Architecture, specifically of mosques, is an inspiration for many of my henna designs. I have been lucky enough to have traveled to several places around the world and I have seen many different styles of mosques. Some are centuries old and are some modern and new. They leave behind the same effect, awe, wonder, and inspiration. I've shared a few of my favorites here.
One of the most important things a city should provide to its residents is, in my humble opinion, plenty of open and green spaces. London is no stranger to parks as it seems every where I turn, I'm in some sort of garden or park. I find it quite soothing to sit amongst the trees, read a book, or enjoy some time with friends. My next couple of posts will be about the beautiful green spaces of London.
1. Hampstead Heath: It is in Zone 3 so a bit farther out of the city center but nonetheless, it is my favorite park so far. It's rolling hills, ponds, trees, and views of London offer something for everyone. John Keats, the 19th century poet, lived in a home nearby and walked through this heath and may have composed several poems here.
If there is one place in London that has enough space for people, it is Hampstead Heath. Once away from the entrance and the path, one can truly be alone in this park. I stopped by a bench and sat under a giant tree, listening to the birds and the movement of the grass with the open expanse of sky before me. It was glorious. Big benefit: One can walk up to Parliament Hill and get a view of the London skyline, spotting all the buildings and all the cranes building up the newer buildings.
A short Thameslink train ride to St. Albans, a small town about 20 minutes north of London to see some historic structures dating back to Roman England (1500-2000 years ago), is a great way to spend a Sunday.
There is a small museum that houses an impressive collection of Roman artifacts found in the region, including some more fascinating mosaics.
History holds many mysteries and often, the more we find, the more questions are left unanswered.
Dodging loads of tourists at huge train stations has been something of a norm for me my entire life. However, movement, the pulse of a city, is something I find incredibly exciting. And London is a city that moves and moves fast, by rail, by tube, by cycles, or by foot.
London's St. Pancras and Kings cross stations are beautiful structures and thousands of people with many different languages navigate their way with numerous pieces of luggage on a regular basis. The movement does not stop.
Similarly, Trafalgar Square (more a circle actually) is in constant motion. I stood at the top of the national gallery and shot this video below with my iPhone 6.
Check out the video on my Twitter page;
I am fascinated with history and with it, the evolution of government. Naturally, a tourists visit to London included a trip to the parliament and the infamous Big Ben clock tower. The building represents one thousand years of British government; think of how many important pieces of legislation went through those walls. If only those walls could speak.
Lining the Thames river on both sides are a series of docks that have been turned into commercial/public green spaces. Tourists rush to the edge of the banks to take in views of the parliament and the London eye, armed with their selfie sticks. There are so many people, it's like equivalent of visiting Times Square. Hilariously, there were two places that offered "New York" food, burgers and NY pizza, neither of which I had any desire to eat. Traditional British food itself is not too appetizing, which is my theory as to why restaurants are so successful in the UK.
The Thames river reminds me of the Hudson, green and gross. It's no wonder I love this city so much, it reminds me of home.
I am currently in England for a couple of weeks and I will be blogging my experiences for you!
It has been one week since my arrival in London and it has been a week of history, learning, and adventure. Not surprisingly, it is easy to fit in as a New Yorker. The movement of pedestrians, especially in and out of the Underground is similar to our movements on the subway.
The tube (undeground) is an extensive network that I quickly got the hang of. People move fast here, it almost feels like everyone is racing each other. The bankers all wear a distinct blue suit that I have now dubbed "banker blue."
I love the history of London, the different distinct architectural styles, the old buildings mixing with the new, the cafe culture, the art, and how one does not need a car to travel and live comfortably here. Everything is new and foreign to me at the same time.
I'll bring you new posts daily on my trip in London and my journey along the way.
Eid is the festival after Ramadhan and for Muslims, it is huge. They can eat and drink during the day again and they pray, on Eid, that all of their good deeds and worship are accepted by God.
We visit our friends and families and give gifts, money, sweets, and glad tidings to everyone we come across.
Traditionally, henna is done on Eid. Women love adorning their hands on this holiday and I have so much fun doing henna in this time.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Ramadhan and Eid and that they learned a great deal for the future during the month.
Around the world there are numerous types of henna designs and styles ranging from geometric to floral to intricate grids and even animal and human faces. Henna is used for joyous occasions, weddings, parties, bridal and baby showers, and religious holidays. I'll take you through some types of designs (though certainly not all of them).
Moroccan/North African Designs (below): Moroccan patterns are geometric and look very calculated like algorithms converted into design. Much of old islamic art from North Africa is geometric and vegetal in nature (on mosques, doors, even palaces and fancy cutlery, some examples include the mosque at Timbuktu and intricate designs on the Fatimid mosques in Egypt). There are lines, diamond shapes, squares and triangles in Moroccan designs, criss-crossing and intertwined lines creating depth in a palm.
South Asian Designs (below): Indian patterns are very thin and intricate; they often containing numerous types floral patterns with leaves and paisleys. During weddings, husbands and wives names are inscribed in the henna design and it becomes a game to try and find them. Faces and animals are incorporated in henna designs, sometimes depicting a scene of a wedding itself. Animals like the peacock and elephant are drawn on to hands for beauty as well as luck.
Middle Eastern/Arab Designs (below): Arab designs are very big, usually floral in nature with dots and lines. The designs are use alternating thick and thin lines with floral patterns filled in with thin lines. There are grids and chevrons and thicker borders with thinner interior lines. Sometimes the designs can look similar to Indian styles.
Not mentioned here are Sudanese styles of henna designs. I have not learned them yet but when I do, I will mention them on this blog. Let me know what your favorite styles are!
I love the lace look on the fingers with a connection of circles. The color results came out great and I wore two of my favorite rings to dress up my hand. Let me know what you think!
These past couple of days have been busy in henna. So I will just let my pictures do all the talking. I tried many different styles and patterns that had been in the back of my mind. All of the designs came out beautifully.
After two field work days that happened to be two of the coldest days of my life, I decided to stay in this Sunday. I was i upstate NY for work, it was about 25 degrees and with the windchill it felt like 18 degrees. When I got back to the city and felt the 40 degree temperatures, the difference was amazing. The city felt absolutely balmy in comparison to the interior parts of the state.
After those tiring days, I decided to stay in on Sunday and do these patterns. Nothing clears my mind and calms me as much as doing mendhi on my own hands.
I have been really into mandalas and extensive circular patterns. They look great on the center of the hands (both sides); the symmetry is perfect. One can keep continuing the design, making the mandala bigger and bigger (unless of course he/she is working on a smaller hand).
Recently I've been obsessed with filling up the fingers with moroccan patterns. They are a bit more difficult to do but the results are worth it. Wouldn't you agree?
Check out my latest photo essay titled "Reflections from Iceland" on the beautiful medium platform with Ummah Wide:
Reach out to me for all of your henna needs! I am looking forward to hearing from you.
I worked on this design over the weekend. Let me know what you think of it!
I'll be adding pictures and commentary of the things I love. I am an ordinary person in an extraordinary place. There is no special purpose to this blog other than to project what I am thinking of at any given moment.
All the photos are mine (unless stated otherwise). Please do not use without permission. To learn more about me, check out my linked in profile below.