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Tests have been taken and results are in. The iPhone is the coolest brand in the UK. And it doesn’t stop there for Apple as they secured third and fourth place too.

While Aston Martin slips down to second place it seems that the definition of cool is always changing. Facebook disappeared off the charts while sites such as YouTube and Google entered. BBC iPlayer even made it into the Top 20.

Take a look at the Top 10 and see if you are too cool for school or falling behind.

1. iPhone
2. Aston Martin
3. Apple
4. iPod
5. Nintendo
6. YouTube
7. Blackberry
8. Google
9. Bang & Olufsen
10. Playstation

n256510I read this book, purely because of the title. Everything happens for a reason is something I strongly believe in. I’m always saying it, so I thought this novel may give me a deeper insight. But I’m afraid the novel didn’t do the quote justice.

Kavita Daswani tells the story of Priya who marries into a family living in America. Leaving behind everything she knows and has grown up with, she moves to Los Angeles. When instructed to find a job, Priya finds her way to her dream job – a journalist. One catch – it is to be kept a secret from her in-laws. They wouldn’t approve with her showbiz lifestyle.

 While the plot was an interesting subject to tackle, for me it just seemed too easy to keep the secret. And even when her true identity was found, the ending was unsatisfying and rushed. You would think something that Priya had worked so hard for; she would have fought a little harder. But her decision felt hasty and not thought through.

 A relaxing read but not as gripping as I would have liked or expected.

After several intense discussions orientated around science and religion it only seems right to put in down in words. Hopefully opening the debate to you, I may be able to get a better understanding of all this hocus pocus.

So many questions. And more interestingly, so many answers. Answers that come in hundreds, if not thousands of versions. Does God exist? Who is he? Is he a male? What about the big band theory? What about evolution? That’s proven. Does science overpower faith, or does faith remain strong and close to ones heart?

My take on the subject so far is this. People take a journey in their lives. Filled with highs and lows having faith in something out of this world, gives them hope. Hope reassures people that we are on this earth for a purpose.

More so in times of need people turn to religion. Whether you see this as right or wrong, having that belief makes get them through the tough times. Now I’m not a greatly religious person, nicknamed a coconut, I’m far from it. But I’ve found that death and religion are closely linked. When losing someone close to you, you need to believe they are in a better place and what better ways to do that then turn to the church or temple.

But now the question lies in do people still have that strong faith when their lives are happy and successful? Or do you forget about God then? Okay, I’ve got to stop. Although I’m putting pen to paper, one question and one question only is burning in my mind: Who is God? There is the Bible, the Qu’ran, numerous Hindu scriptures but where have these stories come from? Some are so far from realism it’s insane!

See, I used to be fairly religious as a child. I believed in God through both the happy and sad times. But then I started attending Sai School and the more in depth I looked into Hinduism, the more I questioned it. For me it then became realism verse religion. And why is the world such an unexplainable place. While innocent people are faced with the tragic lives, the bad people seem to get away with so much.

This is such an intense subject it is difficult to cover all areas. An ongoing debate it is something we will never fully understand. Yet it is still interesting to understand something which can be interpreted differently by every human being.

I’ll leave the floor open now as I’m more interested to know your opinions and stories. And please be assured all views are respected.

HomeHome tells a story of three generations. Three generations facing different obstacles as traditions around them change.

 The Bawari Lal family have overcome troubles in the past and worked hard for their success. But they don’t realise the meaning of hard work until they begin to raise their children and grandchildren.

 Manju Kapur endeavours to show the traditions of a close-knit Indian family. Wants, needs, passion and desire is the recipe which will test the family and each plot emphasizes the meaning of family. Two dominant characters, from different generations are struggling with the speed of time. Whilst Sona is unhappy because time is moving too fast, Nisha wishes time would speed up. 

To be honest I’m not sure what I make of this book. Perhaps it’s because traditions have evolved so much that the attitudes displayed make me uncomfortable – the pressures of an arranged marriage, the importance of caste, the struggles to have children of your own. Traditions less prominent in the life around me made the novel immensely engaging. I felt frustrated, almost tangling myself up in family tensions.

 Personally I learnt a lot from this book, and in a way it made me grateful of the world I live in. Although I was not satisfied with the ending, it highlighted that not every ending is a happy one and sometime you have to settle for second best.

Got three days to spare? Here in London we can get so caught up in day to day life we don’t realise the months fly by.

Two weeks ago me and Nikhil headed out to Belgium. A short two hours on the Eurostar we were in central Brussels before we knew it. It was seriously quick!

Two cities in three days you can imagine the amount we squeezed in. We were proper stereotypical tourists, with me stopping to take a photo at every chance.

Really, there is so much I can share with you, but I could be here for a very long time. So instead I will give you a snapshot of Belgium from our eyes.

Heading out to Bruges from Brussels was quick. Catching a train, of which the ticket was included in the Eurostar ticket it took around 45 minutes. This was much quicker than finding our hotel. Street after streets, valleys, town squares each corner unveils history and culture. It’s beautiful. So untouched, with canals, bridges, horse rides, the beauty of Bruges can be captured within minutes. Getting lost wasn’t so bad in the end.

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Next, climbing the 366 steps of Belfort Tower, the view remained me of a play set town. Lines of terracotta roofs, floating boats on the winding canals and a perfect blue sky, it was definitely worth the climb. (Note to all those who know me, I did climb all 366 steps, there was no lift.)

Next came the all important chocolate shopping. First of all, lets just say, every other shop is a chocolate shop. You can smell the chocolate fountains. It was until we entered Dumons, a cottage-like store filled with homemade chocolate we knew we had found the one. Row of cute shaped chocolates. All ready to melt in our mouths. E bought a selection and took a walk in the park where we short listed our favourites. Then we went back for more! No not for us, to bring home!

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When heading to Brussels, we were already tired from the walking, so enjoyed the air-conditioned train. Arriving in the city, wow! It was like entering another country. The hustle and bustle of Brussels strangely remained us of New York. (You probably think we’re mad) Jumping on the Metro, the hotel was much easier to find with some French directions. Tout droit, tout droit. Straight on, straight on.

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Later we visited Grand Place, and Mannequin Pis. Yes that’s a little boy doing his business. Quite funny really, because the crowd around the sculpture is incredible. Eating some classic Belgium waffles and ice cream was next on the list. One word: Yum.

The following day we began the comic strip walk. This was fascinating! Walking up and down the streets of Brussels we discovered comic strips on sides of buildings. They were so random, but so fun to find. Yes, I did get us lost a fair few times, but once we got on a roll we found 18 of the 34 comics in the city. Was a bit like a treasure hunt whilst also taking us on a scenic walk around Brussels.

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Bypassing the cathedral and taking a break in the Park, we recouped some energy and headed out of the city to see the Atomium, a sculpture of an atom. Doesn’t sound too interesting, and it wasn’t really. Plus we got super lost there too. We were hungry and hot, so headed back into the city for dinner. Not forgetting desert, which is a must-have, we had some Australian ice cream which made us feel like we were five years old again. Quickly eating the ice cream before it melts and gets our fingers sticky it was more than delicious!

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Then it was back to the hotel to pick our bags up and off we went on the metro to catch our train home. I was tired. Nikhil was tired. Don’t think we’ve walked that much in ages. Well, I haven’t for sure! But it was definitely all worth it. All 500 photos!

I mean, honestly if you thinking of travelling to Belgium you can do each city in a day. Their vicinities are small, and everything is walking distance. If you are a vegetarian, food is pretty easy to find in Bruges, little harder in Brussels. That’s were a French phrase book could come in handy. But all in all, it’s all good fun. Although there isn’t much to do, you can uncover the beauties of each city your own way!

With all the media surrounding Susan Boyle its sad to say, but I’m not surprised she ended up in a mental home. She just didn’t realise what was coming. But who is to blame? Is it ITV for letting her perform, or is it us, the audience for giving her so much attention?

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Honestly I think it’s a mix of the two. The cocktail is a dangerous one, specially for a woman who has lived a very quiet life. But the underlying question here is: Has reality TV just gone too far?

Okay, I admit I was glued to Britain’s Got Talent. But now when I think about it, I feel like a playground bully. Not the ring-leader but the kid in the background who does nothing and just laughs. Some people that go on these reality shows are vulnerable and we know it. Yet they we use them as entertainment.

Then as the judges throw them into the semi finals, their determination and perseverance is laughed upon again. We sit and think to ourselves: “Do they really think they are good?”

It’s time producers took a step back and think about their motives. Think about how these people will be affected in the long-run.

Okay, so you might say: “It’s the individual who makes the choice to go on the show, it’s their fault.” But frankly I disagree. Producers know EXCATLY how the showbiz world works. They are the ones with the final say, and its time they use their powers wisely. Not give ordinary people false hopes.

And while I’m on this topic, I think it’s even worse that children as young as 10 should be allowed to enter reality shows. It’s a disgrace. Yes, they are talented and amazingly cute to watch. But throwing them into a circus-like atmosphere is not fair on them.

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Media can make and break someone within seconds and there are hundreds of ‘celebrities’ which have experienced that. So why any parent would put their child through such an ordeal puzzles me. Wouldn’t you support your child’s talent and encourage them to pursue their dream, but still emphasise the need to get an education. Showbiz is too risky for such young children.

And yes, I could go on about this a fair deal. But I’ll stop, because at the end of the day, reality TV is getting worse. Big Brother begins soon and don’t even get me started on that non-sense!

Found a new, and pretty slinky website. Collaborating with Google Map, you can quite literally listen to London.

The website provides audio commentary on lots of London’s top landmarks. An interactive map! Visitors use a map of London to pick sites and listen to tips, interesting facts and history.

Check it out!

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Dreams. Everyone dreams. But how do those dreams turn to reality? Does it take hard work, perseverance and determination or will they just fall into place when the time is right?

I’m not writing this because I know the answer, but just thought I would put the question out there?

Do you pick yourself up after failure, brush yourself off and try again or do you sit back and let fate do its work?

Life is short and to just sit back and hope your dreams will come true seems a waste of time. But is there a point when someone is trying too hard. In my family we strongly believe everything happens for a reason and that whatever is going to happen will happen.

But is there a middle ground? And, if so, where art thou?

An article my friend Sital Ladva wrote about the taboo subject of kissing.

Check it out here.

As a child, trips from school included Neasden Temple, Canterbury Cathedral and Watford Mosque. It’s a shame we never visited a Gurdwara. Lucky for me I have good friends who are Sikh and over the weekend I was present in a very warm and peaceful atmosphere at Gurdwara in Southall.

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Although I am a Hindu, those who know me, know I’m not religious at all. More often than not I’m called a coconut. But whether you are a believer of god or not, for me, the weekend was an eye opener.

From the A312 the Gurdwara’s size and impact reminded my of Jasmine’s Palace in Aladdin. On arrival I’ve got to admit, it was quite intimidating as the building towered over us. But inside the décor was simple. Simple, with a strong sense of unity and peace. After doing a little more research I found that the building has a capacity of 3,000 people, and its dining hall is capable to serving 20,000 meals over a weekend.

Not knowing the culture within the Gurdwara I followed the footsteps of Jay and Pav, who I’ve got to say made me feel very welcome. (Thank you)

We sat in the prayer room where the holy book, The Guru Granth Sahib was being read by priests. Projectors translated the scripture and just like the language of Sanskrit in Hinduism, the language was powerful. Celebrating the life of Jay’s grandma the book was read over the course of 3 days.

After eating a good meal of lentils, rice pudding and chapattis we listened to the reading and also saw the Guru Granth Sahib being put away for the night in a traditional manner.

Overall although both Sikhism and Hinduism origin from India it was very interesting to understand the traditions and beliefs behind a neighbouring religion.

Next stop will be Pav’s brother’s wedding. Wow, I’m visiting the Gurdwara more than I’ve ever been to the temple!

August 2017
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Random fact of the week…

In the average lifetime, a person will walk the equivalent of 5 times around the equator.

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