Chronicles of one girl's journey to London - from conception to eventual migration.

Monday, July 25, 2011

AS I LAY DYING

The world has experienced a horrific weekend of violence leading to death.

The ongoing famine in Somalia has taken second place (once again, as it did last week to the phone hacking scandal) to Amy Winehouse losing her battle with her drug addiction to die in her Camden flat at just 27. Everyone's reaction: "How sad, but that's hardly a surprise, is it?" Well, no, death is never a surprise. It is inevitable. From the moment you are created, you are counting down to the moment you will no longer exist. But death by addiction is sad in it's futility. There is never a need for someone to die from addiction, and at this point, I will direct you to Russell Brand who put it best in his piece for the Guardian.

Finally, we come to Norway's terrorist gunman Anders Breivik. Over this weekend, he has caused heartache and unnecessary pain in much of Norway, with a death toll of 94 under his belt. Between a bomb blast on Friday and his machine gun rampage on Utoya island on Sunday, this man has shown us that terror knows no colour, no race, no religion. 

Just as Timothy McVeigh did in Oklahoma, and Germaine Lindsay did on 7/7 to name just a few, Breivik has only proved what he set out to destroy: it is not only Muslims who cause terror.

Side note: I realise Germaine Lindsay converted to Islam, but he was not born into a Muslim family. He picked up his knowledge from extremists who taught him what they believed was right.

Uneducated, angry, ego-centric people with no love for humans or for their faith cause terror. There is no faith in murder, no matter if you commit it in the name of Jesus, Allah or the Ayatollah. I will say this always: we point the finger at Islam and its followers because we have been brainwashed into thinking this. We have taken 2 events in the last decade that, while catastrophic and just as painful, are small moments in the history of time. We have been fed headlines, news bites, interviews and testimonials about the evils of Islam, their poor treatment of women, and their lack of education within the larger world. We are wrong. Terror is caused by culture not by religion. Islam, historically, is the most forward-thinking, liberal religion and actually urges for their women to be educated and treated well. It is the uneducated or misinformed who believe differently. The only reason we think Christians are more liberal is because we see North America and Europe, predominantly Christian areas, portray this. Women work with a smaller salary gap, they choose to have children, who to marry and how to dress. But this is not religion. This is culture. This is American and European culture taking over faith. It is not religion that gave them this lifestyle, it is their abandonment of it. In the same way, it is not Islam that is creating oppressed women, jihads and terrorists. It is their abandonment of its true tenancies.

Lack of education leads to ignorance and ignorance is not bliss. It is deadly. It gives people like Breivik a motive, it gives them a defence.

The Muslims I know are ashamed of these people, murdering in the name of a twisted version of Islam. The Muslims I know cannot fathom violence and destruction on the level that they are blamed for. The Muslims I know are educated, funny, interesting people who bring love and peace to my life. One of them is my father, the other my boyfriend, the third one of my best friends; my Holy Trinity of Islam.

I find it alarming that we have still found a way to blame Islam for Breivik's acts of inhumanity. It just goes to show that we are all living in a bubble, shrouded by the fear of a religion we do not understand, the ignorance of a culture we do not know and the morals of a group we do not agree with.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

BIFF! KAPOW! BLAM!

About 8 weeks ago, I started a boxing boot camp. A flyer landed in my kitchen (magic!) that advertised 12 sessions for £20 to start mid-May. I thought that was a brilliant way to get back into working out and at a great price. So I signed up for my very first month of Boxit Boot Camp.

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, a group of us gather on Clapham Common to run, push-up, sit-up and box our way to fitter selves.

On Day 1, I thought I would pass out. On Day 2, I felt better. On Day 3, I was Superwoman! I did the first month almost uninterrupted (I missed one Tuesday on account of "just not feeling like it") and so I signed up for month 2 with glee. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how busy this month was for me and so missed 2 weeks in a row (work stuff one week, Marjorie the next). Danni, Boxit's MD, let me make up these 2 weeks and I've now signed up for my third month.

I am definitely fitter than I was - my cardio has improved dramatically. I've never been a good runner - maybe it's a brown person thing - but I do have strength, even more so now. I have muscles, am more toned and have lost inches around my mid-section.

I'll be taking over Ste's gym membership soon, though, so won't be able to continue but this has been a great stepping stone to get fit again. The trainers are intense and motivational - they really keep an eye on you, and are aware of your levels if you're a regular (just this past Tuesday, I was called out for being in worse form than I should be) and really know their fitness! HIghly recommended if you're in the SW postcode - or Manchester, as there is now one there too.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

O CANADA!

It was a lovely Canada Day weekend in London! I did miss a lot of things about actually being in Canada this time around, as it's now been 14 months since I've last seen my hometown. And I thought I would share some of those things I miss with you here . . .

Tim Horton's
AKA Timmy's, it's the best place for coffee, tea, doughnuts, muffins, bagels, sandwiches and home of the infamous Timbits! 


There is literally nowhere in the world that I have ever been that has a better coffee shop. This is better than Starbucks, this is better than Costa and Caffe Nero. You know why? Because it's simple. You just ask for a small, medium or large coffee. You put cream, sugar or milk into it. You drink it. End of story. There are no barristas, no poncey coffee maker asks for your name to put it on your cup and there is no such thing as a Trenta sized coffee or tea.

And every year, we have a Roll up the Rim competition, which was naively named and sounds like a strange sex act, but there is nothing more exciting than finding a prize under the lip of the cup.

And, finally, the uniform is pretty sexy, don't you think?


Wasaga Beach
Now, Toronto isn't known for its beaches - and nor should it be. They're not exactly the white sand, turquoise blue pieces of paradise that people tend to go for. They are, however, within easy reach of the city and are a lot of fun because, well, it's a beach!



We would go at least twice each summer, mostly just for the day as they are only a couple of hours away. Lie on the sand, play in the water, and build human pyramids, something we are now quite good at:


We also found a more private beach than the actual main strip, as those are just full of what you would call chavs. And tourists. Damn tourists. Just a little further down from the main area is a lovely strip of sand called Allen Beach. If you bring your own food and drink, you can spend an entire day here, just tanning and swimming. I miss our days out here.

Badr
Now, I have a lot of really great friends in Canada but this one is special - and if you've met him, you know why. There is a certain charm and enigma that only Badr possesses. I have yet to meet someone who does not like him from the start. And if I do ever meet someone who doesn't like him right from the start, I'll know that person is a waste of space.


. . . and these are a few of my favourite things :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

JUNE ROUND-UP

It's been a good month. I keep thinking that it was a quiet one, but it wasn't! We started the month going to Zoo Lates - which is when the London Zoo in Camden is open late every Friday in June and July. The silent disco is pretty fun, and there are bars set up all over the zoo for (admittedly over-priced) cocktails and other such drinks.

Silent disco with a ladybug, apparently

The next weekend was, of course, the epic flying lesson and Ripley's (see below) and then, very exciting, I got to see Tez in the final of the BBC2 New Comedy Award! He was 6 of 600 chosen to battle it out for the winning title (and pretty glass trophy). The title went to Angela Barnes after a country-wide vote but we are all super proud of Tez for all his accomplishments in the last 12 months, of which there are many! The next big thing for him is Edinburgh Fringe as part of 3-person act Gags, Songs and Bombs :)

Yes, everyone gets an award! It's one of those races.

Then, Marjorie arrived from Toronto. Marjorie has visited Liverpool almost every year since she was a child because her father is from there and so all his family is there. However, she has only been to London once before - 10 years ago for a few short hours. She was keen to see all the sights, and while I was at work in the mornings, she did the usual touristy stuff (Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Big Ben) and in the evenings I introduced her to my friends. It was fun and I believe she left with the intention to return to live in September. Sara plans to come then too, on a teaching contract. What can I say, I am quite the trendsetter ;)

It is now July 1st - Canada Day! I love Canada Day in Canada cause we're usually in a cottage on the beach. This year, as last, I will be in Trafalgar Square with my London friends pretending I am in Toronto!

HAPPY CANADA DAY!