Tuesday, May 31

Food: Tayyabs

Even though we (twelve of us) missed our reservation by fifteen minutes, we managed to get in with a little wait and get out by ten. Decent food (I've had better) noisy but fun atmosphere and at an all important ten quid per head (and we didn't hold back on ordering, and our waiter perfectly judged the amount of food we needed) made it overall a nice dinner out.

Perfect for a last minute loose evening when you don't want to spend too much.

Friday, May 27

Where The Hell Is The Isle of Man?

Y'know, bank holiday weekends are way too rare. What's worse is that I have this silly knack of wasting them doing, well, nothing. But at last I've managed to plan something relatively useful with the last one this year till August.

I've "only" been to the IOM thrice before (which is quite a lot, considering), but quite strangely it's one of those places that I have quite vivid memories of.

It's weird 'cos since then I've been every five years or so, and each trip serves as a snapshot of my life growing up - it's quite amusing to contrast the Shaks of varying ages. The first time I went was with my brother, just the two of us, while I was in primary school. I think it was our first flight alone and although it's only down the road it was quite exciting to be so independent. The second time I was with family but a veteran Island traveler. The third time I went alone.

Anyway, totally looking forward to hanging out with the family I have there (as well as trying out their new trampoline. Woot). Yup, having family in the IOM is another example of how messed up we are: I'm guessing most can't even point it out on a map...

(For those that don't know, The Isle of Man lies somewhere in the Irish Sea, between Liverpool and Ireland. So there you go.)

Thursday, May 26

Bare Necessities

Waking up for Fajr this morning, we found that our water pressure had dropped yet again. It was enough to do whudhu, so we weren't too worried since we knew it would come back by the morning when we would really need it.

Except that it didn't. Twenty minutes on the phone to Thames Water and we found that the problem had already been reported by others, and that they had no idea what was wrong yet.

A quick pack up of my stuff later and I was at my uncle's house. Luckily, he had already left and his kids had no school today so the bathroom was all mine. But still, it's really shocking to realise how much we take for granted in our house - water is treated almost like air, as is electricity and even Internet access (although the latter is no way as reliable as the former two).

Also we've learned not to be so lazy next time. If we had reported it at 3am when we found the problem it may have been completed by the time we woke up. Tut tut us guys.

Wednesday, May 25

Champions of Europe

What a match. There really is nothing more to say.


I was invited for a spot of dinner/karaoke last night at a restaurant on Edgware Road. Now those that have seen me "play" Singstar will know what I think of my vocal talent (in short I have it in spades), so I was kinda looking forward to see how I'd fare in the real deal. However last night either the equipment was broken (the mic making me appear to be out of tune), or real grown up Karaoke is much much harder to do well in than it's Playstation equivalent.

Karaoke is great though. What seems like a bit of drunken fun and games to some, I see as a real test of character and will. Regardless of how good you are at singing, you must be capable of laughing at yourself and taking criticism when you're crooning away in front of the lyric displaying monitor. And last night it was interesting seeing the different characters on the stage - from the quiet ones (both on and off) to the clearly repressed (including a fantastically powerful rendition of BSB's Quit Playing Games With My Heart), to the blatant attention seeking extroverts whose performances were much more than just their singing (cough, splutter, etc). The single thing they all had in common was their bravery.

Another twist was that this was again a Muslim organised event (although there may have been at least one non-Muslim present too). Amongst other things, this meant no alcohol (however judging by our performances we suspect there was some kind of mind-altering drug in the food), totally halaal nosh, and even a break for Maghrib. I've been going to these kinda things for a while now, and although I'll always be up for dinner in an areligious context, there's no doubt how "easier" it is for me (and I suspect the others present) to get to the point of having fun. Something about letting down guards, I guess. And yes I was told that there were single attractive girls there too, not that I noticed of course.

So yes, the night was superb. The food, environment, atmosphere and of course entertainment were all fantastic as well as cheap, and I'm so looking forward to the next one. In the meantime, I think I should practice my singing - y'know just to compensate for any blatantly faulty equipment in the future.

As an aside, this also meant that I missed the last episode of Ha Ha Hee Hee, which I am gutted about. So if anyone has a copy of it I'd appreciate a lend very much. I'll even pay. Maybe.

Monday, May 23


It's that time of the year where I have to be a barstad and put people through hell for no other reason than my own enjoyment. Ok, not quite, but it is currently recruiting season in my place of work, and as the resident C# guru (yes, I'm equally astonished), I've become a required part of the screening process.

So armed with my standard crib sheet (posted below, mainly for Zubs to show me up with) and a particular air of authority, I've spent the last week interviewing various people all at least 5 years older than I am, but in balance for a contract that will pay much more than what I earn. I couldn't have set up a more explosive situation if I tried.

But it's been a mixed bag. The general trend is that of poor quality, with most not being able to answer anything past the most basic questions. More exciting was the guy that appeared to want to punch me (I managed to keep my smile, but I'm sure that didn't help much), to a guy I had already interviewed (and rejected) last year.

So here I am questioning my interview technique both in the technical sense and personal sense. Are my questions too difficult? Am I too smug in the interview room? Am I not being flexible and considering at least in part the answers I was not expecting? Maybe, but there was one guy who thoroughly impressed me (and will probably get a contract in return), and so I'm assured I don't hate on everyone put in front of me.

Of course I'm still young and new to this and interviewer technique probably requires as much practice to get right as interviewing technique does. Still, there are times when I leave an interview and feel like a right git for putting these people through such an ordeal. Alternatively perhaps I'm flattering myself with the idea that they even consider it more than just a bad interview. Or more likely, perhaps you just can't get the help nowadays.

My interview questions:

1) Explain the key benefits that .NET etc have brought to development.

An essay question, so it's more about how he says stuff rather than what he says. If he gets stuck, you could prompt him with it's multilingual abilities, a rich framework, and native support for existing technologies like COM XML etc.

2) What is a property and how/why would you use one?

A straight forward factual/syntactical question. The format is as follows:


private int PrivateIntegerVariable

int IntegerProperty
return PrivateIntegerVariable;
PrivateIntegerVariable = value;


The point being that you can provide access to a private field via a kind of wrapper. The above is just returning and setting it quite straightforwardly, but in the get and set parts you can do almost anything that a method can (for example checking for valid values). Worth mentioning that they are effectively get/set methods (and compiled as such), so ask what the differences are. Can be used as databinding members.

3) What's the difference/relationship between a delegate and an event?

A bit of a subtle one so probably hard. Basically you don't have full access to an event; you can only remove event handlers which you have added yourself. Otherwise the same.

4) You have a method in a webservice that returns the trades executed today. It takes a lot of time to run each time it is called, and is called by multiple consumers at a faster rate than method takes to return. What would you do to make the service more efficient?

Another open question to check his problem solving skills. One possible solution is to queue up requests after the first one which will also deal with caching the results to provide to any outstanding requests. I'm sure there's more than one solution.

5) You have an object of unknown type that you only get a reference to at runtime. What part of the Framework would you use to a) analyse it and b) possibly exploit it?

Simply "Reflection". If he wants to expand, let him, but don't expect him to be a complete MSDN reference.

Saturday, May 21

Film: Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith Click for more info

Yes, alright, so I didn't really watch it on Thursday morning. Not that anyone cared if I had, but anyway...

Conceptually, ROTS is a weird one. Most of knew exactly how it was going end, yet the anticipation for this concluding (or middle?) chapter seems to be more than was for the other two prequels. It can't just be fandom; even the less SW crazy of us are mad for Episode 3, it seems.

Still, the film manages to give exactly what we want in terms of action and adventure, and more surprisingly also delivers something I've not seen in the others - emotion. Buckets of it. Yes, you know Anakin will fall, and yet when he does you're angry at him and ultimately yourself for not seeing it coming. We've seen more of the Galactic Empire than the Old Republic, and yet it's still shocking to see its rise. It's all very strange.

So yes, I enjoyed it. More than the last two? I'm not sure. The thing is 1 and 2 both delivered new concepts, characters and detail to the SW universe. ROTS doesn't do this, instead acting as a bridge between the old and new worlds. ROTS does this perfectly and ultimately is a worthy addition to the franchise and so I'll choose the easy way out and not say it's any better or worse than them - just different, and further perhaps one just for the SW fans.

So yes, go watch. And make sure you keep a look out for the Millennium Falcon...

Monday, May 16

Operation Muslim Vote

This was on Channel Four today - a programme following the actions of MPACUK in the lead up and during the election. In a nutshell, they are a "Muslim" lobby group who claim to be responsible for taking Rochdale from Labour and handing it to the Lib Dems. Although they claim to be about the political activation Muslims, the programme seemed to make them more of an anti-Labour group (not that that specifically negates their claim, especially in the current political landscape).

Now bearing in mind that this was on the television and so liable to the same issues that most media is, the most impressive point the programme made to me was how single and closed minded some Muslims around the UK are. The behavior of the MPACUK left a lot to be desired, but that of the people they were trying to get through to was an eye opener.

Despite my typical London smugness I was surprised at how set in their ways the Muslims featured on the programme were. From the outside, Jack Straw losing his constituency was a no brainer, yet for some reason it didn't happen. The Lancs Council of Mosques being chaired by a member of the Labour party was astonishing. The violence the MPACUK faced on the doorsteps of the Blackburn mosques was just disgusting. The whole thing appeared to resemble an Italian Mafia or mob with its organisation and various fronts more than a local ummah. This isn't just my latent London smugness spilling out again; the same elements can be found all over the UK - you can draw parallels between the Lancs Council of Mosques and the MCB for example, and let's not forget that Tony is still in power.

The MPACUK can also be criticised but I'm too tired (and this isn't really what this blog is about). The programme as a whole was a good indication of what is wrong with some Muslims in the UK, but there were also elements in it (the fact that it was made at all, for one and the hijabi who stuck her neck out for another) that gives me hope for a future change for the better in our mindsets.

Book: A Brief History of Saudi Arabia, James Wynbrandt

The thing I've found about history books in general is that you can't really take them as gospel. Perhaps it was just me who did this, but once you realise that these books have been written by humans each capable of making mistakes and some with agendas of their own, you also realise that their books will reflect these qualities also. I guess what I'm saying is that one should never just stick to a single source of subjective information, and further that it's ok to pick and choose what you believe.

Having said that, A Brief History is pretty good. I had issues with some of the earlier coverage regarding the life of the prophet etc since it at times contradicted what I had learned elsewhere from various other sources. However, once you get past that era, and particularly the more recent history of around the 1700+, things become pretty interesting. For a start it's amazing to imagine an Arabian Peninsular without oil wealth or the countries which make it up.

Well written (it seems to be aimed at the casual reader over the academic historian), well annotated and well diagrammed, the book is well recommended by me for those who want a layman's insight to Saudi and it's neighbours.


Shak: become a lapdancer.... they get good $$$
XXX: i am short, hairy and i cant dance
Shak: failing that... marry one
XXX: i wish
XXX: i think you should take some of your own advice
Shak: a football manager cant necessary play football
Shak: but he can train others to. ey ey ey
XXX: awesome

Sunday, May 15

Film: Ong-Bak Click for more info

Bone-crunching martial arts action. Typical acting and plot line (village hero finds himself in the jungle that is Bangkok) is forgiven when the action kicks in. Simple and easy going (although possibly a tad too long), this film is basically a collection of fantastic set pieces, whether that means fighting, rickshaw racing or street chasing - and the repeated action replays come in very handy.

Don't expect Oscar winning scripts, performances or production; this is lovely mindless fisticuffs at it's best. Watch it!

Saturday, May 14

Film: The Jacket Click for more info

A poor man's The Butterfly Effect (which I thought was kinda ace), but in reverse (you'll see, although I hope you don't). Even the inclusion of Knightly couldn't save this film, which is a shame since it actually had a good premise. Execution is everything.

Friday, May 13


Shak: you know, plain KKs truely are the best
Zubs: i know
Zubs: i only get the mixed ones cos you have to to get a box free
Shak: once you get past the curoiuistiy of the other ones
Zubs: no yeh
Zubs: thought the choloate topped plain is nice
Shak: yes, but doesnt justify a whole box of mixed
Shak: its like a woman
Shak: once you tried out the fancy ones, you always want to go back to the plain ol ones
Shak: im so gonna blog that
Zubs: but you've not had any fancy women
Shak: which is why i dont yet want a plain ol woman
Shak: the theory is sound, man
Zubs: lol

Thursday, May 12

Link Of The Day

Mall bans shoppers' hooded tops

Someone being proactive in listening to what people want? I never saw that coming. What I do expect is for this to be taken to the European Court of Human rights by some enterprising "chav", and worse still, them winning.

Still it's a shame. By baseball cap days are over, but that's not what makes a youth troublesome. Of course this isn't really about what people might wear but it'll be interesting to see whether this thing can be enforced or not or if it even spreads to other places...

Wednesday, May 11

New Music

Glassy - Sona Family Ft. Hard Kaur

If you've spoken to me over the last few days, you'll know how much I love this song. I've never really paid attention to Hard Kaur before this track and it's pretty coincidental that two lady MCs hit my playlist at relatively the same time. I've been listening to this so much that I'm now singing it in its entirety even when it's not playing. Lovely.

Dil Nai Lagda - Feroz Khan & Vinni

Another track from Aman Hayer's Groundshaker album currently doing the rounds (and I think it's in the medley playing on television too). As good as Tharti Hildi, but in a different way, the mix of vocals in this duet work really well.

Tuesday, May 10

Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee

I just finished the first episode. I thought it was pretty good and definitely adds to the growing list of recent Asian telly that doesn't make me want to throw a brick at the telly. It was atypical in that it had non-stereotyped, yet strangely familiar, characters, a gripping storyline and enough laughter and variety to keep our attention in between. And of course it being set in my yard gave it bonus points.

Either Asian media is evolving, or I am (most probably both are). I can't wait till the second of the three parts next week, and the book will definitely be read by me sometime in the future.

And finally I have to mention that I don't think that I've seen Laila Rouass any hotter than she was today - and unless I'm mistaken, I'm sure that she's work done on her teeth...

Lifesaver, Plus

I'm now a fully qualified St John Ambulance First Aider. Woot.

Accidents queue this way ---->

Sunday, May 8

New Music

The Game Is Won - Lucie Silvas

Nice and powerful rock ballad just as I like them. Lucie has a pretty good range too - almost as good as mine.

Kohl Aaja (Come Closer) - Juggy D ft Rishi Rich & Jin

Yet more proof that Rishi Rich craps gold. Perhaps smacking of some his other stuff (particularly Aaj Kal), but that's no bad thing and it's still different enough to keep me interested.

Saturday, May 7


I had the first day of my first aid course run today. Although long (nine to five!) it was well worth it, and we learned all the usual suspects like mouth to mouth, the recovery positions and the like.

Amongst the main new concepts I picked up were regarding assessment, personal safety and communication - pretty obvious once we thought about it, yet would have probably been ignored if we hadn't been told.

But yes, the course is brilliant so far and I thoroughly recommend St John's Ambulance and our instructor, Winston (who happens to be a crazy guy). In fact I think I'm enjoying this more than Acting Class - although that could just be the hindsight effect talking. Either way you can be sure that you and any pretty strangers are now safe in my hands.

Friday, May 6

New Music

DT is finally back up, and thus so is the main source of my music:

Tauba Tauba - Kaal

It seems that I've not picked a filmi song for a while now, so here's a nice poppy cheesy one that's made my playlist. Decent track, but I already feel myself becoming bored of it; but hey, it reminds me of Esha so it's all good.

Tharti Hildi - Angrez Ali Ft. G Money

Who the heck is Aman Hayer? This whole Bhangra taste I'm acquiring is also an education for me. Anyway, I think this is my pick of today's batch, taken from Hayer's Groundshaker album. Tune.

Tappe 2K5 - XLNC Ft. HMC

Another Bhangra track. Someone help me. Please. Before it's too late. I mean I'm already thinking of buying a Honda Accord...

Well, The Results Are In...

... And Labour secures a historic third term, while also recognising that they did get slapped about and put in check a bit. So overall a pretty perfect result, but it will be interesting to see how quickly they forget. It's also good to see that Tony hasn't used the result to vindicate his decision to go to war.

But what about the costs? My constituency, Ilford North, where I've voted for the first time since moving to the are is now Tory from last term's Labour. Of course, in hindsight, I would have voted Labour instead and perhaps I should have paid attention to how marginal it was last time, but still, giving our seat up in order to send a message seems worth it; but of course we'll see if that's true.

Wednesday, May 4


So it's 3:30am, and I'm up to read my Fajr like I usually do. Except it's not that easy since I've found that I have no water apart from a trickle coming out of the kitchen's tap. I have no idea why, and I'm way too much in a state of sleep to even care.

It's all just too weird. I wonder if it'll come back on by the morning? Just no one tell mother that I did wudhu in her sink. She'd so kill me.

Monday, May 2


  1. A film of impurities or vegetation that can form on the surface of a liquid.
  2. An album by the grindcore band Napalm Death.
  3. In offset lithography, a film of ink printing in the non-image areas of a plate where it should not print.
  4. The people who broke into my car tonight and took my stereo, loose change and damage.

Still it could have been worse I guess. It's irritating more than anything; the timing sucks too, it being a bank holiday and the folks being away.

Poor Suzuki.

Film: xXx2: The Next Level Click for more info

Starting out quite promising, xXx2 quickly descends into another run-of-the-mill action flick; and a mediocre one at that. It's like it literally ran out of steam or funding half way through, replacing surprisingly good scripts, action sequences and acting (yes, the lead is played by Ice Cube) with exactly what we were all expecting. Which is not good, by the way.

Skip it, unless you specifically want to watch something to detune with.

I Just Refuse To Lie Down

Since I had been to the gym on Saturday and had already run yesterday morning, I figured that I had no real need to wake up early this morning. So in typical Shak-fashion (man I hate it when people refer to themselves in the third) I planned, literally, to have a bit of a lie-in and validate my bank holiday like my peers tell me I'm supposed to.

I lasted ten minutes before I had to get up. I just couldn't do it. I remember that when I was younger I was able to fall into that half sleep state that felt so wonderful, but I don't seem to be able to anymore.

I dunno if it's a shame or not - after all I really (honestly) do have better things to do than to stay in bed doing nothing, but it is an interesting observation and another example of something so simple for others that I can't quite manage. Oh well, at least I've a bit of extra time to catch up with my blogging...

Sunday, May 1

Film: The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Click for more info

Funky offbeat science fiction fun. Apart from finally discovering where BabelFish and Trillian got their names from, the film was really funny and interesting too - think a more intellectual MiB - and the 2 hours and 45 minutes just flew by.

The cast was excellent too; Zooey Deschanel was hot and Mos Def was unusual yet so right while I didn't even notice Martin Freeman since I only saw Arthur Dent. Marvin the manic depressive robot was a star.

I've not read the books or heard the radio show yet myself, but if they're anything like this then I'd really like to. Much recommended!

On The Menu

First, what I had prepared:

  • Chicken Biryani
  • Keema
  • Kebabs
  • Pastries

I say prepared, but I shall fess up and admit that I only technically cooked the Bryani and pastries (both were oven ready from the Kitchen of Mum) while everything else was zapped.

Cooking aside, throwing a dinner party is blummin' exhausting. And I had help from bhajis (serving and making tea) and bhabis (washing up, despite having used paper plates). I guess it's times like these when you start to appreciate the others who do all the small things. I so need a wife/cook/maid.

Entertainment-wise, we had Episodes 1 and 2 to watch on the projector, but due to late starts they kinda dragged, and we lost a few people on the way. But I think everyone was comfortable while they were there.

After the guests had left (at 3:30am) it took me another hour to clean up and stuff, and even now there are things left to do. I guess I was lucky in that the guests weren't really guests (sorry, but you weren't) and so liberties were probably taken by me (see bhabis washing up, above), but baby steps and all that. I want to actually cook something (you know, like from scratch and everything) next time, but overall it was pretty successful.