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 http://beansblog89.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/leading-cause-of-death-among-fashion.html

*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 :)

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