• Tourist's view of Pakistan

    With the current political climate and "war on terror" going on at the moment, most people wouldn't dream of travelling to Pakistan. A Pakistani friend of mine, living here in London recently told me he wouldn't go back there now as he thinks its too dangerous.

    I spent just over 3 weeks there on my way to India last autumn and I will always have fond memories of it.

    I was backpacking independently and only once did I feel insecure when in the tribal town of Quetta. There I didn't encount any other westerners and was get some hard stares from some of the locals, but I suppose you should expect considering I lot of Taliban used to be based there.

    From Quetta I took the train to Lahore right near the Indian border.
    Lahore was I vibrant, hectic city full of life and colour, with plenty to see and do, from colonial forts to bustling markets. After a few days fast pace of the city, as well as the pollution, got to me so I headed up north, travelling the Karakourum highway into the western Himalayas. Even being half Swiss and well used to mountains, the sheer magnitude of the landscape was breath taking. Things were a lot more laid back in the valleys, and I spent many days taking in the view of the 7000 metre (21,000ft) high peaks. Missed out on some trekking as the winter was closing in but definitely something to go back for.

    One of my most memorable experiences was while taking the 24-hour train from Quetta to Lahore, where i was befriended by a 52-year-old mechanic named Bilal who proved to be an excellent companion. He proved an invaluable source of local knowledge and wanted to make sure I enjoyed his country as much as possible. When the food arrived he refused to let me pay for it and insisted that as i was his "guest", it was his duty to pay. It was a matter of pride for him so I let it go and for the rest of the journey he paid for the rest of my food, to my slight embarrassment. I couldn't imagine the same happening back in London.

  • Treason!

    "A controversial Islamic cleric has left the UK for the Middle East, his spokesman has said, amid speculation he would be investigated for treason." the BBC news site has just revealed.

    Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed is one of those clerics who had been preaching anti-Western, militant views in our country. Obviously he is one of many radicals here who praise and encourage atrocities such as 9/11 and 7/7, and spread hate within our British born, Muslim youth. They hate the Western Culture and way of life so much, but many of them are happy to live here, a lot of the time off government benefits.

    For years the government ignored them and let them be, rather than stir up trouble in the Muslim community. But now they don't have a choice after being attacked. These Preachers of Hate are the instigators of the bombings, brainwashing the youth into becoming "Martyrs". They are shown videos of Innocent Muslims suffering under "Western Oppression" around the world and taught how to make bombs.

    Their motifs are understandable, but their methods wrong and evil. I get very angry myself about the US's foreign policy and the fact that our British government support it at any cost. Both the UK and US have done some sick things in our histories, and our pasts our catching up with us. But to encourage young, disillusioned people to blow themselves up in order to murder, maim and to spread fear is wrong. And in the same country that you live in and get benefits from!

    Thatís why I think the treason charge should be bought against these extremists living and preaching in this country. 7 years ago treason still carried the Death Penalty, now life imprisonment. It's time the government did some good and gets tough on these people who don't give a fuck about human life!

  • Magic Mushrooms - Class A - Why??

    Last Monday on the 18th of July, Magic Mushrooms, whether fresh, dry or prepared were made a Class A Drug. Previously you had been able to buy and consume them fresh, legally, from over 400 stores in the country. They also grow wild during the autumn in our countryside and can be easily found if you know where to look. They were available legally before due to a loophole in the law that only deemed them illegal if they were prepared and dried.

    "The law has not been clear with regard to the status of fresh magic mushrooms and some have tried to exploit this apparent loophole." said Home Office Minister Paul Goggins in a statement. But my local Hydroponics shop had a statement on their wall from the Home Office saying that they had permission to sell fresh shrooms and that it drew people away from more dangerous, illegal drugs. In the last 2-3 years that mushrooms have come more available, use of LSD has dropped. Now isn't that a good thing??? I've had 2 close friends who've been sectioned in mental health hospitals due to excessive use of Acid as well as other drugs. Now that Mushrooms are Class A just like LSD, Heroin and Crack, people will rather take the acid as there is the same legal risks involved.

    7 years of your life you could now possibly be locked up, for picking a few wild mushrooms from a field. Crazy! Where is the logic in that? Who goes out commits crimes while tripping out? When have you ever heard of violence or robbery done by someone high on the fungi? Who the hell even wants to leave the comfort of their home and wander into the general whilst on a trip? Yeah crack and smack heads do that to feed their addictions, but magic mushrooms are not addictive. So why class them as the same?

    "Obviously I would not suggest someone with schizophrenia took magic mushrooms but nor should they probably take alcohol," said Chris Bovey, owner of online retailer Potseeds, based in Totnes, Devon.

    "Our customers feel patronised by the government, victimising them for doing something harmless and enjoyable in their own homes, just because they need to sound tough on drugs."

    This i totally agree with. Instead of making shrooms totally illegal, they should be properly regulated. But its all too late now the government rushed the legislation through before anyone noticed before it was too late.

    Another little freedom we've had snatched away from us.

    Anyone got anything to say about the subject, Iím all ears.

  • Lovebox 24/7/2005

    Heard about this a few weeks and within 5 minutes of reading about it, i had bought my tickets. The last year Iíve really got into Groove Armada and the chance to see them live was not to be missed. And it wasn't just a straight forward gig either, but a 2 day festival in Victoria Park, London over the weekend. There would be 6 arenas hosting a variety of performers, bands and DJ's though out the day. I had decided to go on the Sunday as performing on the main stage were DJ Markey and Patife, spinning out Brazilian Drum&Bass on a hopefully sunny day.

    Unfortunately, a sunny day it did not start off as. On getting out of bed I was greeted by a rainy, grey day, and to make matters worse i couldnít get through to the friends I had arranged to go with. All a bit of a premature panic as soon enough I was on the train with James and Kelly. Still my enthusiasm wasn't exactly peaking with the feeling that it might end up being washed out. I had pictures in my head of a Glastonbury style mud-fest.

    We arrived there about half an hour after the noon opening time and it wasn't exactly heaving. In fact the place felt empty. We had a quick wander around before getting some not so nice baguettes and over-priced (at £3), plastic bottles of 1664. It was still raining lightly so the 3 of decided to take shelter in the Lost Vagueness Arena, and chilled out on the sofas to see what would unfold. Most of bands around hadn't started playing yet due to the lack of crowd so we had to put up with background CD's and DJ's. Didn't put off The Cuban Brothers, they were relentless in dancing around and grinding up to any girl unfortunate enough to stray near.

    The energy wasn't flowing yet, so we all gave ourselves a boost and wandered into the Rare Feast Spiegel Tent, which was kitted out as a 1920's style restaurant with a stage. We got a table but decided not to order £25 lobster or champagne and carried on drinking our pints we had acquired from the Strongbow Rooms. Soon enough we were treated to the comedy and excellence of the Bikini Beach Boys. Sounds like a piss-take and they were. But good. They bought a smile to my face as soon as they walked onto stage. Dressed in multi-coloured Bermuda Shorts and Hawaiian Shirts, large retro sunglasses topped off with classic red fezís perched on their heads, they looked the part. They played instrumental covers, which were played very well and accompanied by hilarious choreographed dancing. Well it wasn't really dancing, just exaggerated moves to the music, performed with deadly serious facial expressions, even though they had the most ridiculous costumes on. After a couple of tracks an even more funny (and sexy) female dancer came on and really started getting things going,

    Even though we were enjoying the spectacle, we started to get restless and had noticed the rain stop so we headed out again in search of more fun. This came in the form of YoB (Youth of Britain), a band you will soon hear more of. Think Sex Pistols meet The Streets. Well sort of. The tune i remember most was "Chav". Need i say more?

    I then got an unexpected call from a friend i met in Goa and not seen since, so after meeting her, and the sun finally coming out, I really started enjoying myself. By about 5 a festival atmosphere really started to take hold. Half way point and things could only get better. After chilling in the sun near the Main Stage, taking in the Tabla beats of Talvin Singh, i heard a MC start to introduce "a couple of DJ's from Brazil". I ran to the front. DJ Markey and Patife were on, accompanied by the vocal talents of Cleaveland Watkis and MC Stamina. The moment Markey dropped the first tune, the previously docile crowd erupted into a pulsating throng of bodies. Even though he played a bit of a darker selection than normal, he got the crowd really going mad for the whole hour that he, Patife and the MC's were on.

    The next couple of hours were spent enjoying the sun outside the Strongbow Rooms, tuning in to Gilles Peterson and Dynamite MC, getting ready for the Groove Armada finale. Unfortunately i have a hazy memory of that but do know that i loved every minute of it and that they didn't let us down.

    Overall it ended up a VERY enjoyable day all round which even a wet start couldn't spoil. If i am in the country next summer, then i will definitely be going back.


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