Gaza

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Every day is a struggle,

I wake up not knowing if I will live or die,

I live in fear that we I never see tomorrow,

I walk along the empty streets,

Searching for friends and neighbours,

I see my best friend running towards me,

I hear the rocket and watch as it pierces her heart and her body is flown into the air,

I cover my mouths, trying to conceal my scream,

Tears drip down my face I look at the dead corpse lying on the ground,

She was only six and dreamed of being a princess,

Her life taken by a bullet,

Her princess dress torn and covered in blood,

Her innocent face staring at me,

 

My body is numb from the shock,

Tears welling down my face clutching my little princess,

How many more dead bodies do I have to see?

How many mothers will lose their children, sons or husbands?

 

The sounds of rockets startle me and I run for cover,

I pray that no one I know has been killed,

Next time it could be me,

I pray this nightmare will end and I can play again on the streets of Gaza,

I hope I live until I am seven….

 

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Denied boarding at JFK….why? I complained about the Muslim food option…

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I counted down the days to my trip to South America. Each day, I ticked of another day and frantically checked the weather praying that it would be sunny and the rain would stop.

My journey to the Heathrow airport was dashed and hurried and I put it down to bad planning and poor time keeping. As I waited to board, I was told that I had randomly been picked for a security check. Lucky me. What had I done this to deserve this honour? I looked at the other two candidates a Jewish businessperson and a hippy with crazy hair and flip-flops. At least it looked like a fair selection and I was the only female Muslim on the plane, so I guess I had to be searched again. The security woman kindly asked me if I minded. If I said no, would she stop and not carry on with the search? No, she would not. So why ask me if I mind.

I ran into the American Airlines plane with little time to spare. As I made my way to my seat, I noticed how empty the plane was. Great I thought, as I was tired and looking to lie down. The air steward came round informing the passengers that the seats at the front were empty and that we could sit there. Given the choice of two or five seats to myself, I chose five and happily moved. Once I had comfortably sat down, I tried to inform the air flight attendant that I had moved seats so that she could serve me my Muslim meal, which I had ordered. I tried two to three times to inform the staff who dismissed me each time and told me they would deal with it later.

I sat down, stared at the pre-historic tiny screen in front of me, and desperately tried to find something to watch. I learnt that some movies I could not watch as the time has lapsed so I had to wait for the next showing. I also could not pause or forward the movie. This certainly was not what I expected from a leading airline, American Airlines and to one of the busiest airports in the world JFK.

During the flight, the airhostess handed out landing cards for the US. I did not have a pen so I could not fill in the form. I asked the airhostess if she had a pen, she replied back annoyed ‘no’. So I asked her, how I could fill it in with no pen, she told me to ask one of the passengers and again informed me she did not have a pen. I cheekily replied ‘great to see service with a smile hasn’t died’. She asked me what I said and I told her. She barked again, she did not have a pen and I said its fine. Later during the flight, she came back with a pen and I thanked her for it.

My first Muslim meal consisted of rice, chicken, and fruit for dessert. It was edible I guess, but certainly was not a gourmet meal. When asked if I would like a drink, I asked if they had fruit juice, I was told by the steward that fruit juice sounded like a great idea but they only had apple or orange juice. Surely, apple and orange juice was the same thing as a fruit juice. Maybe it was a language barrier and in the US it is referred to as something else. My second Muslim meal consisted of guess what ‘Chicken and rice’ again. Surely, Muslim people eat more than chicken and rice. I wasn’t too keen on the first meal and the thought of having to eat the same meal again made me feel sick. I kindly asked the flight attendant if they had an alternative meal or if I could have the veggie option. She told me, ‘no, we don’t have any spare and you will have to eat your own meal’. I told her that surely they should have one or two spares and that I didn’t want to eat the same food twice and I had connecting flight of 10 hours and didn’t fancy rice and chicken four times in one day. She told me ‘you can buy your own food on the plane and this is what we serve’. I told her I paid for a flight, which included food, handed her the food back, and carried on watching my movie. I didn’t hear from the flight attendant again.

Latter when I went to the toilet, one of the air flight attendant stood in my way for a little longer than needed. I heard her tell another steward that ‘I stood in her way as she is rude and I didn’t want to let her pass’ I asked the stewardess if she was talking about me. The other steward replied ‘no, of course not, she is talking about another passenger’. I ignored both and went back to my seat.

I landed at JFK with a three-hour wait for my connecting flight. I thought all was fine and had no idea the drama I would experience three hours later when I tried to board my flight.

I arrived at the gates and boarded the flight. Once on the flight I was informed that I had to go and speak to the manager and leave the aircraft. I was baffled and couldn’t understand why and the flight was due to take of shortly. What was going on?

Once I arrived at the managers desk she asked me what happened on my previous flight.  She informed me that the cabin crew had complained about me. I only encountered two members of the cabin crew, so surely this couldn’t be all the cabin crew. The manager asked me if I was violent or abusive towards the staff or I had thrown my food at the flight attendant. I told her I was an adult and not a child. Had I known my cheeky comment would have been taken as an abusive comment or that saying I didn’t like the food option wasn’t allowed I would have kept my mouth shut. I was told that I could not board the plane and I would have to catch the next flight to Rio. I was livid and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had spent seven and a half hours on a flight and just waited over three hours at the airport to be told that I couldn’t board. I told the woman I wanted my suitcase and she said it was waiting for me downstairs. Why make me wait three hours for a connecting flight knowing that I will be denied boarding? This was both unfair and ridiculous.

I was forced to catch the next flight to Rio, which was at 7:10pm the next day. This meant I lost a whole day in Rio and my hotel in Rio. I was told that I wouldn’t be entitled to any compensation for the loss incurred to me. Surely, if I were threat as the captain pointed out, then wouldn’t I be a threat on any flight I took. What could I do on a flight? I wasn’t a bloody terrorist for god’s sake….

In conclusion, I wouldn’t travel on America Airlines again even if it was free. I would avoid the airline if you are prone to speaking or making an opinion. It appears that freedom of speech when complaining isn’t allowed in a nation that prides itself on allowing people to speak freely. Take me back on a one way ticket to the UK, where you are allowed to speak freely and an incident like this would never take place. American Airlines, you will never be my number one choice for an airline and thank you for making my journey a nightmare and wasting my time and money.

 

Photo: NYC greatest tourist attraction Statue of Liberty #statueofliberty #nyc #america #newyork #tourist #touristsights

dating a man who treats you wrongly

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I sat down slowly in the fancy restaurant and soaked in the lavish surroundings. The whole place screamed glamour and plush. I couldn’t believe where I was. I observed as the waiters, chefs and restaurant owner knew my dates name and shook his hand. I felt like I was on a date with a celebrity, where everyone knew who he was except for me.

I should have been the happiest woman alive on a date with a supposedly millionaire and hotshot. But, why wasn’t I excited and taking it all in. I sat back and looked again at my surroundings and my date. He wasn’t bad looking, not my usual type but he seemed keen to take me out and dressed well.

I noticed he was constantly distracted and barely took note of what I said. Whatever I said was greeted with a negative and I don’t care attitude. His eyes constantly darted around the room and were never on me for more than 10 seconds. He seemed on edge and that made me feel nervous.

The conversation didn’t flow as freely as I would have liked it. I tried to lighten the situation a few times, but he just didn’t get my humour. Did rich men not have a sense of humour?

Shortly into the date the mood changed when I foolishly made the mistake of telling him I had been to the swanky place before. That’s when his attention rose and the questions came quick fire. Who took me there? Why did I go with another man? I had only met my date twice and he had transformed from a calm man to an impatient and jealous maniac. He asked how much money the man who had taken me out before earns. I didn’t know how to respond and felt on edge. No matter what answer I gave, I was greeted with a response. His mood changed more and more and he grew more impatient and swear words flew out of his mouth with ease. Surely this wasn’t how a second date should be? Surely, he should be trying to impress me with his charm and charisma? Should I be blown away by his 100k Hublot watch and his desire to buy an apartment in Knightsbridge? Did that excuse his behaviour and foul language? I stopped for a second and forwarded the situation to a further six months and it dawned on me that this was a man who wanted a mute woman who looked pretty on his arm and told him how great he was. There was no way on earth I could be that kind of woman not even for a millionaire.

His words got harsher and I took the step to leave and tell him I was going. That’s when he really started laying the insults and swearing at me. I didn’t retaliate back and just held my head up high and walked out of the place as fast as I could. My heart was pounding and I walked as quickly as I could along the busy street trying to get as far as possible from the restaurant. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I looked back at the situation trying to figure out what I did wrong and how this man thought it was justified to swear and speak harshly to me. I thought back to other situations where men had spoken in an abrupt and rude manner towards me. Was I at fault? Was I doing something wrong? I could have stayed in his company and allowed him to speak rudely to me in the hope that he was having a bad day. I was lucky I figure out what he was like on the second date. Some women don’t know what a man is truly like before it’s too late and they have fallen for him.

Everyday a woman will be either physically or mentally abused by a man who tries to belittle her or make her feel worthless. It’s up to us as women to hold our heads up high and believe in our own self-worth. No one has the right to undermine anyone ever, but we can control how someone makes us feel and walk away from a situation before it gets out of hand. 

Going crazy for Korean fashion – Made in Korea

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“When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.
(Confessions of a Shopaholic-the movie)”
― Sophie Kinsella

I like to think I am a fashionable woman and well-dressed majority of the time. I would describe my style as quirky mixed with a girly charm. I am not girly in manner, but I love shoes, handbags, make-up, jewellery, lots, and many clothes. What girl doesn’t love to look good or a shopping spree?

My friends refer to me as a shopaholic and having far too many clothes. However, a girl can never have too many things and there are days where I cannot find anything to wear.

My love of Korean fashion developed on a trip to Camden Market in London and Notting hill. I discovered a stall, which sold incredible girly dresses and quirky jackets and knitted cardigans. I was hooked on the clothes and every weekend I stayed in London, I made a quick stop to the different stalls. My favourite purchases are a blue three quarter sleeved long cardigan with army style buttons. It looks fab with a pair of jeans or teamed with a skirt and dress. I also bought an adorable yellow floral print dress, which reminds me of summer and lifts my mood whenever I wear it.

This year I decided to make a trip to one of the fashion capitals of the world Tokyo. The bright lights, Harujoko, and Lolita girl’s fashion had always fascinated me. I decided to make my journey more exciting and added in two-day stop to Seoul, the capital of Korea for some retail therapy.

I fell in love with Seoul as soon as i entered the airport. The airport was huge and it offered free Wi-Fi, free charging booths, free laptops to surf the net. I hopped onto a metro and headed to Itaewan the ex pat and tourist neighbourhood. I discovered countless boutiques selling all Korean made clothes, jewellery, and bargain prizes. I bought an incredible Channel inspired leather bag with a chunky chain and cute ballerina pumps.

“I love shopping. There is a little bit of magic found in buying something new. It is instant gratification, a quick fix.”
― Rebecca BloomGirl Anatomy: A Novel

What I noticed the most is that the Koreans have a natural effortless style. Both the men and women took pride in their appearance and they loved shopping almost as much as I did. For my second night, I stayed in Myeondong and walked around the market, which came to life at night with hundreds of stalls all selling Korean made products. I discovered that the Koreans love shopping so much that the shops and department stores in namdaemun are open until 4:30am. Yes, I did shop until the early hours of the morning and purchased a black wool coat with orange and red collars and a real fur collar. I could not get enough of the 1,000’s of stalls selling everything I could possible want and need. I only wished I had a bigger suitcase and more money. After my shopping spree, I headed to one of the many 24-hour coffee shops and ordered a chocolate soufflé and hazelnut latte. Shopping makes a girl hungry.

Armed with my suitcase full of Korean goodies I boarded my plane and bid farewell to the city of fashion that is true to its own people and style.

Commuters nightmare…

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Muslim girl's life experiences

London is a commuter’s nightmare and getting from A to B, can sometimes take longer than travelling to another city.

You can catch the tube and be forced to get up close and personal with your fellow commuters. Eye contact is avoided on the tube as is making polite chitchat. So where do you look? At the countless Viagra, phone and insurance ads? Alternatively, do you look at the celling or at the floor? Most choose to look down. As you look down you notice people’s shoes. You see designer, sports, simple, crazy and Primark’s finest shoes on display. Some you will admire and think damn I want those shoes, whereas others you will think, did you leave the house without looking at the mirror this morning. Have you never heard of shoe polish? So, if you’re travelling by tube ensure your shoes are on trend and clean. There is…

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What is the true cost of beauty? Time or money?

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vanityWe all want to be beautiful and desired. When we walk down the street, we secretly want people to admire the way we look. How often do you look in the mirror, smile at your reflection, and think yes, ‘I am hot stuff’?

Enter any supermarket, department store and chemist and you will see thousands of products all designed to enhance our appearance. We can make our teeth whiter, our eyes sparkle, our lips plumper and our face slimmer. We are spoilt for choice with expensive and cheap products all offering to make us look and feel like a million dollars. Beauty today can be bought to the highest bidder and comes with a hefty price tag and money back guarantee. For a few hundred pounds, you could have hair like Cheryl Cole and lips like Angelina Jolie.

The quest for perfection has never been greater. Every day we are surrounded by images of perfect women with amazing big bouncy hair, long luscious lashes, never ending legs and flawless skin. The pressure to look great all the time is high and we are tricked into thinking that a few magic creams will turn us into a supermodel.

How much do you spend on beauty products a month? Statistics show that the average woman will spend £18,000 on her face in a lifetime. For that amount of money you could buy a car, travel around the world first class, buy a new wardrobe or put a deposit on a house. Most women on average buy 38 products a year for their face. How many beauty products have you bought in the last month?

According to a survey by Marks and Spencer’s the average woman takes 21 minutes to get ready. Just how vain are we? Would you ever leave the house without make up on? Would you let someone see your face naked? Most women wear some form of make up every single day and won’t leave the house without mascara on. Max Factor claims to sell three of its best-selling False Lash Effect Mascara every minute across Britain and two Lancôme mascaras are sold every second worldwide. Women will resort to tinting their lashes, using several mascaras, applying fake lashes and individual lashes in the quest for long luscious lashes.

We all look better with a bit of slap on. However, does the desire to look good make us vain? Alternatively, are we afraid that if we go bare faced, we will frighten people or they will know what we really look like? Do we see make up as a comfort blanket and a mask which allows us to appear more confident and be whoever we want to be. One day we can look vampy, the next day we can look fresh or girly. Make up allows us to create a new look for ourselves and be someone else for a day.

What makes us vain and how do we define vanity? Are we vain if we constantly check ourselves out in the mirror and won’t go out au natural? What’s wrong with wanting to look good for ourselves and creating a new look. Surely, we are allowed to look and feel confident and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful.

But, do we have to spend a lot of money to look perfect? Or is it just a mind-set fuelled by the media’s obsession with airbrushed size zero models. Surely, we should be happy with what god gave us and realise that we are all beautiful in our own unique way. Who says we have to have legs like Naomi, hair like Beyoncé and a face like Gisele to look amazing. The question we need to ask ourselves is, how important is looking good to us? Is looking good, worth sacrificing hundreds of pounds or time?

Vienna and Bratislava – Posh city vs. sleep pretty capital

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Photo: Never leave Vienna without a kiss #kiss #vienna #austria #fun #pictureperfect #picture #sightseeing

The second adventure of our Euro trip involved us travelling to the beautiful Austrian capital, Vienna. I visited this pretty city six years ago in the height of summer and fell in love with it. As an older and wiser self, would I still love the city?

Arriving in the city was a doddle and the public transport links were brilliant. We managed to get to our hotel with no problems, this time we checked into a four star hotel with a sauna. Our room was board only, so no breakfast, but hey, we have access to a sauna and gym and were only spending one night in the hotel.

We unpacked and changed then headed off to explore the city with our trusty ‘proper’ map and my companions sat-nav. On our way in to the city we had a little fright. Two gentlemen wearing horror masks parked up in their car thought it would be hilarious to jump out and shout boo at us. They certainly gave us the fright of our lives; in return we made them take a photo for us. I don’t know who looked more scared at that point, the boys or us.

Armed with only a few Euros and hunger pangs kicking in, we decided to get some money changed. Getting money changed in any other country is an easy task, but in Vienna it’s like mission impossible. We set of towards StefanPlatz the city centre, along the way we admired the cobbled streets, River Danube and windy streets. The city was as beautiful as I remembered it.

Once in StefanPlatz we were surprised to hear Urdu and Punjabi poetry, on turning around we were surprised to see an old Sikh man chatting away in Punjabi. We smirked and giggled as we understood what he was saying. All of a sudden I felt a thump on my back and it was the Sikh man. He decided to gate crash our party for the next 20 minutes and proceed to recite Urdu, Persian and Punjabi poems as well as giving us a history lesson on the dividing of Pakistan and India. This is not the type of conversation we expected to be engaged in, least of all in Vienna. We wanted to chat to the Viennese locals, not a Punjabi TV show host from Luton. We made our excuses and made a quick sharp exit towards a street, where Austrian Hip Hop street performers were warming up for their show. I love a bit of Hip Hop and dancing and these boys did not fail in putting on a good show. The dancers were so good they were break dancing just like Justin Timberlake. The dancers took their tops of, I’m sure you can imagine our reactions.

Conscious we needed to get our money exchanged we set of on our travels to explore the streets. We walked towards the grand Opera house and city park. The walk around the city was breath-taking and we took over a hundred pictures along the way. We walked for what seemed like hours to my companions, but only 15 minutes to me. I can walk for hours with ease, but my light weight cousin and friend struggled to keep up the pace. My cousin had a car accident about a month ago where her beloved Nissan Micra was hit by a lorry so she was in a lot of pain, and loved to remind us of her back and hip injury.

We ended up in the Turkish and back packing district of Vienna. We only had 5 Euros between us, we knew we would struggle to get a hearty meal. We scanned the streets looking for a money exchange place. Did we see one? No. Apparently, there are only four places in the whole of Vienna where you can get money changed, StefanPlatz and they were closed now, and this was disappointing. Vienna is an international city with a booming economy yet it does not cater to the needs of those wanting to get their money changed. Armed with only Pound notes we hit a brick wall. Luckily, my cousin had her trusty Halifax card and took some Euros from the local cash point which charged her £5. With our new found riches we were spoilt for kebab choices. I settled for a falafel wrap and chips. Thank god they made fresh food and their chips were ‘fresh’! How I had missed the taste of fresh chips.

After an overdose on kebabs and chips we visited the sauna in our hotel. Wrapped up in our towels and dressing gowns we entered the sauna only to be greeted by two naked men. We didn’t know where to look or what to do. We sheepishly sat down and were later told that it was the norm to go Al fresco (naked), in the saunas in Austria. As much as we wanted to immerse ourselves in the local culture, this was one tradition we weren’t keen to follow.

We didn’t quite know what we would encounter on a Monday evening in Vienna. We walked along the River Danube and stumbled across a Noodle place, Happy Noodles. The place was a cool Noodle and kebab shop which was open till 4am and the owners were Turkish, Afghani and Thai, to our delight they spoke English. My friend decided to order some food and she was greeted with a huge pot of noodles which she couldn’t finish.

We soaked up the sights as night fell, we fell in love with the lit up buildings. We walked along the streets, people watching, when we spotted an American looking confused at his phone and the street signs. Being the helpful people we were and having a trusty Sat Nav we asked the stranger if he needed help. It turned out that he was looking for a local hot spot and we all ended up joining him and his friend on his mission. Our first venture took us to a rooftop café which had an amazing view of the city but was full of pretentious silver foxes and an odd couple who had the most bizarre dance moves that I have ever seen. We settled on a live music joint near the river, which had a very interesting mix of people. You had the Austrian sugar mommy in her red pants who kept grinning like a Cheshire cat at our American new found friend, the well-dressed business men in suits who thought they were the next Pavarotti and belted out Opera at any given opportunity, then there was the old man who though he was Mick Jagger, proven when he attempted to got his swag on, on the dance floor. It was a hilarious evening full of laughter and fun, to top it all off, I was serenaded by the Opera dancers who quite frankly made me want to vomit.

Day two

Determined to get our money changed we decided to visit one of the many banks in Vienna. We entered the hugely impressive ‘Volks’ bank building which took up a whole block. We were disappointed to learn that the only person in the bank that could change money was on his lunch break and there was nobody else in this huge bank that could fulfil this task which obviously required a great skill set and a PHD. We were told to return in approximately 48 minutes when the exchange person could fulfil our task. How hard can it be to change money in this city? We decided to try our luck at the bank of Vienna and were delighted to learn that they had more than one exchange person and lunch time cover. Hooray we finally had Euros and could afford to buy more than a kebab to eat.

We spent the day visiting the grand sights that Vienna had to offer, such as Belvedere Palace, the House of Music and the theatre. A must to do thing in Vienna is to sit for hours in the grand tea rooms with a pot of coffee. We visited the oldest and grandest tea house in Vienna and ordered two Mocha’s and a pot of tea. The waiter came and took our order and didn’t bother us again. We could have sat there for four hours and not be kicked out. We soaked in the scenery and people watched. The bathroom at the tea house was rather odd and different. On first glance you assume that the door which is made of glass, so is see through allows fellow toilet queuing people to be able to see you while on the toilet. I know the Austrians like to visit the sauna naked, but this again was too much for me. I was baffled along with a few other people in need of the toilet as no one was brave enough to actually use it. We learnt that once you lock the door, the glass becomes frosted and is no longer see through. It was an odd novelty that looked out of place at the grand tea room.

Day three

We decided to visit the Slovakian capital of Bratislava with our new American friends. Our friends were spending a few days in the sleepy town; we were determined to see what the entire town had to offer in a few hours. The weather was gorgeous in Bratislava and my budget conscious cousin was delighted to learn that the town was cheaper than Vienna. We would be having our lunch here. We walked around the pretty town centre and were surprised at the amount of tourists looking around. We walked up the steep hill to see the views from the castle. The castle itself was a bit of a let-down and nothing amazing, but the view was incredible. We managed to have lunch in a cute green friendly coffee shop and explore the whole town in a few hours. Alas, it was time for us to leave Bratislava, say goodbye to our new friends and head to Berlin. Bratislava is a city that only requires half a day and can be missed out on a trip, but if you have time I would certainly check it out. 

Photo: Tasty Halloween treat for the ladies, a hip hop dancer with a hip body #hiphop #body #treat #sixpack #dancer #caption #toplessman #view #sightseeing

 

Photo: Touching down in bratislavia

 

Photo: Paying tribute to a musical genius #John Lennon #music #tribute #art #painting #austria #vienna