Good Kid, Maad City: Week 5 (this is a good’un…)

FIRSTLY I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all friends, family, people from afar, who have read my blog. I hope you are all enjoying the story of my journey. I definitely enjoy writing about it. 

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This week has been intense – probably the best week so far and also one of the most eventful weeks in a very long time. On Tuesday, I graduated from the University of Manchester with a 2.1 degree in Economics & Development Studies. Graduating is an extremely surreal experience. It consists of getting your gown fitted by a stranger, hoping you sit next to someone you know in the hall and then ensuring that your family takes you for an extravagant meal. I was lucky enough to get fitted by someone from my hometown, be seated next to a guy I knew from a first year tutorial and found a secret, beautiful pizzaria to celebrate with my family. However, Graduation itself, is a production line. A queue of students, being stamped with some sort of ‘seal of approval’ and ready to be shipped off and shelved with the rest of the world. It was a happy but somehow a depressing few hours.

Onto more exciting things, GiveMeTap have been hard at work but having a bit too much fun as well. Edwin (my boss) came back from Ghana after unveiling the latest water project. He showed us hundreds of photos from his time with the people of Kpakpalamuni, in the Upper West region of Ghana. It was hard to see the conditions that these people live in but then seeing the water pump we installed just reassured me of why I chose to be apart of GiveMeTap. We just helped around 850 people by giving them access to clean drinking water and practically eradicating the chances of them dying from water-related diseases.

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Many of you may have seen me plaster Facebook with the events of Friday. Friday was the best day of my time in London so far! GMT were lucky enough to be approached by the BBC to do a segment on tap water as part of another feature. We filmed outside FlatPlanet, a flat bread eatery on Great Marlborough Street. I very much recommend you visit for lunch, by the way. Amazing food and people! Edwin shot an interview where he got to talk about the GMT scheme and officially place the Tap sticker on the FlatPlanet door.

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The Droplets’ moment of fame came when we hit Carnaby Street. Ben and I were filmed talking to members of the public about tap water and about GMT. Needless to say, handing out flyers was frustrating and did not receive a great reception, however I plucked up the courage to talk to people and encourage them to talk on telly for 30 seconds. Remember, my childhood dream was to be a Blue Peter presenter, so I needed to step up! It was such a fun day and really got us all at GMT really hyped! We hope the segment will air in a few weeks.

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Hold your horses before you jump from here to Facebook, as the day did not end there… as a PR intern, I’ve been trying to find ways of boosting GMT’s publicity. It just so happened that because my (amazing) aunt spent the week mentoring at Kings Collage for a Space Outreach programme, she got to work with Astronaut Kenneth Ham and his wife and astronaut trainer, Michelle Ham. Ken had discussed with his students on the programme, the importance of looking after our planet and how he could see from space the damage we were doing to our home. I was able to use this opportunity to ask Ken a few questions for GiveMeTap, about the importance of reducing waste and protecting everyone on our planet. My first mini interview with a renowned  Space Personality, a casual dose of Pimms o’clock and conversations about space food. Not bad!

The day ended with a spontaneous trip to Riverside Theatre to see the powerful Nirbhaya, a play based on the events last December – the Delhi Gang-rape. Nirbhaya was the name given to the victim, meaning Fearless One. This play was less a performance, but more a theatrical sequence of testimonials. Real stories from acting personalities who had experienced the toils of being a female in India, Pakistan and even America and chose now to reveal their stories. I didn’t realise until after the performance that these Women were telling their own stories. This wasn’t acting. This was real. The Delhi Rape posed as a turning point for all 5 of these Women who then chose to share their most personal experiences with us through theatre. Powerful, Intense and left me lost for words. I will be writing a review of this, hopefully tomorrow, so please please read it. However uncomfortable, it is a must see for everyone, especially young men and women from South Asian backgrounds.Overall, this has been such a productive, intense and emotional week. It is probably the first time I have felt that I would love to tell you all individually what I have done and explain every detail! For those of you who will be lucky enough to escape this, I hope you have had an equally as amazing week. For those of you who I may see soon, BE PREPARED!

Over & Out.

For the love of Ganesh… ImageOfTheWeek.

For the love of Ganesh... ImageOfTheWeek.

One of Topman’s latest from the Summer 2013 range, is this basic Men’s tee displaying Ganesh, the Hindu deity of Knowledge. However, how many people who buy this tee will know this? How many will understand the background to this image?

Throughout the 21st Century, religious symbols/images have been commercialised and mass produced. The Christian Cross is a prime example of this. You’re not a rock star if you aren’t seen sporting a Cross Pendant… even Bollywood actors have started accessorising, regardless of their religion. This will always be controversial and will always have people on both sides saying it is either blasphemy or just freedom of expression. However, the point I wish to make, free from a religious point of view on my part, is that of Corporate Responsibility.

One defense of this view, would be that of cultural appropriation – adoption of a culture by another culture. However, here, we would be getting into a messy web of differences between culture and religion. Should Ganesh’s image be printed on an item of Indian clothing, then yes, you could say it is cultural appropriation. However, this tee is a modern item of clothing.

So why do I think this is a case of Corporate Responsibility? Because this level of controversy acts against a “regulation of social good” that businesses should ethically adhere to.  I put it in the same basket as Primark selling kid’s padded bikinis. Nothing can really stop it, but it’s just not right.

To me, this tee shirt is a symbol of a religion. Wearing it requires the respect of the traditions and values held by that religion. Mass-producing this image onto a mainstream item of clothing, to me, effectively diminishes the meaning behind it. Although the UK is multi-cultural, it is not yet socially aware enough to be ready for this type of commercialisation. It won’t be long until you see young people wearing it while obliviously eating a beefy Big Mac. This wouldn’t be out of direct disrespect, but out of a lack of knowledge and appreciation. It is about as socially aware as a person, wearing a peace sign t-shirt, casually car-jacking

On a practical note, I don’t think that the tee will do that well and feel that it is a terrible addition to the summer line. After showing the image to many of my friends, the general response has been, “..but who would wear that, though?”. Stick to the retro look, Topman.

Over and Out.