Being a South Asian Muslim living in the UK, I have often been made to feel like a victim of prejudice. Stares, comments, tuts- you name it, I’ve received it. That being said, I must admit that I also harbour my own prejudices; labelling people is a flaw that is common among every member of our species.
Precisely a year ago, I went on a little family holiday to Blackpool. Any trip to this seaside resort is incomplete without a visit to its notorious pleasure beach. Although I despise rollercoasters and fairground rides, I decided to get onto the water ride, despite the fact that it was cold, and I was wearing summery clothes.
Inevitably, I was absolutely drenched. I walked around, shivering, looking for a public toilet where I could dry myself off a little. The only public toilets within close vicinity were situated within a pub. This was my first time ever entering a pub (as alcohol is Haram, or forbidden, in my religion). My second time entering a pub was when, earlier this summer, we went on another little trip to Ipswich, and stayed at a small inn. We had breakfast at the adjoined pub.
My initial view was that English pubs were always full of ignorant drunkards, huddling around, discussing sports and why they support UKIP. When I went to dry my skirt underneath the hand drier, I noticed a woman- drunk, white, middle-aged, with a giant tattoo on her arm- staring at me. I braced myself; I thought she would impart some sort of racial slur to me, but she didn’t.
Instead, we had a little conversation about the wretched water ride, and about how hand driers in public toilets are always so weak.
Sadia Ahmed, 2017