May 31, 2011

Quote of the Day~

Taken from Clapham North Tube Station, where someone puts up a different inspirational quote every day :) I always stop to read it & I've taken a few shots of my favourites.

May 30, 2011

Perception is Reality

Perception is reality.
via torevolution
Sourced from Free Logic

I know a Muslim who came to study in England and was fully covered when she first came. Within a few months she made the decision to dress like a Westerner and got permission from her mother to do so (Her Father never found out) She was beautiful; long legs, glowing skin and a million dollar smile. She wowed a room as she walked in and got a lot of attention. I asked her once if she felt less restricted when she was in England and her response was this: "I feel more respected when I'm covered, men speak to my eyes and listen to what I say. I sometimes cover myself just to run errands because I feel more comfortable." That wasn't quite what I had expected her to say but it just goes to show, perception really is reality.

May 28, 2011

Locked out of my own house!

On Wednesday I was not allowed to go to work because Barack Obama was visiting parliament and due to safety regulations only permanent staff were allowed to enter! How annoying! I really wanted to catch a glimpse of the President as he made his way through the House…though due to the never ending network of tunnels and corridors nobody saw a thing. How inconvenient.


May 26, 2011

Take me there: Salt Flats, Salar de'Uyuni, Bolivia

During the rainy season the world's largest salt flat turns into the world's largest mirror, blurring the line between heaven and earth. 


May 25, 2011

Comics are for the young at heart

Growing up I always read the paper backwards so that I could get to one of the best parts first - the comics :) I must admit that though I still do that I now cover the rest of the paper as well! I love comic strips; Lyn Johnston's  'For better or for Worse', Charles Schultz' 'Peanuts' and Bill Watterson's "Calvin & Hobbes' are a few of my favourites. 


Royal Wedding Fever

I completely forgot to post about my Royal Wedding weekend! All of the excitement of the weekend and the No2AV campaign directly forced it to slip my mind. 
I was in England three weeks prior to the wedding and that was long enough for me to catch the wedding bug myself - as much as I hate to admit it, I was listening in to radio talk shows, discussing the possible honeymoon locations, her ring and ofcourse, her dress. Who was going to go down in history as the designer of the dress of the century?
The campaign crew drove through Westminster City the day before the wedding to catch a glimpse of what was to come. Union Jacks lined the streets, crowds were already camped outside of the palace in anticipation and the media was having a field day interviewing those who had come from afar to witness the spectacle.
I was signed up to work at a bar in Hyde Park during the wedding - little did I realise what a great location this would be! 120,000 people, fireworks, huge screens set up to watch the ceremony and live entertainment. We arrived early, it was cold and overcast and it looked like the day was doomed. The bar was quiet as everyone had brought packed lunches and pimms (so British!) and it wasn’t quite the usual ‘festival’ atmosphere - everyone was here to watch one of the biggest British events unfold with family and friends. (A quiet bar meant that we could watch the ceremony uninterrupted! :))
As the celebrities rolled into Westminster, the crowd started cheering and wooping (Especially for the Beckhams) and the flags came out. On came William and Harry, Charles and Camilla, the Queen and *Gasp* finallyyyyy, the bride! Even the large, strapping security guards and bar managers behind us were shedding a tear as they saw the beautiful Catherine step out of the car with her dad. She looked like the utlimate, modern day princess - simply stunning, elegant and regal! The crowd went wild! Finally the moment everyone was waiting for! (I also cursed quietly under my breath as I had lost a bet with friends as to who the designer would be…) 
As the boring ceremony came to an end, everyone within close proximity started sniffling and rubbing their eyes again at the sight of the new bride and groom- the future King had married his love of so many years, the future Queen Catherine! 
The pyrotechnics went off and the crowd roared, becoming a blur of Union Jack flags as watched William and Catherine drove through the streets of London in the horse drawn carriage.
The best part of being in Hyde Park was the unexpected surprise of seeing the WW2 RAF flyover come straight over our heads! Incredible! The crowd just lost it at that point; imagine the sound of the roaring planes coupled with 120,000 cheering people. It was intense!
No Royal wedding would be complete without a street party and we merrily made our way to my friend’s house in Fulham after the park. We were met by brightly decorated houses, loud music, the smell of barbecue and lots of chatty neighbours who wouldn’t normally look twice at each other. It was a great atmosphere; topped by a Trinidadian steel pan band who got the crowd moving! What a wonderful way to end such an exciting day.
Hurry up Harry, I can’t wait for all of England to be in such a great mood again!

May 24, 2011

Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love ♥

A few weeks ago I finished “Eat, Pray, Love” and fell head over heels with Elizabeth Gilbert’s witty and self depreciating style of writing. From the very beginning, she gives a characteristically frank rundown of her traveling skills: tall and blond, she doesn't blend well physically in most places; she's lazy about research and prone to digestive woes. "But my one mighty travel talent is that I can make friends with anybody," she writes. "I can make friends with the dead. . . . If there isn't anyone else around to talk to, I could probably make friends with a four-foot-tall pile of Sheetrock."
By the end of the book I felt like I myself was in desperate need of a year long trip and it triggers the thrill seeker in most; be it to try great food, explore somewhere new or simply to meet new people and learn something from them. Gilbert's prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible, and also educates the reader on some interesting facts about the cultures, languages and foods she encounters along the way. The film really does not do it justice, leaving out Gilbert’s hilarious interior monologue and battles with her conscience. I came away from this book feeling like the world is my oyster and that it's never too late to do the things you love. 


May 22, 2011

Perception of Beauty

Great Dove Ad showing why our perception of beauty is distorted.

May 20, 2011

What about flying cars?

Sci-fi novels and films of the last century predicted many things for us in 2011: flying cars, all-in-one body suits and getting around by why aren't we all living it up like the Jetsons yet? The BBC looks at how we are in fact living in a sci-fi future. 

Thankfully, we're not being attacked by robots from outer space and London hasn't been submerged (yet) but there are a few predictions that have come true:

Credit Cards -Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, written in 1888, predicted cash cards.
The Internet - Mark Twain, in From the London Times of 1904, written in 1898, imagined a communication network in which anyone could talk to and see anyone.
CCTV - Big Brother is watching you, George Orwell warned in 1949.
Lunar exploration - Johannes Kepler first thought this might happen in 1634.


May 19, 2011

TED Prize

The TED Prize was started in 2005 and awards an individual the opportunity to change the world by spreading a positive, hopeful message. This year the winner was semi-anonymous urban Parisian artist 'JR'. He doesn't explain his huge full-frame portraits of people making faces, leaving the space empty for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passerby/ interpreter. JR's wish is " for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we'll turn the world...INSIDE OUT."  Read more about the InsideOut Project.


May 18, 2011

Barbado'ed: Europe's forgotten Sugar Slaves

Today, the word "Barbados" conjures images of a Caribbean paradise; sandy white beaches, sunshine and an ice cold rum punch. Centuries ago however, about 170  Scottish Jacobite rebels were “Barbado’ed” after the rising of 1715 — and there are other sources of Scots ancestry in Barbados, too. From then on, Irish and Scottish thieves, prostitutes and any others who broke the law were sentenced  to be 'Barbado'ed' - a brutal punishment which meant a life of hardship as an indentured servant in the West Indies. More often than not this lead to a premature death due to overwork and deplorable living conditions; the searing heat, blazing sun and days spent in the fields were not kind to the European white folk. 

They were transported to Barbados by Oliver Cromwell after the Civil War and many direct descendants still live on the East coast of the island. They were nicknamed "red legs" (because they got their legs sunburned below the hem of their kilts when working in the cane fields) or “Backras” (apparently because no respectable family wanted to sit next to poor white trash in church. They were made to sit in the back pews only.)

Find out more about the Bajan 'red legs'.


May 16, 2011

Featured Artist: Simbah Pilé

I'm a huge fan of Simbah's work and I've seen more and more of it popping up around the place. This article was taken from Urban Facebook Magazine.

May 14, 2011

Cannes Film Festival

Having been lucky enough to have been in Cannes for the 2009 Film Festival, I've always been excited to see the line-up and read about the season's picks. This year it seems that 'We need to talk about Kevin' - based on the bestselling novel - starring Tilda Swinton, is the critic's favourite so far and may even make it to the next award's season in the US. Another one causing a bit of a stir is Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris', saturated with a star-studded cast including France's First Lady Carla Bruni. Read more on this year's festival here or watch the nominee trailers & teasers and decide for yourself who deserves the coveted awards. I myself can't decide between MelancholiaOnce upon a time in Anatolia and Sleeping Beauty.


May 13, 2011

Coco Chanel Lamp posts

Visit the City of Westminster and you'll be taken away by the sheer 'grandness' of it all; the architecture, the history, the culture, the tradition...But look a little closer and you'll see that London has a very well kept love story and fashion secret.

Legend has it that the second Duke of Westminster, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, was so love-struck by Mademoiselle 'Coco' Chanel back in the late Twenties after they met at a party in Monte Carlo in 1925, that he ordered all the lampposts in Westminster to be adorned with her initials, alongside an ornate W - the Duke's crest. Poor old Hugh was left heartbroken when, despite his extravagant gesture, Chanel turned his proposal of marriage down saying: "There have been several Duchesses of Westminster, there is only one Chanel". 

Although their relationship did not produce the heir that Bendor desperately sought, it did create something of significance, of which ghostly traces still remain. The double Cs embossed upon the old lampposts are a final emblem of the Duke's gesture towards Coco Chanel, a silent mark of their union, and of the melding of British tradition with French couture, in a style all of its own. 


Fish Fight

On Thursday I watch the Common Fisheries Policies Debate, where MP Zac Goldsmith presented the Fight Fish campaign to the House of Commons.
To some up, half of the fish caught in the North Sea are thrown back overboard dead, due to catch quotas set by the European Union. That’s almost a million tonnes of wasted fish every year! To read more about the Fish Fight campaign, read here.

May 12, 2011

It's like the Hollywood of British Politics

I’ve just started a new internship at the House of Commons, working for Jack Lopresti, Conservative MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke. So far this requires researching info for his speeches and debates, working side by side with another one of his assistants and sitting in on parliamentary debates. Though this isn’t very exciting and probably not suited for a travel blog, it’s still giving insight to being here in England.
You know that feeling you get when you see someone and you recognise them, but you know know where from? That’s what it’s like here; except you know every other face. That’s because the House of Commons is like the “Hollywood of Politics”- you know everyone’s face because you’ve seen it on TV, in a newspaper or on a poster somewhere.
Today I told I was allowed to attend the PMQ- ‘the PMwho?’ Should probably have kept my mouth shut as this was quite obviously the Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament,which is when he has to answer questions submitted by other members of parliament. This is apparently forms an important part of British political culture and due to the natural drama and theater performance of the sessions, it’s highly entertaining and makes for great evening news. 
More often than not, the session is spent insulting the other party and trying to out wit your counterpart. Today’s proceedings went something like this: 
Edward Milliband (Labour Leader) to David Cameron (PM) : “…It is becoming a pattern with this Prime Ministers. This morning, in the papers, we saw the Universities Minister being dumped on for his tuition fees policy; we see the Schools Secretary being dumped on for his free schools policy; and the poor Deputy Prime Minister just gets dumped on every day of the week.” (Followed by rapturous laughter)
Edward Milliband to David Cameron (After Cameron got a bit flustered and started raising his voice) : “ In a phrase that the Prime Minister is familiar with, “Calm down, dear.” Calm down.” 
Mr.Speaker to the crowd: “Order. There is far too much shouting in the Chamber and the Secretary of State for Education should not be shouting his head off—it is a very bad example to set to the nation’s schoolchildren!”
This was again, followed by ‘canned’ laughter and a rustling of feathers.  It was all very entertaining, like sitting in the audience of a daytime talk show! Though nothing was really resolved and I came away feeling that very little was accomplished, I can’t wait to go and see the show again.
I guess perhaps, you just had to be there

May 9, 2011

WoWoWOW ~ What a crazy 3 weeks!

The chanting, the organised chaos, the tacky neon green and pink t-shirts, the “US vs.THEM” debating and the comforts of “Shazza” (the taxi) and “Betty” (The campaign bus) is all over; the NO2AV campaign has sadly come to an end.
I hopped on board the bus and joined the campaign trail with three weeks to go. At first I couldn’t understand everyone’s obsession, exhaustion and sheer willingness to win this campaign, but what did I know? The rest of the team had done nothing but eat, sleep and breath NO2AV for the last 3 months.
Yet three weeks later I found myself debating just as feverishly, nodding in approval with everyone around me (having heard the arguments a million times) and hearing “one person, one vote!!”  taunt me in my dreams. 
My job was to travel around with the team who were organizing press Ops for the local media, to raise awareness of the campaign through the local MPs who were supporting us. This consisted of blowing up a giant “NO” in the city centre (or near a famous landmark) and taking photos of everyone smiling happily (Though cringing at the horrific colour of the shirt they were forced to wear) I snapped a few photos and that was it. During the last week we drove “Betty” the open-top campaign bus around the cities with MPs and various local people to the broadcasting houses, where they did a little spiel on the campaign. We made it to Wimbledon, Kent, Newbury, Birmingham, Christ Church and Bristol, to name a few. The boys (who had been doing it for 6 weeks by the time I came) drove over 3,500 miles around the country!
We won the campaign with a landslide victory and I felt slightly guilty for being congratulated for my efforts. If only everyone knew how much fun I had and that my ‘efforts’ consisted of travelling around the country with a great, interesting bunch of guys, listening to music, taking photos, meeting new people everyday and learning more about British politics than I ever have sitting in a classroom.

To sum up the kind of people I was around was aptly described by one of the Senior team members at NO2AV at the official campaign goodbye party : ” This campaign was unique because it brought together Tories, Labour, young and old … to fight for something we all believed in. It didn’t matter so much what party you support or where you’re from. We became friends with people wouldn’t have met otherwise…I believe this group of people, this unique mix, will form the backbone and workings of future politics.”


May 6, 2011

Travel Photographer of the Year Awards

Mind-blowing, awe inspiring photographs taken around the world by people as young as 14 years old. I recommend checking these out as my copies of the photos really don't show the exquisite detail! These are on show at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Here are my top 10 favourite shots from the Winner's Gallery: 

Tibetian Monastery, Ganzi, Sichuan, China
(Travel Photographer of the Year - Overall winner)  Larry Louie, Canada

Carrying a speared octopus back to the boat, Sulawesi, Indonesia
(Encounters portfolio Winner)  James Morgan, UK

Djenne Mosque, Djenne, Mali
(Travel Photographer of the Year- Overall winner) Larry Louie, Canada

Monks preparing to view a solar eclipse, Bemri mountain, Bhutan
(One Shot- Adventures winner) Maja Flink, Sweden

Yak milking, Shine-Ider area, Mongolia
(Encounters Portfolio) Kym Morris, Australia

Filipino paaling fishermen 40m beneath the South China Sea
(Amazing Places Portfolio) Timothy Allen, UK

Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea
(One shot- Adventures) Timothy Allen, UK
Boy playing with pet shark, Sulawesi, Indonesia
(Encounters Portfolio Winner) James Morgan, UK

Fete Gede (Festival of the Dead), Port-au-Prince, Haiti
(Encounters Portfolio) Jordi Cohen Colldeforns, Spain

Emerging from a cloud of colours, Festival of Holi, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India
(Encounters  Portfolio)  Poras  Chaudhary, India
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