Saturday, 21 June 2014


A few years ago, I was part of a group that organised a charity fund-raising event in aid of people that were stranded in Afghanistan, under dire circumstances,  due to their religious beliefs - namely the Afghan Sikhs. The event included a fashion show, some song & dance performances, and a talent show, highlighting some budding performers from our tiny community of London-based Afghan Sikhs - a fairly recent phenomenon in the national demographics of our adopted country - you know the country that gave us refuge when we needed it most - a country whose values of fairness and democracy (British Values, anyone?) appealed to us as a collective, rather than the "free benefits" it offered....

At the time, I received a few threats to my person, threats to my children - one even expressing in detail how we would "feel the true force of the Khalsa", suggesting violence, and justifying it by saying that it would make me realise that singing and dancing are against what "true" Sikhism stands for. This was especially chilling because they knew where I lived and what school my children went to...

The calls were logged and reported to the police, who questioned two people - both Afghan Sikhs. They apologised and I declined to press charges. That's what MY Sikhism teaches me.

At the time, I said nothing to anyone, so the charity event dozens of people helped put together would go ahead. Go ahead it did, and it was a hit.

Why am I bringing this up today then? Well, Iraq, mainly. Shia-Sunni mainly. This isn't about one religion fighting another - this about factions of the same religion fighting each other. This is about people killing people using God as an excuse. Sikhs do that too. So do Christians, and Hindus...

Here's a blog post I just did that will piss-off many people. I speak Hindi, Urdu, English, Punjabi, and Dari fluently, so BRING. IT. ON. I'm willing to learn if you have what it takes to teach. And you better be right and compelling: I take no prisoners.

This is something that has vexed me ever since I was a child...

I was born a Sikh and have been brought up as one - for all intents and purposes - I AM a Sikh. I've read the Guru Granth Sahib; several times over. I can actually quote directly from it. I follow pretty much ALL its basic tenets, and I live my life, trying to be as good a human being as possible - devoting a significant portion of my life towards helping others. BUT - I have this sinking feeling about the assertion that that those who believe in God by another name are in some way inferior in the eyes of an allegedly all-loving God, and those that don't look the part, are in some way, apostates, and destined to burn in hell, or come back as a centipede or a communist or worse, a Labour voter.

That said, I've grown up alongside Islamic teachings too, having lived a significant portion of my life among Muslims - I have read the Koran and ALL the Hadiths, cover to cover, purely out of curiosity to see how an all-merciful, all-controlling, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-forgiving God permits and sanctions amputations, beheadings, and mindless persecutions of those that don't grow their beards and cloak their women.

I spent much of my formative years in a Christian (CofE) boarding school - I know a lot of the hymns, most of the Psalms, and many of the prayers by heart. I pretty much know who begat who, all the way from Adam to Jesus

What I also know, and am increasingly convinced of, is that Sikhism has become more Rehat Maryada than Shri Guru Granth Sahib; Islam is more Hadiths than the Koran, and Christianity is more the Council of Nicea than everything Jesus had to say. Rules made by MEN.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

Somebody tell me ritualised chanting and wearing a uniform, and hating those that don't believe as you do, eating onions, but not garlic, chucking down desi ghee and not wine, facing east and not west, shaping my eyebrows or letting them run riot, wearing a skull-cap or a turban, a helmet or a beanie, breaking an egg from the narrow side or the wide side, supporting Chelsea or supporting Arsenal, following cricket or following tennis, wearing boxers or briefs, will save my soul and appease an all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent, God more than being a useful and productive member of society will. 

While you're at it, somebody tell me, how fate and pre-ordained destinies work. I mean if it's my fate to win the lottery, I WILL, won't I? So why work? If I'm destined to die a pauper, then again, why bother? If I'm evil and murder children for fun, surely I was 'created' that way. My destiny, isn't it? As for the millions of African kids that perish of hunger, drought, disease, war and famine, it's their fate, so why try helping them? Surely they deserve this? 

Somebody please explain the paradox of evil, say in a place like India - known as the most "spiritually diverse" in the world, where two young women, raped by a dozen men are left hanging from a tree was their fate? Was it their Karma of a sinful past life? And what about those that raped them and killed them? Was that a reward for what THEY did in their past lives? The mind boggles.

Who the hell is getting off on this?

Tell me, convince me. Anyone.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

World Martini Day

Today is World Martini Day. 

This, is how it's done, Khyberman style.

Get this stuff together...

Ice. Plenty of it. Chilled, nay, frozen, stemmed Martini glasses, some Vermouth, a cocktail shaker, some olives, or lemon peel. You can use things like cocktail onions, but then it won’t make a Martini, will it? It’ll make a Gibson. Who the fuck drinks a Gibson?

Finally get some Gin. GIN, not Vodka. Yeah, yeah - I know about 007 and all. Fine, you can use Vodka if you want. Just know that you will go down in my estimation..

So, here's what you do...

1. Pour out a thimble-sized portion of chilled Vermouth. Use the lid if you've never seen a thimble.

2. Chuck eight or nine ice cubes into your cocktail shaker (which should also have been chilled in the freezer - you don't want an overly serious melt problem), and then pour in the Vermouth. Give it a swirl, and then POUR the Vermouth out - as in throw it away - you're only lining the shaker - nothing more. Don't cry. The Vermouth won't.

3. Pour about 3-4 oz. of the pre-chilled Gin (or Vodka - I still think it's uncool) into the shaker, and swirl, not too aggressively, mind. Let the Vermouth and Gin (or Vodka, grrr)  to get to know each other. You want the ice to knock together, not start a fight. Swirl, and then swirl some more.

4. Fish out the olives. Skewer a couple of them with a toothpick. Place them in your Martini glass.

5. Swirl the magic a little more and then gently pour it over the olives sitting there waiting in the Martini glass. You CAN add the olives AFTER, no big deal. I prefer to bathe them before I eat them.

6. Sit back and sip. You are officially the 0.01%.

Friday, 13 June 2014

What Have I Become?

It's a bitter pill to swallow, but there comes a time when you come to terms with who you're meant to be, who you really are, and who you're expected to be. I have, with much reluctance, and despite desperate cries and pleadings from the core of my very being, become the philistine I so vehemently despised and never ever wanted to be. This irrational urge to "fit in", and dumb down wasn't something I ever subscribed to - but for some unfathomable reason found myself succumbing and resigning to anyway. 

Is this the price of love? Of wanting to belong, of acceptance, or conformity? Or is it just a lazy abandonment of the road less travelled that once excited me, with all it's possibilities and adventures?

I'll never do the Bilbo Baggins - it's too late for that, I have too many ties that bind, most of my own making, or resignation, or possibly even cowardice - but perhaps I will do the Frodo. 

I have to destroy the one ring. 

First, I have to find it - and therein lies the rub.