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My name is Saima and I live in London, England. Welcome to my blog where I have been writing since November 2000. Please make yourself at home.

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December 22nd, 2010
Princess Banana-Hammock or Why I Kept My Surname After Marriage

Yesterday, I asked this question on Twitter: Why do women still change their surnames after marriage? I’m genuinely curious.

I didn’t get many replies so I remain curious and a little perplexed why a woman, who may be a feminist in all other aspects of her life, takes on her new husband’s name. Before I go any further, let me say that I respect the right of everybody to change their name to whatever they choose. I just don’t understand the motive(s) behind the automatic change after marriage in this day and age.

The reason the subject interests me so much is that I didn’t change my name after getting married in 2007 and ever since, my husband and I have had to correct an endless number of people who automatically assume you have the same surname. I’m also always surprised when a woman returns to work after her wedding and has to get her email address, nameplate etc changed. But I had you down as a strong minded career woman…does not compute!

The Rhyme and Reason with a Special Note on Tradition

I’ve spoken to a few people about this issue over the last few years and these are some of the reasons I’ve heard.

Because I love him so much: This is a genuine reason I’ve heard but let’s just call bullshit on this right off the bat. Why does a change of your name equate to love? Does that mean your husband doesn’t love you because he didn’t change his name?

Tradition: I expect many women change their name because of this reason – it’s the way it’s always be done. But as with many things, traditions shouldn’t be followed blindly.

I have a great story about tradition I can share with you now. A woman was teaching her daughter how to cook a pot roast. Her daughter asked her why she cuts off the end of the joint of meat before placing it in the pot. Her mum told her it’s something her own mother had always done so she always did the same. Her daughter then approached her grandmother and asked her the same question to which she received the reply that her pot was small and the joint didn’t always fit. Moral of the story – don’t just do something because it’s what’s always been done, you might be wasting good meat!

You may be surprised to know that this tradition of changing your surname isn’t a universal one; the practice being mostly widespread in English speaking countries (Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, Ireland, India, the English-speaking provinces of Canada, and the United States). In fact, such practices were abolished in Arab countries after the dawn of Islam (Muslims as feminists, oh my!). The reasoning behind the change was that the practice of a woman taking her husband’s last name in marriage was thought of as a pagan tradition. Women used to be the property of their fathers until marriage and then when they took their husband’s last name in marriage that meant she was now the property of her husband. Islam opposed this with clear instructions in the Qu’ran and Prophet’s teachings that a woman should keep her family name. Of course, in Islam the child always takes their father’s name which brings me to the next reason.

Having the same name as your children: I can partly understand this reason because not having the same surname as my husband creates issues and with kids, multiply that by n where n is the number of children you have. Perhaps everyone in your family having the same surname is important to you for convenience or other reasons.

This brings up another important point however, why does a child always takes their father’s name? Why is there no link to any of the female ancestors? I expect this is what drives the preference for a male child that has plagued many cultures over the centuries and still to this day.

I’m a Lucy Stoner

Lucy Stone was an “American abolitionist and suffragist, and a vocal advocate and organizer promoting rights for women” who lived in the 19th century. She became famous for insisting on keeping her own name after marriage, a practice that was unheard of back then. She is quoted as saying “A wife should no more take her husband’s name than he should hers. My name is my identity and should not be lost”. Woman who choose to keep their name after marriage are often referred to as Lucy Stoners.

When I got married three years ago there was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be changing my surname. I hadn’t given it huge amounts of thought previous to this, perhaps a couple of conversations with my sisters or best friend, all who agreed they’d do the same. It wasn’t something I had an official nerve wracking conversation with my then fiancée about it either. He has never had a problem with it and frankly I wouldn’t have fallen in love with and married someone who would insist I take his name.

I have post-wedding given it more thought and wondered what my reason is. It’s simple really, my name is my name. Why should I change it because I am getting married? My husband doesn’t have to change his name, there is no expectation for him to so why is there an expectation for me? I believe it is because of tradition and that tradition stems from a time where women were classed as property. This just seems wrong to me and I don’t want any part of that kind of tradition and practice. (I did toy with the idea of double-barrelling the name but thought that wrong too unless my husband did the same…equality and all that!) I guess it’s my primary reason for not changing my name that makes me question why others do. Perhaps they don’t understand the history, perhaps they do and they’re fine with it or perhaps I’m making a lot of assumptions that are completely untrue. Maybe it’s just a name and not such a big deal after all. Either way, I’m still curious!

Posted at 5:23 pm | 7 comments | Category: General

November 1st, 2010
Tenth Bloggiversary

Today, this here blog turned ten years old. I had a party, in my head. Everyone who has ever visited this blog attended; we ate cupcakes and drank tea all day. We reminisced. It was nice.

Previously on Saima Says

If you missed the last ten years here’s a quickish recap.

2000: In November of this year I first posted on the blog. I had a blog before but this was the first time I wrote on SaimaSays.com. I obviously had a lot of time on my hands as I was taking a year out from university; this is evident by the frequency of posts.

I was working at NTL (now Virgin Media) at the time as a Customer Service Representative and really not enjoying being shouted at by irate customers all day. Unfortunately I told my manager about the blog and she brought up some of the topics of my posts in our morning meetings. Highly embarassing. This was a wake up call for me and after this I never really told people I worked with about the site. It also scared me from writing anything too personal which is a shame really since I believe good writing is honest writing. I kept a separate private blog and also tried to develop thedj.nu, a music blog that never really took off. This year also saw the birth of the Younger Sister Chronicles.

2001: After nearly twelve years, I made a trip out to Pakistan. I also started back at university for my final year. Between these two events, 911 happened and it changed the world as we know it. Being a Muslim, I got a lot of flack, on the Internet and in real life (strangers shouting abuse at me at train stations). The world wanted every Muslim to explain and distance themselves; I tried. Just the other week I had a conversation with a colleague in Switzerland where they’ve recently banned minarets and he said the same thing, ten years on and I’m still expected to shout my objections.

2002:  I carried on with my final year at university and I even graduated, yay me! As if you to show my love of science I tried to launch a science blog which failed miserably. I did however share two of my Philosophy of Science essays which you all loved(!) My angry artwork also received a lukewarm response.

I also took part in a 24-hour Blogathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK. My working career began with what I thought would be a temporary role at the Cheese Factory but ended up staying there for five years.

I am woman, hear me roar

2003: This year I started sharing my love of photography with you all. My nan became quite ill so I found myself spending a lot of time in hospitals. Thankfully, she got better.

Also, remember the Three Word Blog? It was like Twitter but limited to three words. For a brief period, I went a bit doolally.

2004: This was a quiet year in blog terms but rest assured I was having fun in real life. I started The London Underground Adventures with a friend (and we still play that game to this day). I started studying to be a Chartered Accountant whilst working but thankfully, I didn’t get the obligatory personality lobotomy at the same time! My love of arts and crafts was born. My mum became very sick and I took a long break from blogging. Thankfully she pulled through but focus definitely shifted to non-blog activities.

Gloucester Road

2005: Ah, what a year. I met the love of my life, Sol, and thanks in part to this blog, I tricked him into thinking I was awesome! Muhahahaha etc. A bit slow on the uptake but I watched the Star Wars movies for the first time. This blog celebrated it’s fifth anniversary. This was definitely one of the best years ever due to aforementioned Love Of Life.

2006: This was a mixed emotions kind of year. Sol and I got engaged and I got a massive promotion which propelled my career in a way I had never imagined. I also started baking and never looked back.

But then my aunt (mum’s sister) lost her battle to leukemia which devastated our family. Telling my mother this news was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. We all still carry the sadness with us every day.

2007: Blimey, bit of a quiet year blog-wise, eh? That’s because I got married, moved to London, got a new job at an Investment Bank and sat my final Chartered Accountancy exams. Busy busy bumblebees! My husband and I were busy discovering great comedy, going to gigs and generally having an awesome time. I also got myself a Twitter account and a Vox blog therefore the number of posts here slowly dwindled.

SS Baraat (55)

Best Day Ever!

2008: From January of this year I could officially call myself a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. This was another quiet year on the blog as we were holidaying quite a bit, Barcelona was particularly fun. We also took my parents and my mother-in-law to Mecca and Medina for the holy pilgrimmage of Hajj in November. Now there’s an experience I’m never going to forget. We spent the rest of the year trying to recover from the diseases we picked up from sharing campsites with three million other people.


Day of Arafat

2009: This wasn’t a great year for me health wise but helped by Sol I still managed to enjoy it. We went to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival together for the first time and it was such a blast we vowed to go again every year. I also took a trip with my girls to New York City; the greatest city in the world (after London!) I started yet another blog called Saima Says Style but then imported all the entries to this site.

Statue of Liberty

I want to go back, waah

2010: This year is now drawing to a close and what a busy one it’s been. Two of our close friends got married, we bought our first house together and I got a new job which I start in a week. We went back to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival and hilarity ensued. (Being name checked by a comedian when he’s on stage is definitely a bizarre experience!)

We’re going to spend the rest of the year renovating our new home and possibly take a trip out to the States again.

The Future

So that’s what’s happened so far but what of the future? More blogging, more tweeting, but more importantly, more living! Thank you for visiting my blog over the last ten years.  I have made many new friends through this site, some of whom I still haven’t met but I’m going to try and remedy that one day. Watch out!

I hope you’ll stick around and join me for the rest of the ride. Here’s to another ten years! Please help yourself to a cupcake.


Posted at 2:59 pm | 13 comments | Category: General

October 3rd, 2010

…is it my dignity you’re looking for?”

Well you certainly won’t find it in the new Walkers crisps ad.

Posted at 3:51 pm | 5 comments | Category: General

July 26th, 2010
When I grow up…

…I want a garden shed like this.

Posted at 4:06 pm | 2 comments | Category: General, Style | Tags: , , , ,

February 24th, 2010
Baking + Adobe

Posted at 1:17 am | 1 comment | Category: General

January 21st, 2010
Happy New Year

I’m still meeting people I haven’t seen since last year and having to say Happy New Year to them. It feels nice actually, kind of like extending the festivities if you will.

One of the first things people ask is whether I had a good break over Christmas and New Year’s and if I have any resolutions for 2010.

Yes, I had a lovely long break. I had time off between Christmas and New Year’s and those ten days for the price of three felt great. We went to my parents’ house for Christmas dinner and my sister-in-law’s for Boxing Day. We avoided the sales though, sales are for suckers.

The period after Christmas was rampacked with events as two of our friends got married. Not to each other. Between the dholki nights, mandhis (yes, MANdhi) and wedding receptions we were exhausted by the time we had to get back to work.

So New Year’s resolutions? I’m hoping 2010 is going to be a great year for us. As I enter my 30s (yikes, that sounds awfully grown up) one of my priorities is my health. I’ve already started eating right and exercising more frequently and it feels great. Of course I will have some cake come January 28th :)

Posted at 5:07 pm | Leave a comment | Category: General

October 28th, 2009
Oh Happy Day

I knew it would be quite a grumpsome day when I was awoken five minutes before my alarm went off. I hate that. I work on my own schedule dammit.

I got up anyway and once breakfasted and ready we made our way to Bedford for my sister’s graduation. Unfortunately, I had to get back to work for meetings so we only had time to get photos taken and didn’t actually get to see her go up on stage and collect her degree. It was her second degree however and I was there for the first so I guess a 50% strike rate isn’t too bad.

I said to Sol I’d drive home so he could get a bit of kip before his long drive to Brighton later on. He was wearing his eye mask and I’m pretty sure many people thought I was kidnapping him or something from the weird looks we got. Though how they thought I overpowered a six foot massive bloke is a conversation for another time.

Two hours it took us to get home from Bedford to London! Traffic was mad and all those loathsome average speed cameras were dotted along the roads, jeering at me, “You can’t drive fast, nah nah nah nah nah nah!” Bastards. To make it worse, I was feeling sleepy. I’m pretty sure it was that extra five minutes I was deprived of this morning that did it. I had to resort to listening to cheesy pop in hopes of keeping awake and not crashing the car. Though if I did plough into something I’d hope it’d be one of those average speed cameras and that would recompense as some sort of sick silver lining.

When we did get back I was straight to work for back to back meetings until about 8pm. In most of the meetings we talked about the unpopular changes we’re going through right now and I got a general feeling that none of us knew our arses from our elbows.

Before jumping onto the cross trainer for my daily exercise, I popped the chicken Sol had marinated last night into the oven. We have a Tupperware box full of dry chappati flour for when we make roti that normally lives in the grill above the oven. I checked to see if it was in there before putting the oven on of course but couldn’t see it so assumed it had been moved. I assumed wrong. When I went back into the kitchen after half an hour, I smelled something weird…burning plastic? Shit, the damn box was hiding at the back of the grill and now was melted all over the bottom and back of it; an annoying obstacle between me and that delicious chicken. I tried my best to remove it without getting burned and was somewhat successful.

When I finally had the chicken it was really nice and I didn’t even need any Nando’s sauce with it. All’s well that ends well.

Posted at 11:26 pm | 5 comments | Category: General

August 21st, 2009
The NEW Argos Catalogue

In Liverpool Street Station ne’er a day goes by when there isn’t something being given away to the thousands of passengers that pass through. I’ve seen all sorts from food items to stationery to the Argos catalogue…umm, what?

Yes, that’s right. Today there were about five or six people giving out bags with a copy of the Argos catalogue in it, all shouting “get your Argos catalogue here” whilst thrusting the bags into our hands. Like it was the most exciting thing you’ll ever get. Like you can’t pick it up from Argos in your own time. Like you can’t visit their website if in fact you do need something from Argos in a real hurry. One of them shouts, “Get your catalogue here, ABSOULTELY FREE!” Like you’ve ever actually paid for one!

This shouldn’t shock me of course, Argos is the strangest store since Index.

Posted at 9:44 pm | Leave a comment | Category: General

August 19th, 2009

I miss this blog, I miss writing on it. I’ve somehow convinced myself that I have nothing interesting to say but we all know that’s not true! ;)

So I make a pact. I will write something every day. I can’t promise it will be interesting but it will be at least one post every day. And it will be more than 140 characters!

Posted at 2:53 pm | Leave a comment | Category: General

June 17th, 2009
DIY: Cardigan Makeover

It was my sister’s birthday yesterday and even though we say we won’t do gifts we always manage to rustle up a small token. This year I decided I was going to make her something. She LOVES rainbows so I thought, how about a rainbow-buttoned cardigan. Firstly to source the buttons I did a quick search on eBay and within a couple of days I had in my possession some awesome heart-shaped rainbow buttons courtesy of Punch ‘n Julie (her etsy store). Next I went a purchased a fairly inexpensive plain black cardigan from New Look, checking of course that the new buttons would fit into the existing buttonholes. Now the tricky part. I am totally inept at sewing buttons but I somehow managed to remove the plain black ones and replace with the cool ones I purchased. Voila, a boring old cardigan gets a new lease of life as a funky rainbow one! I even put the spare buttons in a little pouch in case any of them go walkabout. And yes, my sister loved it :)






Posted at 6:09 am | 8 comments | Category: General

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