Monday, November 29, 2010

People & Places

it's been 3 years on the balcony, and I yet have to write about my first visit to my beloved Mexico, I still have to tell you about my love-hate rumba with New York, about England land of the Beatles, Vienna untouched by world wars, San Francisco where I should have been born in the 70s, tales of the deep america, memories of enchanted Prague, a Geneva summer weekend, my first February summer birthday in Australia and re-encounters with my second home, Spain.

As I'm spending too much time in front of my computer screen for work and for study, I'm currently expressing myself through pictures instead of words (no i'm not taking photos, give up already!).

After 3 years of writing about People and Places, I'll use a different form of expression, Collage.

So stay tuned ;)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Berlin again

Berlin skyline, Nikolai neighborhood

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Amman, do not judge a book by its cover

Hearing that I would go to Amman, many warned that it would be uber-boring, and that there is nothing to see there. Seeing buildings with perfect limestone façades, no higher than four floors, and hearing no noise, I freaked out, I was going to be stuck in this city for ten whole days ...

I was lucky to meet and reconnect with people who took me around the city, Amman is now on my list of my favorite cities.

The soundtrack to the trip was the voice of Makadi Nahas whom I was lucky to catch in concert at Courtyard a lounge hidden in the lovely Shmeisani district where my friend lives.

In the horizon the mountain neighbourhoods have little two storey limestone houses with gardens, and you could see their lights twinkling from the terrace of Books@cafe or simply Books as Ammanis call it, a bookstore, lounge, bar, cafe mix, 70s wall art, a relaxed artsy crowd, lots of scarves and curls, chairs with different but matching colors, a jazzist and her microphone on the lounge wall, just my kind of place!

Books is off Rainbow street where all the hip-spots are and that may be the only street where cool spots are concentrated, and I didn't mind that. The beauty of Amman is in its mystery, the coolest hangouts are hidden away in residential neighbourhoods, and fancy restaurants look like houses from the outside and are as welcoming when you go in (Levant, Romero, Fakhr El Din).

Even art centers are hidden in the mountains and one feels as if intruding on someone's private art collection in their home, that's exactly how I felt when I knocked on the doors of Darat Al Funun.

I have to admit that I freaked out on the first day when I couldn't find an arts and culture guide, and now I can say I am happy I worked for it, I am happy I only knew when I asked around, only then I knew that 7iber (Ink) is the reference.

I loved the views from the benches at Rainbow streets which reminded me of miradores in Spain, designated points in the city to get a bird's eye view. I even enjoyed the down town kitsch cafe-bars, which had only male customers and are now attracting the intellectual hippie crowd, I know they will very soon become Amman's equivalent of Horreya in down town Cairo. I also found Jazz, so I cannot complain, Cafe de Paris had unique gigs, night after night.

As for old Amman, my friends have transmitted their nostalgia to me, I can tell stories of Jabal Natheef and Jabal Luweibdeh, of the neighbours in the harras, and of the old jasmine tree.

When I remember Amman, I remember fresh pine scented air, rain on my coat, trying to find my way to Wild Jordan, and the lady at the fruit shop who gave me a banana and wished me a lovely day.

Photo: Church in beautiful Luweibdeh, near Luzmilla hospital (the first picture I take in 2 years)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Urban Tribes

Previously I had blogged about Identity, quoting Amin Maalouf, one of the authors I really admire.
A couple of days ago, I realized more than ever that even those of us who
broke the traditional molds (as we say in Arabic) need to belong, maybe to a group of different people each "freaky" in their own way, all wandering away from the herd but in different directions.

I was always questioning if Urban Tribes were born from this need to belong.
Here is a documentary produced by my alma mater, UC3M about Urban Tribe, you can watch it on YouTube (part1, part2).

Let me know what you think of all this.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Life on the move

Something I've been obsessed with, the reason I constantly thinking of the freedom in freelancing.
The idea that's always in the back of my mind when I'm buying stuff for my house (my to-do list has "framing posters" striked out 3 times at least)
The reason my green backpack is my favourite bag (and that I collect bookmarks when I travel)
Something I've been so fixated on that some of my friends testify I've had a past life the 60s

Yesterday I met the woman who made this dream come true, Erin you're my hero!
Read about her and the mini-philosophy that made this possible.

Coincidently, I came across a discussion on Lonely Planet about "portable careers" two days ago.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

my shortest trip ever

More often than not, we'd like to travel to more places than our time and dime would allow, today I found that one can take a 2 hour 30$ trip to Portugal.

Tonight Mariza the great took us from the Cairo Opera House to Lisboa and back, through the taverns of Mouraria where the Fado was born, and on-board a yellow furnicular up the hill to Alfama where it met Jazz and Coladeras. Luring us with a white rose and her graceful moves to sit and listen to the sad tales of sailors long gone and of lovers waiting in vain. Songs filled with Saudade, nostalgia to the homeland. Telling stories of her childhood and of other artists who sang for Portugal, Mariza made every note matter.
Every tune a candy along the trail leading to the mournful Fado trap, o meu fado meu...My foot slipped, I who have escaped the sad tunes in Lisboa, saw the city again, in its blue hand painted tiles, and its rain-washed streets, I didn't run from Fado this time, I sat quietly and listened by the Tejo river with my wine glass full of teardrops* waiting for the boat to cross to the other side.

Here's to Mariza, for no one I know can turn a concert hall with 1200 people into a sitting room with a fireplace, and no one I know can keep the power of their voice intact when they kneel down on the floor at the end of a sad song.

Off to the Sea, Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon.
*Yes, Port Wine is called lágrimas, literally teardrops
More about Portugal:
You can read about my trips to Portugal here
More about the concert:
Chitra Kalyani's article, Daily News Egypt
Mohamed Radwan's article, Al Masry Al Youm

3 days after the concert:

I'm listening to Rosa Branca, over and over, after reading the above article I realize that I was right about its strong flamenco influence, this is how I felt like dancing when I listened to it (saudade for Spain (sigh))
So, still ain't a Fado person, but now a Mariza fan, any vocalist in their right mind should watch her to learn about perfection, passion and projection (speaking of that after seeing her down on her knees, I thought I should never dare to sing out loud again, but I will seek perfection, I promise)