Dhaka Drawings: Self-portrait

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Dhaka Drawings: Young boy 191

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Dhaka Thoughts: Upcoming UK Elections Make sure you #VoteProgressive #GE2017

In life, I am still trying to work through what tactics to employ in order to be able to put into practice the values that I uphold and believe in – life is a damn rollercoaster to say the least.  the pursuit of happiness, through doing good work, through having meaningful relationships, through experiencing what the world has to offer, has been central to my own thinking, and the pursuit of a much more socially just, egalatarian society.  However, the question is always what does that look in reality?  I will revise / edit this tonight when I return from drawing.

And so, to sum up a rather complicated chain of thoughts ( it seems I must write more so that I have less condensed thoughts in the future) I would urge people to vote for whomever they want, (Manifestoes here ) but to vote in a progressive way. To think about, if they can, what kind of future or what kind of society they want to belong to and in. These questions are fundamental, I think as the world continues to get smaller and smaller, the networked society would require much simpler ways to be communicated with and to.  The fear that the current Tory party have, and therefore are beginning to get desperate – is that they may lose the majority or the election. We can only hope.

What has been fascinating to observe from a distance ( being in Dhaka helps in many ways!) is the way Corbyn has matured ( is that possible for someone that old?! ) into understanding how the media tactics and politics need to be applied and he has given a little bit of hope to a lot of people of my generation. His maturity is coming through ( although still perhaps not quick enough.. in understanding the different between his local politicking as an MP for uber hip Islington – to being the leader of the fragmented Labour party – one that has suffered a giant amount of shock in its own identity as a political party.  I am a skeptic of Corbyn, despite it all – yet other friends are much more more critical of Corbyn, some outright have left the party, will vote for somebody else, and others, even more so, think he is a joke and a danger and at the same time, many others have joined the party because of him and his values. The right wing media has done its job, and its doing it well. At the same time, its important to acknowledge that we cannot have the Tories in power.

So what kind of a world or society do I believe? I am lucky to be able to switch between London and Dhaka, and having been raised in Darlington ( a town in the North East of England ) I thoroughly believe in the need to invest more in education and health, in making social mobility real and possible for all – by reducing the barriers that exist for many people to break out of poverty in the first place – and in addressing the need for environmental and global protection systems through multilateral agreements.   Investment in renewable energy sources and the need for affordable and social housing.  It is so crucial that people have all these things.  The UK is the 5th largest economy in the world. The mind boggles of course with questions in those tables of economic injustice and growing inequality – why do we have food banks then? Why do we have extended queues in the hospitals? why can’t we get better education for our young people? why are millions of children in poverty? Why can’t we just build good social housing?

So it is absurd to think even more grammar schools are a good thing, or that privatising the NHS by crippling it (through a tactic of not giving them enough resources to manage efficiently ) is good for anybody but a few private individual companies, ( I can relate to this personally too – in Dhaka where healthcare is mostly private, or the publicly available healthcare so terrible, I am afraid of those most vulnerable not getting the support they need. Having spent time running around at times to get help for one individual, I know how difficult the system is to even navigate, let alone get a result!) or by not investing more in social care, especially for those already suffering, with disabilities, the elderly, is making a good strong British society.

Making it a tax haven for the super rich, will not be making the British public any better – the profits are not going to the public, no matter how much ‘investment’ you attract. Nor will cutting immigration down drastically – its partially xenophobia, and much more importantly, lack of investment in the public to ensure that people are able to excel.

The madness has been always that the Labour party have needed to fully evidence their manifesto ( due to the previous fuck-ups ) but the Tories have given a blank sheet – and still, it seems an impossible battle to win the election for Labour or the progressive alliance. It simply means the privileged classes still take the public at large for granted. The media cannot seem to be holding to account the Tories. To cut through the bullshit, it is really tough, if you are an everyman or everywoman in the UK, its tough because the constant feeding of bullshit is real – it blurs reality.  It is much more likely, as Guardian writer Owen Jones says many a time, that people in general don’t have so much time to read everything to make sense of it all.  They will just go with their gut, or their friends, or their family, or whoever they trust to vote. Then – its making sure one message is fed, drip fed, spoon fed, repeatedly, with boosters, until it hones into the mindset, the consciousness, without effort. To Trust Corbyn to deliver a good brexit ( sounds even a shock to me as I write it – I can’t imagine what the general public still think ) to Trust Corbyn to invest in the public sector and social systems ( this seems plausible and believable to me ) and to Trust Corbyn to safeguard and maintain Britains position on the globe ( also seems a bit of  tough task for me to take in ) so.. Its tough to understand what will happen. Trusting him is the main thing – and convincing the public he is up to the job, is of course his challenge – as he unshackles himself from his past, and clearly is focusing on an interesting future.

However, these are not excuses anymore, there is, despite the gaps in election campaign budgets,  some scope for a real upset, at the pace and energy being built up – my hope is that the young people of my generation do go out and vote, and vote in a progressive manner.  But voting patterns of past will say that this is the least likely thing to happen.  Now the challenge is to the Labour and Momentum canvassers and beyond, to target in getting the vote out. Is it possible? It just may be.

The task for those of us able to rally round, campaign and make sure people vote, therefore is one of the biggest challenges.  This is being addressed somehow too. This election isn’t about Brexit, it isn’t a repeat of that. As sad as it is, Brexit will take place, BUT what is crucial to understand is, it can be done on good terms. What this election is about, is possibly the reason why people voted for Brexit – they were pissed off with the status quo, they were pissed off with the elite classes dominating and dictating. It was simpler to use that binary then, they were pissed of with the fact the NHS was not getting enough funding – that magic money tree from the EU payments Boris promised (350m for the NHS, disappeared straight away!)  Brexit was a two-fingered salute to the establishment. However, this election, is what they really wanted. Now that we have it, will it go in the direction they want again? Theresa May was always going to struggle, she was appointed PM, and has not been put to the public scrutiny as much as Corbyn, which I believe plays in his favour now, all of a sudden. People are beginning to understand Corbyn, and more importantly, although the voting majority will tend to be those in the centre, ( the promise of a Lib Dem surge does not seem to have taken place just yet – and those that will vote tactically will likely go in that direction – however, the challenges are real – to get the hardcore labour supporters of past, to vote labour. )

There is genuinely so much more at stake. So, if there is serious desire to get investment in the public sector, in Education, Health, Transport and renewable clean energy, in pushing all of society forwards, in getting a positive deal with the E.U, in creating a much more egalitarian or equitable society, in developing better, nuanced foreign policies – then for me, voting the Tories out is key. Check out the progressive alliance site & make sure you vote with both your heart and mind.  There are radically alternative manifestos out there too. So, you have choice! so, when you do vote, it won’t be just the same-same options with a different face on it.

What happens when you take power to privileged elite and challenge it? They will revolt. However, their revolt is not the same as when the people revolt. Their tactics are embedded in using their power networks ( Media, corporates, politicians taking their donations ) Some will use all of their power to defend their privilege. Yet, the frustration for those of us without the power to challenge the privileged elite will be the disenchantment of getting heavily involved in the euphoria of the movement. In observing from a distance- its difficult to understand how best to allocate my time and resources.  And the shock for those heavily inspired on the ground, maybe that it will fall flat as it did in the 80’s.

It is this inherently unfair system created and maintained by the privilege classes that restricts the potential of so much more good in the world.  In the 80,000 hour project for example, it outlines so many issues that we can be involved in. It outlines the importance of using the limited time we have to do the things we love and is good. However, to do these things, we need basic securities and systems.  I hope you everybody able to, votes, and my personal request would be to vote progressive.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 and make sure you vote!


Dhaka Drawings : Young Boys 174- 190

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Dhaka Drawings: Self Portrait

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Dhaka Drawings: Self Portrait

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Dhaka Thoughts: On Love – a conversation with myself

Warning: a long post!!

I have struggled with this idea for a bit and I suppose will continue to do. In seeking to make sense of Love, however, there seems to be some recurring thoughts. So, attempting – I suppose badly – to convey my current understanding on Love – as of today in May 2017:

It is so much easier to think about companionship, relationship or acquiring a husband or a wife, or a life partner as an end goal of Love than to think about the pursuit of Love for the sake of Love itself.  I was to develop my second Vlog about this, but instead, think that writing isn’t a terrible medium!

The societal conjuring of the continual pursuit for the one true Love is something I have learned to let go of.  The ‘English’ definition of Love, has been problematic because of its limitations – and it makes this post a little difficult to read maybe. It was this definition that I have grown up with, rather than other definitions that maybe much more welcoming. The Greeks had some interesting definitions – and although Bangla has its deeply rooted notions of Love, I am unable to unravel that just yet from its notions of ‘Shadona’, which is more about pursuing Love or Truth ( to be enlightened?) than that of the various ‘Sutras’, for example the Kama Sutra which explores the practical aspects of making Love with another or beyond ( perhaps much wiser souls will enlighten me on the journey! ) than the more restrictive ideas of ‘balobasha’.

So, going straight to it – for me, what I have experienced is often Love is seen as a weakness- a vulnerability, there is often a burden of being in Love – this is Shakespearian, its tragedy, it is often a deeply romantic ideas of longing and pursuits.  So, it becomes something that can be easily manipulated.  Sometimes, I think within the patriarchal structure – From experience I have seen men with their of perceptions of Love as a tool to possess and obsess. It links, for me, to a patriarchal definition of relationship, of ‘owning’ the person you may love, of systems where you would be giving ‘dowry’ to the woman, of being the provider.   How does that relate back to me? It perhaps doesnt, but in some conversations with friends who have more traditional values, its difficult to exchange ideas.

Yet, how do I NOT take advantage of someone enamoured by me?  It is so easy to do that, I realise to give in to someone else’s infatuation over me.  I push against jumping into something quickly, and for that I am also naive, and oft punished for not responding.  For people, it seems now to operate in a time constrained phenomena. More importantly, its the attraction and pursuit of Love rather than desire or lust that needs also to be found.  It is this, that I have found difficult, to Love, but not to get entangled in a false promise of the relationship without getting to know someone fully- it creates for me the middle ground of a discourse about Love and emotions, and the inability to acknowledge its Power over us and how it manipulates.  I am not, therefore saying Love is a bad thing, quite the opposite, however, I am acknowledging that my human trait, or perceptions of what Love is, is often misguided with a conjuring of how my society wants me to react to either pursuing or being pursued.

I have seen myself end up in jealous rages, I even wanted to possess forever, I end up obsessing endlessly, overanalysing maybe the details, how to do it better- and in those moments – it seems like it is lasting forever – and also, I realise some people desire that, or those negative emotions of possession and obsessions as a meaning of Love.  At the same time, it is quite amazing the number of people that have wanted to change me, or also changed me (because I gave in – some people may be in shock reading that! (of course to make me a ‘better’ all round human being), or want to possess me, or want to describe needing me as a Love, or be jealous of what I do and who I see.

What has been a good lesson is learning to let go to Love and of Love, to understand the differences of being in Love versus Loving someone.  To say it is ok to be vulnerable at that moment and in that time and to that soul and to myself.  This too shall pass – this quote is oft said to me, and I say to others.  This has been an unfathomable journey of course, and one that requires patience and time. Each Love experience has its journey – sometimes, yes – it can end up being lasting the lifetime of a couple. The stability and security one seeks in ‘Love’, always intrigues me.  For me, Love is a Force.  Can it be the ultimate ‘freedom’, I suppose so.. ?

Companionship, relationships, the life partner, can steady the ship – but Love is definitely the Force.  Does that or is that interlinked with purpose or pursuits of Truth or Happiness?

So, how does that look in my life? a big mess?, a lot of experiments?, and not giving up? Unsatisfied or satisfied encounters?  Is there a point to the  pursuit of Love?  not as a pursuit for a better option, but to acknowledge that yes – you can seek Love anywhere and find it, as long as you have it within you, in the first place!

How to explain that? Without using metaphors? It depends of course on your own perception. Here it shifts away from one kind of Love to another, even in description. For me, Love can be seen as the ultimate part of the pursuit of Truth, or expression of Truth through experiencing Love, in its entirety ( some sort of euphoric, uncontrollable emotion that can be released in actions or words ) or felt when encountering a mutual soul that shares values and ideas at an unconscious level.  It needs to be separated and acknowledged in these different aspects of Love that we seek.

The key here, perhaps for me – taking an approach of the Artist, who is keen to understand and explore his world, his self, is how is that Love making him become more of a human being – across all the aspects of myself. That does not particularly relate to not making the same mistake of falling in Love again and again, but rather, what is it that Love continues to teach me? and how can I invest even more in Love, not in that individual, but the Love itself, and in that, is the thing that is of value.  Does that mean I am not seeking a particular ‘type’ of person to Love? I do not think I am. I have Loved and Love a diverse range of people across ages.  Yet, the pursuit of Truth, of Love, or of happiness, is a very different pursuit to the one often embedded in other ideas -of finding ‘stability’ ‘security’ and companionship, to find a mate to create a family.

so this continual desire to be vulnerable through Love – perhaps seems slightly part of a sadomasochists ritual.  The ability to Love first and foremost, for me, has been to start with the self. In repeating many poets and philosophers (without reference or quotations ) is that you must fill your own soul full of love, to the point it can overspill- this is the Love that you can give freely, without expectation of a return.  So the people that I Love and will have the capacity to love, could potentially be limitless. I must acknowledge the methods that I need to fill my soul with Love.

So – what does that really mean? within the society that I am clearly a part of, within communities that I exist in? and within the cultural upbringing that I have had?

A quick addendum: Having been raised in a quasi Bangla islamic family structure where my father had for a time been in a bigamous relationship – two women and for a period split his time between the two families – was am sure definitely something that made little sense to us as children.  I never thought that I would end up thinking about the idea of polyamory in this manner.

Perhaps those are the underlying references for why I may believe its absolutely fine for us to have as many love or lovers as we desire, as so far as, it is honest.  Where I begin to differ from my cultural traditions, is the need for it to be formally structured into a very simple heteronormative structure of The relationship.  Does that make me into something quite radical? I don’t think so. Although I can accept that I probably cannot have multiple lovers whom I love with the same intensity.  I can also, quite honestly say, when Love does happen – it happens and its journey, or time, tends to be focused on the one soul that I have fallen for. It is from the point of love that I would like to start the conversation of any potential relationship – whether it is friendship, of a sexual nature, or not.

What does that mean for me and its meaning? I can live with many cliches – I live a relatively intense life sometimes – so it genuinely takes time to filter things.  So, in encounters, in romance and in Love too – I am naive.  I don’t realise the emotions that am going through – so the potential filter or check that I would allow for my self to acknowledge things, is oft misplaced.

Having explored and separated sexual love, away from other loves, its been fascinating to think and explore then, what sexual Love is, and what it means to have relationships that may or may not be based upon sexual Love.

And of course, in other aspects – where it becomes blurred is the pursuit of Love as a thing inherent in itself – as a process or path to self-realisation, or the desire to pursue Truth. In this, it can become quite wishy washy – and I have done my best to separate the two.  The pursuit of self-realisation, or ones True self, is, for me, a pursuit of Truth to realise your self as a human, as a being, as an individual and as a part of an eco-system of animals and nature, as a being within a political sphere, a cultural sphere and a social sphere – that is embedded in class, wealth, caste, race, religion, sexuality, etc etc.

My biggest admission, and perhaps a part of my naivety ( as highlighted by someone who may read this) – seems to be that I am unaware of the amazing things happening when in the moment – to not be ‘present’, despite being very aware of the activities going on, as Love develops.  I allow people to take advantage of this nature of my approach to Love. And its absolutely fine, there is plenty of it in the bucket!  Seeing that play out within myself a few times, I dare to question and challenge these particular ideas of Love.

The difficulty in acknowledging that others can love me ( am I loveable? ) is always a paradox – one is the vanity with which we wear our ego – OF COURSE he or she must love me! yet beyond that, how to unpack this idea that Love is quite possibly an emotion that is fleeting. And the other, is our insecurity – How can somebody love me?  For me it has been a mix bag – I am relatively aware of my self and love who I am. Yet, my insecurities play directly into other peoples hand when I realise that they want more. Am I ready for such commitments? and at what cost? And, so, in these encounters and pursuits, what does it mean and what is the role of Love? I can say I have broken more hearts than I realise. Does this boost my ego? It saddens me, instead. I don’t really know how to fully explain that being able to Love, without wanting such strict returns, is a model of ‘relationship’ that everyone fully acknowledges.  Yet, I do not desire everyone! So, in theory, it is fine!

For me, Love takes a while – I don’t know why. For some, it is instantaneous ( I wont pretend that I think they are full of poppycock! BUT it can and has happened. ) For all arguments sake of course, I can say right now, the individuals that I do love, know it.  The journey to here, seems to have been OK (and the few that do know my journey well, will know that it is littered with fantastically fun, as well as excruciatingly annoying moments)  I could imagine it have being much worse, somehow.

I will end here.  I believe Love and life has blessed me in a miraculous way, of course, and I cannot express often in words, the joy that I feel when in Love. So, it is in these moment where my art is often a better communicator.  I can go with the artists of the past, write poetry, or paint a portrait, or whatever. Sometimes, though, the actual words do need to be expressed – am getting better at doing that. The journey of pursuing Love continues. 😀

AND thank you for reading this far ( if you did! well done, and apologies for the ramble!, hope it was a little interesting! )