Sunday, April 30

Film: Slither Click for more info

I tend to find "comedy horrors" relatively watchable. However, although Slither was able to pass the time, I couldn't help but fell slightly disappointed as I left the cinema. The plot went along the lines of Bodysnatchers, the few real action/scary bits were well done (we don't even get to see anything slimy till thirty minutes in) but I guess what really let me down was Nathan Fillion's quite lacklustre performance. In Slither, Malcom Reynolds he is not.

As my dad put it, Slither was "just another predictable horror flick". Can't really add much more to that.

Young And Old, Old And Young

I attended a friend's surprise 18th birthday party this evening. It seemed to work well - apparently the best way to distract someone from an upcoming surprise party is to tell them you're throwing a surprise for someone else. In fact, you can sometimes even get them to do work for their own party. Fantastic.

I sometimes forget that I'm not the same age as some of my good friends. They're not just younger; I have some people pretty close to me who are well into their thirties. I don't think I'm particularly unique in enjoying such a situation, however despite this I'm not sure how many other people would be able to discuss both the current story from One Tree Hill as well as why Pillow Talk is, like, the best Doris Day movie ever.

I guess it's a good thing being able to relate to and find things in common with people of all ages, but there are times when I wonder how normal it is. Hmmm.

Saturday, April 29

Film: Silent Hill Click for more info

A nonsensical horror based on the Playstation game of the same name. I never really got past the first hour of the videogame, so it was nice to see what the Silent Hill story was all about.

The film itself was pretty good. The imagery within was its main asset, and it reminded me a lot of the Hellraiser films: weird and creepy yet with a strange sense of art.

If you decide to watch don't expect to understand what it's about though. The plot is as schizo as the town of Silent Hill itself, but then this feeling of not knowing what's going on makes the whole thing even better!

Food: Fusion Halal Chinese Click for more info

Unfortunately the journey to Tooting wasn't quite paid for by the food waiting for me there. As I've noted before, Halal Chinese places are a dime a dozen now, and so it usually takes a lot to be something special over the rest. Despite the nice atmosphere (decor was nice, the place was clean and they happily seated 25 of us) the food just wasn't up to scratch.

Still, there were some good points - costs were low (we managed a tenner per head), the appetizers well above average (I actually loved my Chilli Prawns in Breadcrumbs) and the servings were pretty huge; most dishes still had food in them when we were done. Alas this wasn't enough to make up for the mains, with dry, bland rice and noodles being a common theme for the night.

If you find yourself craving for Halal Chinese while in Tooting then you can just about get away with Fusion, provided you stick to multiple starters and avoid the mains completely.

Friday, April 28

600 minutes and 400 texts

That's my monthly allowance on my new phone tariff. Considering my track record, I'm not sure whether that's ironic or just plain crazy. I also have 50 video minutes and 50 MMS, which seem more interesting. At least I won't have to pay call charges for, like, ever. Thank heavens none of these roll over otherwise that would just be embarrassing.

And they all double up for the first three months too, giving me twenty hours of talk time each bill. I so need a kuri (or twelve).

There's Something About Wentworth Miller

I just have to note the extent of Wentworth's popularity with the ladies. A post on Kabana's blog (here) is what's prompted this, but even before that I've yet to meet a girl that thinks Wentworth is anything but hot and dreamy. From a bunch of college girls to aunties, amongst close friends and passing acquaintances they all seem to be a fan. I don't believe I've ever seen this phenomenon before.

Now, I'm not a jealous man. I can recognise and acknowledge an attractive man. And it's not that Wentworth isn't attractive, I'm just amazed at the consensus that this opinion has reached. So for the sake of balance here I list a few reasons why he may, in fact, not be all that:

  • His name. I mean, Wentworth? Really guys?
  • His acting. I've always admitted that, despite being one of my favourites at the moment, Prison Break has some of the most appalling acting ever. Wentworth "As Wooden As A Plank" Miller is close to the top of that list.
  • His airheadness. I think it's pretty clear that our Wentworth isn't the sharpest tool on the block. I'm not talking maths or current affairs or anything like that; no, I just get the impression that he would be perfectly amused for hours with only a mirror and a torch. Or possibly just a torch.
  • His liveliness. Or lack of. He's hardly the most exciting guy, and can imagine him doing well making audio tapes to help people fall asleep - "Tonight, we go over the wall". Zzzz.
  • His possible sexual preference. Hey don't shoot me, I'm just going by what Google throws up.
Food for thought, eh? Again, I'm not hating, I'm just puzzled. I guess it's further evidence that women are crazy and weird and crazy and will always choose the wrong man to obsess over, but if anyone has any real answers or explanations then feel free to let me know why Wentworth happens to be so popular.

In the meantime here's a pic for you ladies to drool over. Don't say I never do anything for you.

How dreamy. Zzz.

A New Traingirl

Just when you thought I had gotten over my stalking ways, up pops another traingirl. I'll spare you the details, apart from saying that she easily gets away with being able to wear little make-up, has great hair and the uncanny ability to dress well in a variety of styles. Ok, so maybe I will provide some details after all...

Of course she's ignoring me at present, but it's only a matter of time before that changes. Oh yes.

I Really Need A Wii Click for more info

Hmm. I don't think that I mind the new name for Nintendo's Revolution controller as much as others, and I am surprised at the coverage being given to this news. It even made the BBC Asian Network's headlines!

It is a risky move, but then what's in a name? Heck if this means they'll be enough to go around on release day, I'm happy...

Thursday, April 27


xxxx: would u consider any rishta's from girls who are ethnically from punjab or even india but who can also speak urdu etc
Shak: of course i would
Shak: as long as theyre fit i dont care


xxxx: i wud rather revise any topic than sux
Shak: maths is life
Shak: remember that
xxxx: well life is gay then
Shak: :@
Shak: yorue gay
xxxx: wish i was..girls are hotter than men these days lol
Shak: always have been dear, always have been
Shak: you guys dont have much to choose from tbh

Shak's Choice: Nicole Scherzinger

How can I ignore Nicole after listening to her music? Or should that be how can I ignore her music after discovering Nicole? Whatever the case it's clear that image and marketing works it seems. Her Filipino, Hawaiian and Russian roots probably have something to do with it:

I reckon that it's pretty clear that PCD is nothing without Nicole, both aesthetically and vocally.

So do I wish my girlfriend was hot like Nicole? Oh my, yes. Yes I do.

New Music

Pop special!

Beep - The Pussycat Dolls Feat. Will.I.Am

So bad yet so alluring. I'm so weak. It's the Spice Girls all over again.

Wisemen - James Blunt

Much better than the wailfest that was You're Beautiful. Quite uplifting.

Wednesday, April 26

Muslims In Space Click for more info

There's an amusing article on The Register today regarding a Malaysian astronaut trying to solve the problem of how to pray in space. The two main issues were of direction and time (which, if I'm not mistaken, are both prerequisites in most fiqhs so are pretty important). With the help of some university students he's managed to create a computer program to calculate the respective values based on some method, but still might not have solved other problems like those of whudhu and actual practical performance.

It's always been a thought experiment for Muslims (or perhaps only Muslim Star Trek fans) to consider praying off the planet. Think about it further and you wonder how you would explain to Martians the concept of qiblah. But I grew up I realised that there are already places on Earth that present these problems already (like in Iceland where, at certain times during the year, they have 24 hours of daylight, so technically no sunset at which to pray Maghrib salah).

Despite Islam being relatively new and widespread, most of the literal rules are pertaining to the time and place in which The Prophet lived. It's not flawed in that respect, however, and despite the protests of some it's quite adaptable by design and so can be made practical for those on Mars and Iceland in 2006 as well as those in Arabia 1400 years ago. Workarounds are created, consensus is reached and fatawas are declared for new situations and there is no reason why this mechanism can't be exploited by our astronaut friend.

But what about the more subtle problems faced by Muslims today? I mean, living a single day in the UK for example brings out lots of issues that weren't present in the time of The Prophet - new political, social and personal problems that are just as troublesome and in need of a solution as that of praying salah on The Moon. Where are the fatawas and investigations here?

Well they are around if you look. The problem is that where some have reached consensus, others are still held by many as being wholly unislamic. The backers of these latter, more "radical", rulings argue that when you're faced with a big enough obstacle Islam allows you enough flexibility to complete your obligations even if it's in a form totally different to what is used to. Of course we have to be careful of what we deem as obstacles (and no, Fajr being too early or your bed being too comfortable is NOT a valid one), but some things are quite reasonably out of our hands.

While I was on Hajj someone in my group asked the resident imam-slash-tour-guide about praying at work, or more specifically how he couldn't get away from his desk and so missed quite a bit of his. The imam guy couldn't really understand his question, explaining how there were very few reasons for which you can miss a prayer (like being unconscious for example) and if you are unable to do whudhu then you don't actually need to do it or if you can't perform sajdah then it's ok to miss it out. There's no concept of qaza or "prayer debt" in some parts of the Arab world, and since a "best try" is good enough salah is rarely missed. In fact it's seen as a vastly better act than missing it altogether, since in the above praying at the correct time is as important as having whudhu or performing sajdah.

It's radical thinking for Muslims brought up under a different mindset, but might make one's practice of Islam easier, more implicit and therefore stronger - compare those that find it normal to pray on the street in public to those missing it completely, choosing to catch up with it later under more "appropriate" conditions.

Going back to space it seems that we really have two options: either to establish a way of implementing an Islamic lifestyle to the new situation or giving it a miss altogether. I don't think either choice is wrong per se, but I do think it would be a shame if Muslims allowed a rigid understanding of Islam to hold themselves back; be that in space exploration, politics, art or any other facet of modern life.

Indeed some believe that it was this flexibility that brought us Islam's growth and Golden Age, and that we've never been in such a position since disposing of it. If they're right then perhaps if we went back to that way of thinking they'll be a second Golden Age to come? Who knows; by then we may even have Martians to join in on the fun.

Tuesday, April 25

How I Eat Mine

I carefully peel the foil, making sure none of it rips (since I'm going to flatten it out perfectly when I'm done eating its contents).

Once the egg is wallowing in its naked goodness, I then proceed to munch from the top to the bottom (averaging a total of four bites) making sure I don't spill any fondant on the way. I never proceed to the next bite till my mouth is completely devoid of any taste from the last bite.

My teeth hurt.

Sunday, April 23

New Music

Ishq Ki Daastaan - Taj Mahal

At blummin' last.

Film: Mistress of Spices Click for more info

Oh my this is a bad film. Bad acting, a terrible confusing plot and shamefully poor direction makes me wonder how this ever made it to the big screen.

Chadha (who helped pen the screenplay; her husband Berges took on direction duties) fans will be glad to know that this is yet another film about an Asian woman having to choose between her culture/tradition and some generic white bloke (and look: the nice Asian guy isn't gay for once). Okay, so that much is to be expected, but the rest of the film is filled with cliche and atrocity.

It's not even a case of it being so bad it's good. You can't even go with the excuse of having supported British Asian cinema. Utterly awful.

Saturday, April 22

My Date With A Porsche Click for more info

Now that I've returned it here's what I thought.

First, some context. When the Cayenne was first released I, amongst others, hated it. Taking a visual cue from the 911 and sticking it on 21" rims was blasphemy in the eyes of many. And of course the Cayenne was just Porsche cashing in on the whole off-road obsession people with lots of money but no brains tend to have - it was in no way a real 4x4.

And even if it was, buying and driving a 4x4 shows you as being selfish and inconsiderate to almost everyone expect those inside. Nope; any well grounded person were expected to reject the Cayenne (and possibly even 4x4s in general).

However (he says in classic Shakbacktrack fashion) I have to admit that over the last few years it has in fact grown on me. So much that it's actually become my favourite 4x4 - this coming from someone who still generally hates these beasts with a passion. Driving the car for 24 hours served only to compound my fondness for it.

It was my first time with any 4x4 for such an extended period of time. I was surprised at how nimble and agile the car was. Rather than being the unmanageable beast with plenty of blind spots, I think my visibility all round was higher than usual. Luckily I wasn't put in too many difficult situations (and when I had to park in an awkward spot I had my boys to direct me, ahaha). Yes, I was given the right of way a lot, yes I navigated/mounted a kerb with ease and by the end of the trial I was aiming for potholes instead of attempting to avoid them. If all 4x4s are like this then my case against them may be weakened.

It was also my first time with any Porsche for such an extended period of time. Even while not having anything else to compare the Cayenne with, I could tell which bits Porsche had brought to the off-road table. "Basic" luxuries like automatic lights, built in GPS and telephone systems (reading SMSs in your car is a strange experience) were supplanted by more subtle exorbitance like the sound level of the CD player going up and down depending on navigational commands or speed (even reducing when you hit reverse gear so you can concentrate!) and air suspension. Porsche's traction control even let me have a little bit of understeer whenever I had requested it...

The performance of the car deserves its own paragraph. Mother dearest described it as being "like a roller coaster" - taking 6.4 seconds to reach sixty, it is, ironically enough, the fastest car I've had the pleasure of being behind the wheel of. Not that I didn't pay for it; the S model's 4.5 litre engine drinking petrol like a fish (I managed 11 mpg over the 70 or so miles I covered).

Obviously it's also nice to look at. I gave up counting the number of heads I turned, and I'll even risk being ungentlemanly in saying that I got a few smiles from the girls too. It was nothing more than the car of course, the colour black having seemingly been created for the Cayenne. Driving this taught me something about myself - I'm so not above gratuitous attention seeking of the shallow kind.

And now that I've given it back, I feel empty. My plan to love and leave the Porsche has backfired and it'll take me a while to disassociate myself from that Cayenne S. Porsche's 24 hour test drive has clearly done it's magic on me and I totally want one now.

Food: Chaudhry's TKC Click for more info

Apparently there are many good places to eat on The Broadway. It being my first time in a long, long time meant that I didn't really know where to go and so ended up at the first place that looked clean - TKC.

TKC was largely derivative of the restaurants that term themselves "Halal Chinese", which was a shame since what we had of their Asian menu totally outshone the Chinese. The stir fry was just marinated chicken and the noodles were bland. On the flip side the mixed grill was superb, as was the samosas.

By all means give TKC a go, just don't order anything east of India. Oh and if it's at all relevant to you, Mirch Masala next door seemed to have a better "atmosphere" too.

Southall Click for more info

I get given a Porsche Cayenne S for 24 hours, so what else is there to do but plan a trip to Southall with The Collective? Especially since it was in fact a retry of the postponed trip we had attempted over a year ago.

Armed with CDs full of Bhangra and RnB we made our way there, learning from the mistakes of the past and avoiding the infamous A406 rush. Less than a hour later and at first we almost missed The Broadway it was that dead. It was relatively early though and so we decided to park up and explore on foot, our objective being to find somewhere to eat and chill. That we did and we also managed to pray - one of the things I love about the Green Streets/Ilford Lanes/Southall Broadways of this world is how there's always a place to perform salah somewhere nearby.

By then it was around 2pm, and all of a sudden the landscape had changed. The rude boys and girlies were out in full force, the sun was shining and the vibe was beginning to, erm, vibrate. Unfortunately due to time commitments we had to head home, but that wasn't before one last drive up and down The Broadway, windows down and music blasting. Woot.

But if I'm honest I was a bit underwhelmed overall. I actually reckon Green Street and Ilford are both more interesting places to visit. I'm still a bit curious about Southall - if we ever return I'd like to spend a little more time absorbing the atmosphere and trying out the other places to eat. Unfortunately I probably won't have a Porsche then, but that's ok, I'll survive.

Friday, April 21

Food: Nakhon Thai Click for more info

This little Thai can be found tucked away off London Wall, presumably to cater for The City Folk working there during the week. As such, it was (mercifully) empty at the 9:30pm that we arrived at. This was a good thing, since there were twenty of us requiring seats (with six more to come).

But of course some go for the food, not the company (ahem). Now, I can't say I'm the biggest Thai fan, but I have enjoyed Thai food before (like that served at Mango Tree). Unfortunately I didn't enjoy the food at Nakhon.

It might have just been a bad choice of dish, me picking the Chilli Tofu and Egg Noodles - both of which seemed to be drowning in pepper and indigestible vegetables. Some of the prawn dishes I dipped into were nice, I guess, but to be honest it was more than just the food which left a bad taste in my mouth. Still, the ten pounds per head charge was a consolation.

If you have a big group requiring Thai food on a Friday night you know where to go. Other than that, I can't really find a reason to recommend Nakhon Thai.

City Circle: Enemy Combatant - An Audience with Moazzam Begg Click for more info

Begg doesn't really need any introduction, and since his book was released he's been in the media quite a bit in both live and recorded forms. However, seeing him in person isn't really something to look over and, as is usual with these "special" CCs, LSE's Old Theatre was packed.

Begg was as articulate and composed as ever and may have even been funnier in person. He didn't really dwell on his experiences in Guantanamo Bay (except for saying he had a much worse time in Bagram) and on the whole his set piece was pretty succinct and concise; unusually for a CC the Q&A afterwards was the main event.

And once again this is where it went wrong. However interesting the guests and panels CC brings us are, we, the audience, are far from being able to take advantage. Save a handful of questions, nothing too involving was being asked and one has to wonder if we are actually ready for forums and worthy of such guests as these. Not that I'm any less to blame of course, not having any questions to ask of Begg myself.

Going back to the talk itself, Begg made sure he communicated his usual points: that life is valuable no matter whose it is and that although it's very well us fighting against the injustices presented to us by the CNNs and Al-Jazeeras, we should not forget those which don't enjoy such limelight.

Thursday, April 20

New Music

Pesa Nasha Pyar - Bohemia

In preparation for tomorrow and Saturday (if you don't know, you will eventually) Bohemia fits the bill perfectly for music to cruise by. Do Dat Dance and Sahara are the songs that brought me to his album, and the few other tracks I've heard seem to be derivative of that; let's hope there is at least some variety here, eh?

Book: The World Of The Noble Angels, Umar S. Al-Ashqar Click for more info

Part two of the Islamic Creed Series (read about part one here) turned out to be a pretty quick read. Of course there's probably much more to say about God than His angels so this may not be surprising.

The book lists cleanly and with ample references the qualities and attributes of angels in Islam, including how they interact with man and other creations of God. As such, much of this might not be new to some, but like the first part it turns out to be a easy going read anyway. Consider it a revision guide for all those things you learned at madrassa...

Monday, April 17

Amsterdam, Day 4: Going Home

Like Friday, there wasn't much more to do today than catch the plane home. Despite this deceptively simple sounding objective, we still had a couple of forgotten passports and then a no-money-to-pay-the-taxi situation. Still what would a holiday be without memories?

Anyway, Amsterdam is ok. I think we spent the exact right amount of time there, even though it was a bit inefficient to spend three nights. It lived up to its reputation of food, art and architecture so if you're into these things then it may be even more enjoyable for you. If not, well, it's worth a visit if you've already been to the other more prominent European cities. You may want to avoid going during Easter though!

Oh, and no, I didn't get stoned.

Sunday, April 16

Amsterdam, Day 3: A Wonderful Lack Of Direction

We actually managed to leave the hotel at a decent hour this morning. The plan was to make our way to The Pancake Bakery for breakfast, but on arriving we found that it was a lunch/dinner affair only and so opened a few hours later. Instead we managed to find an excellent little cafe on a side road in which we enjoyed a fabulous home cooked breakfast. I often get puzzled looks when I tell people I've had some of my best times on holiday in cafes just absorbing the atmosphere of the place - if these people were with us for breakfast they'd understand.

It was also then that we begun to notice the many literal red lights in the area, signals for the women inside the houses upon which they hung - and if the lights didn't warn/invite you the women themselves dancing in the windows would! It was actually quite unsettling trying not to look; most of them were so bad I wished I never did!

Since it was a Sunday, everything was shut till noon. We managed to kill time looking at the Dutch architecture/hoes and shopping, and we also spent some moments at the flower market (I had an order of 18 red wooden tulips I had to fulfill. I think I got ripped off, but hey). But then it was then time for lunch so we made our way back to The Pancake Bakery where we enjoyed a relatively nice lunch (consisting of pancakes and various fillings, funnily enough).

It was then back to business. We visited Amstelkring Museum, which used to be a triplet of houses with, get this, a wonderful secret Catholic church in the loft. Like Anne Frank's place, this was also nicely preserved giving us an insight of how things used to be.

The last thing we wanted to see was The Old Church. Unfortunately there was a service being held there (it being Easter) and so we had to make do with merely climbing its tower. I say "make do", but this turned out to be one of the, if not the best thing we did in Amsterdam. A view of the city from fifty metres up has to be experienced if you ever visit, and I'm surprised a point of this isn't made in all the guides I read or people who had already been there I had asked. Stunning.

Indonesia provided us with dinner again, and since it was our final evening in The Netherlands we treated ourselves to ice cream and waffles afterwards. It was then getting pretty late (well for us anyway) and so we bid our farewells to the city and caught our tram home (we had become pretty good at navigating Amsterdam and its suburbs by then).

Writing this blog made me realise how little, objectively, we had done on Sunday. However it was still more eventful and so enjoyable for me, since it was more about experiencing the city and the people with whom I was traveling than queuing up for museums. Not that I wouldn't have given up the Saturday - I suppose there's a place for all these things in a holiday I'd enjoy.

Saturday, April 15

Amsterdam, Day 2: Museums

We didn't really get the early start that we were hoping for and we managed to leave the hotel at around 10am or so. We decided to start using the tram which worked out quite well despite the closest stop being 15 minutes away from our hotel. Our first destination was The Rijksmuseum, which turned out being one of the definite highlights of the whole trip. More a gallery than a museum, it housed a whole bunch of works by Rembrandt his contemporaries along with various artifacts and pieces from The Netherlands' golden age. I'm struggling to describe exactly why I liked The Rijksmuseum, but I'm not sure I ever became bored in that building. I managed to spend a lot of digital film there - check my Flickr.

A brief interlude in a diamond factory (or interactive shop as I like to describe it) preceded our visit to The Van Gogh Museum. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take piccies here, but amongst the varying paintings stood his most famous. Seeing his range and career was stunning in theory, but I couldn't help but feel a bit underwhelmed on leaving.

We took the boat to our final destination of the day, namely Anne Frank's House. This was the warehouse (and secret annexe) in which she spent some of the final years of her life writing her now famous diaries. I won't say I was strongly moved, but it was strange breathing the same air that she did.

We only managed these three sites since each one was pretty busy (Anne Frank took us an hour to queue up for). Dinner was a falafel from one of the few kebab shops displaying halal signs. The rest of the evening was washed out, so we decided to call it a night and headed back to the hotel.

Friday, April 14

Amsterdam, Day 1: Dinner And Not Much Else

Since our flight was scheduled to leave late afternoon, it didn't really leave us much time to do anything this evening.

We did find that our choice of hotel left much to be desired - the city centre was pretty much fully booked when we tried to get rooms, so instead of booking at the airport (which is around a 20 minute train ride away) we thought we'd be clever and get one as close to Amsterdam as possible. In hindsight this was a bad decision since the airport had better transport links to and from central - so much so that we ended up taking a shuttle to the airport and grabbing a train from there!

We managed to find a nice little Indonesian restaurant in which to eat dinner. It was cheap too, coming to around €20 per head. The rest of the evening was spent wondering round the Dam Square/Damrak area and getting our bearings. We decided to make our way back early in order to have an early start the next day.

I'm Not Online In Amsterdam

Just so you all know. Sheeesh.

Thursday, April 13


Well that was pretty much my reaction on passing Samuel Judah of The Apprentice fame while wondering down Oxford Street this evening. My friend thought I was mad, and so did Sam by the way he totally ignored me - he even crossed the road to get away from me, I think. And all I wanted to do was take the mick out of him crying on national telly...

Monday, April 10


xxxx says: salman :'(
Shak says: he's a prat
Shak says: deserves worse than jail
Shak says: but hopefully he'll end up someone's bitch
xxxx says: :@
xxxx says: whatever
xxxx says: he'll be out soon
xxxx says: inshallah
Shak says: salman kahn man
Shak says: what the hell is amatter wihtyou?
xxxx says: maine pyar kiya hain
Shak says: see?
Shak says: this is why women shouldnt be allowed to choose their own men

Game: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS) Click for more info

Although I've only played 45 minutes or so of this, I seem to be enjoying it a lot. It's basically another Mario RPG (the other I've played is of the Paper type), with you controlling the mustached plumber, solving puzzles (both action and mental), and enjoying the immensely accessible combat system.

The extra screen of the DS is put to good use, with the top screen usually reserved for mapping duty. I've not used the touch screen yet, but I'd be surprised if that didn't play a part at some point. Of course the best bit is being able to play it anywhere; hopefully it's for that reason I'll get to play it with more involvement than Paper Mario. Can't wait!

Salman Gets Jail! Click for more info

'Five years' for Bollywood star

Continuing my worrying obsession with Mr Khan, you can imagine my glee at hearing his latest sentence. Of course, I'm as cynical of this following through as the BBC and its five years in quotes are, but this is the closest we've ever been to throwing the guy in jail. We're almost there, people; who knows, maybe he'll even end up being somebody's bitch?

Sunday, April 9

Film: Inside Man Click for more info

On the face of it, this was a straightforward bank robbery flick. Delve a bit deeper and you still don't find much else, but there were enough moments to keep us amused; Nancy Mann's interrogation had us in stitches. Ahem.

However, the film did have a kind amateurish feel to it. The beginnings and ends of some takes were clearly seen, and some bits appeared to have been thrown together without care. Thankfully, Spike Lee doesn't try to make too many statements (although they are there - including the ace GTA-esque PSP game) but the promised twists and turns were missed by at least this viewer.

So not really much to recommend here, unless you've everything else. Even then, make sure you're in a silly mood in order to make the most of the more farcical moments.

Saturday, April 8

Islamic Wavelengths

Religion seems to be particularly important for those currently looking for partners. Religion is also a pretty vast statement - I never quite understand those that say they want someone who is religious or even that they are religious themselves, since that's quite a vague description if you think about it. Rather than being religious or irreligious, or deciding the level of religiousness that is absolutely correct or valid I think in reality most are looking for some kind of "Islamic compatibility".

A while back a friend of mine termed this "Islamic Wavelength" in reference to someone they would want to be with being on the same one as they were. In the same conversation we discussed what that meant for each of us (well, not quite since the conversation was cut short).

I guess one of the easiest ways to define this wavelength is by a person's level of practice - so whether they pray five times a day or wear a hijab and so on. For many these things are enough since it shows a likemindness at least on a practical level.

I think in the real world it's not as black and white as this though - for example there are those that will not leave the house in case they miss a prayer and those that, for example, go to watch a film and pray in the cinema if they have to. These two both have similar levels of practice, but would we say that they are on the same Islamic wavelength? I'd say no.

There are also other aspects of this wavelength on which we can match or mismatch:

  • Practicality; as discussed above.
  • Consistency; "I pray when I can" vs "I pray without fail".
  • Extremity or Moderation; for example having or not having close non Muslim friends.
  • Curiosity; those that feel they are as religious as is practically necessary against those that are always looking for new views.
  • Academic Stance; considering religion as a theory as well as practice as opposed to those that just feel it's purely the latter.
  • Spirit or Islamic Focus; a bit difficult to explain but contrasting one who is politically active versus one who is not might give you an idea.
To be clear we're not discussing which of these are right or wrong, since the assumption is that this can't really be decided on above a personal level. And of course the above list isn't exhaustive - there are millions more items and then an infinite number of variations for each.

But then we start to realise that this isn't just the situation with religion. However much of a part religion plays in our lives, there are non religious characteristics which fall under the larger umbrella of general compatibility. And if you think about it, the issues with finding someone Islamically likeminded are just a subset of the issues with finding someone likeminded, fullstop.

And if that's the case then it kinda follows that we should deal with the specific religious case just as we do the general; that is, to be open minded, flexible and see a person as a whole rather than just a sum of parts. So person A doesn't pray, but perhaps you'll admire them because they're charitable? Or say someone fasts each Ramadhan without fail but puts you off since they're not really just with their friends?

Sure, there are some things which we will never compromise on and we each have a right to hold importance to these things but generally I don't think anyone has a particular Islamic Wavelength; or at least not one they can define with pencil and paper.

And even if they could how definitive would it be? After all, if it's possible to be happy and successful with someone who, in theory, is the complete opposite to you in the character, personality or even physical stakes, why can't it be exactly the same with religion also?

Food: Tayyabs Click for more info

First things first: of the many times I've been to Tayyabs, I don't think the bill has ever broken the magic 10 quid per head mark. Tonight, it was 7, although no mains had been ordered.

Not that this price implies anything about the food; it's always been pretty good. Take today, for instance - I was held up and so arrived quite a while after the food had been ordered and yet even cold the kebabs and tikka were superb.

There were a good 17 of us, and Tayyabs were pretty accommodating considering how busy they get, especially on a Friday night. Arrive early to avoid disappointment I suppose. I think Tayyabs will always be the place we end up at when we can't figure out where else to go.

Tuesday, April 4


Shak: so what will you being doing in woodford?
Shak: picking up men again?
xxxx: You know me too well
xxxx: West London men are too boring
Shak: oh my
xxxx: not challenging enough
Shak: you know, its a common thing
Shak: so many west and north london girls come our way
Shak: its always been the case and always will be it seems
xxxx: Well desperation makes you do the most absurb things
Shak: lol, i guess

Shak's Choice: Stana Katic

Introducing Stana Katic, who is currently playing Collette Stenger in 24:

She's a liar and a cheat and uses her feminine wiles to gain the advantage. What more could a guy ask for?

Monday, April 3

Link Of The Day Click for more info

Shoo Fly

A smoothly animated brief story about a girl and a fly. It's not long, so worth a peek.

Sunday, April 2

I'm Shak, And I Own A Blog

It seems that day after day this blog is becoming bigger than I am. More than once I've been introduced as "Shak, who has a blog dontcha' know", more than once people have "dropped" a subject that they think would make a really good article and most worryingly, more than once people have stopped short of what they were saying just in case it end up on these pages.

I've never actively given out my blog address or told people I've maintained one, so all this is pretty surprising. I guess it's equally flattering (that people actually think the crap I write is worth anything) and scary (that I'm almost wholly defined as someone who blogs), but what I know for sure is that at this rate this thing will pretty soon have a mind of its own!

Saturday, April 1

Food: Singapore Chinese Restaurant Click for more info

This tidy little Singaporean place two minutes from Holland Park Tube was mightily impressive given its size and location. It's one of those places you don't really want to tell anyone else about just in case the increase in custom spoils it somehow. Good food and even better service helped create a fantastic environment the ten of us were able to enjoy. One criticism I did have was of the time taken for us to get our orders, but that just gave us a chance to enjoy our own company.

Coming to a very reasonable 10 quid per head (and although we did qualify for a 50% off promotion, the 16 pounds it would have been is also superb value), it's definitely a place to keep in mind for not-quite-Chinese (chilli prawns and sizzling salmon, anyone?) cuisine.

Breaking News

Shak is officially off the market.

But it's late. More tomorrow.

EDIT: Alright alright. It's 12pm now and I can come clean. Still it's good to know that after three years of doing exactly the same thing people still fall for it. You know who you are. And most importantly, girls, I'm still free and single. Oh yes.