jojo
I think this was popular before fasting started. Yeh it's pop, yeh it's sung by a child, yeh its target demographic is the Jojo type... But I think it's catchy.
Stop! - Jamelia
Superb cover of the Sam Brown classic, I think for the new Bridget flick. Wailing and powerful another one that'll have me miming in public.
I'm also ploughing my way through the Veer-Zaara OST, but since they're not all gonna be keepers, I'll list the ones I like individually later.
Sunday, November 14
Ok, so I've decided to start my own personal tradition of making a resolution to keep each Eid. I figure if I give myself a new goal to achieve twice a year then they'll have a good chance of being followed - but then who knows if I'll even remember to make one next time... And judging by how others' New Year's Resolutions go maybe I'm being a tad optimistic?
Anyway this time it's all to do with discarding any irrational fear that I may have when trying to make a decision. Now, this is quite a wide ranging one so bear with me while I elaborate. I'm talking about how sometimes I (seemingly rationally) talk myself out of doing something because of what might potentially happen. Maybe some of you can relate?
Hmm... Still not clear is it? Ok, perhaps some concrete examples would help. Here are two things which I've always claimed I'll never do and that I may now do in the future. The first is to go watch films by myself in the cinema (yes I know. This is a pretty trivial one, but then that's what puts it in this list) and the second is to go on to one of those matrimonial sites. These are pretty small things, but the point is that the reasons why I haven't done them in the past are even smaller.
Now this could all just be a massive exercise in backtracking and an excuse for the fact that I'm contradicting what I've said in the past, but I don't think it is - and I don't care if others do too (which the more astute readers will realise is 'cos of this here resolution which I am making).
And some of its effects may have already been seen - for example yesterday I called both new and old people to dish out Eid greetings despite that inner voice telling me not to 'cos "they didn't want to hear from me", "it's been too long since you last spoke" or that "you'll bore them" or to "just send 'em a mail later and let them reply". And I think (or at least I hope) that they appreciated the fact that I did anyway. And I'm sure some of them didn't. But the point is we wouldn't have known otherwise, innit?
So will this lead to a more positive, happier, adventurous and effective me? Who knows... It'll interesting to see what happens though. The danger is that I may overstep the mark on some things - ignoring rational reasoning thinking that it is otherwise, but hopefully I won't. And I have you guys to tell me when I am anyway...
And don't worry - Hopefully my next resolution will be to stop waffling so much...
Those that have known me for a while will also know that Sarah was Spammy's Original Choice - she was my first celebrity obsession I think. Of course, no one else agreed with me then and probably won't agree with me now, but that's nothing new and I'm used to that.
It's good to know that after eight seasons of Buffy, and a few years after that, that SMG has still got it.
Less than 48 hours after Ramadhan ended and my film going has restarted. Ahem. Anyway, today wasn't the rush of movies I had expected it to be - mainly 'cos most of the ones I missed aren't showing anymore.
The film itself was pretty good. Either scary cinema is getting better at its job or I'm becoming more of a pussy as I get older. Either way this film was particularly effective at giving us (three guys at that!) the jeepers. Smacks a lot of The Ring et al, so having watched those may give you an idea of what to expect here.
Oh and the fact that it stars Sarah Michelle Gellar is just an extremely generous bonus.
Friday, November 12
I'm only in 20 minutes and I'm loving it so far. Think Generic Squaresoft RPG #13 but without the excess guff. Beautifully presented, sublime controls, gripping, involving and most importantly FUN. Hopefully this factor won't wane...
I've forgotten how to spell Jummat-Ul-Vidda. Anyway, it seems like everything is all coming to an end. I can't believe that this is the fifth one.
Today is also the last day that I'll be reading the Quran on the Tube - it'll be back to The Metro and books for me. Next time I come to work I'll be having lunch. It's also the last day that I get to leave at 5:30, but hey at least I can chill at home after work now...
But enough reminiscing. At this rate the next Ramadhan will come before we know it, Insha'Allah.
Wednesday, November 10
I'm talking about Master Chief of Halo 2 fame, of course. And that's just first day sales. uk.games.video.xbox is awash with those in the UK receiving their copies early (official UK release is tomorrow) and telling us all how great it is.
Am I the only person not buying a copy? Possibly - I didn't really think much of the first one, but then I'm not really an FPS fan. What I'm looking forward to is Paper Mario to be released on Friday.
Anyway, $100,000,000 is an impressive amount of wonga, and more than most films make over the whole of their cinematic lifetimes. Spider-Man($115m) and Shrek 2($108m) are the only two which can really claim to have topped the opening $100m mark and these are both opening weekend figures so Halo 2's figure is still remarkable. Of course these movies went on to increase their takings to $772m/$850m respectively and it's hard to see how Halo 2 will turnover that much over its lifetime.
Anyway the point is that Videogames are quite serious business, and have been for a while. Bear that in mind the next time you tell me I play too much.
EDIT: Seems that it actually made $125 Million. That makes it more successful than the two flicks above, and the most successful entertainment event ever. Cripes. Game were out of stock this morning. Pfft.
Monday, November 8
"WHATCHU SAY?!?" I hear you scream. Well excuse me, but I've been watching American Teen Soaps for, like, ever and so I know what I'm talking about here. Don't get me wrong - six months ago I was The OC's biggest fan (in the UK anyhow, 'cos Americans are just nuts like that) and I was converting people to the cause left, right and center.
But something has changed since then. Weak plots that rely on sensationalism rather than depth have taken over. Regurgitated storylines which WE JUST SAW THE LAST EPISODE are the norm now, while whoever is in charge of writing the show chooses to rush past anything different which may develop into something interesting.
My theory is that they've spent all the potential "big hitter" storylines already and have nothing left to keep us gripped - for example, the sparring couple of Seth and Summer got together in less than half a season leaving no conflict, no tension, NOTHING for the rest of it. Jebus, even Marisa and Ryan have broken up and gotten back together since the show started. What's left for us to see? In their generosity, the writers have shown their hand, spent their load, emptied their wallets and have nothing left to give us.
Listen carefully, oh makers of the show: This may have been fine for 90210 but we now live in a world that has experienced Dawson's Creek and I'm afraid that the bar has now been lifted. One Tree Hill is managing fine (so far - signs of Orange Countyism are creeping in that too), so there is no reason why The OC can't. The people in charge need to step back and re-evaluate or something. Perhaps they have already and Season Two (currently airing in the US - we have two episodes left of this season before we get to see that immediately after) has thrown back to how The OC used to be not more than twenty episodes ago...
Oh, and Jim Bloody Robinson doesn't help either, man. Get rid of him and I promise you'll have me for another season at least.
I just finished watching today's ep of The OC - thirty minutes after it ended. Not only that, but I'm all brushed up, pajama'd and ready for bed.
How? Well since my time machine is out of order I had to resort to Beyond TV, a neat little application which sits on the computer acting like a VCR. But more so, since it lets you watch stuff that's still recording (or anything else it's recorded previously). If you've seen any of the Sky+ ads, you'll prolly know what I'm talking about.
So not only do I have instant rewind and fast forward but I also don't have to wait for stuff to finish before I can begin watching it (like after returning from Tarawih, say). And since I have material "buffered" I can also skip ads, or pause what I'm watching so I can go pray, brush my teeth or get changed into my PJs.
Anyway it's great. If you want timeslip then you can do worse than to get a Pioneer DVR-220-S, which happens to be a DVD recorder to boot. The last time I checked PriceRunner this came to under 200 quid, which is a bargain imo.
I reckon that the morning commute in is a very good indicator to how the rest of your day will go. So an uneventful journey will mean your day will be quick, but boring. Having a pretty girl standing next to you will mean your day will be happy, happy, joy, joy.
Today there was a signal failure at Leytonstone, a suspect package at Tottenham Court Road and two "Passenger Incidents" (or alarm handles pulled) including one on my train. Amazingly I was only 45 minutes late.
I'll let you know if I survive the day...
Sunday, November 7
Proof: Just two days without the folks and I missed Sehri. Implications include:
a) The first Sehri missed since I started fasting
b) The first Salaat in Ramadhan I've missed since I can remember.
c) The first Tahajjud and Witr I've missed since I started reading them.
d) The first time I've missed brushing my teeth.
A week of firsts for me it seems.
Friday, November 5
As some of you know, some guys and I sometimes play Poker (although we haven't for a while - what's up with that?). I don't watch it on the telly or anything though, but I am today.
Why? 'Cos Celebrity Poker Showdown features 90210's Jennie Garth. Yup, she's still hot.
Oh dear. She just got knocked out. Oh well, she is still hot.
Thursday, November 4
First big night and our Sehri timings are slightly out as a result of us making time for Tahajjud. So I thought I'd blog.
Yesterday I found out that my dad was being sent to Pakistan for work. Good for him, right? I gathered that he'd be back before Eid so it would have been nice for him. A phonecall one hour later confirmed that my mum was going too - and that they'd both be staying for two weeks - that is they'll be coming back after Eid.
This'll be the second time I've not spent Eid with my folks in my life - the first being the Eid-Ul-Adha of 1990 (although that year is in dispute by me) when they went Hajj without my brother and me. Still, this will be the first Eid in yonks that my dad will spend with his family so it's still all good.
My mum also asked me if I had any holidays left and if I could join them. It only clicked a few hours later what she was actually asking. Meh.
Time for Fajr.
Wednesday, November 3
I wasn't gonna blog till after some kind of official result came out, but if the way I'm feeling now about the result is anything to go by I'm not sure I'd have the will to if Bush officially wins.
So what went wrong? I dunno. And that troubles me. In retrospect, a Bush win was kinda inevitable (despite the media hoo haa about it being close) but there was enough hope for him to lose (note how I refer to him losing rather than Kerry winning). Perhaps I just feel let down?
And what does this result mean? That over 50% of people who voted are bonkers? That all that talk about how the American people don't really back Bush and his government and are really sensible human beings was actually false? Or perhaps even more worryingly that anyone who wanted Bush out was wrong? Should we expect the same come our election? Heck, ours isn't even looking as close as the US one. And do we have a right to lose faith in ourselves and democracy, just 'cos we didn't get the result we wanted?
Sorry, that's too many questions. But hey. It isn't over yet. There could be a miracle. Maybe I will blog on this subject again today...
Yeh yeh, the Electoral College thingy makes it a possibility that this isn't actually true. But hey.
Monday, November 1
Saturday, October 30
Does anyone have one? 'Cos I don't think one exists. I have a few HT friends who keep offering them to me, but I never seem to get it. Anyway...
Steve asked me this week if I believed in the Theory of Evolution. As a Christian himself he knew what my answer would be, but I think he was just up for banter anyway. So I obliged, and he then asked: "How can you not when it's so scientifically true?" or somesuch.
The thing is that evolution as a explanation of our origin is almost as difficult to prove as any religion. I mean to an objective person a science GSCE textbook should be as valid source for an idea or opinion as the Quran would be. Of course, not many of us can be particularly objective about the unknown - and if you think about it none of us really can be.
But yeh. I reckon that knowing the certainty of something defies the point of it being a faith. I have faith that what the Quran says is true, just like Steve has faith in Scientific reasoning. Not to say that I'm someone who doesn't appreciate the use of scientific reasoning, oh no, but I'm gonna refuse to override concepts of my theological beliefs with equally unproven "scientific fact" merely because it's presented to me in that way. So yes, I know that if I drop an apple it'll hit the floor at a certain speed, but I'm not so sure that Carbon Dating is an effective way to age objects. Perhaps in the future we'll discover a better model, just like we did with Newton's Laws of Motion?
Moving slightly onward I think that it makes sense that some things can't be proven. This is because that's where the risk, insight and will to choose that each of us uniquely has comes into play. If we had viable proofs for what to believe in then we wouldn't have to apply ourselves in following it. Wouldn't it all be too easy?
Anyway in conclusion I have as much proof that God created us as human as Steve has going for the Theory of Evolution. And yet we both are equally strong in our respective faiths that we're both right. And that's what makes our difference in this the same.
(Except of course, I'm right and he isn't.)
Friday, October 29
Real Street Fighter, unlike the bastard child that is CAPSNK2. Like the former game, also playable on Live, so I can now whoop the arses of strangers across the globe too. Also included are the whole SF: Movie and SF3: Third Strike. But we don't care about those, right?
However it's still not the same. That slight extra lag present on even the best connections changes the game pretty fundamentally. And since I don't really have anyone "real" to play with (aw), it pretty much makes the game futile.
I shan't be keeping it. But perhaps I'll rebuy when it goes below 20?
Thursday, October 28
Wednesday, October 27
Some of you may have read about my good friend Lakshmi Mittal awarding himself a 1.1 billion pound bonus this week, after having created the world's biggest steel firm (here and here).
What you may not know is that Vanisha Mittal, his daughter, got hitched this June (on my brother's birthday, no less), in a wedding that cost her dad an estimated 30 million quid (and that, surprisingly, for only 1,500 guests). "Who cares?" I hear you ask, "She's probably a heffer anyway".
Well no, she isn't - check the pics yourself. I'll refrain on commenting on the groom (ok - just the one: Let's just say that he must either have a fantastic personality or be well equipped or something).
Anyway, just goes to the show. The rich are perfect. But hey, I'm not fussy in looking for a partner - if anyone knows of a girl who's either as rich or as pretty as Vanisha, then let me know.
May not be completely true.
Thursday, October 21
I think I'm gonna "unplug" for the rest of Ramadhan. I may still blog, and I may still check my mail, but don't be surprised if it takes a while to get a response. In the unlikely event of anyone having to tell me something urgent, try my mobile.
Urgh. So so sad. I blame The Matrix. It was on last night y'know.
Wednesday, October 20
Monday, October 18
Some of you know that Steve left for Shanghai on Saturday, delegating all his work to me for the week that he is away. Since month end was last week, most of the important deadliney stuff should have been put to bed before he went, however one report had been postponed till today. For me.
We stepped through it all on Friday and it seemed pretty simple, but of course on the day Sod's Law intervened. That's right guys, the crap hit the fan.
So there I was running around like a headless chicken reverse engineering Steve's handiwork, and then trying to enter new static data into the database, then finding I had to reformat the report since it spilled over to page 3 - all while the clock was ticking. My heart was racing.
Fortunately I managed it (I wouldn't have time to blog otherwise). Further, I'm not sure I've felt so alive since uni and it's deadlines. Erm... Not that I ever handed in coursework later than a day before it was due, of course. But yeh, who'd have thought all I needed to be happy was hard work, eh?
Oh, and Steve? You suck.
... Your mum tells you to check out SingleMuslim.com (or whatever it is).
So I got a grilling this weekend. Well not really a grilling, more of an inquisition. Again I was asked if I had a secret bint on the side, and again I denied it. But differently this time the conversation actually went on to what I was doing about it.
Of course, I'm not. Doing anything, that is. My SIL then asked me for a list of the things I wanted from a girl. But how do I do this without making it look like what any other guy wants? Heck I think I'm less fussy than most - I don't care about height or complexion and stuff like that and the typical gender roles aren't that much of a consideration either. Ok, she has to be able to fit into my trousers, but that's a practical consideration more than anything else ("Be gentle - I'm fragile"). Other than that, I'm lost as to what to put in this list I'm supposed to have other than the redundant "decent, caring, intelligent" hoo-haa.
Maybe I don't like this idea of lists or wife specification. Hardly romantic, right? Although maybe I'm just lazy - Software specs are boring to create too. Or maybe the things I want from a woman can't be written down or selected from a drop down list on Shaadi.com.
Hold up. Did I just compare women to software? Hmm... Moving on quickly...
It's at times like these I wonder if people who do the whole dating thing have an advantage over those that choose not to - if anyone should know what they want and what they don't its them. Don't get me wrong - I don't regret living my life as I did, but they might have a practical case at least.
Sunday, October 17
Well... Seeing as no one took the hint I decided to grab this myself. Excellent and sublime, it seems to be much more fun than the previous two big racers I tried (PGR2 and RSC2). Yes, you don't find buses traveling at 120MPH in real life, but then it is just a game.
And when you get bored of powersliding your way through arcade mode (unpossible I say) there's a mission mode where you can unlock secrets and bonuses by chasing hearts, knocking cones and stuff like that.
Saturday, October 16
Thursday, October 14
Wednesday, October 13
... And I'll admit that I always kinda dread it. I know I shouldn't and it's a weakness etc. Perhaps you'd understand if I explained a typical day in Ramadhan for me:
0530: Wake up for Sehri. Now, we're kinda used to waking up for Fajr so this isn't that tough, apart from the fact that we stay up a bit longer.
0615: Get back in bed for a snooze or two. Might not be particularly beneficial since I'll be getting up at...
0700: ... To get ready for work. This is ok though, 'cos I don't have breakfast (duh) or brush my teeth (did that at Sehri), so it's just pee, dress, and go.
0815 - 1730: Work as usual. Although I'll be breaking my fast at Maghrib. By myslef. Sigh.
1845: Get home. Attempt to chill for a bit before heading off to the Mosque. Not likely since there's always stuff to be done.
1915 - 2100: Head off for Tarawih prayers.
2130: Go to bed, seeing as I have to be up at 5 the next morning.
Okay, I'm guessing a lot here since this is my first Ramadhan in a real job (Exertris was terribly lax in timekeeping), but that's the general gist. It's tiring and takes up pretty much all of my time. But hey, at least I don't have to worry about lunch, right?
I remember once in RE (I think that it was in Year 9), Ms Hyatt asked the class why Muslims fasted. Mr Smart Arse (no not me, there was another at that time) answered "So we know what poor people feel like". Ms Hyatt accepted this as the correct answer and further offered health, discipline and even bleeding detox as others. I kept quiet in my perplexity.
These concepts never sat well with me. I mean what, did that mean if there was no poverty in this world a Muslim wouldn't need to fast? People on a good diet didn't need to either? Nah. On top of that I didn't recall reading anything of the sort. Nope, the reason I fasted then (and now) was cos I was told that it was what I had to do.
Not by my parents or my Madarassa teacher, of course. I mean, yes, they literally told me, but I only did it 'cos I had been commanded to by God. It was another form of worship and obedience, much like the five daily prayers that I had become accustomed to too - and you don't hear people claim that they bow five times a day towards Makkah in order to remain flexible now do you?
I have a point here, so bear with me. It's probably obvious to most Muslims reading this but the main reason why we follow our religion so closely isn't cos of the benefits these actions may bring us in this world. Heck, it's not even for the reward we'd (God willing) receive in the next. We do it cos we've been commanded to. Off the top of my head I think there's a Hadith or something saying that the companions of the Prophet (SAW) would have been exactly as they were even without the promise of paradise that they had been given. And so it should be with us.
Anyway, if I'm not around the next month or you now know why. I'll be busy doing my duty as a Muslim who has been commanded to work that much harder during this time.
Ain't The Tube a wonderful thing? The comradeship and sense of community between random strangers, the consolation you give each other after yet another 17 minute delay on the Central Line and always agreeing on how Epping trains really are that infrequent ('cos they really are y'know)...
The people-watching, the window-shopping... Watching the carriages roll by carefully so that you can decide which one to sit on (the one with the prettiest member of the opposite sex, of course). It's not about talking to them or having them acknowledge you, oh no. Rather more the fact that the 30 minutes you'll have in their presence will be enough to keep you on a natural high for the rest of the day...
The scanning of the escalators which travel in the opposite direction as yours, safe in the knowledge that if you did catch anybody's eye they won't have an opportunity to give you a slap...
And remember, people are generally friendly (even if they don't smile much). They'll probably be as up for a random natter as you are (especially on delays)...
(Oh, and if anyone is interested there were TWO fitties on the way to Victoria today)
Monday, October 11
Sunday, October 10
So a new Halal Fried Chicken has opened up in front of South Woodford Station placing it conveniently on the way home for me. I have to say that I've cut down a LOT since having watched Super Size Me (in fact I think that this is the second meal I've had since returning from Bangladesh), but Mum didn't want to cook tonight so I picked up a couple of chicken burger meals on the way home after the film (Guys from Redbridge - they're selling for 1.99 at the mo too).
It was the best chicken burger I've ever had, man. I'm not even gonna attempt to describe what it was like, cos that won't do it any justice.
1GB in a stamp sized SD card? Amazing considering my first PC hard disk was half that size. I can now carry my entire MP3 collection around as well as my maps and e-books, with space left over for last night's episode of OTH which I didn't get time to watch.
Anyone want to buy a 512MB SD card btw?
Okish anim. Not quite Finding Nemo or Shrek, but had a few moments. What was kinda strange was how the characters actually looked like the voice actors - a sign of the increasing level of commercialisation in this genre perhaps. And maybe that's why this didn't really have the magic that the others did - the makers of this stuff might be getting lazy.
Saturday, October 9
Today I received my first and probably only birthday present this year (in fact quite possibly the first for the past five). I'm not sure Ishaq realised that I don't really do the birthday thing (not that that would stop him from being a nice guy) but I have to admit it made me feel slightly happy when he gave me the gift.
It was a shiny new Maglite and I've been pretending to be Fox Mulder for all of Sunday, much to the bemusement of the rest of my family.
Anyway, Ish, this post is for you! I love you man!
Hey, I have a rep y'know.
A crap script, a so-so plot, rubbish music, bad acting, terrible camera work...
But sorry guys. Hard as I tried to hate it, I didn't. I thought it was fab. And not just cos it had Ashy in it (in fact I think that this film shows just how plain she can look, and imo Indira Varma was just as easy on the eye). Perhaps it's cos I haven't read the book or seen the films or whatever, but I was drawn in and made to have fun.
A bonus was being able to watch it with my folks too. And look! There was a decent straight Asian guy at last. Although I spose he was overshadowed by the Californian Accountant... But still it's a start.
Okay, a bit late. And since all you guys really want are updated pics of Idris, I've just posted these. They're up in the usual place so mail me for the URL if you don't know it already.
As for the other requests the only ones I've decided to give you is the one of my feet:
You lucky people.
Friday, October 8
Thursday, October 7
Wasn't it great? Really, one of the best pieces on British Asianess I've ever seen on telly, far surpassing my expectations. It was well made, well told, objective and stuck to the point (well, for the most part anyway).
I'm not too clued up on our Asian history either, so it was pretty educational for me too. At last I understand why some of my mates go to Africa to visit their relatives... And about the waves of migration... Why there's so much gold in Leicester... Really honourable stuff that I'm glad I'm a part of.
And then when they moved on to us, the current generations of British Asians, I related (I even asked my dad if he ever wanted me to be a doctor. He said no, of course). About how we're hardworking and breaking through in different areas and stuff - I was almost weeping I was so proud. Well ok not quite, but you get me.
I didn't feel that it was patronising towards us either - and I don't think it was to the white folk too. Even Nihal didn't piss me off! Speaking of which they had a pretty good range of "experts" imo; Tibbett and Syal actually made sense at times. A comment that the former said struck out actually - that all the bad habits of the British were rubbing off on the Asians instead of the good habits of the Asians rubbing off the British which if true is a bit sad.
However of course there were flaws: We've been hearing about Asians breaking through in Football for years now. And the programme did dwell on British Muslims a tad (although that could just be me being sensitive and I spose it was one of the fairer reflections anyway). They coulda also spoken to a few more normal Asians, instead of just the media celebs.
I have it available so if anyone missed it give me a shout and we'll sort something out. It's two hours long, but I felt it was well worth it. Interestingly I can't remember the last time I watched anything on the telly with my folks, so it must have been good!
So like other financial workplaces (well, I've heard that it's different up North), the tradition here is to bring IN cakes and sweeties. So I thought it'd be nice if I brought in a box of mithai and dished them out after lunch.
Lucky I haven't yet. Mr Big Shot Trader decided to bring in FOUR boxes of Krispy Kremes to share between us which will totally overshadow my pitiful offering. No one here 'cept Steve knows it's my birthday so I'll just keep quiet.
Oh, and the doughnuts are sublime btw. In fact I think I'll have two...
The Great British Asian Invasion, Channel Four, 9pm.
Despite the dubious title I think this might be a good watch and not just a part of the current trend to patronise our non-Asian friends ("Yes, it's true. Indians are human too! Befriend them!"). I sometimes forget that there's a whole range of Asian communities in the UK, some really different from those in London, so this should serve as an interesting reminder... And hopefully it won't make me want to headbutt the nearest brick wall either.
Wednesday, October 6
A poor man's Lock Stock, with as much character and style but with half the plot. Starting promisingly and then tailing off, this film lacked the clever magic that LSTSB and Snatch both had. Although it did differ from the other two in that it was slightly darker and more serious (and so less funny).
Serious London gangster film fans will love it. The rest of us will receive it as an adequate way of passing of time.
So, I was stuck at Green Park on the Victoria Line for 20 minutes this morning due to "smoldering on the track". We were given the all clear and I continued with my delayed journey... But a few things didn't add up.
1) The problem was on the Northbound, and I was heading south.
2) I found out after that other lines (Jubilee and Piccadilly) were also suspended.
3) We were not allowed out at Green Park, and the doors of the train were not opened.
4) We were given the all clear to continue our journey after only 20 minutes, which seems not long seeing we stopped for "smouldering tracks".
5) There are rumours abound that the police as well as fire services were involved.
Hmm. Yet the usual suspect packages are usually handled much faster than what I had experienced this morning. So, am I being paranoid or not? Watch this space...
In no particular order:
- An Enzo I saw on the street
- The SOAS Library
- The River Thames heading west shot from Waterloo Bridge
- Idris walking
- Idris's face
- Idris giving me the finger
- A whole bunch of mates for picture caller ID purposes
- A Tube tunnel (shot from Holborn Piccadilly Line Southbound platform)
- A rainbow
- A night shot of the Canary Wharf towers
- A shot of the Sun peeking though the clouds
- The PowerPuff girls, used as my wallpaper
- A Jap/Anime animated GIF of a cartoon singer used as my screensaver
- A professional dancing girl demoing a dance mat game at last years ECTS
- Goku from Dragonball Z
- A TEST SHOT of a random girl I snapped on the train TWO YEARS AGO which I've kept for almost sentimental reasons since it was THE FIRST PIC I EVER TOOK WITH THE BLOODY PHONE and beat taking a pic of an apple or something
- A flower
- A Rose
That post was, surprisingly enough, tongue in cheek. Or at least, it seems, a really poor attempt at that. To make this clear: I don't habitually take random pics of girls on the train (and I hope I've explained the one time that I did), I don't condone it, yes I'd be scared too if someone did it me, and anyone who does do it should be locked up and have bad things done to them, slowly. And I'm also sorry for posting what I did. Now get off my bloody back the lot of you. Remember - I know where some of you live.
ADDENDUM: It's interesting to note that at least four of you have forgotten that you'd asked me for a pic of Atrium Girl. A pic which would have presumably be taken without her knowledge. And seemingly those four have also forgotten the manner in which I had responded to their requests. Gollum gollum.
THAT'S A JOKE RIGHT THERE.
Tuesday, October 5
It was around 20 months ago now when I got my first cameraphone. They were pretty new then, and my T610 was the first affordable one I think. Of course the first thing I did was to take a picture of a random (and pretty) girl who was sitting across me on The Tube on the way to Arabic class. Of course it was just a test, and of course I haven't done it since. Well, not that often anyway.
Now more recently people seem to have caught up with my trailblazing activity. Both my aunt and cousin were complaining about weirdo creeps blatantly taking pictures of them on The Tube. At first I agreed with them. After thinking about it I'm not so sure it's that bad.
So what is wrong with it girls? Compared to being checked out in a more conventional way, I mean. Don't get me wrong - if a guy does anything more than admire you'd totally have a case, but the photons are carrying your image to the rest of us are in the public domain I'm afraid. Suppose you ignore it, or even didn't realise it? In what way would it harm you?
Of course I'm just a guy, so what do I know? If you want to make it clear to me why it is wrong, please do. Start by telling me why you may mind a pic but not a cursory glance, and then move on to what wrong it actually does you. Cos let's face it - most of you want your pic to be taken anyway...
... Has amazingly versatile hair.
Sometimes it's up, sometimes it's down. Sometimes it's fastened, sometimes it's loose. Sometimes it's flowing, and sometimes it's fixed. Sometimes it's parted, and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's layered, and sometimes it's not.
And always it's pretty nice.
From the dashboard:
Ask your readers to think of three photos they'd like to see posted to your blog. (Things around your house or whatever.) When you have enough requests, post them!
And before you ask, nothing rude please. You know who you are.
Piccies to be posted on Friday. Oh, and I reserve the right to ignore any request I feel like ignoring.
Monday, October 4
I'm sure some guy here will relate: You're walking down a street which happens to be dark, this being that time of the year. Ahead of you is a girl, by herself, walking in the same direction.
Now, maybe I'm alone in this, but I always try not to shadow a girl walking in the same direction as me, y'know, just in case she feels uncomfortable (I've been told that I dress like mugger. Sigh). What usually happens is that I speed up, she gets this, slows down and allows me to pass her, and then we both go back to our normal paces but me in full view of her. I hope you see what I mean.
Some don't get this though. No, they decide to match my pace giving me no chance to be the gentleman that I wish to be. "That's cos she doesn't give a crap about you, Shak! You're not even on her radar, mate!" I hear you cry. Then why did the one today keep looking over her shoulder as if to keep tabs of my position?
So tell me:
a) Am I being overly sensitive here? Or am I right in thinking that some girls may feel intimidated with a guy following a few metres behind in her footsteps?
b) What should I do if she doesn't allow me to fix this? I'm not going to start jogging past her, neither am I going to slow my pace (hey, I want to get home some time, y'know). So, what?
c) Should I even care? I have no intention of doing anything scary etc, so should I just mind my own business since her paranoia is her own issue to deal with, not mine?
d) Are any girls reading impressed with my gallantry yet?
Sunday, October 3
People who know me will tell you that I'm as hard as nails. However, that fact didn't stop Saw from scaring the crap out of me and rest of the cinema audience. Foremost a Scary Ass Movie, Saw is also an example of a brilliantly put together film, from the excellent manner in which the story was told to the way in which the small subtle (yet totally relevant) hints are subconsciously planted in the viewers' minds to the well greased and thought out plot running like clockwork. My belief was totally suspended.
Definitely the most scary film of the year - I mean this flick takes the pee. And due to the way it got me going definitely one of the best films of any genre which I've seen during 2004. Go watch - but just make sure you don't go watch alone.
ADDENDUM: I looked over my shoulder at least five times on the walk home from the station tonight. Bah. At least Steve doesn't have to sleep alone tonight...
Arty Chinese martial-arts swordplay romance much in the vein of Crouching Tiger. Not really my cup of tea (there is only so much water walking and string jumping I can take, thanks), but a watchable flick nontheless, and certain to be appreciated more by some.
And can anyone tell me why these films all look so cheaply produced? Is it like an art thing?
Saturday, October 2
Today I did a spot of cleaning up, filing, organisation... That sorta thing. The scary thing is that it took longer for me to spring clean my Hotmail account than it did my real paper stuff.
Is that sad or merely a sign that I rely on new media to get my everyday tasks done? I dunno. I do feel a bit more relaxed now that my Inbox is eight (from a total of 64) messages big, which is slightly worrying. As is me blogging that fact. Urgh.
Friday, October 1
Today I got into work at 8:15. Fajr has passed that threshold where it makes more sense to stay awake, so as a result I'm up earlier blah blah blah.
Still, it gives me a chance to chill and have a bit of a play with Idris at home for a bit before leaving, and get all the mailing, surfing (and blogging) out of the way earlier once I reach my desk.
I'm amazed at how the Tube is still relatively busy at this time, but then I guess I don't know what the real rush hour feels like. It's also weird to travel in with a different bunch of strangers that usual. Didn't see anyone fit today though.
Thursday, September 30
Remember the book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus"? Well, here's a prime example offered by an English professor at an American University.
In-class Assignment for Wednesday "Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story."
"The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. One of you will then write the first paragraph of a short story. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back and forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking and anything you wish to say must be written on the paper. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached.
"The following was actually turned in by two of my English students:
Rebecca - last name deleted, and Gary - last name deleted:"
STORY: (first paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far..." But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.
He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth - when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspapers to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?"she wondered wistfully.
Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion which vaporized poor, stupid, Laurie and 85 million other Americans. The President slammed his fist on the conference table. "We can't allow this! I'm going to veto that treaty! Let's blow 'em out of the sky!"
This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic, semi-literate adolescent.
Yeah? Well, you're a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh shall I have camomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of FUCKING TEA??? Oh no, I'm such a air headed bimbo who reads too many Mills & Boon novels."
FUCK YOU - YOU NEANDERTHAL!!!
Go drink some tea - whore.
(And you just know that they started going out soon after - Spammy)
Wednesday, September 29
Tuesday, September 28
[after Dutch has nailed a guy to the wall with his knife]
Dutch : Stick around.
Hawkins : [to Billy] I was going down on my girlfriend and said 'sheesh, you got a big pussy... you got a big pussy.' And she said, why did you say that twice? I didn't... it was the echo...
[Hawkins starts backing away and Billy starts laughing]
Poncho : [Seeing Blain has been shot] Your hit man, your bleedin'.
Blain : I ain't go time to bleed.
Dutch : You set us up. It was bullshit, all of it.
Billy: I'm scared Poncho.
Poncho: Bullshit! You ain't afraid of no man!
Billy: There's something out there waiting for us, and it ain't no man. We're all gonna die.
Dutch: If it bleeds, we can kill it.
Gosh. The whole film is one bunch of quotes. More at: http://www.us.imdb.com/title/tt0093773/quotes
For those that it's relevant to, this is just a quick reminder that tonight is Lailatul Barat.
EDIT: At least one person has asked, so I'll post that I only plan to fast tomorrow and possibly the day after and do nothing else out of the ordinary. We've not found enough evidence that says one should pray all night etc, but only to fast (and even that not on this particular day but instead throughout), so it's more out of a personal family tradition that we are tomorrow than anything else. But the day is more relevant to some, so I thought I'd post a reminder for their benefit anyway.