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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Stop dissing Bangladesh. Please?





Am rather fed up. In fact am simmering.  Here is why. 

On Saturday 5 July, 2014, brave British newspaper The Guardian did an article on Bangladesh as a holiday destination with a title of 'Big Bang."  A small voice that tried to showcase there might be more to Bangladesh than meets the eye. They were the first to agree to fly out with me - to investigate my theory that Bangladesh is ready to be a new holiday destination.  
At time of writing this it has got 50 or so comments.  Some of them quite strong and virulent (which thankfully have already been removed).  Some accusing the writer of being on dope.   It made me sad.  And it reminded me of the long, dusty, thankless walk I am on.  
But now it is time to fight back on behalf of Bangladeshi people. Its artisans. Its resort owners.   And why the Bangladesh Tourism Board must address the issues around infrastructure, traffic and negative image. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

10 ways to identify a start up entrepreneur

You know you are a start up, when....

1. The entire summer holidays have been spent working every day, in the office.  You have no tan and therefore are mystified when people remark on the sunny English weather for the past few weeks.  You hear about people going on holiday and think, yeah well, if and when I am successful, surely I too can have a holiday but in reality it is unlikely.

2. You are grateful that friends no longer invite you anywhere.  Not only does this mean that you need not bother with an RSVP, it also means you don't have to go to another person's house and ask; "where can I plug in my laptop."

3. Your child is officially embarrassed that you run a company and starts making up fantasy job titles for you because the reality is so awful and non-cool.

4. When you offer your child to come along for a day at the office, you know that s/he will never say yes again.  After their first excited day, of making cups of tea, Google research, checking out YouTube, social media are no longer exciting treats. They prefer instead to spend time with elderly relatives, even if it is to watch shopping channels and debate the merits of a new mop that twists and swivels as opposed to the knackered conventional one.

5.  You really get annoyed when the opposite sex hit on you because you have no time for serious 'relationships' and if they still want to pursue you, you just want an answer from them as to how they can further your business dream.  Otherwise the bored shutters come up with the 'leave me alone' sign.

6. When you grit your teeth at every 'business' person who systematically cuts into and scissors your dream or business idea, activity to date, yet has not even bothered to look at, or even read or seen your website.  You know as a start up you do not mind feedback or even interest.  And those who have seen it, come forward to support you and tell you where you are going wrong.  But not so for those who have an ego at stake here and have not really made it. They instead love to hear the sound of their own advice dispensing wisdom, to cut you down, start with "But I think", to "You ought to" and "I do it like this.." while you stare at them, thinking, please, if that is what it means to be an entrepreneur, let me fail right now.

7. When the people who are meant to help you, do not.  Instead you get random strangers championing you and proffering help.  And your own family look at you, with fear and anxiety but stay tight lipped as they have realised to even suggest getting a day job will result in a speech cribbed with quotes from Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

8. The idea of breakfast, lunch and dinner as routine times to nourish your body, is so alien now, that you stare at people in cafe's, at social hangouts, who are having a social meal. My meal today was mixed pulses, mixed with a chutney and with Ryvita slices. A veritable feast!  I eat to live (not live to  eat).  But I will revert back to norm re my love of food when business takes off and then if I am size 16- then so be it. Bring it on.   

9. Most media titles you ring do not pick up but when you do, the nice ones let you in because you are a start up with a new idea (yay!).

10.  When your laptop fails, there is no battery juice and you nervously reach for the remote to find out what and whom the rest of the world is being entertained by.  You cry over Syria, raise eyebrows over Miley Cyrus at the VMAs and then think, pah, so what, and you wonder at how you ever lived without your startup business. As it's the most fun  you could ever imagine having.  it is a risk but you don't care and you know you will die smiling, regardless of the outcome. And hence you smile cheerily away. 

There.  Just wanted to let that out...

Yasmin C x
Oh and if you wanted to check out why I am a entrepreneur with no time for cooking, here is why 

Lovedesh Artisan Slow Wood Fired Curry™
My one curry dish to smash stigma

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Miley Cyrus, Hijab & Syria

So how do these three connect?

Well firstly, I saw the global reaction and debate surrounding Syria oops, Miley Cyrus and thought. Goodness, millions of us will have learnt the word, twerk (to gyrate your lowed body in a sexual manner) and then go google to see what all the fuss is about. Ahh.  I see.

I wonder of how much of that is because she was a Disney innocent.  She's not the first singer starlet to gyrate like that? Janet Jackson. Rhi-Rhi, Lady Gaga, Madonna.  Why, the upset at Miley? Is it because she grew up with the world on TV?

Well before I could comment, I too went to Google.  And I did just that.  I saw it.  And while I have my own opinion on what I find tasteful and liberating, who am I to judge?!  Miley is old enough, wise enough (perhaps that is up for debate) to make an informed choice. Or is she..?

You see that is the point I wanted to make in this blog post.  Whether or not Miley is informed or not. I just want to know that she did so, and undertook that performance at the VMAs because, she wanted to.  Not because she was forced, compelled to fit a stereotype, to sell more records or wanted to show she had grown up.  Nope.  I wanted Miley Cyrus to do so because she felt comfortable in her own skin to twerk. Did she do just that? Only Miley knows.

Same goes for all the Muslim ladies. Halfway across the globe, in Sweden, women are campaigning for their right to wear a headscarf.  This came after a heavily pregnant woman claimed she was attacked for wearing her headscarf. TV host Gina Dirawi and Green Party MP Asa Romson, showed their support by wearing the hijab and many tweets then followed of women, joining in solidarity.

I am saddened by the amount of opinions from seemingly intelligent men and women who assume that just because a woman wears her headscarf, she is oppressed.  Rubbish.  Codswallop. The ones I know, who do willingly wear the hijab, are not.  These women freely choose to put on the headscarf because unlike the rest of society, they choose to slam the door on being seen as a sexual object.  It is a symbol of their status and need to be recognised and seen without sexuality. Of course, these same hijab wearers, also tell me that anyone who thinks that simply by covering their hair, it removes their sexuality is being ridiculous. It is how you choose to wear the hijab, its simplicity, that indicates how serious you are to making a statement. Almost akin to nuns.  So those women, (I am told by serious hijab wearers) who wear their hijab at a great height, with false lashes, and heavy make up - do nothing for these same women who tell me they wear hijab for the sake of demonstrating the ultimate feminist statement to men per se: "I am not to be seen as a sexual object." The hijab, when worn correctly, states this: 'I ask that you see me as a woman and a human being'.  

However, my own view is that sadly many women ARE still compelled and brainwashed into wearing the hijab yet conversely often equally remain unaware of their Islamic inheritance rights and laws that exist to protect women. This I personally found of course, is largely the case for those Muslims who originate from the Indian Sub continent. I again reiterate. Not all Muslim women are like this, I know Just sharing with you my experience.  From my mother's generation, to even educated women born in UK, high flying career women, all of whom will wear the hijab, fast, pray and do all the good things a 'Muslim' women is expected to do. Yet ask her about her fundamental Islamic rights as a woman. She is unable to speak of it.  Or desire to claim it. As men or society has quietened her.  Again, this is only in my experience as maybe the sad issue for me, is I have only ever come across women who have been brought up in an orthadox Muslim society. The few who are not, who are reverts, converts I meet as astonishingly different. They are wonderful at citing example after example of just how liberating Islam is for women. And this is why I feel sad for those attacking Miley and for those women who are unable to wear hijabs in Sweden.

Again, it is a woman's right to dress how she chooses and pleases, so the only issue for me is when the woman is compelled or forced to do so, in order to meet society or another person's perceptions and requirements.  And this is where, perhaps Miley and any other Muslim woman who are compelled, to show her body/cover her hair, worries me.  Women. Don't do it for others. Do it for yourself.

But for those woman who genuinely and sincerely within their heart state they show their body or cover their heads, out of their own volition? Go for it because that is the ultimate expression of feminism.  Be it wearing a hijab or parading around twerking because that is the identity you as a woman choose to put forward. I may not agree with you but I will defend your right to do so.

And perhaps, if Miley's twerking results in her even solving Syria, (where many women also wear hijab), and all the world's problem, as suggested by  a clever video quickly uploaded on YouTube,  by a Greg Karber, in LA, USA, who chose to piggy back on the Miley VMA debate/circus, then who am I to argue? As clearly nothing else seems to be working.  Ok, ok, let us be realistic, Miley is unlikely to be heading out to Syria anytime soon (and this is where are advisors could have had the ultimate shock factor - twerking at VMA and then boldly ending with a plea for Syria) but perhaps there is a serious point being made - she can still bring attention to the plights and atrocities being suffered by its citizens. However, wait.  Oops. My bad.  Artists must not speak up or out.  You see I wonder if Miley would be censored the way Nigel Kennedy has ruthlessly been censored by the BBC after his statement about Israel an apartheid, at the 2013 proms.

After all, desperate situations call for desperate measures. So what the heck....go for it Miley! (And Greg but be careful as Miley unleashed may choose to twerk anyone).

For those wanting to sign Greg's petition for Miley to twerk for Syria, here is the link here (and this is not pasted in away to take away from the seriousness of the atrocities out there - am so sad and worried by it all).


Sunday, 12 May 2013

How to help Bangladesh garment factory workers right now?


"In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing."

From Edward Burke.  18th century Irish statesman and author.  (1729 - 1797)




This is a blog post I wrote on my top 10 suggestions to help Bangladeshi garment workers.

Problem is, I, like most of us, truly didn't know the extent of how badly the garment workers were suffering.  I love my skinny jeans. I have oodles of them. At least 15.  And with many of these, would smile at the irony of the 'Made in Bangladesh" label and the connection it made with me, personally.  Little did I know that it would soon be my raison d'etre. 


Saturday, 4 May 2013

CNN's Christiane Amanpour interviews Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

On May 2, 02:05 PM EST Christiane Amanpour of CNN interviewed Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina via live video conference on the Rana Plaza garment's factory collapse.

Check it out here

http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/02/prime-minister-says-bangladesh-is-reforming-its-garment-industry/#comment-53141


I could not help commenting and so here goes.


Monday, 29 April 2013

A Solution to Bangladesh sweatshops?


I urge every CEO and their buyers at every top brand to please stop issuing statement saying they are concerned,. Instead start effecting change.  I have an idea for you all.

Get out there.  Visit Bangladesh.  As a group, go and sort Bangladesh's problems once and for all.   And visit the victims.  It is the least you can do perhaps?


Middle East Workers on a plane

Whenever I fly Emirates from London to Bangladesh, it makes for a fascinating experience.

London to Dubai leg is filled with Brits and foreign travellers surging to meet the sun they have saved up for, to enjoy and frolic in.  Dressed in sweatpants and leisure wear.  Material of choice is linen, cotton, t shirts.  Even the kids are quiet because airlines have figured out that by putting the headsets on seats, means instant plug and play.  All is serene, dreadfully quiet and with headphones on, the ambience is neutral.  At worst, bland.    Nothing shocking happens. The most is when someone gets uppity as they did on my flight the other day stating they refused their piece of luggage to be stored and shared with me in the over overhead cabin space. Reason? Their laptop might get crushed (?).