Friday, 27 August 2010

One does not simply walk into Mordor.

It has been a melancholy sort of a day. One of those eerily quiet ones, where it's all sunny and everything is still. I turned the fan on in my room, and now don't want to turn it off because it's the only background noise around. I don't think I've spoken more than about 5 words out loud since I woke up.
So yes, despite having a less-than-interesting life, I am blogging due to excessive blackmail from my Aunty Em. Here is the lowdown on life at the moment:
  • I have dredged up the beginnings of an old story from my Documents, and have decided it's worth carrying on with, rather than starting something new (as I have no new ideas). I rather like it, but surprise myself with how depressing the subject matter of my stories tend to be. I can't write about happy people! That must point to some kind of neurosis...
  • My cough remains stubbornly here, and I have now progressed onto those kinds of high strength medicines that tell you not to operate heavy machinery after you take them. I shall keep that in mind. 
  • The cough medicines mean that I tend to be either sleepy, or asleep. Constantly.
  • The sleepy state means that I have no control over my texting ability. And am liable to send drunken texts without actually being drunk. Who knew, that after laughing at my friends for their pratfalls whilst gazeboed (as Michael Macintyre puts it), I too would wake up every morning and go through my 'sent' box with a serious sense of dread?
  • I have realised that I am really very nervous about moving into a house, after a year of basically isolating myself in my room. I will have to leave my room :| This scares me.
  • I have realised that I am actually kind of looking forward to being a second year, minus house issues. This is an achievement because I have never looked forward to anything in my life without nerves overshadowing the excitement. I worry a lot. But this is the first time the nerves have been outdone! HA! TAKE THAT, WORST-CASE-SCENARIO CENTRE IN MY BRAIN!
  • I am wearing purple today. Yep. Noteworthy.
  • Community is indeed very, very good. What little I've seen of it. 
  • The Kiersey/Myers Briggs personality indicator test thingy is scarily accurate but can make you obsess a bit.
  • I have been sat for the last ten minutes trying to think of another point, which surely speaks for itself.
So that's all I have, except for resurrecting (again) the See Also section.

See Also: My biohazard of a bookshelf, Yoghurt, food-obsession, being scared of phoning people, eyeliner, cleaning, tidying, cooking (and burning), Afghani Taxi Drivers playing less-than-appropriate Jay Sean tracks in the car and making us very uncomfortable, depressing discussions, and further melancholy.

Over and out!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Illness makes me Grouchy.

So Ramadhan is here, and everyone Muslim is blogging about food. Please stop making me hungry. Okay, maybe I shouldn't be on here that much in ramadhan anyway.. Lesson learnt.
 I have had a horrible cough for two weeks now (Thank you Baby Bear. Though I'd still see you again - totally worth it). For the last week it has accompanied a weird, constant leg ache that reeeeeeeeally annoys me. What does leg ache have to do with a cough?! So now I am finally, after two weeks of insisting it was a random cough that would blow over, on antibiotics.

Me: Will they mess up my stomach?
Dad: Have you had them before?
Me: Not in years.
Dad: Then we'll see.
Goodbye, stable digestive system.

I have nothing else noteworthy to share because illness has consumed my life. I can't write- I literally, LITerally have no ideas. And the routine of Ramadhan tends to consume all other activities. Though in fairness I've refused to go out anywhere. Going to the supermarket in ramadhan just kills me. Even salad looks appetising. And that's a sad state of affairs.
OH. I got one of those chain messages today.  I might as well have the rant that was mentally bothering me since I got it:
Please, PLEASE do not forward those crappy chain messages that say something like this:

On the *Insert date*, there will be a protest in *Insert perceived racist country, eg Denmark*, where they will parade insulting pictures of our Prophet. We Muslims must organise our own protests to condemn this terrible event. Forward this to every muslim you know because our Prophet said *Insert made-up Hadith about how people who don't forward chain messages will burn*

There are..well, many problems with these messages and the people who forward them, but let me point some out.
1. Most of the world wasn't aware of that Protest in Denmark/wherever, until your little forwarded message got every Muslim up in arms to the point that they made several thousand angry Facebook groups about it. Now that loads of other morons have found out about it, they're thinking, awesome, why don't we do it here too?
2. Angry Muslims who go up in arms about verbal insults do not help with combatting the sterotype about Muslims being angry people who get up in arms about verbal insults.
3. You are much more likely to burn for forwarding a made up Hadith.

The same principle goes for moronic facebook groups like 'BAN THE GROUP F*** ISLAM'. Well, people, you join that, and the group 'F*** Islam' thanks you kindly for just extending its publicity to your whole friends list, and for boosting its member count. Please do not be so stupid.

Don't get me wrong. I'm as hurt/shocked as anyone by the hatred displayed by these people. But the only people benefitting from you spreading the word with this kind of stuff are A) The ones who set up the groups/organise the protests, and  B) Facebook/Your phone company.

Rant over. 
Sorry. Some things just make me angry, and when I'm angry I go all passive aggressive.
I'll post interesting things next time :D

Oh, and Emadness asked who Baby Bear is:

Meet Ibrahim. The youngest member of the Wolves Crew. His perpetually victimised expression never fails to win me over. Aunty Em, I hope you do not mind me exploiting his cuteness.

Friday, 13 August 2010


          YES, I HAVE RETURNED! It's okay, everyone, you can relax now in the knowledge that I was not kidnapped, mugged or crushed by a heavy object falling from the sky. There is faaaaaar too much to tell.
          Firstly, before I go into weird anecdotes, I should point out that going to Saudi Arabia was, on the whole, amazing. I've been for umrah before, but I don't think I appreciated it, being younger and all. Everything about Makkah is frenzied and crazy, and the people are angry, and you hear nothing but beeping and shouting. You join the huge crowd of people walking towards the mosque and you're basically carried along. But once I was inside the mosque, I felt so awed I couldn't even talk. Madinah, as a city, is the total opposite-  incredibly peaceful and quiet both outside and inside the Mosque. Even the Imams seem to take their time when they lead the prayer. Both places were beautiful in their own way, but by the end I felt more attached to Madinah, just because you're so detached from the world there.
So now, onto noteworthy things:

  • Heat: I cannot describe how utterly cooked we were :| It ranged from mid to high 40s during the day, to lows of 37 at night.
  • Typos/weird phrasing: Being an English-speaking person in Makkah/Madinah is very funny, because anything written in English tends to be horrendously wrong. One shop declared 'ANYONE 2 RIYAALS', which gave me horrific images of children hung up on display with 2 Riyaal price tags. There was also a 'Shopping Canter', and a 'Fruniture Van'. 
  • "Iran?": I was asked this exactly 6 times, by various Arab women. It wasn't a problem until we got to the Mosque in Madinah, and the woman in charge was separating people by nationality. She tried to pull me away from my mum and cousins, insisting that I was just pretending to be Pakistani.  We shouted 'PAKISTAN' at her with no effect, until my mum's younger sister gestured wildly at our salwaars, proving conclusively that we were not Arabs because we dressed like Pakis. She seemed to be satisfied with this and let me go. *shrugs* Paki clothes win! Oh, and there was the street trader who I tried to buy a bottle of water off, who told me the price in Farsi. When I didn't understand he got unaccountably very angry, and started screaming at me in Farsi :| I hid behind the brother and ran away. He continued to scream after me.
  • T-shirts : There was a real trend amongst Saudi teenage boys for T-shirts with English slogans. The problem is, they tended to have bought any shirt with English on it, with no knowledge of what it said, confident that they looked pretty damn cool. Some slogans on t-shirts were as follows: 'Music makes me dance', 'I love my shirt....and you.', 'Wildness in Progress', 'Resist anything but temptation', 'Rockaholic', and 'Perfect Match'.  I had a good laugh, especially at the more camp ones, and got nothing but puzzled and then gradually flattered looks in return. 
  •  Bazaars: Yes. The street traders in general were just...dodgy. Perverse, and actually dodgy- they scrambled to pack up stuff and leave whenever the police drove past. And they'd call us as we went past- one made me laugh when he shouted 'Doctor!', which I think was meant to flatter me and my cousin into going over..? (Or he was having a heart attack and we just ignored him). They also watched like hawks for any sign that we were English, in order to rip us off. I was ripped off several thousand times. Not that I bought anything other than Pepsi and ice cream the whole fortnight :)
  •  Traffic system: Or should I say, the lack thereof. There is no system. Cars just bottleneck, and drive on pavements/over pedestrians to get where they need to be. And if you're walking, you do not stop when  you come to a road. That would be ridiculous. You march out and expect cars to stop for you. I lost count of the number of times I thought I was going to die as the cousins lead us out in front of speeding traffic. That King of the Road hedgehog would've had a coronary.
  •  Taxis: Taxi rides were actually exciting, just because our lives hung by a thread whenever we were in one. I actually loved the battered/worn feel of everything in Makkah and Madinah, the taxis especially. Suspension was just a silly word that nobody had heard of. The seats were torn with stuffing poking out. There were no seatbelts. Rarely any air conditioning. To hail a taxi, we just stood at the side of a busy road, and taxis driving past beeped at us. Fares were negotiated then and there, with the driver shouting to my dad whilst holding up a mile of angry traffic behind him, and then he usually drove off because my dad realised he was ripping us off. Good times :D Beats any taxi I've ever caught in Leicester.
  • The boy who jumped on our taxi: Yes. We'd stopped at a red light, under a bridge, when suddenly there was a thud as somebody jumped from it and hit our van, then a clattering as he climbed up the back of our van and onto the roof. The driver jerked to a halt (almost throwing him off the roof) and made him get down. We watched from inside as the boy (aged about 12)  ran in circles around the taxi, and the driver chased him, in true Tom and Jerry style. He then let the boy sit IN the taxi, saying he'd rather give him a free ride than have the boy fall off the roof to his death. So the boy sat amongst the 10 of us, looking very sheepish. This was incredibly strange.
  • Valley of Jinn- We'd been told there was a 3 mile stretch of desert just outside Madinah where, if you drove your car there and put it in neutral, the car would be 'pushed' out of that area by some invisible force. Our group was on a sightseeing day, when the coach driver agreed to take us there to see it. It was just a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, with desert on either side and mountains in the distance. He drove along the 3 mile stretch for some time, then turned the coach round, put it in neutral and got out of his seat. And seriously, our coach started moving :| It accelerated up to about 60mph by itself, driving in a straight line along perfectly flat land until we were out of that 3 mile area. This was very freaky and I cannot explain it. 
  • Women in Madinah- It's a sad fact that when you go in to the women's area of the Mosque to see the place where the Prophet is buried, it's always a heaving frenzy. There's a serious danger of stampedes, and it tends to be down to the huge Arab women who come in screaming, despairing groups of about 40, and push and shove and step over people to fight their way to the front. Not that I'm just blaming the Arabs, a lot of women push, but they just went over the top when I was there. And it's pretty sickening to see people behaving like that in such a sacred place, where you're supposed to keep your voice down out of respect. I almost came to blows (unintentionally) with a woman who I tapped on the shoulder to tell her to stop shoving me. She got in my face and started shouting in Arabic (apparently saying 'WHAT DID YOU PUSH ME FOR? WHO ARE YOU ANYWAY?!' according to my cousin later.) and this was very scary because she was built like a truck. I did not make that mistake again.
I'm going to stop with the bullet points and put up some of the pictures I took!

The view from our hotel balcony in Madinah.
The complimentary Gecko that came with our room in Madinah.
Sunrise in Makkah

So yeah. That's about it for Saudi- a very abridged version.
The week following my return has been pretty frantic, involving the Wolves crew, and Aunty Em getting all self conscious about blog comments (I was joking!), and Baby Bear being extra cute and Hasan being effeminate, and family gossip and sleepovers at my grandmas, joyful reunions, and my first ever car 'accident' and a GIT of a trolley boy at Asda. But that's going to have to be in the next blog because I have talked WAY too much now :)
Over and out! *waaaves*