Saturday, November 25, 2006


There I am, innocently standing with my mother in a queue in Sainsbury's when suddenly an asian woman wearing a headscarf approaches me. She thrusts a multipack of Pombears (if I recall correctly) in my face and begins babbling away in Urdu. Sad as it may be, I cannot speak nor understand Urdu so I am rather shocked by this somewhat rude intrusion into my solitary thoughts and begin to edge away towards my mother. The lady (L), realising the scenario, turns to my mother (M) and the following conversation ensues (it was later translated for me by my mother):
M: What's the matter?
L: She no speak Urdu? No speak? (this in broken english)
M: No, but I do. What do you want?
L: I was wondering if these crisps are halal? Can I eat them?
M: Yes they are. We eat them
L: Oh, OK, thanks
(pause whilst my mother turns to pay)
L: Is she your daughter? (indicating me)
M: Yes
L: Masha-Allah. So where abouts in Pakistan are you from?
M: Erm, we're not actually from Pakistan, we're from Africa

L smiles and nods, but it is clear from her expression that she does not believe or does not want to believe that we are not from Pakistan. Because, as we all know, if you wear a headscarf then you can speak Urdu and if you comply to both of these conditions, then you are from Pakistan. Obviously.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Veil

Jack Straw's comments on the veil and the court case of Aisha Azmi have raised much speculation amongst the British public as to whether the veil should be allowed, not only in a teaching environment but also in Britain generally. The debate has sparked outrage amongst some (mainly those who wear the veil) but agreement amongst others- 'If veils are ok why not hoodies?' Whether you're for, against or indifferent to the matter, it's worth watching the discussion on Question Time. Click here to read other viewers' comments.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Upon discovering that it is almost impossible to find a Persian who understands English, I decided to learn a few key phrases in Persian before my visit to Iran. Besides the basics such as 'please' and 'thank-you', I also learnt how to say, 'I don't understand Persian'. I assumed this would save me from a tricky situation I am only too familiar with, where a huge woman is bearing down on me, babbling away in Persian, oblivious to the fact that I don't understand a word she's saying. Unfortunately, I made a false assumption.
Before entering the mosque for Friday prayers in Qum, everybody is checked and handbags are searched thoroughly. Although cameras are allowed at the Holy Shrine, they are not allowed in the masjid. I was unaware of this and was therefore stopped at the door of the masjid by a fierce-looking woman, who pulled out my camera and began waving it in the air. As she began yelling at me, I desperately looked around for my sister, who knows fluent Persian. However, she too was being challenged about the contents of her bag, so I turned back to my interrogator and politely informed her that I didn't understand what she was saying.
She paid no attention to me and continued shouting. I couldn't tell if she wanted to keep the camera, let me in with it, make me take it outside or throw it out herself. Now panicking about what would happen to the camera, I grabbed her sleeve and repeated that I didn't understand Persian. By this time, another woman had come over to see what the problem was and when she heard what I had said, she turned to me with an incredulous look on her face. I roughly translated her next few sentences as:
"What??? You don't understand Persian? Why not? Anyway, it doesn't matter whether you undertand Persian or not, NO CAMERAS!!"
She grabbed the camera from the first woman and thrust it into my hands, vaguely waving in the direction of the exit. At last, my sister came over.
"Sorry, my sister is from England and doesn't understan what you're saying," she explained.
"Oh, England! I'm very sorry, I didn't know that. Tell her to take the camera outside and leave it in the lockers," said the first woman in gentler tones. She turned to me but before she could say anything else, I took my chance and rushed outside. So much for getting out of tricky situations.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A late addition

Zinedine Zidane (France) headbutts Marco Materazzi (Italy) in the chest in the world cup final.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Three Brazillian

In a Cabinet meeting this morning, Donald Rumsfeld reported to the President and the cabinet. He said, "Three Brazilian soldiers were killed today in Iraq." The President said, "Oh, my God!" and buried his head in his hands. The entire Cabinet was stunned. Not a word was spoken. Usually George Bush showed no reaction whatsoever to this kind of report. Just then, Bush looked up and said, "How many is a brazilian?"

Monday, July 10, 2006

Best World Cup Moments

Asamoah Gyan (Ghana) helps Andrea Pirlo (Italy) in a group match.
Ronaldo (Brazil) celebrates his goal against Ghana
The Italians celebrate their victory
Fransesco Totti (Italy) decides to bring some gymnastics into play against Michael Ballack (Germany).
Louis Figo (Portugal) and Oliver Khan (Germany) after the Germany won the third-place match 3-1.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Take your time...

Something I have always been teased about is how long it takes me to eat. I maintain my argument that you cannot possibly enjoy a rushed meal, because eating slowly allows you to savour the taste of the food.
Unfortunately, I seem to get a lot of stomach aches and yesterday, my dad came up with a theory.
"The reason you always feel sick is because you take so long to eat that your stomach becomes full of air," he declared. Perhaps I eat a little too slow, but I have proof that wolfing down your meal is far worse.
About a week ago, I was eating my tuna mayonnaise baguette whilst chatting to my friends before an exam. I watched in disgust as one girl finished her baguette in three bites and sat waiting for 15 minutes for the rest of us to finish.
"How do you manage to eat so fast?" I asked her, amazed.
"I don't chew." Seeing my querying look, she added,
"What's the point in chewing when you've got hydrochloric acid in your stomach?"
I decided not to answer. Incidentally, when I asked her how she found the exam, she replied,
"I couldn't concentrate because I had such a bad stomach ache."
I rest my case.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Why O Why?

As you may have suspected from the note of despair in the title, my life is not very good at the moment. Having GCSEs is fine, about 3000 other people are having them too, and thousands more have already had them. But, how many of them were asked to describe themselves in their English exam? I had one hour to describe my looks, my personality, my emotions...Is it possible to sum yourself up in only two sides of writing?
I thought the whole point of having external examiners was to prevent bias. Having now described myself to the examiner, I am in deep trouble if they don't like the sound of me. However, I hardly think a piece of writing for 27 marks can do justice to anyone, no matter how boring or mundane they are. Sometimes, I wonder if the examiners actually think about the questions when they set them.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Exams never end...

Oh dear. The truth is gradually sinking in. My GCSEs begin in TWO DAYS!!! I have seven exams next week, and six more the following week. As they get closer, the feeling of dread inside me grows. The strange dreams have started and I find myself waking up drenched in sweat because I haven't really turned up to my maths exam in pyjamas. I have finally come up with a good explanation for my feelings. It's like being on a ride at Alton Towers; you're going up and up and up...and you know that drop is going to come eventually, but you don't know when and how hard it will be. You just want it to be over. At the moment, I'm on the way up- I just hope the inevitable drop is more Squirrel Nutty Ride than Oblivion.

Lunch Atop A Skyscraper