Tag Archives: culture

I’ve rediscovered my childhood.

I have a weight on my shoulders, it comes with age, I think (I’m not even twenty, ugh.) Everywhere I look there’s a flaw, within myself, within the way we interact with each other and I know it’s a cruddy outlook to have on life in general. So, one day, a fortnight ago, I was looking for a remote control and was advised to check out a neglected cupboard in an empty room. I did, and I spent the next four hours engrossed in old photo albums.

What is common knowledge yet still somehow forgotten in our family is that my father was a photography enthusiast, he would never be without his camera thus, thankfully, I have many memories from my childhood. Seriously, like, really cool retro photos which hipsters would drool at the prospect of having legitimate cool baby photos like this:

Image

Check out the shades, brah!

Image

I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but it seems like I am an infant, therefore unable to drive.

Image

This isn’t cool, dad, you’re letting me run amok with some poor OAP’s walking stick. .__.

And my life without him in South London, I can’t tell you. There’s no one here to take photos but the joyful moments seem to have evaporated, only to be contained in these special photographs. This blog is basically just me sharing these special moments with you, and I’m typing this with a small smile on my face because for the first time in quite a while I feel at one with myself. I have the standard childhood photos and then some, I had a father who loved me more than I can possibly imagine. Looking at my family now, it almost pains me to see that we were so content and wholesome at one point.

Don't mess with our styyyyyyyyyyyyle.

Don’t mess with our styyyyyyyyyyyyle.

This is how much my father took his hobby seriously.

prolific man.

prolific man.

And these are only the photos and some videos and cassettes. He’s made more. I never really questioned why my father was such a fanatic, the only thing I could tell my friends is “oh, he never really left the camera, and I was a right little daddies girl!” blushing with pride, I’d listen to the stories distant family members would tell me as I heard how much my father loved me, how fair my skin was, how I was the apple of his eye. Being the youngest child and only girl, with three older brothers at least twelve years older than me, I had that one thing over them (and that’s nothing to complain about.)

Retro

Retro

How suave!

How suave!

I found pictures of my parents wedding! Look at how damn cool they are.

wedding1 wedding2

My dad moved here when he was fairly young and started a job as a black cab driver, when he eventually started driving for the BBC. So he’d come home and tell wicked stories about how he was driving the flamboyant John Ingham and even David Jason. He was pretty inspirational, always had a joke or an interesting anecdote to tell.

cab

Yeah let’s just reinforce stereotypes…

It’s hard to believe such a jaunty bloke was living in India/Pakistan not too long ago. So when I was very young I visited with him, back to his old house, and to wander around Lahore. I don’t remember much, apart from the blurred visions of chickens running wild… it’s tough living, there. Lavish meals were made with barely any equipment and yet it was so fun, running wild, the earthy roads and um, liberation. 

Ch'yeah liberation!

Ch’yeah liberation!

pakistan1

The kitchen.

The kitchen.

Pakistan - India

Pakistan – India

A fortnight ago, as I was scouring each and every single folder of photographs (I had no energy to crack open cassettes and tapes) I stumbled upon something incredibly personal and sentimental. After I was done with this particular folder I didn’t know how to handle this beautiful discovery. Now I know I can just blog about it. 😉

entry1 entry2

My father created a folder for me. Painstakingly captioned it, I remember he converted the bathroom into a dark room to develop these photographs a few days a week, I sat on the toilet precariously as he explained to a perplexed six year old how he did everything, peering through an empty lens at me as I giggled and shrieked. I don’t really know how it feels to have someone so devoted to you, I reject those who try, but I swell with admiration whenever I think about him. My dashing, funny, incredible dad. I guess I don’t want his hard work to be forgotten when his children die, as well, so it’s best left in an online diary, never really deleted from anything until the world ends.

Colonisation is a fact, and it was pretty horrible, but just knowing that it affected my father in such a way really hits close to home. His life changed because of it and it shook his foundation for the rest of his time here; it made him want to keep a record for every aspect of his life as long as he could. I even found this.

diary ]

He actually documented as many of my movements as he could’ve done for my first year alive. Here are a few of my favourite quotes…

“Shirin poked her brothers eye and it bled because he wasn’t responding to her tugging on his shirt.” 

“Shirin said “shut up” for the first time.”

“Shirin tried to climb up the stairs but always falls back on the second step.

I was adorable, shut up.

I don’t mean to waffle on sentimentally. It’s funny, when I think about how laid back life was back then and how stern and cruddy it is now it makes me think of the Islamic revolution that took place in Iran. Only, the revolution was a move to a different area of suburban London and it was just closer to a mosque… Let me be as dramatic as I want, dammit!

I had a pretty sweet childhood with awesome people around me, and that’s more than I could ever ask for.

Why....

Why….

Me, looking pleased as ever.

Me, looking pleased as ever.

Adorable villain in cheesy cop movie's got her hands up!

Adorable villain in cheesy cop movie’s got her hands up!

I don't get the obsession with putting me in things..

I don’t get the obsession with putting me in things..

kid5

Goodnight!

Goodnight!

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Meta Third Culture Porn: an introduction.

Porn:

Pornography is the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction; it was actually a word in ancient Greek that signified art and literature depicting the life of prostitutes, but the word has evolved. We had the pornography of death, of sex, of violence, and it has metamorphosed into the fetishizing (for me) of basic human experience, so I’ll fetishize my own within this blog, for you.

I’m typing this in a box room in South London, currently fasting as it’s the Islamic month of Ramadan, and fuming for my own reasons. I don’t fast because I want to, and it’s not even because I have to; I do it to keep the peace for other people and allow a raging war to happen inside of myself. Sometimes, you might find me at a bar with my friends, other times, I may be studying in my room on campus – and that’s fair enough, it’s the normal life of any student, sex, drugs, the carefree hedonistic life we are granted three years of, it’s alright. However, half of my life is living within Eurocentric norms, never being completely accepted so I accepted my unacceptance a long time ago; the other half I’m living within an alien and orientalised culture integrated within a culture imposed upon them long ago. My pseudo-Indo-Pakistani heritage was lugged along across oceans to settle down comfortably in London, *fanfuckingtastic* London, the city where celebrities are moulded, there’s a job going on every street, the diversity and multiculturalism mars the blatant and violent racism my parents and young brothers had to suffer just so my generation could be comfortable and embodied in a state of cultural appropriation and the dehumanising and/or fetishizing of our values and skin colour. I’m at a bar having a drink with friends on a Friday evening, then by Friday night I’m in traditional Pakistani clothing, cradling various babies and setting the dinner table for a family of 8 with heavy curries, yogurts, and china plates, my mind lingering on the heavy events of the previous night. The next morning, I might go to the mosque, undergoing various security checks in case I am carrying a bomb to sit down and listen to a homophobic sermon. I’ll probably go to the ethnic shops after that to pick up some food for my mother, only to find the sign on their door saying “NO ******* ALLOWED” so I’d turn around, dejected, and leave. Sunday night, I’d be at the bar with my friends again, rinse, and repeat.

You hear about this a lot, us Third Culture Kids, our identities torn by different expectations everywhere, the politics and the tragedy of it all, you’ve heard it all before, and I’m certain your sympathies are with us. But what if I were to deconstruct it a little more for you, what if I were to actually individualise and break myself away from this pathetic stigma imposed upon us by god knows who, would it be more entertaining for you? It’s certainly a topic of interest with my friends and people I meet.

You have the “Bend it like Beckham” image in your mind, the lovable and comical family who want nothing but good things to happen for their daughter, restricting her access to men and revealing clothes. No? So my family must be extremists who stamp on my neck whenever I want to wear jeans! Obviously, and here is where the deconstruction comes in, I’ll try to simplify it as much as I can.

India / Pakistani conflicts = a child (me) = bad.

Indo-Pakistani child living in a predominantly white and racist country, having to interpolate = bad.

Indo-Pakistani child happens to be a girl living in a predominantly sexist and racist world = bad.

Indo-Pakistani girl happens to be part of a Muslim family (and is an atheist) in a country rife with Islamophobia = bad.

Hey, why do you label it as a bad thing? What’s your problem? You. You’re my damn problem.

Indo-Pakistani Muslim girl turned irreligious pansexual is part of a sect of Islam (which she will not mention) that is targeted and attacked in Pakistan and even here by “fellow Muslims.” That’s a story for another time. I doubt you’d find it anywhere else, the media is not concerned about my slaughtered family members and their neighbours, or their banishment from Mecca.

It’s funny how wherever I turn, I’m doing something wrong. You sleep with men? You whore! You sleep with women? You degenerate! You consume drugs? You’re a drunk? You must have an imbalance in there somewhere; cover your breasts, shroud your face, why are you shrouding your face, you have lovely breasts, flaunt them. Don’t go to university, why are you doing that course, why don’t you sleep with me, you should be cooking and cleaning right now, you should be studying right now, you’re pretty for an Asian girl, you’re Muslim family are oppressing you! The sect of Islam you’re brought up in is led by the Devil himself! The Western ideals are devouring you and turning you into a product for the pleasure of men, oh the oppression! Don’t worry, we’ll save you. I’ve never met a Pakistani atheist, how queer, you’re a paradox. So do you like, have to chew gum before you go home so your mum doesn’t smell the cigarettes on your breath? A young girl, fatherless, how I pity her mother! Heh, I wouldn’t expect that from someone like you: everything is a fucking commentary, and it really doesn’t need to be.

So whilst I balance the beauty of this culture my family carried to me beating in my chest, I’m battling the oppression I face within that culture, and the culture of the country I’m living in. Everywhere I look, even within my family, the mosque, my lovers, the educational system, jobs, sex, entertainment, the arts, there’s just fucking oppression everywhere, man. This is just the introduction, I’ll be bitching and moaning about this all in my next blogs (yay – I hear the internet sigh.) But why can’t I bitch and moan? I’m tired! I’m seriously sick and tired of being judged by things that are out of my control, and it happens far too much. It needs to change, I won’t go into that “we’re all the same underneath, guys!” and “why can’t we just get along?” Because it’s that kind of BS that pisses me off even more, if that’s what you think, then do something about it. Don’t impose your bullshit white superiority complex and straddle me with it feeding me those lies that you’re liberating me. This is me finally being able to articulate myself and understanding that I’m not alone in this, whether that’s comforting or tragic, you decide.

This blog is about my life and my identities, the balancing and rejecting of. The stories I will take you through might not necessarily be about my life living in a brothel in Mumbai or being a masseuse in Lahore, it might not necessarily be about the hilarious situation a poor boy found himself in when he hid in my closet from my mother, it might not be about the judgement of our family from and Islamic or British stance; Hell, it might just be about an outfit I think I look really cute in or a movie I think is really good or outstandingly shit. For me, the point of this blog is about individualising who I am and detaching myself from the stereotype, so it might not be your run of the mill, pissed off brown woman bitching about the White Man. It’s just about me, making myself heard.

Thank you for reading, see you soon.

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