Some Interesting Lessons

Just make it last :-)
Just make it last ūüôā

You know what guys, I have been thinking of separating my portfolio blog from my personal blog. The fact is you cannot stay anonymous over the internet. Its tough especially if you are not an internet geek. And I know, ‘its been ages since I last blogged’ this line… I have been noticing comes at the start of most of my posts. Should I keep this as my intro from now on? Let me know what you think.

Now for some serious stuff. This post is going to be about some of the lessons I’ve learnt in the past few months. I just finished and completed my dissertation for the MA. It was quite an ‘epiphanying’ experience or maybe not but I tell you what I have made some incredible discoveries about myself in the past few months; about journalism, my career and about life in general ¬†;-). Let me put it this way, I stopped partying at the end of April. I knew there was a lot to do, I had to find a work placement while researching for the dissertation. It was crazy, I still do not believe how I managed to complete it all. And a trip back home to Pakistan too haha. That was another experience, it reminded me of all the reasons why I can’t stay in Pakistan any more. Pff ¬†Its true! There is a difference between love for your country and settling for a better life if you can. Any way now for the lessons, here we go:

Hard working if I try

This was a truly cathartic episode because after the success of my Ordinary levels things just took such a downward spiral I didn’t knew I had in me to redeem myself. And while all of that was happening, I was in college, confused, experimenting and discovering myself. I have been to extremes I can tell you it is not pretty. But at the end I must say that unless you learn and experience for your self why something is bad you wont ever stop doing it. I don’t just mean partying. One more thing I’ve learned to accept is that nothing is bad, that is just a matter of perspective, what is important is knowing what is good for you at the right time and keeping things moderated.

But enough on that, what I want to emphasize is that the past few months have made me realize that I can still achieve things when I put my mind to it, that I am not hooked on anything person, thing, place whatever, and when I decide to focus on something I make it happen. I really didn’t know I still had it in me but the whole process of researching and working on my dissertation project has sparked a very healthy combustion in my brain. I feel like I can do anything and that the world is full of opportunities!

Possible career path

Second thing I learned without going in to detail here is a possible career path. Now that is a big deal for me cause I have principles, I like to figure things out for myself. I remember as a child how everyone use to say ‘hey Ayaz mate you ask a lot of questions’ or ‘hey Ayaz you always sound confused’ or ‘hey Ayaz I don’t know where you are going with this mate’, well I can smirk back at every single one of those people and tell them you know what I know what I have to do , these are the fucking reasons and this is how it all makes sense, I may not be there yet but I am well on my way. And I know that if I fail, I took my best shot and that I have no regrets. Period. The important thing is that I give in my all and stuck by my beliefs.

On dating

This is a bit confusing for me. Cause it dwells in the domain of relationships and I am not really… well lets just say that apart from the basics I’m not the person you would wanna come for dating advice. But having said that I have learned a lot this year. Don’t get me wrong though I don’t mean to say I am a player like that but I know now how bad I was at reading all those signs that women give out. The sort of advice your parents are too shy to talk about, your friends are too inexperienced to give and your girlfriend is too scandalized to reveal. The best dating advice I’ve gotten so far has been from my housemates and a very special female friend (read: What do you remember of your time on Earth?) And you know my conclusion? And this is something not many people will tell you because usually you need to figure this out on your own about women; they are just like us mate, they have their needs just like you and me, the trick is to make it all happen when she is at sync with you. You will understand this when the time comes :-). Trust me. Also just let things take their natural course never rush. Another lesson I learnt. One final lesson I learned about women after coming to the UK was that desi girls are just different from white chicks. They just are. There is no formula, there is no solution, I don’t mean to say one is tartier¬†than the other, they are just different. Very different. At the end it comes down to you, who you chose to spend your time with. The person that accepts you in all your fallacies and who can put up with your eccentricities is the person you should give a serious thought too.

Like Shredded Cheese

I was tossing around in my quilt, trying to get some sleep in the very very wee hours of morning one day when a few ideas on my blog came to mind. And as is the usual ritual on such occasions, I got a feeling of mental elation akin to an unexpected hard on.

Now before you ¬†toss your noses up on my distasteful choice of words let me elaborate. An idea is dealt just the way a bloke treats an unexpected hard on; it could be lethargically put aside waiting for things to just ‘cool-off ‘ which is quite a waste frankly, it could be made to good use and taken as a challenge, a token of courage if you may for a man determined to win his maiden fair or it could be left to simmer (I’ll leave the last bit to your imagination).

This was the scenario that night when I found myself thinking about the number of memorable pictures I had lost over the years. It is sort of bizarre because I was never the picture taking sort. I think its a grand gesture of persistent narcissism besides serving as a social glue that fills the awkward silences between conversations. And yet for some strange reason I am regretting the hundreds of times I had to format that DRIVE C (where it seems everything from pictures, documents, games etc were saved before I learned the good sense to separate the two). In these times computer is not the only place where you store your memories, your phones, memory sticks, external hard drives, CDs (for the less imaginative sort) or simply a good ol’ fashioned photo album are also extensively used.

The thing is that our lives are moving so bloody fast that it is hard to keep track of all those wonderful moments around us. We only manage to be conscious  about our personal lives and of those who we are in contact with on a daily basis such as parents, housemates and coworkers. The remaining plethora of people that have added such rich value to our lives always remain at the periphery of our vision, like ghosts, influencing us but never really forming part of our being. Do you know those people? I am sure you do. They are people like:

A long lost loved one, a random stranger who made you crack up unexpectedly at a random venue at some random event, that kind person who helped someone in distress while you were standing observing the whole scene, a horrible accident that you might have witnessed God forbid, a nice picture that a friend sent you a long time ago, that attractive bloke/bird who gave you a warm smile on your morning commute, a friend who use to be very close with you in college, a best friend with whom you spent most of your childhood, that bird that got away without closure.

There are so many many instances around us that we promise to remember for the rest of our lives for the powerful effect they have on our personality at that moment, but fail to keep track of. It’s a bit like shredded cheese, its messy and gets under your skin but you never seem to get all of it in one go. Whats worse is if you decide to collect the whole lot in your fist it will start clumping back in to a giant block lacking the grace necessary for a fine meal.

I suppose memories are like that as well. If we try to keep a blow by blow account of everything that happens around us with the accuracy of a historian our cherished memories will turn in to a series of events losing their rich flavor. The very fact that they are wisps of shredded cheese, that we can lose them any second, makes them so tantalizing for our neurons.

So, coming back to my original realization of how I am constantly losing track of the wonderful experiences around me I guess it is better this way. For I know that many of these memories reemerge at some point when the setting is just right; a reunion of old mates at that ‘usual spot’ after many years or running in to that significant other at the most unexpected locations with the possibility of finally getting that closure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like a Breath of Fresh Air

I want you all to listen to a track from a movie that is very dear to me; Blade Runner. I have talked about the film time and time again in reviews on this blog. The track is composed by the legendary composer, Vangelis who is accredited with  epic tracks in movies such as Chariots of Fire (click to listen), Alexander  and etc. So without further adieu:

This track seems to blend in well with my state of being today; The weather gods outside are still trying to make up their minds whether to cast yet another forbidding cold spell or give in to the warmth of a long overdue spring. The events of last few months have been quite extraordinary and for the first time I have experienced the full extent of living in the fast lane (as cliched as that may sound). I use to say that I am not doing anything here in the UK that I wasn’t already doing back home. I still¬†say it¬†actually, but¬†being on your own is quite an experience even for people like me who have always considered themselves furiously independent.

Things are different, to say the least. I have felt myself age in the last two months. In a good way of course, I feel wiser, more experienced and more responsible. Life has been particularly good on the social front and I want to talk about one particular event, the 1st St Albans Film Festival.

It all started with a little interest in screen writing that I showed during a meeting with one of my professors. As a result of which I found myself joining a team of fellow students on their way to provide media coverage to this film festival.

Now the town of St Albans is small and has close proximity to Hatfield. It is better developed, has great entertainment and night life. But what I personally love about the place is its architecture, the cathedrals, hand paved roads, history and a rich filming heritage. It is perhaps the most ‘European town’ in the UK I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. Also, it is the home town of Stanley Kubric! enough said?

20130310_164611
Towards the most famous pub in St Albans. Naturally I do not remember the name of the place ūüėõ

The film festival comprised of a series of film screenings, actor workshops and exhibits during the day and social events in the evenings. The events were scattered all around the towns historical sites hence it was quite adventurous sorting out each venue on foot in the rustic ambiance.

I met some really amazing people here. Actors, directors, filmmakers, publicist etc. Self starters all with the common aim to collaborate and create something beautiful. One group of people I made friends with were these Spanish girls who were contesting in the short films category. They turned out to be big fans of Salvador Dali and Stanley Kubric much to my excitement. Honestly I mean how many desi-girls do you meet who share the exact same passions in art, love and politics as you do? We ended up checking out all the events together and became quite chummy. What followed was a crazy hearty evening full of fun, drama, romance and promises to stay in touch.

One of the exhibits was inside a clock tower at the town center. It comprised of a series of human characters dressed up in bizarre medieval fashion all set to complement movie characters from a surreal film screening at another venue. The claustrophobic staircase inside the tower made the whole experience even more bizarre. However on reaching the top we were greeted with an amazing view of the town and a local guide who explained its rich history. For me it was quite liberating walking in to an open space and facing the clouds. I love rooftops and have not been to a single one since I arrived in the UK.

clock tower
The Clocktower – sounds familiar to a Clockwork Orange doesn’t it

This festival was like a breath of fresh air after¬†successfuly surviving the English winter and crappy food.¬†I suppose¬†the end message here besides the razzle dazzle of travel¬†is that¬†to¬†meet¬†more people like yourself¬†you need to dive head first in to the moment.¬†Do not give a rats ass of what others think, within reason of course. At least that’s what works for me. With time¬†you do find exactly what you were searching for, it takes¬†patience yes but above all it requires conviction on your own¬†idyosyncarcies. Not an easy thing to do.

It helps that over here you can meet people that are tailored to your needs, moods, interests and personality. But maybe that principle can be applied everywhere in the world. Maybe one needs to try harder.

The Better Things In Life

The pain seems to be¬†emanating¬†from every minute orifice of my body. I am sore all over. It’s just incredible how only three months off of my usual workout routine could have such an impact on my body with a few rounds of squash; I have finally decided to go back to my usual health regimen that I had meticulously maintained back home.

It will be the 11th tomorrow, which means that it has been exactly two months since I landed in England. The ache in my muscles is a reality check of how much work remains to be done not just to stay fit but to keep up to date with weekly reading lists, research assignments, check out potential employers and most of all structure a plan of action and figure out what I need to have achieved by the time I graduate. Bah!

What a mind job uh? But of course to achieve anything in life one must pay their dues. I am in the thick of it and since things are expected to get a lot more serious from now on I have decided to capture the more whimsical aspects of life in UK before they skip my mind.

Some memorable experiences come to mind and I’ll start of with Covent Gardens at the heart of central London. This posh locality is the soul of tourist exploits and one day my friends and I ended up going to the very center of Covent Gardens which is an exquisitely designed market place with shops ranging from bistros, restaurants, pubs, wine bars and other assorted offering. One particular wine bar with a bistro setting caught our attention and we decided to grab seats.

The shop had seating outside in the atrium so that people could enjoy fine bubbly while listening to some amazing live music. The musicians were not hired. What this meant was that any aspiring musician or band could come play, entertain the crowd, dance, promote CDs, collect donations etc. And the music, oh my, we heard a fat Oprah lady sing (its cliched but true!), followed by a band of extremely charismatic classical musicians (who btw stole the spotlight for the evening) and then a group of beautiful women with violins.

The people here were nicely dressed and cultured, a far cry from the usual bar crowd and of course the wine menu didn’t leave anything to the imagination so a glass of sweet port added that extra cherry to the experience. I was in heaven.

The best time pass of London is to just visit popular historic locations and watch life goes by. There are many such locations, some notable ones that I have been to are¬†Piccadilly Circus, Harrods, Oxford Circle, Trafalgar Square, London Eye. Its an amazing feeling walking around magnificent buildings and getting mesmerized in your thoughts, soaking all the positivity (is that a word?) around you. You feel like getting lost here, forgetting everything you know…

London Victoria Station is another such place. Although it might sound strange checking out a train station but the first time I went their to grab a coach, I couldn’t help but stand still for a good five minutes and simply gawk. The English have a thing for creating beautiful¬†atriums and I can’t blame them. Somewhere in the background there was a group of young women singing dressed up as flight attendants ūüôā

One day we decided to hit a jazz club, something I had been really looking forward to. Back home the most jazz you can get is listening to CityFM89’s All That Jazz show. Now I am not a jazz snob hell I can’t tell you the top five musicians in the genre if you ask but I certainly am in enthusiast. I like the bluesy melodies, it’s a very emotional music.

Anyway so this particular club is a London’s classic; Ronnie Scott’s! We went around 11pm when the ticket prices are greatly subsidized for students. The lobby was dimly lit with a reddish hue and after checking in our coats we were led to a large room. Again, the¬†ambiance hits your senses like a warm cloud, you look around and try to devour everything at once. It won’t be a fair sketch if I try to explain constricted by a word limit so¬†apologies¬†for not writing more about the interior.

Lemme make up for that!

Hours flew by as the musicians continue to play… I looked at my friend and chuckled:

“Bruv, from Karachi to Ronnie Scott’s, who would have thought ehh?” We cheered our Martinis and went back to our own thoughts.

Once while checking out Harrod’s I persuaded my cousin to come with me to the Ecuadorian embassy where Julian Assange is residing, anxiously waiting for a way to get the hell out of dodge. Didn’t see a lot of policemen though but the one present was not in a talking mood. But hey at least I got a historic picture out of it.

Somewhere inside this building Julian Assange is sipping his tea

My university is about an hours drive from central London. It’s a small town and people are different from Londoners, very English and perhaps not as cosmopolitan. When I first came to this serene environment after a week of exploring the hub bub that is London I had a serious case of blues. But as I spent more time I realized the suburbs aren’t bad at all.

The other day I attended a bonfire night to commemorate Guy Fawkes Day (Remember Remember the 5th of November!). The highlight of the evening were a fireworks display, a large bonfire and a guest appearance by Simon Pegg (the guy from Hot Fuzz and Mission Impossible 3). All of this took place on a large field where it was freezing. It was a carnival of sorts and I have never seen so many people in one location, thousands and thousands! It was quite entertaining.

I’m¬†beginning to get fond of this place now.

Oh yes, a funny incident happened that night; I got hit on by two 17 year old girls which was cute but very inappropriate.

There is so much more I could say but it mostly centers around London’s crazy night life and museums which you probably are aware of in any case. But I will say this, one early morning around 5am while winding up the¬†festivities of last night and roaming sort of aimlessly trying to figure out a bus back home I saw the sun come up and felt at peace with the world.

I thought to myself, such wonderful things exist on this planet we Pakistanis are blissfully unaware of. Maybe, if the average ‘desi’ got a taste of the better things in life, he or she too could strive to make it their reality. And just maybe, that could one day mean the end of extremism, hostility, injustice, racism and poverty. Amen to that.