Monday, October 31

The Posh Part Of Karachi Part 2

Last night we returned to the posh part to visit a shopping centre in Clifton, the beach area of Karachi. This is one of the places where the "burger families", relatively rich and wannabe incognoscenti hang out. If you look really hard you may even find the Karachian equivalent of the chav.

I found it in quite amusing to see people trying to converse with each other and shopkeepers in English (yaar), especially as a native English speaker wearing a cheapo shalwar kameez and BOY slippers. Snobbish I know, but they're the ones pretending to be something they so aint.

Sunday, October 30

The Posh Part Of Karachi

Last night (around midnight) we went to a place called Sea View, a nice little floodlit stretch of beach situation in an area called Defense. Now, some of you may know this as the posh part of Karachi.

It's where all the rich people live and the quality of life there is better than many parts of London. The houses there cost around 5-6 crore (50 million) rupees, which converts to around 5-600,000 pounds, putting them out of the reach of even many of us here - and this would buy you a much better house than the same amount in London. Apparently it's all corruption and dirty money that pays for it all.

Its pretty interesting to see the class divide. We live in one of the more poor ghettoey parts of Karachi - Federal B Area on the opposite side of the city. I know which part I prefer though, Fed B is definitely where it's at. Keeping it real and all that y'know.

Friday, October 28

My Dad's Family

My dad has 13 siblings consisting of 5 sisters and 9 brothers (3 of whom have either died or gone missing), so there are quite a few aunties and uncles to see and first cousins to hang out with (37, I think. 32 of whom reside in Pakistan, 27 of whom I'm relatively close to).

Unfortunately it's Ramadhan at the moment which means all my cousins are out working in various shops till late (4am or so), so I'm not seeing them as much as I'd like to. Still, we'll all be getting together on Eid so that's some consolation, I suppose.

Where The Beanies At?

Having been put under the impression that there was a wide range of girls here for me to see, it was a shock to discover that there was in fact none. I asked about the reconnaissance that my grandmother had supposed to have completed earlier on in the year. Apparently of the three girls she met:

  • One was cross-eyed.
  • One had a family history of some kind of skin problem.
  • One had already been engaged before. Three times, in fact.

So of course all three had been prefiltered. Which is all fine and dandy, except it meant there wasn't actually anyone left for me to see.

Honestly, you couldn't make this stuff up.

Aunty Khulsum

Just went to visit my dear Aunt Khulsum. She's worth blogging about because a) she's great and b) she's spectacularly placed in my family tree.

See, she happens to be my mum's khala (my mum's mum's sister), or the sister of my maternal grandmother. She also happened to have been married to one of my dad's brothers. The more astute of you will realise that this isn't as crazy as it sounds and is as acceptable as two brothers marrying two sisters - the 40 year age range between my dad's siblings kind of crossed a generation.

Anyway, this means that my mother and I share first cousins (her through her khala, me though her husband, my now deceased chacha). Which is actually great since when we're around them it puts me on the same level of respect level as my mum. It does throw a few things out of whack though - do I call these cousins brothers or uncles? And my dad is my mum's khalu's brother. What does she call him? And am I my brother's uncle or not?

Dirty Feet

Y'know no matter how much I scrub my feet they still remain black. It's totally disgusting and yet totally ethnic yaar.

Wannabe Biker

I was taken out on a bike today (we've been using cars more for a few years now). It really is one of the best thing about Karachi - riding at high speeds with the dirty, smoggy, muddy wind in your face dodging the oncoming traffic as you cut across lanes and take roundabouts in the wrong direction.

I don't think I'll ever get bored of it. I love it.

Thursday, October 27

We Watch Filth

I finally managed to find a DVD player today and so dug into the series I brought over from the UK. And quite frankly it's terrible the stuff we watch: I'm finding I have to be so careful about the stuff happening on the screen.

Take today. I thought Smallville would be a safe choice. But no. Clark decided to pop his cherry. The rest of my collection (Despo, OTH, OC) will prolly be just as bad. Even the safest bet ER scares me.

So yes, like I said in the title Western telly is filthy.

Marriage Update

I had a bit of a debate with my parents this evening, and it's totally thrown the whole rishta situation out of whack. I told them that I needed a bit of choice, and that as well as looking in Pak we should really be giving the UK more of a chance than we had.

I'm not too sure what's happening right now. I may still see some girls and I'm still open minded about marrying here, but if nothing happens I think we'll become a bit more proactive back home when we return.

Wednesday, October 26


Like in Saudi, we've settled into a routine here too. Unlike the previous one, this one is slightly more sane:

  • Wake up at 1230pm for Zuhr.
  • Doss around till around 4pm. This includes watching the DVDs I brought from home.
  • Get ready for Iftar which was being held at one of my dad's siblings house (a different one each day).
  • Go to read Tarawih at a different mosque each day depending on the host.
  • Get picked up at around 12am and go out till Sehri.
  • Get back and sleep till Zhur.


Live From Pak

So I've finally managed to find a connected PC after heaven knows how many days. I've actually got loads to blog but don't really have the time now, so if you're interested in knowing almost all about my time in Saudi keep an eye out for that.

56k Internet sucks though. Otherwise I'm loving Karachi as always.

Something I've Not Done Before

Read Fajr in jamaat in my pajamas. The mosque is downstairs, literally seconds away, and so it doesn't make sense to get changed. It's not like any of the congregation realises it anyway.

I hope.


It's my second sehri here and it's really cool how the muazzin of the local mosque announces over the tannoy how much time is left till sehri ends 20, 15, 10 and 5 minutes before it does. It saves you having to look at a clock at all.

Monday, October 24

Speaking The Urdu Please?

As the relatives come visit my dad switches to Gujarati mode. I have no idea what's going on, but that's all part of the fun of coming here.

Power Cut!

First night back and we've already had a power cut. Man, I love this place!!



  • Distance to Kaba: 2000 miles
  • Time for Tarawih: 2 hours
  • Distance to Kaba: 0 miles
  • Time for Tarawih: 3 hours
  • Distance to Kaba: 300 miles
  • Time for Tarawih: 3 hours
  • Distance to Kaba: 1740 miles
  • Time for Tarawih: <1.5>
I know which I prefer.

I Love Karachi

I've just got off the plane and suddenly realised exactly how much I love Karachi. I've had nothing but a big grin on my face on the way home from the airport.

It's got me thinking that if anything happens here regarding a wife, it would probably increase the chances of further visits to Pakistan. At the moment I only go with my parents (I so wouldn't handle it on my own), but I can't rely on them for company forever.

It's something to think about; I might be wrong but there aren't many people in the UK as keen on the subcontinent as I am, and it's likely that any partner found there would make it more difficult for me to visit Karachi.

A Plane Full Of Pakis

The Jeddah-Karachi flight is quite packed, as anticipated. This should be interesting... I wonder who'll be the first to sit in the wrong seat?

I've just realised that I've had around five hours sleep in the last three days. What's surprising is that I don't feel all that bad.


We're all packed and about to leave our hotel room for the airport. I'm really looking forward to Karachi now, and I feel like I've had my fill of Saudi this trip.

Further I don't think I'll be coming back for Ramadhan anytime soon, if at all. I know it sounds really bad but on some level it feels as if a whole bunch of barakah was missing. Perhaps it was just me, but that doesn't really make a difference.

Would I advise others to go? Well yes, of course but be prepared. As for me I've had my fix and it'll be off-peak from now on.

Saturday, October 22

Wound Up

I think I'm looking forward to leaving Saudi. Ten days have been more than enough and I'm slowly becoming more and more wound up by the people pushing and crowds. The worst thing is how it has changed me; you have to push back otherwise you don't get anywhere. It's a depressing inevitability.

Friday, October 21

The Cure For The Common Crush

Is there one? Hypothetically speaking the last thing I need right now is a crush, so it would be handy to know what to do if I happened to find myself with one. So if anyone knows how to get over one, post it below.

Gold Shopping Is So Boring


Hijabs Are Bad

So what is it with Hijabs eh? I mean I'm looking around here and I know it's totally dodgy me saying so but some of these women in full nikabs look kinda, well, hot. Now there can't be that many beautiful women so obviously covering up is making some women look more attractive than they actually are.

So that's my take. Hijabs and nikabs are only for pretty women. Ugly women shouldn't wear them otherwise they'll tempt men and make their eyes wonder. Or perhaps I'm just a perv.

(And just in case you didn't realise I'm joking. I'm not telling anyone to remove their hijabs, and especially not ugly people.)

I'm Such A Cliché

I always thought I was different, but here I am. It's almost like I'm that guy from Bride And Prejudice - y'know the "No Life Without Wife" fella that goes back home to find a wife.

Maybe that's what hurts the most: how I tried my best to be different and not like other guys. Instead of being one in a million, I'm one in the 1000 or whatever that go to the subcontinent each home to get married. Delusional or what?

I'm Getting Fat

A bad diet and no exercise is no good.

Jummah In Madinah

After last week we've decided not to take any chances and took our places in the mosque for Jummah at 1030am. I doubt you have to come this early for a congregation in any place other than the two Harams.


Just got a text message from a friend who just got engaged. And although I'm really happy for him, it still makes me feel a bit like Bridget Jones.

Will this new development force my hand in Pakistan? Who knows... Well, I do since I'm typing this retrospectively, but it's so exciting anyway. Oooooo.

Thursday, October 20

Iftar In Madinah

Something that took me by surprise here was how as Iftar approaches these random boys grab and try to persuade you to attend their "patch" for breakfast. It's really flattering too - sometimes they even jokingly fight with each other over a guest.

My dad says that it's all goodwill but I remain cynical. I await to see if they ask for any money afterwards. Ahem.


Arrived in Madinah this morning. I think I've always preferred Madinah to Makkah; it's more peaceful, quieter, the people are more friendly and it's less harsh than the latter. I think it's always been this way since the time of the Prophet.

Having said that, this visit seems to be even more busy than it was during my Hajj visit, and I've also noticed a bit of shoving.

The Mosque itself is also more logically organised than the circular one in Makkah (which is understandable considering their respective proximities to the Kaba). You can also see the "layering" of the mosque as each extension had been built over time - it's kind of like the rings of a tree in that respect.

Oh and Makkah gave me a leaving gift in a split toenail which was nice of it. At least I'll have something to remember it by.

Religious Dating

A funny thing we've noticed is how you can now see couples holding hands in and around the Haram. My mum jokes about how people have started using Makkah as a honeymoon spot, but I think it's kinda sweet.

A Good Time To Leave

Makkah seems to be getting busier and busier by the salaat. Each one is becoming harder and harder to get a space for. Good timing to be getting out perhaps (have I mentioned that I hate crowds), since Madinah should be less busy.

Wednesday, October 19


I managed to finish the Quran today before our final Maghrib in Makkah, which is good.

It's the final Tarawih now and everything is coming to an end. We're leaving after Fajr tomorrow, so trying to make the most of it, I guess.

It might be good timing actually 'cos I'm beginning to lose patience with the people here including my parents and even myself. It turns out I don't like big crowds.

Ban All Turks From The Haram

And while you're at it, ban all Pakistanis. And old people. And women.

Tuesday, October 18


We've kinda settled into a routine now. It's goes something like this:

  • Wake up at 4am for Sehri and Fajr. We have to go 30 mins before Fajr adhaan to secure a place; my mum has to go even earlier.
  • Come back and be in bed by around 6.
  • Wake up at 11, get ready and leave for Zuhr in around an hour later.
  • Return from that and shower and rest for a while, perhaps get some shopping done (but probably not since it's too hot)
  • Leave for Asr, again a half hour before adhaan (at 4pm).
  • Remain in the mosque till Iftar and Maghrib (6pm or so), usually reading Quran for the two hours till then.
  • Get out and try to find some food; return to the hotel to eat by around 645pm.
  • Leave for Esha and Tarawih at around 720pm (adhaan at 8). Do a Tawaf after that's done.
  • Leave the Haram at around 1030pm at which point we finally get some free time to walk around the area and do random stuff. We may even eat some more.
  • Get back to the hotel and in bed by around 2am for two hours sleep before Sehri.

Basically the whole day revolves around the five prayers, which is probably unsurprising. What is frustrating is how each salaat takes an hour longer during this busy period than it would otherwise due to the need to arrive early to get a place. Still, waking up to a live adhaan is wonderful and beats an alarm clock anyday.

Monday, October 17

International Breakfasts

One of the good things about having Iftars in the mosque is that you have them with total strangers. Like today, we opened them with a bunch of Turkish fellas. I had no idea what they were talking about but it was nice anyway.

Too Much Quran Not Enough Time

I timed myself reading the Quran (as you do) and I managed a sipara in just over 40 mins which I think is a record for me.

I'm still worried about whether I'll complete the Quran in Makkah or not. At the moment I'm about to finish the 22nd sipara which means I have to read four tomorrow and another four the day after which is a bit higher than my current rate, but Godwilling I'll manage it.

Totally Inappropriate

My mum joked about pulling someone during the Tawaf; "accidentally" bumping into them because of the crowd etc.

Like I hadn't thought of that already.

Sunday, October 16

I Am A Native Arab

I'm kinda chuffed 'cos for the first time on this trip I managed to communicate in Arabic. I asked if there was an English talks going on in the mosque. The answer was no, but that's ok.

Quran Racing

So here I was thinking I was all good reading 2.5 siparas of the Quran in two hours when my mum reports she read twice as much. Gah.

Saturday, October 15

The Selfishness Of The Masses

It's amazing how selfish and disorganised some of the people in Makkah are. I'm not talking about the mosque authorities here, but more us, the guests.

An example was when we sat for Iftar today. Now we didn't know this at the time but we unintentionally sat in the "free food for the poor" section (which was pretty nice actually). Now the men's section was fine, but over on the women's side they were grabbing and fighting over a crate of food parcels like a bunch of jackals - really, that's the only way I know how to describe it.

Later on during the Tarawih (which we read behind Shaikh Sudais - always great) prayer the men showed us how they could be just as bad. These people guard their territory like it's their home (even lying while doing so), even if there's plenty of space for one or even two more people.

Something I realised during Tawaf was this habit of people pushing you "preemptively" just in case they have to. That sounds weird, I know, but if you imagine a busy train or platform and how you can navigate one without having to touch anyone else you may know what I'm talking about. Maybe it's a language/culture thing where a shove takes the place of an "excuse me".

I suppose it just shows the state Muslims as a people are in. In theory it shouldn't be like this at all, but then human nature does come into play in a crowd this big. God willing they'll be a time when none of this happens at all.

Friday, October 14

A Note About Piccies

Right or wrong I have taken some. And a few videos too. I'll have a selection available on Flickr and the others via Hello, but if you think I shouldn't have taken them at all don't look.

Man I wish I had had R1N before I left. Oh well, these'll do.

A Pretty Long Day

Flying out at 9pm for a 6 hour flight isn't fun. I've written before about night flights, but this was worse since the travel time was short enough to get us to our destination at an insanely early time in the morning.

Still we managed to check in at Heathrow before Iftar and so avoided the rush and got good seats. The journey itself wasn't delayed and I also had pleasant company on the plane - apparently Leicester does have more than one person worth knowing. At Jeddah, immigration and customs were both a breeze.

So yes so far so good. But then we hit the atrocious tour agency allocation process. See, for a couple of years now we've no longer been able to privately book flights and hotels for Umrah or Hajj; it all has to be done via agents. This is a good thing in theory since it guarantees that all the right bits are in place, but the way it has been implemented on the Saudi side is unbelievable. And at such an early hour in the day, frustrating.

Despite this, we arrived at Makkah earlier than we had excepted to. Since it was Jummah, we had planned on doing Umrah after the Friday prayer, hoping that it would get less busy then - instead we took a gamble and decided to do it there and then at 830am allowing us to get out of Ihram that much earlier. It was still hot at that time of the morning and still very busy and tiring. The only reason we didn't fall asleep was 'cos we were so thirsty.

We finished the rites of Umrah at 1030am, two hours before Jummah. This was plenty of time for a shower - or so we had thought. An hour later we realised how wrong we were.

Now I've been Hajj and have seen how busy the Haram can get. But this was bad. I managed to find a few inches in which to pray inside the mosque, but my parents (with whom I had split up with by that point) had to pray outside in the sun. Thankfully the considerate imam kept the khutba and prayer itself short. After that, I made my way back to the hotel where I had another shower and 2 hours sleep before we had to get back for Asr. By now I had never been thirstier; it actually felt quite dangerous.

I wrote this two hours before Iftar, which I expect to be the most satisfying breakfast ever. My only consolation is that the rest of the trip will be much easier compared to today!

Thursday, October 13

A Ramadhan Of Firsts

  • This is the first Ramadhan I'll be missing a night of tarawih (both at a mosque and at all) in 16 odd years.
  • It's also the first time I'll not be in the same place for the whole month.
  • It'll be my first Eid without my brother.
  • It'll be my first trip to Pakistan and Saudi without the same. Hence the 11 episodes of telly and pocket Suduko I'm taking with me.

There's probably a few more I've yet to think of. Frankly it's amazing they've lasted this long.

Wednesday, October 12

You Have 24 Hours...

... To find me a bride, or even offer me yourself.

All proposals can be made via my Hotmail address, by telephone, or if you're really brave as a comment below.

Do not forget to include contact details and to attach a recent picture and any relevant proof of age and status.

And yes, I'm kidding. Maybe. It all depends on the response really. Aha ha ha.

Tuesday, October 11

Just When I Thought It Was Safe

Karachi feels a 5.1 quake.



(Based on a comment I made elsewhere)

As I get older and see the situation I'm in I find it harder and harder to recommend any particular kind of lifestyle let alone a "good" one to the few young 'uns that I know and may have an influence over. On the other hand, I don't condone anything else either and so absolve myself of any responsibility. Yes, it's pretty comfortable sitting on this fence of mine.

On the contrary I tell people to make mistakes (although not to intentionally make them), and to even get certain things out of their systems (and then only if absolutely necessary and provided they know what the consequences of their actions).

I guess the question is whether principles and morals should exist purely for their own sake or instead to achieve an ultimate goal. The thing is that the latter isn't guaranteed whether you have principles or not. In fact you can have a still have a good result regardless of how you live your life. So what use are morals and principles then?

The only real reason to have a moral code is for your own self and not for anything in return. That's probably the most selfless, and so purest, form of having them. Still, I can't help but feel it's a tad unfair. I mean you're told that if you act good then good things will happen to you, but then that's totally contradicting what we've said above and so can't be true.

Nah, the way to do things is to have principles if you want to, but then to not expect anything in return. Your goals have to be achieved by other more practical means - unless of course these other means break your principles in which case you're probably almost totally screwed.

EDIT: After reading this back I've wondered whether perhaps I've not been clear enough. I mean hey, I'm all for being thought provoking (aha ha), but it's also worth being clear every now and then. Anyway, I thought of an example that kinda illustrates what I mean.

Back during my Deutsche internship I met quite a few new friends. Amongst them were a couple from Cambridge, the then typical Hindu-Muslim pair. I managed to get close (or maybe presumptuous) enough to ask them where they were going, and back then their reply totally baffed me. They said that they both knew the score; that the relationship had one, maybe two, years max left in it before they both would mutually end it. It would be hard, but it was inevitable and they both understood that.

I was stumped. Why would anyone put themselves in this situation? I mean what was the point? Sure they were happy in the short term but you could see them both anticipating the pain of big day when they'd have to say goodbye. Don't get me wrong; I've no problem with mix-religion relationships, but if the relationshipees themselves can't accept it, why even begin one?

Now though it makes more sense. It's not the details themselves that I understand; this isn't really about religion. No, this is about the risk and reward. I now understand why one would, and possibly even should, go ahead and have these experiences anyway (and I'm not just talking about relationships here. The same applies to jobs, education and almost anything else), since you'll almost always end with something even if it doesn't appear so. Just because this couple weren't gonna get married or have more of a long term relationship does not mean what they had was worthless.

If there are no regrets and if you become more of a fuller person afterwards then it's not a mistake or error in judgement. No, it's just learning how to live your life.

Word Of The Day

Urban Dictionary delivers yet again:


So obvious and so common. And very easy to spot too; you can see them happening a mile off.

A fake-up always gives me a chuckle. I mean, waste of time or what?

Sunday, October 9

"Oh No Chachu Please Don't"

That was Idris's mantra this morning while I was cutting his hair, while his grandparents were holding him steady. Now Idris is (and I suspect will always be) a bit of a cry baby, but what he didn't realise was that I didn't really care and further that no number of tears would have made me stopped what I had started.

Anyway, he immediately calmed down after receiving his new die-cast Harvey and Harold. Really it was almost multiple personality disorder the way he switched: "Thank you chachu for cutting my hair", although this was probably more to do with him getting the aformentioned toys than a brilliant number three. Total player, I tell you.

Yet Another Natural Disaster

With such a large UK population of people from the region, and at last count 18,000 people being lost, I'm thinking it's difficult for a lot of us to not know someone who has been affected by the disaster in Pakistan over the weekend.

A friend just said how she couldn't believe how many disasters we were having one after another. They've been pretty spread out too, without any kind of prejudice.

Who knows? If this carries on like it's doing major disasters might not even be recognised as being unusual anymore. Now that would be strange, being desensitised to such massive trauma.

Saturday, October 8

The Voice Of Reason

Or maybe not. So today I had my first taste of broadcasting, and I thought it was fab. It was another one of those things that once you start becomes not as bad as you thought it would be, and before I knew it I was comfortable in my role.

Yes, there were umming and erring, a bit of dead air and timing issues, but I reckon that's to be expected from people cutting their teeth on radio speaking. I was glad to have had as many listeners calling and emailing in as I did (and if you were one of them then thanks!) and it was quite amazing how fast the hour went.

The one thing that I thought I failed on slightly was representation; the debate seemed to have been heavy on the state/non faith school, and during feedback I was told by the faith school teacher that he felt it was kinda one sided. This might have been because he was on the phone and not in the studio and so was neglected slightly. Still, it was our job to bring him in more often and bring balance to the debate and I may have lacked in that.

Anyway, I'm not sure of how much of a good job I did but I had fun doing so and it's definitely something I'd like to try again. It's a shame I won't be around for the rest of Ramadhan though so I'll miss this session.

Did you tune in? If so what did you think?

Friday, October 7

Yes Well I Should Say Something I Suppose

I woke up this morning to a barrage (well ok quite a few) texts wishing me, erm, good wishes. So thanks to all for that; you have probably realised that I'm NOT gonna text back.

And just so you know you don't have to prefix your messages with "I know you don't do birthdays, but...". I mean, come on I'm not that bad. And for the record I'm 27, not 30.

Shak's PMS

Here's a little toy I wrote between busy periods at work. It's actually the first thing I've released for people other than myself (and possibly the odd brother or friend), so it is a bit of a landmark app for me and my gift to you.

The app sits in your system tray (with the default icon, naturally), and allows you to save and recall personal messages that display on your Messenger after your display name. It's pretty straightforward: use a right click to add, edit and delete personal messages, and a left click to recall them in a handy context menus.

There are bugs, but nothing serious (however it comes without warranty, so if it formats your system drive, do NOT blame me) and I have a few more ideas to add (like integrating the PM timer you might have seen me use over Ramadhan). But still, please do email me at my Hotmail address if you notice any bugs, have any suggestions for improvements or even if you decide to download and try it at all.

Anyway, check it out here: MSNPMS.exe (56k)

Thursday, October 6

Bollywood A Go-Go

Just received my new UGC cinema pass... Except it's now a Cineworld cinema pass! UGC cinemas nationwide have already been rebranded the same way, but it still left us wondering whether or not the pass would be restricted to ex-UGC screens or taken away altogether. The idea that we'd be able to use it at Cineworld seemed a bit too good.

But that's exactly what's happened. Now ordinarily this wouldn't mean anything - The WIQ UGC is still going to be my preferred place to watch films. What is brilliant, though, is that I now have unlimited access to Ilford Cineworld, home to all things Bollywood.

So yes. Look out for many more Bolly reviews. Woot.

Radio Shak, Literally

In what is almost a consolation prize for being rejected by Auntie, I've been asked to co-present The Education Show on Radio Ramadan this Saturday. It'll take the form of a debate regarding the involvement of Muslim parents in their child's education, and I'm pretty excited to be taking part.

I've also had to produce and have been researching the issue and contacting people in the field for the past few days now. It's been pretty hard work, not least since my day job decided to be busy and it being Ramadhan. This preparation might be overkill (an hour being a pretty short time), but I'd like to do this properly. I've been taking notes off The Sonia Deol Show too, so if I sound familiar you'll know why. Ahem.

So will I crash and burn? There's only one way to find out: the hour long show is from 11am-12pm, Saturday morning, and is available to all those around the East London area - like Newham, Redbridge and Ilford - on 87.7fm. Alternatively you can listen live by following the link above.

Wish me luck, but whatever you do, do not call in to heckle. Faking a parent criticising schools for failing Muslims might be ok though.


You may have heard me scream in despair around 9am this morning. Oh and ICers - note the article author.

Tuesday, October 4

Oh No, Again

So Pakistan still haven't sighted the moon, meaning that their first fast will take place on Thursday. This is bad news. In a nutshell, Eid in Pakistan may now be on Friday 4th or Saturday 5th, the latter being the day I fly back.

Obviously I don't want to spend my first Eid-ul-Fitr in Pakistan on a plane. Now, our only hope lies in the fact that the previous two months in Pakistan were both thirty days long, implying that Ramadhan will have to be 29. But that's logical and I've given up on that now. It will of course totally suck if Eid isn't on Friday.

As an aside the ugly issue of division in the UK arises yet again. It seems now to be pretty well split between the traditionalist and younger mosques (ardent followers of Saudi, btw) instead of along more arbitrary lines like it used to and even though I took the word of the latter this year I do think they got it wrong. Pakistan isn't the only source starting on Thursday; I hear that New Zealand is too and the MCB have also announced Wednesday for their start. Apparently moon charts prove that there was no visible moon on Monday night (even though the same charts also prove the new moon had been born).

Personally, I think that following Saudi, although commendable in its intent to create a single definitive global source for sightings, lacks a bit of credibility, especially when UK Islam has developed enough to allow us to form our own. Love 'em or hate 'em, the MCB seems more of an appropriate source to blindly follow.

But anyway. None of this changes the fact that I'm flying back on what may turn out to be Eid in Pakistan. Oh man.

Monday, October 3

Ramadhan Comes

Well Ramadhan has been announced by London Central Mosque and so far the majority of my mates say they're fasting tomorrow too so that's good enough for me. Ramadhan mubarak everyone.

This year marks a change since we now return to Noor Ul Islam after the two years since we moved from Leytonstone. We do this because for the first time in its 17 year history it has finally opened doors to women. Now it's not the first time I'm reading Tarawih with my mother present (the mosque local to my current home has always allowed women), but it is special because Noor Ul Islam will always be my first mosque - I doubt I'll ever spend as much time in any other mosque as I did there. It's also mosque to my mamu and khala (and their families), so for the first time the majority of the men and women in our family will read tarawih under one roof.

The reason why they've allowed women this year is due to the acquisition of the middle property between the previously owned two; this means that there is now contiguous space for the fairer sex and also a single main jamaat (as opposed to the four mini ones they've had the past few years). It's probably the biggest single jamaat in the locality and so another reason to return.

Ramadhan is also creeping later in the day as the Islamic month moves into the Summer. This means we're looking to return from the mosque at around 10-10:30pm which is later than we've been used to for the past seven years or so. How much of an impact this makes on our lives I won't be sure of till we've tried it a few times, but I already feel tired.

EDIT: So we made it back by 10:40, which is a pretty good time considering the teething problems faced; it'll probably be earlier tomorrow. The new hall was blummin' impressive though and totally something to be proud of. I'm still tired though, and the 11pm it is as I type is well past my bedtime considering the sleep disruption we're to endure. Zzz.

Book: Atonement, Ian McEwan

Managed to cram this before Ramadhan starts, but a pretty good cramming it was. Set over much of the last century, the book is about a terrible sin made by a young girl, and how she and her family deal with it over the years.

Plot aside (which was gripping enough) what makes this book for me, again, is the characterisation. McEwan has a fantastic talent in getting the reader to relate to the characters (well, as much as you can to a white English family living during the time). There are many examples of how he does this, but the one that comes to mind now is how Briony, a thirteen year old, wonders about her body and its relation to her soul simply by wondering what makes her fingers move. It's a simple exercise that we've all completed ourselves and so immediately gives this particular character depth and brings her to life. Other examples include the various manifestations of Robbie and Cecilia's feelings for each other, or the daily routine irrelevances in the life of Briony's mother.

Each part (there are four in total) seem to start off slowly, making you wonder whether the best writing was saved for the previous part. But before you know it you're drawn in and surprised and sad even when each part ends, before realising that it had at exactly the right point. More kudos to McEwan.

It almost feels like this was written for the person reading the book at the time. Of course that's silly and is just more evidence of McEwan's talent and is what makes a good book good. Much recommended.

The Bali Bombings

It just occurred to me, two days after the event, that I was actually in Bali in the July of 2003. That was less than a year after the first bombing, and we were witness to the struggle that the Indonesians were going through in order to recover from that. We even saw the location of the bar that was bombed (which was going through reconstruction by that point). I couldn't help but think that since it's happened once, there's no way it would happen again. But hey, I've been wrong before.

Bali is pretty nice, but I wonder whether it will recover after this later attack? The benefit of the doubt has been given once before. To be honest I'd go back, but then I'm kinda pragmatic in that sense.

Saturday, October 1

Film: A History Of Violence Click for more info

Simple, straightforward and violent. I liked this film. I didn't even mind the times when it dragged; you realise soon enough that even the few boring parts lead to something more exciting and so bear with them till the payoff. Not much was irrelevant in this picture.

I can't really say much more about a film that is so pointed and even "clean". Go watch it - even if you end up not liking it, you'll know exactly why.