Since reading Sathnam Sanghera’s autobiography, The Boy with the Topknot I have been hooked by his incredibly real sense of writing. It comes to no surprise that by being obsessed with British-Asian literature, I wanted to buy my school library’s version of the book some years ago. When refused to re-home this wonderfully enlightening book on my own personal bookshelf, I turned to order my own copy for my A-Level literature study.
I was inspired so much I wrote to Sanghera explaining my admiration for the book and how his success as a writer was my motivation for the future, not to mention the reasons I chose him for my A Level study. I was amazed to learn I had received a reply from a top Times writer! Not only did I receive a reply but got told my letter was now featured on Sanghera’s wall for inspiration – “I’ve printed it out and will put it on my study wall and look at it whenever my motivation flags. Which is often” – Sathnam Sanghera, December 2009.
For obvious reasons Sanghera is one of my favourite writers. My original email to him is proof of my respect for his work as I continuously embarrass myself by showering him with compliments. However, four years later I found myself fortunate enough to still be on his mailing list. Receiving an email on the release of his first novel, Marriage Material I did not hesitate to order it.
Marriage Material is a wonderful novel which fluctuates from present day to the past hardships of the first generation Punjabis that immigrated to the UK. The main character Arjan Banga reveals his experiences of introducing the Punjabi culture to his English girlfriend – which I can’t help believe is inspired by Sanghera’s own relationship experience which was revealed in The Boy with a Topknot. Not only does Arjan continue to experience the hurdles of a cross-cultural relationship but learns of the history of his broken family hiding behind secrets, betrayals and loyalties presented through the corner shop life in 1950’s Britain.
Sanghera beautifully adapts Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale to address the issues experienced by the first generation British-Asians in a way that mirrors the social confinement and expectations of the Victorian era. Despite entering the modern age of the ‘naughties’ decade, Sanghera relates to how you can claim that Indians still harbour an old-fashioned attitude; in particular to the restrictions given to females of the Punjabi culture, “WEREN’T LONG AGO WHEN GYALS WEREN’T ALLOWED IN GORA PAKORA PUBS” (Marriage Material, p.299). Marriage Material gives modern day British-Asians a flavour of the life that was once a set of strict rules for women not being allowed to talk to boys, eat meat, drink alcohol, and wear Western clothes and always covering their head when in the presence of older relatives.
It was interesting to read this novel so soon after finishing the Jasvinder Sanghera Shame collection and get another perspective on marriage and disownment which also plays a key theme in Marriage Material. Intriguingly, Marriage Material unravels the story behind Surinder Bains’ decision to disown her family by running off with a white man opposed to her family abandoning her as seen in cases in the Shame collection. In addition, Marriage Material addresses the association of caste systems within the Indian Culture and how once upon a time it was an insult to be associated with anyone beneath your own caste.
Sanghera brings to light some of the unspoken tales of a life that my parents and members of my family would have experienced when immigrating to England over forty or fifty years ago. It is enlightening to read of such tales that seem so foreign to the world we live in today, where pubs, clubs and even restaurants are a second nature to us in comparison to hearing stories where people visited these places for the first time. I’m fascinated to learn more of this culture that we do not witness today… for it is these stories that allow us to create our own!
A girl can never get bored of doing her nails. This week’s nail try is my new Nails Rockit* in Green velvet*.
This six piece kit comes with three lots of pearl appliques including pearls, pearl bows and multi-shimmer pearls. The key look to this piece is the velvet ‘fluff’ effect that is applied to the wet nail.
Personally I didn’t like the velvet effect as the application process is very fiddly and is not distributed evenly across the nail. Once the fluff has been applied, you need to reapply a second coat of nail varnish. I found the end look to appear clumpy and not smooth enough to be called ‘Velvet green’. I completed my look with the pearl appliques and finished with a top coat to secure everything in place.
Now to sit back, wait for them to dry and enjoy…
*Nails Rockit Bows Nail Art, £9.99
If there’s anything about baking I will never forget, it’s my mum’s recipe for sponge cake. The traditional 500 - 500…
- 500g softened butter
- 500g caster sugar
- 500g self raising flour
- 6 eggs
- 1-2 tbsp vanilla extract
First cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs to avoid curdling and add the vanilla extract. Fold in the sifted flour to add air.
Bake for 40-60 minutes until golden brown 200 degrees, you will be able to tell when it’s cooked by poking a fork through the center - if there is no mixture left on the fork, your cake is cooked!
For my friend’s birthday, I made two lots of cake using this recipe in deep rectangular trays so that the surface area was big enough to carve a sufficient sized 2 and 3.
Smothered in vanilla butter cream and covered in sprinkles… Who’d be able to resist something so tempting?!
Metallic Matte & Caviar Nails
I can’t call myself a nail fanatic without trying nail caviar. So here is my verdict…
Six days and still going strong. I used 3 different nail varnishes to create this metallic matte effect; starting with an off the shelf basic black for my first coat, I then added a metallic overcoat of Revlon chroma chameleon in Amethyst finished with L’oreal Bourjois So Matt top coat. Personally I think it has something to do with all the layers of varnish on my nails, but it’s been under a week and they are almost as good as chip-free!
The matte coat gives your nails a fabulously smooth finish as well as the metallic overcoat catching the light with hints of purple and green.
I mixed four different colours of caviar beads together to mirror the effect of the metallic sheen. Using silver, black, purple and lime green I poured the beads onto my wet fingernail over a tray to catch the beads. It’s a fiddly job but worth every effort.
To secure the beads in place and to prevent the from crumbling off, as I have heard from other caviar users, I applied a thick layer of clear coat to the beads and stubbed them with the brush so that the liquid can act as a sealant.
I love my caviar nails and can’t wait to try out some new Christmassy colours to get in the festive season!
Contour & Highlight
Recently I have changed my party make up regime to the upcoming craze of ‘contour and highlighting’, most famously seen done by Kim Kardashian and her use of Ben Nye Luxury Banana face powder.
By starting off like a striped tiger - Avatar creature, you eventually end up with a flawless finish! The idea of contour and highlight make up is to make your face appear more streamline and poised.
- To begin with apply your normal foundation as normal. I tend to only really apply it to areas where I have problem skin.
- Contour is the darker make up which defines your look, usually a shade or two darker than your own skin tone.
I mainly stick to contouring my cheeks and nose area. I do this by firstly following the hollow area below my cheek bones*.
On the nose area follow the natural ending of you brown line down towards your nose. You will end up with two parallel lines down the bridge of your nose*.
The edges of your chin, outside of your forehead and above your eyelids can also be contoured lightly.
- Highlighting should be applied to areas of the face that stand out. So in other words, areas you want to make pop!
This includes under the eyes, forehead, chin and the bridge of you nose between the two contour lines*.
- The final and most important part is to blend. Blending is the key to making your skin look flawless. I use a fine stipple brush which is sometimes labelled by make up brands as a finishing brush. Alternatively you could use a blending sponge. Work in circular motions to blend in any lines and patches.
Take a step back and observe. More make up can be applied depending on your look, and blend accordingly.
I use the Sleek contour palette for the contour powder, and just a simple lighter shade concealer to highlight.
*See image for reference
It’s that time of year
(well it’s been ‘n’ gone) when Halloween gets us all in the dress up mood…
The most fun about dressing up is making your costume or assembling it together. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a ready made fancy dress costume ever
apart from maybe a Hawaiian grass skirt and matching flower garland.
This year I my creativity was combined with a last minute decision to visit my friends back at university and the underlying fact I am broke. Although with my weird and wonderful wardrobe, fancy dress wasn’t really a problem. My collection of gold chains and quite frankly, obsession with anything that glitters gold, the most obvious choice was Cleopatra.