Tag Archives: Harleen Jabbal

It’s a Boy, It’s a Girl! Point Blank with Asian Weekly, 23rd February 2018


“Motherhood is a great honor and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servant hood. Every day women are called upon to selflessly meet the needs of their families. Whether they are awake at night nursing a baby, spending their time and money on less-than-grateful teenagers, or preparing meals, moms continuously put others before themselves.”


– Charles Stanley


Motherhood is a privilege indeed. Once upon a time, our grandmothers gave birth to children at home in whatever the circumstances and environment. So much has changed since then, all the way from infrastructure to science and medical advancements.

1900s was considered the natural birth decade. Then around 1910s came a treatment known as Twilight Sleep, which was a type of sedation, often detrimental because it usually killed both mother and child. By the 1920s doctors were getting experimental and started doing the procedure of dilating the cervix and removing the baby with the forceps. In the 1950s the fetal ultrasounds started mostly to see the medical health of the baby and not gender yet. But women were still faced with the discrediting of childbirth as a medical phenomenon and not a natural action. Then came the 1960s where the dispensing of antibiotics started post birth and monitoring of fetal health through systems became regular. But this was also the time the woman had the option to use the new invention, the birth control pill.

1970s saw the introduction of the Lamaze classes and the use of epidurals to relieve pain. Fast-forward to the 1990s and the knowing the gender started becoming the norm, while the removal of amniotic fluid with an injection to check fetal health also became popular. The C-section procedure became popular in the millennium.

Having a baby is the most beautiful gift you can have. While there is positivity there is also negativity. According to the international organization taking the lead on orphan care, HOPE EFFECT they say there are 153 million orphans worldwide and add that, according to UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund), if orphans were a country of their own, the population would rank 9th in the world—ahead of Russia. Such is the natural dilemma that we are facing.

Let’s narrow down to how are we treating childbirth around us. There is much celebration and even extravagant baby showers. Yes celebration is a must; it is a miracle that has been given to us humans. The baby showers really depend on your social circle, expectations and standards. I recommend, go and feed hungry orphans and blanket them with your love and possessions. However where a mother who is pregnant and needs your help then don’t hold back.

For the men or fathers you must support your lovely partner throughout the journey as much as possible or be frank and just not have the baby. Be real. She may not want you in the delivery room, but she wants you in her life no matter what. A recent study in Kenya shows that women prefer not to have their male companions in the delivery room. This study focused more on the rural areas and this does bring to light the much-needed personal education required in the families across the country. If we want gender equality then we must address deeper issues such as childbirth. The baby is a creation by both and a responsibility by both.

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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Uncategorized


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Away and Away, The Express Fares Hike Up, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 16th February 2018


This May it will be one year to the opening of the Madaraka Express and it has seen almost 600,000 passengers and still counting.

The whole hype was fantastic and so far and journeys have been fun for those who have travelled on it. The Nairobi to Mombasa trip and versus has been successful and soon Nairobi to Naivasha will be launched.


The fares are meant to double this April and the protests have started. Rightfully so, since the Nairobi South Station is in Syokimau and access to it can cost you whether it is on matatu, taxi or private car. Thus, when you are doubling the economy fare and expecting the customer to also bear all those other costs it is unreasonable. To hike the fare within a year is unreasonable. A return first class ticket is 50% of a return airfare. Thus, they have the economic power to make the choice and larger groups can enjoy the reasonable fare and fun interaction during the journey.

For the average rider who prefers this ride to the bus, it is an unfair price increase. Also when they arrive in Mombasa they have further fares to pay to get to their final destination. At least a three years gap should been given. The most important service to get working like clockwork is the tickets booking, payments and information of the travel times. This needs to be as real time as possible and feedback as swift as possible. Fixing this key component will definitely sort out customer frustrations and discipline them to have faith in the system and depend on it for their travels. Hopefully even a last minute booking can be done, because Kenyan culture is very last minute. By winning the hearts of Kenyans with these small crucial efficiencies, the price hike will not seem unfair.

The security checks are superb and while the lines are long depending on busy season, you are assured of safety as much as possible. The main thing is to give a balance to this new technology and system because if the Madaraka Express can achieve this smoothly it will be the beginning for demand from the travellers to get better services for their daily commute. Every country faces hiccups when changing the infrastructure and this railway has been the biggest one since Independence. Let it not be the last one.

Let this railway be a learning platform for future engineers, architects and technicians, just a few skilled jobs that young Kenyans can aspire to have. Why should they watch a mega structure unfold on television when seeing it for themselves can inspire them? They need to know they can build something similar or bigger and better too. It is the vision the Government must aspire to create for them, only then our future has hope of be a fighter in the competitive African market, which is being exploited by “those who know better”.

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Posted by on February 16, 2018 in Uncategorized


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Love is Colour Blind, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 9th February, 2018


“Ek tarfa pyar ki taqat hi kuch aur hoti hai … auron ke rishton ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahi bat’ti … sirf mera haq hai ispe”-


The power of one sided love is unique … it doesn’t get distributed into two, as it happens in the relationships of others … only my right is there on it- dialogue from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil


The beautiful day of Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. For some it is about loving their parents, children, grandparents, the Boss, teacher or that someone special. Whichever way you look at it, February has been marketed as the month of love, so sometimes whether you like it or not, you are duped into this lovely feeling.

The dialogue from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil may be too heavy for us, but it brings out the fact that there are also those silent lovers. Those one-sided lovers, those unrequited lovers, those waiting for love simply.

Then, what can be the colour of love?

Valentine’s Day tells us it should be red, after all the heart is red, the roses are red, the cakes are red velvet, the dress is red and so the list goes on.

For the shy, you can hide behind the red rose or that red velvet cake and express your message obviously and easily. For the vivacious they too can follow the same route and may go the step further (oops on their knees) and make the proposal with candles, music and the red carpet.

You need to figure out who you are in love. Are you in love? Have you been dumped? Are you getting a divorce or lost your special partner? Whatever the case, you must celebrate it with yourself. Whether it is hosting a black colour themed party for being dumped or break-up, white for loss or yellow for hopeful love. Just acknowledge your love on Valentine’s Day, give the universe some message.

There is no need to waste time, not loving others, for example appreciate your family, children or any special relative. Take them out and well, make the colours of your love like a rainbow, realizing each one’s strength’s and the smiles they gave you all year.

Love is now only remaining for the few romantics. Otherwise it has become more of instant pleasure by watching a short porn video on your phone via WhatsApp, or having a side affair, just because you can afford to. The true kind of love is rare, it is not appreciated anymore and while the Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s keep selling us unrequited love, we have much to learn about love. It is the materialistic needs of looking good and showing off in love that have taken precedent, and if you are not a part of this game, you look like the black sheep.

So love this time for you, and nobody else, the way you want and for the colour you want.

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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Uncategorized


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The Last Minute Kenyan Culture, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 19th January 2018


On 28th August 2017 there was a historic decision made by the Kenyan Government, where the plastic ban finally was enforced. This momentous decision was met with its own kind of protests especially from plastic bags manufacturers but as the weeks proceeded the pattern soon set it and shoppers got used to bringing their own cloth bags or buying from the till.

Before the year closed, Uasin Gishu County became the first one to ban supermarkets from charging shoppers for their bags. The assumption is that perhaps the same should apply across the rest of the country. This is a challenge because each county has slightly different consumer trends. There however can be a blanket rule for shopping malls and especially retail clothes shops not to charge their shoppers for the bags, whichever type they may be. It is very ridiculous to expect a shopper who is buying clothing items, which are on average worth KES 500 to pay for another KES 10 for a bag.

When it comes to the supermarkets, the charge should remain because this has a domino effect in the running of the household. Buying foodstuffs and other condiments is an almost weekly or monthly ritual for most shoppers. The way they run their homes and especially kitchens will depend on the use of these bags. This means planning and of course a last minute shopping situation may not be conducive. Here’s the thing, if your store room is not in order then your shopping is bound to be haywire. While the staff at the supermarket tills needs training, you must take initiative too. The days of relying on them to pack the items are over and perhaps this is the beginning of the Western type of shopping, where you do almost everything and pay too!

When the supermarkets were using plastic bags they never passed on the bill to the shopper, just imagine how cheap we were treating our environment. In the UK shops that have over 250 staff are meant to charge a minimum 5p for their plastic shopping bags. Smaller shops are meant to give them free. The cloth bags industry are cashing in and making money with this entire process but then again they have created jobs and are good for the environment. Shoppers should get used to having their shopping bags/boxes in their vehicles (Kenyans have plenty of cars and big ones too) all the time for their shopping needs. Forgetting to carry them is your problem and if you have to pay, then you should not crib about it.

The plastic bags industry was toxic and that’s why when it ended it hurt those who were killing the environment. Being a responsible human is costly, well then it is too bad, the Earth was given to you for free.

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Posted by on January 26, 2018 in Uncategorized


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Sing, Dance or Score Back to School, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 5th January 2018

pexels-photo-256428.jpegThe beginning of the year marks the most important movement and that is back to school. The school fees is done, new uniforms if required are ready and books are in the new bag too. The private schools are in their second term and the national schools are starting their academic year. In either case, back to school can mean a lot of pressure for both student and parent or guardian.


The student is worried about unfinished holiday homework. The parent is worried about traffic and transport issues. The teacher is worried about new students. This interesting situation remains unique in experience from person to person. While the academic performance is important to success in life, there is more that is key to a fulfilling career.

According to a World Bank report released on 26th September 2017, “millions of young students in low and middle-income countries face the prospect of lost opportunity and lower wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life.”

It goes on to say, “according to the report, when third grade students in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda were asked recently to read a sentence such as “The name of the dog is Puppy” in English or Kiswahili, three-quarters did not understand what it said.”

Bringing in ICT (information technology) into the classrooms can only useful if teachers are trained and parents are also involved. You cannot have a student use the devices and only to return home to paper and pen and find a gap. It is therefore necessary to involve all stakeholders for the greater good, which is a brilliant education. The main objective of a good education is that a child is prepared for his work life, whether employed or becoming an entrepreneur.

This definitely requires a closer look at the extra curricular activities schools offer. Every national school in the country must have the basics no matter what, in both primary and secondary. These include, a school band, a full music room, art competitions, football pitches, basketball courts, athletic fields and swimming. These basics can gear them up to face any private school standards should the income allow them to move. Having a theatre in the school will give them the opportunity for drama, acting, debate and elocution.

Each school must have an up-to-date IT facility and chemistry lab. While the Science Congress fairs are common with the National Schools, there needs much improvement for resources.







Let the children compete across schools with the sports championships because this will prepare them for the big leagues of life ahead and maybe a professional career in sports. In fact this is a perfect platform for the Government to prepare its future Olympians. That way the children have an income and the basic education should they retire in their mid-30s from the sports career.

Playing sports reduces anxiety and helps children battling with depression. Even music is known to be therapeutic for children, so let their arts and crafts shine.


Parents can only provide so much, thus it is up to the Government and the schools to give the children a well rounded education that can prepare them for life.

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Posted by on January 9, 2018 in Uncategorized


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Shape Up or Shape Out, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 29th December 2017



New Year is around the corner and what are you up to? Where are you in life? Where do you want to go?





There is no surprise that the number one and most common New Year’s eve resolution is to loose weight, followed by eat healthy and spend more time with family and friends. You must be wondering where do you lie in all of this? Well, that’s the thing, most lie through the year only to end up and make the same resolutions.

How about you go for losing more than just weight? Don’t get bogged down by the kilos you have to get off, maybe there is more in life you need to let go off. You can still have chocolates but learn to have the right ones and not over do it, if you calculate the amount of festivals to celebrate you will eventually end up eating a chocolate every 5 days.

How about you lose the drama in your life? From watching pathetic time waster TV serials to not over reacting in life! Turn a new leaf and choose to loose the crap and keep the treasure. De-clutter your friends list, even if this includes “family members” who do not add value to your life. But remember if you loose, you must add too. Things have to balance. Take a good stock of your friends and enemies and figure out what is best for you.

If you are dropping the calories then make sure you add them on for someone else. For every fine dining meal you give up, make sure you buy a school meal plan for someone else. That will make you feel better and for sure you will look better. Maybe 2017 was a year of gaining a new skill, then do not let it sit on the laptop, use it to benefit at least one more person and start the process of changing the world.

Since we are all used to the plastic ban, remember the fight has just started, you must still plant at least one tree. This will keep the balance of the earth in check. These are important resolutions. Instead of wasting time buying a new phone, you can choose to get better drainage for your compound and help the neighbourhood. The importance of community living has never been more significant than today. The digital world has connected us but we are strangers in person. Thus, make sure you reconnect with your friends in person in 2018. You never know what opportunities may arise for either of you.

Spending a lot of money over a New Year’s eve party makes sense if there is a purpose. Showing off is a big purpose in Kenya, from the big car syndrome to celebrity stalking. Fall prey if you will but remember these are shiny things that wear off at some point. Splash the money on savings, on a new home, on a retirement plan, medical insurance or a surprise future holiday. That way you will live for tomorrow while enjoying today.

You can choose to make your birthday the New Year of your life. There is no rule written on stone saying it has to start every 1st January. Cut yourself some slack but shape up or shape out when the time is right for you.

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Posted by on January 9, 2018 in Uncategorized


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The Merry Money Making of Christmas, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 22nd December 2017


Once upon a time there was Santa Claus, now upon a time there is an unlimited credit card. Christmas is one of the most sacred festive periods for the Christians around the world. However the Western culture of turning it into a big celebration started turning wheels of fortunes for some.

The famous WHAM! Song Last Christmas earns them $ 400,000 every year.

1 billion dollars is spent annually on Christmas trees in the United States. Incidentally the most expensive Christmas tree so far in history was unveiled in 2010 at the Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi and valued at 11 million dollars because it was adorned with jewellery, necklaces and semi precious stones.

In the UK average Christmas spending amounts to easily 400 sterling pounds per person. Meanwhile the UK brands are known to cough up to 4 billion sterling pounds just for marketing their Christmas campaigns.

New York is the most expensive place in the world for Christmas shopping, followed by Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Reykjavik and Shanghai.

In the UK one of the most luxurious gift trending is the a jewellery box in the shape of the HighClere Castle which is the home of the series Downtown Abbey and it is valued at over eighty thousand dollars.

Then what is Christmas like in Kenya?

It is almost at an infant stage. The shopping sprees are picking up, the decorations are increasing and the lunches and dinners are being booked, but not yet quite there. While the Church of England still has over 1.1 million regular worshippers over Christmas and the rest of UK is dwindling in numbers heading to church, the opposite may be true for Kenya.

According to an article by the online publication Bible.Org they have written that there is the argument the scriptures do not allow Christmas.

“Colossians 2:16-17 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day– 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

Colossians 2:16 and 17 in no way forbids believers from commemorating something such as the birth of Christ if it is done out of love, devotion, and the joy the season gives when used as a way of focusing on the Savior and not as a religious duty. The issue is not the observance, but the reason, the attitudes and the spirit in which it is done.”

Thus, they agree that Christmas celebrations are relevant.

By the way churches such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Sevent-day Adventists do not believe in Christmas.






Kenya’s Christmas certainly revolves around church time and going to the village and spending time with family and friends before a refreshed New Year. The commercial aspect is still picking up. If your monthly income is KES 80,000 and after expenses you are left with KES 10,000 and an average meal at a mid-range restaurant per person will cost you KES 2,500. You can figure out the Christmas shopping spend.

There is no doubt that Christmas is more commercial than spiritual. If the Churches can involve their worshippers to do more practical things such as donation drives, tree planting and meals for all, the meaning of Christmas can change. There is hope. The reality is that we are living in materialistic times so unless even the spiritual organizations do not address these, then there will be no spiritual followers.


“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”- Scrooge in the Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

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Posted by on January 9, 2018 in Uncategorized


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