Friday, 24 February 2012

The Cairo and Tehran Conferences

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Running for Charity

Dear Family and Friends, 

I am running to raise money and awareness for the Omid Foundation who help disadvantaged Iranian women by giving them emotional support and an education to re-start their lives. These women come from various backgrounds and have had traumatic experiences - some had been sold to prostitution at an early age, or are children of drug addicts. They have not had a normal childhood nor access to a stable family life; some have never even been to school. 'The Glass House' was a documentary-film made about the work of the Foundation and charts the lives of some of the young girls they helped. You can read more about them and the women they help on their website here. 

Omid is a well organised foundation that aims to give direct help and support to these women so that they can get a second chance at life. They are given an education, taught vocational skills, encouraged to gain academic qualifications and are rehabilitated into society with the help of trained professionals. As they are a charity, they heavily rely on donations. This is the reason I want to run for them - I believe in their work and I was truly touched by the stories of these women. I want to help give them that second chance. 

I aim to raise as much money as possible to help Omid with their work - and I need your help to do so. This is a link to the donation page, together with my running manifesto: ast/runtothebeat-2011.htm 

Many thanks in advance - all your support is deeply appreciated. 


Monday, 16 May 2011


Take a moment, ladies and gentlemen, and listen to both the silence and the gunshots around you. Today is the Nakba.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Omar Sharif: Making fact rather dashing

Omar Sharif as Sharif Ali in the film Lawrence of Arabia. I'm not sure whether it's the piercing dark eyes, the bushy moustache or the majestic posture - whatever it is, Omar Sharif cuts quite a figure in the desert. 

Sunday, 10 October 2010

War is Over

Happy Birthday, John.

We still love your songs.

Friday, 23 July 2010

I think we've lost him, Mr Helpmann

Familiar with the eccentricity (or just plain madness) of Terry Gilliam, I was not too surprised at the out of this world experience that is Brazil. Powerfully performed by an amazing cast, the film made quite an impact. Set in a 1984-type world, it is similar in storyline too but from then on, it's an original and unique piece of cinema. Michael Palin, despite his daytime job, is all smiles and good humour. Jonathan Pryce plays a government bureaucrat, Sam Lowry who leads a rather dull and unfulfilling life by day but at night, in his dreams, he is a knight in shinning armour, fighting demons in pursuit of a nameless damsel in distress. He goes on robotically, until a chance meeting finds him face to face with the girl from his dreams. In pursuing her, he encounters a rebellious repairman, bureaucracy at its finest, and the dark underbelly of a very sinister brand of "Happiness".

It seems almost impossible to follow the train of thought of the movie, and it feels almost okay to not bother, and simply enjoy the incredible sights and sounds of a madman's imagination.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Within the Orchard, Beyond the Trees.

Women without Men is a film by Shirin Neshat and is set in 1950s Tehran - specifically during the Musaddiq crisis and the ensuing people, albeit male dominated protests. The film charts the lives of 4 women - the spinster sister of a strict, religious, conservative man; her innocent, naive friend who is unwittingly thrown into the bitter reality of life; a disturbed and deeply damaged prostitute; and a woman in her 50s who discovers life late but discovers that maybe it is all just a little too late.

The role of women in Iranian society and politics were carefully and delicately addressed - how they were (and arguably continue to be) omitted or at best sidelined from mainstream politics, how they satisfy roles as lovers, wives, mothers, and sisters. What emerges is not a bleak portrait of women as submissive creatures, but as human beings who are strong, beautiful, determined, and defiant. Even though at times, the price to be free is just too high to pay.

It is a film of little words and dialogue is kept to a minimum. Instead, the plight of Iranian women are addressed by stark images, haunting music (provided beautifully by one of my childhood heroes, Ryuichi Sakamoto), stunning as well as painful scenes. It has a slightly dreamy and eerie feel about it, which adds to its sense of poignancy and loss. It did not overwhelm the audience (I was personally pleased with the length of time), and left us all with the need to reflect on our own society, coming of age, and how we can escape or come to terms with our own pre-determined fates.

For more information, this is the film's website:

Saturday, 15 May 2010

If it will do for a mug...

Pomegranates bruised and ripe.
Contemplation and revolution,
Over our water-pipe.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

For the Workers

Happy May Day.
I know it is a day late. But every day is Worker's Day. You. Me. All of us. Every one of us.