Well, apparently, this is my one thousandth post (although that may not be entirely accurate since I have a few draft posts knocking about which may contribute to that number).
So yes, yet another milestone. Of course it's nowhere near the dizzying heights reached by my BBC ALMB postcount (which exceeded an extremely sad 13k) but then the natures of the two are very different I guess.
Here's to another thousand, who knows if I'll make it to that milestone, hope you all enjoyed the first grand, etc etc.
Tuesday, October 31
Well, apparently, this is my one thousandth post (although that may not be entirely accurate since I have a few draft posts knocking about which may contribute to that number).
Monday, October 30
If you took Closer and bathed it in sugar and candy floss you'd probably end up with something resembling The Last Kiss.
That's not to say it was a bad film. Quite the opposite actually; it's certainly the best film I've seen post-Ramadhan. Sure, it's a bit shallow and lacks substance, but that only serves to make it more accessible than other films that might deal with the infidelity and the breaking down of relationships.
It's also worth noting that this film isn't entirely about a 29 year old Michael (Zach Braff) going after college student Kim (an unusually unattractive Rachel Bilson) - not that I was too disappointed with that. Ahem. There are more than a couple of relationships dissected here, each with their own qualities and so somewhat balancing what the film has to say about the whole subject matter.
So, not as dark or gritty as other films but benefiting precisely because of that, I'd recommend this for anyone looking for something easy going, yet far reaching enough to keep you genuinely interested.
Saturday, October 28
It feels like yesterday that I was writing about Saw 2, and then too reminiscing about the first Saw. It's actually been a year, but unlike the first sequel the third in the series seems to have run out of steam.
Which is a shame. If you read my reviews of the first two films you'll know how much I enjoyed them for being so fresh and different, so it was always a tall order to follow it up. But seeing as how they had already done it twice already, I was hoping that the filmmakers would have held out for a third.
Alas it was not to be. Saw III seems to have left the slick, intelligent thrill for something much more blatantly and intentionally gruesome, shocking and as a result, cheap. It still passes as a strong enough film, but seeing as how it follows so closely on from the first two it's difficult not to judge it on the bar which they had set.
Still it's nice to watch it for completion's sake, and if you were a fan of the first two then you kinda owe it to yourself and those that brought them to watch this too. On the flip side if you've never really cared for the Saw franchise then I can't quite think of anything here that will interest you at all.
Friday, October 27
This was always going to be compared to the original Amitabh classic, and as a remake I think it does pretty well. The homages made to the 1978 version were good enough not to annoy those who had seen it (and amazingly there were more than a few in my group who had not!).
But as a film in its own right it kinda fell flat on it's face, and I don't think these are the rose tinted spectacles talking either. The acting was alright, the dancing absurd (but then one doesn't really expect anything less from Priyanka), the music so-so. Interestingly the script has been changed enough from the original to keep those who already knew the older plot interested, but despite that it too failed at times. The first 45 minutes or so were really good though.
The fact that it's a good remake but crap film may seem a bit paradoxical. What went wrong with Don, however, was an over-reliance of the franchise resulting in a lack of effort to make it stand up when it chose to do its own thing. And that unfortunately, was what had made it so disappointing.
Thursday, October 26
With respect to Monday's Eid Show, for those who watched we'd appreciate if you could fill out this survey.
It's not long and shouldn't take you more than a minute to fill out (and if it does, then stop - I hate doing surveys too).
Tuesday, October 24
I finally completed my phonelist for this year - almost a whole day after I should have. Ok, I had the television thing to distract me, but still, it's just not good enough. After last time (when I flew back from Pakistan the day after Eid), this is the second year in a row I'm late.
Eid is really the only day I can put a dent in my phone bill (only 448 minutes left) and battery (it's currently on "yellow"), and however weird it feels to only talk to some of these guys only twice a year I'm still glad I do it. I'm just sorry I couldn't get them all done on the day itself.
On the other hand it's not my fault some of you have names beginning with a letter later on in the alphabet...
First things first: to wear that red topi was NOT my decision. Just so that we're clear that that wasn't my fault.
Anyway. So it's the day after and I've finally have a chance to write about the whole television thing. Those I've spoken to before directly will have more of an insight, but for blog purposes I'll have to be a bit more... objective. Hopefully it will be enough to give you an idea of how the day went.
I'll start with me. In retrospect, and after egocentrically watching my own footage (something I would not have usually done except for some friends who missed it wanted to watch), I don't think I did that badly during the solo call in part. Don't get me wrong: it could have been so much better and definitely did not go as well then as it did in my head. I definitely want to work on my on screen presence; I wanted to go for "normal, casual" Shak, but something seemed to have been lost in translation. It's a bizarre effect, really it is and I hope it's not due to anything other than nerves. And do I really act that gay in real life?
Apart from the obvious, the most difficult part for me (and perhaps the others too) was being conscious of the guy in front of you telling you to stand up, the guy in your ear telling you to sit down, and your own brain telling you to ignore both seeing as neither really knew what they were doing.
And that's pretty much what my co-host Sofia and I decided to do for the close. Once we started "responsibly" filtering out the dodgy direction I think that we were much better off for it; it's better to play the fool on your own natural whim than have someone force you to do it. I guess that since we were all new at this we had placed a lot of faith in those running the station to lead the creative way, and sometimes we might have been led down the garden path 'cos of that.
Not to detract from the help we did receive - there were many good ideas coming in from the channel itself that the school lot alone wouldn't have come up with - but there were things that we were made to do that made us raise eyebrows in the days leading up to the show and that we should've trusted our own feelings on instead. You know, things like being made to wear a red felt topi (although at least I managed to "lose" it for most of my time on screen).
It was pretty hard work overall, but I'm not sure whether that was because of the medium itself or our particular set up yesterday. I suspect it was the latter; Unity/Itihad is clearly a channel less mature than its peers and there were plenty of avoidable mistakes made especially on the technical front. Still, as much as I'd like to blame the gremlins, the really good TV personalities can and do deal with all that all of the time, so it's not really an excuse.
The problems were not just of the unanticipated variety though. From my brief time doing radio and just general common sense, the TV studio was a shambles. Small and practical things like being able to see your producer AT ALL TIMES and having a teleprompt would have made things a lot easier. And the red "live" light that you would have expected to tell you which camera was on didn't exist. As some of you may have noticed.
At times backstage was much more interesting than the show itself. Creative differences, high running emotions and arguments galore were present more often than not, but as painful as that all was it somehow added to the whole "media dahling" feel of the thing. It was, like, totally drama, yaar. But on a more serious note, I do honestly believe that our biggest problem was that of a particular oversized ego than the lack of media experience of the channel or the schools.
Still, we did have fun. And it was a brilliant experience and one I'm so glad to have had been a part of. The bit that went on air was just the tip of the iceberg and the concentrated efforts made in the days beforehand was the kind that just makes you feel like you belong to something big and important.
I now see presenters (especially Asian ones) and the like in a totally new light. Whereas before I would describe them as rubbish, I now consider them let down. And on travelling to the office this morning I've come to realise just how boring real work is.
Sunday, October 22
The show runs from 11am till 2pm, with yours truly scheduled in for 1230pm and then again for the close at 145pm. The channel is on SKY 825.
The number to dial in on is 020 7908 7290. Even if you're not around during the call in slots, do anyway and someone will hopefully take a message. Well, that's the plan anyway... And remember, you can email in as well on email@example.com.
Well it was just a matter of time really. That's right, a bunch of guys and girls from ICSS and its two sister schools have been asked to create and host an Eid Show, due to be broadcast live on the telly. It's on one of those cheapo low bitrate, high channel number and magic background jobbies a la Vectone and the like, but we're all working very hard to put it together anyway. And yes, I'll be personally hosting a call-in competition during the latter half of the show.
I don't seem to be feeling the nerves at the moment, which is strange considering that this is going out to Europe to an apparent viewership of 100,000. Rehearsals have been going alright, but then this is live and further with children so anything could happen really. Finally I have realised my dream (see here, here and here).
I know that this will be terribly exciting for some you, so just in case you find it difficult to control yourself here are some humble requests:
- DO watch the show on SKY channel 825.
- DO get your younger kids and cousins to call in (number to come).
- DO continually e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org, starting NOW.
- DO NOT take the mickey out of us on air.
- DO take the mickey off air.
- DO tell those you know will be interested but won't get a chance to read this till Tuesday about the show.
- DO tell your friends and family to give us a look.
- DO contact the producers of the channel and tell them what a fantastic job you thought we all did.
Thursday, October 19
So I've been watching Don in preparation for the imminent release of its remake:
And yes, Zeenat > Priyanka, but only just. Zeenat looks good even on today's stage; now that's what you call having classical good looks.
Not bad seeing how Don was released in my birth year. And just how weird do I feel about that? Well, not really that much at all.
Sunday, October 15
Apparently, I'm unreasonable for thinking that a potential wife that has travelled the world is preferable to one that wasn't allowed to by her parents. This is, of course, because girls shouldn't be allowed gallivanting around the globe unmarried, and so it's a positive thing if their parents didn't allow them to.
So I'm being stubborn and fussy for bringing up this issue and others like it (like not minding her having lived away from home or working in a particular job). The thing some don't quite get is that it's not the actual lack of travelling itself that bothers me (although, quite selfishly, I'd prefer not to revisit some of the places I've been to already), just that they weren't actually allowed to. I think that it's fair to look at the family of a potential partner, and one with this kind of mindset will more than likely have issues with some of the other things I might have to say or do. So it's me that's the problem, not them.
Take the fact that I have quite a few non-Muslim friends. I'm sure some of you will see this as nothing unusual, but already I've been introduced to two girls on the game who had trouble with the concept. "So wait. Do you, like, drink and stuff too?" or "Have you any Muslim friends at all?" are the usual comments, and they find it incredible that I'm able to pray at the houses of my non-Muslim friends too.
I'm not criticising them at all for who they choose to be friends (although I totally prefer to be on this side of the fence), but I'm not going to give up on mine either and will prefer not to leave my partner at home when going out. Oh, and just in case you're wondering I try not to discuss the many-female-friends issue too much.
But these are all trivial things, apparently. I'll never find someone that matches my specifications, so I should stop trying. I shouldn't mind the bits that don't work now; people change, and she'll get used to my quirks and I'll lose all my naughty controversial habits. I should just keep my mouth shut and stick to the things people want to hear; how I pray, how I have a good job, how I respect family. I can slip in the rest once I get my foot in the door. It'll all be bliss after a couple of years.
Snort. Yeh, right. Two things:
- A) I wouldn't like it if my counterparts "overlooked" things they thought were important to them.
- B) Hey man, I don't think I need to get my foot in any door.
I don't think that people change, I think that they compromise. That's not a problem in itself, but if they do this too much and with the principles that mean quite a lot to them, then I reckon that it will take its toll eventually. Surely it's better to work at a relationship with someone who's right for you (on the levels that are important) in the first place?
Friday, October 13
Muslims largely fall into three categories:
- The Bynames. Those that think being Muslim is a birthright or even due to ethnicity. They'll do the token religious tasks, like fasting (sometimes), but they probably don't pray regularly and have committed what others (and they themselves) consider to be pretty big sins, like drinking, drooling over women or wearing gel and gold chains. Still, they're usually the most easy going of the three types
- The Bybooks. Those that play the religion game by the letter of the law. They'll pray five times a day in a mosque, grow long beards or wear the hijab militantly (but perhaps not at the same time). They won't take on a mortgage unless it's Islamic compliant and only have Muslim friends (but on the bright side, ethnicity doesn't matter to them since as long as you declare the Kalimah, and sometimes you'd even find recently converted Bybooks). They won't listen to music; even nasheeds. In fact, they're so busy following their religion that they're probably neglecting their kids, who will almost certainly grow up to become Bynames.
- The Bybrains. Those that mainly choose pragmatism over blind acceptance. They'll reject "traditional" Islamic rule just 'cos it doesn't sound right to them, and think it's more important that women get to choose what they wear than to proscribe something for them. They'll go to parties provided there's a place to pray, free mix and listen to music, Islamic or not. They spend more time thinking than doing, and as a rule tend to annoy Bynames and Bybooks with their complicating of the issue and, sometimes, post-justification.
For example, you can get some people that don't practise (very bynamish), but will only make Muslim friends (very bybookish). Or some people who will try to academically justify that you don't have to pray (a mixture of Byname and Bybrain). And finally, you'll get those who will have proofs of the unprovable (bybrainish Bybooks, or bybookish Bybrains, like the Islam's blatant correctness or of God himself (which, of course, doesn't exist).
As usual, it's all about balance. It's especially the case with religion: there are times when you'll be human and make mistakes (but you'll learn from them), there are times when you have to be a literal and have blind faith (since you can't prove the fundamentals) and if your brain isn't engaged most of the time then there's not much hope for you. Unfortunately, it seems that we're not quite there at the moment; it could even be a reason why the world of Islam is in such a state at the moment.
Since we're now in the last ten days, how about considering reading Tahajjud? It's quick and easy, and you should be up for sehri anyway. It's eight rakats, but remember, if you're planning on performing this, then it's best to delay the witr from Esha till after Tahajjud.
And if you're really brave and pious, you'd read it in jamaat. My local takes 90 minutes, starting at 3am. Golly.
Sunday, October 8
Depending on when exactly you started, today marked the 15th or 16th fast of Ramadhan. Either way, we're all now over half way through and are on or way out. How fast (b'dum tish) was that then, eh?
Here's an interesting thing though. I've now had three different people saying how they're not quite feeling the Ramadhan sprit they usually do this time around. This isn't the first time a friend has said this ove the years, and I've never quite managed to understand what they mean.
Don't get me wrong: I do change during this month and I do take advantage of the time I have in it. On the obvious level I fast, do the tarawih prayer, pay zakat, and read more of The Quran than usual. On the more subtle side, I keep my gaze low (well, kinda. At least more than usual anyway), and I like to think I keep more integrity and strengthen my character too. I also tend not to socialise, instead choosing to spend more time with family rather than friends.
But all this is only because I know it's the 50x SUPER REWARD BONUS time of the year. It would be stupid not to stock pile the sawaab. I wouldn't put it down to the kind of "external" force indicated this concept of spirit that my friends are looking for.
So what exactly is this spirit then? And why do some people feel it, while others don't?
I've noticed that, for some, this is the month when they act the Muslim they (emphasis on the "they", by the way) feel they should be for the rest of the year. Perhaps for them this spirit is, in fact, an ease of guilt? On the other hand, perhaps feeling spiritual is exactly that and those that don't get it (including myself) have just never reached that stage before?
On the flip side, maybe those who normally practise (and so have no need to change their habits and lifestyle too much for this holy month) are insensitive to it? That is, that they are always in that spiritual zone and so feel no marked change during this month?
Not that I'm the greatest Muslim, but, for example, waking up for sehri isn't the big soul tearing sacrifice for me that it can be for others not used to praying Fajr. Come to think of it, one thing that these particular friends of mine all have in common is that they stepped up their general awareness of religion at around the same time, a couple of years ago. Maybe they've just become used to it in that time?
Perhaps depends on weather or season? Maybe the fast becomes more pressing, and therefore distracting, as the days become longer?
Whatever the case, it probably doesn't really matter anyway. So some feel special during the month; I think that's great. What I don't think is that there is a correlation between this, quite abstract, feeling and how much advantage is being taken of, or reward being earned in, Ramadhan. Just like everything else it just comes down to one's personal relationship with their faith. And by definition that's something that's always going to be different for everyone.
Saturday, October 7
In college we all had our predictions for our lives ahead. We were teenagers and in our naivety had everything laid out and perfectly lined up in order, hoping to traipse through the whole lot as we got older. Amongst other things I had specifically the following (and yes, it's about that subject again); as long as everything went to plan, I was to:
- Meet and get to know the woman of my dreams at 24
- Marry her at 26
- Have a kid with her at 28
Despite throwing the above schedule out of the window before it had even begun, I do have to admit feeling a pang of disappointment on both my 24th and 26th birthdays, as I categorically failed each respective checkpoint. I did look on the positive though; it wasn't all bad since I could always catch up with the schedule. I'd just have to squeeze up on phases one and two a bit and I'd be back on track again. Easy.
However, as of 9am this morning, that possibility ceased to be the case. I am now officially and unequivocally overdue on all three counts and The Plan pretty much lies in tatters. Now, this isn't Yet Another Post About Shak Being Single (well ok, maybe it is a bit), but I do find it interesting how sometimes even the best laid plans go to pot.
In retrospect it was pretty foolish to create such a schedule in the first place, especially since it meant staying away from anything (or anybody?) that didn't figure in The Plan at the right time. I wouldn't say that I'm regretful now or that I had missed some very good opportunities, but there is a chance that things could have been different if I had held a different mindset for the past few years.
Still, as I have explained already, my confidence in this plan had been lost a long time ago and it's not like I'm feeling like a failure now or anything. But the funny thing is that, despite the above thoughts on the matter, I'm still going to go ahead and set an absolute age limit with respect to this particular matter. And furthermore, this time, I'm going to try and stick to it at whatever cost.
Some people just don't learn, I guess.
Friday, October 6
And so the debate rages on pretty much in the manner it was expected to: the fundamentalist Muslims are overreacting and digging their defensive lines while the ignorant imperialist infidels (d'ya like that eh? Do ya?) are trying to justify something that is obviously so blatantly wrong, oppressive, irrelevant and hostile only to Islam (again) you gotta wonder whether they're joking or not. In the meantime, the rest of us sit in the sidelines watching everyone else have a barmy just for the sake of it. There's not much new ground here folks, but for those of you who have no idea of what I'm talking about click the link above for more details.
Still, there have been a few things that has raised my left eyebrow (since I can't quite manage it with my right yet). Some completely irrelevant and redundant arguments have been made on all sides, by both Muslims and otherwise, and both for and against Mr Straw's comments (and don't be fooled; the lines aren't completely drawn in parallel between these sides). So, while the media takes care of the headlines issues, here are my top three, more subtle, idiocies of the current furore:
- You need to see someone's face in order to communicate with them successfully.
Yes, ok, talking to someone face to face does have its own advantages, some even unique over the other forms of communication. But to say that you can't communicate at all with someone unless you can see their mug indicates, to me, a fault in you rather than the person you're trying to talk to. It's like me saying I can only talk to women effectively when they're wearing short skirts and tight tops; I'm sure everyone would agree that there would be something wrong with me if that was case (and don't worry, it's not). And yes, that'd be the last reference to women and skimpy clothing for remainder of this post. Honest.
- Islam doesn't require women to wear a nikaab; it just stops at a hijab. Anything else is culture and so doesn't matter.
In fact, taking this point further, it's not even about the veil either: we can substitute the nikaab in this debate for anything that makes someone else feel uncomfortable, whether that happens to be of a religious nature or not. Unsettled by Goths? Get them to change. Can't communicate with those with ginger hair? Get them to wear hats. Finding it hard to talk to black people? Well, you get the picture.
I eagerly wait for Mr Straw to tell us about how he cannot converse with people sporting mullets without cracking up every five minutes. Now those are distracting.
- People should respect the British custom of having people show their faces in public.
There are a few more bullet points, but I've already written more than I had intended to. Woah. Seems that there was some depth in this particular debate after all.
Thursday, October 5
I think only a few will understand the relevance of this article. On the other hand, perhaps all of you will: I'm hardly the most opaque guy regarding these matters.
Battle of the Blonde Cult TV Stars Turned Movie Scream Queens
Me == torn.
Wednesday, October 4
So, according to my mum the reason why I'm not married yet is because I watch Desperate Housewives. Now, she didn't mean in the sense that "no girl in their right mind would want to marry me 'cos of my taste in television" (although I guess she might have had more of a point if she did), but more since it fills me with weird ideas and impressions which are directly keeping my mind closed to the whole deal.
This accusation both shocks and insults me. I mean, sure, Eva Longoria is pretty but it's not like I'm not holding out for someone who looks like her. And, alright, I admit that was in love with Teri Hatcher but only during her time in The New Adventures of Superman, just like any other straight guy (and a few not so straight) was too, but I'm so over her now. In fact, if anything, the marriage Felicity Huffman's character Lynette is in is a brilliant example of how to run a flawed marriage perfectly successfully.
My mum is way off the mark with this one. No, if anything, it's stuff like OTH and Veronica Mars and the like filling me with the weird ideas she talks about. After all, how could I possibly now get married to anyone else other than Kristen Bell?
Tuesday, October 3
Generally I'm quite tolerant of a lack of basic human needs like food and stuff. However something I really need is consistent sleep. Something like eight hours (plus or minus fifteen minutes) is about right, and I have to wake up before 9am.
Any less than that and I suffer. And more surprisingly anything more that that and my day becomes pretty bad too. Good, quality and consistent sleep is vital for me and if I don't get it my conversation and social skills fall to an even lower level, my work suffers and I generally perform badly in all respects.
My longest stretch without sleep clocked at around fifty hours or so. I was on an overnight flight back home from Hong Kong, and had uni the morning I landed. That was a very weird experience, and I'm at one point I was seeing myself in the third person.
More recently fasting has been taking it's toll, and I've been suffering from sleep deprivation more than from the lack of food and water. It's not as bad as I described above, but I have begun hallucinating (like imagining things happening in the corner of my eye) and hearing voices. It's all very surreal. Still, at least I haven't blacked out, fallen asleep standing or anything like that yet...
Monday, October 2
EDIT: I've since learned that it was called "New World". But I prefer my name for it so I'm not going to edit the title above.
I don't like eating in Chinatown. There, I've said it. I guess I've just had too many bad experiences there. Take this place for instance. The food was very oily (my throat is still burning) and refilled my veins with all the cholesterol fasting cleaned out before. On the plus side the fried fish especially was quite nice. The restaurant itself was clean and quiet too and had some kind of ambiance.
Price was around the fifteen quid per head mark which I felt was a bit expensive. Overall there's nothing really to recommend here.
Sunday, October 1
For listening to after Ramadhan, of course. Anyway...
Sexy Boy - Hard Kaur
A tiny bit derivative, but worth a listen anyhow.
Wannamen Banda Ale - Iraj & Delon Feat. Chinthy
I never thought I'd ever listen to a track that's largely in Tamil. But this is a tune so I am.
The Project - The Rishi Rich Project
Latest album from the guy that can't do much wrong. Highlights include Stomp and, finally, a clean version of Al Kal (one of my favourite tunes of recent times).
Keep It Undercover - Sunit & Raxstar
Again, not very good, but has some interesting lyrics.
Indian Dance Riddim - Kray Twinz Feat. Elephant Man
More good stuff from the Kray Twinz, again just as accessible as their last track What We Do and just as head bop inducing.
Gonna Make It - Shamur
Very similar to Let The Music Play but not a patch on it, I don't see this lasting too long.
Tere Bin - Bas Ek Pal (Atif Aslam)
Soppy and slightly manufactured ballad, but I sucked it up anyway.