Monday, 28 December 2009

“You should write a book!”

This is what quite a few people have said to me. Not a work of fiction I don’t think, but just about a few things that have happened in my life. I’m no discoverer or great adventurer (although sometimes I do act and feel like it) but I have had some pretty cool experiences Alhamdulillah. And some pretty uncool ones, for which I must also be grateful for. So if I were to write a book, chapters may be divided by people, places and events I guess. Here are some possible chapter titles, based on what people have told me to write about:

• The ISOC years (hahaha!)

• Spain (although this has been written about, even though not too extensively. Will have to dig it out)

• Travels (Malaysia, Turkey, Bahrain/Dubai, Kenya, Bosnia, Ghana, Poland, etc etc)

• Work (really wish I had written some of this stuff down)

• The ex and the closure (an epic within itself?! Haha. And the massive chapter following  )

• The solicitor

• The barrister

• The Russian

• The lil French man

• The best friends’ weddings

• The proposals

• The engineer

• The Swiss Sri Lankan

• Crocodile Shoes

• The guy from Medina

• The guy from Qatar

• The Imam

• The 8th of the 8th

• The Nando’s proposal

• And so on.

Im Too Young to Get Married

You wait ages for a bus, and then they really do all come along at once. And I haven’t used public transport in ages. Well not buses anyway. As soon as you set your sights on something, or decide on a certain route, about a million other options pop up, when just a while ago, there were no options at all.

So, 6th or 7th proposal in about two months. That’s pretty good going. Am really surprised and flattered. And despite all my reservations and hang ups about the traditional route, it’s actually really nice. Really nice.

It’s like being pre approved. When Joey in Friends starts on Days of Our Lives, he get pre approved for credit and is so happy. “I’ve never been pre approved for anything before!” (Yes, many of my life references do arise from American sitcoms and mainstream pop music, sigh). Anyway, imagine being offered a place on a good uni course at a good uni, without even having to apply for it. Or being offered a job without an interview, or even having a position created especially for you when there was no vacancy as such. Then it’s up to you whether you take it or not. How nice is that? Yes, you may have to make a very quick decision, but that’s the flip side of it. Whereas if you go through the whole ‘application process’ of your own accord, you can afford to take a bit longer. In fact, it will take much longer, cos they didn’t even know you existed, let alone that you are applying. They may not even want you to apply, let alone fill the vacancy. But then, you’ve got to go through it, you’ve got to do what is best for you. Even if you don’t even know what that is.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

In an Ideal World?

"Then Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, master?

And he answered saying:

You were born together and together you shall be for evermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness.
And let the winds of heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it be a moving sea between the shores of your souls
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

From Khalil Gibran's The Prophet

Friday, 25 December 2009

Your overwhelming love for me..

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Privacy Settings

I feel the need to write. I don’t know why. I’m feeling lots of things at the moment. And they aren’t bad things Alhamdulillah. Which is nice. Lots of things to express and explain to myself. And keep private so that nobody knows. Some time ago, I made it my personal target to write more. Not for any other reason than to get in some practice of just writing, to get feelings out of me, to express myself and communicate, and to let words do their thing. If ever they do actually do what they are meant to. I am well aware of my issues with language and words and the general paradox of life.

I feel so much right now. Positivity and a touch of trepidation. Or not trepidation…I don’t know. That word just came into my head. I never thought that this would happen; never in a million years. I haven’t made a decision; it seems the universe has decided. It has unfolded in this way, and I didn’t have anything to do with it. Too much to be coincidence, and the chaos theory and all that. The universe unfolds. The way things happen. Not a leaf falls from a tree but with His knowledge, and He is closer to me than my jugular vein.

I can’t resist. I can try, and I have tried, and I am quite strong sometimes, but I can’t fight this. It’s like its taking over me. Creeping and seeping into me. I am trying to hold up, but the barriers are tumbling down. The borders are becoming blurred and definitions undefined. And standing fast has taken on a new meaning. Being patient. Being blessed. Being tested in different ways. Some familiar, some new territories that lay in wait. And how will I react. How will I sit, and stand, and fight, and be me. And be the best that I can be. And hold on to the essence of who I am and what brought me here. For if that is lost, then it’s a different game, and all has changed and is in risk of being misled.

And who is to say, where this path will lead. For those who stray find new paths. And yet I am being limited with my words and my thoughts and my ideas, my feelings and emotions and dreams. I can’t give too much away, not now, not yet. Although I can be read as easily as a book, look into my eyes is like looking though a glass window into a different world, and what lies beneath. When you have no control, but you know you have no control, surely that gives you some ownership. If you believe in theories.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

I thought I’d be ok

I thought I’d be strong,

I thought I’d hold on, long enough.

Resist the pull, of gravity, of force, if its natural, then what am I to do.

And I feel myself falling, slowly swiftly, drifting towards some undefined destination.

The strength of the wind, the weakness of the cloud, sends me falling,

From side to side.

A pretty snowflake, fragile and unique,

To melt in a puddle or settle on the solid earth.

Falling quickly, softly, gently, here and there

Towards you.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Princess Marshmallow

is like a box of chocolates

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A Sweet Dream, or a Beautiful Nighmare?

Testing me and blessing me.
Which way do I turn, where am I supposed to go?
To You.

The One.

This was meant to be posted a few weeks ago

Not necessarily good or bad, just some things I’ve noticed…

Some people I seem to attract:

Are quite loud / talkative (this is not a bad thing, I am very quiet or can be depending on my mood

Are from large traditional families

Speak in a funny way

Have a lot of female friends

Buy me really nice books as surprise presents (this is definitely not a bad thing)

Are, from within their own nations of origin, somewhat looked down upon for whatever reason

Have baggage (but then who doesn’t, I have baggage too)

Are the middle child (middle child syndrome?)

Can be too damn cute sometimes.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Random Jottings

We used to get a newsletter from an Islamic organisation called The Message. I think we still do, but the best pages are no longer featured. Entitled Random Jottings (and this bunch of random thoughts is a remembrance/celebration to that) they had the funniest and yes the most random bits of information and stories on there.

Does every man think he is God’s gift? It seems so; from the most humble to the egotistical, richest to poor, black to white, big to small, and everything in between. You’re nice, there’s no doubting that, but your hardly Prophet Yusuf now are you?!

Being at the mosque for Eid salaat yesterday was nice. I love the takbeers and the atmosphere. It actually feels like Eid. And it’s also a bit of a fashion show. Many would complain against this, but I see it in the best possible light – and I love it. I love greeting my dad and brother when we come outside, it’s the only time my little brother will actually hug me willingly in public. I tried giving him a kiss just to embarrass him but of course he wasn’t having any of it. One day I’ll get it though! It makes me sad to think that one of these eids may even be my last eid at home with my family, if things are meant to work out that way. I know its life, but it’s still sad.

Yesterday I really felt like part of the community. This doesn’t happen often. Rarely. Hardly ever. Being in the mosque and then being greeted by ‘Hi Miss!’ and ‘Eid Mubarak Miss!’ was actually really nice. And meeting parents and being invited home for tea. I don know if it’s the recognition, and/or the stroking of the ego, but it felt nice nonetheless.

Even though I’ve been back a few weeks, people keep asking me about Ghana. (I wore my new long green dress from the market on eid day. Loved it) My response – amazing. And it was. A truly blessed experience. Beautiful in every sense. The people, the food (of course!) the place, the opportunity, the history and culture, the scenes and sounds and sights and smells. Observing lessons, even teaching a class, presenting at a head teacher’s conference, the British Council and Ministry of Education, as well as drumming and dancing and the beach, cape coast slave port, the market place and hotel. Subhanallah to the lush palm trees and breathtaking sunsets – the sun would sink below the horizon at an astonishing speed, with an array of fiery and pastel hues dashed around the impending darkness of the night sky. Sights that not even the most talented artist could have envisaged.

On our return, my friend and teacher travel buddy commented that we were returning to reality. But were we? Or rather were we returning to the bubble we are so accustomed to; of luxury and privilege and chaos and existence? Even though we were only there for a week, felt like it was much longer, and we weren’t coming back to life; that we had, amongst the deadlines and paperwork, forgotten what life actually is. But then it’s all relative isn’t it. Whilst they have a lot to do, we also have an immense amount to learn from them. Culture seems to get in the way quite a lot doesn’t it. I’m craving grilled chicken, with some salad and yam chips, followed by plantain, washed down with Alvaro or glass bottle Coke. And the kids are so amazingly beautiful, mashallah. I know why Madonna steals babies, hehe.

What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you? Not just a guy who thinks you’re pretty and wants your attention, but something that someone has said, and really meant it. A few things come to mind, but this is one I remember a lot.

Dad: if you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?

Me: ummm… a strawberry.

Dad: why’s that?

Brother: cos she’s small and red and round, hahaha

Me: hahaha

Dad: I thought you’d be a pomegranate.

Me: a pomegranate? Ooh I love pomegranates. But why?

Dad: cos pomegranates are nice to look at from the outside, but once you look inside, they are just fascinating.


Heard something on the radio news during the week that someone had been arrested / on trial for preparing, or inciting jihad or something like that. Jihad. Like seriously. Do you even know what it is? The philosophy behind it all? Do not use such a term so loosely. Learn and then apply. A little less intelligence a little more intelligence me thinks. So like, I’m in the news every day. How is the media portraying me now? Still the oppressed female, still the religious fanatic. Open your eyes and open your mind, and listen with your ears. And you’ll learn something new that you didn’t know before.

The next item on the news was about integrating Muslims and trying to include them in society. Ha. I wonder, did anyone else not get the irony in this?

Men really are like buses aren’t they. You wait for ages, and they all come at once. It’s been ages since I’ve been on a bus (literally, in real life). Two more to complete the over, let’s see if I can hit a six…inshallah ;)

Matters of the heart, and mind, and body and soul, all mixed up and everything in between.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Eid-ul-Adha 2009

The footsteps of Ibraheem. Sacrifice what you have been abundantly blessed with. As humanity gathers, and souls are cleansed, the hungry are fed, and thirst quenched. But forget not, that time passes, carries, at speed. And forget not, the promise you made, to yourself, your lord, of peace.

Memories, of what seem a distant time, a land, a space, seep though and highlight the day. Wishes of a future, nearer to The Creator; mind, body, spirit, soul.

As we gather with love, and away from it, as we share what we have to, need to, want to. As the footsteps in the sand are wind swept away, let your intention be pure, even if it seeks otherwise.

Blessed be your day, your time, your space, you.

Eid Mubarak.

Words, words are all I sung by Ronan and the boyz(one)

Words can sometimes never express what we really mean, or feel. They have this innate inability to never do what you want them to do. Or perhaps its our own inadequacies of weaving through the complexities of language. This whole communication thing has often gotten me into various degrees of trouble. Sometimes however, we find that someone else has somehow managed to articulate our personal philosophies. Perhaps what has been circulating around the floors of our minds or spiralling in our hearts. And you then feel glad that someone has managed to do it, albeit with that tinge of jealousy. Either way, at least words are there. But they'll often fail you when you need them the most. Or come to you too late.

A student gave me something she had written and wanted me to read it. It was simple, but so nice. I felt honoured that she asked my opinion - it wasnt really anything to do with what we wre learning about in class, well not explicitly anyways. It was about God, and life and belief and curiosity. Such a sweet nice talented girl. I really do wish her all the very best. When she asked for advice, I told her to keep writing. Whatever came to mind, whatever came to heart, whatever she wondered or felt, it would always be better on paper. Getting things out, whether anyone reads them or not, can free you. Like a release.

Having said that, I need to take my own advice. So much I've been experiencing and thinking and feeling that I haven't yet penned or typed. Stored away in the files of my memory, could be lost at any moment. I will write them, becuase I do want to. I want to keep this going, and improve it and improve myself. I dont want things to go stale. And that is quite scary. When mundane day to day life takes over, and you dont even have time for your own thoughts, your ideas, your hopes and fears and dreams. When the to do list is so long, that there is no longer time to live,merely exist. Or perhaps this brings my personal organisation into question. Either way, I've finally gotten this done. More msuigns to be outpoured in the near future me thinks.

I was asked recently by someone I had just met whether I had a blog, and I lied. I said no. Im not too sure why I did that. Well there's another lie. One always leads to another. See how words get you into trouble? It gets too confusing to keep up and cover each track. A split decision, I didnt want him to see it. Some very important people in my life do not know of its existance. Some do. Some may chance upon it. For strangers or family, its now in the public domain. Also said individual has too many close connections for the time being. Nice person, but Im wondering if in the future he read this, what he will think. Haha.

Words can escape you, elude you, delude you, trick you and make you fall. Make them real. Dont give me words. Whilst in short supply, there are enough of those already. Show me how you get down (a la migraine skank if you so wish). Let me see some action.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Work Rant

Do Uff nights precede uff days?

I like my job, I do. Its fun and interesting and creative and challenging. But today was not one of those days. Getting out of bed in the morning kills it. You can imagine how the rest of the day unfolds.

I’m usually noted for my manner with the classes I teach, and the positive relationship I’ve managed to build up with them. However, the past few days would prove this to be but a myth. I’ve been irritable, ratty, impatient. I’ve even shouted. And its something I dont generally do. I dont like it and I’m not good at it.

I’ve realised recently that its not the kids that are the problem. They are kids after all, crazy hormonal teens coping with everything modern society and apparent civilisation throws at them. Its the adults. Dont get me wrong, I work with some wonderful people. Some. The others – not so much.

Anyways, driving to work this morning, already pissed off for being later then intended (so whats new there – but this time due to princess little brother taking his sweet ass merry time in the bathroom) thoughts kept coming to me. I needed to get out. I needed to leave. A fresh change, to work somewhere else. Somewhere where I’m not worked to the bone for no gratitude or appreciation. Where I can bloody park my car within a mile radius without having to fight some little woman on a power trip. But all that aside, maybe I do need a break? I feel like I’m not being myself much. I’m hoping this will pass. Soon. Inshallah.

I’m tired of being tired. Feeling run down has become the norm.

I keep reminding myself why I’m doing this job, why I chose this career. I need to stick with it just a little bit longer.

I love learning, so I’d like to return to studying. And not just a student lifestyle! And travelling is my passion, and sometimes, like today, I want to pack up and fly away. Forget packing up, the flying is enough. A dream come true would be the combination of both, with some extra benefits thrown in ;)

There are good days, great days, amazing moments, all be them few and far in between. I just haven’t had them recently. So maybe thats what I need.

And then, being on time for an appointment at the opticians, i was made to wait 45 mins for a 5 minute check. Yes, 45 frickin minutes!!! What the hell was that all about. Oh sorry about that, we ahd three young children to test. So? Dont youknow little kids take forever to have their eyes checked? I knew that adn i’m not anywhere near being an optician, or even dispensing. Lack of common sense that wasted an hour of my life. Can’t you even book appoinments? Is that too much for you? If its one thing I can’t stand its incompetence. I know I’m not perfect at my job, but I’ve pretty much got the basics down. Sort it out. Bloody hell.


I just watched life. Life and colour and survival and..kinda puts things into perspective doesn’t it. Subhanallah.


What is it that holds us back? Is out my own inadequacy and lack of capability. No. I’m intelligent, perceptive, and sensitive. Perhaps its my fear. Im scared. And I dont know what of. Of getting burnt? Of achieving? Of being the best I can be? Of making a real live difference? Of being successful? Of being happy? Is it all too much to be accountable for? Or am I really just scared of trying, ‘cos you never know what is going to happen, right?

I can’t keep comparing things to the way they were. What has been has come and gone, and will never return. I will never be exactly the was I was, and nor will the circumstances. If I keep comparing things, will I ever truly be able to live, as opposed to merely exist? I need to value the past for what it was – the past. I cant let it dictate my future. I have to take new things, new people, new challenges as they come. As every experience builds who we are, you cant let it dictate to you. Learn from it. Learn from others. Dont make their mistakes as well as your own.

Isn’t it sometimes ok to be a bit cheesy, a bit contrived, to say whats actually going on in your heart or your mind? To let the barriers down? To trust? But what if you’re not even sure if you can trust yourself anymore. Then what?

And as these thoughts spun and dizzied around in my mind late last night, preventing me from falling asleep and keeping me wide awake, I imagined the past meeting the future in some collision, where I ended up in tears and my make up ran down my face and I looked like a clown in mourning. A bit of bathos for you there. I imagined pain, and tension and perhaps even some anguish, but it was overwritten with care and compassion and understanding. But what if the latter isn’t present? And then the question came – what are you thinking? If only I could tell you. It would have been unfair of me to ask you the same question I couldn’t answer myself. But that doesn’t detract away from me wanting to know. If only you knew.

You’ve given me that little bit of faith back. Thank you. Thank Allah who brought you to me, or me to you. Even for this, I am grateful.

As the ebbs and flows of time tease us, do we become but servants of our own fate? Will we let ourselves be mocked, will I allow myself to be derided? Perhaps I’m scared that the past will cloud over whats to come. But I’ve got to be honest, about my intentions and about myself. I’m going to face things, I’m going to have to face myself. As scary as it is, worse than cockroaches or heights or being burnt, if I dont face myself, who will?

Friday, 9 October 2009


So I read out the poem at my friend's wedding. I was so nervous, I was shaking, but it was amazing. As in, it was an amazing experience, not that I was amazing. My hand was shaking but I tried to rad it as best I could in front of 400 people. And my lil brother filmed me on his phone. I think quite a few people did, which isnt a very nice thought. But such is modern technology I'm afraid. The acousitcs in the hall were quite bad, but it still worked, and it was a beautiful setting. I was up on a balcony with the bride, groom, cake and chocoalte cups (yum) and it felt really special. I'm so glad I could do something cool for my friends on their wedding day, they deserve every happiness. They've been through so much. Inshallah they will live happily ever after. I started crying when my friend's dad brought her into the hall after the nikkah. It just shook me inside. The ruksati...well I was ok but thats another story. The favour biscuits went down well with tea for breakfast the next morning though :) Shame I dodnt get a picture of them. I got some really cool shots though, quite pleased with them. The whole weekend was amazing. Some great memories there, which will be with us for years. Happy times to draw on and be grateful for when things get tough.

A few people came up to me afterwords to tell me how good it was, which was so sweet. The best was one little girl, who must have been about 8 or 9 came up to me and was like 'Oh my I just loved your poem, its better than mine adn my sister's all the other poems I've written, it was great!' with a big grin and two thumbs up. !!!!! How cute is that, so sweet. I was so humbled. And then I had a conversation with her all about the poem and the wedding, at which point the dj started up, so we went on to speak about dancing, and I encouraged her to get on the dance floor and have some fun. Thinking about this later, I realised ooopps, not meant to be encouraging young girls to be doing that. So I thought, hopefully, she'll get it all out of her system now, so when she hits puberty and beyond its not a big deal. Or that cos she's still a kid, it doesnt count anyways. But what if she gets a taste for it and keeps up the dancing and then Im held accountable cos I was the one who encouraged her and its all my fault. Oooopps! Astaghfirullah. And then I met a friend from college who I hadn't seen since I was 18 and we lost touch and it was just too good to see her again and I got all excited and forgot about it. So you can see my conundrum.

I've just realised how chunky my paragraphs are, and they really need to be broken down, but I'm going to leave them. They are but thoughts after all.

Its been such a busy week. been out every night after work, and am seriously sleep deprived. Its been fun though, and I plan to spend saturday in hibernation. Zzzz.

It was National Poetry Day at work the other day, and there was a competition for the best poem, the theme being heroes. One for students and one for staff. I really wanted to write soemthign for the staff competition, but had like zero insppiration or ideas. So I jotted some notes and random thoughts down, and here's what I came up with. I thought it was a bit crap but a friend told me he loved it, which made me go all warm and fuzzy inside :) Anyways, here it is. Make of it what you will, and anyone who is reading this feel free to leave your comments.

Without an atlas, you found a way. Straying from the path, you found a new one.

Its not blood that binds us; cells and molecules,

Related by something deeper.

From one of us, chosen amongst us,

An orphan lost, searching for home.

Fought the battle, as it rages on, soldiers are weaker, the enemy snowballs. But you won the peace,

Of my heart

Peace is with you.

The desire to be with you, to share water with you.

Faith in you, and your faith in me. As the moon splits and the mountains move, boulders turn to wisps of cotton.

Arid desert, dry. To severity and harshness you brought serenity; luscious green.

Darkness though to light, arrogance to gratitude,

Thorns in your path, nor blood, nor words, nor derision hindered you. You still found me.

You, because you’ve always been there.

Held up the sky, kept the rain out.

Endure valiantly, noble in the face of oppression.

Maintain your dignity, fought with resilience, caged in.

Lead from danger to safety, the innocent depend on you, guiding though the mines,

Under fire. Unsung.

True love and knowledge,

Promises have been kept, the trust will never be broken.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Public Speaking

So, the poem I worte and read out at the Sangeet, my friends loved it. I'm really glad they liked it. I even saw the groom (both bride and groom are old friends since way back) wipe a tear away. I didnt mean to make anyone cry! But I'm happy that it made them happy.

When I went up to them after to give them the poem and get a hug (they were well surprised) they asked me to read it out at their wedding. That was my surprise. I was so humbled.

The wedding is on saturday. About 400 people. Eeeekkkk!!!

I know I teach public speaking, now its time to actually do it...but 400 people!! Need to get some practice in. Some words have changed since I posted it cos of a few suggestions that I liked. I'm going to leave it as it is now. I'm getting nervous thinking about it. But I know it will be a good expreience inshallah.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Surprise Poem for a Friend's Wedding

There is a field out beyond right and wrong, where wisdom resides.

I will meet you there. Perhaps a meadow, under which rivers flow,

Shaded by palms, fountains and stars. I will meet you there.

Where there is you, where there is me; where we need not be perfect, for perfection already exists.

Where there is you , where there is me, and it is worth it.

Where coolness cleanses our eyes,

Tranquility for our minds, peace in our hearts, serenity in our souls.

With the sturdiness of a rock;

The steadfastness of a mountain,

Patient in the dessert, holding on to the essence,

Searching for the One.

Searching for the One,

In each other’s eyes, through each other’s souls, the promise has been agreed.

May our embrace, and let our mercy,

Lead us to One.

Through mountains and meadows,

From great heights and shallow waters; tempestuous oceans and testing waves,

Serene sunsets, along autumnal hues, spring time blossom.

May you glide on wings of hope and fear, guided by your love, towards divine grace.

Let us not be entangled by days, by nights, by this world.

We have another space, we have another time.

I will meet you there.

I wrote this to read at one of the events of a very close friend's wedding. I've known her since secondary school, thats most of my life. Its a surprise, I really hope she likes it.

I've taken some bits from Rumi and Iqbal, and even some words from the Quran and hadith. Then I added some bits of my own. Some of it I had already written before and put in another friend's wedding card, but I thought it would still be ok to include it here. Now I'm scared that I have to read it out infront of about 60 people. No learning objective and no plenary, those listening can make of it what they will. Its kind of like my dua too. I hope the poem, and surprise, go down well.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Chilling with Mum

Shaykh on TV: ...the following types of people will always have their dua accepted; a traveller, a father praying for his child, and a fasting person.

Me to mum: Lets send dad on a journey during ramadan and give him a list of things to pray for.

Hehe ;)

Ugly Exes and Randomness

I was looking through some old photos the other day. Thats what I do a a lot of, look at photos. I came across a bunch from a friend's nikkah. She really was one of the most beautiful brides I've ever seen. Simple and elegant and absolutely stunning. Said friend has since divorced, and its been over a year. It was such a happy time, and looking over them made me feel sad and nostalgic, even though I hadnt known her for very long then. What really got me though was the sight of her then husband in the pictures, ugh. Looking at him just made me feel sick. What I woud like to do to him if I ever saw him. How he could single handedly cause someone so much pain and grief. I actually felt physically ill. Its like when you see something disgusting on one of those medical dramas, you can't bear to look at it, but at the same time you can't not look at it. I would't mind pushing him infront of a bus, or off a cliff. And he's so ugly. I hate saying people are unattractive or whatever cos I think its wrong, but his actions have made him something detestable. Put chewing gum in his horrible hair, or cause him some sort of pain. Ok I'm not that violent, really, but he just made me ill. I feel ill thinking about it now. Its like his ugliness has seeped though his innards to his exterior. I also feel horrible thinking of it and saying it and writing it but uuuggghhhhh he makes me ill. She's so much better than him and worth so much more. And I'm not just saying that cos she's my friend, we hardly even see each other anymore but that doesn't mean you stop praying for someone. But its true.

And another friend and her new shiny husband (mashallah - love these guys) came over for iftar last night. Was so nice and civilied and grown up. Not that we are not civilised, we are, very. But the grown up part, dinner parties n all that...that's what grown ups do. Which reminds me, I want to make salmon n noodles for friends after Eid....sooo good...but may have to wait a while cos of another friend's wedding. I'm quite sad that ramadan has come and is going, so fast. It always does doesn't it, starts off a bit slow, and then rushes by you, and you're left thinking, what happened to all the things I was meant to do, and the all the things I was meant to change and improve. What happened to the good intentions and resolutions, and the beat and the rythm, and the heart and the pace, as the moon rises for the night, the sun sets on another day. Clocks keep ticking, alarms keep ringing, doors open and slamming, but what about us? Are we still the same?

Monday, 7 September 2009

A sweet dream, or a beautiful nightmare?

So like, what’s the dealio with dreams after fajr? Is it that they mean nothing, or have been inspired by something within us rather than something higher? Or maybe even something lower?

My dreams are always very clear, almost like watching a film, or a short clip. Vivid in visuals and sentiment. I often awake with a strong sense of whatever I was feeling and experiencing during slumber, which often overrides into waking hours and sometimes even tends to punctuate my day. On awaking, but sometimes a while afterwards as well, I can clearly remember what happened – the plot, who was in it – the characters, their actions and motivations, themes, ideas and emotions, as well as colours, sights, sounds and any physical sensation. Ok so its sounding a bit like a GCSE mark scheme (not the physical sensation bit), but I can even dream in different languages. Ok, English and Spanish.

I don’t often know the meanings of dreams, but I know that they meant something, or were about something in particular. A beautiful thing is dreaming of someone you love who has passed away, seeing them dressed in white and happy. That’s when you know dreams are made of something special, something not from this world.

I’ve dreamt of you many times. Anoche soni de ti. Ya lo se que todo se ha terminado, pero todavia, a veces, estas conmigo. It’s not like I was trying either way, pero voy a decir las cosas como son. So we were on Green St, of all places! You weren’t fasting and eating a sliced tomato, y estabamos hablando y charlando como normal, como antes. Hemos quedado desde hace mucho tiempo, and you convinced me quedar otra vez. Ademas, deje mis amigas por ti. Anyways, fuimos a un sitio para romper el ayuno, y querias mirar en una tienda, y probar una chaqueta azul. You were your old lovable self with me, bailando y hacienda algunas tonterias y bromas. And suddenly, diste una vuelta en la chaqueta, y me besaste por la cara. Un beso muy dulce. Y me despierto. Y el sueno se ha terminado. No lo se si todavia me quieres. Pense que no te quiero, pero la verdad es que no estoy seguro seguro. Quizas siempre te querre, quizas siempre tendras un trocito de mi Corazon. O puedo ser, que dreams after fajr mean nothing. Quien puede decir, entre nosotros, que es el amor, o que son los suenos?

Sunday, 6 September 2009

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.

We are lutes, no more, no less.

When you’re full of food and drink, Satan sits

where your spirit should,

an ugly metal statue in place of the Kaaba.

If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting...,

every moment a new song comes out of the fire.

The fog clears, and new energy makes you

run up the steps in front of you.

Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.

Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.


Saturday, 5 September 2009

How Blissful is Ignorance?

Ignorance is bliss, I’ve always thought. Yet my practices in life seem to demonstrate the opposite. I love to know stuff, and find out, and I love learning and trying new things. However, I also love doing this to my detriment it seems. I must be some sort of sadomasochist who likes pain or something. Forget facebook, its face stalk. I’ve lost count of the number of times, I’ve clicked a few times here and there, and there it is, information that maybe I wanted to know, perhaps needed to know, but really doesn’t make me feel any better. In fact, it makes me feel pretty crap. Therefore, ignorance is bliss. But then, if you know stuff, you’ll be better prepared for when the truth comes out anyways? But then, if you know stuff, you can’t come clean and say you know can you, cos you’re not meant to know in the first place, and then answering the question of how did you find out…that’s another story. I probably come across as bit of a psycho, but then most women are. Nay, most humans. And I'm not half as bad as some people, fact. I hope. I'm just being honest here, everyone hides their psycho side till its too late.

So I’ve found out lots of things I’m not supposed to. I’m naturally quite perceptive, and my own instinct and inclination play a large part in the way I interact. I’m no psychic or anything, but gut feelings are more often than not correct. And top of everything else I have communication issues, and I’m a very private person. I hate people lying to me, especially when I know something is going on. Do not insult my intelligence. Just be honest. Say yeah there is stuff, but I’m sorry I can’t tell you. Fair enough. Don’t cover it up with some stupid story that I can see right through.

Anyways, some random things I have found out, some small and insignificant, some quite big: who is going out with whom, who is friends with whom and what they are up to. The places people go and things they have done, the ex and the ex of the ex, what the ex is doing and who with and his whereabouts and friends and relationships. How close people really are and what they portray themselves to be. The potentials, and the potential’s potentials (yep!), and what the potential is up to and who with and their comments on other’s notes which leads to their blog which you’re not supposed to read yet…yep stalker extraordinaire. I need to stop, I wonder if I can. And its not just the internet, although it plays a large part.

So how blissful is ignorance? And does knowledge get you into too much trouble? Cos islamically, if you know something, you’re meant to pass it on, and act on it. (And consider one person for marriage at a time, right? Ok different point, and marriage is a bit far off right now) I’m my worst enemy.

And is exclusivity too much to ask? Ok this is a different topic, but when you’re getting to know someone, is it reasonable that you are the only person they are getting to know? Say you found out, that you weren’t the only person they were emailing, and my emailing I mean long, deep and meaningful emails about stuff you may not have even articulated before. Hmmmm…now say you haven’t made your mind up yet about the potential, you’re ok with meeting up and going out and stuff, but you want to be the only one he is seeing, right? The same way he is he only one you’re seeing? Other offers were coming up, and I brushed them off cos I wasn’t sure if ‘talking’ to two people at a time is ok? Ok, I’m not sleeping with them, just talking and getting to know them, but the end objective is in mind. And as the world keeps reminding me, I should be married, or getting married by now, but that’s for another post. It’s not like this guy is the rebound, it’s too late for that I think, and I have met loads of other guys since, but this is the first one I’m getting to know properly. (I also think I need another note on c-to-the-l.o- 4 sure, uh oh uh oh!!) Even though it is just over email. And what are emails after all? Are they that meaningful? I guess I can just see how it goes. But I know that he’s juggling potentials, but he doesn’t know that I know, see the problem? So, ignorance; bliss or burden?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


I just realized that the title of this blog, The Orange Tree, sounds like the name of a pub. Actually I think there is a pub with the name in Finchley. Ah well.

This was on a friend’s facebook post and I had to copy. We are tested in so many ways. Sometimes, when things are good, or life isn’t too bad, we forget we are being tested. We forget our blessings and who we have been blessed by. As the one whose all sins were forgiven - the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, ‘Should I not be a grateful servant?’

The aim of the game – write down one thing for each letter, with a small explanation if you want. Try it out.

A. Always Ultra – this sounds dumb, but we can afford the little things that let us get on with life as normal. Imagine if you were in a war torn country, and supplies ran out. Doesn’t bare thinking about really.

B. Beauty – it’s a harsh world, but its there. And lots of it. Open your eyes to receive many gifts. And Beyonce – good times!

C. Chocolate – need I say more? And contact lenses. My glasses annoy me.

D. Driving – I love my car. And Dancing. Its all about shaking what ya mama gave ya aaiiight!

E. Everything? Ok how about Eyes. Big ones, pretty ones, deep ones, ones to stare into, ones to see with. Oh and Education.

F. Food! – I’m a foody. Also half the world doesn’t have enough and we have too much. And it’s Ramadan, so you know what I’m talking about. And family. And friends.

G. Ghana – all expenses paid, yeah that’s what I’m talking about!

H. Halal marshmallows. Yeah baby!

I. Ice cream – see how most of mine are to do with food? And Ice in coke with lemon on a hot day.

J. Jumpers – when its cold we’re snug and warm. Hoodies also falls into the ‘jumpers’ category. And my Job – really hard work but I am grateful for it.

K. Kenya – so beautiful and although some people can be annoying I’m glad I’m from there, east African Asian is the best kind of Asian!

L. Love – there’s not a lot of it around, but some people don’t have any. Parents, siblings, family, friends, your partner, your deen, the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, Allah. Love it.

M. Money – some people have none. And mobiles – can anyone remember life before them?

N. Nandos!!

O. Orange trees

P. Parents. Don’t know what I did to deserve such great people in my life.

Q. Queues in this country. Ok so I’m inherently British, but in a mob I’m always scared I’ll get pushed to the back…I’m not a pushy person

R. Riaz. I love my brother the most!

S. Silly-ness. Why so serious all the time?

T. My driving instructor T. I wouldn’t have passed without him, and he also became a good therapist for that time! And travelling.

U. The umbrella song – no I don’t like it that much but it provides for a karaoke classic as my girlies will tell you

V. Vitamins…vitality…the letter V..did you know it doesn’t exist in Arabic?

W. www – what would we do without the internet? Go to the library maybe. Has made life lazy but easy 

X. xxx – kisses. Mwah!

Y. my Yellow cardigan , a piece of sunshine in my wardrobe. And YumYums, one of my favourite restaurants with some great memories

Z. Zzzzz…yep its sweet dreams in my lovely bed. Night.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


This was written by a friend, and i thought it was so spot on I had to share. She's managed to articulate what I've been thinking and feeling. Enjoy.

It is Ramadhan.
I'm not the sort who really talks about these kinds of things. Religious things, matters of belief. Not in any kind of concrete way, in any case. I don't really discuss my belief in a deity, my visions of heaven and/or hell, or even whether I believe in them. I'm not really that way inclined. I don't hide it - as soon as you look at me it's fairly obvious what faith I follow. But I don't talk about the nitty-gritty. For me, it's very personal. I don't like to make an issue of my beliefs, I don't want you to feel as though I'm attacking yours and I certainly don't believe in trying to 'convert'.
So it's unusual for me to write something like this.
During Ramadhan, Muslims aren't supposed to eat or drink between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Or at least, that's the general perception. Now, the reasons are many. Partly, it's to experience the hunger and thirst that many people feel every day. Partly, it's to increase will-power. And, partly, it is mental to be a symbol of self-sacrifice, our attempt at asceticism. For a month you forget your carnal pleasures (for what is more carnal than food?) and you pursue 'higher' experiences. One is encouraged to aim for spiritual perfection, and, with it, nearness to God. How you attain it is, of course, highly personal. Some pray. Some read. Some meditate. The paths to spirituality are many; the goal, however, is singular.
Or so we like to think. For I believe, as I have for many years, that we have lost sight of the goal. The goal now is a dinner which will provide all the calories you've denied yourself throughout the day. The fast? A means to an end. An excuse to gorge, to be seduced by plates piled high with sweet, fattening delights.
I'm a firm believer in abstinence during Ramadhan. I'm not some kind of joyless Puritan, but I do believe that if you wish to cleanse your mind, or your spirit, you must first cleanse your physical being. For many thousands of years people have denied themselves that which they crave in order to attain a higher state of being. Separation from worldly desires allows one to experience altered perceptions.

Every year, I hope to gain something from the fasting. The hunger isn't important to me; I can deal with the thirst. But I don't want to do it for a month and feel nothing change inside me. I'm not one for religious dogma; to me the essence is deeper than that.

It's quite common to be invited for dinner during Ramadhan. My first (and so far only) invitation was last weekend. It was a big thing - there must have been some eighty people there. So, after the requisite prayers, we ate. It's a vision I've seen many times and I hope to never see again.

There's something about being hungry that makes you grab every edible thing in sight. I understand that. I suffer from ‘eyes bigger than mouth’ syndrome. But, come Ramadhan, I try to stop it. I change my eating habits. There is something decidedly unhealthy about starving yourself all day and then devouring a mountain of deep-fried goods. It’s something I refrain from. I believe it’s more than one’s digestive system can deal with. It’s easy for me because I actually don’t like eating fried food. I accept that it is difficult for other people to abstain. My equivalent to fried food is probably something cake-ish.

So for me, an average meal in Ramadhan will consist of tea, fruit and a small plate of something substantial. I aim to subsist on as little as I possibly can, not in an attempt, to shed weight (decidedly NOT the point of the fasting) but in an effort to retrain my body, to teach it, and myself, that a life of excess and instant gratification is not the reason we exist. But, of course, we live lives of instant gratification. ‘I want’ regularly leads to ‘I get’. And we have no sense of the privilege of that situation. If I want calorific chocolate cake I can have it delivered to me in twenty minutes. I don’t need to work for it; I don’t need to earn it. I demand, and my demand is honoured.

Back at dinner, I saw what appeared to be a mob diving for food. Pastries, cutlets, spring rolls, chicken, lamb, bread, rice. No queues, no one waving someone ahead of them. Just people scrambling to the front. And not just for something to take the edge off the hunger pangs.

I imagine it’s been exacerbated by my recent trip, but I could hardly bear the sight of such privileged, comfortable people diving for spring rolls. I don’t understand how one can remain hungry for sixteen hours, perhaps more, and then lose all self-control the moment they see something edible. How can you lose your restraint like that? I caught myself thinking, as I have before, about our animalistic traits. Manners fly out of the window. We eat as though we will never eat again, as though we need to shove as much inside ourselves as we possibly can to survive the next day.

But in this we lose sight of one of the reasons for the fast – to remember those who don’t have food. Many people, prior to Ramadhan, will donate money to provide food for those who would otherwise go hungry. It’s an admirable thing to do, though I wonder who feeds those people during the other eleven months of the year. But feeding a hungry person isn’t enough. It doesn’t give you a license to forget about them and seek to satisfy only your own physical self.

And fasting isn’t about being hungry. Not really. It’s about learning to appreciate those things we take for granted. It’s not about going out for an expensive dinner and then walking past the hungry, cold homeless person sitting in the next doorway. It’s about self-sacrifice, it’s about empathy with other people, it’s about becoming more humane.

But we’ve forgotten all that. And we are the losers. We’ve forgotten that if you wish to attain spiritual enlightenment you need to do a bit more than skip breakfast and lunch.

God help us.

(By M.R)

Ramadan Nights

Is it me or is there something special about nights during Ramadan? Its just different. You can almost feel it in the air; something happens to the atmosphere and the all the molecules and particles and bits and pieces have a certain buzz to them -  or a certain serenity. 

Or am I taking hope to the next level?!

Its like peace has descended, tranquility is here, and calm is in charge. Although not the kind of in charge that yells and bosses you around, but the kind that reminds you, gently, of what you are wasting and the potential you have.

When people drive by noisily, imposing their choice of music upon you, or making lots of rude noise, I uncharacteristically feel like telling them to shush; you're disturbing the peace!

Surround yourself with coolness and sakeenah, let yourself be enveloped, encapsulated, embraced by the infinite mercy.

If only we really knew.

Soften your heart,
Open your mind,
Release your soul.


Sunday, 30 August 2009

and check out these amazing pics of Ramadan across the globe:

My First Post

So I’ve finally decided to start wiring a blog. About 10 years too late, but then its never too late is it? Don’t even know if I will keep it up. And why an orange Tree? Becuase I love orange trees. They are a sight for sore eyes. So simple yet so beautiful. And they remind me of Spain of course. From the courtyard of the Mezquita Catedral in Cordoba, to lining the streets all over the peninsula.

Some possible titles that I could have written about over the past few years had I not been so lazy: All the places I have been to, The Weddings (not mine), The Russian, The Swiss Sri Lankan, The Tall Solicitor, The Short Solicitor, Crocodile Shoes, 8th of the 8th, The Imam, etc etc etc. Maybe they’ll pop up here and there. Or many be I should leave the past in the past. But thats what forms us as indivuduals and characters isn’t it.

Words and sentences form in my head like concertinas and springs, and its finally time to write them down. I dont care if nobody reads this. Actually, it would be nice if some random strangers fell upon it in cyberspace. But I’m not writing for them. I’m writing for me. There’s too much bottled up and somethings got to let out.

So what should I make my first post about? Marshmallows. I love marshmallows. And bless Asda for stocking halal ones. I even had some for sehri today, hehe. Soft and fluffy and sweet and satisfying. In Spanish they are called nubes (pronounced noo-bes) which translates directly as clouds. How perfect is that. Sweet clouds. Sometimes the best part of a flight is ascending through the clouds and being directly above them. I imagine it to be like a bouncy castle but with the texture of expensive cotton wool. Some friends and I were once talking about having a marshmallow ceremony (ok so mainly it was me talking and coming up with crazy ideas and them humouring me). Like a Japanese tea ceremony, but with marshmallows. And we’d all wear pastel colours, but our goth friend can wear black/brown, cos toasted marshmallows are really good too. If I ever get to jannah, inshallah, marshmallows will have a big part to play there :-)

9th fast today. Ramadan Kareem to you all.