Work place shenanigans

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Scandal S4 E16

The first season took me a while to get my head around but I have loved Scandal from the very beginning. As well as being written by Shonda Rhimes (fast becoming one of my favourite writers) Scandal also boasts an awesome soulful soundtrack accompanying each episode and it only gets better with each season! For any of you who are yet to watch it, Scandal is generally based on the goings on at the White House in the US.  The lead character is Olvia pope played by Kerry Washington. Olivia is Washington’s number 1 ‘fixer’ fixing the problems of Washington’s most rich and powerful. Many of the story lines are are based on all things politics and the ‘goings on’ behind the doors of the most powerful house in the world.

One of the factors that keeps bringing me back to it each season, is that the leading character is a black female. In the past it wasn’t common to see entertainment shows with a strong, confident, intelligent female lead (changes are definitely more noticeable in recent years) As is the case with movies, many TV shows would show the female leads living lives that revolved around making frequent shopping trips and going on dates. Scandal is the total opposite, it showcases several strong female characters amongst the usual male authoritative figures.

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Episode 16 features Abby the White House press secretary writing her resignation letter. Abby’s Boyfriend seeing her write the letter tries to tell her his (pervy past acts being revealed to the media & public) won’t have any effect on her or her job. She responds by stomping over to him and trying to explain to him that just the fact the she was ‘his girlfriend’ would affect her negatively, although the dirty laundry was his.

“I stand on the most powerful podium in the world, but a story about me ain’t a story unless they can report on the fact that I am the girlfriend of D.C. fixer Leo Bergen.” —Abby Whelan

The above quote really hit me and stood out the most throughout the whole episode. Just the other week an incident took place at work and sent me into one of those deep funks. No not the usual ‘post grad life struggles’ funks but a deeper one. Leading me to really stop and contemplate my position at work and the environment I’m working in. I realised that the majority of my colleagues were men and my only other female colleague had gone away on holiday for a couple of weeks.

I’m coming up to 8 months of working in my current work place. I work as a part time PA for a guy who owns 2 small businesses. One of which is a boutique (okay not exactly a boutique but of some sorts) The said incident involved a lost order, this order I realised hadn’t come in so I informed my boss. In response he told me that he would have to contact our delivery guys’s manager. Hearing this I became worried for the guys, I didn’t want to land them into any trouble and suggested we somehow look into this and find out what had gone on without letting their manager find out. Little did I know that it would take them less than 2 mins to place the blame on me.

Gosh had I not learnt anything in life? It’s a ruthless world, where people are out to save their own necks and pass the buck whenever they can. By the end of the first week of my female colleagues absence, I was already frustrated having had to work with an all male team. Having to constantly repeat orders and shouting to be heard. So Ray (not his real name) my boss rang the boys’s manager and was told by him that it “must be your girl’s fault. I trust my guys they’ve been with me for a long time, speak to your girl she’s probably made a mistake with the logging”

Yes the missing order was an expensive one and the very fact that it was missing was stressful. But what really wound me up and upset me, was the fact I was being undermined. The boy’s manager knew my name but throughout his conversations during this incident he kept referring to me as ‘your girl‘ to my boss. I felt I was being undermined and all the work I had ever done for the business was all being overlooked. After finishing uni and following my 2 month trip to Pakistan I returned to London jobless and lost. I spent a couple of months wallowing in self pity in between the endless (fruitless) job applications. As well as having to hear my parents and relatives endless questions/suggestions/unwanted comments. That is until I came across Ray’s gumtree ad for a social media intern and well the rest is history!

For the past 7 months I’ve been working in that little ‘Posh’ patch of North London, I think I’ve adapted to the work environment well. I’ve grown in confidence immensely. I deal with all PA admin tasks in addition to serving customers and running the ’boutique’ single handedly. So here I was 7 months on, being blamed solely for the missing order. It was probably the most emotional night I’ve had since I’ve started working there. Of course the boys found the order they had misplaced. So I was off the hook but in that moment I felt that as a woman regardless of my academic achievements or any other credentials, in some way I was always going to be undermined. I felt I was having to prove my worth constantly. Almost as if to say ‘Yes I’m a woman but I’m capable of doing a great job perhaps even better than you’re doing!’

There was another story about an accountant woman Ray told me about but hey that’s another story for another day! It’s regularly pointed out in headlines and discussions many women are still underpaid for doing the same job as men. I believe its more to do with attitudes, we’re still fighting to change attitudes. As for me, no one day is ever the same at work and I very much enjoy working there (although I’m still on the job search, so hit me with them People!) One of the boys ‘blue eyes’ still continues to shamelessly flirt although he still hasn’t come up with the promised apology gift of ice cream!

Bitter in the Mouth

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source: tumblr

Source: tumblr

Bitter in the Mouth

By Monique Truong

 

I picked this book up on a whim at an Oxfam charity book shop in London, something I often do during the summer months. Whilst reading this book there was an unexpected turn of events that left me changed. The book was filled with heartfelt and profound words. Here are some that left their print on me.

“There were two kinds of absences. The void and the missing.

The void was the person, place or thing that was never there in the first place.

The missing existed but was no longer present.

One was theoretical loss. The other was actual. Which was worse?”

The Pakistan Journal Vol III

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IMG_6991Uncle Saleem

At the age of 22 I still haven’t passed my driving test yes I know, I have enough family members badgering me! Living in London I’m so used to being able to jump on the bus or the underground. So I hardly spend time in cars unless my mums feeling generous enough to give her ‘favourite’ daughter a lift! However in Pakistan I found it was the total opposite. We solely relied on the car as a mode of transport to get us around whether it was to the nearest shopping district or another city with rocky hills and mountains, we had to use the car.

My khala has a license but chooses not to drive.  The roads over there are crazy even the best of drivers from outside the country would find them difficult to manoeuvre on. So the family had their own personal driver Uncle Saleem. In the first couple of outings in the car I found it incredibly awkward. I wasn’t used to having a stranger with us in such close proximity. I watch enough Pakistani dramas to understand Urdu quite well but I’ve never been confident enough to start speaking it. At times though I would have to speak to Uncle Saleem or the others would try and test my Urdu out a bit. During these moments I’d notice his moustache would twitch upwards after hearing some of my Urdu. I admit my Urdu is terrible. I can’t be blamed though, throughout my whole life my parents and family have spoken Punjabi and mainly English, even though both can speak Urdu. Speaking Punjabi has always been a link to my heritage and I feel its important to acknowledge and celebrate the different dialects and traditions within Pakistan.

It was only towards the end of my trip when I had become familiar with him that I discovered he was originally from Chakwal although now living in Islamabad, he grew up speaking Punjabi *face palm*.  All those times I would turn bright tomato red and struggle with my Urdu, when I could have just spoken to him fluently in Punjabi. I discovered Uncle Saleem was only 32 and was married with 2 children. Recently he had been taking a lot of time off as his wife was very ill with hepatitis and they were making regular visits to the hospital.

There was a time when my khala and I were in the car on our way to the shops when my Chachu (Dad’s brother) rang from Italy. It was a long and deep conversation about how in only a few years the whole dynamics of our family had changed. As the conversation became deeper my aunty gestured that she was leaving to pick something up from a shop, leaving me in the car. I became so caught up in the conversation  that I hadn’t even realised that uncle Saleem had slipped out of the car too. It was only after I put the phone down and looked around realised I was alone and panicked a little. I had only been in Islamabad for a couple of days and being left alone in the car in a busy shopping district, scared me a tiny bit. It was getting really warm in the car so I stepped out of the car for some air. I scanned the area for my aunt but she was still in a shop somewhere because I couldn’t see her anywhere. That’s when I spotted Uncle Saleem a couple of metres away from the car; he was standing there scanning the area. Throughout my stay whenever we were to go out, he would always be nearby within earshot but most often hidden. He was our bodyguard without even me having realised.

Half way during my stay my cousins remembered to inform me that he was military trained but had been posted as a driver. Of course it made sense then, he was always disciplined and I discovered that he was educated and spoke English. With recent events that have taken place in Pakistan it made sense as to why they would hire a military personal that they could trust.

As the weeks passed by I become more at ease with Uncle Saleem. He had driven us through some pretty bad storms and some risky corners around hills in Muzaffarabad and Murree. I gave up trying to speak in Urdu and he became more comfortable with speaking to me. He opened up and it gave me a chance to see another side to him, as with many of my other uncles he was sarcastic in his responses to some of my (perhaps naive) comments. On occasion he would help translate the cricket commentary whilst we were listening to the Pakistan matches going on.

In the build up to my cousins wedding my khala and I had gone to collect our mehndi outfits. Uncle Saleem was driving us when all of a sudden he pulled up on the side of the road and dropped his head onto the steering wheel. We became really worried as he wasn’t responding to us. I wasn’t used to seeing him so out of it, he told us that he needed some air and was feeling dizzy. He left the car and was sick outside. After a couple of minutes he returned and my khala told him to sit in the back and she would drive. He refused and was adamant he was fine and drove us back home. Even though he was clearly sick he still wanted to fulfil his duties and get us back home safely. Arriving home my khala and uncle offered to take him to the hospital but he declined the offer and told us all he was going to be fine. Later I discovered that he was actually trained to drive tanks when required to in difficult times of war etc. This explained his amazing driving skills in all sorts of circumstances.

On our final night the bride’s father had given some money as a thank you to Uncle Saleem for helping throughout the wedding festivities and he had refused to accept it. That was the type of person he was. I once overheard my Khala telling her husband that she had given him some clothes as gifts for his wife and family but he had refused to accept them. It reminded me of another story my Khala had told me once whilst we were stuck in traffic.

Along the main roads there was a regular who would sell newspapers on the side of the roads. He would only take the right amount of change, if you were to give extra he would return it and if you insisted he keep it, he would simply just drop it back into your car. This made my heart swell. Yes, there’s a lot of poverty in many parts of the country but it was amazing to see that there were many individuals who possessed a strong determination and dignity. They were adamant on working, making their own living and not having to rely on others.

The time finally arrived for us to leave Islamabad and head home and it was for the final time that Uncle Saleem was to drive us. I had already started blubbing at home saying goodbye to my little cousins. As it was 3-4 am the kids were to stay at home and to get some sleep. So it was just my Khala and Uncle that were to accompany us to the airport. I knew I would also have to say something to Uncle Saleem. Mum had rung earlier in the day to tell me not to forget to give something to the people who had helped us during the trip. I had decided not to listen to my mum on this occasion, surely the man who addressed me as beta (daughter) with so much respect, would feel insulted by my gesture however well intended.

On the drive to the airport we passed by the beautiful views of Islamabad that I had become accustomed to for the past month and a bit. Failing miserably trying not to cry, I was drinking up all the beautiful views of Islamabad from the green hills and parks, to the large shopping centres we had spent afternoons in. During the drive I had thought to myself as to how I would say goodbye to Uncle Saleem. I mean how would you put all that emotion into the right words? For all of my planning when I turned to say goodbye, I was lost for words and all I managed was a simple ‘thank you’ in between the tears. I think he understood though, he also appeared to have tears in his eyes. But it was the first time I had seen him smile and laugh with his mouth fully open. He had a couple of teeth missing which explained his usual tight lipped smiles! He did the sideway greeting thing that desi uncles usually do and told me to take care of myself. A couple of months after i had left I was catching up with my cousins and they told me that Uncle Saleem was asking about me. It turns out he thought I was ‘sulji’ which they told me translates as ‘well mannered’ Although I hadn’t been able to say goodbye to him properly he in some way had understood me as an individual and not just the ‘British brat’ which I felt was important to have been remembered in the right way.

The Pakistan Journal Vol II

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 Paternal homes

There is no denying the dynamics definitely change when elders or heads of the family pass away. It’s only once that happens that I suppose you can see the true realities or faces of various family members and you realise your elders were the ones that kept everyone together,united.

With all of that in mind before leaving London I had had several conversations with my mum about the chance of staying over at my Daadi’s old home, in the end I had decided that I wouldn’t as it would just complicate things. I felt I could go and visit the house, the house that we had spent several summer holidays in and also pay my respects at her grave. However whilst staying in Jhelum for both weddings I decided I would continue to stay with my nani and cousins in her village. It was the weirdest and I would say the most testing time for me, as my nani and most of her side of the family live in England. I had never really visited that village or spent time with that side of the family.

After a couple of days I settled in, dodging random aunties and their imposing questions, carrying out general bridesmaid’s duties. Some of which included trying to wave off clingy aunties wanting to witness ALL behind the scenes bridal moments! Before long the wedding was under way and at last my Khala, Mamu and cousins joined us from Islamabad. The wedding went smoothly we ate, sang, giggled, laughed, screamed, cried and fan girled over the popular videographer team that had been hired and in a blink of an eye it was all over! An hour after my cousin’s walimah ended, my bags and dresses were all packed and I was ready for the second and final wedding of the trip. Now you may question why I had packed when earlier I had decided not to stay in my Daadi’s village, well the story follows.

In the second week of my stay in Pakistan we had made a visit to my Daadi’s village to visit her grave and see the house again. The location of my Daadi’s house is really unique and I would say special. My Dada (grandfather) had 4 brothers in total, growing up they all lived on one large plot of land, just outside the main village. But as each brother got married they sectioned off a piece of land for each brother and they all brought up their families side by side. Most of the brother’s children moved to England, dad being the only one to move to London. So although we live in different parts of England, it’s this legacy that our granddad’s left that keeps us together. So the grandchildren of these granddads are beginning to get married and start their own families, they’re my second cousins. And I had stayed in Jhelum to attend one of my second cousins wedding.

Desi aunties although prone to bouts of wailing or crying for various reasons are not very sentimental. So when the groom’s mother suggested that all 5 houses have their doors unlocked and opened after many years of them being deserted was truly a beautiful gesture and it really touched me. The groom’s mother invited me to stay with them during the duration of the wedding but then my 2 aunties, my dad’s sisters offered to stay with me at my Daadis house instead. My first visit to my Daadi’s home was spent with me walking into each room and crying endlessly. Remembering little moments like my cousins and I sitting around laughing during my chachu’s wedding several years before and where my Daadi would sit in her usual spot laughing at us and our ‘Britishness’. Seeing the bedroom door where on another summer holiday whilst being chased, my brother ran straight into the strong wooden door and ended up with several painful stitches to the head.

There were many events and dramas that accompanied the wedding. I was spending more time with my second cousins and going around to their houses before the ceremonial events began and the guests started to arrive. On one particular morning, the morning of the last event the Walima something took place which I will never forget. As usual I had put my dress on and had gone around to the groom’s house. All the girls were upstairs, last minute pinning of dupattas and sticking fake lashes on. Getting back to the story, most of the girls were all dressed and had left the room to go find some of the others. I was taking my time and was left alone with one of the aunt’s from England.

We were both in different corners of the room and I started telling her how some of my dad’s relatives were bugging me and thought they could match me with one of the groomsmen. I continued to tell her the story until I realised she was very quiet, I turned around and she just looked at me with these sad eyes. She opened her mouth and uttered the words “My husband wants to divorce me” I’ve probably never been so shocked in my life, it left me speechless. I immediately crossed over to her and we sat down. I felt her emotions seeping out of her, she must have felt so alone and helpless to have just blurted it out to me like that. I did my best to try and comfort her and told her she had to stay strong for her daughters who had only just left the room a couple of minutes before. We only had one more event to get through and then the wedding would officially be over. This aunty honestly had so much patience and strength to brave it through all those difficult moments.

As with every wedding there was a lot of drama, as well as other people’s family troubles. I personally had to deal with and put up with a lot of unnecessary drama which I may not have had if my mum had been with me. I strongly believe everything happens for a reason, having so much to deal with brought me closer to my second cousins and their parents, especially the aunties. Back in England I barely spend any time with these people and only meet them at rare special occasions. But living in such close proximity we all blended together, we were in and out of each other’s houses, spending hot sticky afternoons lazing on manjis under the spinning fans. All these people were there for me and I found comfort and solace in them. I honestly believe there is a special kind of magic that exists within those green lands of Pakistan; I could feel the presence of our grandfathers and the small marks they had left on the land we call our home. I found we were all bound by that legacy that they had left behind and that was really special and something I had never experienced before.IMG_7629 5x7

The Pakistan Journal Vol I

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From the hills of Islamabad

The Brigadier’s Military rule

My Khala was born and bred in London but then she got married to a man in the military and moved to Islamabad, Pakistan. I suppose she adapted to life there quite well, but ask her London’s weather forecast for next week and she’ll reel it off to you. Through the years and visits we’ve always been connected and I suppose it’s no secret she’s my favourite Aunty. Although we would always go and stay with her for a couple of days during our holidays to Pakistan, I never had the opportunity to spend time with my Uncle, her husband. As during most of our visits he would be busy with work and hardly at home.

Before leaving London this was one of my biggest worries and I was crazy nervous and a little scared. I would obviously be spending more time with the whole family and would have to live under my uncle’s roof. On first glance he’s an intimidating figure, tall, bearded and his presence alone makes a person nervous especially when he’s in uniform! I suppose that’s part of his job,he is responsible for others and has to be intimidating and stern to a certain degree.

We arrived in Islamabad at around 4:30am. I had travelled with my cousin ‘the bride’ and her mother. The bride’s mother had rang my Khala and her husband to let them know what time our flight was expected. I’m used to coming out of the airport and having someone familiar like my daadi or chachu to pick me up but this time it was different. So here we were, baggage stuffed onto 2 trollies waiting for uncle to pick us up. If anyone has ever travelled to the south Asian continent you’ll know. Even if you have no one to greet you at the airport you’ll be greeted by hundreds of strangers and their almost eagle like glares, it can be a startling experience for any newbies. We had to find a non-existent ‘quiet corner’ and ring Uncle to see where they were. They arrived 35-40 mins late and after having to endure all those weird stares from strangers I was tired, uneasy and annoyed with Uncle, after all he was meant to be a man of discipline, wasn’t he?

It took me a couple of weeks to settle into the house and the family’s routine. It was in stark contract to my usual surroundings of my daadi’s open courtyard scattered in lemon trees and the modest sized traditional rooms. The house I was staying in was situated in the NDU, the Army and University’s joint gated complex. We would always have lunch and dinner together around the table. My Uncle’s office was only a couple of minutes away and he made sure that he was always home on time for family meals.

Nearly every meal time without fail my Uncle would pick on me and tease me. He would put questions to me “So Miss lawyer what would you do in an xyz situation” and then he would joke about the way I would respond. Although he was always teasing me I came to realise it was his way of showing love and care. I looked forward to our family meals and the banter that bounced back and forth between us all. My uncle is definitely the heart of his family and it was really amazing to see that. Although I’m related from his wife’s side he never let it be felt, he treated me like I was his very own daughter. It was heart-warming to experience that and one of the reasons I was able to live there so comfortably.

In the past few months as other younger family members have been getting engaged/married. I’ve been feeling the pressure and comments from various family members. Not just marriage comments but also about my career or lack of, none of these comments have been helpful and have been at times downright spiteful and bitter. On many occasions I haven’t been able to respond out of respect I suppose, on account of them being older aunty types. This happened a fair few times in Pakistan too.

One night following dinner my khala and uncle were about to go on one of their late night walks when my khala asked me to join them. It was fairly chilly so I wrapped myself in a shawl and joined them. We ended up speaking for hours. We walked around the army complex twice and then continued into the night after reaching home, whilst my cousins all went to sleep. I’ll never forget that night; it was the first time my uncle and I had the opportunity to really talk properly. He told me that he was proud of me that I had achieved something many in our family circle hadn’t and how regardless of what anyone said I was a law graduate, I would always have my education. If I had achieved that, I could do anything I set out to do and anyone who had anything to say was to be ignored and silenced because they weren’t worth anyone’s time.

It was an emotional night and obviously involved a bucket full of tears, I hadn’t realised I had been building everything up inside and it all came tumbling out. All the stresses; graduating, my dad, searching for work, marriage pressure, self image the lot! My uncle told me ‘the way you carry yourself is so important don’t let people think of you in any different way’ He emphasised the importance of education over typical pressures of marriage. I saw this in the way he supported my cousins with their education and the way he encouraged them to follow their interests and to be able to succeed in whatever field they chose.  I think it’s quite ironic I found the non desi values and life lessons in Pakistan itself and from Pakistanis, moving away from the typical Asian norms and ideals.

That evening was special my Uncle and Khala had the chance to understand me a little bit more. He would often get phone calls and I ended up joining the cousins in rolling our eyes, the phone calls would occasionally be from friends and family asking for advice or help and he would never turn anyone down. Following that evening I was inspired and felt refreshed; I had been inspired by a man who even in his late 40s was studying for his masters alongside working up the military ranks and taking care of his family and others. After that he would refer to me as Miss lawyer/vaqeel even when we were out haggling with shop keepers. The dukhaan wallah actually believed I was a qualified lawyer. So you see the Brigadier Uncle didn’t turn out to be too bad!

 

 

 

 

The Pakistan journal

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I’ll be honest this blog post has been gathering cobwebs in a corner for a couple of months now. The reason being that there were too many emotions, life changing moments, discoveries and the crumblings of old relationships. To even be able to comprehend and process what to write/archive or rather to be left as forgotten memories.

It took me up to 3 weeks to shake off the jet lag. When I retraced my steps I realised why, seeing as the last couple of weeks of my stay in Pakistan were hectic. I had never moved around so much, I’ve been on long drives and abroad but never like this. The first three weeks were spent relaxing in Islamabad although they didn’t turn out to be as calming as I had anticipated! At the end of the three weeks we left Islamabad for my nani’s village for my cousin’s wedding, where I served my second official post as bridesmaid!  Then on the back of my cousin’s wedding I had to attend another wedding on my dad’s side of the family, both weddings were literally back to back. On the evening of my cousin’s walima I packed up ready to leave for my daadi’s village.

I stayed in my daadi’s village for the duration of the second cousin’s shaadi which was 3 days long and then it was back to Islamabad. A short stay in both Muzaffarabad and Murree. Following this a few days later it was nearly time to pack up for good and leave for home [with a  couple of days stopover in Turkey] AND then finally touching down in London.

I think the 3 or so week jet lag was justified although at one point my mum got worried about my dizzy spells and diagnosed it as malaria, the typical Asian mother hey! People travel all the time but I would say this was my first ever taste of exploring new and exciting places within Pakistan and then Turkey.

Now I’ve had that little taste I definitely want more, I don’t have a bucket list as such but I really want to try to see as much of Pakistan and to explore more of its remote areas. So only then can I sit back and say I’ve seen Pakistan and it really is stunning, vast and full of wanderlust.

This particular 2014 trip was absolutely beautiful, I’ll cherish the loving memories I made, the new experiences I had and the special people I met. There was too much to write, I suppose this post  is like an introduction into the following blog posts to come. So here it goes…

Political tensions

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I don’t really write about politics much on here. I’ve come a long way since my 2 years studying politics during A levels, where I was reading the papers and avidly watching the news every week on the insistence of Ed our politics teacher. I gradually started to grow more pessimistic and angered by the political situation and biased media in general.

Although my hate and frustration with politics had reached ‘desi high blood pressure’ levels there was one thing I always made sure I took part in and that was voting. With politics I have always felt its electing the ‘lesser of two evils’ isn’t it?  Many around the world die fighting for their right to vote and here I am several decades down the line after the suffragette movement, contemplating giving up the very freedoms they dedicated their lives fighting for.

So of course each time I go and make an effort to vote whether it’s the local, national or European elections. In May we had the European and local elections in the UK. However in our constituency the local elections had been postponed because one of the candidates had passed away. They were moved to be held at the end of June.

A day before the election I was walking home and was just passing where the polling station would be the next day. When I saw a group of suits; three men and a woman. They were giving out leaflets. As I walked closer I could see the purple and yellow rosettes on their blazers. They were trying to engage with the white lady walking in front of me. Just at this point I was about to pass by the group when the lady in the group shouts out to the woman “I’ve seen you somewhere” in a last few desperate attempts to get her on board. The lady in response turns around and replies “I’ve never seen you in my life and trust me I think I would remember if I had come across you!” and then to my shock she turned to the whole group shouting “you’re pathetic” and walked off.

Clearly I was impressed by her outspokenness but also surprised that a party such as UKIP had the audacity to be canvassing around our area. So obviously I thought I’d give my two pennies worth.  I told them they were going to need all the luck in the world because they weren’t welcome around here. The woman in the group just huffed at me and turned to the men laughing and said “we won’t need any luck darling” bleurgh how patronising could one get?

After our little altercation I walked off towards home and the outspoken lady from before was ahead of me, walking really slow so she sort of sidled up to me and said “wow I don’t know why I just did that I’m not a shouty person at all, trust me!”  It was really lovely and refreshing to be able to have a long chat with her. She was right, she was softly spoken so I understood why it must have been out of character for her. We walked together all the way down to my house. She was also a local and was baffled with why the party had been there. We spoke of coming from immigrant backgrounds. She asked me who is British? None of us can say we truly are, somewhere down the line we come from elsewhere. Her family had come from Ireland and she was disgusted with parties such as UKIP who preyed on people’s insecurities and hid ugly truths behind their immigration policies. She had just come back from an Arab restaurant where she had lunched with her son. She told me they were lovely and her son had to get back to work so she had to travel home by herself but the restaurant owner himself had offered to drive her home. She loved living in a multicultural city and she appreciated our neighbours. Holding the belief that we didn’t belong to any particular country but rather we all belong to the universe.

My mum used to work in the local GP surgery down the road so she has known most of our neighbours for several years. To the right side of our house we have Amy a South African, her British boyfriend and their 2 children. A couple of days ago our new neighbours to the left introduced themselves; the wife a Malaysian, her husband Chinese and their 2 children. We know neighbours that are Sri Lankan, Nigerian, Italian, Portuguese, and Palestinian. The list could go on but these are the ones  who live in the closest proximity to us.

I am so grateful for the community I live in and I love this little part of North London. Having spoken to this neighbour it really sent me into a deep train of thought- what does it actually mean to be British? The question that will probably be unanswered for years to come. Britain like many other countries has been discovered and founded by immigrants from various backgrounds who have come and settled down. So it really is true, we do in some respect belong to the universe.

The day after the elections the local news reported that the elections had been won by the three Labour candidates. UKIP never had a chance and hopefully never will. So I think we showed them they’re not welcome around here, nope not in our small multicultural patch of North London!  With the next General election coming up next year it’s frustrating to see ignorant parties like UKIP making more public appearances and noises. I would say we need to do our research thoroughly before making our choices and become more informed.

** I still need to work on the length of these posts! they seem to go on forever don’t they?