24 Years of Memories

Turning 24 this year I find myself looking back and looking forward.

I have truly been blessed with a wealth of experiences; and here are 24 that I wouldn’t change for the world.

1. My Granddad teaching me the capital cities of the world when I was six; during a walk up to High Force Falls

2. Setting up a ‘business’ at 8 years old and employing my whole class for 3 weeks, before realising I was going to have to pay them..

3. Selling CD’s at High School, my first ever source of income

4. My grandmother buying me a stereo for my 11th birthday

5. Watching the re-release of Return of The Jedi in a cinema, turning my head to see the projector and being struck with the realisation of what it must take to create such an experience; this was the genesis of my love affair with cinema.

6. Strutting out of Sunderland City Court, cleared of all charges

7. The second time I played Nas’ illmatic all the way through. I was an avid hip hop listener at that point but this genuinely stuck with me.

8. Cruising the streets of Sunderland at 3am, the night before my last A Level Exam

9. Manchester 2009, running a charity event and being put in charge of a team running Sankeys for the night (Best Nightclub Ever!)

10. Catching a Chicago Bulls game while catching up with my uncle and catching a glimpse of Derrick Rose before his prime.

11. Nursing a Hangover as the crowd around me erupted at the bullfight below at the Plaza Del Toro, Madrid 2011

12. Panic buying souvenirs at Westgate shopping mall, Nairobi

13. Holding a baby cheetah in my arms

14. Stepping out of the Whitesands Resort, Mombasa to a clear white beach and being handed freshly cut mangos and coconuts, the morning after the night before..

15. Planning and writing for the release of my first mixtape during an epic 14 hour stopover in Dubai international airport

16. Simultaneously discovering the joys of Bob Dylan and recreational drugs in a dorm room after failing my first university exam

17. The smile on my mothers face as I walked down from the stage, degree in hand.

18. Discussing existentialism while sipping champagne on the 29th floor of the hilton, overlooking Manchester on my 21st Birthday

19. Waking up in the wrong hotel room next to a beautiful woman before driving to the nearest beach, sipping wine and watching the sun rise, before my last day on shift.

20. (w)rapping on my first real music video [Pun intended]

21.  Standing atop the amphitheatre in Epidaurus and pondering the significance of art throughout human history, without even realising.

22. Witnessing the glorious third act of Raymonda in full, at La Scala

23. The First time I sampled the signature ‘Black Cod in Miso‘ dish at Nobu, Park Lane in London

24. Catching my first fish in the Indian Ocean before sailing back as I saw the sun set with my extended family off the coast of Pakistan, Christmas Day 2004

Mission Statement : Motivation

I don’t expect everyone to understand what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it. You don’t question the lifeguard when he dives head first into the choppy seas, you don’t question the heart surgeon when he makes an incision in a mans flesh, you wait patiently and with bated breath, and if all goes well, congratulate them afterward on a job well done.

September 11

“We remember, early/mid September. Memories that will last forever.”

I was born a Muslim.

This declaration held definitively different connotations than it did before this day eleven years ago, arguably the most culturally significant period in recent history.  In this time of crisis we looked to the leaders of the world to follow virtue and set the example. In many ways this was a true test of the very freedoms that Western democracy is founded on.  9/11 helped to feed a corrosive societal force, a deep fear that temporarily surpassed compassion and understanding.

I was 11 when the towers fell. It was my first week of secondary school. I will never be able to shake that terrible feeling.  Osama Bin Laden had shamed the name of Islam in the eyes of the world.

Suicide is strictly forbidden in Islam.

The minute these suicide bombers kill themselves they renounce their faith in Islam. The fact that they proclaim that they do this in the name of Allah is as ludicrous as claiming that the lynching of African American’s in the Deep South by the Ku Klux Klan was done in the name of Jesus.  Islam did not perpetrate these acts. Yet the reports had always curiously enough read “Muslim Suicide Bombers.”

This incremental lack of understanding became part of a series of events shaping my perspective and critical thinking at a pivotal point in my childhood.  My judgement was clouded by the ignorant assumptions of many. This foolish misguided sense of responsibility continued to haunt me.  I had begun to grow ashamed of my ancestry. Being asked to apologize for the actions of these brainwashed fools at such a young age was incomprehensible.

Hatred and Global media scrutiny are two true agents of mass destruction. (see George Bush)

The subsequent War on terror echoed much of American Cold War paranoia and has proven to be a turning point, changing the political landscape and questioning the virtue of democratic ideals, and the true price of freedom.  To this day I believe the drumming up of support for a foreign unsanctioned and debatably illegal invasion/intervention in Iraq was not an appropriate response.   Such an indelible impact was left that I felt it necessary to write my undergraduate thesis on the subject.

In retrospect it is clear to see when a country that spends so liberally and astronomically on defence spending is attacked so openly; to show no reprisal or retaliation would have shown weakness.

The Chilcot inquiry has been almost completely overshadowed by this joke of a hacking scandal and subsequent inquiry in an almost poetic fashion.  It seems enough time has passed that most people feel less concerned about holding world leaders accountable for their actions..

My thoughts today are also with the families of brave British Soldiers lost in Iraq, who were instrumental in peacekeeping and nation building.

RIP The Brave Firefighters, 9/11 Casualties and victims of the war on terror.

Depression

It is a prison of the mind.

It’s voice is dumb. Often likened to falling down a dark hole, it is more akin to wandering through a forest.  At some points you know you have gone too far. You ask yourself is it worth going back, or carrying on, despite not knowing where it will take you. The key is to survive.

 The key is to keep moving.

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