giovedì 22 agosto 2013

To do or not to do

Every year when I go on holiday I have this dilemma: should I pack my running gear or not?
It is like when I was at uni and spent loads of money on extra weight for the papers and books I was planning to read over the holiday. I never, ever, studied on holiday but it felt good bringing them. Just in case.

Lately I became a run/swim-aholic ,7 days a week. I did not miss it when in London, because I had no time, but Greece might be different.... who knows...

mercoledì 21 agosto 2013

Help me find a name for my little car

As many of  you know, I have often given names to inanimate objects. Since I was a little girl, I gave names to toys (my old time favourite was a dinosaur), later to mobiles, laptops and the like (I also had a hamster as a child- actually more than one- it was called Furia. So were all the ones that came after it: Furia I, II, III...). I think the desire to name things stems from this feeling of gratitude to the object that is serving the  purpose it was intended for so well that is worthy of a name.

Scarlett, was the name of my old beloved motorbike. It was the first 'big' thing I buy as a grown up. The 30th birthday gift I gave to myself when I was living in London back in 2010. For her, I used most of my savings at the time (not very wise I know). But she was worth every penny (or cent). Scarlett made one of my childhood's dreams come true: to become a biker. Even if locking and unlocking her took longer than actually walking to work (!), riding Scarlett gave me a priceless sense of freedom. And even if my good friend Roberto would beg to differ, she was an amazing motorbike. "She" was obviously female, powerful yet graceful and red. Hence the name. She was not just a motorbike I used to move from point A to B, she was my "cool thing". As a friend once put it when I complemented her gorgeous red shoes which would make men's head turn, she said: "you HAVE your own pair of red shoes. You have Scarlett".

Now that I have bought a new car (arriving in 1 week time) I am looking for a name. My new car is not and will be nothing like Scarlett, merely because I bought her out of need rather than out of desire (unless you plan on taking cabs every day, public transport is not an option in Abu Dhabi). All that I factored in my decision to buy this particular car was the quality (reliability) to price ratio and safety; ignoring trends, designs, size, engine power, accessories... and all those frivolous things that seem to matter to Abu Dhabi residents. My only request was the colour. Red.
So, out of tradition I need a name.

Some info: the car is German, and she is red (as well as beautiful and graceful). I have a few names but I welcome your suggestions. My ideas include:

Ruby: but this reminds me of the whole Berlusconi saga.
Ali: which is short for Alizarin, a red dye.
Vale: short of Valentino(a) because of the famous Rosso Valentino
Mira: is a red giant star.
Fiamma: flame in Italian. This is my favourite name at the moment.

Down the memory lane, riding cabs in London - Summer 2013 (Part 2/3)

Next morning, after spending a lovely evening catching up with Claire Mu and Dimitris Mu, I hop on a cab heading to Covent Garden to meet Emma. We have some wedding planning to do for September.

Covent Garden, as always is a magical place, with magical creatures. No kidding!
After coffee, I hop on another cab and head to Exmouth Market area, to The Easton for Sunday Roast. There I meet Louise, Meena, Tom Tom, Emily and we are later joined by Claire, Dimitris, Will, GA (also known as Gian Andrea) and Rasoul (who came even though he was fasting- what a star that boy is). This was an excellent day. The sun was shining, we were a group of friends having a laugh, eating good food,

drinking nice wine (Prosecco for the record and 11 bottles too many, but we were a large group...).

As always, when  my gals and I are together, we are trouble. This is especially true if Claire is involved.

So, I always brag about speaking many languages. What I fail to mention is that I know some of them just enough to get in trouble but not enough to get out of trouble. This was an excellent example:
The waiter at the Easton (who I disliked as soon as he felt the need to drop in his conversation that he had a girlfriend- not sure why he the urge to lay it out there, as if any of us was making a move on him) looked familiar, or more precisely he looked like someone I knew. He brings us the bill and - in perfect London style - we all paid by cards. At least six. So, when he comes over with his little machine, I turn to Claire and in French (just to be discreet of course and because British boys only speak English) I tell her: "Not bad looking, hu? Don't you think he looks like "Big Jim?" (BJ is a jaw dropping and friend of Claire whom I had dated for a while. The most handsome man I have ever been out with and most probably the most handsome I will ever date).

By saying that I did not realise I had just opened a can of worms. In fact, to this she replies (naturally in French, because she is also discreet and British boys only speak English), noticing that to be funny the waiter was trying to put all the cards in the cash device at once: "oh, yes indeed, and just like BJ he is trying to push it all in at once!). Of course I burst into laughter and so did she. No one else did because no one at the table spoke French or because they were not paying attention. Actually, one was. The waiter! Whom, with an impeccable almost flawless French talks back to us and says: "Am so glad I amuse you. Who is BJ?"
Even though no one spoke French, everyone's head turned, because:
it was no secret we were talking about him (we are discreet remember?) ;
it was no secret we were saying something naughty;
it was unexpected  to get a French reply from a British boy!! Oh man, what an embarrassment...Why did we find one of the rare British waiters in London who lived 7 years in Paris?

Thankfully, Claire did a good job minimising the whole situation and telling the waiter to be flattered that he was compared to BJ.

That evening ended in another pub in the area after sampling more bottles of Prosecco, wine and the like. What a beautiful day. We ate, drank, talked, laughed, walked down the memory lane, and then we said goodbye for the day. By the time we all went home, the sun had disappeared and it started raining. A lot. And again, Louise and I hop on a cab and head home... (to be continued).

domenica 11 agosto 2013

Ithaka - by Constantine P. Cavafy.

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Thank you D. Love, Kamilah

Down the memory lane, riding cabs in London - Summer 2013 (Part 1/3)

Kings Cross St Pancras Underground Station, July 26th 8.30 am: "Passengers are advised to carry a bottle of water at all times due to high temperatures. Current temperature outside is 19 degrees". Coming from Abu Dhabi, where temperatures hit the 55 in mid July (!) I could not but giggle and think "it is good to be home".

My week in London was an amazing adventure, I saw many great friends, ate some delicious food, drank a glass too much, laughed and more.

The first day was charged with emotions.  I take a cab from King Cross to North London, where Louise and Shell welcomed me at their home. If you jump to point 15 here, you can imagine how it went. After spending some time shopping and strolling in central London (did I mention sipping wine in the one of those beautiful London alleys) we went home (managing to take a cab from 7 sisters station because someone- me- needed badly the loo), and got ready for the big night out. This night entailed friends, food and "Animals". Yes, my favourite place, to celebrate Emily's first 30th anniversary. Before that, a quick stop to say hello to my old colleagues at Matrix before we head off in a cab to Zoo Lates.

I think I have not seen a single animal (except maybe for a couple of birds) because I was too busy enjoying, or looking forward to, being in London and catching up with so many friends (and one in particular on that day).

As the zoo closed rather early for Londoners on a Friday night, we decided to head to a nearby pub, to continue our London ritual: drink, laugh and laugh and laugh again. That night the topic of my creativity (just because I have the - quote- "dirty" habit of sometimes making  gifts-for some special people- with my own hands) became the subject of the night and I was banned by the girls to ever again do any crafty gift without their approval and run any idea by them first. And preferably also seek counsel.

Of course, insatiable as we are, we paid  another pub a visit before going home. There, in addition to two more  gin and tonics- I had a brief but pleasant and interesting encounter with one of Louise's friends who guessed I was a scorpio sign after 5 minutes talking to me (am I that obvious?!). After an intense night - especially for me- we all went home around 2- 3 am. I was so lucky to have plenty of choices where to sleep, because London is actually home... and we hop on a cab again.

Next morning felt "eeek". Previous day was too full of excitement, emotions, booz and  little sleep. Nothing, however, that a good old English breakfast could not cure.

This time I take the tube (yep) to Stoke Newington where I meet Louise, Meena and Rory. The latter a lovely addition to our lot. We are so lucky to have him. Although I am not sure he feels as lucky to be surrounded by women who feel no shame about talking details about their private life and treat him just like another "girlfriend". Oh well.... I guess we are like the sisters he never had.

The brunch was the perfect post-night out activity: greasy food (again I know), water (for Louise and Meena)...
and gin and tonic for Rory and I. The weather was amazing.  London in the summer when the sun is shining is like heaven. But anything above 30 is dangerous for my British friends so we stayed indoor. At least for a little while (thanks to sun screen fifty).
My day was not over. It only began. Took the tube to  Liverpool street for a meeting I was waiting for so long. Meeting my beloved wife Claire. Dimitris, my sister, arrived a few minutes before and then there she was. In all her glory! We briefly said good bye to a friend she brought along and we walked, our favourite past time, around the area. We reached a lovely bar in Brick Lane.

Claire introduced me to Shoreditch Blonde!

Then we talked, laughed and laughed again before Dimitris went home to prepare us dinner which featured the delicious fava. By the time we are ready to go home it started raining. It would not be London if we did not have more than one season in the same day. So, there, we hop on a cab and off we go home for more food, drinks and a long due catch up....

End of Part 1. More to come, including Sunday roasts, endless gaffes, and unforgettable BBQ. Stay tuned!
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