Trust me I’ve never been one to blow my own trumpet! Oh, I can hear the laughter from my colleagues at AJE and other TV companies I worked for but I’m a confident guy with a self-deprecating character. I poke fun at myself before I direct it at anyone else.
Working behind the cameras in the early part of my career, I noticed many a TV prima donna shout and scream at their work mates and these very intelligent well-educated and skilled people would tremble at the notion of being chastised.
I hated it and didn’t much appreciate it when I saw it, and noted the showbiz idiots for future reference. I’ve either worked with or looked after some of the UK and North America’s biggest names in my career and have met the kindest and most humble, as well as those you’d want to bury under a mountain of news scripts!
The kindest I have ever met were rock-and-roll star Little Richard, Kermit the Frog and the late great Hollywood hero Howard Keele.
When I joined the TV industry there were very few South Asians in it. I was told I was unique and would be snapped up by many an employer. Needless to say, God has looked favourably on my career – it’s had its up and downs but over all it’s been fun and very rewarding.
I’m not sure why, but I had a funny feeling something strange was going to happen today to me personally and I wasn’t wrong. The AJE team have been working very, very, very hard on our Hajj coverage. I write this line just in case the management happen to be reading what I say.
The guys and one girl (lady, woman, female colleague…ooooh political correctness drives me crazy) have decided to enter the Jamarat for the second day to stone the representations of the devil. I’m wearing a lovely white Indian number. In one hand is my empty little water bottle with stones I collected the other night from Muzdalifah, and in the other hand is my camera. I’ve decided to don my trendy Oakley polarized glasses, they’re getting their first outing in Saudi.
I stone the devil and, oh boy, has he been stoned today. After stoning each of the first two pillars representing the devil, we’re supposed to turn to the direction of Mecca and offer a prayer to God to say we’ve been hitting out at evil. The Saudi security forces are standing nearby, zealous in their duty to forbid people from standing and loitering. I would agree – don’t stop the through traffic and bottle neck the whole place up, but move people on. However, there’s no rush, we’re not in the way, but I’m poked from behind to move.
A young security official looks at me with a smile I take off my glasses and give him a look similar to one Medusa gave to those who came to kill her in Greek mythology – a stare that would turn a person to stone. I can’t think why, but my scary stone stare wasn’t having much effect! Odd it normally scares my two cats Bhutto and Musharaf to death!
The soldier looks at me with surprise….oh yes, I’d been recognised.
This is where I’d normally use my international superstardom to stand my ground and wait for my colleagues, and even have a photo taken in front of the third and largest stone structure.
The soldier took a moment, looked at me again and said…”Ah, Sharukh Khan!” I didn’t even hesitate, though my face must have dropped with disappointment, but I replied…”No, I’m his younger brother”.
Feeling rather dejected, and my ego at another record low, I made my way back to the Hajj media centre overlooking the Jamarat. It’s not the first time I’ve been mistaken for other people: an Italian, an Israeli, Dr Raj Persaud (UK TV personality), now Shahrukh Khan but most of all Riz Khan.
Look, for the record I’m are more funny than that crowd and a lot better looking. The folks back in my beloved home city of Chester know who I am. I’m Sohail (So) Rahman, the guy who sits next to Lucy on the local evening news show.
The fact that I left ITV News in Manchester UK more than five years ago seems to have evaded them. Oh well, at least here in the media centre I’ve met lots of fellow journalists from India, Sri Lanka, Lebanon and Nigeria, all covering the Hajj and all aware of who we are.
A team of journalists all covering the Hajj, all telling our stories of our time and experience here – and what an experience it is!