Posts Tagged ‘Random Happenings’

My Big Day Out

// July 27th, 2009 // 7 Comments » // Blog

As I mentioned in my last status update, Thursday 23rd July ended up being quite a productive day for me, māshā’Allāh. For a start, I was actually active between the normal working hours of 9.30am and 4.30pm. Amazing! I didn't even manage that during my PhD.

The day involved two major meetings, each relating to the two main projects that currently dominate my unemployed life: Deaf Muslim initiatives (e.g., SignLabs), and blogging. As the content of both meetings was pretty much confidential, I'll skip the details, and just describe the basic aims.


The Lake District

// July 16th, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Photos

Here are some photos from my recent trip to the Lake District.

19 18 15 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The following is my personal favourite; click to enlarge.

Jazakallah khair to brother Mohammed for inviting me to Cumbria, and granting my father and I a personalised tour of the area.

Confession Time

// July 9th, 2009 // 13 Comments » // Blog

Yesterday, I was informed that I had received the funding I'd need to accept the position that I mentioned in my last post. But, I am still a little scared to tell you what that position is exactly.

Ack… Okay.

I am going back to uni.


I’m Bringing Bio Back

// July 6th, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

I have spent the past few days with my head in various biological research journals, in preparation for a last-minute interview that took place earlier today. I was asked to select a recently published paper to review in the form of a five minute Powerpoint presentation. Five minutes is impossibly short for a blabber-mouth like me, but I think I managed it somehow!

Though I had several 'blonde' moments (for example, when asked to explain what 'p<0.05' meant, I began to mime a bell curve, clearly illustrating my poor grasp on statistics. Agh! That one's going to haunt me forever…), at the end of the torture session, amazingly, I was still offered a position by the interviewers. Alhamdulillah! However, I won't know until next week whether I'll be accepting it or not, as it depends on the funding they have available.

I don't really want to give away what the interview was for, right now – mainly because it may cause many of you to roll your eyes, and think I'm even more crazy. Especially in light of various statements I have made on this blog in the recent past. Dang, I knew this blogging business would come back to bite me one day!

Anyway, it's been a while since I sat down to read a proper research paper, and I have to say, I quite enjoyed the experience. It was a pleasant surprise for me, as in the past I'd find the same activity quite tedious – maybe because I was already tired and stressed from conducting my own research; having to read about someone else's became too much like hard work.

If you're interested, this is the paper I ended up selecting:

Cox, B., et al (2009) Comparitive systems biology of human and mouse as a tool to guide the modeling of human placental pathology, Molecular Systems Biology, 5:279.

In simpler terms: the study aimed to assess the usefulness of the mouse as a model for human disease at the molecular level, by comparing gene expression profiles in the placental tissue of both organisms. They focused on the placenta as healthy samples of this tissue are relatively easy to obtain, and the two species share physiological features. There is also a clinical need to better understand the mechanisms behind the development of placental abnormalities that can lead to conditions such as maternal preeclampsia and/or fetal intrauterine growth restriction, that affect around 5% of all human pregnancies.

A summary of the findings can be found on the group's website. In short, the group identified several thousand orthologous genes that were co-expressed in mouse and human placenta. Using an online mouse mutant database, they further narrowed down this group to a pool of approx. 130 genes that have been shown to display a placental phenotype when mutated in mice; it is hoped that these genes may serve as potential biomarkers for placental insufficiency in humans.

It's an interesting paper to read, especially if you're into Reproductive Biology and/or Bioinformatics. I was intrigued by the number of online resources they used to verify and improve upon their own data. It gave me the impression that one could carry out significant biological research using nothing more than a laptop and a broadband connection! That's my dream career, right there… inshā’Allāh.

Ten Years Later

// June 28th, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

This weekend has been one of nostalgia and reminiscence.

Every June, the alumni association of my school holds a reunion dinner. This year, special invites were sent out to my class – the class of '99 – to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

I knew straight away that I would not be attending. For one, it's in Leicester; for two, the ticket cost £30; and for three, there will be alcohol a plenty, which, on the grounds of both religion, and personal comfort, precluded my attendance.

Still, I couldn't keep my mind off the gathering.

In school, I was your average nerd: 'four eyes', train tracks on my teeth, overweight, hair always neatly braided, A-grades in every subject – except Phys Ed, naturally. Thank God, I was never really bullied; rather, incessantly teased, and the victim of more than one practical joke.

Therefore, ever since leaving school, I have dreamt about returning to a future reunion, as a smart, successful – and yes, gorgeous – individual, who didn't let her geekish tendencies hold her back in any way (if anything, they would help to mould me into said “smart, successful, gorgeous individual”). The typical 'ugly duckling turns swan' teen fantasy.

What I didn't expect, however, was that midway between graduation and reunion, I would undergo a complete moral and spiritual makeover; a personal revival that has altered every previous misguided notion of what makes someone a success, and truly beautiful. Now, the idea of attending a reunion to simply show off how great I have it, would be anathema to the principles that I hold dear.

Besides, I imagine the entire dinner would be such a superficial experience, especially as I detest small talk. Further, I have made contact with many of my past school mates via Facebook. If I really wanted to catch up with them in person, I would have done so by now, especially as several also live and work in London.

Saying all that, I'd still like to meet up with a few people from my past; especially my teachers. Thank them for their hard work, guidance, and inspiration. I'd also like to walk around the old school grounds, as they were quite beautiful, and are home to some great memories.

Anyway, until I marry Noah Wyle, my original reunion fantasy would be incomplete. Really, without him, it wouldn't even be worth the bus fare. Ten years, fifty years: some dreams will never die (even though we do become more realistic about how unattainable they are with every passing year).


Enjoying the English Countryside

// June 1st, 2009 // 9 Comments » // Photos

I spent the weekend in Blackburn, which is about 300-odd miles north of London. I was there for my cousin's wedding, on my father's side, but ended up being person-napped by my cousins on my mother's side for a outdoor birthday party at a picnic site in the country. As you can tell, I have a lot of family 'up North'.

The weather was gorgeous, māshā’Allāh… just perfect for a BBQ.


Chops on the BBQ Birthday BBQ Cake Cute Baby Tee

After lunch, we took a leisurely walk in the woods and fields surrounding the picnic area.

Walk in the Woods

Bleached Buttercups In the Spooky Woods In the Woods Grrrass Breathtaking Cows From A Distance Cows Up Close Cows! Sheep!

These were the shoes I was wearing during our little Nature walk… not good for wading through patches of mud. Alhamdulillah, I survived, unscathed.

My Chappals

A nice shot I managed to capture from the car on the way home. Click here to see a larger version.

Show Me the Way to Go Home

My parents and I used to travel to Blackburn at least once a year, back when we were living in Leicester. However, moving to London added another 150 miles to the car journey. That, together with my studies, meant that in the last ten years we've only bothered to drive up there for two important family occasions: deaths & marriages.

Upon leaving the wedding house yesterday evening, we exchanged the usual pleasantries with our hosts, not-so-subtly acknowledging the fact that only another wedding would likely reunite us in the near future.

inshā’Allāh, it'll be your turn next, Mehzabeen!”, my aunty chirped in Gujarati, as I put on my shoes. Luckily I was looking down at the time, so she didn't notice the eyes rolling in my head.

Oh well. At least they'll be the ones making the six hundred mile round-trip next time, if she's correct.

Saturday Shopping on Green Street

// April 5th, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Photos

I decided to be a typical Asian female, and take a walk down Green Street – an East End, ethnic shopping district – on a Saturday afternoon. But unlike most Asian females, I didn't spend any money whilst I was there. Instead, I took pictures, and enjoyed the the beautiful weather, in the company of my current house guest (who happened to be one of the few, non-Asians on Green Street that day).

The Taqwa Store Saris Green on Pink

Attention to Detail Burnt Rainbow Smile Mmm... Cake

Snow Man

// February 2nd, 2009 // 13 Comments » // Photos

My Garden Wind Toys Fox Prints

Snow Whitechapel

// February 1st, 2009 // 7 Comments » // Photos

I attended a poetry reading in Whitechapel today (that's in East London, for you non-Brits). It had been snowing on and off all day, but it finally decided to settle as I made my way home. Canadians will not be impressed, but us Londoners so rarely get to see proper snow, it must be blogged about!

Click for full size photo

An Evening in East London

// December 21st, 2008 // 9 Comments » // Photos

SimSim and I went on a little 'adventure' last night in our efforts to find an ice rink in East London.

First, we went on the bus towards Stratford – the future home of the 2012 Olympics, inshā’Allāh. On the way, we got stuck in traffic on Green Street, one of the main districts for S.E. Asian shopping in London. However, it is also the home of West Ham United football ground; so Saturday nights tend to bring out the footie fans.