One Year Today…!

Every love story is beautiful but ours is my favorite.

Today is my first wedding anniversary with my husband, and it’s amazing to see how time flies. It’s been an adventurous year for me, but also a really lovely one, and it’s only given a flavour of all the things we want to do over the next few years – we’ve travelled, dined out, laughed at silly movies and eaten plenty of chocolate along the way.

Our wedding day feels like it just happened a few weeks ago, and it’s weird to look back and see ourselves all dressed up like superstars – although if you saw me dressed in my pyjamas now you’d never believe it!

We’ve had a lovely evening dining out so more on this soon, but for now, it’s time to be a lazy couple. laze on the sofa with snacks and watch a comedy or two : )

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Flashback Fridays: Fruitpot Fruityness

Something from a special day this time last year – fruit pots from my wedding day! Can you believe it’s been nearly a year since that day? There’s a lot of little details that didn’t quite register with me on the day, but this was one of the most popular things we had. We always do fruit and a sweet bar, but my sisters went all out with our fruit bar for my wedding and got a lot of compliments, not to mention all the fruit getting devoured – even our professional caterers were pretty impressed.

And I must say, they had reason to be, don’t these look lovely all lined up together?

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A View from a Train: The Girl on the Train

sonder
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
– The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrrows.

The idea of a narrator travelling back and forth to London by train is something a lot of us commuters can relate to, watching our fellow travellers go about their morning rituals, absorbed in their books, mobiles phones, iPads, staring out of windows and generally avoiding each other in all of our splendid British awkwardness.

“There is something comforting at the sight of strangers safe at home.”

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Paula Hawkin’s The Girl on the Train follows Rachel and her daily train journey into London, giving us the chance to relate to the monotone journeys . Everyday it stops at the same place, giving her the chance to peer into the life of a young couple who live in a row of houses behind the railway tracks, whom she calls Jess and Jason. Daydreaming about their perfect relationship, Rachel becomes more and more obsessed with the details of their lives, embellishing their story and giving herself hope that happiness exists out there somewhere.

“It’s as if people can see the damage written all over me, can see it in my face, the way I hold myself, the way I move.”

But it also from here we learn that Rachel is not the perfect narrator – she’s depressed, self-pitying, and bitter. She has an alcohol-dependency problem, she’s lost her job, and her life is spiralling downwards and is looking like a dead-end. For there is another reason that this row of houses that her train stops at holds Rachel’s obsession – a few doors down from ‘Jess and Jason’ lives her ex-husband Tom, with his beautiful new wife and their baby in her old house.

“They’re what I lost, they’re everything I want to be.”

If this isn’t bleak enough, events take a turn from this depressing start to get worse. Rachel wakes up from another drunken blackout, bruised and bloody and unable to remember the night before or how she got home. She also discovers that ‘Jess’, or Megan, as her real name is, has gone missing and that her seemingly perfect husband ‘Jason’ is the prime suspect. Becoming worried about her part in events, Rachel sets out to find out what happened in her lost hours, and also coming to terms with her own history with her ex-husband and their failed marriage.

The concept of this novel is an interesting one – intertwining the perspectives of three women; Rachel, the failed, miserable drunk, Megan, the missing woman and Anna, the beautiful wife who has replaced Rachel – all with their own flaws, problems and the events of one night which is seeped in mystery and ambiguity.

“I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head.”

There is a sense of disorientation throughout this novel which can be off-putting, and the lines between Rachel’s reality and her memories and drunken impressions can blur together at time, making it confusing about what has already happened and what is the present. It’s also a little depressing – Rachel is not an attractive character, and the ugly scenes of her alcohol abuse is even more depressing, down to the urine-soaked underwear and vomit on the stairs outlining her unaddressed mental issues and her inability to change the predictability of her life.

A lot of reviewers have commented that they found this book difficult to like, and that Rachel is a hard character to relate to because she is so self-pitying, stalker-ish and weak, and that her lack of responsibility for her actions is very off-putting. I agree that it took time to get into this book because of this – she may be a commuter on the train to London, but not one that we feel a kinship with,  if anything she is the embarrassing passenger we all see and hope that they don’t sit next to us.

“So who do I want to be tomorrow?”

Despite this, there’s an interesting mystery at the core of this story – we see how Rachel’s ‘Jess’ is nothing like the real Megan, and how she is a flawed character mirroring Rachel, and similarly we see Anna’s role as the not-so-triumphant victor in marriage and mother-hood. It’s also interesting to re-interpret this novel – is it about identity? About mental illness? Or does it have a darker tone which makes us question what we will do when we are pushed to our limits?

“I am no longer just a girl on the train, going back and forth without point or purpose.”

I won’t include any spoilers for anyone who is still waiting to pick up this book, but I will add that patience is needed if you want to read this, mainly because there is a lot of meandering before the story picks up, and also because the character makes you question what’s in her mind and what really has happened. And the other characters in the novel are just as unpleasant at times – there’s a nasty streak in some of them which makes us question their motives, our reluctant sympathy for Rachel and the notion of peering out of a window and looking at the lives of strangers.

An interesting thriller and definitely different to a lot of murder mysteries I have read before, but it may not be to everyone’s tastes and there’s an unpleasant taste at the end of it because you’re left disliking most of the characters.

Journal Your Ramadan – Day #8: H is for Husband

I feel like I should do this post about my husband, because hes been making at least half of our meals these last few days. It’s the first Ramadan with my husband after marriage, and surprisingly it’s been an interesting one because it’s made us want to be more adventurous with our food! We’ve opted out of fried food this year, and have both decided to try more healthy food which is a lot better to have after long hours of fasting.

This is something my husband thew together a couple of days ago –  lots of onions, tomatoes, chillis, peppers and various seasonings sautéed together with chicken pieces for a chicken dish with a juicy sauce.

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Watching the magic happen (excuse the poor quality of my camera!)

Mixin’ it up in the sauce pan (which we then left with lid on for about half an hour).

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Result – tender chicken and steamed veg which we poured over plain rice. We could have left it cooking a little longer for a drier sauce but decided to keep it quite juicy so that it would mix with the rice well.

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This was a really filling, yummy dish and didn’t take long at all (the rice only took us about 15 mins to cook) and it reminded us both of a dish we’d had and loved in Turkey called testi kebab, which is more slow-cooked by has a similar idea of cooking meat with veg.

So, credits to the husband for this one (and I’m hoping he reads this and gets all happy and makes me more!)

“Reader, I married him.”

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” – Wuthering Heights

“Among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility with them and He put love and mercy between your (hearts) : verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” – [Surah Ar-Rum 30:21]

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life” – Rita Rudner

I’m finally back, my lovely people, to announce that I am officially a Wife, readers, I indeed did marry him and it was a beautiful day.

There were plenty of events, dholki nights at home, a henna party, more than one bridal shower and best of all, a new baby arrival in the midst of it all, which was pretty amazing and also a wonderful time to spend with family. I’m currently tip-tapping away on my keyboard in our new home, in our bedroom still feeling a little shell-shocked but also very happy (and confused about where to start!)

I’m still sorting through hundreds of photographs and waiting for the professional ones from my photographers at the events, but I will be posting details, which I want to post in chronological order, so bear with me! Please do also read my other blog for more colourful details of the wedding and all the functions leading up to it as well : )

I’d also like to thank all of you who left comments in my previous posts with blessings, congratulations and lots of kinds words, they were a pleasure to read and I was happy to read them all.

For now, here’s a picture of what is sitting on our window sill in our new house, our wedding favour boxes which I sneaked away from the wedding day, and my sparkling ring given to me by The Husband.

miiiine

BRB…Getting Married.

I’m sure you’ve noticed my absence these last few weeks, and I do apologise, but I have been super busy! My wedding is coming up in a matter of days now, so I won’t be able to blog properly until I move into our new house (and our internet is set up!) so I can post properly about everything. I’ll be sure to take photographs of everything though, and I won’t be gone for long, but it does mean a small blogging hiatus of a couple of weeks.

I’ll catch you all up very soon, in the meantime there’s a lot of of stuff to prepare for (and good food to try!), but I will be back before you know it, quicker than a cupcake left defenceless in our house gets eaten!

Harlequin x

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Some good news…

“And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.”
[Al-Rum: 21]

“It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love).”
[AI-A`raf: 189]

 

I don’t often post about personal things too much, mainly because I’m quite a reserved person, and I’m also a little choosy about what I write/photograph/draw about. I do have some good news to share though, and would like your prayers over the next few months as I take a new step in my journey towards good things.

I’m happy to say that I’m getting married at the end of this year, and it’s something which has kept me emotional and ecstatic in turns. I’d like to share my news and ask you to keep me in your prayers and share your advice, blessings and of course any tips you find helpful as I look forward to the rest of the year : )

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The Unspoken Rules of All Soap Operas

I don’t watch as much soap operas and those day-time tv series as much as I used to, mainly because they frown on watching television at my workplace (it doesn’t look good to have iPlayer running in the background of my reports, managers tend to frown on that), and also because after years and years of watching Eastenders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Neighbours, I got sick of watching the same storylines being disguised and recycled with each generation.

How many times will Den die? Will Kat cheat again? More importantly, will she be wearing leopard-print while doing it? And how on earth do people like Tony from Hollyoaks and Ian from Eastenders convince so many women to marry them?

It got me to thinking about how a lot of TV’s soaps follow some unscripted rules which seem to be unchanging over the years – even if they’re disguised to reflect current issues. In the 80’s and 90’s there was a lot of controversy over story-lines like homosexuality and teenage pregnancy, these day the storylines will be about immigration, transgender issues, terrorism or just about Cornish pasties – but the results are the same, possibly because the soaps follow the same ‘rules’.

I expounded on some of my theories about soaps to a friend of mine and she urged me to share my theories so I can enlighten you all with them. Admittedly, her exact words were “write a post about it, it sounds funny”, but I’ll take that as a positive too. Read on follow soap-cynics, and tell me if you agree.

Rule #1: There is no such thing as a happy relationship or marriage.

No matter how long the ‘romance’ has been dragged out, and the suspense built up, when a couple finally ends up together or gets married, it will never last. I have yet to see a marriage which has lasted on any soap. Even those married couples who have supposedly been married for 50 years suddenly end up having problems with each other.

It is inevitable that there will be three possible outcomes in any relationship:
1. One of them cheats (which probably means nothing because the other one is likely to be cheating as well)
2. One of them dies (which forever immortalises them and makes them the perfect partner)
3.They just give up their relationship because it gets boring/one of them has to leave the country for obscure reasons/one of them turns gay (i.e. their relationship got boring and producers wanted to spice it up)

The best relationships have been the ones where one half of the couple is dead (probably because they’re too dead to argue or cheat) – in which case, the living half will remember the relationship with unrealistic fondness. Strangely enough, this doesn’t stop characters from having an impaired memory – the amount of times Pauline Fowler talked about her beloved (and belated) ‘Arfur’, despite the fact that he was a cheater and she was a husband-beater. Sounds like him being dead suddenly redeemed him.

Married and separated so many times, we lost count.

Rule #2: Everyone must visit the pub.

It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a drinker, every soap has a thriving pub which is at the centre of all business, drama and gossip, which means it’s a place that everyone eventually ends up being in the episode. Teetotal and/or ex-alcoholic? Why not go to the pub and surround your lemonade with some drinkers? Muslim and don’t drink? Down to the pub with you. Underage or with young children? Why not have a rest at the pub, there’s plenty of people to keep an eye on your children while you have a quick pint. Best of all, no one will ask you why you are at the pub at 11.00am, plus a possible pub lunch and a quick pint after your dinner too.

Some would argue that the pub is a great equalizer – the rich, poor, working class, middle class and people of all colours and ages congregate to the pub cos they all want a drink at the end of the day (or want to witness the latest debacle about to take place). But I’ll just say that the Queen Vic and Rover are too over-populated to be realistic, especially when you know most people would prefer to be at home in front of the telly (I wonder if there is a soap that the characters watch in Eastenders, something called The Market maybe).

Rule #3: Ian is always going to be a git.

I just don’t like him. ‘Nuff said.

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Rule #4: There should only be one taboo topic at any one time.

Every season in soap-world will have a new scandal going on, whether it’s affairs, crime-doings or someone ‘aving a go in the market. In order not to confuse us simple viewers, there’s only ever major story arc at a time, so that we can keep our bums on the edge of the seats without being distracted by other storylines. The downside of this is that a story can drag on for months until we stop caring. But it also means that you can watch a story about an affair in January, go on holiday for a couple of months, come back in April and the affair’s still going on. When it comes to ‘taboo’ topics which become major storylines like teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, immigration or similar issues, I can’t help but think that they’re dumbed down and simplified so that we are beaten over the head with the overall message.

Rule #5: There is always a loophole for characters to come back, regardless or how they leave.

Death is not a preventive factor because there’s always an explanation , even if it’s not a realistic one. We may have seen someone get shot/stabbed/go on the run for twenty years, but it still means that there’s a small lee-way for them to come back. Yes, you, Dirty Den, we’re looking at you. What do you think this is, the Resurrection?

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Rule #6: There is always a villain that we love to hate in every soap

It’s practically a requirement. In Eastender it’s Ian (for me), but there’s plenty of real ‘baddie’ characters to spice things up a bit. And there’s different strands of baddies too, whether it’s the gangster type;, the smarmy type who everyone hates; and, worst of all baddies, the ones who pretend to be good but have serial killer eyes and end up going cuckoo crazy before they get carted off in a wheely bin to a local asylum (which they’ll probably escape from). Think Annie from Sunset Beach, maybe.

Rule #7: The token ethnic person is never accurate.

I have a personal gripe about this because every time there has been an Asian, particularly a Pakistani character in a soap, they’ve never sounded or behaved like anyone I know. The Masoods are a classic example of unrealistic storylines which have either been lifted straight from a Bollywood serial or just made up by non-Asian people who think that Pakistani families are like this. Coronation Street was just as bad, although the only thing they got right was that the Indian family owned the corner shop. As for Emmerdale, well, I have yet to see any Asian people out in the fields.

Put some more of these in Coronation Street.
Rule #8: Time is irrelevant in soap operas and doesn’t run at the same speed as real life.

Don’t try to make it make sense of it, it’ll only give you a headache. A character may find out she is pregnant in May and then be ready to give birth just two months later, pay no attention to that, it’s just producers speeding up time for us. Similarly, a baby will grow into a toddler and suddenly get replaced into a teenage character in a couple of years (I may be exaggerating here, but still). And if it’s highly convenient that Christmas day in Soap World is on the same day as real life, well that’s just clever timing.

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Rule #9: Every character has potential to have a huge (translation: stupid) secret

This ‘secret’ will cover a storyline that will drag on for weeks until we stop caring and the producers are forced to do a ‘big reveal’ so they can try to save the storyline and make us all interested again. Usually the secret is something like having a criminal past or that they’re really someone’s secret mum, or that they were the one who stole Dot’s sandwich. Admittedly, there have a been a few interesting storylines in the past, like the secret serial killers, the complicated affairs and the random storylines which make no sense but which still are fascinating. At the core of soap operas, the moments we all hang on for are the ‘Big Reveal’ parts, the moment everyone finds out something that we knew all along – even if it’s a boring secret.

Rule #10: I can’t think of any more rules so here’s a picture of a cute turtle.

Look how cute it is.

That’s all I could think of folks, I know some of these are silly and some of you might not agree with these, but a lot of these are silly and down to the fact that I watch a lot of rubbish TV which doesn’t always make sense, so I may have done some over thinking here!

Next up, clichés and rules about Bollywood films (and Indian TV serials) – expect some silliness!

Advice for Women #3: Cry for your new toaster

Poster says it all really. How to emotionally blackmail your husband into buying household appliances that you’ve always desired. If there’s one thing those darn men don’t know how to handle, it’s a weeping woman, and what better way to shut them up than to buy them something spanking new and shiny for the kitchen? I think you should print out several of these for every occaison of the year. Don’t forget to circle the stuff you want with a strawberry-scented pen!