The Reality of Dreams

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When I was younger I had a dream that I would move out, live life, travel the world and be independent. How wrong I was.

It’s easy to watch a movie, read a book or even hear a friend talk about dilemmas and think/advise- why do you not just go for it, sure you’ll will disappoint someone but it’s your life and as long as you’re not hurting anyone why not live the way that makes you happy? But when the tables are turned it’s never that easy.

A South Asians families expectations of their daughter:

  1. Get consistent A*s in all subjects (Art and Physical Education excluded) preferably getting 100%. Even if you get 98% they will question where the remaining 2% went.
  2. Be a good and obedient daughter. That means no unnecessary hanging out with friends and definitely NO boys that are friend or otherwise. If you get caught with a male friend all hell will break loose, because it is assumed that you are dating every guy you are in contact with…
  3. Get into a top ranked uni to study an important subject like MEDICINE or LAW, no airy fairy subjects like Literature or Animation.
  4. Learn to be a South Asian master chef before getting married.
  5. Get hitched. Be a great daughter-in law and wife, a chef, a career woman until you have 3 kids and then be a stay at home mum.
  6. BE PERFECT. FULL STOP. Anything less then perfect automatically reflects badly on you, on your family, on your upbringing and so on and so forth!

Being a South Asian girl born and raised in London the things that I want and the culture that I come from are constantly conflicting. Wanting to spend time for yourself is not really an option. Going on a journey of self discovery to figure out who you are and what you want from life is absolutely absurd. There is the set list of how things should pan out and it ends with marriage!

Don’t get me wrong, there are many aspects of my culture I find amazing, but some of the fundamental ones that affect my life directly make be feel utterly caged. It is hard to break free of the shackles of family and cultural-expectation. Those who do live life as they want are often ostracised by family and the community (depending on the kind of family you come from). I assume it would be like living in Victorian Britain. To rebel against these expectations, if you’re family are not more liberal or supporting in the first place, will open you up to a barrage of constant criticism. Coming from a family who prefer to shun those who ‘transgress’ cultural norms and boundaries, it is extremely difficult to pursue my dreams. My culture stresses the importance of family. When making a life decision not taking your families hopes, wishes and thoughts into consideration above your own is considered an act utmost selfishness. People who live in similar situations to mine will understand the difficulty of breaking away and trying to live your own life before marriage, because lets face it for South Asians the position of wife is a full time job. There is no life real time to yourself, education, work and then marriage for girls. As soon as you have a stable job it is timed to get hitched! That is the order, a social and cultural obligation that I am expected to fulfill. And to want anything different to this is completely ridiculous!

I love my family and I know that they sincerely believe this is the best and respectable route to take in life.

Just like a bird in the cage, my family and culture keeps me from pursuing certain things and living a completely independent life. Should I wish to fly towards my dreams the door is always open, it’s just about altering my state of mind and fight for what I want. I deliberately took a year of before doing my masters, much to the dismay of my parents, and have decided to take a route into teaching which will take another two, maybe three years.  In the mean time my parents will be forced to stop their London-wide search for eligible Asian bachelors to set me up with. Ha!

*Taking control of my life*

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Urban Street Art

I am obsessed with all things Aztec/Navajo/Tribal and animal street art! So imagine my excitement when I found all of those things rolled into one amazing piece of art! Whilst Google-ing for graffiti art images for my desktop I came across this awesome public mural by a Brooklyn street artist by the name of Trek Matthew called ‘cicerone//fox‘. The image led me to the Brooklyn Street Art site which has many more stunning pictures of the incredible process of this particular piece along with more street art similar to this.

I would like to one day travel the world and take pictures of famous (and not so famous) street art. London has an abundance of great street art dotted across the Capital, some very well known and others not so much. Note to self: must purchase a proper camera!

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Rape: The Injustice of Justice

Community Service for Rape?

‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ -Martin Luther King Jr.

I have been contemplating whether to write on this topic as it is an extremely sensitive issue. However as this is a completely anonymous blog and has nothing but my first name, I am safe in the knowledge that I will not reveal anyone’s identity.

A friend of mine was raped at the beginning of this year. I never thought someone close to me would ever have to deal with a situation like that. It is something that I am still reeling from and I cannot begin to imagine what my friend is going through.

She had made the journey from work to the bus stop many times since she started her first retail job (in a quiet and isolated part of London) without any problems whatsoever. Unknown to her, she had been followed to the bus stop that night where the horrendous incident took place.

The case was taken to court where it was concluded that the cretin would serve community service for his crime because it was a first time offence. To say my friend was devastated is an understatement, the unfairness of it is utterly soul-destroying. The violation of another human-being does not even equate to the mere slap-on-the-wrist sentence that had been handed out. How can this be, that a young girl is left physically and psychologically damaged and the man who did this to her gets to literally take a walk in the park picking up empty crisp packets off the grass? It makes me blind with anger and white-hot rage!

That is the unfortunate truth about the British criminal justice system. The victim is made to feel like she has over-reacted and the infraction of her body is equivalent to that of someone stealing a packet of sweets from a News-agents. Does this lenient sentencing then not serve as an encouragement for worthless individuals to commit first time offences rather than to deter them?

Nearly a year on and after undergoing a termination she is facing ongoing health problems and the possibility of never being able to conceive again. Though she has the support of her friends she is too ashamed to tell her family as she does not want to hurt them, and coming from a South Asian background a girls worth is considered to be in her virtue. A happy, bubbly, promising individual that had previously been getting amazing grades at the beginning of her second year of uni only scraped by at the end.

Nevertheless, she is determined and focused on doing the best she can for herself in her final year. She is stronger than I could have ever imagined! This is something that will haunt her for the rest of her life and it is not something that can ever really be forgotten but she has decided to try live her life instead of letting it destroy her.

Down a Rabbit-Hole into Starbucks

Down a Rabbit-hole into Starbucks

I absolutely adore the coffeehouses of Central London. I love to watch the hustle and bustle of city life from the comfort of my warm, if slightly worn, armchair inside the relaxed atmosphere of the shop whilst sipping on an iced Mocha Frappe (with cream of course). Alice stumbled upon a tea-party in Wonderland at the end of her rabbit-hole, I discovered the wonders of Starbucks! It is the most obvious hide-away from a busy lifestyle and the cold Autumn/Winter days! Is it weird that I love to drink Frappes even during cold weather?

When the weather gets a little chilly and it starts to get dark early my boyfriend and I like to spend the majority of our time sitting at a Starbucks talking, laughing and relaxing. Give us a cosy little corner near the big glass windows Starbucks is well known for and we’ll be there until closing time!

Autumn- New Beginnings?

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I know technically there is still a week left until Autumn, but the change in weather makes me want to pull out my woolly scarves! For the first time in my life September represents the end of an academic year. I complete my Masters at the end of this week *yay*! I’m in my early 20’s and starting to feel the panic of stepping into the unknown that is adult life and leaving education and the care free student living that comes along with it behind. So where to from here?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a complete novice at living as a self-sufficient ‘adult’. I have had a taste of the ‘adult’ lifestyle in the year I took out after completing my undergrad and before staring my postgrad. Suffice to say, after a month in a full-time nine-to-five job (along with working three evening a week volunteering as an English and Maths tutor and part-time weekends in a retail outlet in busy Central London) I was knackered but satisfied. As much as I love working and keeping busy, I do ask myself ‘when do I get time to myself’? Even when you’re not at work you are working, meeting deadlines and completing tasks. It’s almost heart-breaking to see your social life board a one-way train to oblivion whilst you mournfully stare after the departing train with your nose pressed up against the window.

‘Let me know when your entire life goes up in smoke: then it’s time for a promotion.’- The Devil Wears Prada (2006).

The MA gave me one last opportunity to be carefree and so I took it!

It is absolutely shocking how living gets very very expensive very very fast once you cease to be a student. There are suddenly endless things that need paying from tax and rent to helping out with a million-and-one bills, travel (good-bye student discount!) and of course paying for your own personal upkeep. But the plus side to this is that you feel like an individual in charge of your own life. Yes, of course you miss the care free days of being a student when all you had to worry about was planning your next budget trip with your friends, and a fish-finger sandwich was considered a meal. But the transition from student to adult is not a bad one (once you get over a huge chunk of your salary disappearing every week/month), I guess it’s all about finding a job that will inspire and motivate you as well as discovering the right balance between work and play.

Let the job-hunt commence!