Friday, September 30

Under Pressure

Today was quite hectic. Two things that needed to be completed urgently came up simultaneously. Most of you will know that this isn't usual, but despite me having to, ahem, pull out all of the stops to get the work done, I found myself actually smiling at the end of it.

It's probably normal for those of you with tough occupations (including studying, parenting and the like), but there is a certain pleasure one gets from doing a job under pressure and doing that job well. It hasn't been the first time I've received such pleasure, but the difference this time is that I've realised I can call on this on tap; merely by keeping myself busy.

I now know why some find so much happiness in throwing themselves at our work, and why they spend such long hours and even weekends doing so. I've called them nuts before, but it's making a weird kinda sense now. I'm not sure why this is the case; indeed at first glance I'd say no one likes to be exhausted or made to do work. However perhaps we feel good after achieving something in our day? Or maybe we need distractions from the things that are not keeping us in our natural and default state of happiness?

Of course, it doesn't really matter why. Just remember that if you suddenly find me too busy to talk you now know why.

Tuesday, September 27

Link Of The Day

Although my nano is still going strong (although not least 'cos I am taking particular care of it), I know of more that are not. It beggars belief that Apple can release something that can be so easily tainted, especially after the other stylistic iPods. Harder plastic or even a metal face (mmm, brushed aluminium) would have been much appreciated, man.

Animal Attack

So there I was minding my own business at the Khan residence when suddenly and without provocation I was attacked by what seemed like a wild animal:

It was ok. I fended her off. Turns out she was a bit of a pussy.

Monday, September 26

Proof Of My Age

Just caught sight of the UK top ten chart:

1. (1) Pussycat Dolls feat. Busta Rhymes - 'Don't Cha'
2. (-) Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx - 'Gold Digger'
3. (2) Sean Paul - 'We Be Burnin''
4. (-) Franz Ferdinand - 'Do You Want To'
5. (-) Katie Melua - 'Nine Million Bicycles'
6. (5) Daniel Powter - 'Bad Day'
7. (4) Mylo vs Miami Sound Machine - 'Doctor Pressure'
8. (3) Gorillaz - 'Dare'
9. (-) Kelly Clarkson - 'Behind These Hazel Eyes'
10. (8) Rihanna - 'Pon De Replay'

I've not heard any of these in full, and only know about the Pussycat Dolls in passing. I don't even know who Daniel Powter are Mylo are. I know these things are inevitable, but I must admit to being a bit miffed anyway.

Sunday, September 25

Film: Land Of The Dead Click for more info

Personally, I think I find zombies scary due to their irrationality and lack of general direction in life. Anyway, highly touted as The Master Romero's latest zombie masterpiece, I couldn't help but fell that Land of the Dead fell short of the mark.

Unlike Dawn Of The Dead (which I thought was pretty superb), I'm thinking Land lacks a bit of oomph. The zombies aren't that thoughtless and thus not scary (when they're not jumping out of dark corners, I mean), the people who are yet to be infected are well armed and the heros generally lack charisma. The plot is pretty developed for a zombie film, though perhaps that was the problem. Like its main bad guy, zombie movies are supposed to be mindless.

A so-so flick at best. Half dead in fact. Bdum tish.

There's A Mosque In Soho!

I was shown a mosque in Soho last night during dinner. We needed somewhere to pray Maghrib and a friend knew of a place around there. And yes, as you've probably guessed by now, it's amongst the brothels and sex shops of the area.

It's actually great news since there have been many times I've been stuck in the area (that's Piccadilly/Oxford Street/Leicester Square and not Soho) with no place to pray. And now I won't be.

Anyway if you're interested it's located on Berwick Street next door to Jessica's (who happens to be young and supple, apparently). Just remember to keep your gaze strictly down. Snigger.


After the now normal way-too-long period, the IC massive had another one of its get togethers. I can't remember the last time we were all together; in fact it may just well have been in university itself.

Dinner was ok and short, the latter of which is strange for us lot. Having said that I didn't stay for the bar visit after, so maybe it did turn out to be the usual affair after all. However, a definite new twist this time was how many plus ones there were joining the core group. A fleeting thought was whether any partner of mine would be able to mingle as they did, if at all she attended (let's just say that we are quite the interesting bunch).

Related to this was the comment "Of all the Asian/Muslim guys I know of, you were the last one I thought would go back home to marry" made during conversation. It's not the first time that this has been said and of course I always take it as the compliment it's intended to be. If anything I kinda agree with it.

It's funny how easy it was to get us together though. I think we had four, maybe five, days notice and it only took an hour to decide on a venue. Perhaps we all got lucky, or perhaps this was given a priority since it was long overdue. Whatever the case we now have precedent to how easy it can be to organise so hopefully it'll happen more often.

Saturday, September 24

New Music

Come On Over - Christina Aguilera

Just heard this in the gym this morning and wondered why I ever got rid of it. Very pop and with a video that's more a Gap ad than anything else, but it still a tune.

Tokh Tokh Ke - Aman Hayer Feat Lehmber and Gmoney

I think I like Gmoney. A nice follow on to Tharte Hildi (which personally I think was the track off of Groundshaker, and yes, that's over Dil Nai Lagda), this has been taken from Aman Hayer's latest Gettin' Serious album. Wasn't it just a few months ago that Groundshaker came out? Well, nothing else off the new album caught my ear anyway.

Friday, September 23

Yet Another Wedding

But this one was kinda weird. It had all the standard bearings of an Asian wedding: the late start (the hour late dinner was forgivable as the venue was like five minutes from my home); the now boringly fashionable segregation (although having said that... ahem if you know what I mean); the army of man clones all with their hair set in exactly the same way speaking some strange code (all of whom, depressingly, probably had a better chance of catching an aunty-ji's eye than this poor blogger). I swear one of them described the biryani as being phat.

But then there were the surprises. Like the dhol player banging away the arrival of the bharaat. Or the bright blue and ribboned 4x4 carrying him. I'll even mention the clichéd chocolate fountain, but only 'cos it looked so out of place opposite the ice sculpture (filled with fruit, but of course). Try-too-hard, much? Whatever the reason, the whole deal was pretty surreal (and thankfully short lived due to the aformentioned close proximity of the venue to my home. It's not often that my father and I get to leave my dear mother at a wedding early. Needless to say we took our chance this time; she's still there as I type, bless).

Yeh I'm hating. And what? It's my blummin' blog.

Dreams And Ambition

I picked up part of a conversation a schoolgirl was having with a granny on the bus this morning. Something about her wanting to become some kind of designer when she comes to picking a career. This got me thinking - despite dreams not usually panning out anyway, I'm not sure if I wanted to be anything in particular when I was growing up. I mean there was no ambition to become a footballer, doctor, popstar, pilot or anything.

I remember we were once told in English class to write down where we hoped to be in twenty years or so. I wrote that I wanted to work in an office, live in Leyton and drive a mid-sized Ford, while making enough money to keep my family comfortable and happy. I guess that was my ambition then and was the reason behind my studying hard and living how I did while growing up; that was enough to drive me, and I like to think it drove me well.

Of course like other dreams and plans this has not gone quite the way I planned it. It seems that this was all as ambitious for me as becoming a doctor or race-car driver might be for someone else (which is ironic since I had enough smarts to become at least the former). The effects are the same though; there are times when my drive wanes and I wonder what the point of having a good job and relatively sensible lifestyle is and whether I should have bothered in the first place.

Of course this is all silly as fatalistic as one who regrets never making it as an astronaut or actor. And there are good things that come from this apparent failure too, like the various projects and activities I find myself taking part in instead. I just wonder how the schoolgirl on the bus this morning will handle her possible failure at achieving her dream of becoming a designer, 'cos despite us having that failure in common if she does, I think I'm doing pretty well handling mine.

Thursday, September 22

Things That Pee Me Off #23: "Recharge Only" Appliances

So my beard trimmer ran out of juice tonight. Half way through trimming. In their infinite wisdom, Philips decided to disable the device while it's being charged i.e. you can't use it straight off the mains. I mean, what the hell is that about?


Yes, that's right. The BBC have finally gotten back to those that didn't make the cut in their recent search for a new radio presenter. As the title suggests, I didn't make it. But it's ok. I didn't want the stinkin' job anyway.

Man. And I had so many "Radio Shak, literally!" puns planned.

Quote Of The Day

Off the radio this morning, when they were fielding for "good life rules". Amongst the "work to live, don't live to work"s, "you start with nothing end with nothing but have everything in between"s and other clichés, I spotted this gem:

Dance like you're not being watched, and make love like you're being filmed.

Gave me a chuckle anyway; and it's probably true too. Not that anything other than the first part is relevant to any of us...

Ooooh No

So dodgy Saudi agents (in the last few years or so ANY Hajj or Umrah tour must be booked with a hotel, and that means even UK agents need a counterpart over there) have been doubling and even tripling hotel prices due to unprecedented demand. This is in spite of however early one might have booked.

In short, this means that unless we get the same trip at the same price (or at least without too much of a financial hit) the whole thing, Pakistan included, will be cancelled. I hope not 'cos I was well looking forward to it all... Although if I am honest a tiny part of me might be relieved if the bad happens.

Monday, September 19

Things That Pee Me Off #7: Off Limit Donuts

I know I get my fair share of Krispy Kremes when I'm not fasting, but it still sucks when people bring them in during the days that I am. It's just so inconsiderate.

Maybe I'll nick one for later.


I find it fascinating how some people complain about guys going back home. Y’know to marry. I mean, why? We’d all throw our arms up at someone who insists on only marrying a doctor or something so why don’t we do the same when the restriction is instead a British passport?

These men are free people and so have that free choice to do so and in many cases it’s not like they wanted this to be the way things play out. The fact is that, for whatever reason, they’re not finding what they want in a wife here. They’re told that in real life people have to compromise, that they’ll never find the perfect partner and if that’s the case, surely it makes sense to be objective about the whole deal as opposed to being, quite frankly, nationalistic about it.

Consider a potential wife from the sub-continent. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find someone who'll fulfil their domestic role, would be subservient, kind, tolerant, won’t complain and will get on with your folks (well yes, since they had input in choosing them). They’ll be someone who’ll concentrate on making the family work rather than on the more superfluous things that distract us from daily life. It almost sounds like a no brainer to me - or at least a more attractive proposition than choosing or waiting for someone "you can communicate with and is on the same wavelength" or whatever excuse some people give for picking locals over those from back home.

I know what you're all thinking and no, there is no projection or self-convincing going on here. Nervous twitch.

Saturday, September 17

Book: Belief In Allah, Umar S. Al-Ashqar

Y’know, I’ve found it pretty hard finding an in-depth, non-wishy-washy (and I don’t mean non-liberal by that) book on Islam. The few I’ve recorded on this blog have either been too much of a reference or socio-political (here, here and here). Which is fine, of course, but I think there is a need to balance these with something a bit more literal and straightforward.

Part one of eight (the others covering Angels, Jinn, The Messengers, The Final Day and Destiny) this book covers the concept of God according to the Quran and Sunnah. Specifically this means the evidence of God’s existence, the sign’s of His actions, the oneness of Him, the history of Aqeedah, and then a comparison with the concepts of God as held by other people (that is, non-Muslims). Despite the size (450 odd pages), weight and at times hard English (it actually has been translated from Arabic) of the book, it did feel like it got through it pretty quickly and easily.

I actually took this from our own bookshelf at home, which was lucky since it was actually close to what I was looking for. There were some things that made me roll my eyes a bit – things like the proofs (which, as someone who thinks that a full proof of correct faith isn't possible, sometimes seemed a bit circular) and the comparisons with other faiths. Having said that, the reader should be able to appreciate both and use them as a start of any further research or debate.

I’m guessing that God and Aqeedah will be the hardest of the topics that this series of books cover, and so I am kinda looking forward to reading the other (less sizable) volumes. Hopefully they won't disappoint!

Thursday, September 15

Retail Therapy

For the past couple of weeks I've been particularly exuberant in purchasing random, almost-luxury, items (some of which I've written about already), a behaviour that may be seen as strange coming from someone sometimes described as "kanjoos". Quite unfairly, I should add - I mean just because I tend not to want random objects of desire as some others may, doesn't mean when I do I'm unwilling to spend on it; it just doesn't happen that often, that's all.

I've never understood the concept of retail therapy - y'know the way some people (mainly women, I think) get joy from buying stuff; sometimes even going out of their way to do so when they are, say, depressed. How can overspending on a luxury item make anyone feel happy? I mean all you're left with is buyer's remorse (if you're lucky) and debt (if you're not).

My purchases haven't been totally useless and I've bought stuff to fill particular practical holes rather than as anti-depressants, so it's not actually therapeutic in that sense, I don't think. Despite this, I must admit it's felt a bit good splurging out. And yes, I still get a high when playing with my iPod.

So yes, I now understand a bit about how retail therapy works. I guess it's handy having a quick and cheap (emotionally, not financially) fix for the times we feel we might need one, even if it turns out to be expensive (financially, not emotionally). It may even be something to bear in mind when that hypothetical girlfriend finally decides to dump me. Better get saving...

Tuesday, September 13

Link Of The Day

Petrol Direct

Kinda topical too. Ho ho ho.

Gadget Slags

A few weeks ago the PSP was released in the UK. A few days after that event, regular Tube travelers everywhere would see others playing/whoring their new toy on the daily commute "oblivious" (hah, yeh right) to the world while looking up every now and then to check who is watching them with envy. Even those of you that don't use The Tube will know what I'm talking about - whether it's someone making unnecessary calls on their new mobile phone or repeatedly checking the time on their bling watch they're all what I like to call Gadget Slags.

Those of you that know me will know why I'm writing about this now. Now, I'm not a typical gadget slag. I'll usually keep it in my pants unless I genuinely need to take it out, thank you very much. I mean I'm secure about these things. However, today I couldn't resist flashing my nano, even if it was for a mere second.

There was a context of course, not that this excuses any of it. I mean it was so NOT my fault there were already two ever so pretty women on the train I got on to this morning (one with her own iPod Mini to boot). To be fair though I did hold out whipping my toy out till one of them had left the train at Liverpool Street Station (although possibly only 'cos flashing both of them woulda been a bit too bait. I'm sure the remaining girl called her friend later to tell her all about it anyway).

Oh, and I did take it out for an almost genuine reason - I mean I did fancy listening to Bon Jovi at that particular time and I couldn't control the player in my pocket (blind) in order to do so like I was doing before for volume adjustments and the like. And of course the nano has almost only been created for the sole reason to show others and it would be a grave injustice not to allow it to fulfill this destiny.

Honestly, I'm not trying to kid myself here. In fact if anything maybe I was more of a gadget tart or flirt than gadget slag. Yeh. That's it. And perhaps I'm mistaken but I'm sure the remaining girl returned the favour by changing minidiscs in her player shortly after (which, although quaint, was cute).

Sigh. I'm so ashamed. Ho hum.

Size Matters

Finally got my iPod nano through the post yesterday (being the third person I know to do so - yes, trumped by ZK again). I've not really had a good play with it yet; I filled it up with 1.9 gigs of music last night and listened to random songs this morning. Consider this more of a first impression than in depth review.

Of course the first thing that will strike you is the design. It's one of those things (others include seeing the screen of the PSP or driving a BMW for the first time) that neither words or pictures can help to describe. I'll give it a bash though: this thing is small. And sexy. And I almost never call things sexy. Well except for women. Uhh, anyway here's a pic:

Other than the size, it is just another iPod, albeit with a colour screen previously reserved for the flagship iPod photo which manages to accentuate the already fantastic iPod UI. I dunno how I managed without a clickwheel before.

I've mentioned before how I begun to almost learn to kinda like the iPod/iTunes philosophy. In fact, it's what prompted me to use its (to be honest cheap) imitation in Windows Media Player 10 with my Axim. In a nutshell, music synchronisation and playlist management is great - even for someone with a relatively small music collection like myself. In the nano, Apple have at last given me an excuse to use the pioneer in the field.

Alas the image was shattered once I begun listening to it. Ok, it wasn't that bad, but certainly not as good as my Axim or previous players. And I guess it's the price you pay for having such a diminutive form factor. It's just a shame that something had to so obviously give.

So I guess that's it. It's not for audiophiles, although I've never claimed to be one of those anyway. However if you want a small, fast, easy to use and totally sexy MP3 player, you can't really go wrong with the iPod nano.

Sunday, September 11

Film: Salaam Namaste Click for more info

Take one bollywood film with a pretty cast and set it in a western location. Sounds like a sure fire hit right? Well unlike my favourites Dil Chata Hai and Kal Ho Naa ho, Salaam Namaste kinda falls short of the mark.

I'm not too sure what it was though. The plot was ok, as was the cast and music... But something was missing in the film. The consensus was that it was very up and down; there were some gem moments but some equally farcical ones too - enough to break any connection the audience may have had with the characters and their situation.

Credit for the attempt though. Even I was gasping at some of the concepts of and events in the film (if you didn't know it's regarding a couple cohabiting before marriage). It's just a shame since the film could so have been much more.

Saturday, September 10

Film: The 40 Year Old Virgin Click for more info

What was expected to be another in the series of comedies which are actually funny (see: Dodgeball and Wedding Crashers), turned out to be a pretty sweet romcom instead. Of course I (and the person I was watching it with) probably appreciated it in a totally different way to the rest of the audience, but (and I say this with great care since it's quite a sad implication) this film might just have enough substance for both those who wait and those that don't.

Friday, September 9


Shak says: did you show it off on the tube?
xxxx says: nah
xxxx says: kept it in the pocket
xxxx says: I did take it out when I saw afit bird though
xxxx says: hahaha
Shak says: hahahah wicked... did she bite?
xxxx says: she did peer
xxxx says: i was siting down
xxxx says: she was standing up
xxxx says: quite funny
xxxx says: she leant over to peak
xxxx says: and the guy next to her looked down her shirt
xxxx says: hahaha

Thursday, September 8

One Of Those Weeks

Y'know those days where everything just keeps going well for you? When nothing bad happens, or at least nothing bad enough to ruin your sense of excitement and achievement? Well this whole week so far has been like that for me. Amongst other things I had:

  • Work being relatively busy and fulfilling.
  • The broken GPS dongle that sprung back to life, saving me 60 quid if it hadn't.
  • The new availability of gym subsidies at work, saving me 25 quid per month that we had given up hoping to get.
  • The receipt of a cashback cheque for the phone deal I'm on, that is 75 quid that I thought I may get conned out of.
  • The release and imminent ordering by me of the iPod nano this morning and the subsequent lack of stock at the Apple Store when I became greedy and decided to buy it from the highstreet anyway. This may seem bad but it was good really since it woulda been total besti to buy two at once.
  • Oh and I've finally found a replacement for my Henny's satchel-cum-handbag which is currently on it's last legs. Sweet.

Yes, they're almost all financial/material benefits, but these are all amongst the things I can write about here. It's like I'm on a permanent high, like I'm invincible.

But here's the thing: Is this list of bullet points the cause or effect of how I'm feeling? Did I achieve the same last week but was not in the correct state of mind to realise this? Conversely, have bad things happened to me this week that I've glossed over, made the most of or have seen the good in? It's an interesting question and is sometimes asked by others as whether we're able to create our own luck or happiness. I'm not too sure that the answer is yes we can; I mean how can we expect an orphan in Niger, for example, to look on the bright side of life?

Nonetheless I'm beginning to believe that for those of us in a less extreme position it is something we have a certain amount of power or influence over. Why are people in such good positions so unhappy? And those in relatively bad situations the opposite? How many times have we looked back at a sad, depressing or frustrating situation and wondered what the fuss was about? Perhaps if we developed the ability to see things retrospectively and in perspective at the time of unhappiness we'd all be much the opposite? Or maybe some of us (myself included) feel we are happiest when we're unhappy?

A totally illogical proposition, sure, but one that might just hold in the craziness that is the human psyche. But if it does, and if this week is anything to go by, it's something that we certainly have in our power to change.

Aw Crap

I think I'm gonna buy an iPod:

More here. And in my defence (for those who don't know I was the ultimate iPod hater) I have been warming to Apple's music player since playing with my aunt's Mini.


Wednesday, September 7

New Music

My Dil Goes Mmmm - Salaam Namaste

One that I liked, then didn't, then slowly grew to like again enough to add to my playlist. A ballad but faster than the norm, I'm looking forward to the film too.

Monday, September 5

Link Of The Day

For those who have yet to see Kanye West at his best:

NBC Video

Fantastic. The reaction is even more telling!

Thunderbolts And Lightning (Very, Very Frightening, Me)

For the first time (for as long as I can remember, anyway), thunder woke me up from my sleep last night. It wasn't scary, just a bit surreal. Anyway, I spent five minutes watching the torrent come down before I hit the sack again... There's something really fascinating about really heavy rain during a summer storm.

Shak's Choice: Hammasa Kohistani

Obvious political hang-ups aside, today it's Hammasa Kohistani otherwise known as Miss England.

I won't patronise you with why*.

*For those who haven't figured it out she's only a Muslim potential Miss World. Duh. If anyone wants to arrange a rishta then you have my permission.

Game: Advance Wars Dual Strike

I think the original AW was (and still is) one of the best videogames I've played. I never understood what people meant when they said priorities were shuffled and responsibilities mislaid while playing a game till I played that one.

AWDS is the third in the series after the previous two for the GBA. This time it's on the DS, making good use of the screen, but less so of the touchscreen (but only 'cos the interface has been so carefully designed for d-pad control too).

It's pretty much the safe affair - well at first anyway. Further into the game we find that lots of additions have been made; some good but some bad too. I wouldn't have minded with any other game except that AW was as close to perfect as possible. I guess it was a no win situation for the developers, but I still feel that the game has been diluted too much.

It's still a cracking game though, as proven by my almost missing my stop on the way to work this morning. It's just a shame I'll have to eventually give it back...

Sunday, September 4

Film: Red Eye Click for more info

Amazingly, the last film I went to see was Charlie way back in July. That's a over a whole month without film. Could we be boring of film? I hope not.

Anyway, Red Eye marks a nice return from this lack of cinema. Pretty fun, straightforward and no-nonsense, it doesn't force the audience to work at enjoying it, instead laying the frolics on a plate for us to lap up. The title implies that most of the action occurs on a plane but saying that, my favourite parts of the film were on the ground. But hey, let's not get overly pedantic about mistitled films.

Classic Craven in that it's packed with humour and frights in equal amounts, check this out if you don't like thinking too hard while watching a film.