Newsbytheway's Blog

December 5, 2009

I’ve a right to vote in UK… But WHY??!!

A phone call has never been so significant in my life.  It gave me a right. It was from the British Electoral Registration Office.

Copyright: Mongo; Source: Flickr

A woman asked for my details to update the electoral list.  Surprised I told her, I don’t think I am allowed to vote. I am not British. She ignored my ignorance and replied impatiently,

“ Yes you are allowed to vote, you are from a Commonwealth    country. Can you please spell your name now.”

I obliged reluctantly, still not sure why am I allowed to vote. Is it because Britishers ruled India and now they are returning the gratitude by letting us vote? But I seriously doubt that the guilt feeling has anything to do with it.

Not only does it sounds strange, it’s dangerous as well.  I have been in this country for only few months. Before I landed in London, I didn’t even know who David Cameron was. I still don’t know much about Nick Clegg. (It’s a different story that he is non-existent for many Britishers as well.)

I am not aware of the history of the political parties here.  On what basis am I expected to decide whom to vote for?  It’s not a beauty contest where I can just pick someone on the basis of his or her cuteness. If that’s the criteria, David Cameron will win my vote, hands down.

And it isn’t a local council election where I can judge the candidate on the basis of his development plans for the county.  It’s a national election for God sake’s! My vote will decide who will the next PM of United Kingdom. The man will play a crucial role in international politics for the coming years.

Bias on nationality basis

And why exactly I have been given the right to decide? Just because I am a UK resident for a year belonging to a Commonwealth country I would have enjoyed the same right if I were from one of the European union countries.  But not USA. That means if one happens to be American, and has been working here for even 4 years, he/she can’t vote, unless he is a UK citizen.

Why such partiality? What are the basis for allowing some countries and not the others?  I am yet to find a reason. To have good relationships with these countries can be an argument but not a very good one. Will you give the ownership of your house to a guest who has just come for a night stay? No sane person would.

No other country gives this right to outsiders, unless they have the citizenship. Residency can’t be good enough.  Not good enough for me at least.  That’s why I am yet to cast my vote on whether I should be voting in the elections next year.

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November 17, 2009

Why am i scared of NHS…

Filed under: London — Rabea Khan @ 5:03 pm
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For the record, I have nothing against public health services. In fact all states should have a similar system in place. What bothers me is its non-personal functionality that can prove to be perilous as times.

As far as I know, this is the normal course of action if you are registered with a GP. When i am sick, I am supposed to call my GP. If the GP thinks that he can assess my sickness by talking to me (which is how it works in most cases), he’ll give me prescription over the phone.

Some may say, what’s wrong with that? You save money and time on traveling.  Agreed. But what scares me when they prescribe medicines like Tamiflu over the phone! .

A friend of mine was sick recently, fever but no cold. She called up her GP. His assistant answered phone.  She described her condition the reply was, “..don’t worry, just pop a Tamiflu and you’ll be fine in no time.”  She protested by saying that I don’t have swine flu. To this, the assistant replied, “So what, you have one of the five symptoms of swine flu, you might as well take the tablet.”

Now anyone who has read the information about swine flu would know that if you are not suffering from swine flu and you take Tamiflu, how dangerous it might turn out to be. Tomorrow, God forbid, when you actually contract the disease, there are chances that your body may have built resistance to the medicine and hence it won’t work!!

Minor cold and flu validate on-phone prescription, but in a pandemic environment, a GP should at least see the patient first and assess the illness before making any such prescription.

November 1, 2009

A night in London: excellent cinema, greasy food…

Filed under: London — Rabea Khan @ 12:59 am
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I ,with a bunch of friends from my MA Journalism course, decided to make an evening out of our early weekend  and went to see Un prophète.  It was judged as the best film  during the BFI London film  festival that culminated last Thursday.

Since it was the  my first french movie, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But in the end was pleasantly enthralled by the entire experience. . The film is shot in such an emphatic manner that you can almost feel the emotion of the protagonist.

Post movie, we decided to go to china town on our  food quest . Considering our limited budget we let the money pick our restaurant.  Winner was a buffet @ £6.85.  Coming from India, oily food doesn’t bother me that much. But I have never seen that much of grease in any Chinese menu. (Mind you, this is huge coming from an Indian whose stable diet was the greasy Chinjabi=Chinese + Punjabi cuisine back home).

Everything had excess oil in it., even the innocent vegetables were not spared. The chefs ‘ special list had everything deep fried. And I reckon as a dare, they had this notice displayed at every table.

I guess someone needs to tell them that people are wasting their food not because they want to but they are forced to… no one can eat that much oil even if it comes cheap..  To me it really doesn’t matter.. there is no way I am going back to that oilfield ever again.

October 29, 2009

London Oh London…

Filed under: London — Rabea Khan @ 10:05 pm

Gloomy weather, high cost of living and a popular pub culture, this is how I expected London to be and to be honest I wasn’t disappointed.

Copyright Rabea Khan 2009

But London is much more than that. The sheer number of foreigners living in this city gives it a totally eclectic culture, which is quite unique.  And I am not talking about tourists here. People who have inhabited London come from different corners of the world adding a shade of their own culture to the colourful London canvas.

Take a trip to a local TESCO and you would get the idea. They have different sections for various nationalities where you can find the groceries typical to that region.

You have an Italian section, afro-Caribbean, East Asian and of course Indian.  If you are planning a trip to London, one thing you should not bother to pack, are the spices. You’ll find them all here under one roof. Actually it was easier for me to shop here compared to India where I had to make trips to two or three different markets whenever I planned to cook something exotic. But if you intend to eat out in an Indian restaurant, be prepared as it can be quite expensive. But then everything is expensive here.

You may choose not to eat out but travelling is inevitable. The popular way to commute is here by the local trains, called the tubes. Since I come from Delhi, I can’t help but compare it to Delhi Metro, which is much more cheaper and faster. One-day trip costs me the same I used to shell out in one month in Delhi.

Not just that, the speed at which the tube travels can be quite annoying as well.  It such a stark contrast to an otherwise fast paced life of London.  You seem to have gone back in time when you sit in a tube, listening to the noise of railway tracks.

And it is this co-existence of history and modernity that makes London so special.

October 16, 2009

It’s Un’fare’!!

Filed under: London — Rabea Khan @ 7:17 pm
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Living in London is not cheap.. Especially for an Indian like me… and to add more to the misery, Mr. Johnson has decided to increase the tube and bus fare for the next year..Its my third week in London, I am yet to come out of the 80-multiplication phase (where you divide everything by 80 to calculate how much its worth in Indian rupees, and end up buying nothing) and on top of it, rising fares..

One can’t help but reminisce about Delhi metro… its much more faster, modern and cheap.. fare from one corner of the city to the other is Rs 22max (30p!!) Now I am all for one world, one economy, one currency.. Imagine a world like this.. now I truly know what John Lennon meant..

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