Thursday, 30 June 2016

The mess that is Brexit

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with politics but I’ve never been so angry, disappointed and ashamed at an election result in the UK before. The leave campaign was one riddled with  lies, empty promises, scaremongering and manipulative language about more money for the NHS or less immigration. I don’t think anyone expected the leave campaign to win and maybe that’s why they went all out – because they had nothing to lose from doing so. I certainly didn’t expect a campaign that used such tactics to the point of inciting racism and xenophobia to win at such a pivotal moment in history. To me, this is what the leave campaign represented; I saw no clear plan or manifesto for change and no fact based arguments. Simply a campaign that placed blame for the state of an entire nation in the hands of foreigners, rejected a joint union of other nations and called for isolation from the rest of Europe. While the remain campaign also had faults of its own, it seemed that the logical way to vote would be to remain in order to show that, actually, we are not a nation that can be manipulated by xenophobia or a nation that rejects a co-operative union. Except I was wrong. Now I’m not sure that I hold the same view of Britain and British politics as I did before. In fact, after seeing just some of the consequences of this vote, this country and what it represents has now changed for me.
Source: The Spectator

The morning after the night before

It astonishes me that Nigel Farage made such a bold claim about giving the NHS £350 million a week for him only to then call this promise a ‘mistake’ and swiftly attempt to move on. A ‘mistake’ that was repeated over and over again during the campaign, one that many leave voters heard and believed. Or about Daniel Hannan who rejected the notion that now we are out of the EU, migration and free movement of people would stop. Then what was the point in the whole campaign? To quickly backtrack on pivotal points of a campaign that people believed in requires only one skill – being able to take the concerns and fears of the majority of people and use that in order to boost your own political and personal gain.

Being out of the EU but still wanting to be part of Europe will cost us big time. Talks to now negotiate plans with the EU are laughable. To think that the UK is in a stronger position after leaving to then negotiate with the EU is delusional and there’s no doubt about that. Let’s be realistic - the UK will now be held as an example for the rest of Europe and the divorce will not be pretty. You can shout ‘Great Britain’ and ‘Rule Britannia’ all you want, but when we still require access to the single market, movement of skilled workers to fill jobs and boost our economy and imports of many goods from other EU countries, how can we go it alone?

Has Brexit legitimised racist and fascist behaviour?

Not all those who voted to leave are of the same opinion or share the vision of a racist and xenophobic Britain, nevertheless, the results from last week have somehow given more confidence to those who do. Carrying out and justifying racist behaviour has spread like wildfire, targeting EU migrants, ethnic minorities along with certain religious communities. The opportunity to share opinion and to exercise the right to freedom of speech is a privilege granted in this country. However, why should this type of behaviour be tolerated and why are some of the opinion that they are now justified in acting like this? There should be no place for racism or xenophobia in politics – in a system that will dictate lives and change the course of a nation.

Of course, it didn’t have to go down this route, not at all – a leave campaign could have been just as successful without using such petty tactics. Yet, immigration was used as leverage during the campaign. When these leaflets were printed or when Farage stood in front of this campaign poster he knew exactly what he was doing. He got away with it and that terrifies me.

Immigration, migration or the free movement of people doesn’t have to be scary, it doesn’t have to be seen as the unknown invading to steal something that doesn’t belong to them. We’re living in a world of ever increasing globalisation – no longer is it necessary to stay where you are, if you don’t want to. I’m not under the illusion that we don’t need immigration policies or borders, but when the choice is as black and white as either welcoming migrants or not at all, it all seems so nonsensical. The possibility to travel, work abroad and share stories on an international scale has now become such an exciting part of the human experience that it saddens me to see that some are so determined to shut themselves off from this. Being open to others has left me more educated, knowledgeable and with a greater understanding of the world around me and of who I am. Sharing my own culture and heritage with others while learning about their own has never caused any inner turmoil or angst and being inclusive, open and honest has carved the way for further growth and understanding. Sometimes I wanna hang out with the Nigerians, eat jollof rice and share stories about growing up in a Nigerian household, sometimes I want to spend a day drinking tea, eating scones and complaining about the weather, while some days I want to attempt to dance Salsa, swear in Italian or try baklava again for the twelfth time because maybe this time I’ll actually like it.

Whatever, move on, get over it

The great thing about democracy and having the right to exercise our vote is that everyone eligible will get the chance to voice an opinion and the right to exercise their right to vote. What I feel is undemocratic however, is when that vote is based on misinformation, lies and manipulation. I’m so angry at this so called 'post-factual democracy' where, sure, we got to vote, but what we based our votes on was nothing more than words strung together with no real meaning. Does a vote cast on the basis of a lie or very unrealistic promise still hold its value? This remains true for both sides of the referendum campaign and politics in general.

Make no mistake – I am in no way deluded, the majority of the people who voted chose to leave the EU. Whether it’s eligible that a simple 4% majority win can determine an outcome that leads us down the path of no return seems irrelevant as it is becoming increasingly clear that a second referendum may not be granted (despite the argument for a second referendum being very strong). Nevertheless, my Facebook feed is a mixed bag of remain supporter’s arguments against leave campaigners calling for the nation to ‘come together and look to the future’ or to ‘get over it and move on’. Ok, tell me, what’s the plan that your vote was based on for a post EU Britain?

Being able to ignore all this or think it’s time to get over it and move on must be great. Unfortunately with the looming possibility of living in a world where the likes of Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen or even Donald Trump are gaining more influence, that is not a privilege that I, along with many others, have been granted.

Update: I'm sharing more thoughts on Twitter regarding the latest news on the Boris fiasco.

What are your thoughts on the referendum? Will it be celebrated in years to come as a great day in British history or will it be marked as a day that caused great political, social and economic upheaval?

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

10 Flatmate commandments for happily ever after

The thing about moving out of your parents home after university and into a big city like London is that you will undoubtedly return to living in a house or flat share. While you thought that long gone are the days of sharing a kitchen and bathroom with people you don't know, a move to London will quickly prove you wrong about this. After a few housing 'mares from my own move down here last September, I thought it would be good to send out a gentle reminder about the etiquette of being a good flatmate. Here are my top flatmate commandments.

Thou shalt clean up after thyself and generally take care of the place
I think this is standard flatmate 101, right? Right?? No? Some people will need to be told this? I see...

Thou shalt not let dirty dishes pile up 
House shares at uni and house shares as a grown, full-time working adult are two completely different things. Back then it wasn't unusual to be met with week old dirty dishes and mess on the kitchen counter every time you ventured into the kitchen. But back then it was 'kinda annoying but whatever, I'll just ask them to clean up' whereas now it's 'Omg is this sh*t still happening, why??' I'll admit that this is, personally, now my biggest pet peeve, and never have I loved a cleaning rota so much as I have now (I know, I can hear my mum manically laughing all the way back in Nottingham).

Thou shalt not be controlling / weird / a dick 
Sending text messages to turn off the lights because it's nearly midnight? Seeing that your clothes in the drier are done while you're not home so deciding to help you out by laying out just your underwear on the kitchen table like some strange exhibition? Deciding to bring the party back home at 3am complete with copious amounts of alcohol and possible drugs? No. Just no. (thankfully, only the first scenario has happened to me while the last two are horror stories from friends).

Thou shalt not be opposed to getting a takeout and watching Made in Chelsea and/or First Dates on a Monday evening because Monday's suck.
Monday's are not fun, I think we can all agree on that. So let's join in on chilling out in front of the TV and trying out the new Thai place that just opened down the road. The only thing we'll have to decide on is whose turn it is to collect the order and pick up some snacks on the way...

Thou shalt respect each others property and privacy 
This includes milk, bread, eggs and general food unless otherwise stated. Prices are high and wages are low, but let's not result to petty left please.

Thou shalt be supportive and listen to thy housemate rant about work deadlines, colleagues and/or general life issues 
You don't even have to really listen. Just let out a 'really', 'seriously?' and maybe even an 'omg no way?!' every now and then and that's good enough for me. In all seriousness though, sometimes it's nice to talk about work or life to someone who isn't heavily involved or influenced in any way. It can help with getting a second opinion or just reassuring you that you are indeed, not crazy.

Thou shalt come back after a date and tell all - the good, the bad, and the oh so ugly.
Did he stare at your boobs the entire time? Was he a bit of an arrogant slime-ball? Or was he completely charming, able to hold interesting conversation and totally on your same wavelength? We want all the details.

Thou shalt not be a ghost but also thou shalt not be a shadow
It's all about having a good balance, you know? There's no requirement to be the best of friends, but the occasional meal together, movie marathon or night out won't hurt. However, sometimes you just gotta stay in your room and cry over the season finale of your favourite TV show, I totally understand.

Thou shalt take responsibility for thyself
I will definitely be the first to admit that being an adult is hard. Or harder than we first thought it would be back when we were sitting for our GCSE Math exams. But 'forgetting' to pay rent, turning the trash can into a real life game of Tetris or generally not taking on any contributions to the household is not the best way to start. It's ok though, we can get through this together.

Thou shalt be supportive of thy roommates promise to themselves to join the gym, a yoga class or a running club.
Even if you've made that same promise 32 times now. You know what they say - 33rd time's a charm.

One major thing that I've realised is that sometimes, being a great person/friend and being a great flatmate can be two very different things. It's not always the case that just because you get on with someone, you can necessarily have a stress free flat share situation. Or vice versa - maybe you and your flatmate are not the best of friends, but there still lies at least mutual respect and understanding on both sides - and what more could you ask for really?

What other housemate commandments would you add to the list?

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Four days in Lisbon

A couple of months ago I hopped on a plane to spend four days in the city of Lisbon for a friends birthday. After almost being stranded, we finally got the keys to the apartment we had rented, unpacked and prepped to explore the beautiful city. One thing I feel everyone planning to visit Lisbon should know is that navigating your way around it's cobbled streets and steep hills can be tiring, so stock up on water when leaving your apartment/hotel and take appropriate shoes (there was not a heel or wedged shoe in sight ladies!)

On our first day we explored the old town, finding cute little shops with handmade clothes and jewelry and stumbling upon back streets that led to picturesque views. One of my favourite places we discovered that day was in Alfama as we were walking up to Castelo de Sao Jorge. The view from up there was pretty incredible as you could see over rooftops, peering into gardens and getting a real feel for the very relaxed nature of the city. One thing I would definitely recommend also is taking a visit to Pasteis de Belem and choosing from the many options of cakes, pastries and of course, the famous Pastel de Nata (so good that my friend bought six for the flight back to England!)

After struggling with being in London and trying to keep up with the rat race, it was so refreshing to visit a capital city where you could bask in the sunlight, relax and remember how it felt to just... chill. The laid back nature of the city coupled with the incredible views and vibrant night life (think salsa bars and dancing with policemen) makes it a great place to visit if you're in need of a long weekend getaway.

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Monday, 6 June 2016

Celebrating Muhammad Ali

'Often it isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the little pebble in your shoe.' 
- Muhammad Ali

If you were to ever ask me 'if you could have dinner with anyone throughout the history of time, alive or dead, who would it be?' I would instantly answer with either Nelson Mandela or Muhammad Ali - think how awesome the conversation would be?! Growing up, I would often talk about Muhammad Ali with my siblings, myself and my sister watching on in amusement as my brother would imitate his moves and quote him as he jumped around the room, hitting an imaginary target 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, his hands can't hit what his eyes can't see!'

To learn about him was so much more than learning about his career. Apart from his skill, charm and entertaining interviews, we saw that he was one of few celebrities who had the confidence and the will to talk out against the America Government's foreign policy and challenge peoples perceptions about what it meant to be both black and Muslim in America. He never shied away from his beliefs, speaking openly about his faith and refusing to fight during the Vietnam war - a choice that could have ultimately cost him his career and freedom.  Above all, he made it ok to be proud of ones beliefs and background in a society that would often make you question yourself, even till this day. And with a legacy like that, he truly did live up to his title of 'The Greatest'.

So, for this weeks Monday Motivation I'd like to dedicate it to the legend that is Muhammad Ali and share this great piece from the New Yorker - The outsized life of Muhammad Ali.

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