Wednesday, 9 December 2009

time for ..., time out!!

Well …., I’m off to London!! Tomorrow!! No kidding! …, without warning I hear you ask? …, well yes!! Its strange, because I’d been looking for excuses to visit London for months! I’ve not set foot in the city since arriving back from Iraq, and that too for 1 night, most of which was spent in the bathroom due to all the nasty germs I’d picked up on route! The time before that was for the conference we held in the house of Lords, the time when I had an extended visit with Rubab (this was by far the hardest visit to return from). Over the last year, Rubab and I have bonded in a way I never thought possible, sure I’ve got close friends, but Rubab is truly my soul sister: she understands me at a level that I don’t think any other human can bar family relations, and visiting with her and Shabib and my cute little jaan Shayr Abbas is just like coming home, thus leaving them behind is so very hard! Rubab is in Pakistan now, she’s ill, and having intensive surgery as we speak (please, please make dua for her!), and visiting London without her being there somehow felt like a betrayal! All the same, I desperately needed a change of scene, and wanted a break before muherram badly!
I planned and plotted and engineered, but either I didn’t have free funds, or couldn’t secure a place to crash, or just didn’t have the time (or all of the above!). This visit was initially designed in an attempt to collect my visa for visiting Azerbaijan (yes: the saga continues!). After Reza and his manager being told that ministry clearance was not required, I was then told by London that it was! So, they had to go back to the ministry, spend hours in yet more lines, and pay/bribe the officials to send my invitation, stamped and authorised to London! (not least because London had decided I was some kind of terrorist, all because the clearance wasn’t granted!) (you are glazing over already!). Any way, after all that was done, they casually informed us that the ministry clearance would come through next Monday (the 14th December, and the day I fly back home again! With my passport! Which they need! For the visa!). By that time, I’d booked tickets, and made plans and simply couldn’t allow any more time south of the border, so the whole thing will now have to be submitted by post, which will be a race against the clock if I’m to get the whole lot to London and back before the mail service (and every other service), shuts down for Christmas, and I don’t want to be bothered with it during muherram either!

Back to the aforementioned trip though: while it was fast looking like a self indulgent waste of time (Allah does work in mysterious ways!). The Ahlulbayt satellite channel (Sayed Mahdi Mahderesi’s new venture), have invited me to ‘Ahlulbayt Live this Sunday, to debate ‘equality in Islamic thought, with DR Rebecca Masterton!
I am more nervous about this than the House of Lords conference, than any job interview, exam or any thing else I’ve ever done in my life! Sure it’s a great honour, and sure I’m delighted to be helping out the channel! But me? Next to such a learned scholar? And that too, representing the Ahlulbayt? (A.S). To make matters worse, DR Masterton had requested me to study as much as I could before hand, as the majority of women who have appeared on the programme to date have been weak in referencing and evidencing (so no pressure!). I have had a manic week (aren’t mine always?), so haven’t got as much of this studying in as I’d hoped! Last night was earmarked for it, then I got sick, and got side tracked in to something else (for another post!). Will try to do some tonight in between packing and sorting the house out, tomorrow morning Shaykh Abdal Aziz and I have a meeting with the EHRC, and then I’m off! Will try to get some research in while I’m there, but its unlikely I’ll get any thing meaningful done, so keep me in your prayers please! If you have nothing better to do, you can see me this Sunday afternoon on sky channel 842, and on satellite in North America and Canada on Ahlulbayt TV, between 1400 hours and 1600 hours GMT (would love your feedback: no matter how awful: if its honest, I’ll take it all!).

My London trip won’t be all work though: I wanted a break, and I’ll be sure to take one! I want to check out some Hindi films, want to wonder around aimlessly on Green street buying bangles and other things I don’t need, want to meet friends and sleep allot! The food is also a big pool factor in London: these days, I’m hooked on South Indian food (for any one who hasn’t sampled dosa etc, you are just missing out on life entirely!). Chenai dosa is my new hang-out, and I’m already dreaming longingly of my masala dosa, chicken rice, idlis, sambar and khuthu paratha!! This kathu paratha came about thanks to Rahul who recommended it: basically, it’s a paratha, mashed up and mixed with lots of coconut achaar, mixed spices and yoghurt (has to be tried to be appreciated!), not to mention the famous ginger tea that only they can make (OK I’ll stop going on about food now!).

I’ve also got some house keeping to do: in particular, have gold churrian which are too small and to be exchanged for bigger ones, and sundries to stock up on (most people go to London for Oxford street, to take in a show or to buy unique gifts for Christmas), I go to buy sandalwood soap, hair oils, ayurvedic headache preparations and other assorted Asian delights not available in Glasgow. As last time, I’ll be crashing with Waleed, Rehan and Abhi in their student pad: only, in a new location: they’ve moved to Layton, and have a disused attic space (with on sweet etc!), with ‘Roshni written on it! this will save me sleeping on Maya’s bedroom floor or on a dodgy half baked sofa!

So: the tubelight travels again: stay tuned for more adventures of the dosa variety!

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