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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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January 5th, 2011
Stir Fry For Idiots


Over the last few weeks, coming home from work and cooking whilst listening to some music has become one of my greatest pleasures in life. Sometimes it is accompanied by some great dancing but mostly there is lot of terrible singing involved. Today I decided a prawn stir fry would hit the mark for a few reasons: 1) I love prawns 2) a stir fry is quick and easy and 3) it’s a relatively healthy meal.

I’m not much of a cook and by that I mean my culinary repertoire is limited. The meals I can conjure up are pretty decent; it’s just that I haven’t cooked enough in recent years to confidently whip up a vast variety of dishes. This is something I hope to change over the next few months, starting with stir fry. I have made a stir fry on many an occasion but this is the first time I didn’t use a stir fry pack, the type that should really come in garish yellow packaging saying Stir Fry for Idiots.

I searched for a few recipes online and found this to be the simplest and by simplest I mean it had the smallest amount of ingredients that needed to be purchased and prepared. As with most stir fry recipes you just chuck everything in and hope for the best. Thankfully, the skill levels needed here are somewhere between making a cup of tea and not burning the accompanying slice of toast.

The music that accompanied me this evening was Michael Jackson’s Michael. I know I slated it in my review earlier but there’s a couple of tracks on there I am guiltily addicted to.

Ingredients

  • 500g/1lb 2oz medium egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil, plus extra for tossing the noodles
  • 2 red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • thumb-size piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 400g/14oz raw tiger prawns, shelled
  • 2 large or 3 small pak choi, or 200g/7oz Chinese flowering cabbage (choi sum), shredded
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Preparation method

  • Cook the noodles according to the instructions given on the packet. Drain and toss in a little sesame oil to prevent them from sticking together.
  • Heat a wok and add the sesame oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chillies, ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for 30 seconds before adding the red pepper, spring onions and shelled prawns. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the prawns have turned pink. Add the shredded pak choi or choi sum, noodles, lime juice, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. Stir-fry until heated through and serve straight away.

Of course, I went and ruined all the healthiness by making tempura prawns to go on top.

Prawn Stir Fry with Tempura Prawns


Posted at 11:29 pm | 3 comments | Category: Food, Music


December 15th, 2010
Michael Jackson’s Michael: An Album Review


When certain albums come out I will buy them on CD. This is because if there is some sort of Armageddon and the whole of the Internet is wiped out, at least I’ll still have my favourite music on hand. Of course, in this scenario I fail to take into account that I no longer own a CD player so I’m not sure where one will magically appear from after a nuclear holocaust but let’s not look too deeply into that. The last album I bought on CD was “FutureSex/LoveSounds” a few years ago and then on Monday I went into HMV and bought Michael Jackson’s posthumous release “Michael”. Here’s my song-by-song live review.

Hold My Hand – Duet with Akon: I’ve never liked an Akon song and this is no exception. This is like no other song Michael has ever done. It’s so Generic McShit; in fact I think I heard a similar song on the NKOTB album.

Hollywood Tonight: Okay, this is more like it but this is “Michael Jackson” not Michael Jackson. It would have been a really good song if the vocals were better.

Keep Your Head Up: I skipped this, a bit too Gone Too Soon for me.

(I Like) The Way You Love Me: There’s a little bit of MJ magic going on at the beginning and it’s very telling of what this album really is.

Monster (Featuring 50 Cent): I got excited when this track started, it sounds very promising. That’s just not his vocals (sounds the least like him out of all the songs) but the song is a very good one. Nicely produced.

Best of Joy: Not MJ, in fact sounds like me on helium. I have to skip this.

Breaking News: Oh yas, I’m liking this. But the autotuning is becoming tiring. If I look past that it’s a great tune.

(I Can’t Make it) Another Day (Featuring Lenny Kravitz): Pretty rocky and strong vocals on this. I think this is one of my favourites on the album so far.

Behind The Mask: 80s sax?! This reminds me of a song from The Lost Boys OST at the beginnning but thankfully it does get better. There’s a really nice hook about a minute in and one of the strongest vocals of the album.

Much Too Soon: Ballad. Skipped.

Overall: I wish it was a Michael Jackson album I was reviewing but it really isn’t. Take Hollywood Tonight as an example of what this album really is; bits of recorded Michael sewn together with Teddy Riley thread. In fact all the songs that don’t sound like MJ are the ones produced by Riley. Oh Teddy, I know you like autotune but was this really necessary? There’s more autotuning on this than an X-Factor live show. I know Riley likes to claim that the album is all Michael Jackson but it’s not just about “take vocals from here, put it with vocals from this“. MJ was a perfectionist and there’s no way he would have released this hodge podge of songs in the guise of an album. Just look at Dangerous which also had some tracks produced by Teddy Riley but is leaps and bounds better than this album.

When Michael Jackson died I was sad that I would never get to see him live but now I know the real tragedy: no more albums.


Posted at 4:58 pm | 2 comments | Category: Music | Tags:


September 13th, 2010
YS Chronicles: Pop


Me: I should be a DJ.
Younger sister: You’d be rubbish, you have no idea what young people are listening to these days!
Me: Yes I do!
YS: Ok, who sings that “I wanna be a billionaire so freakin bad” song?
Me:…Chabillionaire?


Posted at 2:22 pm | Leave a comment | Category: Music, YS Chronicles | Tags: ,


August 16th, 2010
Witch hunt: My adventures in Swimming and Science


Today my two loves came together: music and swimming. My love of music is no secret; I reckon about 70% of my tweets are about music and I often write about it on my blog too. The love for swimming however, you may not know about. So let me tell you. I LOVE swimming.

I recently joined a gym, begrudgingly shelling out over £66 a month so I can use their pool and partake in exercise I actually enjoy for a change. It’s been great fun and I’ve really enjoyed being back in the water; slowly building my lap endurance back up. There was only one thing that could make me work harder. MUSIC! And so I bought an iSwim. It cost me £8.99 from eBay and is not the most sophisticated solution on the market but the alternative from Speedo is around £70 so I thought if nothing I’d give this a go since I already have a perfectly functioning iPod Shuffle.

Today was the first day I used it. IT IS A BLOODY REVELATION. Honestly, having some awesome tunes streaming into your ears while you’re submerged in water is one of the best feelings ever. I was happily swimming along, almost oblivious to the curious stares I was getting from my fellow swimmers. At least I thought they were curious. I didn’t think twice about the man and woman who literally jumped straight out of the pool, heading for the hydrospa.

I was resting after some laps, humming along to Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black when the janitor came up to me, pointed at my earphones and said, “Not good for you”. I had seen this chap talking to another swimmer only moments ago so I should have guessed what he meant but I was thoroughly confused. I asked him what he meant but he kept repeating that they’re not good for me and by now I had gathered that this was as far as his grasp of the English language was going to take us. For a second, I thought he was telling me that listening to music in the holy month of Ramadan was going to send me straight to hell but I quickly dismissed that, surely he wouldn’t be so presumptuous. It felt like forever but I’m sure it was only seconds when I realised he thought the earphones and water combo was somehow hazardous so I explained to him this was specially designed for the water. He seemed happy with this and sauntered back to the chap he was previously talking to. The pair of them disappeared behind an opaque glass screen but I could still see their feet and the fact that they were still talking lead me to believe that this issue was not resolved.

Much to my annoyance I had to get out of the water and clear this issue up with this guy directly. “Is there a problem?” I asked. This guy told me he didn’t “know (me) from Adam” and that he was afraid I was going to electrocute them all. “All I see is an iPod on your arm and I got worried,” he explained. I was polite as possible and explained again that this was specially designed for swimming and even if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t get electrocuted by an iPod, the electrical charge is simply not strong enough (“Trust me, I’m a scientist!”). What’s more, I’d completely ruin my iPod! “Well I didn’t know that did I? That it’s a special thing for swimming,” he replied, quite defensively. “You should have asked me,” I told him, more annoyed that he’d reported me to the janitor than anything else.

I carried on swimming after that but felt very self concious, like I had a toaster strapped to my arm or something. This felt like a bloody witch hunt. “Let’s throw her in the water; if she electrocutes everyone she’s innocent, if she doesn’t, she’s a witch!” That guy never came back into the pool and I didn’t know whether this was because he was done swimming or that he didn’t believe me. Either way, I felt quite awful about the whole thing. More so that I might have to stop using it. Just as I started to get more relaxed and into the flow of swimming, two staff members came into the pool area and pulled me over. Someone had called them to complain and I had to defend myself once again. They were very lovely about the whole thing and more curious as to where I got it from and how cool it was than worrying about their patrons’ safety. I felt a bit better about the whole thing and again tried to get back into the groove.

Did I mention I was using an iPod Shuffle with the iSwim? Drawback: You can’t skip songs because you’re using the iSwim waterproof headphones and not the special Shuffle ones that have the controls on them. This meant for a good part of my session I had to listen to fifteen minutes of Anil Dash‘s Business Blogging podcast from Fast Company! As much as Anil has a lovely voice I wanted music dammit! I didn’t realise I had put my entire iTunes directory on the iPod rather than a select few playlists. You live and you learn!

When I had finished my session, I kept thinking about how wonderful it was to have music whilst swimming and hoped the encounter today didn’t spell the end of it. To sort it out, I went to see the duty manager who happened to be one of the ladies who had come to see me earlier. Apparently, it was a lady who had reported me, more concerned with my safety than her own. I suspect it was the one who had vacated the pool when she saw me earlier. It would be easy to write off the guy I had spoken to earlier as a douchebag who didn’t understand science and didn’t have the social skills to come and voice his concerns to me directly. But the fact that someone else was also concerned means I probably shouldn’t be so harsh on him. Long story short, the duty manager said I am free to continue to use it. I just hope no one else is frightened by it. I wonder if I can swim wearing a sandwich board that says “I will not electrocute you!” on it? Probably not, a sandwich board might actually be a health and safety hazard.


Posted at 8:40 pm | 2 comments | Category: Gadgetry, Music, People Are Annoying, Science


April 3rd, 2010
Blackstreet at IndigO2


Yesterday my sister and I went to see Blackstreet at the IndigO2 venue within the O2 arena. We had to wait two hours for Blackstreet to get on stage but the DJs played New Jack Swing the whole time so I wasn’t complaining, though my feet were.

When they did eventually get on stage they started with “Gotta Get You Home” but unfortunately it was just a 10-second clip before they moved onto some of their slower tracks. This is when they got a bit more Backstreet Boys than Blackstreet by doing cheesy stuff like singing to girls in the audience and throwing roses at us. At one point one of them actually jumped off stage and went…to the gents. I guess they’re not as young as they used to be. They didn’t disappoint though; they performed Booti Call and of course, No Diggity, twice!


We thought at this stage things were winding down but then Teddy Riley stayed on stage and performed some of his Guy songs, as well as other tracks he has written for Bobby Brown and Johnny Kemp.

He then went onto dedicate a portion of the show to his “big brother, best friend and mentor” Michael Jackson and talked about the Dangerous album. He brought out a London dance group called The Disconnectors who danced while he played Jam, Remember the Time and Thriller on the keyboard. This was pretty damn impressive and confirmed why I love Teddy Riley and why I booked tickets for this show.

After that, the rest of Blackstreet came back on stage and wrapped up the show with “Buy Me Love”. There was an after party but we didn’t stay for that because frankly our feet would have gone home without us. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole show and the IndigO2 is nice venue which is small enough so you can really enjoy the live music. I’m now going to book tickets for Dru Hill in May at the same place. Seated this time.

(More videos on You Tube.)


Posted at 1:53 pm | Leave a comment | Category: Music | Tags: , ,


June 26th, 2009
My Tribute to Michael Jackson


Back in February this year I was at my mum’s house and my best friend of 20 years came to visit. The topic got onto Michael Jackson as it inevitably does with her since besides my sisters and me, she is the biggest fan I know. She left after dinner but the girls and I carried on the conversation and we reminisced about the days when we would rent Moonwalker on video everyday, £1 a go. I told them the first time I heard of him was when my cousin showed me a tape of the Thriller video and though it frightened the bejeebers out of me, I was hooked. Even spending a lot of my childhood out in Pakistan didn’t curb the fandom, everyone out there loved him aswell. I’ve mentioned him once or twice on this blog. My sisters shared similar stories too, especially the youngest (she’s seventeen) who the MJ hysteria could’ve easily bypassed but didn’t. Finally, I expressed how sad I was that I will never get to seem him in concert. “He’s never going to tour again, it’s so sad,” I said. We resolved to go watch Thriller Live: The Musical as recompense.

Cue 3rd March. I read in a free London paper that he’s touring. I freak out. Get in touch with sister. She freaks out. Lots of freaking out amidst a whirlwind of phone calls, emails, text messages and Tweets. 5th March: the day of his press conference at the O2 Arena arrives and I try to get out of a meeting to attend but can’t. Then the meeting gets cancelled last minute and I bolt there and miss it by seconds. The atmosphere is electric though; so many fans and press are there and the dates are revealed. Ten dates, THIS IS IT.

11th March. Now a scramble for tickets. We get plenty of pre-sale codes and are up early (6.45am to be exact) and coordinate our attack. We’re going to book the first lot of tickets that come up on Ticketmaster just so we don’t miss them by hesitating. We manage to book four (for me and the girls) but there’s my best friend to think about. I spend the next few hours trying to book more as new dates are announed. I manage to get them. HURRAH! We’re more excited about this than the upcoming trip to New York. It’s all we can talk about. Finally, we will see the King of Pop, live. There is talk of him struggling with the schedule and many people say we’re lucky we have the early dates as he might not have the energy for the later ones. Who knew?

And then yesterday. I had been offline most of yesterday evening so hadn’t heard about him being taken ill. I’d left my phone in the car so didn’t even get the messages and missed calls. I log on to Twitter close to midnight to see the latest posts and wait…Jeff Goldblum’s dead?? (This turned out to be a hoax.) Damn. First Farrah Fawcett now him…wait someone is saying something about Michael Jackson. Is this some sick joke? Then I read my sister’s tweets. She’s talking about it too. My husband came up and I tell him. He knows as his friend sent him a text message but he didn’t want to tell me. I spend the next few minutes feeling numb. I go to get my phone and realise that I’ve left it in the car. Fetch it and see all the messages and missed calls. At this point I sent my sisters a message saying I’ve only just found out. One of them calls me and is in tears. “It’s just so sad”, she cries. I spent last night hoping it wasn’t true. Stranger in Moscow (I song I previously professed to dislike) is playing on repeat in my head and I can’t sleep. Please don’t let it be true.

I awoke this morning still clinging on to that hope. But it was true. I called my mum and she tells me she’s never seen my youngest sister like this before. The girl we call “robot” because she never expressed her feelings. I then called my best friend and we talk about him, his sad life and how he once said he was a “very, very, very lonely man”. I tell her that back in the day I used to wonder how I’ll feel when Michael Jackson dies but I didn’t think it would be this soon. I’ve always been sad that I would never get to see Jeff Buckley live but this is on another level. This is a lifetime of love and to be so so close and have it snatched away at the last minute. It at time feels silly to be this sad, I’m not a friend or family. But if someone has been with you all your life, though only through their music, and then suddenly they’re gone, what else should you feel? Shows how powerful music really is.

Allow me to be a bit soppy here. No matter how much his face changed, his smile was always the same and always infectious. I think this clip on Anil’s blog sums up a lot for me. A sad childhood but somehow he could still smile. A genius but unhinged, two things that often come hand in hand it would seem. 

When 26th July rolls around, instead of getting ready to go see him in concert we’ll be sitting at home, remembering the man, the legend. He will never be gone for us as his music is here and it’s alive and wonderful. The true King of Pop. Goodbye Michael.


Posted at 5:10 pm | 2 comments | Category: Music


October 7th, 2008
It’s Business Time



Posted at 11:48 pm | 2 comments | Category: Music


September 23rd, 2008
This is NOT a Rick Wright tribute


This song just does something to me which induces a rush of endorphins. <3

Great performance of this song on Later…with Jools Holland; try and catch it.


Posted at 11:22 pm | 4 comments | Category: Music


September 17th, 2008
RockSoc CD Swap #1


I started a rock music appreciation society at work (I know, I’m awesome) and from humble beginnings we have grown to a substantial membership size. RockSoc shall take over the world! Or something.

One of our first network events is to swap CDs with each other containing our Fave Tracks Of All Time. I started compiling mine today and I’m not sure if these are my Fave Tracks Of All Time or What I’m Loving Right Now. Here’s the track listing from my submission to the first RockSoc CD Swap and yes, I know they’re not all rock songs but that wasn’t the brief, ok? Now I have to get them to all fit onto one disc…

  • What’s a Girl to Do – Bat for Lashes
  • Nara – E.S. Posthumus
  • Liquid Lives – Hadouken!
  • Remain – José González
  • Dream Brother – Jeff Buckley
  • Sayonee – Junoon
  • My Love ft T.I. – Justin Timberlake
  • On – Bloc Party
  • Kashmir – Led Zeppelin
  • Fame – David Bowie
  • Tanhai – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  • There Is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
  • Lover, You Should’ve Come Over – Jeff Buckley
  • Butterflies and Hurricanes – Muse
  • Climbing Up The Walls – Radiohead
  • Superstar – Sonic Youth
  • Schism – Tool
  • Mojo Pin – Jeff Buckley

Oh, by the way, anyone else who wants a copy shall get one. Speak and ye shall be heard.


Posted at 7:06 pm | 11 comments | Category: Music


September 14th, 2008
Oh no you didn’t!


I <3 the Mercenaries 2 advert. The song is awesomely catchy and I’m hoping they release an album full of gangsta rap songs done in this style. Download the full version of the song here.


Posted at 3:45 pm | 4 comments | Category: Music





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