Monday, August 30, 2010

Peepli Live - Manmohan Singh

PM watches Peepli Live

New Delhi August 29, 2010

Taking a break from his busy schedule, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday watched Aamir Khan's Bollywood film Peepli Live, a scathing satire on farmers' suicide.

Singh watched the film along with his wife Gursharan Kaur. Besides Khan, the film' producer and Bollywood star, director Anusha Rizvi and a couple of senior cast members were present at the special screening.

Khan had arranged a similar screening of the film for BJP leaders including L K Advani.

The film, starring a clutch of theatre actors with a debutante director in Rizvi, deals with the growing divide between rural and urban India through the story of Natha, a landless farmer.

He is talked into committing suicide by his brother Budhia, who hopes that their family will benefit since government has relief packages for the families of farmers, who kill themselves.

Their drunken conversation is heard by a local journalist, who writes a story in his newspaper. Soon the TRP hungry news channels lap up the story. Natha's impending death becomes a national obsession.

Incidentally, the Prime Minister has been instrumental in ensuring a financial package for farmers in Vidarbha in Maharashtra which witnessed a spate of suicides.

Such a package was also given to farmers in distress in some other states.

Rahul Gandhi a hit on Facebook

New Delhi August 29, 2010

Rahul Gandhi is a hit on Facebook.

He has a fan page following of 67,921 people which could be among the largest for any leader in the country on the popular social networking site.

Moreover, Gandhi's facebook account, which Congress says has not been created by him, has 4,999 friends listed in it.

It has photographs and videos as well as regular updates.

Rahul's sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too has a fan page with 17,469 people listed as followers and another page named as "Priyanka Gandhi politician" having 163 followers.

Party President Sonia Gandhi has a page which lists her as an author with 1,283 people liking it while another page with politician listed along with her name has 503 people who like it.

Iran to Replace Google with ‘Oh Lord’

By Benjamin Joffee – WALT / The Media Line


Home grown search engine set to go by 2012

It all began in the early 1990’s with Internet search engine startups like Excite, Galaxy, Lycos and Webcrawler.

Then Yahoo and Alta Vista moved in, followed only a few years later by what would become the neighborhood bully: Google. 

Now Iran would like to introduce the new kid on the block...

Ladies and Gentelmen, please welcome ‘Oh Lord,’ a homegrown Iranian search engine sure to highlight very high resolution photos of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the regretful testimony of green movement opposition activists. 
Hadi Malek-Parast, Director General for Research and Development at the Iranian Information Technology Company, told the Iranian Mehr News Agency on Sunday that Iran has started developing a national search enginged dubbed ‘Ya Haq’, a Persian expression meaning “Oh Lord.”

Speaking of the need for faster search capacity and higher security for the country’s online communications, Malek-Parast said Ya Haq would be ready to launch in 2012 and referred to the project as a domestic Intranet, as opposed to an international Internet. 

“They are not just developing a search engine, they want to develop an Intranet, instead of an Internet, which would be some kind of local Internet and only give access to state institutions and internally approved sites,” Pujan Ziaie, a senior IT strategist in Iran’s ‘green’ opposition movement told The Media Line. “The discussion began a few years ago and is based on a feeling that the Internet is a Western weapon. They are threatened by it but they cannot ignore it so they are trying to imitate what China has done.”

“The problem,” Ziaie said,” is that the infrastructure, knowledge and technicians are all not there to do this properly, at least not for the next few years.”

Niusha Boghrati, an Iranian online journalist, argued that despite the official reasoning, the Iranian Intranet would boost the government’s surveillance capacities.

“The official reasons they give for such a project is it’s cheap, faster and more secure in terms of data,” he told The Media Line. “But they are trying to replace Google and Yahoo and create a parallel Internet in order to have more surveillance on the Internet users of Iran. They are certain to follow this with a launch of a national email service.”

Boghrati said the announcement was a direct response to last year’s unrest following the disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“After the protests, the government tried very hard to curb online communications,” he said. “But with these new secure formats that Google and Yahoo have launched, it has become much more difficult for Iranian intelligence to monitor civil society.”

Dr Mehrdad Khonsari, a former Iranian diplomat, now Senior Research Consultant at the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, argued that the announcement should be seen in light of a larger Iranian attempt to prove the country’s independence.

“There are two things going on,” he told The Media Line. “One is the fact that they are anxious to be able to filter any electronic communications in any conceivable way that they can, or at least to scare people into believing they are capable of doing this, so that they enter the process of self censorship. Another is to portray this image that they are punching above their weight in trying to convince people that they are able to do things that they are not.”

But a source close to the government, who asked not to be identified, said the initiative was simply a matter of providing more locally relevant content to Internet users. 

“In different search enginges, different things come up first,” he told The Media Line. “There’s a certain formula that makes certain things come up first when you use Google whereas when you use Yahoo other things come up first. In Iran, local websites do not appear first in the results, meaning the suggested websites are not necessarily the most valuable sources of information.”

“So I don’t see this as replacing the Internet or current search engines,” he said. “In general the government is just trying to become less and less reliant on Western sources for everything.”

Ground Zero Mosque

VIEW: The Manhattan mosque 

by Yasser Latif Hamdani

President Obama and his government are now under great stress because of the difficult position the mosque issue has put the Obama administration in. Logically, there should not be a problem with building a place of worship, a right guaranteed under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, but the issue is much larger than one of freedom of faith

The mosque in Manhattan has stirred a hornet’s nest. The issue now threatens to test the very ideals of western secular democracy that we admire and cherish and seek to emulate in the rest of the world. It is important, therefore, to weigh in logically and as reasonable people — though reason is hard to come by these days — on the unnecessary provocation in Manhattan created by Imam Feisal Abdel Raouf and his wife Daisy Khan that they refer to as ‘Cordoba House’ or ‘Park 51’, a $ 100 million Islamic centre in New York City.

I say unnecessary not because I oppose the good imam’s right to profess and propagate his faith as he deems fit, but because at this key juncture of the Obama presidency, this saga has delivered to the Tea Party Movement its biggest stick to beat liberals and civil rights activists with. Those of you who are unfamiliar with the Tea Party Movement, it is a populist right-wing conservative movement that broke out spontaneously against perceived government interference in economic life and backed largely by the libertarian think tanks and organisations like Freedom Works, etc. The name itself comes from the famous Boston Tea Party where Massachusetts’s men had thrown tea sacks into the Boston harbour to protest the British government’s taxes and economic policies. The modern day Tea Party Movement has already made great gains — such as the unseating of Democrats from their traditional power base in Massachusetts from where the late Ted Kennedy used to get elected. 

It is now set to use the mosque issue to appeal to the right wing religious sentiment. If the Tea Party manages to pull the rug from under the Democrats and moderate Republicans, the consequences for not just the US but the entire world will be extremely grave.

President Obama and his government are now under great stress because of the difficult position the mosque issue has put the Obama administration in. Logically, there should not be a problem with building a place of worship, a right guaranteed under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, but the issue is much larger than one of freedom of faith. Let us be fair. There are several mosques in New York City and no one would have done even a double take had an Islamic centre been built anywhere else. To choose the site of a building wasted by the 9/11 attacks is an act of deliberate provocation, not because Islam was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, because that is not true. 

It is so because not only have the mosque’s backers, including the two aforementioned protagonists, failed to disclose the source of their funding, but have also failed miserably to win the confidence of a vast majority of New Yorkers and now indeed most Americans. Yet the issue of fundamental and constitutional rights is seldom subject to the whims of the majority.

That question is of course paramount. It is about constitutional rights, freedom of religion and all those big words that Muslims selectively appeal to whenever they are in a minority, but surely Muslims can better understand the feelings of Americans that have been outraged. Who else if not a Muslim, whose faith and religious sensibility can be outraged by something so seemingly benign as an Ahmedi saying Assalam-o-alaikum, can understand why church groups, right wingers and other anti-Muslim groups have reacted so strongly to the idea of having an Islamic community centre so close to the site of the World Trade Centre? Who else if not a Muslim can understand why equality sometimes means equality for all but that some are just inherently more equal, for, after all, constitutionally equal citizens of Pakistan who are from, say, a Christian background are forever barred from becoming president or prime minister of this Islamic republic of ours. Who else if not a Muslim can understand that neither religious freedom nor privacy are absolute concepts, for was it not in the holiest of holy Saudi Arabia, that 40 Pakistani Christians were thrown in jail for worshipping quietly in their own homes?

What about Park 51? Would this be a mosque — the mosque at Park 51 — for just one kind of Muslims or will it be open to all sectarian communities? Will it open its doors to the Shias or perhaps the Nation of Islam, which believes in the last prophethood of Elijah Muhammad aka Elijah Poole? Will Amina Wudud or Asra Nomani be allowed to lead prayers in this mosque? Will Ismailis, Bohris, Druze or the Ahmedis be allowed to worship in this centre? These are central questions that should be answered for the imam has pitched this as the great project for American Islam. It is a defining moment.

The truth is that Islam in the US is practised openly and freely, without any fear — or at least till there was a backlash by the Tea Party against the proposed project. That much is clear from the latest work of Dr Akbar S Ahmed, who not long ago travelled the length and breadth of the US visiting hundreds of mosques and communities, along with his team of enthusiastic students from American University. When asked about the Manhattan fiasco, his response was: “Here is a thought — Imam Rauf should say ‘enough of creating bricks and mortar’ and move for compassion. Let me give it [the money for the mosque] to those who need it, who are suffering and pray to the same God’, hand over the capital he plans to raise for the Park 51 project as a cheque in the hands of an interfaith American delegation, fly it to Pakistan, and contribute it to the relief efforts.”

Why not? Is that not what Islam teaches its adherents? Are the rights of people not a greater obligation under Islamic law?

Yasser Latif Hamdani is a lawyer. He also blogs at and can be reached at

VIEW: Of God, floods, and Lisbon

Sikander Amani

The Lisbon earthquake challenged the general sense of intelligibility of the natural world, as a transparent order that would mirror the moral and social orders. This led to a severance of the links between the physical and the moral paradigms: there are no connections to be found between natural events and moral desert

Human stupidity, sadly, knows no boundary, and natural catastrophes seem, for some reason, to offer a singularly good opportunity for it to emerge in all its glory, with the connivance of the media. The floods, like the 2005 earthquake, have created a spectacular podium for would-be theologians and fake prophets: here they are, sanctimoniously explaining to us all over again that the natural disaster was a consequence of our very deadly sins. 

The floods are a punishment meted out by Allah, they say; although they differ about what grave sin unleashed such harsh treatment. Licentiousness and depravity (whatever that means) rank high among these so-called explanations, but the commonest justification, though, is that we are punished for not having followed their exact version of religion. In other words, we are told that Allah has intervened specially, directly, and dramatically, to punish us for not having listened to His now thunderous representatives. Allah might be great — but not great enough for His motives to be hidden from these men’s omniscient understanding of creation. You humbly thought there were some physical and scientific causes to the disaster, easily explained by meteorology, geology and hydrology; you further thought that human negligence and political corruption played a role in the slow deliquescence of the infrastructure built to prevent such terrible damage. How foolish of you. No, no, it is all because of your ‘sins’.

Such egregious nonsense is scandalous in many respects. Morally, it verges on the inhuman, as the hard-hit, desperate victims become the accused: “You brought it on yourself by behaving in a way which displeases me — oops, I mean Allah,” says the fake prophet from his flood-free pedestal. And so, apart from having to reconstruct not just their livelihoods, but their whole lives, the victims now have to repent, as they are told they are the real culprit. 

In 1755, a devastating earthquake hit Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, creating an intellectual and theological shockwave throughout all of Europe: how could God let this happen? Malagrida, a Jesuit, went around the city after the quake urging victims to drop every other occupation, including saving lives, distributing food or building shelters, and spend six days in prayer and meditation at a Jesuit retreat. He kept ranting on the “true cause” of the earthquake: “It is scandalous to pretend the earthquake was just a natural event, for if that be true, there is no need to repent and to try to avert the wrath of God, and not even the devil himself could invent a false idea more likely to lead us all to irreparable ruin.” Malagrida would be delighted to have acquired such loyal heirs in 21st century Pakistan. 

Theoretically, such type of discourse is very dodgy too: it derives its pseudo-validity from the authority of its author (especially if he threatens and imprecates in a thunderous voice under bushy eyebrows), and certainly not from its truth, which, by definition, can never be ascertained. Indeed, such judgemental statements carefully omit to say that there is obviously no evidence whatsoever, no proof, no element, no fact, scientific or scriptural, nothing, that could establish the causal link that they so readily thump down on us. 

In Karl Popper’s terms, such statements are unfalsifiable, and hence unscientific — you can never prove them wrong, which is also why they are usually preferred, by our self-proclaimed spokesmen of God’s retribution policy, to more rational ways of dialoguing. Essentially, you can establish any cause you want, since no one will ever be able to disprove you. After the Lisbon earthquake, the variety of ‘sins’ attributed as the cause of God’s wrath seemed endless. An English pastor thought it was due to the butchering of “millions of poor Indians” by the Spaniards and the Portuguese in Latin America; others said it was Lisbon’s greed and licentiousness. 

The fact that the disaster struck on November 1, All Saints Day in the Christian tradition, was taken to mean that God was indicating that the saints themselves had begged Him to punish Lisbon for its religious perversions. Others explained the earthquake was God’s reaction to an Inquisition that had grown too lax, while another justified the fact that many churches had collapsed while a street full of brothels had remained standing: it had nothing to do with construction problems, but was due to the fact that God forgives more easily the wretched creatures who frequent such places than those who profane His own house. A natural catastrophe is an ideal occasion for opportunistic preachers to prey on the desperation and shock of victims by inventing a host of imaginary causes (which calls on the very natural human desire to understand why something happens), which only adds to the moral loathsomeness of their position, in addition to its irrationality. Voltaire’s criticism of Leibniz’ theodicy, following the Lisbon earthquake, is famous, as was his rebuke of just such preachers:

“And can you then impute a sinful deed, To babies who on their mothers’ bosoms bleed? Was then more vice in fallen Lisbon found, Than Paris, where voluptuous joys abound? Was less debauchery to London known, Where opulence luxurious holds the throne?”, he wrote in his Poem on the Lisbon Disaster.

The Great Lisbon Earthquake, in spite of such opportunistic would-be messengers of God, led to a very important shift in European thinking, because it also quite naturally questioned those who had theorised the immense goodness of God’s creation. Until Lisbon, it was taken for granted that God’s benevolence manifests itself in the system of order and harmony present in the world, just as it was self-evident that Nature as a whole was invested with a general meaning, a Providence. The Lisbon earthquake challenged the general sense of intelligibility of the natural world, as a transparent order that would mirror the moral and social orders. This led to a severance of the links between the physical and the moral paradigms: there are no connections to be found between natural events and moral desert. 

Natural events are just that — natural, meaningless, random. Similarly, it increased the distance between the human and the world, underlining the limits of human understanding — just as it increased the distance between the divine and the human worlds, since God could no longer be theorised to be intervening directly in natural events. In Susan Neiman’s words, “Since Lisbon, natural evils no longer have any seemly relation to moral evils; hence they no longer have any meaning at all” — except perhaps in Pakistan, where natural disasters are still not the objects of attempts at scientific prediction and damage control, but of pseudo-theological interpretations.

There is perhaps a salutary lesson to be learnt from the earthquake that hit Lisbon so many centuries ago. As Pakistan is flooded anew with a stream of fear-mongering, threatening and Quran-thumping preachers whose purpose is to bring the country back to a medieval understanding of religion where science and reason would have no say and where they would rule as kings, Lisbon and the floods should remind us that it is not only futile, but dangerous, to try to find God’s direct imprint in every event. While we may not be able to discern the justice in divine actions and institutions, we can still strive to establish justice in our human ones.

The writer is a freelance columnist and can be reached at

Mother's Cuddles Brings Baby 'Back from Dead'

An Australian woman has told how she brought her 'dead' premature baby son back to life with two hours of cuddles, baffling doctors.

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Published: 7:45AM BST 27 Aug 2010

Baby Jamie Ogg showed no signs of life when he was delivered at just 27 weeks gestation at a hospital in Sydney.

Doctors said they had lost him and he was given to his mother Kate who gently unwrapped his blankets and placed him on her chest so she and her husband David could say their goodbyes.

Jamie's twin sister, Emily had survived the birth and was doing well but the couple were devastated at losing their son.

But after two hours of cuddles and being spoken to by Kate and David, Jamie began to gasp. Doctors said this was a 'reflex' but he began gasping more often and then opened his eyes.
After two hours of cuddles and being spoken to by 
Kate and David, Jamie began to gaspPhoto: SPLASH

The family have now, five months on, appeared on Australia television to speak of the importance of 'skin-to-skin' bonding between mother and baby.

With Jamie sleeping soundly in her arms and showing no outward sign of his dramatic start in life, Kate said: "I thought, "Oh my God, what's going on?" A short time later he opened his eyes. It was a miracle.

"I told my mum, who was there, that he was still alive. Then he held out his hand and grabbed my finger.

"He opened his eyes and moved his head from side to side."

She gave him some breast milk on her finger which he took and began breathing more regularly.

His survival has baffled doctors.

David, speaking to the Australian TV show Today Tonight, said: "Luckily, I've got a very strong, very smart wife.

"She instinctively did what she did. If she hadn't have done that, then Jamie probably wouldn't be here."

Mothers are encouraged to have skin-to-skin contact with their babies as much as possible in Britain as it helps with feeding, bonding and settling the child. But often this is not possible when babies are born prematurely as they need to be cared for in an incubator.

Doctors still encourage parents to touch and interact with their babies but it can be difficult because of the medical equipment.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pakistani Cricket Team and Match Fixing

WHEN Mohammad Amir took his fifth wicket at Lord's on Friday, he dropped to his knees and kissed the most hallowed turf in cricket.

The most hallowed turf in sport, perhaps.

It was a kiss of BETRAYAL.

A betrayal of the sport's soul by a young man corrupted by greed.

A betrayal of a troubled nation beset by problems, grappling with the harrowing effects of a natural tragedy.

Think that is an exaggeration? Think again.

In a time of human devastation, cricket was an escape for the people of Pakistan.

While their performances were strangely inconsistent - maybe we now know why - there were moments when the spirit of this team was admired back home and in England, their ups and downs in this series a reflection of the turbulent times four thousand miles away.

It turns out that spirit can be bought, those ups and downs conducted by high-rolling gamblers.

And to think we gave this team house room when security fears robbed their nation of hosting the sport they love with an unrivalled passion.

While the world unites to gather millions of pounds in support of the relief effort, while those whose lives were washed away by floods scramble to save the last material vestiges of their existence, their cricketers - icons of society, shafts of light in dark times - try to make a fast buck out of a noble game.
In the process, they have brought shame on a sport once the epitome of honour.

The actions of these few have stained cricket for ever.

How long before we can again watch a Pakistani cricket team and believe? Believe the myriad dropped catches are down to human error rather than human avarice? Believe that astonishing comebacks such as the one pulled off by Australia in Sydney earlier this year are part of cricket's tapestry of miracles rather than stone-cold scams?

Think also of the collateral damage. Every wicket taken against Pakistan by striving Englishmen, every run scored, every victory achieved, is meaningless. When Stuart Broad clipped a shot through midwicket on Friday afternoon, it was the moment of his young life.

A century - his first in Test cricket, his first in professional cricket - at the home of the game.

Scoring at Wembley, holing a winning putt at St Andrews, serving out for the title at Wimbledon. It was up there with them.

Now, it means nothing.

But this is not just about crushing our belief in the integrity of cricket. They have not just betrayed the game's soul, they have betrayed sport. Full stop.

They have poisoned the very essence of it.

It is another - and, by far the most damning - piece of evidence that cheating is now endemic in top-level sport.

This newspaper listened to John Higgins boast how he could rig a snooker match for a few grand. Match-fixing allegations swirl around the lesser leagues of European football.

Crashgate and Bloodgate might not have been at the behest of illegal gambling syndicates or bent bookies but they drip- drip into the public consciousness.

When players cheat in any sport, they besmirch their fellow sportsmen around the world.

If we watch a crucial putt missed, we might just wonder. An own goal in the dying seconds of a game or a dart landing the wrong side of victory? Hhhmm.
Genuine slings and arrows of sporting misfortune... or despicable acts perpetrated by people having their strings pulled by gambling puppeteers?

Betting in sport is a juggernaut that cannot be halted. It will always bring with it crime and corruption.

The thing that sporting authorities can do is ban offenders for life. The News of the World has pursued them, sporting authorities should do likewise.

And when caught, no pussy- footing around, no two-year suspension slaps on wrists.

The multitudes around the world who love sport have got to be able to believe in its integrity.

Fixing games destroys the fundamental principle of sport.

Those guilty of it should be banned for life.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paris Hilton Arrested for Cocaine Possession

By Hollie McKay

Paris Hilton was arrested late Friday for possession of cocaine, a Las Vegas Police spokesperson confirmed to Pop Tarts.

The hotel heiress was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by police after officers smelled what they suspected was marijuana. 
"Officers noticed a vehicle leaving smoke trail of a contolled substance (and) made a stop based on that," Las Vegas police spokesman Marcus Martin told The Associated Press.
The driver was arrested for drug possession and through further interaction between Hilton and authorities, it was discovered she was in possession of cocaine, police say.
Hilton was detained at the Clark County Detention Center and released at around 2:30 a.m. PT Saturday. 
Her representative was not immediately available for comment. Her publicist, Dawn Miller, did not immediately return an e-mail message from the AP.
Police didn't immediately released the name of the man who was driving the car. Martin said he's not sure if he was also arrested.
The socialite is no stranger to troubles with the law. She was arrested this summer after the Brazil-Netherlands World Cup match in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on suspicion of possession of marijuana. The case was then dropped at a midnight court hearing.
Hilton pleaded no contest in 2007 to alcohol-related reckless driving and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. After spending about 23 days in jail, Hilton told U.S. television host Larry King that the experience caused her to re-evaluate the role partying played in her life. She said she wanted "to help raise money for kids and for breast cancer and multiple sclerosis."
Deidre Behar and The Associated Press contributed to this report

Amir Khan - WBA Junior Welterweight King

 Ten minutes with a legend: Jon Wilks discusses the recent Laureus Sports Awards with the current WBA world light welterweight champion 

Are you feeling confident about your form at the moment?
I’m very confident. I’ve just signed a deal with [leading boxing promoter] Golden Boy Promotions and I want to impress them, so I’m training twice as hard.
That’s the same promoter as Manny Pacquiao. Are you going to be sparring with him?
I’ll be doing a few things with Manny, but in more of a current fighting style. I’ve sparred against him before. I did really well and my trainer was quite impressed. Manny came up and said I was the fastest guy he’d ever faced at the time.
Are you surprised he wasn’t a contender for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award?
I’m very surprised. He’s had some big fights. I think with boxing, only very few people get enough publicity. Manny’s huge and he’s done so much for the game, but he’s not got that thing, that image that means he’s going to be massively famous.
Do you think you’ll fight him in future?
I get that question a lot. Everyone wants to fight the best fighter in the world. And maybe it will happen in a few years’ time when I have that extra experience. Maybe I could have a shot. I don’t like fighting someone if I don’t know I can beat them – I’m a bad loser. If I go into a fight, I’m going to win the fight.
Will you ever fight in the UAE? 
I’m good friends with [UAE boxer] Eisa [Al Dah]. I’m going to meet him in a training camp in America and he’s been training in the UK with me. People in the UAE have been talking about having a fight here for a while, but when it comes to putting the money down or getting anything confirmed, I think a lot of people pull out. They lack that confidence that it can do well here, but I believe it: if you have the media and TV backing it, as well as people in Dubai, which is probably one of the richest countries in the world, it won’t only be a boxing show, it’ll be massive. If there is someone who wants us to fight in the UAE, they can approach us and invest the money and it will happen.
We have the UFC coming here soon; what’s your view on that sport?
I became a fan when I spent a lot of time in America – it’s huge over there.
How many chances would you need in a UFC bout?
In UFC they use gloves that are very thinly padded. If a fighter like me hit someone with thin padding like that, I’d knock them out in one punch. A good boxer will always beat a UFC fighter. In these big tournaments, a boxer always wins – they time it perfectly and catch their opponents right on the chin.
The UFC comes to Abu Dhabi on April 10. Tickets
By Jon Wilks 
Time Out Dubai, 16 March 2010

Lubna Habib - One TV Presenter - Interview

The Dubai One TV presenter discusses she-wolves, star signs and becoming Dubai’s answer to Chelsea Lately 

Did you always want to be on TV?

Yes – absolutely. I was always very animated as a kid, and always impersonating people. I leaned towards drama and acting. I’m a Gemini – we’re the communicators of the zodiac. My entire life, people have said to me, ‘You’re going to be on TV one day.’

How long has your show, City Wrap, been running for?

About three months now. This is my first TV thing. At first, being on camera was very intimidating, but I got used to it because I’d been working with Dubai One for a while. Now it just goes over my head.

What’s City Wrap all about?
Each week City Wrap recaps the best of Dubai’s social, cultural and entertainment events. We talk about everything from awards to exhibitions and music festivals. Each week we have a different line-up of guests to give us the lowdown on the top social spots, and Time Out’s editor Ross Brown is one of our favourite regulars.
What would be your dream job?
I love being a presenter, I absolutely adore it. I love being able to communicate messages. Being an Emirati and being a woman in this country, I’m glad I can do this in English because I can speak to a lot of people.
Do you see yourself doing more chat shows – becoming the Chelsea Lately of the Middle East?
Absolutely. I’d love to work on a talk show about social issues, something very Dubai-based. I want to be on the local channel so European expats, Indian expats, everybody can tune in and feel they’re being represented.
What has been the best moment on the show so far?
The best guest I’ve had was a contortionist, from a US circus called The Birdhouse Factory. Her performance on the show was both strange and amazing!
Have you always lived in Dubai?
I am Dubai born and bred.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in Dubai?
It’s funny, because all the people I went to school with are changing Dubai in their own way. For example, I have a friend who was the first international female photojournalist; I have a friend who was the first English-language TV presenter; I have friends in every circle who are creating an urban lifestyle, from politics, to social economics, to the arts. We were born at just the right time. Now it’s so easy to do things here: you can have an idea and somebody is going to find it interesting. It’s all about collaborations.
Who is your personal hero?

My mum. She’s a single parent: she raised me and my sister by herself. She put us through the best schools, universities and provided everything. I come from a family of chicks: my mum, my aunts, my sister, a wolf pack of she-wolves.

City Wrap is on Dubai One every Friday at 6.30pm

Time Out Dubai, 19 July 2010

Jimi Mistry - Interview

Film star, international DJ, documentary creator – Becky Lucas caught up with busy bee Jimi Mistry ahead of his Chi gig last weekend 

And the Beat Goes On Ibiza, your movie about the island’s culture, was screened at Chi recently. That’s quite a different project for you – how did it come about?
I went to Ibiza six years ago to a film festival. I’m a big lover of music and DJing, and at that point I’d never been to Ibiza before. Before I got there, I was expecting some sort of hedonistic island for kids. But when I arrived I was like ‘Ohhh, it’s such a spiritual place; there’s such good energy’. I saw something in it that I hadn’t seen anywhere else. I decided I’d go back to find out what that magical thing is, and film it too. I got a camera, a director, and filmed it.
You’ve been around the world, screening the film and DJing afterwards. Do you love DJing?
Even before I got into acting, that was all I wanted to do: I wanted to be a radio DJ and play records. Acting was something I fell into. I ended up going to drama school thinking: ‘I’ll give it a go, see what happens’. Luckily I got in, and from there it’s been my career. But underneath it all there’s my musical side, my daily passion.
Let’s go back to your role in Brit soap Eastenders. What was it like working on the Square?
That was quite an extraordinary time. I was 25 and it was really nerve-wracking. One minute, I was walking down the street as Jimi, the next minute, once my first episode had been shown, I was walking down the street as my character; everyone’s like, ‘alright mate, alright doc,’ It was quite hard to adjust to that.
You have East is East, The Guru, Blood Diamond, RocknRolla – a long list of huge films – under your belt. Are you used to the fame now?
It’s my job. You get used to being known. But I still get nervous, I still get excited, I still get a thrill out of doing something I love doing. Sometimes you have to take a step back. If I’m going off to work with Leo [DiCaprio], or to do 2012, or another big film, I have to remember I’m really lucky to be in that position.
Definitely! Which has been your favourite film project so far?
The most rewarding was East is East, the first one. It was great to be involved with a film for which I was also in the play beforehand. Its huge success was very unexpected, and it set me up in my career.
You’ve worked with many actresses: Marisa Tomei, Heather Graham… Who has been the loveliest to work with?
They’ve all been fantastic. Heather was great; I did a film with Neve Campbell not long ago and she was great. I do have to think: Wow, I’ve kissed some of the most beautiful women in the world.
And got paid for it.
And got paid for it! In the street I get a lot of blokes going, ‘Well done mate, I’m jealous.’ Well hey, that’s the way it is.
By Becky Lucas 
Time Out Dubai, 3 August 2010