In this episode, George S talks to Adam about his experience as an asian man in the UK. They discuss what it was like for Adam to grow up in London, his process of leaving Islam as a teenager, and how the norms of masculinity manifest in British Asian culture. Importantly, Adam aims to describe only his own experience, without claiming that it is universal to all British-Asian men or all ex-muslims.
If you are looking for support for your mental health, check out these resources:
Student Minds: https://www.studentminds.org.uk/findsupport.html
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*A listener pointed out that the original file uploaded was silent after the intro. Unfortunately, that file was corrupted. Happily, I've re-uploaded a non-corrupted version of the file that includes the epsiode in full. Sorry for any confusion!
Hello, and welcome to the changing mentality podcast. This is George. And this is a podcasts created by a group of male students and recent graduates from across the UK and supported by charities Comic Relief and Student Minds. This episode of sorts of my friend Adam, about his experience growing up as an Asian man living in London, since moved to Manchester. And we talk as well about how the norms of masculinity have affected him. And what it was like to leave Islam as a teenager. So Adam was raised Muslim, and then converted away from the religion at that point in his life. Importantly, none of what we say is meant to criticise the religion, or undermine its value for those that follow it. Adam is really just offering his experience of what it was like to decide the religion wasn't really for him, to move away from it, and just what that was like. And as he says, His experience is not meant to be taken as representative of all Asian men or all Muslims, it's just important to put those caveats out there. If you are a Muslim student who is looking for support with your mental health or related issues, there's a number of links in the description, you can look at the student space, part of the student minds website that has a dedicated section, focusing on those issues. And you can also look at the pain section of the charity minds website. There's some good support resources there. Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoyed the episode. So welcome to the podcast, Adam. Thank you for having me, George. We're gonna talk about your experience as a British Asian man growing up in the UK, and also about your experience, leaving Islam as a teenager. Before we get into that, when you start by just saying a little bit about yourself and your background and whatnot.Adam:
Yeah, my name is Adam. I, from London, my family sort of come from Bangladesh, I suppose. My dad grew up here. mom came over when they got married, got married. So it's kind of the roots of it all. See, I'm British, Asian, Bangladeshi and British. I always find that that kind of terminology weird to to get around ethnicity and race and blah. It's all a bit of a so and so. But whatever the label is, whatever that is, I suppose. And yeah, what else? Love sport. I'm a journalist or trying to be at least. And, yeah, well, I don't know, whilst you wanna know. The basics, I suppose. Right? Yeah. You studied journalism at Wooster, right? Yeah, yeah. So yesterday, I did an undergraduate degree in journalism. I started doing journalism in history in the first year, but quickly realised that I was not up to scratch in history. So I just did journalism for the rest of the time. I was at Worcester. Yeah, I've been working in journalism now for what is it three years now? Three years this this? Uh, this March? I think it was three years. So. Yeah, I love. I love sports. I want to be a commentator, hopefully one day. And yeah, I love listening to podcasts as well. It's just in general. I love TV and film. I obsess about TV and film quite a bit. And that that is true. Yes. We're not going to do in this podcast is all about the Marvel Universe. No, no, I feel like that may override everything we're into talking about if we go down that path. So now, let me I love like travelling, we get the chance to have a happy place. The so you grew up in the UK, but didn't you also have some time growing up in Switzerland as well? Yeah, so I can never I can never match the ages with this school year. So I moved to Switzerland with my family in year four, UK school, year four. And then I came back from Switzerland, back home to the UK in year six. So about 18 months in Switzerland because of my father's job. And it was amazing, like the best time of my life and it was probably it's definitely the reason why I who I am today. I learned German when I was over there. I mean, I say I can speak it fluently but it's a bit dodgy now. But I just from being different country. I just learned so much. And it was just a whole diff experience for me at that age. And my dad always just say that. Young kids are like sponges and you learn absorb so much and I think being a different country. Just give me just a different perspective on life at the even at that young age. And I mean, just like technically and just develop speaking development wise, like just learning another language that at that age is, is, is pretty good, I think for that age range of choice. So yeah, it was pretty good time. Yeah, sounds quite formative. Yeah, if what is the right word? Yeah. What was it about it that was so kind of significant for you. Um, are you definitely learn in German? Definitely the most significant thing. Because that led to I think they just fired up my brain, perhaps. It got me thinking in in a certain way, or got me thinking in the right way perhaps. And then when it came to learning in the future, just those techniques and use which saw you just subconsciously, you just pick up those kind of things, when you learn different language, and you can use in all parts of your life really. And that led me to learn Russian as well as school. I wasn't half bad at French at school. So I suppose that's one thing and it just looks give me a CV, I suppose. When you think you're like that, but I guess more pastorally I think being plunged into a world where you don't know anyone, and you can't speak the language of people around you. When I was that young is something which has helped me now. Because I'm not saying that if you live in one country or life, you don't get that, because, you know, everyone moves around, and everyone goes into new experiences. But perhaps I know, I think I think about things a lot. I don't know if I get I guess anxious is the right word to release, I used to have a lot of anxiety now, I suppose because a bit more confident in myself. But not to brag. Yeah, so I suppose that helps as well. That experience has helped me go for like at university or I want to even when when I went on holiday last year, on my own for the first time, just meeting people there through hostels and stuff. I suppose it can all be traced back to my time in Switzerland, when, you know, I was forced to make friends and speak in language I didn't know and worse off, and by the end, I was a happy Swiss kid to to be honest, it was brilliant. I there's always one story like to tell where before we left to go to Switzerland, I was crying because I had to leave, I was leaving London leaving all my friends behind. You know, cut to 18 months later on the same sofa. But I cried at home in the UK. I was crying because I was leaving Switzerland, even though my friends to go back to the UK. So, so yeah, it was very significant for me, definitely. Yeah, yeah, I guess you do learn something by yourself. You go into Maine, with a lot of anxiety about how it's gonna turn out? And what if you're going to make any friends or how you're going to fit in in another country with totally different norms and stuff. And then when you succeed at that, and when you discover that it is possible, I guess it gives you more confidence going into other situations. Like, I mean, probably experience most people listened to this will be when you have to first go to university and you think, how am I ever going to get used to this? And then at least if it goes well, you can end up making some of the best friends of your life. Yeah, thing is though, I don't even think I've really connected the dots until like literally as I spoke just now. I think for like if I had actually thought about my experience in Switzerland, throughout like high school and university maybe I would have been a bit more at ease. Yeah, types of skits good to remember that sort of thing about yourself and give yourself a piece of the time but then that isn't to say that I regret, I now regret my whole life and that I should lift it better. Because my no I wouldn't I wouldn't have that doubt about me because I learned so much being here was during high school university anyway. So yeah, yeah, it's weird how talking about stuff can make you become aware of things that you know yeah, you don't become aware of until you have to put them into words. 100% like literally live on air just now. I feel like to go to the big event so that I can go into new situations. I have to be scared. I mean, no, it's like cheering like, dude, you know what? It was just not as bad like just painted it out in high school. You know, me George like, I feel like I like got on with a lot of people. So like, like I said before, maybe subconsciously I was doing the thing which I learned in Switzerland. So I've got I've got to give myself credit for that. I think at university, certainly in Worcester, if you know what I'm talking about my I'm talking about backside actually, I think the skills that I did learn. I did use throughout. Yeah, but yet, like I said, a university is tough. You're all in this one massive mixing pot, you don't know where you're gonna go, you're gonna meet. So it's just important. For me, I'm no expert, but like, from my experience, anyone who's maybe go to university next year or wherever, just be yourself, be confident, and just know that I mean, everyone always says this, but you're everyone's in the same boat. There's no like, established hierarchy. And like that, that, like there was in school, I suppose a lot of people might think that men have gone through that. So um, yeah, yeah. And one thing I wanted to pick up on sort of early on when you're talking, you kind of said, it sound like expressing ambivalence. Now, some of these labels of being from Bangladesh or being British being Asian? Or what, how those will kind of come together. Is that something you felt generally? Um, yeah. I mean, like, I wouldn't say, I, I'm a, like, I'm an example of the typical British Asian experience. Because of like, where I grew up, how I grew up what I was exposed to. And, like, I don't live in a particularly Asian area, for starters. So that feel like takes a lot out of it already. And, yeah, I suppose I just, I just never liked Asian things as well, which is quite bad to say, I mean, it's better now. But like, I don't like curry, which is a bit like, you know, curry. That's not me being like, stereotypical, but you know, it is a South Asian dish, right. So it's a staple of like, all of our, like, our family's lives anyway. So the fact that they're like, it was always a was like a first big thing, I suppose. But like, even grew up, I like I watched, I watched Western stuff, I watched Doctor Who, and you know, like, obviously, the Marvel stuff, and, you know, listen to Western music. And I didn't really speak Bengali until after 10 years old, maybe up to 11, certainly my teenagers, everyone started that and properly. So just little things like that. And all the mannerisms and everything like like speaking, when I was I worked at the BBC Asian network for two years. Recently, and, like, I learned so much there, which I feel like I probably should have learned ages ago, but there are so many, just so many things, which made me realise that God, I'm nowhere near as Asian I should be. Not that not that. That's a bad thing at all. But it was good that I realised that because it is a part of me. But those labels always, I find that tricky, because, we're all human beings in the day. So I, it's a bit, I do get a bit annoyed that we've got a well, no, I suppose labels are important who you are as important. But they're like positives and negatives. And it'd be nice if we could all just treat each other as human beings. So that's, that's why I struggle sometimes when I identify myself, because I, then I'm just a person. So. So yeah, I think, probably a good place to start. And I thought, I'll probably say something along these lines anyway, in the intro is, you're inevitably going to be talking from your own experience, which, as you say, might not be the kind of what people will sort of perceive as that's typical British Asian experience, and maybe there isn't such a thing as that, or is that you know, it's not a homogenous group anyway. But yeah, I guess just to kind of flag that early on is a good thing. When you say like, you're not as Asian as you should be, is that like, you're not as Asian as you would like to be, or you're not as Asian as you sort of feel like other people might be expecting you to be that one. Feel like other people. Also myself to be honest, differentiation is the time then I'm probably how fair shall I be? like maybe 70% British, 30% Asian, in terms of how I feel about my identity, and what I do and everything that is about me. And it'd be nice if it was more even, to be honest. I just fell to appreciate a lot of the Asian things about me as well. Like I've been to Bangladesh a few times, and growing like when I was younger, and I really want to go back now just so I can appreciate it more because when I was growing up, I just didn't appreciate it too. I kept on comparing it to the UK, sort of taking it for what it was, as its own its own merit. So there's that. And I mean, I never had a problem a family, I never had any problems with my family back home. Like I always clicked and, like, you know, their family, even though I hadn't seen them for the whole year. But so that's, that's good at least. But yeah, I suppose just growing up in the UK and growing up where I did, I was perhaps even bound to be more Western than I was Asian. But yeah, like I said, like working at the Asian network definitely helped me get in touch from Asian side because, I mean, it was the first time I was really exposed to Asian Music, British Asian Music, but Asian music as well, South Asian Music and just being around other British Asians, you know, people from South Asian backgrounds, and not just in Bangladesh from like, different countries in the area as well. Just in that atmosphere, just, you know, got me in touch with that side more. Like little things like, you know, eating, people will bring in food to the office, and you'd try some of that, or just having conversations with other people like you, and just sharing the same experiences. And you know, know that you're not the only one that kind of thing. So, yeah, yeah. Yeah. As in you're not the only British Asian person. Yeah, because I think a lot of the Asians in my life really, they're all family. I never really had any Asians, most my friends aren't Asian. Like, there are a few in high school. A couple at uni. Apart from that, not many, which is an out think is some is an outlier, actually. Because any Asians I do meet Just wherever. They seem to have loads of Asian friends, but of my, of my good friends, all my friends, I keep in touch, we have hardly any of them are Asian. So yeah, there's just been so when it comes to Asian network, actually, for the first time in my life really had a proper group of Asian people that weren't family that were friends, and that I can talk to as friends. Because, you know, like, there are a different vibe, there's a different vibe, and you can talk about different things when it comes to family and friends. So um, yeah, that was that was that was big for me. Definitely. Yeah. Do you think there's some sort of like, almost implicit sense of understanding that maybe isn't there with white friends? Yeah, I guess if you put it like that, perhaps I mean, that. Yeah. But that's not to compare people. It's just lived experiences. isn't it really. Life. You mentioned something offhand? Yeah. Yeah. That Yeah, I struggle. Sorry, I should. I don't like when I don't feel comfortable. I don't know what the right thing to say is when it comes to one person understanding something, or not being able to understand something because of their race. Like, I feel like sometimes I say the wrong thing, or I'm rude and offensive in certain way. But no, yeah. Just It's not wrong to say that. People who are like you, ie, Asian are gonna understand things related to you, and being Asian, compared to people of other races. So yeah, but I mean, that's not to, like, say that you're not a good friends. Yeah. That wasn't what I was, like, gonna read into that anyway. When I say sort, white friends, and that's what I mean, is just not that, you know, that there couldn't be any kind of communal understanding between the different races, but just that it's going to be certain things, which I guess like you mentioned, the sort of the references and certain aspects of life, which perhaps is just easier to draw on, especially like in conversation and stuff with people who already have those reference points. Yeah, yeah. Like just stories, we would tell each other every day about what happened at home, like with our parents, or, like with our siblings, or you know what, we have to do that sort of thing. Like, yeah, it was nice to, to, to be in that bubble. Yeah. Yeah. One thing I was wondering when you were saying about how like, he didn't have many agent friends, and he felt sounds like much more identified with being British than being Asian growing up. Do you think there was any pressure or just anything about the environment knew growing up in that made you maybe play down the sort of Asian cultural side of yourself, or Yeah, yeah, I think just fitting in With people definitely did that. Like said, Yeah, I mean, I didn't grow up in a particularly Asian area. I mean, I know it's London, but and to be honest, there are a fair few Asians in that area, but it hasn't, who was who I was exposed to and what I was around, like, in school. I mean, school is the main thing, right? When you're growing up. That's it. Like, as much as you see, family and family friends, like school is work, where you really develop and what you see around you is what you kind of grow around. And yeah, nearly all of my friends were white, what most sorry, nearly all my friends weren't Asian, basically, one South Asian. So I suppose in that sense, that did, maybe made me grow up in a certain way. And I had to fit in with other people's way of doing things or way of life. Or their mannerisms or people's other people's that. So yeah, maybe if I had if I did have more Asians around me. I might have turned out different I've no, I mean, I did, there was like a time between, like, year 711. Or, well, there was like, in our in our form. There are like three or four of us to eight, it's like South Asian from South Asian background, British Asians. We sit together like we were, we were part of one big group, but there were like, three or four of us who are South Asian and that group. So that was nice. I mean, even though we didn't we I don't even remember even from our like South Asia specific things, but I guess when you're young, you just talk about whatever. So yeah, maybe maybe just growing up without Asians around me in my social life or my day to day life as much as many as perhaps other British Asians are used to did affect me. Yeah. Yeah. And, yeah, so me, maybe something else to talk about is I knew you were raised Muslim, right? Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Yeah. And then, at what point did you I know, at some point, you kind of decided that the religion wasn't for you. At what point? Did that happen? over the age, I think it was in I think it was in sixth form, or year 11. So copy and paste how old we were. I think that's what sometimes somewhere between the age of 15 and 18, six and 18. So, yeah, that's a long time. Probably about 16 years. Yeah, yeah. what point did you know that you didn't want to be Muslim? Um, I don't think there was, like a defining, like, timestamp, I can, I can give you give myself. I think it was just one of those things. Where, when you're wherever, whenever you grow up, wherever religion, your family, maybe or no religion, the way you're raised is just the way you know, the world. And that's the only you know, really, and certainly around those teenage years where you become where you become more aware of the world, and how you feel about it, and what you think. So it's probably a gradual process. And, first of all, the reason why I didn't want to be Muslim anymore, because I didn't believe in a religion, like so. Which is pretty important. Yeah, so that's one thing. That's just me personally, though, but I suppose on top of all of that, it felt like maybe, maybe I'm wrong, but it felt like there are a lot of things to do to be a practising Muslim, which I didn't want to do. And maybe that's because I was weak or just lazy. I don't know if I am then fine. Yeah, I just it wasn't To me, it wasn't for me. And I suppose maybe the way that want to live my life didn't fit in with with that, that way of thinking. And but I mean, I'm sure that if I did believe that there was a god, I don't know how deep you want. But I suppose if I did believe there was there was a be somewhere controlling everything, then I would have been out of I say put up I would have done things that a practising Muslim does but you know, bad things happen in the world. So if there was an almighty being, why would they you know, that happened on the base of it. I felt like I mean, that's that's what that's that's the belief I have maybe I maybe that didn't fully form in thinking and in thought when I made the decision when I was younger, but I want to believe that those with a, you know, I made a decision based on that thought, whether I actually fully was aware of that or not. But you know, I still believe it because I didn't believe in religion, because bad things happened to me and to other people. So that's demoralising enough when you're doing all of those things, and it doesn't lead to something, then? Why Why do them? Yeah. And I guess, even if, I don't know if you had it as a really explicitly worked out, unconscious thought at the time, but I suppose you could still have a gut level. And that would be enough to make you question something which meant to give him an idea. What kind of practices would you be engaged in as part of your routine when you were Muslim? And practising? Yeah, I mean, he perfectly summed up what I struggled to say the last five minutes of me rambling on. That's the key point says, suppose this can be quite difficult to put into words. Yeah, I mean, this is a probably the first time I've really talked about it in depth, you're honest. So it can be a bit of slack for that. Question. So I think everyone knows about praying five times a day. That's not a I mean, that's just remembering to do it every day, and then taking the time out to do it. Which after a while, I guess grinds down on you, especially if you don't like what you're doing. And don't believe what you're doing says that. You have to work before I go on, like, the way that I'm going to talk about it. I feel might be unfair to those who do, obviously do believe and do like Islam. Like, it's going to come across as chores when I talk about it. But that's not I don't want that to represent people's thoughts of Islam. Even if you're like is this is the first time you're hearing somebody speak about Islam, then don't please take it as gospel go out and speak to other people. Because like it is a good is a good religion if you like religion. So I don't like trash it. But yeah, so you got to pray five times a day. Obviously, fasting is a pretty big deal. Everyone pretty much knows about that, don't they? it's I think it's currently Ramadan so that's fasting for a month every year. And fasting means no eating or drinking for a whole day, from sunset to from sunrise to sunset. So that's a big month of your life. Have you year on that, for people that don't know? Like? Can you see what the rationale is behind that? Um, I think I mean, again, don't quote me. I can't remember exactly. But I feel like it's something to do with making you experience what those who are less fortunate have to live through every day. So to make you humble, I suppose and to make you realise how lucky you are. And know well, what am I doing? To make you realise how hard to be with lives are and that gives you I suppose one on ones that give you that gives you humility doesn't really I think humility is the biggest thing. And the as well. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So there's that there are certain things that you can't eat or drink. So when it comes when it comes to food, certain like, meats have to be halaal which I think means that and the animals killed in a different way to how other meats are. I can't remember What the what the technicalities are, I think it's about draining the blood from the animal. When it comes to drink, you can't drink alcohol. Does that I don't come with any other water comes eating or drinking gelatine stuff so you can't read it. You're like Harriet, you need to have Halaal Harbio's that sort of thing at my little things. Well, the practices are there. I think there was the major ones. I like reading the Quran and stuff and learning about the theories of Islam and the Quran is the Holy Book of Islam like the Bible is to Christianity. And so you've got all of my say you have you read that? As much as you can. You Learn how to speak Arabic. If you can't speak Arabic, you need to learn how to read it and speak it. That's what? That's what I remember from being from practising Islam. Yeah, so I suppose it's a variety of practices and conventions about eating and drinking and that sort of thing. Yeah, yeah. And how you live your life? And yeah, what you do every day. Yeah. So how did you find that? Especially? I mean, it sounds like, I think, a point, it sounds like you were making earlier was for someone who is Muslim and believes in the philosophy of it, and the belief system and takes that, like, really take that on board about those things, you know, wouldn't be seen as burdensome. Or when you talk about it, it can seem like it's a chore. Was that how you experienced it? Yeah, 100% burden seems a good way describing it. Yes, like, yeah, like I said before, like, if I had believed in the core concept, those things wouldn't have seemed like a burden. But I didn't, and they were so and I think it just gradually wore me down, perhaps over my life growing up. Like, when I was young, young, you were a kid, and you're in the hands of those above you. So like, literally, they just do what you're told to do. But as you grow up, you got the question what you're doing and why you're doing it, and whether you want to do it. And I realised that I'd rather be doing things my life then spending the time and effort on something I don't believe in. So yeah, that's as simple as that. Right. And we're, I mean, you talked about it as a kind of gradual process of realising the religion wasn't for you. Was it a gradual process? Kind of leaving some of those practices behind? Or was that were there discrete points, which you can think back on and think like, that was a marker of you moving away from the religion? I mean, it was pretty. It was pretty sudden, like, I I just stopped doing I think the process of realisation was gradual. But it's not like I kept doing some things and, and stop doing others. Like, when I stopped, I stopped.George S:
So yeah, yeah. What was that? Like? It was, it was tough. It was one of the mostAdam:
surreal, horrible experiences of my life. I don't think it'll be matched. In that sense. They are one of the most Yeah, one of the saddest moments in my life on the present. Yeah, I don't think I don't think I mean, the good thing is hopefully, you'll get better for me. It won't get any lower than that. Hopefully. Yeah, it was. Yeah, it was. I hate thinking about it. It was a it was tough. Yeah. Yeah. What do you think it was about the experience that made it so difficult? I think that a lot of, if you believe in a religion, most likely that's tied to your family. And because, you know, hopefully, everyone is born into a family. And I say what most people if they are religious is because of their family. So when you stop doing something, which is so which is a core part of your family, that's obviously going to be a massive shock to the system, to everyone's system. So that's what I mean. That's what was so tell us why it was so tough. Yeah. Did it kind of put you in conflict with your family? Or was there like a tension that you felt? Yeah. I mean, I think religion is quite a knowing what I know from my time at the Asian network. Religion is a huge part of aviation experience. Full stop, I don't think I don't think it's fair to say. So. If you're a an Asian who isn't religious, or who is outright not religious, I mean, I've chosen to not live under that label. But I could have kept on going and, you know, given it half effort and just not have to handle the stress But I would have, you know, technically been still a Muslim, and I've just thought would have been fake. So when I chose to step out of the umbrella, that obviously puts a spotlight on you. Because you do something different. And I guess people judge me. Maybe there was tension in certain families get like for us, I don't know. But I mean I don't really talk about it with family, where it was done, it was done. I don't know what my extended family thinks that I really want to ask God if I think we will just know what's up, and we just get on with it. Which is fine. As long as I'm not was shunned. Luckily, I have not been that. But then I lost. But I know that there's a fear in some people. If they were to do something like that, like whenever I remember, I used I remember when one of my one of my few Asian friends, when we talked about it, they said that, if I doesn't like if they had doesn't like that, like they would have been like thrown out. I suppose. It depends on your circumstance, I was lucky to not have to live with any tensions even now. Which is nice. So but I know it's it's not. I know other people aren't that fortunate or can't, or are scared that it will be much worse for them. Which is totally valid. Yeah, we need to avoid being it sounds like quite difficult to think back over. Examples of things that became difficult or challenging as a result of you. No longer seeing yourself or like, yeah, being within that religion? Um, not, not massively. And maybe it's because you go back all the way to the start, I said that I don't, I didn't really grow up in an Asian area or didn't really have a typical Asian life in Britain. So perhaps, the obstacles which would have been in my way after saying that I wasn't Muslim, didn't appear because I didn't have to play simple things. I didn't have to face a lot of family of friends on a daily basis. Who Asian. So perhaps that sort of big, big let off? I don't think so. Don't think anything hard? I mean, little things like, like, there were times when everyone would go to pray. And I wouldn't think a lot of things like that is pretty awkward for I mean, I suppose I just when it's time to pray, I just go to another room and set my own, let everyone else get on with it. So which is fine. But yeah, wouldn't it didn't stop me if it didn't stop me. It didn't cause me in trouble down the line. It didn't cause me trouble now. Not a big way anyway. I mean, like that. I haven't really talked about this with any of my family, like outside of my house. So I don't know what they think. I don't think of me. They seem they still seem to like me, and said haven't be at their home. So clearly, they don't hate me. So. Yeah. Yeah, it's, I could see that being, on the one hand, things like that, I suppose. In some sense, they're not huge, but I guess I could see it being perhaps a bit lonely or a bit alienating if there's something everyone in your family is doing, which you're not participating in. Yeah, I mean, not really. For me personally. Again, people who are perhaps in a more Asian lane of life, may have different experiences of that. may say that, but I wouldn't say I have been alienated or felt lonely because of this. So but that's just me. Yeah. Yes. That's a good thing. Yeah. Yeah. Hopefully. Yeah. He says living on his own in a different city. But no, yeah. There was other things we were going to talk about, I suppose. I mean, is there anything else you wanted to say about this topic? Um, follow your highest was, I mean, I don't it's tough because maybe just have me on the record and having me say my story is good enough. I don't want to tell people how to live their lives because this stuff is, is is massive. Like I don't think I don't think I have understated how I don't think I've said to how huge Religion and breaking away from your family in that sense or like, not being in line your family in some in some aspects of life is is huge. Because you know, your family is the most important thing in the world. When you when you when you say is there anything else to say? To me that means do you want to say anything to the audience or to listen to any device? And I don't really give any advice on that front. Sorry, I didn't necessarily mean the advice, I suppose. I know. I know. You didn't mean that. But in my head. That's, that's what I that's what I got a question which leads to me, because I've said what I've got to say Really? Yeah. And you touched on this a bit before, but I remember a while ago, you're talking about going to Bangladesh and what that was like, and I think your your most recent trip to Bangladesh, and I did think that could be good to talk about in terms of what that was like, and perhaps especially, did you go there around the same time that you were working for Asian network? So the last time I went to Bangladesh was before, way before Asian network? It was gone? Was it? I don't know. Was it before university? What? Yeah, it was. It was a trick question. It was years before Asian network Oh, no, I think maybe I had it in my head that it was recent, because I know you did that project. Where did you do this project talking to people about their experiences going back to Bangladesh? Yeah, so this year, it was the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh. Basically. It was created 50 years ago. So it was fought over 50 years ago. And the country was this was established 50 years ago. Read up educate yourself on that evil and yeah we did a week of celebration of everything, Bangladeshi, everything British Bangladeshi, from food, music, or musical seeds that matter, think food, music, culture, lifestyle, history, issues, social issues, everything. And I played a part in that as well. So I produced a video for the Asian network social media pages. The video was about what it's like to visit Bangladesh as a, as a young British Bangladesh as a young British Asian, basically. So it was me and three other British Asians from the age of ages of like, 16 to 24, I think. And yeah, we just spoke about what it was like living in Bangladesh, because we've all we all grew up in, in the UK. And I think it was a good, good video to do, because there were some themes we all could share. But, you know, I think one of the major outstanding ones was that even though this was your family in Bangladesh, this is your family, Bangladesh, you're still British. And you're and therefore you're just naturally going to be either treated differently, or, like, just spoken to differently. I don't know. So yeah, I mean, but but then yeah, maybe maybe it's one downside, or no downside. Maybe that's one little thing about being of two cultures. But you get the best of both worlds as well. So going to Bangladesh is always fun. Maybe I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have. But yeah, it was a cool video to do for sure. Yeah. So Pete, you find people do treat you differently? Because in Bangladesh, because of you found that you've grown up in the UK? Well, me personally, I don't think so. And I wanted the other one of the people on that video said that they were treated differently. Because, you know, just the way that we speak as far as that we don't, either we speak Bengali, we don't have the same lilt or, you know, accent. So immediately stand out and just the way that you dress stands out on the way that you act stands out. Because, you know, it's just how you grew up again, grumbling Besh, so But yeah, I mean, I don't think I personally was treated differently. Maybe I was, I just noticed that. But yeah, that's cool. How would you say you sort of relate to these different parts of your identity now of being British and being Asian. I'm actually, I'm actually really happy about it, about myself and my identity now. As I was growing up, it's always a roller coaster, about finding who you are and where you belong, who you belong with, and who you are. So, I sort of feel like I'm fortunate enough to be at a stage where I'm comfortable with who I am now and what else I can do and what else I can learn about about myself. And how far I can go. So, specifics. Yeah, I'd say I mean, earlier on, I said I was growing up Isaid, I was 70:
30. I think I said 70% British, there was an Asian shoe, we can do like the quick, which we're doing now. Should we say, oh my now in my life now I am. 60:40 maybe 65:35 which I think is good progress. Maybe we can even fudge the figures bit maybe growing up I was 80% British 20%. By being realistic, if I'm if I'm being honest, harsh. And now I'm 60:40or 65:
35. Just to make it look better. Because I really have learned more about my Asian side and appreciated it more or less even little things like I hate spicy food. Like I hate curry. And I hate spicy. Like I hate anything spicy. I just don't get why people would like spicy food. No. So I understand. I know. I don't know. I don't even understand why do you I don't even appreciate why people like spicy food. Whenever you have something spice in your mouth. They override everything about what you're tasting. What is the point? And a lot of it happens to be that my birthright is spicy curries. So the two things which I didn't like or didn't like, what did I realise that I didn't like when I was a baby, I had to live through many birthdays and Eid and family gatherings of just picking out things of food and have my mum make food off a plate for me in front of everyone, because I just hated it. But there's a point to this rambling. In the last year or so, I've started to become a bit easy with spice like in Nando's terms. I was always a lemon herb, slash mango and lime diehard all the time. But now Honestly, I could hack a medium on a good day. So that that illustrates I feel like the progress that I'm making in perhaps being more in touch with my Asian side. And I mean on a serious note or like music for example, right? There's a song that I heard Asian network. It's called Ghungroo. And it is now comfortably one of my favourite songs of all time. And that's a huge for me, it's a huge thing. It hasn't music I listened to I listened to a lot of film and TV soundtracks, a lot of the time. That probably takes up most of my library now. But when it comes to say no lyrical songs, non instrumental only songs, my favourite songs of all time, are, she said by Plan B and my type by st motel. And they're both the reason why they're both favourites are because they both came ages in my life where I appreciate music even more. And every time I hear them either have a mass smile or face. So for Ghungroo to come along Asian network and to be up there with all out to be all the songs that I love. And be up there with she said in my time is a huge achievement is a huge add on that song. Yeah, a huge, I think like acceptance of my part of I know you're just being more Asian. I remember listening to that song Ghungroo I went to Australia, New Zealand on holiday last year. And I remember listening to those three songs on the beach I've ever listened to that it was like 35 degrees. It felt like 40 and I felt so at peace and so happy. So little things I illustrate. Now, how more in touch I made inside me there's several ways to get this a long way to go. I feel like but it's a start. Yeah, yeah. Like integrating the aspects of Asian culture into your identity in addition to the British side. I mean, it sounds like it's something that you perhaps more than you used to be focused on trying to develop and trying to get in touch with. I suppose I just didn't think about it before so actively and now I am so So yeah, and I'm happy for that. awareness, self awareness. And I'm, I suppose reaping the benefits of it. Just seeing the world differently and seeing myself differently and seeing the people around me differently. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it sounds pretty enriching. Yeah, that's good. We're describing if I, George and I had a, we went to school together. And we had this linking session every every other week called enrichment. Which the whole sixth form. Group, but all the students from sixth form would go to this will go to the main hall, and we do enrichment, every I think, every Wednesday period five. So yeah, I suppose this would be my life now. So yeah, it was at enrichment, they would get guest speakers in basically, from different walks of life, to tell you how to share their stories and you know, enrich you, I suppose. And, yeah, if they were to invite me now, I'd probably fit the definition of at least beginning to enrich myself. Yeah, I mean, I think we used to have a running joke that essentially, every one of those talks was like, I've done something really triumphant, impossible or like climb Everest or leave prison and start writing for The Guardian. And then the punchline is like, so you should get your UCAS sorted out the word you UCAS, I got a lot of people say that they miss school and more than more than I think people more than more people than I think say they miss school. I don't get I don't get I don't I don't miss score, but just the when you said you cast right now. Like anxiety swayed through the roof. And like a sharp pain hits my heart. I can't. Oh, God. No. My fault. I blew up enrichment sorry. No, I don't. I don't miss school. I miss I miss being an undergrad. I miss that. But I don't even miss uni. I don't even miss University in particular. Although perhaps that says more about us and how we how our school leavers experiences compared to office. Maybe there's more fun that they can say they love to university & school. I like where I am now. Much better. That's what matters. Yes. Not. Some glory is that ages ago, which only lasts for 10 years.George S:
Haha. Yeah, I didn't know that was a joke. Shall we say it's a joke, cuz he calls me my face. Yeah, okay. Yeah. For those that can't stand in place, he's making the face you make when you make it. He's not putting his middle finger up to the to the camera.Adam:
There actually is something you have much set up. But do you feel like the kind of norms of masculinity have affected you very much. So, um, what do you mean by? I think I know you mean by noise masking tape, but what do you mean by the norms of masculinity? Yeah, I guess it's, it's quite, it's quite, it's quite a diffused concept, I suppose. Things like ideals of stoicism. So being quite self sufficient and not being particularly vulnerable or talking about your emotions, needing to be competent there is and trying to think about that. Not not be like a feminist in various ways that have certain interests like liking. Yeah. Football. I mean, it's all those kind of things and probably a lot more as well. I mean, yes to all of them as as you read them off. Time last, but I felt like it would be good to ask. To tie it back to what was earlier Do you feel like those norms interact with yours? Someone from an Asian background? Um, no, because Sorry, I keep using this as as the reason but like I said, I just didn't. I don't think I grew up having the typical in the typical Asian experience as another British Asian kid would being around more Asians. I think what it means to be an Asian man in Asian household evolves over time. It comes. I think attitudes change over time, hopefully. And that 100 years time will be different, but at least what it is spin Asian man now. I think is What it means to be an Asian man now, I think is defined more by what Asians think about what Asian women should be. Which is the problem, I think, I think the way I feel bad, I feel like I shouldn't be too I don't really thought about this. But I think there's still like a backwards attitude into how Asian women are thought of and treated. And if that's the starting point, then if you don't, if you're going to start on focusing on it, and how they should be, and then have the all the Asian man by almost at the bottom of what beep like, if an Asian woman that she needs to get married by a certain age, and nice to get to do all these things, then by. Because that's your starting point, the age of man, then, then you're telling the Asian man to say, you to go out there and have a job, have a career, be a doctor, be a lawyer, a massive thing. Those are kids. So I mean, what I'm trying to say is basically gender norms suck, right? Clearly, everyone should be their own person. And you shouldn't have to conform to a stereotype or a norm. But in relation to my experience, I think those gender norms affected me because I learned how, for example, and you'd be surprised by how a lot of Asian guys don't know. I can't speak to how it is in other cultures. But it got to a point where I see a lot of Asian men who don't know how to even like live without their wife, or live. Asians. If they went to uni, they have no clue what to do. But me Luckily, I did not I, my parents are amazing. And luckily, I didn't have that. Bye, buy, buy amazing man, like I learned how to cook and clean and do all those things, which I just don't, I don't think a lot of Asian guys out there do maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's changing. But from the Asian guys, I also don't and also what also what that feeds into is that the women in the household do everything. Not say that men, men's jobs are easy, and obviously they go through stress in their own jobs. But like, you know, it's not fair for the wife, or the Mum, to do all the washing all the time, what to do all the cooking all the time, or to do all the little things all the time, I say little things, big things all the time. At least that's how I saw I think relationships in a household should be between man and woman, whether it be your mom and your son or a husband and a wife. So it should be split evenly. And traditionally, I don't think that's what traditionally as Asian households are, like 100%. So in that sense, gender norms does affect I think how most Asians grew up, especially in Britain now, because of the fact that the people above us generation wise just didn't just that's just how they grew up. But hopefully being in Britain. That attitude will change. So yeah, sorry, I went off on a rant there. Any good to you. I thought you asked. To be honest. You made me forget that there's a Chelsea game. Yeah. Okay, so this is one question. I've asked other guests, right. We were like, what we're trying to say sorry, it's rubbish. Don't worry about life. Because all those people who think you're trying to impress, don't actually pay attention or don't actually care. And the only really, thing that matters is you and the people closest to you, and how you feel and if you're happy, then life is all good. Yeah, that's what I would say to my former self. Just be chill. Be chill. Nice. Thanks coming on the podcast. Thank you for having me, George. Thank you.George S:
I really enjoyed that conversation with Adam. I'm grateful to him for coming on the podcast. As I said in the beginning, if you are a Muslim Student looking for support to visit those links in the description. And in general, if you're if you're struggling with your mental health, you can visit the Student Minds website. You can call nightline which is a A complimentary listening service run by students at your university. I think most universities in the UK have a service like that. And you can have a look at the charity Mind Website. Now we links to those in the description as well. Thank you for listening and seeing next time bye