Cape Town is amazing so far - unfortunately not much time to blog right now, we have better things to do :) Yesterday we went to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years..the journey took around 45 minutes by boat, on a stomach-churningly rocky sea, but was really beautiful. We were shown around the prison by a former inmate, who was there for five years for protesting against the apartheid and who suffered the most horrendous torture. That, and the township tour we went on today, really opened my eyes to the reality of apartheid and the impact it had on millions of people here. It's amazing how much you can miss if you're not paying attention - I was hardly even aware of all this stuff even though it was all in disturbingly-recent times.

Tomorrow we will be going up Table Mountain, which is the highest point in this area so should be able to take some amazing photos if the weather's good. I found an incredible bead shop with all the beads under the sun so will bring some over for those who are interested.

Also South Africa is great for muslims! The tourist information centre in Cape Town actually has a prayer room for muslims, all the main fast food outlets are halal including KFC, Macdonald's etc and there are lots of muslims around..which makes us feel quite at home. This is despite having to always be a bit on the ball with locking doors and parking in safe areas and so on which seems to be part of daily life here. We haven't had any problems so far though alhamdulillah.

Let me know if there is anything particular you want, although so far there hasn't been much I've wanted to buy, as most souvenirs seem to be creepy wooden masks or elephant/lion/giraffe associated items.

First knitting meeting!

Thanks everyone who came on Wednesday, it was really good fun :) I don't think there was a lot of teaching going on what with all the cameras flashing continously though..

I got there about 5 minutes late - the journey from the hospital is horrendous, but when I went upstairs (it was held in Barakah near Brick Lane) there was no-one there! But it was ok, it's just that everyone was late as usual. People did trickle in one by one, and eventually we had seven around the table, all set up with needles and wool ready to knit. Dazey, Pink and Eco had all done some already, but we had a complete beginner there (not sure if I should mention by name so I won't) and we were attempting to teach - I forgot how hard it can be to get the hang of it at first :)

Barakah does really good smoothies, and altogether it's a really good venue for the meeting, especially as Thursday evening they have a tafsir class at LMC which Mr C plans to start going to, so I can go home with him. I'm not sure whether we should make it a weekly thing or fortnightly, because I'm also doing the Ibn Jabal arabic class at SOAS on Thursdays. Unfortunately I've forgotten all my grammar so look like a complete dunce in the class :s but hopefully some revision will sort that out.

Off to South Africa tomorrow! I have been abusing the goodwill of my team at work and gone home early the last couple of days but haven't packed properly yet so am planning to disappear yet again. One of our Outreach nurses is South African and she gave me some tips for places to go. I'm a bit concerned about the whole safety aspect and am taking the (slightly paranoid) precaution of taking my own cannulas and needles! Maybe I should take a giving set and some fluids too to leave in the car...

I was attempting to crochet some flowers this morning, when Nana walked in and switched on the TV, flicking straight to his favourite Bangla channel. After a few minutes, he got bored and walked off, leaving on some endless infomercial type ad. The next ad that came on got my attention though, it was advertising the miracle product that is Rupa Omri (I think that's what it was called anyway). Here are some of the fantastic testimonials:

"Before no-one would give me a job, but since I started using Rupa Omri, my boss wants me to marry his daughter and has given me a promotion!"

"Now, no-one believes I'm South Indian, after only one month the difference is amazing"

"Before my husband was too embarrassed to take me out because he's fair and i'm dark, but now he takes me out all the time! I feel so beautiful"

And so on. It was absolutely ludicrous, and quite blatantly racist. The idea was, if you aren't fair, you won't get a husband/wife, a job, friends or any respect from society. I was so appalled that when the number flashed up on the screen, I decided to call and give them a piece of my mind. It was a good thing I was so worked up because I was caller number 11 in the queue, as the automated American voice kept telling me. Imagine that - 10 people actually wanted to buy this junk! The wait was only 4 minutes supposedly, but strangely kept getting longer and longer so that after 20 minutes (I ironed my clothes and had tea while waiting) there were somehow seven minutes left. I did plan to put the phone down but then I kept thinking of that poor South Indian bloke (you're South Indian! That's how you LOOK! Deal with it!) and decided that justice had to be done on behalf of all the melanin-challenged of this world.

When I finally got through, some poor woman on the other end was subjected to (what was for me) a tirade about my disgust at Bangla TV showing an ad like that in this day and age, and how it was racist and so on...She was fairly bemused at all this, and attempted to remonstrate with me, pointing out the myriad advantages of the cream and also the 100% money back guarantee. This didn't go down too well with me, and when it came to the point where I demanded the ad be removed from our tv screens, I heard a tiny click on the other end of the phone. And then a dial tone.

It was quite liberating having a hissy fit, being normally a fairly mild-mannered person, especially in such a worthy cause (Pink will remember another occasion in Birchfields Park when I released my Inner Lion). I urge you all to write a letter of complaint to Bangla TV, or better still, call 0800 066 4522 (i think) and have a pop at them yourselves.

City Knitting - new group starting Wednesday!

I am forced by circumstances to begin my knitting group before I'm quite ready, but I'm actually quite excited about it now! Please all come along on Wednesday - you will get a free knitted corsage for coming (first ten people only, although I think even that is aspirational), just email me at and I will give you venue details etc. The reason the venue isn't quite decided is that the first meeting is going to be photographed for a well known Muslim lifestyle magazine and I think they want some kind of arty venue which hasn't been sorted just yet. It will definitely be in Zone 1 and somewhere easily accessible.

Although there will be a lot of Muslim girls, it is not intended to be exclusive in any way and I would welcome people from all backgrounds, in fact the more diverse the better -I'd like it to be a way of promoting friendships between communities as well..but let's see if anyone turns up first before making any grandiose plans :)

Don't worry if you have no experience, for the first few meetings everything will be provided for you to practise and then you can choose your own pattern and buy your wool and make your own creations.

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