Tuesday, April 10, 2018

This is Klopp’s Liverpool

Mohamed Salah’s hair
Bobby & Mane so uber cool
Of all the teams out there
Why do fans choose Liverpool?
There’s tales of King Kenny
Bill Shankly OBE
Boot room & Bob Paisley
Smokin Joe & Rafa's legacy
Mohamed Salah’s hair
Bobby & Mane so uber cool
Of all the teams out there
Why do fans choose Liverpool?
Derby Day Reds V Blue
I witnessed Gerrard score three
Sang heartily with the Kop crew
In a thunderous Mersey derby
A fabled terrace from the Boer War
Songs, chants and the Kops roar
Be there nowt on the score
Or an Anfield blitz of four
Mohamed Salah’s hair
Bobby & Mane so uber cool
Of all the teams out there
Why do fans choose Liverpool?
And then came Sky Blue City
Seeking a place in the semi
Blitzed at Anfield by three
Three cheers on the Mersey
With five European big ears
Eastlands hosts the Red cyclone
Klopp’s men have no fears
They seldom walk alone
Mohamed Salah’s hair
Bobby & Mane so uber cool
Of all the teams out there
Why do fans choose Liverpool?
© emdad rahman

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Ray Wilkins 1956-2018

At the tender age of eighteen
Stamford Bridge he made his mark
The boy did ‘dangerously well’
A class act on and off the park
Deft touches and radar passes
Is how we’ll celebrate Ray
That lob and chip against Belgique
Elegant and masterful play
An FA Cup final curler
Ray rocked the mic at Wembley
He valued the small people
The cleaner, the fan, the trainee
Old Firm stunner for that Ibrox hero
Today he’d be England’s Pirlo
Leggenda Rossonera
Ciao Ray from the San Siro

©emdad rahman

Monday, December 18, 2017

Fake News: Strange historical facts reimagined in the world of Donald Trump

Emdad Rahman

In a nutshell Fake News: Strange historical facts re-imagined in the world of Donald Trump, is lampooning of Olympic Gold standards by witty Newham based Author David Hutter.

The short digest by the 38 year old begins with a disclaimer warning that there is no suggestion that the fictional elements of this book – that is, anything other than the “What really happened” sections are based on the actual behaviour of the persons mentioned therein.

Hutter’s satire focusses on the Donald’s attitude towards North Korea and assorted sycophants from both sides of the pond. The work describes imaginary scenes of what it might be like if the 45th President of the United States of America was involved in obscure historical events such as the military standoff between France and Brazil over whether spiny lobsters are fish or not. 
Events are described at the end of each chapter, with online and book sources provided in case the reader wishes to find out more about them.

Hutter had the idea for the book when he and his wife and went on holiday to China during the summer. 

He said: “At the time, I'd just finished writing and editing my first novel, a satire about hipsters, and I'd put it away for a couple of months to go over it one last time with fresh eyes. But while we were away, I read a book on British colonialism in China, and I imagined Theresa May acting like British politicians did in the 19th century. It struck me that re-imagining historical events with present-day politicians as the protagonists is actually a great way to convey the magnitude of terrible incidents that happened so long ago it can be difficult to really emotionally connect with them.

“And since any politics-related train of thought invariably leads to Donald Trump right now, I developed my initial idea and decided that by focusing on offbeat and amusing historical events instead of serious ones, I could turn this into a satire about the Donald.”

The parody commences at 4.15 am on the January morning after his inauguration day as the new president plots to become the most famous POTUS ever. Thereupon America’s chosen one embarks on replacing the Lincoln Memorial with his own on D Day and declaring all out war on North Korea via Twitter.

Based on those triumphs there’s the changing of the number of days in a week from 7 to 12 to make America great again on the premise that if there are 12 inches in a foot, so why not 12 weekdays. 
As such a move as explained to Sean Spicer would “be great for the economy because people will have to work twice as many days to have a weekend off, so we’ll double our productivity.”

There’s mention of exchanges with old friend, and current foe Alex Salmond over matters related to gold and of course Scottish independence.  Other facts the story is based on – which include a rabbit attack, the accidental loss of nuclear bombs and the ceremonial burial of Presidential body parts – are described at the end of each chapter.

With fictional Donald Trump anecdotes that are based on the mess created by some of history’s greatest megalomaniacs and worst decision makers, this satire offers the small consolation that while things are bad right now, the world has been here before.

After reading this side splitting spoof I would certainly recommend it to readers of all persuasions. The potent mix of hearty satire blended with vigorous and seriously witty political reflection will provide readers with an unconventional chuckle whilst at the same time highlighting our very real current state of affairs.

After all the power of ridicule is a powerful tool to highlight our collective human deficiencies. 
Hutter agrees: “I guess that just reflects my outlook on life, as pretty much all of my writing is satirical. And with Donald Trump, satire is just a natural fit.”

Fake News: Strange historical facts re-imagined in the world of Donald Trump can be purchased on Kindle for £3.80 or paperback at £5.70 from Amazon.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

One Third & Human Relief Foundation Team up for homeless soup kitchen

Emdad Rahman

Living on the street can be all consuming - Help us erase homelessness...

There was plenty banter amongst the team and our homeless friends tonight at Booth House. 

So One Third Soup Kitchen partnered up with the Human Relief Foundation to provide mouthwatering meat Biriani and Krispy Kreme donuts for our homeless friends. 

The freezing weather outside has affected my ear drums and I gratefully accepted the offer to hold the soup kitchen inside the canteen of Booth House. 

In all, our guests loved the food and the grafting youngsters Joe, Rasib & Haider ensured the seniors had an easy ride. I even had the luxury of taking a few minutes out to enjoy some Biriani and a chocolate donut. 

We have some really important causes to support internationally but at the same time it is unforgivable if we forget our friends, family, neighbours, the desperate and needy who just as much need our support on a local level. 

Many people don’t even acknowledge that we have a dire domestic situation featuring poverty and sheer desperation. Others still believe the streets of a city like London are really paved with gold. The grim and harsh reality is very different to this outlook. 

I read in my local today that 4 local homeless people have died in the last fortnight due to cold exposure whilst sleeping rough. That’s four unnecessary deaths - This is beyond tragic. 

I applaud the team from Human Relief Foundation for giving up their family time this evening to fund our efforts tonight. Some may feel that grassroots activism may not be as glamorous or important as other humanitarian causes but for me it is absolutely the foundation and stepping stone to much bigger causes. After all charity always begins at home and the majority of our homeless citizens are in this very predicament through no fault of their own. This who disagree need a compassion transplant or their heads thoroughly checked. 

Follow me on Twitter @emdad07

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Beanibazar Cancer Hospital benefit game

Muhammad Ismael

A mixture of young and old Beanibazar Sporting Club players joined Sylhet rivals Bishwanath East London to take part in a football game to support a Cancer charity.

Beani Bazar Cancer Hospital (BBCH) is a charity based in the UK that aims to create awareness and provide medical treatment for disadvantaged cancer patients in Bangladesh.

The charity’s aims are to build a state of the art, specialist cancer care hospital and provide free medical care and treatment for the underprivileged and those less fortunate.

Emdad Rahman’s side were a little too strong for their opponents and came back from a goal down to win 2-1 thanks to hitman Abul Hussain and captain Abdul Wahid.

The match was well attended and included the presence of BBCH Marketing Director and Trustee Forhad Hussain Tipu.

Beanibazar Sporting Club President Mesba Ahmed commented on the camaraderie and spirit within both camps: “We had established vets players with mixed ability players and youngsters all on the field together. My own son played tonight and has really enjoyed his experience. This is our philosophy and we will always look to be inclusive. Despite the cold snap there was much laughter and merriment tonight and all for such a great cause.”

Koys Miah, interim Bishwanath East London manager added: “It’s great that we have managed to attract such an impressive number of players and fans to watch a lively friendly game on such a cold night. We are proud to have joined our friends to support the Hospital. Cancer destroys communities and I believe it is our collective responsibility to highlight, promote and support such brilliant projects. Well done to Beanibazar for the comeback but it goes without saying that we are all winners here.”

BBCH CEO & Managing Director Md. Shab Uddin concluded: “The power of sport is immense and games like these without doubt highlight the importance of the work we do. We greatly appreciate the humanitarian efforts of everyone involved.”

An expansive selection policy saw four youngsters play their part in the win for Beanibazar. Ibrahim Yusuf, 13, Yasin Ahmed, 12, Minhajur Rahman, 18 and Wajidur Rahman, 20 took to the field to each play a significant part in their teams win. The other end of the spectrum saw Mamun Uddin also make his debut at the age of 50.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Homeless London braces itself for winter

Emdad Rahman

Before you turn away put yourself in their place...

Joe joined the ranks and made his debut tonight. I had barely said hello and given him a hug and we were in action. He took to it like a duck to water and served soup non stop like the trooper that he is.

You see we had a sizeable and friendly crowd waiting to be served by One Third Soup Kitchen tonight. They waited patiently in the cold but it was clear that they were simply famished.

Stan was joined by a whole cohort of youngsters - Inas, Talha, Inayyah, Hamza, Abbas, Minhaj and little Safa.

The Biriani by Farida and Momtaz was simply delicious and the soup by my niece, Ehsan, and their little Safa had many returning for seconds and thirds.

In total we served 62 homeless friends tonight and I think the kids really enjoyed the experience. And that is always a great bonus.

If you’d like to support our work then do tweet me: @emdad07

Monday, October 16, 2017

Homeless Paul the regular hero!

They may be homeless
With nowhere to go
But smile and help
With a heart full of glow

© Emdad Rahman

I find the psychology of stereotyping both intriguing and fascinating. Real heroes don't wear capes, or spandex, or Y fronts, or masks, or mini skirts. They are regular people and often the most unlikely candidates. Some are often unwashed, unkempt, and grimy but their hearts are pure gold and as clean and pure as they come. 

They sit there through the day, ignored, abused, looked down on and maybe sometimes offered a few scraps as a helping hand. They are rare and their struggles and predicament are more often down to unfortunate circumstances. That's the biggest lesson I have learnt whilst working with homeless friends over the years. 

Paul is a regular at One Third Soup Kitchen Stratford. I have known him now for three years and we consider each other good friends. He gets it in the neck a lot of the times from the locals but gives back just as good. 

He keeps himself to himself but is always lending a hand here, opening a door there, helping clear rubbish, warning of pickpockets and even shouting off unscrupulous characters within the vicinity. He loves a curry, especially an economically priced buffet. His favourite hangout is in a quiet spot in Woodford where he goes to get away from it all. He's also got a foul temper which I find quite humorous and his rants are pure comedy gold. 

It came as no surprise to hear that Paul was on hand to help two teenage victims of the recent Stratford Centre acid attacks. Speaking about the incident, their mother Justine Turvey said: “Paul took the boys to Burger King to get water to wash out their eyes and skin. He also helped calm them down before the police arrived. Understandably they were quite shaken by the attack.

A JustGiving crowdfunding page was set up by Justine Turvey for Paul after he helped her son and friend after they were sprayed in the face with acid. After being punched and kicked by the gang, a noxious substance was sprayed at them which also hit bystanders.

A large number of police cars and ambulances attended the incident which left a number of people seeking medical attention, and the front of the Stratford Centre cordoned off. Fortunately, the liquid only irritated the skin of the people it hit, and did not cause serious injury.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the two boys were left in shock after the gang fled. Paul was on it like lightning and helped the boys out. It's a typical reaction from this hero. went to help the boys.

At the time of writing the JustGiving page had reached £1,365 of its original £500 target.

Paul isn't always hungry but is usually short of a bob so I would thoroughly recommend a donation is made to this fundraising page to help him get some proper help which the wonderful Joanne has initiated.  

To support the appeal, please visithttps://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/justine-turvey

Sunday, October 01, 2017



When good homes are empty
The homeless number will grow
Why do we allow this?
Surely someone must know?

© emdad rahman

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Happy retirement Mustaq bhai!

I have known Mustaq bhai for three decades now, as a mentee, friend, big brother, colleague. As a youngster it was his gleaming white BMW that made him standout as he made the short trek from Shadwell to the Berner Estate to carry out his youth work. He actually started his volunteering in the community in 1978 - 2 years before West Ham United last won the FA Cup with a rare header from Sir Trevor Brooking. 

I later on became his colleague and vividly remember his first day when he called me to arrange a spot of shadowing. Because I didn't recognise his voice he was becoming increasingly annoyed until he mentioned the Bimmer and it all fell comically into place. 

For four years I played five a side football with Mustaq bhai at Osmani and found him to be a seriously tough opponent and I'm not the only one. No holds barred hard running, tough tackling and a foul temper, he was the archetypal football hard man in the Johnny Dexter mould. He certainly made his mark, usually on the back of opponents legs as they were mercilessly scythes down. 

Best of all were the plethora of post game dad jokes in the shower which were pretty hilariously delivered in his own unique style. 

Mustaq bhai's best qualities are his straightforwardness and his sheer determination. I have witnessed how he has turned disappointment on its head, to rise, retrain, rebrand and come back stronger. I've greatly admired his get up and go and learnt so much from his spirit and desire to benefit those around him regardless of who they are and where they're from. 

The likes of Mustaq bhai are rare and I'm pleased to not have to say he's going to be missed because despite his retirement from full time employment it's a given that he's going to be full time on the circuit doing that which he loves the most - Serving the community with great vigour and enthusiasm. 

Best of luck with the future bro - I for one will be watching, learning, whilst keeping a close admiring eye on your exploits. 

Happy retirement!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

One Third, homelessness, Greater Sylhet Cup 2017

People who see them
Think the homeless have no shame
What they don't realise
Is they are hardly to blame

© Emdad Rahman

On the eve of the much anticipated Greater Sylhet Cup at Mabley Green in Hackney we took to our soup kitchen with homeless friends at Stratford City.

I have the good fortune of managing these boys again this year and I was joined by team captain Abdul Wahid and a bunch of awesome nephews in tandem. The captain led by example and this has inspired lots of others already. This is the greatest benefit in volunteering - You can enjoy doing something and at the same time influence others massively.

My neighbour works at the Royal London Hospital as an NHS manager and he and the missus provided  delicious Biriani. In fact the food was so popular that it was all gone in 19 minutes and we had to share the last container between two homeless friends.

One thing abut our Beanibazar team is the focus we have on community issues. For two years running we have welcomed Beanibazar Cancer Hospital as a charity partner using the Barcelona ethos whereby we raise funds for this fantastic project. Just like the Catalan giants charity and active citizenship is key within our squad and there are at least half a dozen squad members who are seriously active in our community carrying out a number of roles which includes supporting the elderly, those who are disabled and people affected by poverty.

The kids seemed to enjoy the experience and will appreciate the efforts of the adults in future years. I could tell that the interaction with fellow humans who have no home left them all thinking about their own lives and one told me how privileged he was in comparison to the people he served. Billy and Paul were their usual lively selves but there was no Amanda or Rosie today.

The number of families affected by homelessness is expected to more than double in the next two decades, with a further 200,000 households affected by 2041. The numbers of those who are sleeping rough will soar by fourfold to more than 40,000 in the same period, according to research by Heriot-Watt University, commissioned by Crisis, the homelessness charity.

Whatever happens at the Greater Sylhet Cup tomorrow will pale into insignificance when you take stock of the situation and how worse off our fellow citizens are. If we win it I'll bring the trophy to the next soup kitchen and pose with my mates there. If we don't our work here continues regardless and I'll have to do it next year.

The Greater Sylhet Cup takes place at Mabley Green tomorrow so do pop over and say hello. The ususal big boys will be favourites but my insight from refereeing some friendlies tells me that Biswanath and Chattak will be serious dark horses and contenders.

If you'd like to support me with One Third Soup Kitchen then please get in touch via Twitter:  @emdad07

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Seeing out Ramadan with homeless friends

Emdad Rahman

"Helping one person might not change the world but it could change the world for one person."

Half of homeless people are afflicted with diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer or arthritis but do not receive any treatment. It's a piece of information I came across when looking for inspiration on homeless issues. 

Ben Kentish recently wrote in The Independent about how homelessness has surged 34%, with 100,000 more families losing their home compared with 2010. 120,000 children are living in temporary homes as councils illegally place families in unfit accommodation. The situation with the majority of those we serve is so dire that they most probably are not listed on any records or databases. 

The One Third soup kitchen team were as always at Stratford City tonight with homeless guests. 

I had quite a busy day with a Running Down Dementia jog in the morning, watching my beloved Scintilla in action twice (controversial loss) and squeezing in some Eid shopping. We knew beforehand that Eid had been announced in Saudi Arabia for Sunday and even though we were sad to see the end of the blessed month of Ramadan the mood within our volunteer team was high spirited in anticipation of a day of joyful celebration. 

I was joined by Marjan, Amzy and the Splash kids from Poplar who are well known for their inspiring philanthropic activities. Even during Ramadan the kids have carried on with their community activities including visiting and serving the elderly at care homes with delicious home cooked foods. 

Today we had a lot of old faces absent but that's the case in the summer months where the hot weather encourages freedom of movement as our regular guests move about localities. 

I had a good chat with Danny about Ramadan and what Eid means 

Billy was his usual jolly self and Amanda and Rose were missing. 

Fasting is a really good way to empathise with the hungry and homeless with a significant difference being that a lot of us eat a hearty meal at the end of an 18 hour day of fasting. For our homeless friends this is not the case and many struggle to even get their daily nutrition. With added awareness amongst the greater public I'm sure we can all help make things a little better. 

Follow me on Twitter @emdad07

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Umrah update: Day 9: Humans of Madinah:

63 year old Abdullah (right) studied English at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (Newcastle University) from 1980 to 1983. He drove around in a Nissan 280c and lived at 10 Park Avenue.

Abdullah loves Bangladeshi food: "I mostly ate Bangladeshi food as a student. It was the only Halal food available in Newcastle and I loved the taste and texture. I always ate mild curry though and couldn't match the Bangladeshis in their ability to consume hot spicy food."

Abdullah enjoyed supporting the Toon Army and watched Newcastle play once at St James Park against Chelsea where he and 27,000 saw Chris Waddle score the winner.

He's also a big boxing fan and went to watch his friend Paul Tucker in an amateur bout. After a convincing win Abdullah was declared a lucky mascot. He attended a second successful fight in Newcastle. He missed the third which was lost: "You could say I was a lucky charm for the team," laughed Abdullah. The Madinah resident is also a big fan of Nadeem Hamed and even did a little impersonation of the famous ring entry routine which is synonymous with the Sheffield born boxing legend. He did add that he was surprised at how much weight he'd put on since retirement.

After departing Newcastle Abdullah settled in Riyadh for two years to complete his teacher training. He has been teaching all his life and is proud of the fact that education in Saudi Arabia from nursery to university is free. He also mentioned that all students receive a government support allowance and glowed with pride as he described the University of Madinah and its international standing with 220 nationalities represented amongst the student roll.

Recently he also taught English language in Madinah and has now retired. He still remains active and with his best mate of 45 years, 50 year old Qasim (centre) runs a building contracting service as well as a real estate firm.

He took my number: "I would like to call you sometimes and speak to you about your life," he said. "It will also help me revise my English."

Monday, June 05, 2017

Umrah update: Day 9: Humans of Madinah:

56 year old Rudy is from Jakarta, Indonesia and and has been a Telecommunications worker all his life. From 1983 to 1990 he was deployed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the IT sector before he returned home and established himself in his hometown of Jakarta.

Rudy and his wife have two lovely children, a daughter at university and a son who has graduated as a pilot. He showed me pictures of them both and is immensely proud of the excellent adults that they have become.

Rudy very proudly told me about his wife who I also had the pleasure of meeting. She is the main earner in their family and from nothing has developed the Ibu Bandung and Kantin Patria traditional Indonesian eateries in Jakarta. She now proudly owns four very well run restaurant establishments.

They are busy outlets and when Rudy reaches retirement age in a few months time the family will take a four week holiday to recharge before he enrols at a culinary college to train up in restaurant management. "I will then work for my wife," he said. "She has a brilliant business mind and look at what she has achieved. I'm on a middle income government salary and this Umrah trip has been entirely funded by her. After I retire I will work for my wife and hopefully add some value to our businesses."

Anda orang yang hebat dan saya ucapkan selamat berjaya dengan persaraan dan impian anda!

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Umrah update: Day 8: Humans of Makkah: Arzoo

Arzoo is from Cox Bazar (longest beach in the world), Bangladesh and has been living in Makkah since 1997. He hasn't looked back nor travelled back home since and is now settled in Makkah with his wife and family. We were delighted to hear that Arzoo has three sons too.

The 37 year old entrepreneur has paid for his parents to complete their Hajj pilgrimage and although he hasn't been able to travel back to Bangladesh for two decades, he keeps in touch with his extended family and financially supports quite a few members too.

Arzoo has worked hard and built up a couple of small businesses. He also has his own taxi and all this combined enables him to earn a reasonable income which helps support his young family comfortably.

The Makkan drove us from our hotel Areej Al Falah to Madinah today. He's a calm, assured driver with a cool temperament (very important in this country) and I would recommend his services. Our journey took under 4 hours, including a pit stop to pick up Zamzam water and some more juicy green mangoes.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Umrah update: Day 8: Humans of Makkah:

Hassan has been selling pigeon food in Makkah for two years. He can usually be spotted in the bird feed area behind the Makkah Clock Tower and sells a bag of wheat for 5 Riyals.

He actually loves pigeons and the way he carries himself reminds me of Everton icon Duncan Ferguson who has a passion for pigeons. Big Dunc was the hardest footballer I've seen and edges Luton legend Mick Harford into second place. People found it strange that the tough Scotsman spent his time with such a hobby but he always maintained that it helped him relax.

Like Dunc, Hassan is big, strong and broody. He stands directly in the blazing heat to earn a living and carries his wares in a wheelchair. Hassan can come across as quite stoic and abrupt but if one takes time to talk to him he's a really pleasant character. It's always better to interact first before passing judgement based on personal radar emissions.

The pigeon hangout is a popular location for visitors and our feathered friends fly in en masse, feed and off they go whilst visitors make a fuss of them and the street sweeps gently clean up after them. It's funny how some pilgrims visit with the belief that eating the bird feed will cure them of illnesses and ailments they may have. Interactions take place between visitors and even the bird sellers to try to address these misconceptions and ensure that the food is strictly fed to the birds. Most people accept the reasoning while quite a few refuse to waver in their beliefs.

Hassan loves pigeons and is just at home combining his love for birds whilst earning a living.

Pigeons have a fabulous history in the Haramain but that's a story for another day.

Hassan is another strand in the rich tapestry that is the great city of Makkah Mukarramah.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Umrah update: Day 7: Humans of Makkah:

The Hajj and Umrah are perfect examples of humanity uniting for a common purpose. There is not a single nation on earth that is not represented and reflected in the ethnic make up of the people who visit and the experience of being amongst such a global family is a magical one. No other place in the world can boast such wonderful diversity and togetherness.

I enjoyed a fleeting and chance encounter this morning at Fajr (early morning prayers).

I don't speak Indonesian, he doesn't speak English but no words were needed. "Indonesia" he proclaimed loudly" and beamed a full moon smile as he sat his good self down next to me. "London," I replied proudly and we shook hands like long lost friends.

I don't think he caught my name and I certainly didn't get his. We sat next to each other for the next 30 minutes just exchanging smiles - It was enough and I felt energised and full of life as I formed a very powerful human bond in the with this stranger.

After Fajr he gave me the tightest hug and kissed both my cheeks. I returned the favour by placing a smacker on his forehead. I had underestimated the extent of the lingual skills of this benevolent gent and he said "thank you" to me. We then turned around and submerged into the huge crowd with our families.

It's Friday and the sheer mass of the crowd was beyond crazy as more visitors and also locals crammed into Makkah to pray Jumuah on the most important Muslim day of the week in the most auspicious of months. In fact things were so tight it took us 45 minutes to get back to our manor on Ibrahim Khalil Road.

I think it's safe to say I'll never see this uncle again in my lifetime but I feel a warm glow and feel all the better for meeting him. This is life in a nutshell. We may know people all our lives or meet them for seconds but only some will positively imprint on and impact our lives.

Aku dah buat kawan seumur hidup aku! 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Umrah update: Day 6: Humans of Makkah:

It's a huge challenge cleaning the world's biggest Mosque and each days thousands of dedicated cleaners like Muhammad, the Burmese Rohingya gentleman beside me are employed to work round the clock to maintain the cleanliness of the holy Mosque.

The role of a cleaner is never easy and it's not just about using a stick to clean the bog or mopping up wet patches. Take a look at their job description and you'll see the finer details their thankless role of cleaning up after the rest of us have had a dump. Amongst a trillion duties it involves some the following on an industrial scale:

- Sweeping and mopping floors.
- Emptying waste bins.
- Polishing the minarets, handles, tiles, gates, stairwells, bridges and doors.
- Cleaning toilets, ablution basins, sinks, baths, and drinking fountains with cleaning detergents 5 times a day. The toilets themselves have approximately 20,000 visitors a day and cleaners are stationed continuously to clean and maintain hygiene in the general WC areas.
- Picking up tonnes of dropped and discarded litter.
- The Mataf (area around the Ka'bah) is washed using hi tech equipment.
- Last but not least, 30,000 bespoke rugs undergo a 5 step cleaning process 3 times a day, which involves dusting, washing, drying in sunlight and mending.

To give you the reader a general idea, the estimated cleaning surface on a daily basis measures approximately 1 million square metres, and will extend to 1.8 million square metres after the completion of the extension project.

Just like the street sweeps the toilet cleaners are amongst the lowest paid and many are in huge debt after having paid the equivalent of 7-10 thousand pounds to secure paid work in Saudi Arabia. They are not paid sick leave and the only benefit available is free accommodation. Despite this the cost of daily living means little is saved to support their families.

A typical shift for these guys lasts 10-15 hours of non stop cleaning duties with small breaks for food and prayer. They are a contented lot and I enjoy observing them in a semi quiet spot, resting, smiling or consuming their food with their colleagues. It's nice to see them relaxed for a little while.

Again, despite their circumstances they are a really friendly bunch who are proud of the role they play in welcoming the world to Makkah, and dare I say it - they are ambassadors for Saudi Arabia for they mix closely with the millions of visitors at first hand and this interaction helps form a rather positive image in the mind of the visitor. In fact the Saudi authorities should up their wages based on this free PR alone.

Again, I can't stress how important it is to offer a tip and the best way to do so is change your designated amount into 1 Riyals and then distribute as you see fit as you wander the Haram complex. If you can't get change at the shop or the bank staff are ignoring you in their customary way then ask the beneficiaries directly - They'll have change from tips or will club round quickly and stump up the amount you require.

They are very needy but also proud and upstanding and the generosity of visitors goes a long way towards supplementing their meagre wages.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Umrah update: Day 5: Humans of Makkah:

Meet Abdul Karim who is Rohingya and hails from the Indo-Aryan people from the Rakhine State, Myanmar. The Rohingya are the most persecuted people on the planet and face scenes of widespread persecution, torture and death on a daily basis mainly at the hands of Burmese Buddhists.

The Rohingiya have zero recognition as Burmese citizens and receive little help from neighbouring countries and the global community. There are a small number of human rights organisations which advocate on behalf of these people.

In Saudi Arabia the Rohingya live in their own confined communities within the slums of Kudai and Naqqasha and can be found selling fruit and veg amongst carrying out other manual tasks. They have heritage and have been living in Saudi Arabia for almost 100 years. A few years ago they were able to apply for an Iqama permit which has provided a little security in a country where foreigners cannot be naturalised as citizens. This does however present the challenge of securing stable employment to pay for their increased costs in relation to their day to day living.

Karim is happy with his lot and grafts hard and long all year round as a fresh fruit purveyor in Makkah. He's a really jolly old chap and his smile permeates and brings radiance to his whole face and demeanour.

Compared to his country folk his life is one of ease. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Umrah update: Day 3: Humans of Makkah - The biggest Iftar gathering in the world

It is likely that at least a quarter of the world's population will be breaking their fast after an approximate fasting day of 16 hours. (We've just broken ours).

In Makkah the weather is scorching at 42 degrees and with not even a slight threat of rain, breeze or shade on the horizon. Yet we have found it easier to observe the fasting in such intense heat and maybe part of it is because we're carefree and not bogged down by daily rituals and chores.

Today we completed our Umrah (non-mandatory lesser pilgrimage which unlike the Hajj can be completed at any time of the year). Despite the heat we neither felt overly thirsty, tired, and lethargy hasn't set in as after a shower I sat in the hotel lobby writing this blog. I did however have to outrun a bevvy of female beggars who started manhandling me before a tug of war and lots of screaming ensued amidst a mild cat fight. I did feel rather special but eventually had to be bailed out by my missus and a Good Samaritan decoy.

One of the main features of the day is observing the setting up of the Biggest Iftar food spread in the world food, which stretches to almost 15 kilometres, taking in the new Haram extension and spilling way into the neighbouring streets including Ibrahim Khalil Road. The daily table spread itself is close to 20,000 metres and is rolled out and rolled up with military like precision by an army of workers, volunteers and scouts.

The food pack to break fast is provided by wealthy dignitaries and no mention is made of their name, nor is any beneficiary required to provide their email in exchange of these delicious freebies. This daily cost of this gesture sets the kingdom back a cool 1 million Saudi Riyals a day. An official told me this is small change when compared to the benefits and rewards of providing food, drink and nourishment to a fasting or needy person.

A delicious Iftar food pack consists of dates, Zamzam water, cake, cheese puff pastry, a croissant and orange juice. There's so much to go round and absolutely no one goes hungry. I timed the whole process from setting up, serving, to cleaning at 30 minutes all in. Inside the Haram complex these packs are not allowed in order to maintain cleanliness due to the larger volumes of people inside. They can only partake of dates, water and coffee there.

The only downside for me is the waste at the end where good food is discarded. I spoke to an official and encouraged better practise in terms of collecting all the waste (unpacked good foods) and transport them to the deprived neighbourhoods and homeless citizens on the outskirts of the city. I'm sure I'm not the first to suggest this and would make the whole thing just perfect and totally sum up the spirit of Ramadan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Emdad Rahman

THhe things we take for granted someone else is paying for. 

We had a new team at Stratford City with my mate Mosh and nieces Mariah and Zahra and Nadia all clubbing together to support homeless friends. Nadia in particular is running a project called “Humans of Tower Hamlets”. This centres around an exhibition which highlights the excellent achievements of individuals living, working and being schooled in Tower Hamlets – a borough often viewed through negative goggles. Nadia and her team aim to use this exhibition to demystify negative stereotypes and celebrate the excellence within the community.

Mosh and the missus had cooked up a stupendous two full pots of Biriani and the smell emanating from the back had wafted into the car during our journey and left me dazed by the team we reached Stratford.

Mariah and Zahra are both at school and were superb throughout as they took control of serving food along with Nadia. There were lots of smiles and positive interaction with the guests, and a few commented on how genuine the kids were: “Looks like they’ve had great tutoring and mentoring”; “Who is that person?”

It was nice to be a full on supervisor tonight as Mosh led the clean up at the end and even treated the girls to ice cream and me to a full whack Sprite.

•If you’d like to help interact with homeless London, tweet me: @emdad07
•Humans of Tower Hamlets takes place from 1st May 2017 at Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Thrills and spills galore at Base Jump Essex

Emdad Rahman: If you love being airborne then trampoline parks are a sure fire way to get the adrenaline levels rising rapidly. 

Upon arrival we were greeted by the terrific Tracy at reception and this really set the tone for our visit. Despite the computers being non compliant Tracy was a picture of efficiency and her fabulously affable character immediately got us liking Base Jump even before we'd taken that first athletic leap. 

On site there are 76 interconnected trampolines and the park can host days out and children's birthday parties a as well as other social events. 

It was certainly not our trampoline debut so all of us were looking to get airborne and nail those awesome manoeuvres. The boys commented on my enthusiasm and I even heard a whisper at the back about how dynamic I looked whilst bouncing off the walls and floor. I explained that level of agility does not come by chance with many trying but few actually being blessed in those disciplines. 

Back to reality and the venue is fun and safe for all visitors be they kids, or big kids in my instance. Visitors are surrounded by safety mats and there are plenty of friendly staff and court monitors around to enforce safety, assist and guide.

For frenetic and fantastic fast pace thrills look no further than the dodgeball arena where everyone can enjoy an energy sapping and hugely fun game or three. 

From fierce rivalries between friends to more casual games with your family visitors can step into one of three different dodgeball courts and take on the challenge. 

For the Ninja Challenge you are required to leap, swing and climb across the course without falling into the surrounding foam pit. 

If you fancy beating your foes into submission then joust poles are the way to go. Face your opponent and strike out. Avoid falling into the treacherous foam pit to be victorious. 

The Half Pipe uses the six interconnected trampolines to help you bounce your way left to right on and off the walls all the way to the end and back. Bouncing from your feet to your bum and back, there’s more than one way to run the Halfpipe and no two runs will be the same. 

Within the launch arena there are two different landing options: Soar through the air into the 4ft deep soft foam pit or take a leap of faith onto a giant air bag which will cushion a drop from the air.

Base Jump also offers adult fitness classes in the following sessions:

  • Fit & Fun
  • Bounce Ex
  • Box Bounce
  • Military Assault
  • Extreme LBT

There's also High Intensity Interval Training which is the most efficient effective form of training to increase fitness, burn fat and improve muscle definition. It consists of intense bursts of exercises followed by periods of active recovery allowing you to get the most out of the session and burn the maximum amount of calories.

Base Jump Essex is located in Rayleigh, Essex, and is not far from Southend and is thoroughly recommended, especially as part of a day out to the area. One thing guaranteed is plenty of fun for everybody, including corporateand team building days. 

Address: 26a Brook Road, Rayleigh, Essex, SS6 7XL.

Larbi Ben Mbarek: The forgotten genius

The first to strike gold in Europe
Was that famous Black Pearl
Fondly known as Benbarek 
To others the Moroccan Earl

El Ouatane aged fourteen
Honed the Black Pearl's stealth
Two Spanish titles for El Prodigio
Order of Merit after his death

Forty three goals for Stade Français
As Larbi walked the walk
Fifty six as Spain's Perla Negra
La perle noir du Maroc

From twenty Francs a day
An Iberian prince at Marseille
The first ever "black pearl"
Very high praise from Pele

Eight goals against Southend
A first French cap against Italy
War loomed and Larbi went home
With the arrival of the Nazi

French journalists raged in despair 
When Atletico signed a cheque 
One wrote; ‘Sell the Eiffel Tower, 
But not Ben Barek'

Idéal Club Casablanca and US Marocaine
Stade Français adding spice
Atlético Madrid Los Rojiblancos 
Where Larbi won La Liga twice

Nineteen caps for Les Bleus no myth 
Danced on dictator Franco's deck
Bel-Abbès and a stadium named
For Haj Abdelkader Larbi Ben M'barek

© emdad rahman

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Homeless London is alive and kicking

By Emdad Rahman

We focus so much on the "homeless" part we forget the "people" bit... #TheWanderingLondoner

Tonight at the soup kitchen we had a mixture of the kids and new volunteers stepping in, including Dr Mohammad Hassan from. Queens Hospital, Romford, who came along despite a late shift on the job. Here is a gentleman making a positive difference in the lives of thousands of people yet he commits time to working with us on voluntary community service. The likes of Dr Mohammad are proof of the impact big hearted volunteers have on their communities. 

It's nice to see the weather is improving and this is very much reflected in the glow of the faces of our homeless guests, local shoppers, tourists and even the volunteers. 

West Ham played away to Bournemouth so the crowds around Stratford were a little subdued. The food was provided by Halima, her husband and the gorgeous twins Amna and Hamdan who even joined in to serve. The Biriani went down a treat and was very popular with our guests. We served lots of elderly friends tonight. One was clearly in distress and was seen to by paramedics. 

The kids were excellent and I usually like to observe them as they get on with their duties. Although I don't stand there with a clipboard i's a bit like the head coach observing his players as they go about strutting their stuff. I had given them a little briefing on smiling while serving, engaging in small talk, being attentive and not swapping personal details. I then let them take over and asked the adults to play support roles. In my opinion customer service is even more essential in voluntary service and I like to set a positive example myself by telling youngsters and newbies that it is irrelevant that homeless guests are not paying to eat from our hands. The fact that they chose to come to us to be served is the ultimate blessing, privilege and honour in the first place. Amanda and Jim stayed to the end and shared some banter. 

The thing about kids is nothing about what they do is put on and every action is genuine, sincere and no holds barred. They are not politicians and they cannot lie or mask their emotions. They may speak in sweet tones, harsh tones, ignore you, grimace or even hug you - sometimes in succession. What you see is very much what you get. 

In my opinion it is hugely important to bring the kids along and supervise them whilst they run a soup kitchen and serve fellow human beings who are in a vulnerable position in comparison to their lives. What are the alternatives on a Saturday night? Play Station? XBox? Social Media? Hit the town? Lets be honest and agree that lots of kids on a Saturday night are either on their consoles, getting up to no good or struggling to find things to do. The team at One Third soup kitchen offer a great activity. I encourage families to join in and not cancel Saturday night plans as we have a fine tuned system which enables us to set up, serve, tidy up and get back to what we were doing in no time. 

If you'd like to support the work of my team at One Third Soup Kitchen then follow and contact me on Twitter - @emdad07

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ArcelorMittal Orbit - One attraction; many memories  

Emdad Rahman: We admired the ArcelorMittal Orbit at London 2012 during the Paralympic Games and at the time thought of how great it’d be to one day climb and survey the surroundings from a vantage point on the UK’s tallest sculpture. My recent trip sure didn’t disappoint. Upon taking the lift to the second floor we were treated to breath taking views of up to 20 miles across London’s famous skyline and the iconic sporting venues of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

In 2009, a design competition was held to create an iconic landmark that would become the centrepiece of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and commemorate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The winning concept was a creative collaboration between world-renowned artist Sir Anish Kapoor and structural engineer Cecil Balmond. 

During a chance meeting with Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal the world’s largest steel company, the former Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, secured his support to provide the steel necessary to create the sculpture. Construction began in November 2010 with the structure reaching its full height of 114.5m by November 2011. The ArcelorMittal Orbit was revealed to the public on 11 May 2012 and around 130,000 people visited the sold-out attraction during the Games. 

Following a period of closure after the Games, the ArcelorMittal Orbit fully reopened to the public on Saturday 5 April 2014 when the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park once again welcomed guests.

In July 2015, planning permission was granted to add a slide to the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Anish Kapoor invited German artist Carsten Höller, well known for his slide installations, to create it. Work began on The Slide in early 2016 with the first piece being lifted into place in April of that year. The final piece was lifted into place in early June 2016 and The Slide opened to the public on 24 June 2016. The opening weekend sold out in advance of the attraction opening.

To explore London’s extraordinary skyline visitors must ascend 114.5m into the clouds to the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit before experiencing the city’s landmarks from the outside observation walkway suspended 80m above the ground. 

There’s a lot to see from the ArcelorMittal Orbit’s two viewing platforms from St Paul’s Cathedral, the O2 and Wembley to a birds eye view of the iconic London 2012 venues. You can even get up close to London’s landmarks with innovative and interactive touchscreens that allow you to zoom into the view and learn more about the city.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit perfectly combines awe-inspiring city views with fun and contemporary art. Visitors can interact with the sculpture itself, experience the thrill of The Slide designed by Carsten Höller, flip the horizon in Anish Kapoor’s two huge concave mirrors and enjoy the gentle descent of the 455 steps that wind their way around the sculpture and immerse you in a recorded collection of distinctive London sounds such as church bells and local markets.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture, 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty and six times taller than the Angel of the North. The upper viewing gallery is 80m high and the lower is 76m high. The staircase is made completely from recycled steel and takes about 12 minutes to walk down. The sculpture is made from 2,000 tonnes of steel, made by leading steel company ArcelorMittal, which is the equivalent weight of 1,136 London Black Cabs. It took just over two years to build and contains over 35,000 bolts.

The Slide is the world's tallest and longest tunnel slide at 178m long and 76m high. In the exhilarating trip, riders slide on a specially designed mat and hit speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. Visitors are also able see out through polycarbonate 'windows' for some of The Slide.

It’s not for the feint-hearted and you are advised to grip tightly as you descend like a bullet through a myriad of twists, turns and drops of the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide as it weaves its way through the iconic red steel frame of the UK’s tallest sculpture. To be precise it’s an exhilarating 34 second descent down the 178m long slide as brave souls meander through light and dark sections at speeds of up to 15mph as The Slide loops its way around the ArcelorMittal Orbit 12 times taking visitors through gentle curves, thrilling drops and a tight corkscrew named ‘the bettfeder’ – bedspring in German. 

The Slide is a unique collaboration between two of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists.  

With breath-taking views of London, the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide and the UK’s highest freefall abseil, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is a viewing experience like no other.