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Still in my prime II??

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BMI results


Well two years on from my last blog about my health, I had promised to update you on my progress. I have been extremely busy and have struggled to find the time. As it happens, I am 47 today, so it’s a fitting occasion to write this blog.

For those of you who haven’t read my first blog in this matter; I can summarise that my cholesterol level was 6.7 in 2015 and then in 2016 it was  6.1. I was told that I am pre-diabetic. Towards the end of last year, I had my blood tests and the results arrived in Jan. They told me that I was no longer pre-diabetic and that my cholesterol was at 5.9. They told me that I should have Statin. I refused, once again, as I am confident that given time it will reduce to below 5. I have added a photo of my BMI, body water and muscle. The aim is to reduce my BMI to 22% by the end of the year.

Last year, I increased the level of exercise that I did. In the main this was cycling to work. Towards the end of the year, I was feeling really fit and there was a rumour of a six pack….In December I visited Bangladesh for three weeks and did almost no exercise and indulged a little. On my return, I found it difficult to continue the level of exercise being as it was winter. I also ate out more than usual and I this has had an impact – I checked my waist size; this has increased by an inch. I was very disappointed with myself. The lesson here, is that you can’t take your eyes of the waist line – it’s a constant battle and it gets harder as you get older. You have to eat less and exercise more….

I have managed to maintain my diet of a reduction in white rice – now, the only time I eat white rice is at my mums. I eat brown rice and always have vegetables and fruit throughout the day. I must admit, being at work is better as you to plan what you eat. I continue to have my cholesterol lowering drink, which I believe helps.

I continue to play football and I thoroughly enjoy it. The obvious is the physical side of it, but in equal measure, I am enjoying the social aspect of it all. I am constantly meeting new people and making friends which helps with my mental well-being. I love cycling to work and do that as often as possible. I use the canal for most of the journey. It feels like I am on a leisure holiday as the water and the trees make it special. Recently, I have invested in a new road bike and cycling that is so much easier than my old bike.

So, any last words of wisdom to people in a similar situation? When they say ‘that your health is your wealth’, the realisation of the truth becomes clearer as you get older. More and more people of my generation are suffering from poor health – in truth many people don’t take responsibility for their own well-being. You have only one shot at this and you have to maintain it or lose it.



Bangladeshi fun – Leya Rahman – guest blogger


We went to Bangladeshi in 2016 and asked Leya (six years old) to write about her experiences.  Below is what she has written, its all her own words with some minor corrections.  So, I am very proud to have Leya as my guest blogger…….who know’s we may get a few more articles from her in the future.

The journey

On Friday after school my friend’s dad took us to the airport. When we got in the plane surprisingly there was a TV in front of you. I watched Robin Hood. Half way through the journey the people gave us food. Then the people gave the children teddies. After that I went to sleep. Then I woke up and I watched more TV. Then we landed in Dhaka. It was hot there.  Then we waited for the next plane.  When we got on the plane there was also TV’s and I sat next to my dad.  I watched Pete’s Dragon.  I watched the first and second one, it was good.  Then I had DISGUSTING food.  I watched TV after I slept on my dad.  I woke and played games on the TV.  Then it was time to land I had to stop playing games and concentrate.  Then we got off the plane and found some of our relatives.  We went to the coach station, it was not nice…ewe.  We got crisps but they were too sweet for me.  Then we went on a coach and all I did was sleep.  There was crazy driving.  Then we stopped to have some food.  After that we went to the coach again then we stopped at a sandy place.  Then we went to a house.

I went to my cousin’s granddad’s mansion.  There was a badminton court.  I had a strop because I couldn’t play.  Then we went on a boat, when we went down it was very steep.  On the return of the journey we saw some eagles soaring in the sky.  They were so close we could see their beautiful colours, brown, white and yellow.  Then I went to my crazy grandad, he has a big motorbike.  I went on the motorbike and sat at the front.  When we were driving I felt the breeze in my hair.  Before I got on I felt very excited.

I went toad hunting one night.  Toads are very ugly I think.  The toads have green spots and big orange eyes.  I saw a toad weeing!  My friend kept pushing the toad.  I kept holding onto my sister because I thought it would touch me.  I had a fun time though.

I went swimming in a lake one day.  I went very far!  My sister Maya swam with no arm bands, she made it look very easy but it was actually hard.  She inspired me to swim with just a float and no arm bands.  It was fun because I knew how to do it.  If I didn’t I wouldn’t have found it fun.  Once when I was swimming on my back, I saw eagles!

One day I was sitting by a lake.  I saw an eagle swoop past.  It was so close I could see its whole body, especially its fluffy face.  I saw it sitting on a branch and it looked so handsome.  The eagle had brown feathers, yellow beak and white belly.  Under its feathers I saw a bit of red, my favourite colour.  The rest of it was white.

I made a friend called Imon.  He’s a boy.  Imon is 16.  He is very handsome.  He is very nice because he carry’s me, holds my hand and even did my shoes for me.  I went swimming with him and played Frisbee with him.  When he left I cried and I said what if I never see him again.

I went to the beach.  When we got there we went to the sea.  When I walked on the sand it was warm.  I was jumping over the waves in the warm water.  Then I touched a star fish after that I went into the water with my sister.  I jumped over the waves in the deep parts.  Then we were sitting in the sea, we got drenched.  When the waves came it pushed us!  We forgot to put our swimming costumes on.  So when we got out, we had to wear our swimming costumes home.  It wasn’t very nice.

By Leya Yasmin Rahman

When the Penny Dropped…..

Legacy WM was founded in April 2010 by a group of people who saw a huge heritage opportunity in the region’s diverse population.  This heritage needed to be recorded and made more widely accessible.  It had to be celebrated, shared, and learnt from.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), our first project was ‘Bangla Food Journeys’, hooking into Bangladeshi heritage through food.  It is often thought that Bangladeshis were the last South Asian Community to arrive in the UK.  Through research, we learned that Bangladeshis have been in the UK for the last four centuries, albeit in relatively small numbers.  This is because the East India Company was established in Kolkata in the seventeenth century and Bangladeshi, Yemeni and Somalian men (known as ‘Laskars’) were recruited to service the trading ships leading to small settlements of these communities in Britain’s port cities.  Bangladeshis were also brought to the Britain as servants, cooks and ayas (nurses).

During the post-War period, Britain invited its Commonwealth citizens to help re-build the ‘mother land’ as it was then known.  Those responding settled mainly in cities such as Birmingham where manufacturing jobs were on offer.

Our second project was the Lozells and Handsworth Heritage Trail, again HLF-funded.  I was inspired by my visit to the beautiful, Pugin-designed St Mary’s Convent in Lozells, and thought: ‘We have this on our door step; people need to know about it.’  Pugin was the son of a French immigrant who revived Gothic architecture.  Later, he designed the Palace of Westminster; Britain’s most iconic building, designed by a ‘migrant’!

I also visited Soho House, Matthew Boulton’s former home, where the Lunar men, including James Watt and William Murdoch, met and launched the Industrial Revolution.  At its visitor centre, they had several coins from across the World that Matthew Boulton had pressed, including one from East India Company.  He was pressing coins throughout the Empire before he did so for Britain.

And then the penny dropped….we are here by design, not accident.  The Empire grew rapidly as a result of the industrial revolution; my forefathers serviced the merchant ships and later my father worked in the factories neighbouring the Soho Foundry.  I am a son of the industrial revolution and I have come full circle.

Legacy WM’s growth produced the need for a new home. We learned that the Birmingham Museum Trust (BMT) was looking for community partners and that it had some office space at Soho House.    We moved there in February this year and have worked with BMT to encourage more visitors, exploring how Soho House can develop into a ‘community hub’.  For many, even those living close by, attending one of our events was their first visit to Soho House.

Through our journey, we have found that we are not the only ones embracing the area’s heritage.  For example, James Watt’s gate house has been lovingly restored by Anthony Smiley who is of African-Caribbean descent.   The Grade II listed ‘Old Bank’ on Villa Road has become a mosque.   The former Staffordshire and Warwickshire border Toll House is owned by the Birmingham Asian Resource Centre.  Post-War migrants and their descendants have conserved and enhanced the area’s existing heritage as well as enriching it by blending in their distinct offers of food, arts and culture.  Is it a wonder, therefore, that we are working to re-brand the area as a visitor destination?

I have recently been invited by Historic England to sit on their board as observer.  They have asked me to do some homework….this article will be published soon in their magazine.



Still in my prime??


Those of you who know me well, will have heard me say, “I’m 45 years old and still in my prime!”  Unfortunately it didn’t feel like that towards the end of 2015, when I suffered from the worst attack of flu that I’ve ever had.  I was bed ridden for two days straight, and continued to suffer for a further two weeks.  I felt old and week.  I also lost half stone in weight. My wife insisted I go and see the doctor, which I did be-grudgingly.  I don’ often bother to go and hadn’t in over a year.  In February 2014, I’d

had a blood test to ensure I wasn’t suffering from Diabetes.  I didn’t check the results until my recent visit, when I was told that my cholesterol was 6.7. My doctor suggested taking statins. I didn’t want to. I told her I was
making some lifestyle changes such as stopping eating sandwiches for lunch. She asked about my life style and I told her how I take care of myself.  She said that as I was already leading a fairly healthy lifestyle, there might not be a lot more that I could do, especially as I’ve weighed just 11 stone for the last 25 years.

The way I was now feeling made me see that whilst I looked all right on the outside that might not be true on the inside.  Both my parents have diabetes, so I might be pre-disposed to get it.  My younger brother at the age of 35, had a minor heart attack and has had a stent fitted.  The odds could be stacked against me.  This time it was me insisting on another blood test, and the doctor agreed.  In January 2016, I got my results and found that my cholesterol had risen to 6.1.  The treatment on offer was again statins. I said, “Give me six months and I will reduce it.” I explained that on work days, I walk at least five miles.  The nurse agreed that’s good but said “Your body is used to that now; you need to shock your body and do more exercise.”  She also suggested I change my diet and reduce the amount of rice that I eat.  Now, for a Bangladeshi, this is very difficult.  There is a Bangla saying ‘Rice and fish makes a Bengali’.

Growing up in Bangladesh, our diet was mainly rice with vegetables or fish.  It was only on
rare occasions that we would eat meat, perhaps two or three times a year.  Chicken was eaten every few months.  In the UK, it is common to find all the above being served in one sitting.  This over consumption of rich foods, has had a detrimental impact on our health.  There is a dramatic rise in heart related illness, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and other such conditions in our community and the wider South Asian community.  I spoke to several friends who are of similar ages and was told “I’m already on Statins; you have nothing to worry about”. Well, I did worry, as I didn’t want to be on any long term medication.

I spoke to my family about it and my daughters, Leya and Maya asked me what cholesterol is?  I tried to explain in the best way I could, and Leya, at five year old, summed it up by saying, “Daddy, you have fat blood”. The first thing, I cut down on was the amount of rice that I was eating.  The nurse suggested I eat no more than a third of a plate, and better still make it brown rice, and to eat more fruit and veg.  Recently, I have started making smoothies with fruit, often using ripe Avocado as well. I have porridge several times a week and have salads for lunch with a variety of veg and fish.  I have also started having daily doses of benecol or the supermarket’s own brand, which is much cheaper.  I have also changed my butter spread to one that has plant stanols and I started exercising more, with an extra session of football each week.

Within the first month, I lost half a stone. I found my trousers slipping off me, and my shirts fitted me so much better.  I feel as though I have earned the right to buy myself more fitted shirts and suits….all in good time. Three months in now, and I find it hard to believe the changes that I have made and the positive impact it’s having on my body.  I may even be able track down that ever elusive six pack I’ve been chasing for years.  I am due a re-test in the next few months and if I manage to get my cholesterol down below 5, then I think I will treat myself to that new slimmer suit. I will keep you posted, when I get tested.

BBC Asian Network – why don’t you play Bangla music?

I have made a complain to the BBC about the fact that they don’t play Bangla music as part of their mainstream programme. If you feel strongly about the subject then please make a complaint – the more people that complain the better it will be. Who, knows, they may even listen!

I am a regular listener of BBC Asian Network. I applaud the work that you do in raising awareness of issues facing the Asian community. Recently you had Bangla week and I was very impressed with that. I was able to listen to some amazing music that I hadn’t heard of before, especially from new artists that are in the UK and Bangladesh. The music was really good.

I feel that the whole Asian community is missing out on this lovely music. Further more, it is a question of equality. Why is Bangla music excluded from your mainstream programme? I have raised this over the last ten years, and have met members of BBC Asian Network, including the head. But, nothing has been done.

I believe this is inequality on behalf of the BBC. The Bangladeshi community is near a million in numbers in the UK. It is great that Nadia Ali presents the Bangla programme – she is really good and connects well with people of all generations.

Music from India and Pakistan is played all the time. When you think of the Asian community in the UK, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi community are thought of. Yet, Bangla music is excluded. I appreciate the Bangla music industry is less developed than their counterparts, but, this is the very reason that Bangla music needs to profiled.

We have the fastest growth of young people from the Bangladeshi community and one that needs to be a feature of the BBC. In addition there are no Bangladeshi presenters on the BBC Asian Network – why?

Please, if you have time complain!

Tagore – Go not to the temple….

My friend Carol sent me this….and it really touched me, so I thought I would share this with people.

Go not to the temple to put flowers upon the feet of God. First fill your own house with the fragrance of love……
Go not to the temple to light candles before the alter of God. First remove the darkness of sin from your heart….
Go not to the temple to bow your head in prayer, first learn to bow in humility…before your fellowmen…

Go not to the temple to pray on bended knees, first bend down to lift someone who is down-trodden…

Go not to the temple to ask for forgiveness for your sins.
First forgive from your heart those who have sinned against you.


Arranged marriage Vs Katol (Jack Fruit)













I went to visit one of my friends who I haven’t seen in a while to share my good news of my impending marriage.  He was very pleased for me and congratulated me.  He then became somewhat perplexed and he asked “is it an arranged marriage?”  I told him that I had arranged it myself.  He responded by saying “that is very good, because an arranged marriage is like buying a Katol”.  Well, firstly I thought it was very apt that he described it as a Katol, because it is one of the fruits with the highest protein within it along with the Dorian fruit – not to mention that both fruits are seen as aphrodisiacs.  In addition to that, it is Bangladesh’s national fruit and I look forward to the summer months when I can eat them.  They can be seen displayed outside Bangladeshi / Pakistani grocery shops.


So, on with the story; he said that when you go to purchase a Katol, you never quite know what it will be like inside.  You may take along with you a friend who is good at picking out a Katol, failing that, you can ask other shoppers or even the shop keeper.  They often come and have a look and touch the Katol for firmness and ripeness – they will then make a judgement and say “this is a good one, but it is a matter of luck, whether it is really good and you will only find out when you actually open it up”.


He said, this is no different from picking a prospective wife in an arranged marriage situation.  As you are shown several prospective brides you are told of their virtues by people who know them – but ultimately they can’t guarantee the outcome.  He said, “it is only when you take them home and taste them, you realise if they are good or bad”.


I reassured my friend that both systems have flaws, as I have friends who have very successful arranged marriages along with those that arranged their own marriages.  I had this conversation with my friend nine years ago and I can gladly say that I remain happily married with two lovely daughters.


Arranged marriages are still common in our community, but less frequent.  They are more common when prospective grooms go back to Bangladesh to find a wife.  What is becoming more common is prospective suitors being introduced to each other by family and friends.  Of course, more and more people are finding their own spouses, who aren’t always within the Bangladeshi community.  The women from our community are outperforming men in educational attainment and employment – this has upset the apple cart somewhat, as the men have traditionally been the main bread winners.  Many women have been unable to find suitable spouses and as a result are marrying outside of the community.  This was unheard of when I was growing, but it is becoming more frequent and parents are putting up less barriers as they are simply happy to see their daughters married.  Amongst the many middle class Bangladeshis I know, many of them have married outside of our community.  Much to people’s surprise it hasn’t diluted our culture, if anything it has enriched it……I guess this is part of integration.


In conclusion, I would rather eat a Katol than marry one!