Category

2012

Shed Perspective

2 years ago, I wrote the post Shed Light which has probably been my most popular blog to date. The reason why many of you will have kept up with me until now. Since then I have been trying to find answers which is what I set out to do. I have never stopped being hungry in asking questions and trying to further my understanding.

Knowledge precedes understanding, but understanding precedes perspective. Everything must be seen in context. I wrote that post on Diwali which is the most auspicious day in the Hindu calendar marking the journey that Lord Rama makes from one side of India to the other, to get home. The day after Diwali is Bestuvaras which marks the start of the New Year, which in this case is 2071. It is fitting that after the day of illumination, it should be followed by a new beginning. The chance to change perspective.

I was fortunate enough to go to India this year and spend some time with some amazing kids. Many of them were disabled – born without limbs, deformities, psychological defects and even blind – and it was a privilege to see their perspective on life. Within a week of coming back to England, I broke my leg and had a chance to see what it was like to be in their position. After seeing how well they dealt with their hardships, I realised how ungrateful and selfish I was.

I wallowed in self-pity. I became agitated because I couldn’t do the things I wanted to. I blamed myself for my situation and made it seem like I was the only person suffering. Through the trauma, I spared no thought for those worse off. “I was hurt…this was horrible…fuck everyone else” and in this way I became the one thing that I made a commitment not to be in 2012. Ignorant.

Weeks down the line now, I realise how ungrateful I was. It was a natural reaction to what happened, but I am disappointed that I didn’t open my eyes. There is a magic in positive thinking that is underrated. There was nothing I could do about my situation, other than to change my perspective about it. I would have to change my lifestyle, but not necessarily for the worse, as rather than running, I have been able to spend more time with the people that matter most.

So this is my commitment to the next two years. Every time I feel like my eyes are closing in dark times, I need to remember in my mind’s eye those kids that found solace in themselves. Knowing that adversity is the catalyst of progress, not the restriction of it. From now on, I am going to take the blinkers off and realise how good it is to appreciate what I actually have.

This year as a resolution to yourself, regardless of whether you are Hindu or not, use perspective as a positive. Tell yourself how lucky you are each day to be alive. Smile at what you love about yourself. Message the people that love you – don’t wait for them. Hold out your hand for those that need it. Look at what is in front of you and relish the challenge. Take risks. Walk (or in my case hobble) forward.

And if you ever feel like your eyes are closing, read this post again to remind yourself of how great it is to feel the light hit your pupils for the first time each morning. Then get up and live.

The Day That I Met The British Prime Minister

A few days ago, I was fortunate enough to receive my official photograph with David Cameron, the British Prime Minister. And duly, like most of my generation does these days, I blasted it all over my Facebook and Twitter. Inevitably, people started to ask me questions about how I had managed to find my feet at the doorstep of Downing Street. And even more inevitably, here is the story.

It started months and months earlier with a casual meeting with a very impressive man called Dean Atta (Google him – he’s an amazing poet) who invited me to do some work with the Spirit of London Awards. I had long admired the organization for promoting young people and the positive things they do against the tidal wave of negative news that we face every day. It started off with a few small design jobs, before I managed to get the opportunity to design the official flyers for the event that was then promoted in the biggest young magazine in the UK, Live Magazine.

And then I got a very interesting phone call from the Damilola Taylor Trust, who invited me to their annual reception at Downing Street where Dave would be popping in. At first, it was a bit of a shock. And then I thought that it must have been destiny to cap off a fantastic year. Then it got even more interesting. I was also invited on the same day to go to Parliament, to watch Cameron give a speech on the Leveson Enquiry as it was the day after the report was issued. I was going to be at a Parliamentary Lobby anyway for the campaign I am leading on (#presschange4youth) to hear the conclusion of the argument.

So those 6 hours were pretty surreal. Jumping out of my Economics lesson and rushing all the way to the Commons. Then being confronted by some pretty aggressive protestors – many of them covered head to toe in tin foil (don’t ask…). Getting smoothly through security and sitting in a very lavish room and listen to Lord Leveson gives his announcement live. By this point I had to push my way out again and try to get into the visitor section of the chamber to hear Cameron speak. Couldn’t get in and so had to watch the speech on a big TV in another lavish room (lots of nicely decorated rooms in Parliament!) And then I walked out, walked down Whitehall and only a few police man stood between me and that famous door.

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The opened door of 10 Downing Street.

Once I got in, it was extremely humbling. To see that shiny door(which the idiotic policeman wouldn’t let me take a picture with), and walk over the threshold is one of those moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life. There are not many moments in life when you feel like you have made it, but that was definitely one of them. I had the chance to mingle with some extremely important people. Meeting Tasha Danvers, the British Olympic Athlete, and Richard Taylor, the father of Damilola Taylor were amongst the highlights. It took me a little time to drink in the surroundings, and then it was announced that the Prime Minister would be here any minute. I straightened my tie and walked to the front of the queue. No one was going to stop me.

In truth, he was an extremely kind and funny man. We chatted about Leveson and joked about his own performance at the Commons a few short hours earlier. It must have only been for a minute or two, but it felt like a lot longer. And he was a lot taller than I thought he would be. But I met him. And the Queen. All in 2012. And it was all caught on a very good camera. It is difficult to describe these memories as they seem to be etched in your brain, but you can’t convey how momentous that occasion was. It was simply surreal.

The most frequent question that I have been asked is how I possibly managed to wangle that? Honestly, it seemed to just fall in to my lap and so it was all the more fantastic. I believe that we are all given these opportunities in life even if we don’t see them, but they come up and give us the choice ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This particular triumph is about 20 ‘yes’ decisions down the line and I have seen the fruits of all that effort now. You must be prepared to take risks. To put yourself out there. But most importantly to tirelessly make the effort so that you can appreciate life’s little victories. I think the next stop is the White House. Watch out Barry, I am coming to getchya!

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Only photo I could actually take myself…

My Year (In Pictures)

“For some moments in life there are no words” D.M.

After a year of writing words, I thought it would be good to sum up with something else. This year was my year. The year when everything clicked…which I will look back and say, this is where my journey began. So on this final day of the 366 (leap year), I will share my 20 pictures for 2012. And thanking my stars that it didn’t end a week ago like the Mayans predicted…

1. “You’re a wizard Harry!” – I started the year with my cousins, from Texas, who came down for New Years for a particularly hilarious Harry Potter bus tour.

2. On my birthday, I was lucky enough to speak to Eddie Nestor on BBC Radio London 94.9FM about fairer press for young people. Look at ‘The Revolution Begins…with the BBC!

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3. Then we went to the Royal Courts of Justice and we pleaded our case at the home of the Leveson Enquiry the next day.

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4. Meeting Sir David Jason was a highlight. Especially at the House of Lords, as part of the Wings of Hope Achievement Award, raising money for charity.

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5. And then the big one! Meeting possibly the most important monarch ever to have lived…even if it was only for 3 or 4 minutes. The Queen of England. See it in ‘The Day That I Met The Queen – Part 2’.

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6. Wearing a chicken suit to Wembley is not something that I could do everyday. But I did in April, for the WOHAA finals. Got pretty hot in that suit (I am the one on the right – the fluffy one)

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7. The launch of my company in March was an emotional experience. We Do Ideas was officially launched in March in HAMLEYS TOY STORE IN REGENT STREET. And it was bloody brilliant.

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8. I was invited to judge the Lloyds Money for Life Challenge Grand Final 2012 which was at BAFTA. It was a huge honour and I got to meet a famous face. Ellie Crissell of the news!

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9. The Diamond Jubilee was a massive event for us. Going to the flotilla and the parade really made headway for the start of the summer. “Jubes“.

"A fair amount of flag waving"
“A fair amount of flag waving”

10. The Youth Media Agency has been the other organization that I have working with this year and being a part of the YMA family is very important. This is me at the launch.

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11. As a volunteer, I was invited to see the Opening Ceremony before everyone else. I will never forget the magical atmosphere from that day is July. “SPOILERS…

Danny Boyle on Stage
Danny Boyle on Stage

12. Seeing the Olympic Badminton event at Wembley was a dream come true after 4 years of waiting. Lee Chong-Wei, world number 1, was a happy bonus.

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13. I never thought that I would ever get the chance to hold that golden torch in my hands. When I got the chance to, it was a beautiful moment. I will never get the chance again.

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14. I loved every second of my week as a London Ambassador. It rekindled my pride for volunteering and for volunteers. They made the Games. And Eddie Izzard made my day.

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15. October 11th was a year since I started my blog. This will be my 41st blog post and it is still going strong. “A Year Yesterday

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16. I was freshly pressed by WordPress for my Diwali post “Shed Light” which brought a whole host of new people to the site. And 1,000 views in a day.

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17. Going to Downing Street was a fantastic achievement – it really capped off my year going to the Spirit of London reception to see David Cameron. The Queen and the PM in the same year.

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18.I was part of the team that won the Bank of England 2.0 Challenge in our area. It bodes well for my progress with Economics in the future. And the prize was chocolate. Win-Win.

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19. Seeing my favourite band, performing at the 02 in front of a sell-out crowd was definitely one of the highlights. Mumford and Sons came home.

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20. Finally, as a bit of a surprise, I was invited to a UNICEF debate on the rights of a child in the UK. It was great to finish the year on another high. Finally starting to make headway it seems. “This Is Our Chance

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WHAT A YEAR! BRING ON 2013…

My Top Albums of 2012

Before I say anything, let me stress that this is subjective, and so if you don’t agree then fair enough. But that doesn’t mean that I am going to change my opinion. This is just a selection of the music that has hit home this year and it is good to talk about the things that inspire, move and enable us to wake up in the morning and get through the day.

5. “Ill Manors” | Ben Drew a.k.a Plan B

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One of the first albums that really struck me this year was Ill Manors by Plan B – the soundtrack to the motion picture that he also released this year. I am never usually attracted to rap or grime, but the subject matter was what caught my attention – based around the London riots of 2010. His first single off the album, the namesake; was gritty, dynamic and hard hitting, pushing the boundaries of the attitudes of the people, ground level. There has been a lot of backlash from the critics about the themes and reverence of the album, but as a music lover, it is easy to see how it will not only maintain his already huge base but expand it to a whole new audience. It seems as if Ben Drew is going back to what he does best – making the microphone shudder and the people think. Listen to ‘Lost My Way’ and you will see what I mean.

4. “Coexist” | The xx

I must admit that when I first heard the xx, I was a bit disappointed with the sound. But it has definitely grown on me. It seems that they have definitely received more acclaim for their second album, Coexist, and their stand offish, almost hypnotic trademark has made its own hallmark. Being the perfect revision music, it has no frills, spills or thrills, just incredibly well produced tracks that formulate one of the most well rounded albums in the last few years. The consistency of the sound is so expert that you can almost forget where one song starts and another ends – that speaks for itself. The earthy tones and the heavy bass on ‘Sunset’ catches my ear every time it pops up on my iPod and the slow, almost sultry notes in ‘Angels’ takes this album from good to great. Whether you are listening to it on a busy train or in an empty train, it has the most profound calming effect with every track making you tilt your head back, close your eyes and take the world in. And we all need a little more of that.

3. “Votive Life” | Cave Painting

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Many of you will probably never have heard of this band, but they are set for a big 2013. Touring with the massive Alt J (who do not escape my list!) they have been slowly and steadily getting fans with their new album, Votive Life. This is…Cave Painting. It may not be every one’s cup of tea, but this Brighton-bred band has peddled their Californian sound since they began in 2010. The familiar sound of a falsetto vocal mixed in with the odd snare drum and a heavy bass make their music un-put-down-able (not sure that is a word…) The genre is alternative, but I guess these guys are a bit farther down the scale, bordering on a unique and almost folky clique. Basically it is difficult to put them in a box and label them. Their singles: So Calm, Gator and Rio have received very warm responses and the future look very bright for them. Rio especially will appeal to all of those that like a steady beat, and a solid vocal and no drop in quality from either. Definitely one of the finds of the year for me: beautiful album, beautifully delivered and beautifully packaged.

=1. “An Awesome Wave” | Alt-J

I first heard them as Fern Cotton’s Big Thing on Radio 1 in March with Matilda and instantly fell in love with them. They are truly one of my favourite bands and it was the first album that I actually bought on iTunes. An Awesome Wave captivated the first 7 months of this year and it rightfully tops my list. Starting off as something of a guilty pleasure to a small number of people, these boys from Leeds showed us another side of music: folk-step. But that isn’t the only thing that makes them fantastic. The secret ingredient: they are clever cookies. Each track has pain staking intricacies in the lyrics, beat, melodies and harmonies that truly make the 12 tracks a crafted sculpture of an album, rather than just a shelf vinyl. It goes from the synth trips in ‘Tessellate’ (which is beautifully written) to the dubstep beats of the ‘Intro’ to the haunting vocal of ‘Something Good’. Although my personal favourite is ‘Taro’ with the Indo-Asian influences and the truly delicious instrumental chorus that raises all the goose pimples on my arm every time I hear it. This album has it all. And they have a Mercury Prize to boot. I cannot wait to watch them live next year. (You can see all their music FOR FREE on Sound Cloud – just have a gander!)

=1. “Babel” | Mumford & Sons

My final pick is of my favourite band of all time – Mumford and Sons. I have been eagerly anticipating the release of their new album ‘Babel’ for a year and when it finally released in September; I have listened to it every day since. It has received mixed reviews, but for someone who was converted with their first album ‘Sigh No More’ it was the perfect concoction of rusty vocals, folk charm and an expert use of the banjo. From start to finish, it is an explosion of passion with every line of lyric holding its own deeper meaning, making listening to it akin to a religious experience. For those of you that are unfamiliar with them – where the hell have you been first of all – they epitomise empowerment. Many a time have I listened to their songs and been given the strength to carry on when I felt like there was no reason to. And at the same time they present a softer, rawer side to them which enables to pause for thought, close your eyes and appreciate the words. This album is an emotional experience, that if you truly embrace, will give you the chance to explore feelings that were buried or that you have not felt before. This may seem grandioso but for me, the music made by these four guys have touched my soul, in the same way as it has done for millions around the world. I had the fortune of seeing them live in London, for their homecoming date, and it an experience that I will never forget – the concert of a life time.

That concludes my list of my top five albums for this year. To be honest, I could have expanded the list to at least 15, but I am happy to just stick with these five. Even if you hated every choice, you cannot deny that music in its entirety is part of the glue that holds together the fabric of our lives and we cannot dismiss it. This has been a monumental year for music, and unfortunately it draws to a close. But to paraphrase a great saying, “The music will live on.”

The Day That I Met The Queen – Part 2

I can’t believe that it has taken me so long to write the concluding part for this. The first post (‘The Day That I Met The Queen – Part 1‘) was written all the way back in May – so read that first before you read this. Listening to the Queen’s speech today compelled me to write this final chapter, while it is still fresh in my mind.

It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining. We got through security and the police cordon, making our way to our specific tent in Valentines Park. There must have been 8 or 9 other pieces of work alongside ours, but we were bang in the middle, there was no way that she could miss it. We could hear the dull roar of a crowd gathering behind us. There were red, white and blues flying around and there was a hubbub of excitement. 15 minutes to go.

Then we heard the screams and the hollering. The park was now a hotbed of noise as the distinguished guests touched down and tentatively made their way to the art exhibition that had been set up – worth something like 4 million quid. All of a sudden, the chattering in our tent was reduced to an awkward silence as it all became very real. In only a matter of moments, a piece of history was about to look us in the eyes and shake our hands.

We must have been waiting an age before we got the signal. No official signal – just the smiles of the people outside suddenly grew wider and their eyes forgot to blink. And then a tiny lady in a sky blue dress became visible and there was a deadly silence in the tent, I started to bake in the sunlight. I told myself, regardless of whether she walks past or not, whether I get tackled by a security guard, I was going to talk to the Queen. Screw protocol.

She walked slowly to the first few students, asking them their names and exchanging niceties. But the poor girls were too nervous to speak and so just smiled sheepishly. This increased the nerves of every other person in the tent. The next few people froze too and it seemed as if she was not going to stay long. The sunlight through the tent was starting to make me sweat – as if I wasn’t nervous enough. Then the fateful moment came. Rather than describe the conversation, I will transcribe it.

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The Queen: (noticing the badge on my lapel shining in the sunlight) That badge…does that have your name on it?

Me: (slightly bemused) No it doesn’t Your Majesty, it says head prefect.

The Queen: Oh! (slight smile and looks at the piece) So did you make this?

Me: I was a part of it ma’am (as in ham, not as in palm), but there were a whole team of us. It took us a few weeks to put it together, but we tried to get the whole school involved?

The Queen: Is that so?

Me: Yes, we made sure that everyone contributed at least one stamp so that we could put them all together in this piece.

The Queen: (peers closer to look at a few stamps)

Me: They represent the 60 years of your reign, we have some stamps here that date back to the 1950s.

The Queen: Yes, I can recognize some of them (looks at some of the older stamps as well as the ones of Diana and Sarah Ferguson)

Me: Well, do you think that it is a good resemblance ma’am?

The Queen: I am not sure. Let me have a good look. (takes a step back to have a look)

Me: (takes a step back to look as well – gets a dirty look from the security guard)

The Queen: Yes, I think so (turns to us, smiles and moves on to the next person.)

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At this point, I looked back at my teacher and he gave me a warm smile as if to say, you done good. The conversation did not last longer than a couple of minutes, but when she walked past us and moved on, my smile matched that of everyone else’s in the room. There are not many moments in life where you feel like you have made it, achieved something, but at that point in time, I felt humbled by where I was standing. And 9 months down the line, that conversation and what happened are as vivid to me as that day in March when it happened.

And so this chapter comes to a close, and in a week’s time so will the year. Luckily for me it didn’t stop there. The picture above was taken and posted in The Sun, the Huffington Post, Telegraph and even the Ilford recorder. It became the official photo for that particular visit – which is now sold on postcards at my school. It is funny when life gives you lemons, you made lemonade – and when life gives you a thousand stamps, you meet The Queen.

Rejection – Building Castles

I do this thing. It is turning into a bad habit. I build these giant castles in the sky in my mind. I keep telling myself that all of the great things that I am imagining are going to unfold exactly as I describe them. Six times out of ten, it seems to go the way I am thinking. And then three times out of ten, it may stray off course a bit, but I can deal with it. And then once in every ten, the castle seems to go up in smoke. And then I don’t feel like building any castles anymore.

Last week, the biggest and most elaborate castle that I have ever built tumbled into bricks and mortar. The university that I had dreamed and worked tirelessly to get into sent me a letter saying that they were no longer interested in taking my application forward. I re-read the letter three times in case I thought my eyes had tricked me. It is difficult to describe exactly what that felt like. First you feel anger, then you feel frustration, then fear, helplessness and finally you feel nothing at all. You just feel numb. No matter how often or seldom you have felt rejection, every single time it trips you up, the grazes on your knees and elbows do not heal easily.

I smiled and I laughed at all the scenarios that I had built up in my head, all the things that I thought were going to happen if I didn’t ever get that letter – as I laughed, I could feel myself choking back the tears. I could see the rest of my family around me feeling the same shock as the hope just extinguished, as if a candle had just been blown out. For hours, I thought of all the bricks that I had laid over the course of just a few months: what I was going to tell people, how great it would be to study at such an institution, watching my name being etched into the history of my school as another exceptional student. It is true that the higher you climb, the harder you feel the fall.

But why do we fall? (The question posed by Alfred to Bruce Wayne.)  Because we must learn how to get up again; how do we know how important it is to stand unless we fall flat on our faces from time to time? Luckily I have plenty of people around me to drag me to my feet, especially when I don’t feel like ever getting up again. You have to tell yourself that it will all work out in the end, even if it is difficult to see it now. I am struggling to come to this realization myself. But I tell you what I am not going to do. I am not going to stop dreaming – I am not going to stop building these castles. Because six times out of ten they seem to go my way, three times out of ten I can deal with it and only once does it fall down. And I like those odds.

Freshly Pressed?

When I first looked in my email inbox and saw the words ‘Freshly Pressed’ I thought that someone was trying to sell me orange juice over the internet. Not from concentrate obviously. The fact that it had appeared in my Junk folder didn’t make it any better. Opening it I could see ‘your blog will be featured on the WordPress homepage’ and my first thought was…damn, where are they going to ask me to put in my card details or my mother’s maiden name? I turned out to be delightfully wrong.

It seemed that one of the editors of the Freshly Pressed section had read my blog on Diwali (‘Shed Light’) and had found it illuminating (had to put a pun in there!) and wanted to feature it on the homepage. Then it dawned on me – my blog was going to beamed around the world as a featured piece of writing AND it was covering one of the biggest festivals in the world. Little old me. At this point, I was ceremoniously waving my arms in the air, hollering and telling complete strangers who were beside me what had happened. It seemed to go down rather well (you can see my coveted blue badge on the right of this post!).

But then we do that thing that humans are prone to doing – questioning. So I did. Why me? If each Diwali blog this year was printed on a single piece of paper, then there must have been a whole library full of them…and yet someone seemed to like my piece of paper and decided to photocopy it. It was very humbling. Sometimes when I think about writing and publishing, as I am sure every writer does, questions whether anybody is listening to what they are saying or frankly whether anyone cares. Luckily, the obsession of getting ‘hits’ and ‘traffic’ doesn’t influence me as much as I thought.

That is the reason that it means so much. I have kept to the reasons why I started writing this blog a year ago, to inspire people to think differently. I have managed to do that by writing about things that I find interesting or are worth exploring in my own unique way. Don’t get me wrong, it is a graft. I say graft, I mean more like a labour of love (boy, that was cheesy wasn’t it! ) Many people have approached me asking me what the magic formula is and how to get there, when an audience starts to take its seats and begins to listen.

The truth is that there isn’t (or if there is I haven’t realised it yet). All I know is that you have to build and develop a voice. That could take an hour, a day or 10 years, but once you have got it then the rest will come when you are hitting the right nerves. It has taken me a year to get this stage and every step to get there has been a 10 ft high learning curve. I am grateful that my audience has finally bought it tickets and are ready to sit down. They are buying their programmes and waiting in apprehension to see what comes next. I myself don’t know what is behind that curtain, but I bet that you won’t want to leave at the intermission.

A massive thank you to the Freshly Pressed team for their brilliant support. They do a sterling job and it is an honour to be put in great esteem with the other writers that we see on there every day. (I know you guys don’t want to sell me orange juice now!)

Shed Light

This is not going to be a typical Diwali post. It may not be a Diwali post at all. I have been quite measured in my approach today in looking regularly at all of my social media accounts as well as my phone for the best message or most inspiring text. It seems to be some sort of unofficial competition. Who can get the most interesting, yet relevant image, matched with a caption from a distant great thinker that is unique yet recognizable? It is even more prevalent on Twitter with people showing pictures of them buying and eating mithai (Indian heart-blockers/stoppers) while they go out and enjoy themselves. I do not begrudge any of them, but I can’t help feel like the most important piece of the puzzle is missing. The moral.

Aesop’s fables without the familiar lessons at the end are strange and sometimes ludicrous situations, normally involving some sort of animal. They are meaningless without a moral though. Why am I talking about Aesop? Well relate this to Diwali, or any other festival in any religion – if we just hear the stories and perform the rituals, but do not see to understanding the meanings behind them, then they are just bedtime stories. We must think about what these things represent. Don’t worry, I am not about to give you a lecture on the symbols in Hinduism and what they represent (if you really want to know then we can have a separate discussion). But asking a question for the sake of it is folly…actively striving to find the answer is what is required.

I am sick of people saying that religions and especially Hinduism is superstitious and ritualistic. What they fail to see is that these rituals have a meaning and an understanding behind them, but if we choose to be ignorant then who are we to criticize? It is not easy to discover these meanings, but that does not mean that it is not worthwhile. Our parents and grandparents may not have asked these questions, but unless we take this opportunity to find out, how can we expect our children to adopt our culture and our values when we never bothered to find out ourselves? Think about it.

It will not be easy and we will make mistakes. We will get the wrong end of the stick and we will not look deep enough. But every year, we hope to learn something new, to make a new discovery, to come one step closer to understanding. And that is what we hope to celebrate! Because that is what Diwali is about: illumination. So it is great to buy fireworks, to visit family that we don’t visit enough and to smell the homemade sweets as they drift through the house, but that isn’t enough. Today, tomorrow, this year make a resolution – that you will try to find out one more thing that you didn’t understand, one more thing that you can shed light on. Because this is the festival of light. So make the most of it.

The Final Curtain…Not Yet

One of things that struck on my way home from work yesterday came out of almost nowhere. Sitting on the bus and staring out the window casually, I saw a brother and his younger sister, no older than around 8 and 5 respectively, setting up plastic cones in their garden. They then picked up a rounder’s ball and bat and proceded to chase each other around their garden. I thought the bus was going to whoosh off at this point, but it seemed to hang on for just the right amount of time. They then set up a small stool on the patio in the garden and the girl proceeded to step up onto it before her brother took out a shiny medal from his pocket. At this point I realized that they were both wearing London 2012 t shirts and hats. It was one of the most poignant things that I have seen over the last few weeks.

Legacy is a word that is batted around by everyone. What is going to be the long term outcome of the Games? Is the Olympic Park going to become a ghost town like Sydney’s has 12 years later – how can we possibly keep this spirit going? Well it seems that the seeds have been sown. These Olympics were different, they were not meant solely for breaking records or breaking hearts but breaking barriers. Stratford was a dump 7 years ago…an industrial wasteland, a forgotten place only remembered for its train station. Now water flows through its canals and the world watches as the people of such a city welcome them with open arms. East London, despite what you read in the papers, has changed. It seems to be more vibrant, fuller of life and definitely an improvement on the rioting of last year. Can you believe that that chaos was merely a year ago?

If this country continues to get fatter and disregard the sport, it will not be a loss if they embody the spirit. An Olympian is of a different breed – destined for greatness…but not necessarily all Olympians race on an athletics track. They teach in classrooms and build houses. They drive ambulances and ride bicycles. Are you getting it yet?  YOU can be an Olympian…and you and you and you in the back peeking at the screen. You can wear a gold medal around your neck (not like literally, but I carrying on the Olympic metaphor) and show the world the potential and capacity of human beings. I hate the expression reinvent the wheel, but it is probably relevant here. How many times have our jaw drops this fortnight from the superhuman feats that we have witnessed in London (and I am not just talking about a certain 100m and 200m sprinter!)

Frank Sinatra called it the final curtain and described his way. Seb Coe called the end the right way at the Closing Ceremony. But it doesn’t have to end this way. If anything the encore is about to come on the 29th August, when the Paralympics come to town. For those of you that don’t care, I would appreciate if you don’t read this blog again because if you cannot recognize their achievements especially on your doorstep, then frankly you wouldn’t recognize talent if it punched you in the face.

The Olympics was a warm up for the most important Games…are you ready to ‘Inspire A Generation’ (again!)? I know I am.