Flying Blue

A lone giraffe in Nairobi National Park.

Image via Wikipedia

My very first blog post. On my very new mac.

Hi peoples.

Yes, Im flossing :p

SO tired. SO jet lagged. SO SO shattered. And I still have a 9 hour flight to go.

I just boarded a KLM flight from Manchester. It dropped me off in Amsterdam. And now, I’m aboard Kenya Airways to Nairobi.

After being hassled in Manchester about an extra kilo (!) of luggage, being looked at blankly as I struggled with my three suitcases (yes three!), and feeling strangely alien in Amsterdam….it was with a great sigh of relief that I saw the smiling faces of the Kenya Airways crew.

For a moment I stilled, and swelled with pride. KENYA Airways. Unapologetically Kenyan.  And as I walked down that aisle, I stared back at those mzungu faces with confidence and…a bit of swag. 😛

There is this feeling that as Africans we always have to feel inferior. Like our skin colour makes us somehow…less. I feel it. In every stare. I every flat smile of every person who asks me that annoying question: ‘where are you from?’

I am Kenyan dammit.

I am African.

I am unapologetically Brown.

And I am coming home.

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Of All Things Halal

Halal

Image by BrotherMagneto via Flickr

Now from this post here, you will have learnt that I was recently in Manchester. After being over-fed, well watered, and thoroughly all-shopped out, I find myself contemplating when my next visit there is going to be. Why, you might ask? Well, read on peoples.

The beauty of Manchester for me, was the muslim community. I LOVED the fact that we had used our pockets to influence the number of outlets serving halal food. Walking into a restaurant, sandwich shop or fish and chips stand, and asking if the meat is halal is NOT met with confused giggles, nervous glances at the security guard, or hard, angry stares.

At Burristo (a cute, little burrito place), the waitress kindly informed me that the chicken was halal, but the way in which it was made was not. It was cooked together with the non-halal steak. WOW! She not only knew what halal was, she had gone a step further. Jeez!! I need to move to Manchester.

The city centre had a prayer place too. So you did not have to forfeit you’re salah for shopping. There was a myriad of stands selling hijabs dotted all over the high street. Overall, it just oozed muslim-friendliness. But not in an overt, over the top way. In a its-a-multicultural-place-so-this-is-perfectly-normal way. I L-O-V-E-D it!

In Cardiff where I live, muslims form a LARGE chunk of the population. But unless you go hunting for them in the ghettos (Riverside, Grangetown etc), you won’t see us. Not in the universities, nor the hospitals, nor the high street. It’s like we are in hiding. Ashamed of our religion. Not only ashamed to be seen practicing our religion. Ashamed to be seen. Period.

Disgusting.

Are there any other towns/cities where you have seen the same?

Can we please stand up and make our presence felt people?!! We are part of the community. We must get out of the shadows, stand proud, and practice Islam freely and fiercely. No excuses..

Bank Holiday Weekend!

Arriva Trains Wales Class 144 Sprinter, Porthk...

Image by Cj Roberts via Flickr

Travel. Who doesn’t hate it?

OK, not the beautiful, pristine beaches, the turquoise waters, the hunky boys in beach shorts, the exotic dream destinations. THOSE parts I love, as I’m sure everyone else does.

It’s the travel part I hate. The stupid, stupid insistence that I put all my ‘liquids’ in a plastic, see-through, teeny-weeny bag. The requirement that I undress every time I go through a metal detector. Belt: off. Shoes: Off. Myriad of bangles and watch: Off. Grrrr! What happened to the world that It has become acceptable to make people undress in front of each other so cavalierly???? My carefully planned travel outfit ruined in seconds. And all in front of the hunky athletic-type I was eyeing up throughout the flight. Sigh.

Ok, rant over.

My point was…emmm…… Oh yeah. I hate the travel part of traveling.

But wonder of wonders. I have discovered a new form of transportation that I do not despise entirely.

Train Travel.

This weekend was Bank Holiday weekend in the UK (read, hooolidaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!) Well, all we had was Monday off work. But this allowed the overworked (and underpaid) the opportunity to indulge in a well-deserved weekend break. From camping to beach holidays; From city breaks, to girly nights out – Bank Holiday Fever was well in its stead across Britain.

I decided to journey up North. To Manchester. A friend of mine who recently moved there had been nagging me to visit for years and years and years. Lol. OK, mild exaggeration. But she had been asking for a while. So it was with excitement, and trepidation that I boarded the train on my way to another country: ENGLAND.  Since I live in Wales, this was akin to travelling to an alternate universe, where trains arrive on time, buildings are taller and you can actually understand the English people speak, albeit in an infinitely less friendly manner.

Woohooo!!

While I settled in for my 3 Hour and 25 minute train ride, I suddenly realized I was still fully dressed. No security checks. No one had even checked my ticket as I boarded the train! I was ensconced comfortably in my seat, laptop plugged in, coffee in hand, watching the idyllic green hills roll past. AND NOT A SINGLE SECURITY CHECK. No one had hassled me AT ALL. The train conductor finally made her way leisurely toward me about half an hour into the journey. She recommended a seat where I could plug-in my laptop and complemented my top. Yay customer service!

Three and a half hours later, I arrived at my destination….well rested. Yes. You heard right. I was relaxed. Refreshed. And completely at ease. Oh, and we had arrived exactly on time too!

Sure train prices in the UK are ridiculous. But they make up for it with comfy seats. And meticulous timing. I don’t know about other places in Europe ( I have heard that trains are much nicer and more purse-friendly over there ) but for now, I’m putting away my passport for a bit of Local tourism.

Any invites friendly readers want to throw my way??? 🙂

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