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.
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!
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?
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!
These are uncertain times. The world is afraid and in absolute disarray. Innocent people are dying everywhere and it is especially hard in these times to have any sort of hope.
In these times, we cling to what is necessary, what is near; specifically, our faith and our friends.
Nothing calms my head more so than doing henna designs (on either myself of my friends). Two of my friends came over and I drew on their hands, we had an impromptu henna party. It was great to spend time with them and also to further perfect my craft. Sometimes doing henna on my own hands gets tiresome and it is so much more fun to photograph others hands after I finish my work. These designs were great and my subjects were, too!
Let us hope that devastation and despair is replaced by hope, everywhere. No more fear, intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and let us fight to end oppression and injustice!
The joy of spontaneity is in the word itself. An unpredictable surprise at an unknown point in time. In a life of routines, spontaneity is often thrown aside for an easier, predictable life. I prefer to go home and spend time watching reruns of the same shows instead of going outside and doing or trying something different.
Last week however, in a burst of spontaneity, I decided on a last minute trip to Edinburgh, Scotland and Amsterdam. I met with some friends in Edinburgh, spent 2 days touring the city and on the way back I toured Amsterdam alone. What a great way to have spent the weekend and I certainly encourage every person to be spontaneous in their lives. It changes things, one meets new people, tries new things (like hiking a dormant volcano); all in all it fosters change in a generously sheltered life such as mine.
The rest of the city (and country) is very green. A dormant volcano called Arthur's seat lies in the city limits and we hiked up its 800 ft summit to enjoy spectacular view of the city.
There are many streets closely packed together, alleys called "closes" that have very interesting historic stories and were, essentially, tenement apartment dwellings without proper ventilation. Plagues festered and destroyed the lives of thousands in those closes. Walking along the royal mile in the old town feels as if one has stepped back in time. It is stunningly well kept, the closes are in great structural condition, too. One can easily imagine how life must have been in those days, in small cramped rooms beneath towering steeples and grey skies.
Two weeks ago I never would have thought that I would be standing on the summit of Arthur's seat, looking over the city of Edinburgh, with volcanic ridges and moors around me. Absolutely love spontaneity...the idea of not knowing tomorrow has become quite a romantic idea indeed.
Henna cones from Pakistan are fresh; they smell different and leave a much longer lasting stain compared with any that I have found here.
I was lucky enough to visit Pakistan again and in the markets of Karachi I ordered some awesome mendhi cones. I used a cone and now await the color.
The flu, by far it has been the worst thing I have ever felt in my life. The fever, aches and pains, the coughing, it was quite unpleasant.
However, those three days at home did lead to some blinged out, henna inspired iPhone cases using metallic markers, nail polish, and rhinestones from Michaels. I now have four different cases to use, its like giving my iPhone a choice of what it wants to wear for the day!
There has been this persistent grey color to the sky, the ground, and the very air we breathe in New York City. The lack of sun and this endless winter has turned this city into a page out of a Dostoevsky novel, cold, snowy, miserable, and grey.
I was lucky enough to escape for a few days in January; we went to San Juan, Puerto Rico. When I felt that warm sun on my skin I completely understood why people used to worship this majestic, celestial body. It is rejuvenating and magnificent in its splendor; it is life.
Old San Juan was particularly inviting, a 500+ year old city surrounded by forts built by the Spanish in the 1500's. The two forts, El Morro and San Cristobal, were high and mighty and must have been quite a sight in the days of colonial trade routes in the Caribbean Sea.
San Juan was fantastic however the best things to do were outside of the city. El Yunque rainforest, a national rainforest about an hour away from the city, had fantastic trails and interesting plants to discover and kayaking at night in the bioluminescent bay was one of the best experiences of my life. I was frightened a bit by the dark and the water however once we reached the lagoon we saw nothing but the green lights of the phytoplankton in the water below us and the bright stars above. I lived the entire trip in that one moment.
I would like to conduct an experiment. Once a week I will confess something and see what the results of the confession will be. There are no goals in this endeavor, I'm just bored. And therein lies my first confession: I get bored, a lot. I live most of my real life inside of my head, in a series of fantasy worlds. The tangible world and its day to day constructs bore me.
I did some freehand sketches with a pen and spent some time with the ducks and swans at the Prospect Park Lake. There is stunning beauty even on the most coldest of days.
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.