The BFG Dream Jars Trail

I love it London has an art-themed ‘hunt’ over each summer for people to find an follow – one summer it was giant eggs, another it was giant elephants, and another year we had rickshaws designed by fashion designers – not to mention many more things to find!

This summer we had the BFG Dream Jar Trail – based on the BFG film which was released last month, where ‘dream jars’ designed by celebrities all over put their childhood dreams into manifestation inside giant jars, which were then placed all over London, as well as other major cities in the UK like Glasgow, Cardiff and Birmingham.

My sister and I thought we’d try our hand at finding some, and decided to follow one of the six Dream Trails to find jars – nearly six hours later and with very tired feet, we managed to find around 12 (it would have been 13 but one got removed from it’s spot due to vandalism, leading to me and my sister wandering around in a park in a daze looking for it). We started at Bond Street and the edge of Hyde Park, worked our way up to Leicester Square and China Town, and walked up to Embankment and Victoria before we stopped.

I loved the creativity of these, and thought they were a great idea, and they were very popular with the tourists and the kids!

Here’s the Dream Jars we found – but you can see all of them here – a great tribute to the genius writer that is Roald Dahl : )

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Mohammad Ali: A Great Man

“He took a few cups of love, He took one tablespoon of patience, One teaspoon of generosity, One pint of kindness. He took one quart of laughter, One pinch of concern, and then, He mixed willingness with happiness. He added lots of faith, and He stirred it up well then He spread it over a span of a lifetime, and He served it to each and every deserving person He met” – Mohammed Ali

Today I awoke to the sad news that the great Mohammad Ali, boxer, philanthropist and brother in Islam passed away during the night, sparking a wave of mourning which I’ve been reading all mourning – from fellow Americans, fellow Muslims, fellow Asians and African-Americans and sports enthusiasts.

“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognise. But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”

Containers: Not just about food.

I thought I’d contribute to this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge, which I thought was a good one, about Containers. It gives me a chance to reflect on the idea of the sort of containers I’ve been seeing lately, which is of food. Ramadan time for us is usually symbolised (among a lot of other things) by the samosas in my mum’s famous hot-pot container – the smell of samosas instantly brings back memories of early mornings with parathas (buttered chapattis) and iftars spent hovering over my mum’s shoulders while she fried delicacies which we usually see at Ramadan times; afternoons spent salivating over plates of watermelons and strawberries, and waiting for tall glass of cool water.

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Not everyone has the luxury of containers of food that we have though. The whole point of Ramadan, as well as getting close to our spiritual side, is to empathise with those who don’t have the abundance of food that we do, and those who don’t get to end their starving days with a feast. It is easy to forget your hunger when you are biting into a juicy fruit chaat or some hot pakoras, measuring your fasts by the clock instead of by experiences.

Not everyone in the world has the luxury of making everyone wait to eat while they take a picture (yes I’m one of those), while everyone sits back amused, because they know they’ll get their food once that picture is taken. Some parts of the world do not have food to Instagram/Facebook/Tweet the way we do, and do not have the choice of beautiful food.

Not everyone has the luxury of loving making their food, taking their time to eat and savouring their meal. I’m sure you have seen plenty of images and heard news about the horrific things which are happening in Gaza, as well as Palestine right now. There is growing unrest about this, not just the heartbreaking violence, but the lack of action from the Western world, the lack of reportage and the outright refusal to acknowledge events by the major powers – the Western media, the politicians and prime ministers, and those who do have a voice. We have seen protests, rallies and several movements, which are not just online but on the streets all over the world, and which are fighting to give these people a voice, to make change. I can’t help but think about these people who have lived their lives in fear, worrying about whether they will ever eat their meals in peace, whether the roofs over their heads will stay in one place, whether they can let their children sleep in homes without worry. I can’t imagine what Ramadan must feel like to the Palestinians right now – whether it is something they can experience without fearing whether they will see the end of it.

It is apt that it is Ramadan right now. It is the best time for us to truly reflect, think about what we can do to help the disadvantaged. If there is one thing I have learned it is that there is no point in bettering yourself, reflecting spiritually and empathising with the poor by feeling hungry if you don’t use those lessons learned to help others and to further the messages learned.

It is a container of samosas, yes. But it is also so much more – it represents all the luxuries we have which we can so easily forget in our sheltered lives and take for granted. I don’t mean to belittle the lives of our #FirstWorldProblems#, it is easy to be cynical and undermine the efforts of those who actually have tried to make a difference – the things I have seen recently makes me proud of so many of my brothers and sisters. But perhaps, this is a gentle reminder, to appreciate what we have – look at things from a different angle.

London Film and Comic Con 2014

My sister and I were able to visit the London Film and Comic Con this weekend, over Friday, Saturday and Sunday (we just went to the Saturday event, though), which was a really fun experience, especially as this is the second comic-con showe we’ve been to after the MCM London Comic Con last year. The event was held at Earl’s Court and showcased a number of things – I love that Comic Con has now become much more than just comic books and superheroes. This one covered film and TV series, comic books, computer games and also fiction books. There were a number of TV and film celebrities available for photos and signings, and also comic book artists and book authors who were in attendance, ready to sign their work.

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My sister had the foresight to buy ‘Earlybird tickets’ – which still meant queuing up but it meant that buy paying a little extra, we could get into the venue at 9.00am, which we managed to do. While queuing we saw a huge variety of costumes, merchandise and cute little children dressed up as Supergirl/Superman/Spiderman/that little girl from Dispicable Me which were a fun prelude (and a sign of who the real fanboys were).
When we finally got inside, the place was already busy and there was lots of things to see and visit. The venue was divided into different ‘zones’ for varying interests as well: the Book Zone, the Comic Zone, the Anime Zone, the Video Game zone, the Cosplay zone and Artists Alley, alongside the talks, celebrity photoshoots and signings which were going on, not to mention various raffles, stalls and competitions.

As always, this year’s Film and Comic Con was full of costumes which had been really well thought out, I loved some of the originality of costumes, not to mention the attention to details which made some of these look really good (a lot of them stayed in character too, Chewbacca spent the whole time growling and making squealing noises everytime we went past him).

The celebrities were a big appeal for us. We managed to see most of them with the exception of Carrie Fischer (Princess Leia in Star Wars) who we missed, and comic book legend Stan Lee, who was in a separate area and which we would have had to buy extra tickets for (which were expensive but still very popular!) Below are just some of the celebrities we saw, there were a lot more which I haven’t included! We recognised pretty much most of them, partly because I watch too much TV and also because some of these people were pretty cool. The celebrities all seemed really nice and down-to-earth, which was great to see.

There were also a lot of talks going on during the day with various actors and writers, my sister and I are big Sherlock fans (the British version) and there was meant to be a talk called ‘Sherlocked’ with the writers and producers of the show, which we wanted to attend. However after we took one look at the huge queue and the fact that it would be at least an hour and half wait, we decided not to go (and just stream the talk online at home!) – it was just too hot and would have made the long day longer, if we hadn’t been fasting it would have been worth the wait.

I loved the fact that there was a separate section for YALC – Young Adult Literature Con, which was apparently the first one in the UK. I’m a big book-reader and aspiring author, and it’s always great to see support out there for people who want to write. There were also a lot of names I recognised, many from books I read as a teenager whom I was a big fan of like Malorie Blackman, Darren Shan and Patrick Ness, who are pretty well-known.

And of course there were hundreds of stalls, booths and tables to buy all sorts of things, comic books, costumes, gadgets, computer games, toys and souveniers. We kept an eye out for anything we wanted to buy, but some of the things were a little pricey (I wanted a comic-book print dress but wasn’t really prepared to spend £65 on it), but it was still good to see the buzz of people selling all sorts of things.

My sister and I spent a lot of time looking at various comics, gadgets and quriky stuff, and we ended up at the table of an emerging artist, Hameed Catel, creator of kirucomics which we had a good discussion with as he told us the premise of his two comic book series (and also sold us one, which he also signed!) I really like the idea of both of his comic series, one about a young thief who is suddenly given powers, and who doesn’t behave as heroic as he should, which sounded pretty funny – the Champion of Dema graphic novel is the one we bought. He also told us about his other comic series which was waiting to be published, about a detective called Hani. We both really liked the idea of this one because it seemed more Middle-Eastern based, and also very Muslim-friendly, goodness knows there aren’t enough Muslim superheroes out there, although it’s a growing niche! The series is still waiting to be published very soon, I’ll post about it as soon as I hear more!

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We also stopped to play a few vintage arcade games, as well as look at the latest games being released (I beat my sister at Pacman, naturally). It was good to see people of all ages at this place, there were an area of old-style arcade games grouped together which gave an arcade-feel, as well as lots of computer and television monitors around with the more modern games.

 

Throughout the venue were plenty of displays, from books, TV series and films, and all pretty spectacular. I love the Sherlock set (I have no idea if its the original one, but I wouldn’t be surprised), and the Batmobile (something my nephews would love).

Because we were fasting, we didn’t want to spend all day at the Comic Con and left in the afternoon after we had spent time looking at everything and stopping again to peeki again at several celebrities. It was also a really warm day, and as we walked out of the building back to the Underground Tube station, we could see the queues of people waiting to come in were still getting longer and going down past the roads – it really was astounding how popular this London Film and Comic Con is, and how far people travelled to come.

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All in all we had a good day, and it was interesting to meet various fans who interpreted film, TV and comics in their own way. I don’t think I’m as big a fan as some of the people who attended, but it was fun, and who knows, maybe next time I’ll go in costume!

MCM London Comic Con 2013

I mentioned before that I visited the MCM London Comic Con, which is a big comic convention that takes place in London twice a year. While it’s not as huge as the San Diego Comic Con, it’s still pretty popular, and draws a huge crowd with interests in drawing, comics, gaming and various films.

We spent the day looking at comics and merchandise for sale, meeting comic book artists and seeing hundreds of fans in costume (known as ‘cosplay’), and generally had an interesting day. I’ve always wanted to go to a Comic Con but have never had the chance, so it was a different experience for me to see various different groups of people get together and have fun.

Here’s a few pictures of the hundreds I took, some of the costumes we saw were just mind-blowing, with some really great detail. I don’t have a single favourite costume because there were far too many, but among my top favourites would be a girl dressed up as Cersei Lannister from the tv series Game of Throne (and looked spot on!), and a girl dressed as Storm from the X-Men, white contacts and all!

Stormtroopers against the horizon at London Comic Con…!

I attended the MCM London Comic Con today, which was great fun, not least because of the amazing, detailed costumes worn by a lot of the fans. I’ll be posting properly about the Comic Con in a couple of days, but in the meantime here is one of my favourite photographs that I took at the Comic Con.

I’m not sure if it’s because of the awkward posing of the Stormtroopers, the fact that the backdrop of the Royal Docks behind make an almost anachronistic setting (it’s not the Death Star, is it!) or even the fact that I wanted to (and almost did!) dress up as Darth Vader (the hijabi version) for the Comic Con that makes this picture memorable for me – but I do think these were one of the many highlights of the day : )

DSC_3417Posted for this week’s Photo Challenge – Horizons

ZSL’s Roar With Laughter – Sumatran Tigers and comedy

I was lucky enough to get tickets to charity ZSL’s evening of comedy, ‘Roar with Laughter‘ event over the weekend in benefit of Sumatran tiger awareness, which featured a range of stand up comedians, and well, a few (fluffy) tigers.

It was an interesting evening to say the least, Phil Jupitus reading poems about Jeremy Clarkson and his odd relationships with cars, Ed Byne on why cats are evil, and Lucy Porter on joys of Argos reviews. But we did laugh, and I did like the tiger masks on every seat : )

Nigella Lawson in a burqini… something to applaud I say

Nigella Lawson’s recent small wave of excitement caused by her wearing a burqini purchased from Islamic Swimwear website Modestly Active is, as I interpret it, a bold feminist move. Many have questioned her motives for wearing an extremely unflattering garment, as it is definitely deviating from her usual sultry and carefully put together dress style, a signature fashion that is certainly a la mode. There have been theories ranging from Nigella having converted to Islam, to Nigella wanting to protect her delicate English Rose skin from sunburn, to the fact that she was even feeling cold.

Personally, I believe it can be deduced that it may not be any of these, but a much more cheekier reason, and definitely something to cheer. Who would not, after seeing in the media time and time again, be it the entertainment news writers or various magazines like Heat or OK!, as well as many, many more women’s ‘guides’ who are quick to point out the ‘flab’ on so many ‘slebs, want to avoid a similar fate? It can be agreed that while Nigella Lawson is a beautiful woman, she is not a size zero, and she is perfectly comfortable not being one.

The issue at hand here, is not women’s weight, but rather the idealised body image that the media is constantly bombarding us with. By not wearing the typical skimpy two-piece bikini, Nigella boldly and deliberately is flying in the face of usual conventions. Rather than submit her body to the usual and inevitable scrutiny imposed on other celebrities, Nigella has taken this out of the media’s control and instead played a joke on them.

As a young Muslim woman in today’s Britain, I am conscious of the changing fashions and trends around, and the fact that like it or not, we are always going to be bombarded with the attitude that we need to look, follow or have a certain way in order to feel successful or beautiful. Personally I am quite comfortable in the way I dress, I can keep it an eclectic style while being  able to keep myself covered up in a way that I feel is appropriate for myself, without feeling as if I have to compromise on certain trends that I like to follow. So while Nigella may not be specifically promoting Islam and hijabed-women here, I think that the ideal she is showing fits with the modesty that many young women today would like to imbibe in their dress sense.

There has been several comments and judgements assessing Nigella’s choice of dress, concluding that this is one dress that won’t make the fashion rage, and this may be the case, certainly. But let us hope that Nigella’s attitude becomes more fashionable, and that more women, especially those in the media’s eye, follow the attitude that less does not always need to be more.

For those of you who are interested in looking at similar burqinis, Nigella Lawson purchased from this company:
http://www.modestlyactive.com/