Wednesday, January 31

Video of the Day Click for more info

Learn to Phone Phony:

Funny 'cos it's true!

Tuesday, January 30

Reminiscing Flattery

My cousin currently goes to the same Sixth Form that I (and everyone in my family with a London education) went to. He just rang to tell me that his Mechanics teacher, Dr K, was boasting about a student he had ten years ago called Shakil. Apparently (as Dr K told my cousin), Shakil was the cleverest student in the place in those days.

It's all a lie of course. Dr K only taught Maths and I know at least two people who were smarter than I was in those classes. Still, it's nice to be remembered after such a long period of time, especially by a teacher who gets more than a few new students each year. I knew there was a reason why Dr K was my favourite teacher back then.

On a non-bragging note, I gotta admit that I miss the times when people knew who I was, based on the things I did. I can't remember the last time I made a mark or was actually known - and I don't think there's any potential for doing so in the near future either.

Still, I guess we all leave impressions on people all the time. Sometimes it just takes someone from ten years ago reminiscing to make you realise that.

Monday, January 29

New Music

A bit of an Outlandish special today. For those three people (at least) about to scream at me for not being a real fan, yes, I'm obviously brushing up for Wednesday's gig. But seeing as these are genuinely good albums that deserve to be listened to I'm sure you can all forgive me.

Bread & Barrels Of Water - Outlandish

Released in 2003, BnBW contains the still-rocking Aicha and Walou, and with them other notable songs like Peelo and Fatima's Hand, all of which both sound good and speak well. And that's coming from someone who doesn't usually listen to lyrics.

Closer Than Veins - Outlandish

Home to my favourite Outlandish track ever, Kom Igen, their latest album continues with the class of the last, although of the two BnBW is definitely more special. Nothing Left To Do is currently doing the rounds on any radio playlist worth its salt.

Between the two albums I've found that Outlandish music isn't about pop or being derivative and it's this realness and honesty that makes it all so fresh. Add to that the Islam/Asian angle and you get music that I relate and click with quite well. Good stuff.

Sunday, January 28

One to Watch: Celebrity Big Brother

Tonight, 8pm Channel 4

The CBB final. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, January 27

Film: Salaam-e-Ishq Click for more info

At a whopping 234 minutes, this star studded heavyweight took out most of my Saturday to watch. I even had to lift my never-before-broken Salman Khan ban to watch it, but it was worth every minute.

Salaam-E-Ishq is another typical popcorn movie, and one that isn't particularly deep either. Nonetheless, it manages to smash a barrage of romance, tragedy and comedy in your face, mainly due to the breadth of the six (although it's really closer to five and a half) disparate stories it offers us. I really really enjoyed this flick.

The film was well shot and directed, and focussed on the simple things like costume and setting instead of being too ambitious and risking messing it up. Music-wise, the context made me appreciate the soundtrack even more (although I was disappointed with the omission of my favourite track, Mera Dil). The script was funny, clever and even powerful in places, and supported the various plot arcs superbly. My only minor complaint is that Sohail Khan and Isha Koppikar's story should have been explored much more than it had been.

Acting was generally standard Bollywood fare, although I noticed strong performances from Abraham and Govinda (which was probably why his story was my favourite). All the women looked fantastic and I'm struggling to pick my tip, but at a push Vidya Balan probably takes it; although Anjana Sukhani (from that video), Isha and Ayesha were close behind.

Even with the three and a half hours it took to watch (possibly the longest film I've ever seen - I definitely needed the interval) the film didn't drag at all. Sure, it cashed in on as many of the Bollywood tips and tricks that it could, but it did it with with good effect. Adorably trashy Salaam-E-Ishq doesn't claim to be anything more than good ol' soppy fun.

WharfMA: Eid In The Wharf

The Wharf Muslim Association held their annual Eid gathering-event thingy this evening. I didn't even know that there was a WharfMA, but on arriving at Clifford Chance LLP (the venue for tonight's going ons) I was quite taken aback by the spread they had laid out for us. Sure, Canary Wharf is bursting with money, but given this was a free event I was pleasantly surprised by the quality on offer.

But enough sucking up (these corporate occasions always make me wonder what would have been if I had made different choices in my life). After a late start (it's good to see that even big-ass law firms are defenceless against Asian timing), we made ourselves comfortable in the swanky auditorium. Apart from the usual boilerplate the three main events were Dawud Wharnsby Ali, Lord Nazir and Khaleel Mohammed (Dr. Abdul Bari of the MCB was also present, but I went to pray at that point).

I've read a lot about Dawud Wharnsby but have never actually listened to his music, whether live or recorded, mainly due to my feelings toward nasheeds in general. I gotta say though, tonight I was impressed and so, once again, proved wrong. Dawud himself was funny, talented and a pleasure to listen to, but even aside from all that his music is actually very good too. Whatever I feel about nasheeds and Islamic music in general (and to be clear my opinion there still hasn't changed) Dawud rocks despite (or possibly because) I didn't actually hear anything spiritual in his set.

Lord Nazir took the microphone for twenty minutes or so. It was the first time I was hearing him live too, and again I was taken by how different he was to what I've seen on the television or radio. His canned jokes weren't very good, but he was funny(ish) anyway and had more presence than other politicians I've heard. What he had to say was pretty insightful too, as he gave us a brief history of Asians in the UK.

Finally Khaleel Mohammed did a set. Unlike Dawud, Khaleel was a more regular nasheed singer - so drums and humming, with some Arabic thrown in at times. Not really my thing, but it did make me appreciate Dawud even more.

Since the event was running late, a lot had been chopped off the programme. There was some damn good finger food after though, where most of the audience mingled the next couple of hours away. Although it was generally the same faces, it's funny who else you bump into at these things. I also got to spend a bit of time with Dawud to talk about his music and things and I found that he's as friendly and agreeable off stage as he is on.

Anyway it was a good evening out. As you can probably tell, for me, the evening was all about Dawud Wharnsby Ali. Top marks to the WharfMA, I think.

Friday, January 26

One Canada Square Click for more info

Since we were in the area anyway for tonight's WharfMA event, a friend of mine invited me up to her workplace in Canary Wharf. Now, this wouldn't usually be something worth blogging about, except for the fact my friend works on the 36th floor of One Canada Square, or as it's known by some, Canary Wharf Tower.

Yes, I went at night, but it was still a awe-inspiring view. Seeing the A12 from that far up was just plain weird. And seeing two other towers right next door was also a surreal experience. You can see right into both the HSBC and Citigroup buildings, each paradoxically looking larger than life. It was almost like it was all movie-set fake. Oh, and yes: your ears do pop while riding the lifts up and down.

Anyway there's not really much point in telling you about it, so just see here for the piccies I took. I can't wait till I get to go back there during the day!

IHRC: The British Media and Muslim Representation: The Ideology of Demonisation Click for more info

The Islamic Human Rights Commission today launched the sixth of a series of reports outlining the British Muslims' expectations of the Government. This one focussed on the media: what image it's giving of Muslims, what perception it has by Muslims and how it can change to serve Muslims and non-Muslims better.

The launch took the form of a panel discussion. Three authors of the report each covered a different aspect of what was found by the research. First up, Dr. Saied R. Ameli talked about the re-presentation and representation of Muslims in the media.

He spoke about how the media (and art and even live witnessing) by nature will never completely portray the subject it is trying to, and so care must be taken to be as accurate as possible and, if desired, as positive. It was a kind of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle for media and art, and that this re-presentation results in conflict in the represented world.

He also spoke about how race is more of a social construction borne out of a class struggle than essential scientific classification. He finally outlined the Standpoint Theory; that only someone from within can get the subject matter - so, women talking about women, black talking about black and Muslims talking about Muslims.

Seyfeddin Kara then took the microphone to talk about some of the contextual analysis that the report made. This was basically talking about the results of the various questionnaires and surveys made. It was all pretty straightforward stuff about how they covered a variety of different genders and ethnicities. The biggest point I took from Kara was how Muslims who had each experienced varying levels of discrimination in real life all thought that there was also quite a bit in the media too. I feel that this indicates that the Muslims' complaints against the media are due to more than just over-sensitivity or a victim mentality.

Finally, Arzu Merali talked about some of the recommendations made in the report. This consisted of some pretty obvious things like:

  • the objective monitoring of media output
  • the quality checking of Muslims characters (and not just in drama)
  • the formation of formal subjective media watchdogs
  • the increasing of opportunity for Muslims to create media
  • the accountability of politicians who decide to use the media
There was a question and answer session afterwards but I was unable to hang around for much that. It seemed to be heading towards a debate of much wider scope anyway so I'm not sure what relevance it had on the day.

As before, this IHRC report made the papers, appearing to be nothing more than the over-sensitive rantings of yet another Islamic organisation: complaints toward Disney's Aladdin and the like were brushed off as busybody overreaction even by some Muslims. However attending today and reading some of the report itself convinced me that the work that the IHRC has done here is more than that and does have some merit - at least more than had been given to it by the media it was reporting on.

Thursday, January 25

Movies, Games and Videos (and Restaurants)

Yes, I know: this place has been a bit review heavy recently. For this I can only apologise, if only to the two people who actually took the time to complain.

A mix of work being busy, a lack of free time otherwise and, ironically, lots to write about have kind of stalled my opinion. What little time I get to write, I use to drafts the things buzzing in my head before I manage to forget them. Reviews and the like are more urgent and also easier to churn out.

Anyway, lame circular excuses aside, the good news is that there is quite a bit waiting to be published - I just need to find the time to polish them off. Perhaps that sucks, but then at least you're not doing the writing, eh?

Wednesday, January 24

Concentric Circles Of Friends

Yesterday I shared tapas with a friend I've not seen for around a year. We first met in college, a whopping twelve years ago, so it's not untrue to say that they are one of my oldest friends.

During the course of lunch, this friend said that they wished that we could meet up more often since every time we do we manage to have a good time. They're right, and I agree - this is one of the few people of whom I can honestly say that I've never had a boring time or nothing to talk about with. Not bad for two people who, as is expected, would have changed so much though college, uni and life after that.

My friend seemed a bit disappointed by the silence I had offered in response to this suggestion. I just wasn't as sure about that as they were; I just don't see people growing apart as a bad thing. That might sound a bit harsh and uncaring, but I like to think it's pragmatic. And as usual, there are a few reasons why I think this way.

Firstly, people could run out of things to say. Perhaps we only find each other interesting now because we don't see each other that often? A lot happens in a year so there's always plenty to talk about after that much time apart. And even if there wasn't, there is a strange effect people have of being someone slightly different depending on how often you see them; however much they like once-a-year-Shak, perhaps my friend would totally hate everyday-Shak.

Secondly, meeting someone infrequently doesn't mean you don't like them as much as you think you do - "infrequent" is a relative term anyway, and there are plenty of people I wouldn't want to see at all let alone just once a year. I'm actually the only person my friend knows from those college days so far back and so I find it pretty flattering that they would want to meet with me at all.

Mostly though, I think that friendships are naturally evolving beasts. There's a reason why some only meet once a year or once a month or once a week: namely, themselves. The pace becomes naturally set by the people involved and, lip talk aside, if anyone wanted to improve the quality of the friendship they have with another they would do so automatically - the fact that they actually don't speaks loads.

Keeping a friendship going shouldn't be difficult or a pain in the bum. I'm not saying that it doesn't take effort, because it does. But it should be the kind of effort that you would want to exert; the kind that you enjoy and do for no obvious return or reward.

So no, don't be too hard on yourself if you find yourself drifting apart from someone over time. It's not a failure of you, them or even the relationship itself (unless of course there was a definitive reason why the friendship broke down - you sleeping with their other half is definitely not a natural progression). What you have may just be the optimal way for you guys to be at that point in time. It may get better or it may get worse, but I don't see anything wrong with people naturally falling apart, since that's a much better thing than forcing the issue otherwise.

Reading back, some of this stuff makes me sound pretty harsh. That's not my intention though. I guess the fundamental point here is that we should all enjoy friendships for what they are and while we can instead of wondering or complaining about how they could be something else. I reckon that's just a distraction that you don't really need.

Vindicated! Click for more info

Yet again, the rest of the world catches up with Shak's Choice. Okay, it is The Sun, but I'm sure they're better with this kind of thing than current affairs. Remember guys (and girls): if you want to know who's going to be hot in the next few months (or 18 in this case), stick to these pages.

In other news, it appears that Alesha Dixon is single again. She shares the exact same date of birth as me, you know.

Game: Wario Ware: Smooth Moves Click for more info

All of a sudden it hits me how long I've been blogging for. You see, I've actually reviewed the GameCube version of this game already. Bizarre.

Anyway, WWSM is more of the same. However, it looks better and plays much better on the Wii - the addition of "forms" (mini instructions on how to hold the remote in order to play the following minigame) doesn't take anything away from the magic; in fact it very much adds to it since two games that would be similar otherwise are now suddenly very different. Add to that the ability of the Wii to attract non-gamers and all of a sudden it's a much more fun and enjoyable experience.

I'm actually more excited about this than I have been about any other Wii game so far; WWSM seems to provide exactly what I wanted to get from Nintendo's new machine - possibly even more than Zelda or Wii Sports do.

Tuesday, January 23

Food: El Parador Click for more info

What is tapas? I'm still not sure, since I seem to order just as I would in any other restaurant. But putting my own ignorance aside for a moment, whatever El Parador is supposed to serve, it was all blummin' good stuff.

We went for lunch, and it was surprisingly quiet. This meant that service was top notch - we were given our food within ten minutes of ordering, although I can imagine it becoming slow during peak times. Going back to the food, we ordered six items (there was a three for two offer on), of which the swordfish and sweet potato rocked.

Pricewise, it wasn't that good - we slipped over a tenner per head. Having said that, it wasn't bad for what we ordered, but it would definitely have been overpriced if we only had four instead. Only worth it if you're really gagging for really good tapas.

Sunday, January 21

Film: Rocky Balboa Click for more info

I'm hoping it's not a spoiler by telling you that Rocky Balboa is just another Rocky film. This is no bad thing, of course; they made five of them before and no one seemed to get tired of them then.

It has the same underdog theme, the same build-up-to-the-fight-at-the-end and - oh yes - the same super inspiring training session. Some might call this cheap; I don't care as long as it does the job. Oh yeh, and the acting and all that isn't bad either.

If this review is short, it's only because there's not much to say. Very entertaining and I reckon it's worth a recommendation. Now excuse me while I go do some one handed press ups.

Saturday, January 20

Film: Babel Click for more info

There must be a name for this kind of film. You know, the type that consists of many simultaneous and intertwined story arcs? Whatever it is, Babel is one of those.

I usually like this type of film, but Babel seems to think that just providing multiple story streams makes a good film. It doesn't. The individual stories are uninteresting and overly long. They are also tenuously linked, and I couldn't help but feel that the connection was thrown in as an afterthought.

But still, Babel has some merit. It's well acted, and you have to rate the film makers for traversing the globe to make the respective stories. Most of all, however, is how it makes its point: that many problems we face as people living on this Earth are caused by us just not taking the time to listen to each other. More than just misunderstandings, this film is about being misunderstood, sometimes intentionally. It's a powerful theme, so it's even more disappointing how Babel presents it.

At well over two hours, you should only really watch this if you know what to expect. Personally, I think there are other films out at the moment more worth your time.

Friday, January 19

One To Watch: Celebrity Big Brother

Tonight, 8:30pm, Channel 4

Possibly the most anticipated eviction night ever, I'm not sure anyone will want to miss this. Pack your moral obligations away for a few hours and be a part of what the rest of the UK is talking about.

Thursday, January 18

Giles! From Buffy!

Just bumped into Anthony Stewart Head at Victoria on the way home. "I know you!", I exclaimed. He just gave me the thumbs up and went back to struggling with his luggage. He obviously didn't realise how much of a Buffy fan I am.

Man, that series rocked. It still ranks among the best things I've ever seen.

Wednesday, January 17

Food: Boisdale Click for more info

Scottish food? Didn't realise it existed, well apart from haggis. But this place, where we went for a team dinner, managed to educate me. And it was a pretty good lesson too.

Due to the numbers, we had to stick to the set menu. Some may find this to a be a curse, but I kinda like limited choices, especially when going to a new restaurant. I had the Salmon for starters, the Fish Pie for main and topped it off with Apple Crumble with Custard. They were all very nice - far better than any British food I might have had elsewhere. The restaurant itself was a bit cramped, but clean - it was nothing particularly special. But then, I only go for the food and company (which is free. Well, usually anyway) so I didn't mind too much.

But the price was pretty steep for what it was - the set menu was £36 on its own and didn't include drink. It's a prohibitive price and as nice as Boisdale was, I can think of other places to spend that much money per head.

Stepping Up And Pitching

I spent half an hour this morning pitching a new business idea to the Social Enterprise Coalition for a competition they're currently running. We, and six other budding entrepreneurs had been short-listed (after our written application) to appear at a conference they're hosting next week, during which the ultimate winner would have been decided. There were four places for the conference itself, so we had a good chance of progressing just by the numbers.

The idea itself spun out of the recent work we've done on the Eid Shows. I don't think it's appropriate to give too many details here, but at its basic level it would have been a production company of sorts; one that generates programming that, firstly, general audiences could relate to and, secondly, aimed to represent the large and varied opinions of Muslims living in the UK.

Only one of us was allowed to make the pitch, and I seem to have picked (or rather, handed) the short straw. Moaning aside, it was really an opportunity to step up - it wasn't anything I had done before so I was kinda stepping up, and to be the one who might even just possibly start off something relatively big makes you feel pretty vindicated. It also went back to the whole public speaking thing as well as adding to my attempts to boost the amount of extracurricular activity I'm involved in.

And it wasn't that bad. Any nerves I had disappeared pretty quickly and the panel were nice enough and listened and asked tough, yet relevant, questions. I did make mistakes: I said too little at some points and too much at others and I had to blag a bit at times too, but I think we all knew exactly how much thought had gone into our idea (and to be honest, I was punting really) and the other candidates had been doing their respective things for much longer; some even having left their jobs to do so. But even when the holes were highlighted I was enjoying it. I was being taken seriously and treated with respect for even getting that far.

I didn't want to write until I had heard the result, but if anyone was interested we didn't get through. Which on some levels is actually a win - the last thing I wanted was to bite off more than I could chew. Nevertheless, apart from the lessons specific to this particular occasion,the one thing I have learned is how easy it is to get involved with some pretty exciting and ambitious things if you wanted to.


Current events have got me wondering: Are there enough candidates to form the Racist But Really Hot Wives And Girlfriends Association yet?

'Why does everyone hate me?' Click for more info

Germaine Greer and Hari Kunzru hit the nail right on the head in this article in today's Guardian. For all the abuse Shilpa is getting in the BB house, she isn't half having fun fanning those flames. She knows exactly how to rub people (who, admittedly, may have disliked her anyway) the wrong way, and almost seems to enjoy doing so - she's an expert at placing a naive giggle or forlorn tear in exactly the right place. This doesn't make her bad or manipulative, oh no, just very very clever.

Out of all the housemates, she's the one who will come out the best (indeed, she could be the only one that comes out better at all). She won't be scarred for life; I'm sure she's had worse done to her in Mumbai. The curse of BB seems to be squarely aimed at the others here, especially as the targets of media scorn.

To be honest, I'm impressed. She's doing Asians proud, if only for showing the world just how aware of our surroundings we can be. Well done to her.

Grats to Fuad for the pointer.

Tuesday, January 16

Film: The Pursuit of Happyness Click for more info

Nice enough story about one man's struggle to improve his life. Not as emotionally hard-hitting as I expected it to be, but moving all the same, this is an enjoyable enough film with which to pass the time.

Alas, there's not much more to say than that. Good acting, good script and well shot, there's nothing much to complain about but also nothing much to make it stand out either.


Shak says (16:04):
    but i was planning on at least saying hi. uness you wouldnt want that of course
xxxx says (16:06):
    like I said before, you and I have no reason to talk to each other
Shak says (16:06):
    do we need one?
    i cant quite figure out if that's a fob off or not... care to be explicit?
xxxx says (16:07):
    We were never friends. I had a lot of time, now I don't.
Shak says (16:08):
    lol, ok but still. if you can be a little more direct i'd aprpecuiate it
    ok ill make it simpler... fancy meeting up for max 5 mins during yyyy?
Shak says (16:09):
    yes or no will do :)
xxxx says (16:10):
    No thanks

Link of the Day Click for more info

Far be it for me to belittle what Shilpa is going though in the BB house, but petitions like these don't really help. Still, the text itself is worth a cheap laugh, so thanks to Fuad for the link.

Monday, January 15

Dispatches: Undercover Mosque

It's tough to criticise a programme like this without appearing to be taking the content personally. But then as someone who's been to more than one mosque (including the Central London Mosque featured in the programme) where none of these kind of things happen at all, I think that it's reasonable to take issue at how some of the issues were raised.

Well it was never going to be surprising. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've seen this before. Tonight we saw the same editing techniques, the same calmly stern narrator and same dramatic background music. Honestly, it reminded me of an episode of 24 (which is not surprising seeing as that show comes from the likes of Fox).

But it wasn't the content I had a problem with; no, it was more the presentation. It was pretty tabloid in my opinion. We had the headline snippets and sound bites - and I suspect that even the token liberals were quoted out of context at some point. Remember guys: Muslims are either extreme or not. There are none in between.

What about other mosques? You know, the ones that don't do anything like the ones shown in this programme? I realise that this documentary was about the intolerance preached but it would have been nice to have been given examples the opposite - even within these mosques themselves - as an appendix. For example, my mosque sends out Christmas cards during the festive season; such an attitude is probably as prolific as the described angry one. Thirty seconds is all that would be required to give balance.

But no. Apparently, programmes like these are created to start debates, and I'm sure the makers are sleeping well, knowing that they've furthered social discourse by presenting the issues in this way. It's just a shame it was so done so shallowly, since it's unlikely that a non-Muslim would be aware of context in which these things happen. I just seems that some things are deliberately left unsaid.

One To Watch: Dispatches: Undercover Mosque

8pm tonight, Channel 4

Another week and another "insightful" look at the dark underbelly of Islam UK. Whether this proves to be an accurate portrayal or blessing in disguise, Muslims can't really comment, respond or react unless they watch it.

Saturday, January 13

Food: Colbeh Click for more info

Here's a nice little Persian/Iranian place off Edgware Road. Simple, "intimate" food, Colbeh offers something quite different to the usual Indian.

The restaurant itself is tucked away and so seems to attract a quieter crowd - ideal for smaller groups where you want to talk as much as eat. Unfortunately(!) I wasn't around to pay so can't really tell you how much it cost, but I would pay around a tenner for a complete meal.

Friday, January 12

Film: The Last King of Scotland Click for more info

Fact based flick covering some of the events occurring in Uganda under Idi Amin's regime. As an Asian I've kinda already heard about how he chucked out all Indians in the seventies forcing them to drop their belongings and come to the UK, but I wasn't really sure of anything else so this was a good story to hear.

I can't vouch for the accuracy of the film and I suspect some things may have been sexed up a bit for the big screen. But factual inaccuracies aside, I think it did a good job portraying the character of Amin to the audience. Of course that's not least because of the skill of the brilliant Forest Whitaker. And the rest of the cast were just as good.

Well filmed, well presented and well executed, even as a work of fiction this is well worth watching. Much recommended.

Little Mosque on the Prairie Click for more info

The first episode of this widely publicised "Muslim sitcom" was released earlier this week, and I have to say I am relatively impressed.

I usually wouldn't give these deliberately Muslim things much leeway. They almost always get it wrong and do more harm than good. Apart from that, I wasn't really expecting to get much Canadian humour (if it at all exists, that is). It's safe to say that my expectations were low.

But as is usually the case I was too quick to judge this show. Little Mosque was actually pretty good. Sure, it's low budget and simply (but tidily) made, but it seems to know and embrace its shortcomings so these things don't matter much. Technically it's a bit under par with poor shooting and continuity, but unless you're a pedant (or at least more pedantic than I am) you won't care.

On the other hand, as a sitcom, it does brilliantly. The basis is strong, with a quirky balanced family in the centre surrounded by some more extreme (yet likeable) characters. There's only been one episode so far, but the whole premise of a Canadian born city Imam coming to a small town hold bags of promise. It manages to cram sunnis, shias, converts, secularists, traditionalists, liberals, progressives and bigots all in one place. It's pretty amazing in that way.

Comedy wise it's okay. This is no Friends, folks, but I have to admit that I laughed out loud more than once. My parents liked it too - it's very rare nowadays that we can watch the same thing let alone laugh at the same jokes. Genius.

But the best thing about this show is its humility. It's not self indulgent or blatantly out to prove anything, and it doesn't carry any baggage either. It is topical in places, sure, but it's the story and humour that the makers appear to be focussing on. And because of that, the whole thing seems much more approachable and easy to relate to.

It's also the first time I've actually seen a fictional character that I can use as an example of a model wife. Rayyan is hot, intelligent, a doctor, hot and prays too. She even wears a hijab if that's your thing. I'm sure we'll see her cooking and cleaning in a future episode eventually. And she's hot too - expect to see Sitara Hewitt as a Shak's Choice sometime in the future; you know, once I get over those moral obstacles currently blocking me from pinning up someone who happens to wear a hijab on screen (yes, yes, I know). She is hot though.

So yes, I like and not just because it could have been much worse, but more for what it eventually turned out to be. And I think every one of you should at least give it a go to see if you like it too.

Thursday, January 11

New Music

One Race, One Tongue, One Blood - Kami K & Jeet

Technically this isn't very good. But it manages to sound amazing so I don't really care about that. Who knew we had so many MCs in our midst, eh?

New URL Click for more info

For your ease and viewing pleasure, you can now access these pages via Don't say I never do anything for you guys.

Oh and regarding that other post, it seems that the old url is still redirecting back to this new one; in other words there should be no need for any of you to do anything. Disappointing for some, I know.

Request For Comment: Muslim Television

What's wrong with it?

Need some help with a project. What's wrong with the current media we have covering topics concerning Muslims and Islam?

Are they irrelevant? Missing the point? Not representative? Almost all television trying to discuss "real" Muslims faces criticism for doing exactly the opposite. Most Muslims I ask turn around and say: "well they didn't ask me".

Is it even possible? You can't make everyone happy all of the time. I guess the answer is to bring balance to the coverage. Is that happening? If not, where is the focus at the moment? Where should it be instead?

Generally these programmes are made by non-Muslims. Does this need to change? Should these programmes only be made by Muslims?

It's a broad topic, so sorry. I'm not interested in specific answers, but I do want to know what you guys reckon... Any help would be appreciated, so if you have any ideas either leave a comment or mail me directly.

Wednesday, January 10

The End Of Radio Shak

Well okay, not quite. It'll still be around, but you may find that you are no longer able to access this blog at this address. I say "may", because I'm not entirely sure what will happen when I press that button.

But here's the kicker - if these pages do disappear then, as usual, I won't be telling you how you can access the new pages. Call me crazy (many have and continue to do so), but I think that this will give you all a chance to clear any existing subscription you wouldn't want to renew, and me a chance to see who exactly can be bothered to come back and continue reading. Win-win, eh?

Anyway, this is only a heads up. I'm hoping that this post will propagate before anything drastic does happen.

Tuesday, January 9

Link Of The Day Click for more info

Oh my. iPhone. I think I just wet myself. Possibly a bit pricey, but... oh my again.

I Love Jack

Yes, that's right: the seemingly invincible Jack Bauer is back, and with him the new season of 24. Quite possibly my most favourite show ever, if you're not watching then you really are missing out on something special.

Just when you think there's nothing else it can do, it serves up another right hook; it just keeps giving. This time, it's even politically relevant. Kinda.

I actually feel that I'm wasting time writing about it when I should be watching instead. But for now, I love Jack - possibly even more than his hot Arab CTU boss Nadia...

Video Of The Day Click for more info

Fantastically hilarious and very well produced, it's The Twelve Days of Christmas:

It's funny 'cos it manages to play on common stereotypes without being crass.

Thanks to Os for the link!

Monday, January 8

Meeting For Marriage

A bunch of guys and I have been invited to dine with a similar number of girls whom we haven't met before. If that alone raised your eyebrows, then don't worry - I had a similar reaction.

Informal matrimonial events and meetings aren't anything new; in fact, they're probably older than the more recent versions of speed dating and the like. Nevertheless they can still be as clinical, prescribed and forced as the contemporary and more fashionable equivalents, and as such, are just as disquieting and nerve-racking for some too - most attendees are on edge before such an occasion and unintentionally end up bringing this baggage with them. I doubt anyone acts normal under these kinda circumstances. I know I don't.

But then why are we so apprehensive to the concept anyway? Is it about the (lack of) expectations? Sure, some people say that these things are all really just about meeting new people and networking and nothing more, but I think most would also admit that this is a big fat lie that they tell themselves in order to get through it. I think that on some level it's about the potential disappointment but also, paradoxically, more about something actually happening as well.

It doesn't have to be like this though, and a more mature person wouldn't prejudice such an opportunity in the way that I am obviously doing (and I'm sure some of you will be queuing up to tell me as much). But despite this I think that there are more people than not who have at least some trouble dealing with the meeting of potential partners in such an overt and blatant manner (some things never change: I also mentioned this here, way back when I first started writing this very blog).

If I was a betting man, I'd say that nothing (with respect to any long term relationship) will happen at this meeting. But there clearly is a chance and, just like the way The National Lottery keeps telling us, you have to be in it to win it. And it doesn't necessarily have to be about hooking up on this one single night either - these experiences tell you things about yourself that you might not have known; and like anything else it will probably help you grow and all that.

And, of course, even if it turns out that you don't fancy any of these particular attendees, you could find that some of them have much prettier friends or siblings that they could introduce you to. Just kidding guys, just kidding.

Saturday, January 6

Link Of The Day Click for more info

It's only a matter of time, girls. Just remember where you heard it first.

We've Gone Big Brother Big Time

So here I am blogging with E4 on in the background showing the live feed of the Big Brother house.

On waking up this morning, my parents and I had a discussion about the housemates and their latest going-ons.

I have that live feed thingy at work so I won't miss a minute there either.

Somebody help us please.

The Beginning of The End

So I just came back from a chill out session with some friends.

It was only half way through that I realised I was the oldest one there.

Friday, January 5

Video of the Day Click for more info

Still-wriggling octopus legs? Yes please:

There is a shot of someone eating them too, but I'll let you find that yourselves if you're curious...

New Music

2 Step Bhangra - The Bilz

Funky and kinda different. And has a lot of hotties in the video. I like this, but might be slightly disappointed by the rest of the album.

Kasam Se - Partners In Rhyme

REMIXTASTIC! This is actually pretty atrocious in a muzak kinda way. Still it's fun while it lasts as you try and remember what the originals used to sound like. Would make great background party music actually. Maybe.

The Streets Of Bollywood 2 - Various

The second in this week's "let's remix and destroy classic Bollywood tracks" special, The Streets Of Bollywood 2 is not as striking as the first volume (possibly since almost half the tracks have been produced by Kami K). In fact, I've not heard anything I'd want to keep here, whereas I still got a few from last time. Disappointing.


4:30pm Sunday 7th January, Unity TV (Sky 825)

For those of you who missed it last time. Because you were saving lives or something, right?

Thursday, January 4

Link of the Day Click for more info

'The O.C.' axed after four seasons

Just goes to show how smart Mischa Barton is; even if she had stayed I don't think it would have lasted any longer.

But it's not surprising, and it's only left for me to say this: I told you so.

Shak's Choice: Shilpa Shetty

Well, it was kinda inevitable, right? The first Bollywood housemate, Shilpa Shetty:

For those who watched last night, didn't she do well? She looked good (although the sari might have been a bit over the top) and was well spoken and almost composed. I think she's more street than she appears and totally has potential to surprise us all.

Either that, or she's going to get mauled.

Wednesday, January 3

Link of the Day Click for more info

Daughters linked to prostate risk

So it's now scientifically proven: having daughters is bad for you.

But then we all already knew that really, didn't we? Although I am left wondering exactly how many of that Israeli team of scientists are Asian...

One To Watch: Celebrity Big Brother Click for more info

Celebrity Big Brother, 8pm Tonight, Channel 4

I never thought I'd ever be telling people to watch Big Brother, let alone look forward to watching it myself. But this is the live launch of this season's celebrity show (was Chantelle really last year?) and what makes this special is the apparent inclusion of Shilpa Shetty as one of the house mates. I need not say any more.

Bollywood meets Big Brother? Blimey. David Hasselhoff and H from steps are also contestants, if you're into that thing.

Nose Ettiquette

Is it appropriate to blow your nose violently in the restrooms while there are other people present?

What if you're in the middle of having a conversation with them at the time?

Victoria Update

So it seems some people (you know who you are) have demanded an update on Victoria. Well in all truthfulness, there's actually nothing to say: I hadn't seen her for months - she obviously either left her job or, more plausibly, changed her commute to avoid crossing the path of one particular gawker.

I say "hadn't" because, as some of you may have already guessed, we actually crossed paths again. I was running later than I usually do, which adds credibility to the "avoidance theory" above. And it seems that karma was on my side too - I was actually heading in her direction after leaving the station this morning (thank heavens for mothers wanting to return sale items to House of Fraser. I was even toying with the idea of asking her if she knew where the store was...). She obviously noticed this though; she jumped on that first bus almost a bit too quickly.

And yes, she was looking good, although I have now also noticed a ring. Oh no! Anyway, that's all for this time. You can now all go back to your copies of Heat in peace.

Tuesday, January 2

Back To Life, Back To Reality

It seems like an age ago that I last went to work. In reality, it's only been around ten days (including the weekends). But Christmas weekend, Eid and New Year's all made it seem much longer - and much in the way planets align so rarely I have a feeling that I'm not going to have another week as unique as this one any time soon. Work colleagues have been asking how my break was; I've told them that it may have been a bit too good.

Still, I thought that coming back to work would have hit me harder - after a few hours it hasn't been that bad. The New Year catching up was relatively painless, and I only had 75 emails to go through. I suspect I've been a bit lucky on that count.

But the past week has already started to fade. Sigh. I wonder: do weeks, such as the one I had, end for everyone? Is "going back to work" a universal inevitability? I'm just not totally sure that it has to be.

Monday, January 1


Shak says (19:15):
    but the point stands
xxxx says (19:15):
Shak says (19:15):
    the only real reason anyone would need a partenter is for sex and kids
xxxx says (19:15):
    yeah but i dont want kids
    they make me feel sick
Shak says (19:15):
    but i know what you mean
xxxx says (19:15):
    its like
xxxx says (19:16):
    why do u wanna worry about nappies
Shak says (19:16):
xxxx says (19:16):
    when u could be ddeciding wat to wear in the morning
Shak says (19:16):
    maybe its something that kicks in after you find a partner
xxxx says (19:16):
    doubt it
    i think if i wanted kids it shoulda kicked in by now
    do u want kids?>
Shak says (19:16):
    sometimes its about "creating something with the man you love" zzz
xxxx says (19:16):
    they're sooo annoying
Shak says (19:16):
    i dunno
xxxx says (19:17):
    oh my god
Shak says (19:17):
    i dont mind


Shak says (19:17):
    but its only nice cos theyre not mine


xxxx says (19:17):
    imagine that
    all the time
Shak says (19:17):
xxxx says (19:17):
    having to entertain a child
Shak says (19:17):
    dont think i could hack i
xxxx says (19:17):
Shak says (19:17):
    twhich is why i'd leave it to my wife and go party
xxxx says (19:17):
    no wonder there's an NSPCC
Shak says (19:18):
    plus i know my kids will just disappoint me
    by hooking up with some fluzy
xxxx says (19:18):
Shak says (19:18):
    or being stupid
xxxx says (19:18):
    and the chore of having to teach them values
Shak says (19:18):
    i see the people who hang in shisha bars
Shak says (19:19):
    and think... oh man.. im supposed to want one of those?
xxxx says (19:19):

Film: Night at the Museum Click for more info

Childish and shallow fantasy about a museum whose exhibits come to life at night. There isn't really much more to it than that, but it does set the stage for some rather cheap jokes and even cheesier scenes.

It has its moments, but isn't really something I can recommend going out of your way for. This is something you might waste a lazy Sunday watching in the background.

Food: Halaliano's Click for more info

Despite going numerous times in the past, last night was the first time I actually had more than a milkshake to eat or drink. I still don't have a complete picture since we actually paid a square ten quid per head for a large pizza and milkshake. That in itself was pretty good value (the food was way too much for one person) and it's not like a place like this usually has a menu to choose from. Oh and everything is halal by the way.

Food and price aside, Halaliano's is a bit of dive, and I always say so when I've been invited to join friends there. Despite it's flaws (dark, dank, sleazy and smoky) it manages to set the stage for some nice enough times so it can't be that bad. As for the student riff raff types... Well let's just say they're both a curse and blessing and leave it at that. Ho hum.

So yeh, I guess it's growing on me, and I'm sure it will become a kind of pseudo hang-out eventually. Shame it has such a crap name though.

New Year's

2006 ended on a pretty high note for me - that dinner with university friends became dim sum today (yesterday?), after which I raced to have tea (or milk in my case) and cake with some family friends. But the highlight of the day had to be celebrating New Year's Eve with the school lot (and others) at Halaliano's.

I'm not a fan of Halaliano's. It's smoky, dark and sleazy and basically somewhere people (usually students) go to legitimise what others just stick to regular bars to do. But despite that, I've had a few genuinely good times there, mostly 'cos of the company I was with, but also because it's nice not to have to worry about sitting on somebody's spilt beer or have drunk ladies continually hit on you. Phnaar.

But anyway, now that the Halaliano rant is out of the way, let me tell you about New Year's. I believe it had originally been organised for 20-25 people but it had hit around double that on the day. It was a Muslim affair, and as is always expected with these kind of numbers the evening started out with the girls and boys on opposite ends of the room talking within themselves while eating their pizzas. It was pretty amusing in a "some things never change" kinda way. We even had some minor party injuries: shisha burns abound, and one dufus even slipped on the stairs. It's ok though - he only went away with a bruised wrist and ego.

Many people left before the ball even dropped - curfews kicked in for some, while others decided to ditch Halaliano's for the fireworks being held at the Victoria Embankment. To be honest, the whole thing was looking more and more like just another dinner party.

But, ironically, it was as the group became smaller and so more intimate, that the New Year's vibe also kicked in. The conversation (not without the inevitable Talk About Marriage; oh and by the way, we're all getting married this year) and personal jokes-cum-insults began to flow without effort - we even played a passable excuse for Truth or Dare at one point.

So yes. It was probably the two hours after midnight rather than the four before that I enjoyed the most, but the night as a whole flew by in the way good times usually do. My only real disappointment was how early the last of us eventually packed it all in - I'm no night owl but I a part of me wanted to party till dawn. Nevertheless it made a brilliant change to my usual New Year's Eve plans (which usually consist of being in bed by 12:15am), and definitely paves the way for future events.

Can't wait. Only 365 days left till the next one, eh?