A little bit of Persia

I reviewed my favourite restaurant, Shiraz, for The Halal Plug.
“Tucked away  on the decidedly non glamorous Hagley road, amidst various off-licenses, bookies, a stuffy Subway, your standard fried chicken shop, and a scattering of little cafes, Shiraz is a true gem. Okay wait, I should backtrack and paint a more accurate picture: Hagley road isn’t so bad – conveniently located just off the mammoth 5-ways roundabout, walking distance (if you’re brave) from the city centre, and home to the infamous Akbar’s and a rather stunning Catholic church, it’s an integral part of the bustling Birmingham centre. It just happens to feel a little peculiar past 8pm on a Friday or Saturday night (I try to avoid walking alone), and parking is a myth. So that’s that. Back to Shiraz.”
Read the rest of the post here.

A slice of Syrian cake, please

I wrote a piece for The Halal Plug, reviewing Damascena, a gem of a place in Birmingham, UK.
“Birmingham, for all of its quirks and charming little coffee shops scattered around Temple Row/Colmore Row/St Paul’s Square, had been missing something with a little more depth, a little more character, and (most importantly for me), a decent halal sandwich. Whilst some of the more seasoned Birmingham readers may argue that those *more Muslim friendly* places can be found in the areas of Sparkhill and Small Heath, I’d really rather not have a large side order of male-dominated environment and greasy tables with my sweetly brewed tea, thank you very much.”
You can read the rest of the post here.

Happiness and Mangoes

I’ve been spending a lot of time writing lately – some thought-provoked drafts for this blog, and others more politically charged due to the nature of my professional life. However, around a week ago I took a Saturday morning off just for myself. No friends or family involved; I dedicated the morning to a ‘Reading and Writing for Well-being’ workshop I had stumbled across at  my favourite Arts Centre.

It was a glorious morning, immersing myself in a group of women of all ages and walks of life dedicated solely to words; reading, writing, speaking, enjoying, creating, and experiencing them in all of their perfect literary glory.

Part of the morning was spent experiencing a mango. (‘Huh?!’ I can almost hear you wonder.) But it was great. Better than great in fact; marvellous. We sliced a mango and ate a piece, all collecting our thoughts on the exotic fruit and sharing them in either poetry or prose. I discovered a newfound pleasure in writing purely for creative expression. And so I have taken a small hiatus from the more emotionally charged and ‘philosophically-reaching’ writing and editing to share my creative expression below of eating a mango. I hope it brings you as much joy as it did to me (my condolences if you’re not a mango fan!).

The experience of a mango is a whole event, and a real treat – this fruit is far from humble. Succulent and visually pleasing; its smooth curves and pump shape holds the promise of pleasure. 

From the fragrance, the cutting, the peeling and the manoeuvring, the slipping and sliding -Oh! Watch the knife! – to the biting, the sucking, the bursting of flavour.

From the vision of a far away beautiful land, to the sweet humming of fruit flies, and the promise of a long summer. 

From the juice dripping and the finger licking to the teeth picking and the sweet feeling of satisfaction. Aah. One more, please!


On Brexit

Yesterday evening I met with a dear friend of mine over mint tea and fatayer at our favourite Syrian cafe. She is a special soul, an Italian with a big heart and a loving spirit, and our conversation inspired me to post (re-post, rather) this.

As we discussed the implications of the recent British decision to leave the European Union (*lovingly* known as Brexit) and how this affects us both as minorities, I was reminded of how disheartened and disappointed I felt on the evening of 24th June 2016, as the reality of the majority Leave vote began to sink in. And so, I had taken to Facebook to express how I felt – which is an unusual thing for me to do, believe it or not! I wanted to share it here too, in the hope of keeping my blog true to myself and true to expressing my thoughts. It is more of an emotional response, rather than a succinct political analysis, to the implications of Brexit, but politics is a highly strung game.

Whilst the EU is far from a perfect institution, the importance of Remain has never wavered in my mind. Like many of my close friends, I woke up with a sense of sick dread in my stomach today at the outcome of the EU Referendum. This has slowly developed into a solid sense of disappointment. .
I am disappointed in David Cameron, the absolute tosser of a PM who was irresponsible enough to pledge this Ref in the first place to appease the Right of his Party, and then cried crocodile tears and went off to enjoy his off-shore account. Seriously, did this nation not realise the first couple of (hundred) times him and his party screwed us over?
I am upset and angry because the outcome of this really won’t affect the likes of him or his family, but they will affect mine, and the lives of my young friends starting out, who will struggle beyond measure to obtain mortgages, and travel, and study; who have lost rights to live and work in 27 countries.
I am disappointed because honest, generous, and kind-hearted friends from Europe have today been left feeling unwanted by a Britain that so selfishly takes from their own ‘home’ countries.
I am disappointed in those who didn’t bother to vote this time, when it was so clearly important. I am disappointed on the impact that this result now has on the work that I do in the realm of human rights, and I am disheartened as to how far we have come from where we need to be. I am anxious as to what this now holds for the future of our human rights.
I am appalled that Farage has the audacity to state “without a bullet being fired” when Jo Cox would beg to differ.
I think most of all, I am beyond disappointed in my fellow Muslim community – which suddenly became blind to the racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic rhetoric of Leave and failed to see how they were shooting themselves in the foot by aligning with the likes of UKIP. Appalled isn’t a strong enough word to describe how I feel at hearing the anti-immigrant spiel many of them uttered as reason for voting Leave. I hope you realise that when you walk down the street, you are far more likely to be attacked for being an immigrant because of your visible brown skin than your Polish neighbour. And here’s a newsflash: you ARE the product of a migrant community.
I wish I could end this with the somewhat humorous line I’ve been throwing around all day of moving to Canada, but the bitter reality is that I don’t have the privilege to do that, and neither do those I care about.