We Are London

I have written before on my thoughts on the senselessness of violence against innocent citizens, and it’s pretty upsetting that nothing seems to have changed since then – the horrible attacks on people in London has led to an emotional couple of days – anger, worry, heartbreak and fear. I really hate that as soon as something like this happens, so many of my friends, family and I all brace for the inevitable backlash against Muslims, the same fear that we will be grouped with this tragic violence and that we tarred with same the same brush that puts us with something that we don’t believe in.

So this is me, saying this is not my faith. We have said this before and we’ll say it again. Islam doesn’t work like this and we don’t believe or condone any form of terror attacks like this. We are with London, and will remain strong, united and unafraid. London is our home. This is the city where I have had the honour to meet the most diverse and vibrant people from all walks of life and communities, and have found that unity is always better despite coming from different backgrounds.

So I say it is  now, more than every that it’s the time to stand up and speak out against the hate, ignorance and violence perpetuated by some groups, and that to isolate ourselves is not the answer. It is only this which will get us through bad times and remain strong – standing together as friends, a people and as a beautiful nation.

My prayers are with all those who have lost their loved ones: may Allah (SWT) give them the strength to bear what he has tested them with, shower them with his mercy and let their hearts find peace. May Allah (SWT) bring peace and safety to us all.

“…if any one killed a soul, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind…” – The Holy Quran (Chapter Five, Verse 32).

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King

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View From My Window: Blue Skies and Concrete Jungles

We’ve been enjoying some late summer weather recently (although we haven’t been enjoying the humidity!), so I thought I’d post the view from my office window. There’s plenty of buses, trains and pedestrians below (there’s a train station and a bus station nearby) but I thought I’d crop out the hustle and bustle and focus on the serene, beautiful blue clouds : )

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One minute’s silence

Today we had a minute’s silence at work for the attacks in Brussels, which was a horrible, unjustified event only a few days ago. It made me feel sad and a little pessimistic because we did the same thing in the office after the attacks in Paris not so long ago – a minute to reflect on events and pray for the lost victims, and hope that world events get better, that there are no more attacks, no more anger and no more twisting of beliefs to perpetuate more unreasonable violence.

It also made me sad, however, because there was no minute silence for Palestine, Turkey, Syria or various parts of Africa. You may think I am biased because many of these are Muslim countries, and this is why I feel affinity to them, and of course there is a part of me which does. There have been several attacks in Turkey in recent weeks, air strikes in Syria and on-going violence in parts of Africa such as Nigeria quite recently which have been ignored or sidelined, and which is pretty upsetting. But having grown up in a Western society, I also feel an affinity to Europe, to Britain, and it is more than my Muslim heritage speaking here. One of the things Islam teaches us is kindness to everyone, empathy and respect for all others, and as a human being it is natural to feel compassion whenever there are attacks on fellow people in any country. Naturally, the spotlight right now is being turned on refugees who are arriving all over Europe and who are homeless, scared and trying to protect themselves and their families. While there has been a lot of welcome for them, there is also a lot of resentment about whether they should be entitled to help and whether they are simply bringing the ‘enemy’ with then,

I’m sure I am not the first one to point out that all of the refugees arriving around Europe will be tarred with the same brush – when in fact it is these mindsets and violent groups that the fleeing refugees are trying to get away from. It makes me think back to my parent’s generation who arrived in the 70s and 80s, and even that ‘Windrush generation’ of the 50s, who came from across the world to Europe (and Britain) to make a new life and were treated with contempt and hostility by those who didn’t understand them, or those who believed the worst and didn’t trust them. It has taken a long time for these generations of incomers to build lives, trust and a place within this society, and it is attacks like this which can make immigrant groups feel unwelcome and undermined.

It is easy to be afraid. It is harder to stand up for what you believe in even when you are afraid, yet you stand up anyway. A part of me wonders whether there will be a time when we don’t have to worry about attacks like these. Maybe I’m naive, living in a modern age such as we do now, the horrors of war, hate and anger seem far away because we think we have evolved our minds and relationships since the World Wars, Civil Wars and battles for Independence which have taken place all over the world.

I do not mean to belittle the victims of Brussels or Paris, nor imply that what has happened is not a serious issue, because it is. I’m hoping we can learn from these to understand the hate behind these attacks and make sense of the senseless violence, so that it makes it easier for us to deal with. I am a strong believer of the idea that we can show Islam is not a hateful religion, and that those who twist it for their own agendas are not acting on our behalf. My point here, I suppose is the idea of fairness, while we are devastated by what has happened in Brussels recently, we should be equally outraged by the events in the Eastern countries. At the risk of making this a slightly hippy-fied post, in the end we are all people and we should share our prayers and compassion with everyone.

Conversations in the office #2: On Celebrations and Gifts

As with any office, my office usually has a range of random things we end up talking about. If it’s not food, Eastenders or kids, it’s something really random – here’s a few examples.

Colleague: So what did you get for your husband then on your anniversary?
Me: Headphones, they’re the high-tech ones he wanted.
Colleague: Ahh yes, the secret to a long and happy marriage. Headphones. He won’t be able to hear you, you can keep talking, you’ll both be happy.

—-

Manager: You’re young yet, how old are you?
Me: 28
Manager: (pause)….You’re getting old, better start having kids

—-

Colleague 1: Oh is it your birthday today? how come you didn’t take the day off?
Colleague 2: I didn’t book it in time.
Colleague 1: Why not? It’s not like you didn’t know what date it was on.

—-

[A few colleagues and I decided to bring in some food to work this week to celebrate Eid last week]
Manager: We should have Eid every week, that food was really nice!
Colleague: Will you give us a day off every week though?
Manager: Get back to work.

Conversations in the office #1: On Fashion

I had a silly conversation (or two) with my manager a few days ago, and realised that I had a gold-mine of silly conversations I’ve had with in the office. So I thought I’d share a few of them for your amusement : )

Colleague: Was your new coat expensive?

Me: No, why?

Colleague: I want to make fun out of it, but I’d feel bad if you spent a lot of money on it. It’s an ugly coat.

—-

Manager: Beige? That’s such an old lady colour.

Me: No it’s not, it’s actually quite fashionable!

*other (female) colleagues agree and say they like it.*

Manager: You girls and your fashion. If it’s fashionable, you’ll wear it. I bet you’d wear a babygrow if it was in fashion.

Me: Well, I do have a jumpsuit.

Manager: *silence* *turns back to computer shaking head*

—-

On me wearing a long white shirt top

Manager: You look like you’re wearing school shirt.

Me: Dear god.

—-

Female Colleague: Zara? That’s so common.

Me: Yeah? Where do you buy your clothes then?

Female colleague: From the local market.

The Flowery Cafe in the Corner

I love finding hidden away gems in the hustle and bustle of the streets of London, and it’s always a joy to find a new place that hasn’t been overly-glitzed by over-enthusiastic foodies (like me, I’ll admit) and isn’t overrun. I found a beautiful, flowery cafe hidden away behind the walls around Stratford area recently, and loved the fact that it’s quiet, peaceful and serves yummy-yet-healthy food which is ideal for a quick lunch stop into a flowery wonderland.

Amazingly enough, this one is literally a few stone’s throw from my work place (almost across the road), and in all the years I’ve worked there, I’ve never noticed it until a work colleague took me to lunch there a few weeks ago.

I love the colours that come slanting in when the sunlight pours in, it’s a pretty yet simple effect and isn’t ruined by the fact that there’s still plenty of passerbys.

Here’s a few quick snaps I took from the last time I visited, it’s hard to capture the flowery prettiness, but I’m sure you get an idea!

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10 Perks of doing an English Degree

So I’m one of those blessed peopledictionary-costume who spent two years at college, and three years at university studying the joys of Anglais, reading plenty of contemporary, medieval and classical literature,  and contemplating the symbolism behind storms in an angry scene and the writing int he ingredients part of a chocolate bar.

Unfortunately, in the work-world, there’s isn’t always a way to apply the lessons of Shakespeare and Chaucer to, say, buying bread from Asda or typing an email to a client saying that you need them to send in proof of their VAt registration. And stuff.

So here’s a quick list of things that only English majors (and lit-geeks) would probably sympathise with. Wave a sonnet at me if you can relate.

1. People remind you that you already know how to speak English so you just wasted a degree and three years of your life.

2. You are the office dictionary.

3. You are also the office spell-checker and thesaurus.

4. People don’t believe you when you say you have to read books for your studies.

5. Your parents don’t believe you either.

6. People think you’re weird when you say “Oh yes I’ve read that book” every time a new film comes out.

7. Everyone assumes you want to be a teacher because of the english degree. Even if you don’t really like the idea of teaching other people’s children.

8. You over analyse. EVERYTHING. One lone egg left in the fridge? Must be a sign. (To make breakfast maybe).

9. It’s YOU’RE. Not YOUR.

10. You become a little pretentious. Cos you know how something is really spelt, or the origins of a word, or you know the ending of that film cos you read the book.

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A Snapshot View of Tour de France 2014

We were lucky enough to have the Tour de France cyclists whizz past my office today, and of course we all took this as an opportunity to leave the office building for an hour while we cheered passing floats, followed by the superfast cyclists.

We all cheered when they came (although there was a lone, non-Tour-de-France related cyclist who rode past first and got the shock of his life when we all screamed), and there was plenty picture-taking/mobile waving/jumping up and down.

And then, as quick as they came, they left, and the crowd just as quickly dispersed and went back into their offices.

A good way to spend a Monday at work : )

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Those workin-through-lunch days

I’ve been super-busy at work recently, but I’m freeeeee now, partly because of the long Bank Holiday weekend (yay England!) and also partly because I’ve finally managed to finished doing half the things that were keeping me busy, not least a super-long job application which was driving me crazy.

So  here’s to some fun blog posts coming soon, lots of relaxing time and some feel-good time by watching old movies from the 90s : )

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