Sunday, 16 December 2012

Interning at Pregnancy & Birth Magazine (2012)

'When I do get pregnant, I highly doubt I'll be one of those women who don't look pregnant from behind - I'll be that chick who looks pregnant from her ankles up'- Katherine Heigl 

I spent a majority of last week on an assignment out in the freezing cold streets of central London looking for pregnant women. And not just any pregnant women- fashionable pregnant women. You'd think on the packed streets of New Oxford Street I would be spoilt for choice, but I roamed around for hours with an unused camera. I had my eyes glued to the stomach of women as they walked by, slowly making my way up to their face where I was met with a 'I want to punch you in the face' look. That was awkward in itself, but imagine being faced with the following dilemma- not knowing if they were pregnant or slightly overweight :/ I never noticed how different each women's body could be. Some had large thighs and tiny waists, some had huge midsection's and long legs and others....well they were just generally large all around.

The cold also made it difficult to spot expectant mothers. Everyone was wrapped up in huge black bulky coats and I couldn't wonder how much easier this task would have been in the summer, where pregnant bellies were out in proud full force, intertwined in skin tight tops and flowing maxis. Trying a different tactic, I trudged into maternity sections in shops where I got distracted by some very lovely pregnant-women clothes and had to deal with a bitter case of role reversal when a sales assistant asked if I needed any help, whilst looking down at my tummy. There wasn't a child growing inside of me, only the bucket load of food I consumed earlier to waste an hour of my recommended 3 hours I should have spent scouting outside. Legging it, I stopped to regroup my plan of action in a cute cupcake shop (What??) I concluded in shamefully walking back to the Bauer Media offices where I was interning for, yeah you guess it 'Mother and Baby Magazine'. Confessing my inadequacy to find any fashionable pregnant ladies, I was surprised that the editorial assistant seemed to understand. 'Trust me I've had days when I can't find anyone at all too' she validated my lacklustre activities of the day. I breathed a sigh of relief and sat down at my desk and didn't do anything for a couple of minutes. My fingers felt frostbitten and my feet ached. This job isn't for the light hearted y'know! Even though I've been unsuccessful in this particular task, I still find it my responsibility to present to you the top 3 basic tips for scouting:

1) Usually you shouldn't make eye contact with strangers, but in this case go out of your way to look that very confused person in the eye. They will slow down and wonder what is going on which will give you precious time to see if they have the goods you want

2) Take your credit card. Food breaks are essential.

3) For gods sake- do it in the SUMMER !

On a final note, I was having lunch with an old friend this weekend in Wimbledon. We headed out of the restaurant completely engrossed in a different conversation, when she point out 'Oh look- there's a pregnant woman!'......Damn right, there she was in all her pregnant glory. I felt a little stab of bitterness, wondering where that woman had been when I needed her the most- But i got over it and moved on with my life.

Jabeen Xxx

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Malala Yousafzai's Attack - She's a Hero

Malala Yousafzai
People like Malala Yousafzai make you wonder why you don't do more for your own country, when you're lucky enough to be freely educated in a country that looks at women and men as equal. Being Pakistani, I understand the difficulty in obtaining a first class education in the country and what more following that through to higher education, especially if you're female. People are scared of raising their voice to change the unfairness associated with women's education in Pakistan. However hope lay in 15 year old Malala who became the country's hero as an outspoken educational and women's rights activist from Pakistan's Swat Valley- an area which was notoriously known to ban girls education by the Taliban. At age 11 she started writing about her right to an education in a blog for the BBC. Quickly she rose to prominence and viewed as an incredible role model through documentaries and interviews.

However, on October 6th Malala was shot in the head in an assassination attempt, which she miraculously survived after being flown to the UK for treatment. Her brave determination has now come to the attention of the entire world. So much so that it is widely believed that she deserves to win the Nobel Peace Prize 2013.

Bonnie Lloyd, a college professor from New York has started a petition to urge Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and former secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to nominate Malala for the honour. Lloyd describes the petition as a 'global movement' which has already been endorsed by the Canadian Prime Minister, UK's 'The Sun' and 150 members of Parliament in France who have signed an appeal to nominate Malala for the prize.

There are over 200,000 signatures on the petition- add yours at


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Lena Dunham's Girls Season 1 Review

"What about the stuff that gets up around the sides of condoms?"- Hannah Horvath

'Ew I watched one episode and I was like wtf is this? I like watching shows with pretty people thanks' said a friend of mine, disgust etched across her face when I asked if she had watched the new show 'Girls'. I looked at her bewildered. I mean sure I love watching shows with the rich and the beautiful who have dramatic story lines surpassing their tender years and romantic love stories that put Romeo and Juliet to shame- But I have to say that I for one have given into the craze that is 'Girls'. I hate giving into crazes, mainly because the crazes over the years have involved vampires, werewolves and wizards. I don't know about you but I am not a vampire, or a werewolf and I am certainly not a wizard.

I am however a personality clone of 'Hannah Horvath', who is played by the immensely talented Lena Dunham. Not only does she star in this relatable series for women in their twenties, but she created it and wrote the script for it. The incredible writing made me gag for the another episode online, when I finished the one I was watching. The series is currently airing on Sky Atlantic here in the UK. For those people who aren't watching in on Monday nights whilst hoping their parents don't walk in, or who haven't happily succumbed to loner-ville like I did online, here is the synopsis of the show-

Dunham plays Hannah, a hopeful writer who two years out of university is still interning. Similarities are smacked in my face right there and then. Asking for a paid position gets her sacked, and she does her best to make ends meet in the jungle that is New York with her close circle of friends as they navigate their way through their twenties 'one mistake at a time'. Her friends include stunning but serious and responsible Marnie, innocent virgin Shoshanna and cool and fiesty Brit- Jessa.

The most incredible thing about this show is that it airs our dirty laundry in a way that no other show has done. Like mentioned previously, whether you have interned for what seems like an eternity, googled your symptoms and convinced yourself you're dying, encountered lesbian romps, had countless awkward sex experiences in hopes that one day you'll feel like a badass pornstar, had a loving relationship but felt like he started turning into a creepy uncle, had someone read you innermost cringiest thoughts in your diary, got jealous of that annoyingly clever girl from years ago who's on the verge of super-stardom, been in love with a guy who dissapears for months on ends, found our your ex-boyfriend is gay, dabbled in sexting which went wrong and engaged in angry arguments with a close friend that comes after months of bitter buildup- then you will be able to relate to this gem of a show. The following are a few quotes from the show that parallels our lives-

*I'm so happy to see you I could murder you- Remember those times when you stand there awkwardly talking to whoever is wasting your time, whether it was that sleazy guy who drooled at the mouth or that annoying girl who rubbed her perfect life in your face, telepathically pleading with your friend to come and save you? And then finally she appears out of thin air? You have never been so happy as you are at that point in your life. That is when this particular quote comes into play.

*No one could ever hate me as much as I hate myself, okay? So any mean thing that someone's gonna think of to say about me, I've already said it to me, about me, probably in the last half hourLet's face it, we're our own worst critic. Anything mean anyone else says without thinking is something we've already validated to ourselves on a daily basis. It's an innate natural thing that we can't help.

*I've been dating someone who treats my heart like it's monkey meatWe've all been there. We all feel weird in ways we cannot even imagine when we're in love. Monkey meat is a good comparison- why didn't I think of that before?

*Sometimes being stuck in my own head is so exhausting it makes me want to cryThis is particularly true, late at night when you feel as if you're the only one in the world who's awake and your brain won't shut up. All of a sudden you have the ability to think about anything and anyone at a million miles per an hour. It's not fun especially when you have an early wake up call.

*Do you know that part on your resume where they ask if you have any special skills? Well, it's the thing where they ask you to list like, 'yoga, Spanish, water skiing, Photoshop.' I feel like I don’t I have any special skills- For real......what does one write? I like 'socialising, travelling and blogging'.... I feel like a muppet writing these generic answers, but I doubt ' I can make duck noises with my hands' will get me the job.

*I didn't lose my job, I gave it awayHow do you explain the reason you lost your job in a less embarrassing way? You politely stepped down to give someone else a chance and to pursue other options for yourself of course !

*I'm like the least virginy virgin everOnce in their 20's virgins will tell themselves anything to make them sound appealing in that crucial first sexual encounter of theirs. I cannot even proceed to tell you the giggles I have got from these types of conversations.

*You know what the weirdest part about having a job is? You have to be there every day, even on the days you don't feel like itI have had many interesting jobs in the past, which I don't think I can ever consider as a full time job. Swinging on my chair to make myself dizzy, blowing up balloons e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y slowly to kill time, risking my internet rights at work whilst stalking that girl on Facebook who's just moved to Los Angeles, gone out to hand out vouchers but ended up in a corner with a giant nutella pretzel...yes I have done it all.

*I am 13 pounds overweight and it has been horrible for me my whole lifeDon't talk to a girl about her weight. We will eat you up alive. Even though many of us realistically aren't that obese....we still think we are. So just go along with it and help us to lose weight. Don't sit there with a kebab in front of us. Even though I hate kebabs I will still eat it. Magnetic forces are at an all time high between women and food- well between me and food anyways.

*I just want someone that wants to hang out all the time, and thinks I’m the best person in the world and wants to have sex with only me. And it makes me feel very stupid to tell you this because it makes me sound like a girl who, like, wants to go to brunch, and I don’t want to go to brunch, I don’t want you to like sit on the couch while I shop, or like even meet my friends. I don’t even want thatAnd honestly, sometimes that is really ALL we want. Is it too much to ask for ?

The critically acclaimed programme returns for a second season on January 13th on HBO (USA)

Jabeen Xxx


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Obama's Support on Gay Marriage

Obama has been hailed a hero for his support for
gay marriage
Sophia Bailey-Klugh has found the courageous voice in many young children who have to deal with the bitter societal reality of living with same-sex parents. As she took pen to paper, the 10 year old voiced her personal concern to the US president Barack Obama- 'I have two dads and they love each other but at school kids think that it's gross and weird, but it really hurts my heart and feelings.... If you were me and you had two dads that loved each other and kids at school teased you about it, what would you do?'

The fact that the President wrote back showed his complete commitment to his views on supporting gay marriage. In his letter he mentioned the diversity in families in today's world and how it should be celebrated. He emphasised that it's our differences that should make us feel proud. I agree with Obama, but I have to state that there is too much of a traditionalist view on same-sex marriage that unfortunetly may never be banished in the eyes of some- But we have come a long way from the 60's idea of men being the breadwinner, whilst women stayed home to cook and clean. In the past two decades there has been a surge of woman joining the workforce and putting their career goals as number one importance. We have come to terms with this different family structure, so why is it so difficult to include another type of family ideal into the mix?

Obama's letter was reminiscent of his heart warming speeches. Essentially, the fact that he can back up his letter to the little girl is important. His support has always been evident to the same-sex community, whilst his rival Mitt Romney signed a National Organisation for Marriage pledge a year ago in which he believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Middle America may have sided with Romney on the gay marriage front, but the unprecedented voice has inevitably been found loud and clear in same sex couples who have hailed Obama a hero. He doesn't just reach out to these couples alone, but their families and friends- hence Sophia's heartfelt letter.

Another crucial focal point in Obama's debate is the right to adopt. He highlighted favourable support for gay couples to adopt. And why shouldn't he? In context, is it really right to let a child grow up in a abusive environment with a mother and a father over growing up in a loving environment with two same-sex parents? Personally for me that's a no brainer- however shockingly enough this argument isn't enough to convince adamant onlookers that gay couples have a right to adopt.  Obama has also been a strong presence when it comes to HIV/AIDS research and prevention. Even during times of economic turmoil, he has continued to support and raise money for the first ever US National AIDS Strategy. Anti-discrimination against sexual orientation is also been dealt with vigorously by Obama, after he signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act.

Obama's re-election on 7th November 2012, brought hope to the little girl who mentioned in her letter that the world would be a better place if he would resume his Presidential duties. Surely a 10 year old girl writing this letter in the first place shows how much even Western society has changed over the years. The States won't fully win the battle with same-sex couples being able to marry with ease, but step by step, state by state, they're getting there. The rest of the world is eagerly watching the USA. Hopefully America's fight will give citizens in other countries the chance to embrace their true selves.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Supporting the Kardashians

I never thought I was one of those hysterical 'fan' types who would camp out the night before just to see my favourite celebrities at signings/appearances- And thankgod I can hold my head up high and say that I resisted the charms of the Kardashian sisters, who have been in London the last couple of days promoting their Kardashian Kollection clothing line in partnership with Dorothy Perkins.

I admire the sisters for their work ethic which may cause some to snigger at the thought of the sisters actually 'having a legitimate career'. Kim's sex tape has been at the forefront of her fame over the years. However, there have been many celebrities who have had sex tapes, nude picture scandals and reality shows that do not come even close to the alarming heightened success that these trio and their extended family have managed to reach. The Kardashians took an opportunity and ran with it.

It makes sense that they would proceed to launch their clothing line here in the UK because as much as we deny it- Britain follows on the coattails of the USA. Everything that happens there is imported to the UK with sheer speed- and that includes the 'Kardashian Kollection'.

The collection focuses on demure pieces made up largely of dresses and tops that may be more suited for an older female audience. From their whole collection there are probably a few pieces I actually like. I think the strengths in their collection lies in the bags. I will definitely be investing in one of their large black tote bags soon!

However, I don't think the sisters need to worry about not having designing skills of the Alexander McQueen kind or about sales not doing well- they are at such a pinnacle of celebrity culture that people will actively buy their products. I don't blame these people.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Monsters Calling Home - Rising Stars

Not too long ago I received an email from LA. Something about monsters, Honda's and folk music. Looking into it closer, I realised it was an opportunity to write up a story for my Young Hollywood column, about an incredible band whose story quite frankly endeared me.

Trying to make it in Hollywood is such a struggle for many talented bands who vie vigorously for the attention of music labels, who in return selectively sign bands they think will appeal to the mass market. One unique band- 'Monsters Calling Home' got the cutting edge when they nabbed some influential attention. Squeezed into their Honda with their music equipment they decided to film their first music video. It wasn't until they placed the video on YouTube, that their perfect car-honed acoustics was noticed by the bigwigs at car-giant Honda.

Honda has really immersed themselves in social media and have gone on to develop the 'Honda Loves You Back' programme to interact with the public. Upon viewing Monsters Calling Home's music video, Honda really wanted to give back to the band and gave them a chance to perform on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel . They finally unleashed their incredible story telling music through their whimsical and folk style. They're a guaranteed future success!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Thrill of Storm-Chasing

'Storm Chasers' on Discovery
Many people enjoy the excitement of roller-coasters; the adrenaline, the wind in the hair and the embarrasing screaming. Those certain people may enjoy a certain hobby which has taken America by storm and has an undercover cult of British lovers thanks to the media- especially the show 'Storm Chasers' which aired from 2007-2011. The show which was broadcast on the Discovery Channel, featured a brave group of people trying to intercept storms in America's 'Tornado Valley'. With these influences from popular culture, storm chasing has bought together a legion of fans, who are ready to risk their lives for the ultimate thrill.

The origins of storm chasing lie way back in 1752 when Benjamin Franklin famously indulged in his meteorology interest after climbing on top of church in a middle of a thunderstorm to conduct a 'key on a kite' experiment. Whilst placing his life in jeopardy, he was adamant in highlighting the connection between electricity and lightening. His brave attempt to face harsh weather conditions paved way to David Hoadley who began chasing storms in 1956. Hoadley was inevitably considered the 'founding father' of storm chasing and he set the pulse racing of many. Most chasing occurs in small towns across the Midwest in the USA, which is dubbed 'Tornado Alley' due to the frequency and severity of its tornado activity.

Benjamin Franklin conducting
his famous experiment
Chasers usually spend a vast amount of time preparing for a relatively short time frame for a thunderstorm to partake its dangerous course. Most chasing occurs in cars, although there has been known cases of fly planes and helicopters. However, this hobby is not for everyone as there are obvious dangers of chasing a storm, which includes reduced visibility, lightening, flooding and hail fog.

America may be the epicentre of storm chasing, but there is a niche here in the UK as well  England gets more tornadoes than one would think. It has been claimed that the UK has more reported tornadoes per unit than anywhere else in the world including the US. For more information on British storm chasing, visit:

If you're certain you want to give storm chasing a try, then it is beneficial to go with someone who is experienced and has the right amount of knowledge. There are plenty of storm chasing tour groups out there to be a part of. Plenty of studying should also help you get a good feel for the area you are going to pursue. Being equipped with all the right tools such as computer equipment and the appropriate software is also crucial. Lastly, it is vital to adopt a travellers mind-sight as there will be a lot of down time, with only a few moments of excitement.

So with Winter fast approaching, I say let's give the cinema a miss and go chase those storms !


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Kat Dennings at the Emmys 2012

'I tried being anorexic for four hours, but then I was like, I need some bagels'- Kat Dennings

Ofcourse the 'Emmys' were on this weekend and amongst the whole host of sequins, lace, fur and general whack, there was Kat Dennings from '2 Broke Girls', who stunned in her simple red J Mendel dress. The reason why I chose her as best dressed of the night was due to the carefree and no fuss nature of her styling, with limited jewellery, flowing locks and barely there make-up. She champions the beauty that is lost amongst the dorito-esque fake tan and the skeletal collar bone jutting physiques. The only thing she had to concentrate on was standing up straight otherwise her '2 girls' would give us an eyeful. But let's face it- She knows she has great boobs. We know she has great boobs. Let's all rejoice over her boobs !

Jabeen Xxx

Sunday, 23 September 2012

News Journalism Course at London School of Journalism

This past Wednesday I started my evening 'News Journalism' course at 'The London School of Journalism' in Maida Vale. Whereas in previous years I would walk into the room completely uninterested, this time my eyes were wide open and my ears were perked up, engaged in every single word that was uttered. It finally feels good to be learning about something I am genuinely passionate about.

Giuliana Rancic- my ultimate role model
I have no formal qualifications or training in journalism or writing- But ever since I can remember I would be locked away in my room writing mini stories and transforming them into lop-sided badly coloured books. Even as a little one I had a massive and at times questionable imagination. However back then, writing was a hobby and I never thought of it as a career. I started properly writing whilst I was at university, where I went on to become 'Features Editor' for my University's magazine in the final year. Straight after graduating, I was offered plenty of exciting intern work and over the past year I have been busy impressing, running errands and writing about various different topics. Building an online social media presence is very important to me and I have plenty of fun doing that through Twitter and my blog. The only thing I felt that was missing was getting some sort of formal education in journalism. The reasons for attending this course are as follows:

*Learning how to write for different audiences i.e newspapers and magazines
*Gaining familiarity with Vox-pops and gaining confidence to include public opinion in my stories. I would love to be an entertainment host/reporter so this skill is crucial for me.
*Have the confidence to market my blog in alternative ways.
*Until you get a job, work experience/internships are crucial. I would like to keep on emersing myself in new environments to get a whole hearted feel of the media industry. This course will help sharpen my skills and give me the edge over other internship competitors.
*I have pitched entertainment stories to websites and have had my stories picked up before- But I would also like to know how to pitch more serious stories to influential magazines.
*I want to build more contacts
*I want to be more versatile. Sure everyone has a niche, and I have my own tunnel vision for what I want to achieve in the future- but I also want to have my hands in every basket and be more well-rounded.
*I would like to know how to build myself as a brand- Whether it be my own website, my signature style or my own tagline.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Fifty Shades Of Grey Review

I was hearing extraordinary things about a certain book for a long time. But it wasn't until a colleague of mine was sitting on an uncomfortable chair with her legs up on a cardboard box on her lunch break, totally lost in the second instalment of 'Fifty Shades of Grey', that got me thinking. With a twinkle in her eyes, she barely looked up at me when she longingly whispered 'I wish I could have an affair like this'. I was a little bemused at the revelation of her thoughts as she has been in a loving relationship with her live-in boyfriend for a while now. It was that moment I realized I HAD to give in and read it. I'm usually not a fan of following the hype of media trends (I have never seen The Hunger Games, any Twilight films and seen maybe two Harry Potter films after friends dragged me to the cinema). But this was different. I was genuinely curious to find out about all the claims that were made about this book.Why was it called 'mummy porn'? Many claim it's a society defying book giving permission to alternative sexual pleasures to be more idealised today- Is it really? The other half claim it is merely a pointless hype and the book is badly written- Is it really?

Finishing the first book I can say that - yes it DOES challenge sexual boundaries. I would like to commend the author E.L. James for bringing a topic that is regarded as 'vulgar' by many into the mainstream. I'm not one of those radical feminists who believes that the submissive female qualities in this book is a slap in the face. Who says women don't like to talk and engage on their own terms about topics such as 'sex'? It's no longer a hush-hush kind of topic and even for traditional cultures this book is a good wake up call. We are living in the 21st Century and for cultures that believe women don't even think about sex are sorely mistaken. This book isn't promoting explicit sex, but a freedom of choice. Anastasia Steele was a virgin until she met Christian Grey. It was her curiosity that drove her to be Christian's submissive. The option of saying 'no' was always there for her.

Another thing I don't understand is the need to dub this book 'mummy porn'. I know that this book has been all the rage with audiences of all ages, but the main characters are in their 20's. Was there a large undercover cult of married middle aged woman who led a double life engaging in erotic slavery that was finally brought to life with the brave emergence of this book? I doubt it. Sure i'm not sweeping the passionate love of older women under the rug, but the label of 'mummy porn' does not sit well with the characters and plot of this book. There I was at the beginning thinking this book was all about middle aged people having orgies. There are many young women like Anastasia in their twenties who are discovering their sexual freedom, so to dub it 'mummy porn' is misleading.

In terms of the actual writing, E.L James slowly introduces new ways for Christian to seduce and enlighten inquisitional Anastasia, but for the most part the descriptive nature of those scenes become repetitive. The first couple of sections of written porn are alarmingly alluring and gratifying but the effect soon wears off. I also feel at rare but evident moments throughout the book there's a disconnect between the middle aged author and the young characters she is writing about. For example, in the foreplay scenes she conveys 22 years old Anastasia's thought processes in which 'Oh My' seems to be at the epicentre of her pleasure. That seems to be too much of an upper-class reflection of anticipating trashy sex.

On the whole, I don't have any other glaringly obvious problems with the writing of the book. E.L James is a talented author after all and deserves credit when it's due. I think it's just general nit picking from the audience who have their own tastes. Many are just reading it for the hype of the book and genuinely don't hold an interest in erotic literature. I'm sure after the first instalment of Fifty Shades, they will retire to their preferred reading material. I did however find a lack of a plot- But I'm going to disregard that as I do realise it's a trilogy.

I have to admit that I did expect more of a 'page turner'. Even though the book held my interest, I took my time reading it over the past three weeks. With other books, I have been known to finish them in a matter of hours as I literally haven't been able to put them down. But I do think that's where E.L.James takes it slow and focuses on an intense rollercoaster of character building and the natural pleasures of life. I will be reading the other books in the trilogy and will be looking forward to the hotly anticipated film whenever it releases. To see who they cast will be interesting as I have an image of what the characters look like in my head and I don't want any hotshot casting directors to mess with that. Overall I can say that I'm in with most people on the hype of this book- But you still won't catch me watching Twilight!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

September 11th Anniversary - Looking Back

It has been 11 years since the September 11th attacks and the instinctual emotional impact of the tragic event has worn off for some. Over the years we have been plagued with movies, documentaries and varying eye witness accounts of the terrorist attacks. Inevitably the media has desensitized us to the actual event, with some people now shrugging it off as the fateful day approaches each year. It doesn't seem to be a momentary concern for people anymore, as every week we are faced with other fresher tragedies that deserve our immediate emotional respects too- whether it's shooting massacres or natural disasters. Over the years, other people have forgotten the bigger picture of the innocent victims and have pointed fingers at various figures including the controversial George Bush who 'could have prevented this from happening'. No one is at fault other that the monsters who broke the hearts of not only America but the rest of the world. I have many opinions about the various stories and situations I have read over the past 11 years regarding September 11th and about the ghastly people (mainly in the media) who have taken advantage of the situation- But right now I just want to pay respect and remember all those innocent people that lost their lives on that terrible conclusive day.


Monday, 27 August 2012

Sunny Leone- Indian Porn Star

Sunny has recently been making promotional
visits to India for her Bollywood movie
'Jism 2'
Sunny Leone
A recent tweet from Indian porn star Sunny Leone exhibited her sheer delight when she was asked by a very excited mother in India to pose with a picture with her child, whilst she was doing promotional duties for her first Bollywood movie. Quite a shocking act from a mother to let her child near a person who has dedicated their career to porn, let alone a mother from such a conservative country as India. Many questions have been asked about Leone's career and there is a certain sense of fascination as to how she pursued a career in porn with such nonchalant confidence. She is asked almost constantly about how her parents felt about her career decision to which she has always replied, that like any other parents whose child wants to enter the porn industry, they were not happy- But welcoming Sunny into the world in Canada and later living in California, they acquired a Westernised sense of thinking and eventually supported her.

Sherlyn Chopra with Hugh Hefner at the
Playboy mansion
In delicate pursuit of Sunny, Indian movie star Sherlyn Chopra has also been given the lucrative offer of being the first Indian woman to appear on the cover of US based 'Playboy'. Unlike Sunny she will not be engaging in any pornographic work, but will obviously appear nude on the famous magazine. Creating history, she has talked about the freedom of walking around nude in the Playboy mansion. Other than the usual 'slut' and 'whore' comments, I have been pleasantly surprised by the overall positive attitude from the South Asian community. 21 year old Indian model Poonam Pandey is also hot on their heels with a few raised eyebrows about her provocative image, but in return has gained a legion of fans. Shazia Sahari's name has also been thrown around in the porn industry, due to the curiosity surrounding her religious Pakistani/Saudi heritage.

Poonam Pandey causing a stir!
What I admire the most about these ladies is how unfazed they seem by the negativity that I think will never fully change in the South Asian community. The South Asian community prides itself on old customs and traditions so much so, that to say one day those conservative views will be demolished on the whole is unrealistic.  However as Sunny tweeted, there does seem to be a refreshed sense of thinking in terms of the art of freedom that we should all be entitled to no matter what race or religion you are. As a fellow South Asian woman myself, I support these women 100%


Sunday, 19 August 2012

British Ghost Stories

Whilst some of us love the thrill of listening to a good ol' ghost story, others squeam at the thought. Anyone who knows me knows that it's these little horrors that fascinate me! I was having a bit of an enlightening 'paranormal' moment and spent some time reading about British ghosts. Here are some cases that I found fascinating- and trust me there's plenty more out there!

The infamous chained tree
Many of us have enjoyed a day out in Alton Towers, but not many are aware of the 'Alton Towers Curse'. There is an actual existing 'Alton Tower' which is riddled in haunted folklore. Back in 1821, the building which was then named as 'Alton Lodge' was home to Charles the Earl of Shrewsbury and his family. The story was that on one winters night, Charles was returning home when he ran into a homeless woman. When Charles rejected her request for some money, the old woman cursed him. She told him that for every branch that fell of the oak tree on his property, one member of his family would die. Ignoring her curse, he went home. However, that night there was a violent storm and a branch of the oak tree fell. A member of his family fell ill mysteriously and ended up dying later that night. Becoming scared of future possible fatalities, Charles ordered his servants to chain up the tree to prevent any more branches falling. If you go and visit the property today, you will still see the tree chained up to this very day.

The legend of Dick Turpin lives to
this very day
Surprisingly Heathrow International Airport has also been riddled with some interesting ghost stories. The most famous ghost being that of highwayman- Dick Turpin. It's not a surprise that his presence is still felt in the airport, as when he was alive he was well known for robbing wealthy families and murdering innocent people, before eventually being hung in 1793. Employees and flight crew have reportedly felt his presence in the main terminal. Stories have included seeing him wearing a hat. Many have heard barking behind them, only to come face to face with nothing when they turn around. Maybe the barking is linked with the livestock Dick also stole when he was alive?

The 'Creaky Cauldron' lives up to its name
Aptly named, 'Creaky Cauldron' on 21 Henley Street in Stratford Upon Avon, is reported to have 40 different ghosts present. It is part of the famous 'White Lion Inn' (formally known as the largest coaching inn in Europe). It is also widely known as one of the most terrifying locations in the UK. Its dark history includes brutal attacks on prostitutes on the upper floor in the 1700s. Parliamentary soldiers who arrived there during the English Civil War have also been known to be roaming around. Extensive paranormal activity has been reported, with people seen running out of the property and vowing never to return. Guests on 'paranormal tours' of the place have been known to not complete the tour after being overcome with a feeling of 'dread' (commonly associated with a paranormal presence)

The events have now been documented
in a book
The last British ghost story that will be featured on my blog is the recent 2005 'South Shields Poltergeist'. It was reported that a young couple Marc and Marianne and their 3 year old son moved into a new house, which presented bizarre and frightening activity over the following months. Apparently, one night when they retired to their bed it became unusually cold. All of a sudden there was a barrage of toys being aimed at them with great force. They didn't see where the toys were coming from and only caught sight of them mid-motion. Soon after that, an invisible hand grabbed the end of their duvet and soon they were involved in a tug of war with the unknown presence.  This event was soon worsened when Marc began screaming in pain over what felt like a heavy claw scratching him on the back. In a split second, 13 large scratches where etched across his back. The next day the scratches had disappeared. The couple have not been formally identified for fears of ridicule in the press.


Sunday, 5 August 2012

My Disgust at the Shafilea Ahmed Honour Killing

 After 9 years, the parents of Shafilea Ahmed were finally sentenced to 25 years behind bars for her murder. Being led to his cell, Mr.Ahmed yelled 'fuck you' to the authorities. The once supposedly grieving man who along with his wife, played the role of a mourning couple after their daughter's dissapearance in 2003, let out his fiery side when slapped with his sentence. A twisted series of lies, deceit, culture and family drama unravelled in this case, which brought to light the turmoil many South Asian children face growing up in the West. Here's the story of a couple who raised their children as if they were still living in rural Pakistan. Without a doubt Britain is a far cry from Pakistan, where religion is the main belonging. Britain is a country where people come from all over the world to seek freedom and independence. It's obvious that any teenager growing up here would feel the desire to engage in the casual forms of socialising, dating and ambition that's been valued in the West.

Whilst I understand the need for parents to make sure that their children's roots are firmly instilled within them, having so much hatred for the lifestyle which they chose for their children to grow up in is outrageous. It's also a blow when Mr.Ahmed drips in hypocrisy after rebelling from his family and marrying his first wife- A Danish woman. Still married, he later left her to go to Pakistan to marry Mrs.Ahmed. To snatch away the same sense of freedom from his innocent daughter, who so obviously enjoyed being 'British' (by engaging in activities that were hardly out of the norm or frowned upon by any means in our Westernised society), is a compelling realization of societal differences that are still firmly in place today.

It was explained in court how Mr and Mrs. Ahmed went on to suffocate Shafilea with a plastic bag after a heated row and disposed of her body. Shafilea's siblings witnessed the whole event and were threatened to not say a word, and that's what they did for years....Until 2010, when Shafilea's sister Alesha told the horrifying truth after calling truce for her part in an organised robbery. This lingering case opened a horrifying door into the world of 'honour killings', 'respect' and 'reputation'.

What do I think of the 25 year sentence handed over to the Ahmeds by Mr. Justice Roderick Evans? It's justice, but is it justice enough? No. I hate that culture and religion does demonic things to people. To place your reputation in the Muslim community higher than the love for your own daughter, is invalid in a religion where peace is supposedly the defying message up in lights. It also hit a nerve when Mr and Mrs. Ahmed failed to place an importance on Shafilea's health when she drank bleach after her parents attempted her arranged marriage in Pakistan, because she was apparently 'causing a scene'. I have to admit though, as horrifying as this sounds, it isn't surprising. It's hard to balance two cultures that are uneven in which one is something you would love to immerse yourself in and the other one hovering over as a stark reminder of something your 'supposed' to be. It's really hit home for me.

I've experienced taunts about my 'heavier' weight from family relatives and friends from an early age, which inevitably means I'm not as attractive as the other Muslim girls in my community. This equated to 'reputation' problems for my family. Maybe, that's why I've been plagued with extreme body image issues my whole life, which I don't see eradicating any time soon. From those same people, I've also been given dissaproving looks over my refusal to pursue medicine/dentistry/law as a career path. Me? I'd rather be poorly paid and feed my creative flair than pretend to be interested in algebra. I tried that shit in school, it didn't get me very far. Parents evenings were dubbed 'doomsday'. I also had my first marriage proposal when I was 13 years old. Thankfully my parents shielded me from all that early marriage bullshit, rightly claiming I was way too young. Thankgod. But I wasn't allowed to my friends for sleepovers, wasn't allowed to talk to boys unless it was mandatory and an emphasis was placed on clothes that covered me completely (No boobage or tight jeans to accentuate my large derrière). By 19, the pressure to marry someone who was good for me had officially begun. Many suitors that I barely even know, I have turned down. The pressure is ongoing and bright as ever.

However, I came into my own when I went away to university. I understand my strict upbringing and what my parents thought they needed to do to raise me in a way they deemed right. Personally I'm ambivalent to religious norms dictating my life. I don't care for it. Now, I have way more of a say of what I want from my life as a recognised adult. But I know, that I will still be expected to buckle down soon. Where does that leave me and my weird ways? I don't know, but I'll cross that bridge when I reach it- And I wish Shafilea was given that option.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Denver Massacre Shooting - James Holmes

So I may be incredibly biased for this blog post, as I don't know what it feels like to lose a loved one to a madman in his firing line. Nevertheless, On July 30th 2012, Denver massacre shooter James Holmes was finally charged with 142 criminal charges including 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder. Each murder charge went on to carry two separate charges including one for showing premeditation and the other for showing extreme indifference to human life. The verdict is an obvious assurance of justice for the victims. It's also a sense of relief to the loved one of the 12 that died and to the rest of us around the world who were sickened by Holmes' unfathomable doings. However, I still feel as if they shouldn't seek the death penalty for Holmes.

If anyone needs reminding of this headlining bloodshed, here's the story. On July 20th 2012, a midnight screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises' in Aurora, Denver was brutally interrupted as Holmes burst in with various firearms and proceeded to kill 12 people and injure 58 others. The story has been sensationalized in the press and rightly so as the attention immediately turned to the USA and it's overall rocky road to gun laws. Colorado in particular, a state which gave us the Columbine High School massacre back in 1999, does not impose gun owners to have licenses, register their guns or limit the number of firearms that can be bought at any one time. With this almost casual approach to gun control, the Denver massacre stunned the world on the surface, yet unsurprised many deep down.

Undoubtedly, the charges Holmes has been presented with has been deemed victorious - But then it was mentioned that prosecutors were deciding whether or not to seek the death penalty for him in the upcoming weeks. I'm incredibly sorry if I offend people but what is the point of killing someone who killed other people, to show that killing is wrong? I'm always a bit unsettled at the hypocrisy of the death penalty. Capitol punishment was abolished in the United Kingdom in 1965, but is still a legal sentence in 33 states in the United States. Banishing a person from existence would not provide any sense of closure. Having the murderer locked up behind bars for a lifetime, would be a greater punishment in eyes. Initially snapping at a moment of weakness or pleading insanity, the convicted will have time to ponder what happened to them to carry out such a heinous crime for the rest of their life, in a confined area. There's no way to start 'fresh'.  On the other hand, many people who are exposed to a death penalty, I feel would welcome it.  People who have commited similar crimes in the past, have initially turned the gun on themselves, such as 2007's Virginia Tech slayer Seung-Hui Cho and the deadly Columbine duo Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

Falling asleep in court?
Holmes actually didn't follow suit and inevitably surrendered himself to armed forces. He also mentioned his apartment being 'booby-trapped' which the authorities managed to disable. This does leave me wondering, maybe his original plan of action was for him to be the final victim in his own tirade of insanity. What makes you think he'll learn a huge life lesson when he's slapped with the reality of a death penalty? Do you not think he's expecting it or he doesn't want it ? Wouldn't the threat of a death penalty be even more sweeter if Holmes showed any signs of remorse at his hearings? Infact, his bizarre and dazed behaviour in court showed anything but remorse. A death penalty for Holmes will not get anyone anywhere, and after the initial satisfaction will not even appease the ones who fought the hardest for him to face execution.

If he's locked away, maybe one day (even if it may be way in the future) his lights will turn on and something in him will change. One day he'll finally realise what he did, how many people he killed and how many people have been affected by what he did. He'll also realise that there's nothing else he can do about it. By that time, he'll be serving his sentence in a cell somewhere far away- and i'll be damned if that isn't justice enough.
Remembering the '12'- Many of the men took bullets after protecting their girlfriends, whilst Ghawi survived a similar massacre at a Toronto mall only a month earlier.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Looking Back - A Year Since I Graduated

One of my fave uni pics :)
It was a shocker when I saw graduation pictures popping up on Facebook. The familiar sight of black and purple robes and caps gawked back at me. I'm sorry if I'm sounding sentimental but I can't believe its been a year since I've graduated from the University of Portsmouth. It feels as if time has flown by, but surprisingly I've managed to achieve quite a lot since last year. I remember moving back to good ol' Cheam for good after uni, shrugging my shoulders at my friends quizzical nature about my future plans. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but never thought I could put it into practise. Contrary to my beliefs and dripping in nostalgia, here's what I got up to over the last 12 months:

*Feeling slightly disheartened by the amount of CV's and covering letters I sent out, I was over the moon when 'Asian Woman Magazine' offered me an internship. Saying 'yes' to everything they wanted me to do, a 2 week placement led to a couple of months. I experienced everything from writing, interviewing Abhishek Bachchan and assisting on photo shoots. I also had a cheeky little trip to Essex Fashion Week.
Me with some of the 'Asian Woman' girls

At 'Essex Fashion Week'
*Through Asian Woman, I got to work on a freelance basis as a studio assistant at 'The Models Portal' with Marcus Flemmings. I also got some much needed PR experience when working at 'Mumbai Rouge International', promoting the 'Allah Made Me Funny' comedy tour at the Indig02. I will never forget running a couple of miles through the huge parking lots at the O2 with comedian Mo Amer, to try to get in backstage at the WWE event.

*I interned for a month at .Cent Magazine (which wasn't for me) I appreciated the editors sense of journalism and creative flair. She helped me on a one-to-one basis with my writing work, but I knew the literature and arts content of the publication, wouldn't bode well with my future plans. I do however, appreciate my time there and don't regret it in the slightest. It's having experiences like that, which narrow down your preferences and you can concentrate on what you really enjoy. Tunnel Vision.

*I was also offered a 'guest contributor' position at Young Hollywood USA. This is an ongoing position, and I've had the opportunity to write about various topics in the entertainment field. The highlight of this position was when a PR agent got in contact with me from LA, after seeing my profile on LinkedIn. He wanted me to interview 'DJ Tina T' on her successful camp for aspiring DJ's- 'Camp Spin-Off'. You bet I agreed to do it :)

*I also entered a 'beauty pageant'. The biggest UK qualifier for an international pageant- Miss Universe Great Britain. I surprised myself throughout the whole process and I'm glad I did it. Would I do another one? Probably not. There are a lot of ways to get a confidence boost. I've tried the pageant way. It helped- but my aim in life isn't to be a pageant queen. I'll leave that to the pros.
Competing in Miss.Universe GB

*I covered Pakistan Fashion Week in Kensington, London as a senior dresser and backstage blogger. That was an interesting experience as many may have read in my earlier blog post. If you haven't read about it yet, check it out at

*My previous experiences have led me to finding a part time job in photography as a studio assistant. I love that this job gives me the opportunity to be creative and I can easily apply it to my journo work. My free time is now looking into short courses in journalism/presenting. I also continue to apply for more freelance writing work, paid internships and journalism jobs.  I now know the type of work I want to pursue and I can pinpoint my research well. Along with my entertainment work, I am hoping to get a crime novel published. Research in the US market is also well under way. 'E! News'- I will get there one day !
Backstage at Pak Week

My point is that hard work will pay off. I still haven't reached my destination and I accept that it will probably take some time before I do- But it's the journey to the top which will give you those special memories !


Monday, 16 July 2012

Entering a Crime Fiction Novel Competition

About a month and a half ago, I came across a fabulous competition that was being run by 'Stylist Magazine'. It was a 'crime fiction' competition for aspiring crime writers- the prize being a published novel with Faber and Faber. Everyone who knows me, knows I want to write a crime fiction novel. That was one of my main selling points at the Miss.Universe GB interview round in May. People always assume I would want to pen chick lit. No thanks, gory terror is my thing. It makes for an interesting conversation !

Since the discovery and motivation from the competition, I worked hard every day until the deadline of 12th July to accomplish my perfect entry. The entry included the first 6000 words of my original novel, a character biography and the plot outline. I got my friend Niv to proofread it and I'm glad I did. Reading the same piece of material again and again, I became immune to the most basic of mistakes. Piecing it all together and printing it off was an interesting process. Not having a printer at home meant I had to make a trip to the library. After printing off 40 pages that came without the page numbers I had made a point to enter at the bottom, I had to handwrite them in. I know I sound like a cheapskate but there was no way in hell I was going to pay another £3 again. Everything felt hectic and suddenly I felt as if I wasn't ready to send it off- But how many more times could I read through it again?

All I can say is that I put my all into it. I didn't just see a writing competition and decide to enter it for the sake of it. There are so many writing competitions out there that I could enter left, right and centre. It felt as if this competition in particular was tailor made for me, as I was hoping to start a novel career in this genre. I love the raw feel of each crime writer I have read, with most of their characters being passionate in regards to the plot. I also love that there is more scope to incorporate the freedom of your own unusual doings, without the negative judgement of your intended audience. In fact, I believe that being able to relate to the protagonists in crime novels is easier than you're average romance novel.

I know there will be a lot of other potential crime writers who had taken to this opportunity like I have. Being acknowledged will be a massive deal if it happens. If not then i'm going to press on and send my manuscript to literary agents. Most successful authors worked incredibly hard and still got rejected for years before having their big break. By no means, am I going to stop. I want to follow in the footsteps of my favourite authors Lisa Scottoline, Allison Brennan and James Patterson.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

A week in Northampton with Photo Corporation UK

A week in Northampton with 'Photo Corporation UK ltd' was a long and enlightening process. Initially it seemed an extensive effort to spend a week away from home to train for a part time job- But then I realised this opportunity was something to get me off my backside. I left the house bright and early at 6am on Monday morning, strolling my suitcase down my eerily silent road to the station. I was on no sleep. That, plus travel didn't make for a comfortable morning.

Once in Northampton, I gathered in the company's head office with a whole host of newbies from studios around England. The training was plentiful and alongside the obvious photography skills, we learnt customer service, sales and acquisition techniques that were held dear to the company's discipline. Ice breaker games were intertwined in dribs and drabs throughout the first few days to make us feel at ease ( I rapidly began running out of facts about myself). Furthermore, surprise tests were thrown our way on what we had learnt, conflicting against my slacking off skills. Even though I hate to admit it, if it weren't for the mini tests, all the important information would have gone through one ear and out the other.

The true characters of the group came to the forefront with their witty charisma and appeal and kept the others going through the long hours. Personally I was an observer. It had been a while since I had been in a 'classroom' type of environment and I have to admit I didn't jump into it feeling instantly connected with everyone. That's probably a bit tough for me to admit, as the whole basis of this job is to be warm and engaging. I also hadn't shared a room with someone in over 4 years so it was an adjustment (my room-mate was absolutely lovely though) If anything I was just slightly intimidated by everyone!

However, I'm glad that I went along. A company that puts that much time and effort into it's employees makes me trust it's work process. We were extremely well looked after and the company paid for our hotel arrangements, taxi's and food (even if we were living off stodgy lunch sandwiches and greasy pub food). Being in the Northamptonshire countryside also brings out more educational qualities about yourself that one can easily neglect. I may have gotten lost on a walk to discover my surroundings on the first day- but that didn't stop me from setting out for walks by myself on the second, third and fourth day on different routes. The reminder of teamwork has also been restored in me once again. I hope that next time if i'm placed in such an environment I can commit to everyone and show them that I'm worth getting to know. On the other hand, I'm glad i'm doing something creative and I can apply it to my journalism work. Bring on my first client :)


Thursday, 28 June 2012

Nadya Vall Modeeling Documentary

Heartbreaking documentaries don't come much more authentic than this. I caught up with the critically acclaimed documentary 'Girl Model', which challenged the somewhat blurred lines between the modelling industry, child labour and prostitution. Directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, it's told from the point of view of two contrasting protagonists. First, it shows the journey of 13 year old Nadya Vall, who is plucked from obscurity from the Siberian countryside and thrown unsupervised into the Japanese modelling market. She was discovered by model scout and former model herself, Ashley Arbaugh -who has a somewhat cold and haunting viewpoint of the modelling industry.

In progression of the broadcast, Nadya was sent to Japan on promise that she was guaranteed two jobs worth $8000. Whilst in Japan, she was living in a small apartment that looked grim, dirty and lacklustre- especially in a country such as Japan which prides itself on cleanliness. She was living with Madlen, a Russian girl who felt slightly more confident to speak up and ask questions she damn well deserved to know the answers too. The girls used Madlen's credit card to get through the first couple of weeks, after they discovered the once positive tide had turned against them. The documentary also showed one rare awkward meeting between the girls and Ashley after she discovered them, in their apartment in Japan. Madlen tried to voice her concerns over the confirmed jobs and pay they were meant to receive. Ashley responds in an almost whimsical carefree manner, which still left the girls without a sense of future security. It made for dry viewing.

It also showed the girls trying to eat as much sweets as they could, so they could gain weight and be sent home, banishing their misery of limited finances and loneliness. Madlen ended up gaining 2cm around her waist and was inevitably sent packing, without making any profit from her time in Japan. After being stranded by herself for a period of time after Madlen left, Nadya finally returned home. She also made no profit. It almost seems cruel the amount of misinformation that the families from these poorer European countries are presented with. Hungry to gain wealth and achievement, they accept the terms and conditions on promises alone.

Ashley, on the other hand portrays an amusing anaylsis on the world of fashion and the death of the 'working model'. Travelling through Eastern Europe by train, she sits back jaded and weary, reminiscing about the days when she was a young 'Nadya' herself. Spending a decade in the industry, she's been trained to know that fashion prefers young girls. The younger, the better. She knows it's wrong and you can tell there's an inner voice within her that's screaming at the girls to find a different path. But then, how are they going to climb out of poverty? How else will they make it? For every thousands of girls who enter the modelling industry, a handful make it as supermodels. Everyone wants a fighting chance to be part of the exclusive 'handful'. In the bitter end, another 'child' is discovered as a potential model via an open casting call. Smiling at the camera, she has no set idea what her future holds, even though she thinks she's guaranteed fame and money.

In the time since the documentary was aired, Nadya (now 17) and her family have come forward to talk about how they felt the documentary had humiliated Nadya and her supposed 'naivety'. Cameras may not have caught all parts of her stay in Japan- but there was a particular element to this modelling industry story the directors were trying to convey. They portrayed the underbelly of the modelling world brilliantly. Therefore, I believe Nadya should accept the support that many people are giving her rather than shunning them. If she keeps doing so, she well and truly will become the 'victim' of the whole process- the ONE thing that she argued she wasn't. On the other hand, it has brought to light models' rights and their working conditions, which are extensively being addressed.

For further information visit:


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Bubblegum Pink Hair - Love It

I had a mini heart attack and a whirlwind love affair with Demi Lovato's hair when I saw it scraped up into a ponytail with bubblegum pink ends at the X-Factor USA auditions a couple days ago. It further cemented my love for bubblegum dyed hair after witnessing Kate Bosworth sporting a sea of green ends on the cover of Company Magazine a couple of months ago. That was my first 'bubblegum moment'. Well it wasn't. My first bubblegum moment was sitting in the back of a car when I was about 6, driving through Germany and being taught in broken Urdu by my dads' friends' teenage German-Asian daughters how to blow a bubble. I wasn't getting it and it was frustrating- But I kept persisting in my own time until I did. Who knew that years down the line I would associate that memory with my hair.  I kinda want bubblegum green hair too. That would be cool. Maybe the experimentation with the picture below is a bit too much. It's a dirty witchy colour. I do kinda like it, but I wouldn't want to scare people away. Perhaps more like Nickelodeon slimey green tips. Then I can stick it into a ponytail and I can do a Demi and be good to go.
PS. What was your first bubblegum moment?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Lily Kershaw - Rising Star

Season finales are always a big deal. Loose ends are tied up, some characters contemplate their future, eager beavers get married and there's a sudden tug at your heart strings that wants you to be part of the fictional gang in their fight against evil. That was the case when Season 7 of Criminal Minds came to an end this Friday (UK air date)- and Lily Kershaw was the perfect singer/songwriter to sum it all up. Check her out- another future biggie !!!


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Working Backstage at Pakistan Fashion Week

Me with Seeta and Sima
There's always an aura and feel of being backstage at a fashion show that you see on television. The madness, the divas and the tantrums. I wish I could tell you that that's not really the case...and that we live in a world where there isn't a resounding hierarchy in a supposed materialistic industry as 'fashion'- But I would be lying. Disguised as a dresser, but actually a blogger -the unmitigated pandemonium that I experienced this weekend at 'Pakistan Fashion Week'  (Being held in Kensington, London) was jaw dropping.

Being a somewhat undercover observer,  I would have thought 'up and coming' models would have lapped up this opportunity to strut their willowy selves on the runway. Nonetheless, the amount of unprofessionalism I witnessed was at times torture. I was under strict orders to replace models straight away if they threw a tantrum (some were eventually replaced). This was put to the test early on in the weekend when I had an encounter with a model who was trying to change her make-up in the toilets. It didn't go down too well and we both walked away from each other stressed, red faced and angry. Later on I saw her approaching me again and I thought to myself 'oh god here we go again'...but to my surprise she grabbed me and apologized....something about being Welsh which made her sound rude apparently. Hey, immense respect to her. I apologized back and MY GOD felt so much better. However,that model run-in wasn't as big as the 'great' MEHREEN SYED.

Princess Mehreen Syed
Mehreen was flown in from Pakistan. The 'supermodel'. With years in the industry every designer wanted her as their 'show stopper'. It didn't matter that she offended all the other models and staff. It also didn't matter that people were pushed out of the way by Mehreen's skeletal frame....that orders were barked across the room.....that backstage photographers were ordered to stop taking photos, that I was told to 'shut up and not speak if I didn't know anything'. Oh and did I mention that it also didn't matter that on the second day of the show she took hostage of the ladies loo. Her fragile assistant turned desperate girls away whenever they entered the toilet. Personally I forced myself in. The assistant whispered at me to hurry up before Mehreen arrived. Grief and panic were etched across her face. I took my time. I have 99 problems but a b*itch ain't one.

Charlotte Girdwood
One millionth of the chaos
Racks of clothes
Curiosity got the better of me and I came home and googled Mehreen. Yes I'm not ashamed to admit that. I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I watched a couple videos and wanted to jump through the computer screen and scream, yell and kick up a fuss that she wasn't as lovey dovey, humble and grounded as she mimicked in her interviews!!! On the other hand I have to give some other models credit. In particular, Harriadnie Beau and Charlotte Girdwood- extremely professional and great to work with! Also, all the male models were relaxed, carefree and changed into each outfit without a fuss. They cracked jokes, busted out dance moves and put a smile on everyone's faces.

However, designers tried their damnedest to continue the tantrum pact. I think at some point or another I  heard every designer threatening to walk out if they didn't have things done their way or have the models they wanted. Drama at it's finest. I have to give it to them though- their collections were gorgeous- Especially Maria B, Nauman Arfeen, Opera House, Rana Noman, Waseem Noor, Gul Style, Falak Naz and Batur. Personally, I still don't think that their hard work and success should account to rudeness. We were trying to make the show run as smooth as possible, but instead we got random yelling fits and busted eardrums. A couple poor models with dare i say it FANTASTIC bodies, were told to work out more and bluntly labelled  'fat' right to their face. Some designers barely looked at could almost smell the stench of disgust when they saw my body type. No room for a size 12 in that joint. I also had a strange feeling that I was getting pushed around by people more that I ought to, as I had on my all-black assistant dress code. If they would have known I was blogging about the backstage experience, I'm 100% sure that I would have been treated differently.
Yogi and Seets !

Time management was imperative and we were continually running around in a daze pinning models into their clothes, finding shoes, seeing what outfits we needed next and finding models who decided to vanish. It was kind of surreal and at one point when everything was going insane, I stopped and stood in the middle of the room and suddenly everything around me turned into slow motion. I don't know if it was the lack of sleep, food or my piercing heachache, but at times i felt incredibly weird and dehumanized. I was part of the stringy glue holding the show in place and at times I don't think I was treated as well as I should have from the  'important' people of fashion. On the other hand, there were times when I got a buzz when my efforts were running smoothly, my models looked fantastic and I got them to the stage on time.
Serpenti's Vision Board

I have to say a massive THANKYOU to the team I was working with! We had each others back and worked really well as part of a team. Yay to Seeta Ashra, Yovna Peenith, Ishika Sharma, Nadia Butt, Mohammed Sa'ad, Scenario Hussain, Asifa, Pia, Koii and Daniva (Sorry if i forgot someone !!!). Working under 'Serpenti' was a great experience and I was forever impressed with Tabinda Shah, Sarah Shah and Kiran Khanna. They led us well, kept us calm ( well tried to) and were extremely professional to work with. Check out their website at . To work in fashion it's crucial to have backstage experience. If you can handle the chaos of fashion week, then you can handle anything. It's true when they say fashion is 'cut-throat', but don't follow the pack- work hard, be humble and you have the opportunity to change the industry.


The more relaxed male model side

Catwalk at 8am

Model at fittings

Make-up section

The make-up process took forever !

Luca- the Italian model and actor

Model and actress Nargis Javany with one of the nicer designers- Batur

Finale boy for one of the shows

Pakistani fashion dahling!

Designer is full strop mode

Catwalk from upstairs


The Boys !

Shafraz, Tom and Ali

The girls getting a bit too excited
Finally duckface in the loo before Mehreen Syed comes and bitch slaps me out.

The views and experiences expressed in this blog post are all my own and are in no way affiliated with 'Serpenti' or anyone else :)
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