MAURITIUS 2019

MAURITIUS 2019

By far, Mauritius is up there with one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the privilege of visiting. From the unrelenting kindness and hospitality of the local residents to the pride of their culture and landscape, there is so much to appreciate when visiting.

Most notably, the landscape transcends everything I’ve ever seen – the tranquillity is like nothing I’ve experienced before. The hills are the greenest I’ve ever witnessed, the sea holding different shades of blue, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. We stayed in Flic en Flac, a village on the west coast overlooking the sea. With the ocean on our doorstep, the sunsets were truly one of a kind – every day was a different canvas of pastel colours.

An added bonus on our trip was being upgraded to our very own villas in the five-star hotel next to ours for absolutely no reason, and we were hugely grateful for the gesture. With an outside pool and seating area, to a huge walk-in bathroom suite and wardrobe, we were well and truly spoilt. It was something we never expected and to receive a perk like that really brightened up our trip – after all, the holiday was to celebrate my graduation from university and my parent’s anniversary so it made the entire holiday incredibly special.

In terms of activities, we actually kept this holiday very relaxed and spent most of our time on the beachfront soaking up the sunshine. During the ten days we spent on the island, most days were beautifully sunny with the odd overcast afternoon here and there. I personally love nothing more than sitting on a beach for most of my day, either reading a book or having a nap and it was so nice to be able to actually do that this time! My parents normally prefer exploring when on holiday but even they joined me on the beach, so it was lovely to wind down and just enjoy being present on a sunlounger. We did, however, do a bit of exploring whilst on the island. We visited a few waterfalls and took part in a waterfall hike –  we were rewarded with stunning views of green hills, amazing waterfalls and the ocean as a backdrop.

One of the best experiences of Mauritius for me personally was the wildlife – in particular, the monkeys. They were surprisingly tame, patiently waiting on a roadside or on a wall for tourists to feed them. Naturally, monkeys, as with most wild animals, can become relatively aggressive if they ever feel under threat so some did lash out every now and then when approached by an overly-eager tourist wishing to capture that all-important Instagram shot. But overall, they were relatively gentle mammals who enjoyed nothing more than playfully fighting with each other over scraps of banana. Oh, and the babies were nothing short of adorable.

My trip was hands down one of the best travel experiences of my life, primarily because it was so chilled out. We were incredibly well looked after by everyone – from travel guides to hotel staff, they were warm, welcoming and keen to share their knowledge with us.

The holiday took a slight turn for the worst on our final evening when I accidentally ate a cashew-based curry (didn’t realise it contained nuts in my defence!). When the hotel staff realised I was having an allergic reaction, they quickly called for transport to escort me out of the villa to a nearby hospital. Long story short, after various scans it turned out my severe stomach pains were not just from an allergic reaction, but also from an ovarian cyst! I was given a load of pain relief and kept in overnight for observations before being discharged the following morning so we could catch our flight (within three hours of leaving the hospital!). But the hotel staff were very sweet, enquiring after my health when my parents came back from the hospital and apologising profusely before we checked out, despite it being no one’s fault.

I’ve popped a few pictures from my trip below to give a small insight into the beauty of the island. I cannot recommend it enough, and would love to visit again if the opportunity presents itself!

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One of the many unbelievable sunsets by our villa
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Waterfall hike
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Hike view #2
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View of the villa pool from my bed!
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Snoozing kitty
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Monkeys!
All photos were taken by myself on an iPhone.

A x

DUBAI 2016!

DUBAI 2016!

My favourite city, with the best food to offer worldwide (in my opinion!) Dubai is what my parents and I call our “home away from home.” It’s somewhere we can escape to when life in England gets too stressful, and these past few months have been exactly that. This year, we stayed at JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) – having visited it briefly last year, we fell in love with the beach front and all it had to offer in terms of restaurants as well as atmosphere. All in all, we spent very little time actually at the beach, because let’s be honest, 42 degrees is not sunbathing on the beach kind of weather.

JBR was an interesting experience; unbeknownst to us, it’s where most of the nightclubs and bars were, hence the extraordinary number of  people walking around half-naked, and the odd few tourists seen stumbling across the beachfront, visibly and embarrassingly intoxicated. Ultimately, people are allowed to dress however they like, but what I find ever so slightly disrespectful is the utter disregard some tourists had for the culture and country they were in. Dubai is part of an Islamic country, and thus tourists should show some consideration of the cultural and religious values that the country holds. I think some have a misconception that Dubai is a very liberal city and thus, it’s not necessary to adhere to the strict values that its neighbour cities, such as Abu Dhabi, hold. Despite 84% of Dubai’s residents consisting of foreigners and expatriates, I still believe it is fundamentally important to respect the cultures and values of the country you’re in.

It’s also interesting to note that different parts of Dubai, despite it only being a city, vary in the extent of strict culture; for example, JBR is known to be the least conservative area in the city, whereas if you travel further east, you’ll find there are less tourists, less expatriates and more Emirati nationals, and thus, they’re more conservative in their traditional/cultural values.

Anyway, enough about that. Here are a few snaps of my favourite moments during my time in Dubai.

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JBR Walk 
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Dubai Mall 
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Umbrella St 
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Cheesecake Factory: one of the best aspects of Dubai!

This year, we decided to explore a little further out of Dubai instead of staying in the city, and it was the best decision we made this year! The East Coast is one of the (not so) hidden gems of the UAE and the tour took us to Al-Fujairah, the Indian Ocean, a beautifully hidden fishing village called Dibba and the Middle East’s smallest and oldest mosque.

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A rug market situated amidst mountains
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Markets amongst mountains
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More rugs!
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Greenhouse market
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Al-Fujairah
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Beach, ocean and mountains – what could be better?!

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Sandy Beach Hotel – Al- Aqaa

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Al Aqaa

I think my favourite part of the trip, however, has to have been visiting Abu Dhabi. Last year we visited only briefly but I immediately fell in love with the culture, despite it being somewhat more conservative than Dubai, as well as the calm and relaxed atmosphere. This year we swallowed our fears and went to Ferrari World, home to the world’s fastest roller coaster (and boy they weren’t kidding about being the fastest!) I’m already looking forward to revisiting Yas Island and Ferrari World the next time we visit Abu Dhabi, and we’re definitely staying there longer to explore the area a little better.

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So many cars!
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Italian themed stores and restaurants inside the theme park

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Yas Mall
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Yas Mall

Something that (obviously) stood out to me was how much art I stumbled across whilst in Dubai – from wall murals to paintings, every other street had some form of artwork that everyone and anyone can appreciate, and it added to the ever-modernising appeal of the city.

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Found at JBR Walk
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Also found along JBR Walk

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The interior design of this cafe was breathtaking!

All in all, Dubai certainly did not disappoint this year; in all honesty, however, I would not stay in JBR again – if you’re visiting Dubai for the nightclubs, alcohol and bars then yes, I would recommend it but otherwise, I think I’d like to stay in downtown Dubai, by the Marina perhaps. Nevertheless, the holiday was truly wonderful, just what I needed before I began university and I’m already counting down until I go back! I’d like to thank my parents for giving me such a special holiday, and for forever spoiling me as they always do.

A x

Does Media Bias Against Muslims Feed Into Radicalisation?

I can’t even say “as of recently” because this is an ongoing issue, and has been for some time: bias against Muslims in the western media. I voiced my opinion on how I, as a Pakistani girl, felt attacked by various, biased, news broadcasters; the above interlinking of anger at the bias and radicalisation was the response I received, from someone who worked in the industry.

Now I’m not exactly well-informed in what goes through one’s mind when they decide to fight for the Jihad but this suggestion of subjective bias in the media being a reason behind  radicalisation is almost hilarious. Instead of accepting responsibility for unfair media coverage, they deflect furthermore blame. The heavy focus on average Muslims fleeing the country to fight for groups like Islamic State places most Muslims under the spotlight and heavy scrutiny. Since 9/11, Muslims have been categorically associated with terrorism. Anyone wearing a hijab, burqa or with brown skin is instantly given an awkward side-glance. People wearing niqabs are racially abused in public. The media’s stance on, or rather, against, Muslims is adding fuel to an increasingly widespread fire.

To create a correlation between Muslims feeling attacked by the media and terrorism is possibly the highest level of ignorance I have ever come across. That’s saying something, what with ignorant, uneducated comments are on the rise with a biased media reporting unfairly on current affairs worldwide, involving terrorism and more specifically, Islamic State. There are a fair few newspapers who incite racial hatred with their headlines and focus on the ethnicity of key figures in a story. For example, the Daily Mail is notoriously well-known for focussing on “Muslim” immigrants or “Muslim youths” being involved in crime, when the ethnicity or faith is not necessary to the crime at all. This representation and blatant categorisation of Muslims being criminals, job-takers and rapists is what is creating an increasing uproar amongst the Muslim communities. This uproar is not radicalisation, it is defiance and anger at being treated unfairly. Poor media coverage of Islam is not turning us into radicals. Let me make that very, very clear.

Broadcasters such as the BBC thrive on sensationalist headlines but go out of their way to attempt to prove their lack of bias; sadly, in doing so, they make themselves look even more stupid. More often than not, I find myself having to write posts like this to justify a Muslim, such as myself, being completely thrown and disgusted by outright bigotry. Sadiq Khan is our new mayor of London; I, for one, voted for him and for many Pakistani Brits across London it is much more than a political achievement. It’s a step forward for us as a multi-cultural community to accept a Pakistani man leading our city, much to the disappointment of Islamophobic bigots.

I do not blame every white person for the acts of the KKK. Should I? Should I label all white citizens of London as racists? No, because I am educated. Reporting on events by drawing attention to their faith first is uneducated. Finally, assuming that terrorists represent Islam and Islamic teachings is uneducated, too.

I am a Muslim; I am defiant in my faith and beliefs. That doesn’t make me a radical.

Anisah

What Do You Believe In?

My friend and I were having a debate late one night about Islam in the 21st century and what I’ve come to believe in. He asked me the above question and below is the answer I gave him:

“That God gave us life. He gave us a chance to live on the planet He created. His words and teachings were manifested into a holy book. We ought to follow this book and its teachings as best we can and to whatever extent we see fit. We also ought to live our lives as pure and peacefully as possible – to love one another relentlessly, to protect our loved ones and to live in harmony with others. To maintain a pure heart, and, in doing so, we can maintain a pure soul. I believe there is a plan for each and every one of us. We don’t know what this plan is, only God knows, but whatever happens in life happens because it was destined to. There’s no such thing as fate versus free will.It’s either one or the other, not both. I believe that God also weakens us in order to make us stronger. He tests both our perseverance and our loyalty to Him. He challenges humanity and brings us down to our knees in times of despair so we can appreciate what He’s given us so far. I believe in Him. But I also believe in the part of Him that lives inside me and gives me the strength to survive every day. I believe that when I die, I’ll be content knowing I’ve loved and love in equal measure. And I make mistakes, but I am a good person with a good, pure heart. I believe in the faith I have in Him, and Him alone.” 

‘Decadence’ by Tyler Shields

‘Decadence’ by Tyler Shields

HOLY GUACAMOLE.

I finally got round to visiting the much-anticipated exhibition ‘Decadence’, showcasing Shields’ work in the Maddox Gallery, Mayfair. Having read a few reviews prior to seeing the exhibition for myself, I was interested to find mixed opinions on his latest series. I later realised that these opinions are based entirely on one’s perspective of the subject matter and the form in which it’s portrayed.

‘Decadence’ is Shields’ manifestation of society and, more specifically, women in the court of Marie Antoinette.¹ He creates two incredibly juxtaposing, authentic images of women during this period; the provocateur and the oppressed. The director of the exhibition, James, kindly informed us of the contextual background to each and every photo on display in the Maddox Gallery. Each one has its own story and like he said, the longer you look at the photographs, the more you see.

I cannot commend and thank Tyler enough for allowing us to view his latest work in London, and for making it so accessible to us. There’s nothing quite like standing in a room full of art created by an artist you idolise. I’d also like to thank James for his welcoming hospitality and sharing with us everything both he and Tyler got up to in preparation for the opening of ‘Decadence.’

Here are a few of the pictures I was kindly encouraged to take. I would highly recommend visiting it if you’re in or around London!

A x

¹http://www.tylershields.com/2015/11/24/decadence-by-tyler-shields-staring-jaime-king-holland-roden-and-more/

Racism: in 2015, in Life, in General

It’s sad to even contemplate that racism is still rife, and I’m noticing it now more than ever.

Living in the countryside, I understood the compromise I was going to have to make everyday; 90% of the citizens in my town are over the age of 40 and definitely not accustomed to seeing brown faces, let’s say. The pushing past me on the roads, pushing in front of me on public transport and the weird looks every single day is something I’ve just had to ignore if I wanted a peaceful life. To a variable extent, I have ignored it and made the most of my wonderful new home and the great views on my doorstep. Every now and then I’ll get a little sassy if someone is explicitly racist but so far, I haven’t had a showdown.

Recently, and interestingly more so after the Paris Attacks of 2015, racism has suddenly escalated to a frighteningly all time high; threats of violence, Trump’s Nazi-like approach to Muslims living in the USA, attacks on the Muslim community etc are never front page news but viral on the internet with people doing nothing about it other than re-posting and sharing the articles. We’re treated like third class citizens primarily due to the ideologies of less than 1% of the Muslim population, because a large majority of ignorant people in the world choose pick what they believe to be true rather than looking at facts and statistics. In other words, they’re blinded by their own racist views to even contemplate the possibility that, hey would you look at that, maybe every single brown person on this planet isn’t a terrorist.

The most frustrating aspect of this is how much I’ve noticed these discriminatory attitudes and been a victim of them at work. I thought working in London would be a walk in the park, with cultural and educated people coming into the store each day but annoyingly, it’s quite the opposite. Customers literally throw clothes at me if they don’t want or need them, even someone I work with racially insulted me and my grandparents, simply because of my skin colour, claiming we’re “stealing all [their] jobs.” It appalls me that these attitudes still exist and are something Muslims must grow accustomed to. No matter how much I have accomplished and achieved in my 19 years on this planet, one look at my skin colour has me judged as inferior to an ignorant and uneducated citizen.

I think it’s high time Muslims, and other ethnic minorities targeted by racism, should stand their ground against discrimination. There’s no excuse for it, and there never was; it was blindly ignored as no one wanted to be the minority standing up against the majority.

This is our country as much as yours. Yes, some of us are not the same colour as you. Yes, some of us are more educated and successful than you.

Get over it.

A x

Paris Attacks: November 2015

I am once again utterly appalled and disgusted at the tragedy which unfolded in Paris on Friday 13th November.

It’s incomprehensible how humans can kill innocent men, women and children in cold-blooded murder and not flinch. It’s also disgusting to hear reports that one of the attackers cried “Allahu Akbar” before shooting into a crowd of hostages in the Bataclan Concert Hall. Praising God before committing murder is inhumane and delusional to the highest degree; it goes against every principle Islam, and Muslims, stand for. Allah will not reward these terrorists and suicide bombers with paradise in the after life. They will be condemned and punished for unspeakable crimes against humanity.

The harrowing concept of terrorism is ever-increasing in today’s society, an atrocious fact leading to ignorance and fear which, when mixed together, leads to violence such as what we saw unfold on Friday. It’s imperative we understand now that these members of the Islamic State do NOT represent the entire population of Muslims and Islamic values/teachings. As we’ve witnessed a rise in terrorism and racial attacks, we’ve also witnessed a rise in racism and racial ignorance.

I’m a Muslim. I am not a terrorist. In fact, I am avid campaigner for racial equality amongst other humanitarian concerns. My close friend wears a hijab, and she finds herself repeatedly defending our religion for the growing number of imbeciles who associate terrorism with the entire Muslim population. Unfortunately, ignorance has a louder voice than the truth; we need to stop this and stand united against terror, not fragmented by uneducated assumptions.

It’s promising that France are re-evaluating their security systems. It’s been reported that a Syrian passport was found near one of the attackers, allowing one to believe members of the IS attackers were immigrants hiding under the facade of refugees coming into Europe. What a disgusting, cowardice act. The world stands united against the attacks in Paris on Friday. We must remain united in the face of terror from hereon out. We simply cannot ignore terror rising around the world, in Serbia, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India etc.

IS: if you want to kill anyone, kill yourselves and leave it at that.

We continue to stand united against terror, and will continue to do so until the end of terror has been reached.

#PrayforParis #ParisAttacks #Paris2015 #WaronTerror

A Summer of Love

I’ll remember that summer as the summer of love. It’s defined by the taste of your coffee-stained lips under a city sunset and falling in love with eyes so deep, floating amidst Venus. I’ll remember that summer by the touch of your fingertips tracing an intoxicating path down my shirt. I’ll remember that summer as the summer I fell in love with the idea of falling for someone as endearing as you.