Abida Mian's Blog

An outlier that's living, learning and being myself…

Quora Question: What surprised you today?

Reading this article in the newspaper:

WTF? What did I just read. This was published in an in-flight magazine by a Chinese airline.

Having moved from growing up in the middle of nowhere as the only ethnic minority family to London was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve now lived here for many years, and I absolutely love the cultural diversity, that’s one of the reasons you should definitely visit this vibrant city.

If I want to taste authentic Caribbean cuisine, I’ll head out to Brixton, and East London for Indian/Pakistani cuisine and clothes shops full of exquisite saris and lenghas. I won’t find that in the area where I live, and definitely not back in the village I grew up in!

With regards to travelling alone at night, I do agree it’s important for all women (not just tourists) to be vigilant of their surroundings. Often, if I’m not far from home, I will walk back late at night, but I will only take the main road (no shortcuts through side streets), or alternatively get a licenced cab back home whichever part of London I find myself in. It’s illegal to carry pepper spray, but I strongly recommend keeping a rape alarm in your bag on a night out. The greatest danger here is the binge drinking culture, when out with close female friends, on occasion they tend to get annihilated, making them vulnerable to predators, as a non-drinker, I make sure the taxi drops them off safely home first, me last, even if I’m closer. Don’t forget that bad things happen during the day too. Look at that poor Google employee who went for a jog in the woods in broad daylight on a Sunday a few miles from her parents home in Princeton, only to be murdered, stripped naked and her body burned.

My advice isn’t exclusively for just London, I think it applies to anywhere in the world, including China! I personally don’t know of any woman who needs to be told of the dangers of travelling alone late at night. Surely it’s just common sense? Whilst it’s not right, sadly there’s no guarantee any place is 100% safe, even the affluent areas, that’s just life!

Air China, please don’t incite racial prejudice. I’ve never felt uncomfortable or threatened around any race in London. In fact, I’m proud to have made close friends from different ethnic backgrounds. My father was Indian, mother Pakistani, and close friend Ghanan, all well-educated, respectful and kind people. Those words I read are extremely ignorant and offensive. Grow up, and stop stereotyping! The editor of this magazine and the writer should hold their head in shame and resign.

The only place I wouldn’t visit are those populated with ugly intolerant minds like yours. I absolutely abhor this side of human nature.

Kind regards,



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