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Posts tagged ‘party’

106. My Internship

I’ve just finished my third week at Towers Watson as an intern (working in Retirement). This means I’ve actually reached half way! The time has seriously flown by, probably because I’ve been kept so busy.

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Enjoying the sunshine

Settling Down

There are 8 of us altogether in the Westminster office in Retirement. One is me, the other is Shakira and one of the dudes actually went to my secondary school (though he was in the year below me). So that’s 2 more people than most people usually know at the start of their internship. On top of that it’s 6 girls and 2 boys which is pretty unusual but all of this combined has just made it easier for me to settle down.

The Work

There’s no point me detailing the kind of stuff I do because it won’t make much sense. All I can say is that to work in this area, you need to learn so many new words and acronyms that it might as well be a Rosetta Stone course. Also because of government rule changes over the years, doing simple tasks becomes hella annoying because you have to look at each time period separately, there’s Pre 88, Post 88, Pre 97, Post 97, and the occasional Post 06.  Why you make this so hard?!

Initially I was a bit annoyed about doing things I didn’t actually understand. For example I use a very clever spreadsheet called Caps and Floors which works out the right interest rate for stuff. Essentially all I do is input a few values and it spits out a number. I have no idea how it’s doing this and from the viewpoint of a mathematician, I find it wholly unsatisfying but I have grudgingly come to accept that I don’t have time to work through the Black Scholes equation. Additionally I had very little financial knowledge coming into this. I didn’t know how gilts work (I do now..sort of) or stuff about bond yields which was a hindrance.

I haven’t done much Maths besides basic arithmetic (I miss it) but the numerical judgement I’ve picked up during my degree (eg. does this figure look right?) has been invaluable. It means I’m efficient when sifting through documents trying to find the right information and also when reviewing calculations on Excel.

I have a buddy who’s supposed to make sure I always have work to do but he’s a bit slow and this week he’s gone on holiday. Basically I’ve been pestering the people around me and they’ve been happy (a little too happy on occasion) to oblige. In contrast, Shakira’s buddy Timone gives her annoying technical tasks with incomplete instructions but he’s very nice so we forgive him.

IT Skills

I thought I was decent using Microsoft Office. I’m not. I have learnt so many little tricks in my time here.  Many of them are specific to the the TW Toolbar but just small things like the ‘track changes’ features in Word and ‘record transitions’ feature in Powerpoint has been… life changing. However, the biggest shock was Microsoft Outlook. I had NO IDEA how powerful it was. I’d never given it much attention before but seriously it puts Hotmail and even Gmail to shame. Its capacity to book meetings, check out other people’s schedules and track tasks has been invaluable. I will never dismiss it again.

Socials

Towers Watson is a very friendly place. The office is open plan so you literally can walk up to anyone and just say hi. As the new interns, everyone was really eager to meet us and find out our capacity to do some work for them 😛 There is always some kind of social event on the horizon whether it’s Friday drinks, a lunch or a boat party like we had this week. The inconvenient thing about them is that they all involve drinking. It’s like they can’t do anything if there is no alcohol. Every time I tell someone that I don’t drink, they give me a confused look. I guess I didn’t realise how important a pint was in British culture. I do now. And my god, it’s not just one pint they have, it is several. Where is all this liquid going? How are they constantly not peeing?! It’s a mystery to me.

However I’ve still been going to as many of the socials as I can. A highlight was the boat party. Great fun! I’m sure it was supposed to be used as an opportunity for (more) networking but there was a roulette table and I pretty much spent the whole evening there (no real money was involved before someone starts shouting at me for gambling during Ramadan- talking of Ramadan… Ramadan Mubarak!).

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I’m feeling lucky….

Intern Project

Alongside all the work we do in the office, we also have an intern project. I’m in a group of 8 across three different offices and we have to co-ordinate making new videos for graduate recruitment. Other groups are making games to help prospective applicants decide what line of business they should go for and another is setting up TW’s Facebook and Twitter page. The project has been really fun so far and I really like my group, particularly a dude called Robert who is our project leader and also happens to have beautiful chiselled cheekbones 😛 Now originally we thought that we’d be interviewing people in the office… turns out we’re starring in them. That’s right we’re going to be immortalised on the TW website, saying cringey things like ‘open the door to your career at Towers Watson!’ *fistpump*.

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This is where we’re going to be filming… the Reigate office (not my usual Westminster one)

Dress Code

I’m going to be honest- half the reason I was excited about this internship was because I’d get to dress up in nice formal wear. However that gets old real quick. First of all dresses and skirts are really annoying when you’re climbing stairs. Mine don’t have huge slits so my pace length is restricted and unless I hike the hem up, I definitely can’t run for my train. Trousers for the win! Furthermore, if I’m not wearing trousers I wear opaque tights and in this weather it is DISGUSTING. I can feel my legs continuously getting sweaty and drying. Actually gross. Oh and shoes! Both my flats and my heels hurt my feet if I wear them for too long. University has spoiled me- the only shoes that don’t hurt are trainers.

Thankfully we have dress down Fridays where I can chillax and wear my jeans and converses to work. Hoorah!

Okay this is getting really long now. I’ll leave it at that- don’t want to bore all of you!

Over and Out!

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104. Excuse my French but I’m in France

I’M JUST SAYIN’

This is what I should have posted several days ago but better late than never eh. So as I’ve banged on and on about, I went to Paris this weekend for my cousin’s wedding. SO much happened even within a short amount of time but these were some of the high/low lights:

Travelling
The train station was an hour and a half away from the house we were staying at and the house was another hour away from the venue. Who came up with this fabulous planning?- I don’t know- but my god did we do a lot of driving. It was really annoying too because it was so hot in the car that our make up was melting.

The House
I have family all of the world, literally at least one representative from every continent attended this wedding and we were ALL, yes ALL, housed in this one place. It was absolutely stunning, a huge paradise in the middle of nowhere but it still only had 5 bedrooms and there were 31 of us. Yeah you can imagine that not many of us slept on beds. What’s worse was that there were only 3 bathrooms so goodbye privacy. People were hiding behind beds and doors when they were changing but eventually we all just gave up. Trust me when I say that I have seen enough aunty’s stomachs for a lifetime.

Drama
If you know anything about asian weddings, you know that they can’t happen without some drama. This occasion was no exception. My Khala aka. my mum’s sister and bride’s mother is a very emotional person and when the Nikkah (the closest to vows Muslims get) finished, she promptly passed out and I was the idiot who had to run to the guy’s section and get help. Then the crying commenced. It was like a chain reaction. The bride started weeping, and then her sister started which set my mum off and next thing I know my own eyes were wet.

The Rush
There were three events in two days and I was there for two nights. Everything was rushed. As soon as I arrived (literally as soon as I got my foot in the door), I was told to get ready and change my clothes but I was knackered and couldn’t be asked so I just stayed in my jeans. I eventually got the energy to change for the second event but I wore no make up. I sorted things out for the third though.
For the journey home, I caught a very early train back to London and because of the timings and distance from the venue, I actually didn’t sleep for 26 hours. It’s always been on my list of things to do before I die to pull an all nighter but I never thought it would be under those circumstances…

Language Problems
There were many. I speak English, understand Urdu but speak it to a below average standard whereas the rest of them are fluent in French and speak better Urdu than me. Basically there were three languages flying around the whole time and it got hella confusing.

Heels
I fucking hate heels. I wore them for two days straight and it murdered my feet. I genuinely limped home. Don’t do it!

Dancing
In case you don’t know, I love to dance… in private. I’m absolutely terrible but I enjoy practising my balle balle and Beyonce booty shake… in private…because you know I’m brown and dancing unashamedly would ruin my reputation. Now at any other wedding I would never be expected to dance. Come a family member’s wedding however and suddenly my mum is actively telling me to join in. Great! I’m sorry but I am not a closet professional dancer. Let me eat my biryani in peace.

I know this all sounds like a huge rant but it was a wonderful experience really. My cousin looked beautiful (though she won’t let me put up any pics of her yet -_-) and it was amazing to be part of such a Punjabi energetic wedding.

Without further ado, here are some pictures. More may be added later.

Over and Out!

Note: If you live under a rock and don’t understand the title and first line, it’s from ‘Ninjas’ in Paris.

102. Crazy Week!

I only have a a few moments to write this post. This entire week has been unbelievably busy! I have started my internship with Towers Watson and I’m working in the retirement department . I’ve just finished my first week and it’s been quite interesting. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in training sessions, using Excel, calculating transfer values, learning lots of new lingo and sending A LOT of emails. It’s so different from university but everyone has been so supportive and helpful. I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing half the time but I am getting there… slowly.

Tomorrow morning, I am catching the Eurostar to Paris for my cousin’s wedding. Half of my (very large) extended family is already there and the rest of them are travelling with us. There’s going to be two days of crazy parties and then I’m returning on Monday morning. I’m super excited about this. It’ll be great to see everyone in the same place and it’s an excuse to dress up and dance about like an idiot. I’m going to get my balle balle on. And it’s all happening in Paris- the city of lurveee.

Gosh isn’t this beautiful?! ❤ Please someone take me there one day…. *sigh*

Okay I have to dash and pack but I have loads more to say about the internship and I’m sure there’ll be a few stories from the wedding. Eeeee!

Over and Out!

 

91. A Perfect End

I think I felt something akin to euphoria the moment I heard the invigilators say ‘pens down’ for my last exam. I had been dreaming of that moment for almost two months and to finally hear it felt liberating but also surreal. I could not wipe the grin off my face; it also helped that I thought the exam went decent, though it’s very hard to judge this sort of stuff.

I genuinely felt like I lost a stone in mental anxiety. It might sound dramatic but having to go home every day and force yourself to revise and then get distracted and then feel guilty for procrastinating is a tiring process. It is miserable, lonely and quite frankly depressing- by far the worst part of the uni experience.

But it’s over! No more whining from me! (okay maybe a bit but I’ll keep it to a minimum)

So how did I spend my first bit of freedom? Well I chilled in Hyde Park with some of my favourite people in the world as per tradition. The sun made a welcome appearance too. I lay on the grass and basked in the fact that my mind was completely clear. Later we practiced handstands and decided to go rolling down hills like real 21 years do. Oh and we took fun photos!

Lovely peoples

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Just Vadering in Hyde Park as you do…

Totes not Photoshopped

On the way to the station, guess who we saw? You’ll never believe it! The Queen! We saw the Queen! We were about to cross the road when this policeman comes out of nowhere with a whistle telling everyone to hold it and before we knew it, this fancy maroon car rolled past, flag flying and upon closer inspection we could see the Queen sitting inside wearing mint coloured clothes and a hat. The tourists started clapping and in that moment I felt pretty patriotic. I only saw her for a few seconds and I was in awe. It was perfect timing too. Had we been even a few seconds late, we would have missed it!

When I got home my mum gave me a huge squish and I could see the relief on her face too. Obviously five minutes later, she started listing all the things I promised I would do once my exams were over…shopping, cleaning, gardening, making roti, meeting all sorts of random people. But I’m not complaining; I’ve been saying ‘yes’ to everything.

Then I went clubbing and got absolutely smashed. Like I was sooo out of it. It was awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lol just kidding. I fell asleep for 2 hours because I’m hardcore.

In the evening, we took the party to Northwood and I celebrated with my cousins and by celebrate I mean they told me all the gossip from their school and we watched videos on Youtube but it was just what I needed.

However I did want to do something silly to mark this momentous day and so I decided to watch two episodes of House at 1am even though I was tutoring the next morning. A silly decision to mark the end of a prolonged season of studying and seriousness. Perfect!

*fangirl squeal*

Over and Out!

67. The Squishball Turns One!

My baby cousin aka. squishball had his first birthday party the day before yesterday! His mummy dressed him up all dapper in a shirt, tie and cardigan which he proceeded to drool on for the rest of the day.

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Don’t think he was ready for this shot…

To celebrate, his family and mine went to Pizza Hut and afterwards we went bowling while the little ones went to Gambados (playground heaven). I really wish there was an adult sized version of this. I too want to go on slides and crawl through tunnels. It’s very unfamiliar for me to be told that I exceed the height restriction (for those who don’t know, I’m short). 

Hanna with Qasim

Hanna with Qasim

Lighting the candle

Lighting the candle

Cutting the cake!

Cutting the cake!

I got absolutely destroyed at bowling. The side rails were up and I still flopped hard. My dad on the other hand got super competitive about it and was the eventual winner. 

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My dad taking bowling farrrr too seriously!

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This is me…failing.

Although it was squishy’s birthday and he got showered in attention, it was the rest of us who had the most fun 😛 It was well needed fun though, especially for me, seeing as I’ve been cooped up in my room looking like Gollum. It meant that I put cream on my face, got out of my pyjamas, brushed my hair and made myself look publicly acceptable. Understandably that whole process took a while… 

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Zahrah and me!

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Bowling superheroes? I think not…

Over and Out!

51. Party Sharty

James had his 21st birthday party at a really nice posh place near Victoria. Turned out to be an awesome night! Looking over my last few posts, it looks as if I go to parties/weddings all the time. I don’t usually- honest! This is a random burst of activity before the social hibernation that is exam revision time.

James was pretty clear about the dress code. We were to come in dresses which gave me the opportunity to get my bargain prom dress out of my wardrobe. I haven’t worn it in about 4 years but I had a really special prom and thus many happy memories associated with that dress. The only problem was that I had to take the train there. Where lies the problem you may wonder… well my coat is quite short and my dress is quite long and coat on top of dress looks pretty darn ridiculous. Add public transport and unwanted attention and you get a problem. What I ended up doing was tucking my dress into some jeans (yay creased dress!), wearing flats and putting my heels in a separate bag. I was also wearing tights under my jeans which is one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world and the tights were so tight, they felt like Spanx aka. a corset for my legs.  Highly unpleasant. It also rained on the way so my hair, which looked nice and tame when I left home, looked flat and lifeless by the time I arrived. Greattt!

Everyone was looking super dapper, particularly James who was looking extra boom in a suit and tie.

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James and Shakira

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Me, Meeti and Suzannah (unintentionally wearing all black)

My friend Meeti has a special diet which essentially cuts out eggs, meat, fish, onions and garlic. James alerted the caterers about this and gave them a week to come up with something for her. At the start of the evening, Meeti was told that the Head Chef was specially preparing her meals and that they would be brought to her. It felt like VIP treatment and I was really impressed. Unfortunately they seemed to think her diet was also gluten free which imposes further restrictions. The waiter walked in with an impressive silver tray and lid and theatrically lifted it to reveal this as her starter:

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Vegetables

That’s right. Boiled veggies. We were rather bemused. For mains she got extremely salty aubergine and courgettes slices piled into a tower with spinach. It was probably not the most appetizing meal compared to the lamb and vegetable lasagna everyone else was tucking into. Things ended well though because James’ birthday cake was a beautiful, super tasty eggless cake that Meeti (and me) scoffed. Om nom nom!

I promised James I would dance (badly) at his birthday and I did. Me and Meeti kicked off our shoes and busted a few dance moves on the floor. About 20 of us performed the Macarena and everyone had great fun Gangnam styling. I think my rotating lightbulb dance went down quite well!

macrena

$#%&%** EHHH MACARENA!

Basically…. I had a really good time! Woo!

Over and Out!

48. An insight into Pakistani weddings

I attended a wedding this Sunday with my parents. The bride is my mum’s friend’s daughter. We’re not that close but hey it’s an excuse to dress up and stuff yourself silly. It was held at the Hilton in Paddington which I’ve genuinely never noticed before even though I often use the Paddington station entrance that is directly opposite it. I think I have buttons for eyes. If we adhered by ‘survival of the fittest’, I would be long gone. My lack of awareness is pretty concerning.

Inside, we were greeted by the sight of an awesome chocolate fountain. The kids had a field day. I don’t think they even had dinner.

 

Om nom nom

Om nom nom

I quickly realised that there was not enough space for all the guests. Now this isn’t because the hosts were being stingy. I’m sure they counted the invitations. They specified how many people could come from each family but being brown, most people ignore this and bring their entire family. Not unreasonable you say? It is when people are bringing 4 children each. Invite 2 families… that’s 12 people already. A lot of the teenage boys were standing for most of the night. It was a real issue.

Looking around the room, I also noticed how all the aunties were decked out in gold (my mother included). They’re wearing their gold malas (big necklaces), karas (big bangles), chooriya (bangles), rings and earrings. Some of them probably upstaged the bride. Why do we have this cultural obsession with gold? I mean I know why. It’s shiny. But seriously, are they not weighed down by all this metal?

 

I was one of the girls chosen to throw the customary rose petals and confetti on the barat (groom and his family) when they entered. I made it my personal mission to try and get confetti stuck in everyone’s hair (Aliya 1 Maturity 0), except the groom because that’s just lame (Aliya 1 Maturity 1). Then came my favourite part of the wedding… the groom walking in behind the roar of two dhols. They make an almighty amount of noise which automatically puts you in the mood to balle balle and CHAK DE PATTE ie. to bhangra.

(Photo Credit: drshavetakaushal.blogspot.com)

Then came the Nikkah ceremony (signing the marriage contract). As per cultural traditions, there are no cute vows. Instead, there are two ‘witnesses’ who speak to the bride in private and make sure she agrees to the marriage and isn’t being coerced. She said yes. The groom breathed a sigh of relief. They also make sure that they agree on the Haq Mehr. This is wrongly translated to as a ‘dowry’ in English when in actual fact it’s more for the bride’s financial security. I’ve heard some brides grumpily complain that it’s like having a figure put on their worth. Also not true. The Haq Mehr is a gift from the groom to the bride hence it can’t be taken back. Some families like to make this a large sum of money to ensure that the guy is properly invested in the marriage. However nowadays, there’s less of an emphasis on it because in the event of a divorce, they’ll probably rinse each other in court. Sad but true.

(Photo Credit: blog.uzbin.com)

During the wait for the signing, there was an Imam who recited verses from the Quran that are specifically related to marriage. He spoke (at length) about the importance of marriage in Islam, the benefits of it and what expectations a husband should have of is wife and similarly a wife of her husband. Now I have been to many weddings and heard many versions of this speech. A quote I hear often is ‘The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “A woman may be married for four reasons: for her property, her status, her beauty, and her religion”‘. Now please don’t start shouting at me for blaspheming but I find that quote a little depressing. A woman’s beauty is God-given and hence not really in her control. Her property and her status are usually linked to her wealth and I don’t think a wealthier woman makes for a better woman. Similarly her status and her religion are massively influenced by her family and well you can’t choose your family. So how many of these qualities does a woman actually have control over? What about a woman’s mind? According to that, no-one will have any reason to marry me.

They made a huge mistake in bringing in the starters while the Imam was talking. Bad, bad move. Food instantly distracts people, particularly the kids. The Imam wasn’t impressed. He probably wasn’t happy that they blasted the music after he finished speaking too. Whoops…

This is how long we were waiting for food. That used to be a candle...

This is how long we were waiting for food. That used to be a candle…

Moving swiftly on…when everything’s done and signed, the guests get a little box/bag of goodies usually filled with cashew nuts, almonds and somph (fennel seeds). People actually get quite competitive over these boxes in terms of design and detail. The one’s at this wedding were pretty cool.

nikkahbox

Finally onto the food. It was a little disappointing, not in terms of the variety but taste-wise. They stuck to the standard Pakistani wedding food menu.

Starter: Fish, Chicken Tikka and Lamb Kebabs
Main: Biryani, Chicken curry, Lamb curry and Paneer for the vegetarians (who are very poorly catered for at Pakistani weddings)
Dessert: Gajar ka halwa (Carrot halwa- I can’t translate halwa) with ice-cream. Other variations include gulab jaman with ice cream, rasmalai or kheer!

I’m sure I haven’t even covered half the drama of a Pakistani wedding so this really is only an insight.

Over and Out!