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;
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.
Several years ago on a cold day in February, I was lucky enough to spend a single day in Paris, France. While I hated the time constraints we had, in retrospect that single day left memories that have idealized the city for me. Everything I remember about Paris is beautiful because my time there was so short. That philosophy should be applied to life in general- it is short, therefore make it as beautiful as you possibly can.
I can go on and on and repeat what the world has said about Paris, about its beauty, the architecture, the monuments, the people, the river Seine and its idealism even in the cold, dead of winter; however, I will let my pictures reflect it.
That cold day in Paris is one that I will never forget.
I traveled to Peru with some friends three years ago; It was my first venture into South America and I did not know what to expect. I knew of the Incas from school and the amazing feats of construction and engineering that they were known for but generally, the trip was to be completely and utterly new.
We traveled to Lima, Cusco, and Puno. Upon arriving in Lima and during our taxi ride to the hostel, we passed by several malls, highways, McDonald's and other fast food places. For a minute it seemed as though I had not left New York. Nevertheless we ventured out to eat at a sushi place and explored the city as best we could in the one day that we were there.
The next day, we departed for Cusco and when we landed in that airport, in that rugged valley between mountains, I felt as though I had escaped any reality I had ever known and entered a new dominion. As we roamed through the city streets, I was reminded of Che Guevera's quote from his infamous motorcycle diaries. He wrote about the city of Cusco, "The word that most perfectly describes the city of Cuzco is evocative. Intangible dust of another era settles on its streets, rising like the disturbed sediment of a muddy lake when you touch its bottom."
In Cusco we adjusted to the altitude by drinking plenty of mate de coca, a special tea, and exploring the neighborhood. The city center was populous and geared towards tourists- however we had the pleasure to go up horseback riding in the mountains and to visit some ancient sites away from the touristy places. History in Cusco was everywhere, in the buildings, in gravesites, and even in the people; I watched as a Quechua woman bound her baby in her garments and fastened it to her back with ease, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. The children were exceptionally beautiful. I would be transfixed in watching them with their parents and friends. Family was important to them.
Our journey to Macchu Picchu took roughly 6 hours from Cusco. A train ride through a mesmerizing landscape took us into the village of Aguas Calientes (hot water). The mountains and trees around this place were green and flourishing, completely in contrast with the brown dirt in Cusco. Aguas Calientes probably started off as a small village but soon expanded after Macchu Picchu was discovered. One has to journey there and stay the night (the village is filled with many hotels), with buses leaving in the morning for Macchu Picchu. The bus ride up was scary, it took us to such heights that looking out the window frightened me. Nevertheless, the excitement I felt upon seeing those mountains, upon those clouds that we were going up into, that excitement was boundless. By the time we reached Macchu Picchu I thought nothing could make me happier. And was I wrong.
After roughly a 20 minute hike up some steep stairs, one gets the glimpse of the entire city. It was unbelievable, for lack of a better word. So many questions were going through my mind about this place, it's purpose, it's inhabitants, how it was so precisely created and engineered, that I barely listened to the guide who took us through the city. We sat for a while, surrounded by its stone walls, and I tried to understand the place. I could not and I had to leave it at that. It was beautiful, it had a quiet strength and dignity, and though the questions in my mind remained unanswered, they were pushed back. I let myself sit and enjoy the solitude and peace this city in the mountains brought to my heart and thanked the Lord Almighty that I had been privileged enough to visit this place.
My only hope is that I one day get to see it again. Che Guevera said it best, "How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew?"
Vase with arabic writing
Repetitive motifs in ceramics were most popular, and still are, in the Islamic art scene. Religious art was decorated with geometric patterns and arabic phrases. These three examples are located in the British Museum in London. Notice the use of the color cobalt blue; it was an expensive pigment to decorate with therefore those who owned/patronized these items were particularly wealthy.
I look to geometric motifs when thinking of different henna designs. It amazes me to know that some of these patterns are designed with such precision.
Vases at the British museum in London.
A couple of years ago I took a trip to visit a friend in London. We got a chance to see the famous British museum and the Islamic art exhibit there was gorgeous. I realized that i use many, many Islamic art motifs in my henna designs and now I look to them for inspiration. The floral patterns and geometric patterns and intricate mathematical algorithms look amazing on these mosque lamps and look just as stunning on henna patterns on ones hands!
The mosque lamps below were my favorites. They were lit up and looked exquisite in the light. The style of writing is beautiful.
If you would like to know more about Islamic Art - check out the Islamic Art exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I went to the MoMa in midtown for the first time in my life and it was a great and overwhelming experience. It was a free Friday and the place, like midtown Manhattan, was overflowing with tourists. It was difficult to navigate through the throngs (zillions of people with dslr's and strollers) so we didn't stay long. Note to self: Never go to a museum on a free Friday (or weekend for that matter)- check it out on an obscure day and time.
Nevertheless, I did get to see some classic works by Picasso, Munch, Van Gogh, and Monet, pieces that I had only ready about but never laid eyes in person. I was surprised by the sizes of some of the paintings. Picasso's work really stands out (two pictures above) and this painting below really represents melancholy and fear, in my opinion. The photo below is a work by Munch. I feel like I've seen that look in the mirror.
Now that I may get furloughed and have every Friday off, I can go museum hopping! I will definitely be back at the MoMa, so much to see and to get inspired by! Maybe I'll use abstract art in my future henna designs.
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.