Hubby and I have been reminiscing over the beautiful things we saw in Istanbul (a sign that we need a new holiday), and it made me think that there’s so much of the countries and cities I have been to which have so many hidden, beautiful parts. There’s a lot of iconic landmarks like the Haga Sofia and Blue Mosque, the Basicilica Cisterns and Topkapi Palace which are of course, a must-visit. But there’s hundreds of other things you can find when you take yourself off the beaten tourist track. One of my favourite memories is walking through winding alleys, past blocks of flats with clothes-lines stretched across the street above us, and bridges and stairs until we found some beautiful rainbow stairs. It was the fact that along the way we saw a lot of beautiful places, which felt so much more real than the tourist spots – grafitti supporting Palestine, the ordinary public on their way to the markets, street-sellers selling cheap handbag replicas and lots of beautiful flowers, buildings and decor.
So here are my top 9 favourite, most colourful photos, each with an accompanying colourful memory. There’s a story behind each photo so make sure you hover over each square to read it!
One of the best restaurants during our stay, a restaurant called Fuego. We ordered a claypot dish called Testi Kebap which was cooked on a live fire then poured into our plates. Still one of the best dishes we have ever had til date.
This was along a small road of the city which was a row of colourful houses and hotels. Loved the vibrant colours so had to take a snap (as well as some portraits of some fruit-sellers nearby!)
This is the apartment that my husband and I stayed at, which had a beautiful garden. We spent most mornings here having breakfast and enjoying our view.
This was in the Old City centre of Istanbul, which was perfect for night-time walks. There’s a park to sit and relax nearby, watch the changing colours of the fountain and enjoy the beautiful sounds of the mosques around us.
We found this mosque while walking across the city along the Galata Bridge across the river. At this moment the ‘azaan’ (call to prayer) rang out in a beautiful voice, and there was a short lull while everyone seemed to stop to listen.
These floral wreaths and hairbands were being hand-made by a few women sitting in Taksim Square, which filled dozens of buckets and made a beautiful rainbow. I bought a few for myself and my nieces to bring home.
I’ll be honest – I liked the Grand Bazaar but didn’t love it – purely because it was just too big and busy for me, and I felt a little overwhelmed by it. One of the things my husband and I decided to hunt for was a lamp to take home – we ended up going to a dozen shops to compare colours, sizes and shapes. We didn’t end up buying one in the end because we couldn’yt decide which to get (and we wanted two, which wouldn’t have fit in our suitcase!) but I always look back in fondness to think of two bargain-hunters wandering around like pros!
This was a spice market we found across the city which we stopped at, to smell the different fragrances and colours. Didn’t buy any but did stop to admire all the colours.
We used to stop every day at the fresh pomegranate and orange fruit stalls to get freshly squeezed juice. Both my husband and I have agreed that this is still one of the best fresh juice we’ve had!
One of my favourite things about winter (when I‘m not shivering from the minus-degree temperatures and binge-eating seasonal chocolates) is to look for all the beautiful lights which have been installed around the city. Because it gets dark so quickly (at the moment, the sun has been setting at 4pm) it’s easy to explore all the lights in the area and see how lovely they look.
Unfortunately, I’m sure many of you photographers will know that the bane of taking photos when going out are low-light photograph – it’s difficult to get a decent picture without it being too grainy or blurry! Here’s one my husband took of me after dinner, where we explored the O2 arena a few weeks ago and strolled around. The best thing about this was the night-time atmosphere, there were plenty of tourists and lots of shops and restaurants open, which really created a pleasant buzz.
One of the things I am intending to do this year is to learn when to relax and enjoy the moment – I’m one of those freaks who is always simultaneously Snapchatting, Instagramming, Whatsapping and using a DSLR to capture a beautiful sight. Thankfully my husband is used to it, but it’s something I’m trying to cut down on! Let’s see how it goes this year – quality photos over quantity!
I wanted to visit the parades and shows at China Town today, but it’s been far too windy and rainy to be able to enjoy anything outside, so here’s a picture of one of the last time I visited the colourful town.
I’ve promised myself that I’ll try and find new places in London to discover, especially after having so much fun with Lumiere London, so China Town is definitely on the list again to try!
After watching the wonderful Snapchat Mecca story yesterday which has gotten Muslims and non-Muslims talking, I was so pleased to see such an amazing reaction to the snapshots and videos sent in by worshippers in Mecca performing Umrah on the holiest night of Ramadan – the 27th night known as Lailat as-Qadr, or the Night of Power – showing images of the Kaaba, the night prayers and the millions of dishes handed out for iftar to everyone.
It made me think of how far-reaching we have become, and what a wonderful opportunity there is to unite Muslims, as well as informing non-Muslims of the beauty of Islam.
So today’s post is one of the ones taken from the Snapchat video showing a packed full scene of people – all there for one reason, and all appreciating the beauty of Mecca and Islam : )
I love a wander around London Town, there’s always something different to catch my eye, which I’ve never seen before. I’ve lived in London for my whole life, and I’ve always travelled to and from the main central streets, roaming around east London, crossing over the river to South and venturing towards West and North to see more beauty, and yet I never fail to see beautiful things.
This is something I saw after work a couple of days ago, after a spontaneous walk around Carnaby Street for some dessert and shoe-(window)-shopping, and saw this tucked away in a side alley – a small, busy restaurant between two streets, with orange and yellow light bulbs hanging criss-cross across with wires and hangings, bright lights floating above.
(What completed the scene was a man in costume shouting his wares under the lights a little futher down, trying to pull customers into the restaurant, while a group of school boys threatrically pretended to be scared by the mask and screamed).
If I find the restaurant again, I’ll be sure to go inside and see if there’s more lights, but for the moment, these make beautiful aritifical stars in the night : )
I love keeping aware of events from other cultures and religions, and I’ve always loved the celebrations of Chinese New Year. It’s the Year of the Sheep this year, so look out for tender, polite, sensitive, clever, and kind-hearted babies this year! I’m hoping to pop by China Town and Soho this weekend to see the celebrations, I’ll be sure to post pictures if I do!
( And Here’s a fortune cookie I got today, which I loved because it was better than the ones everyone else got!)
I have always loved going to markets of all types, and I always seek them out when I’m in new places – so naturally I wanted to visit the famous (and biggest) market in Istanbul, which was the Grand Bazaar.
It was certainly nothing like I expected, which was something like an open bazaar with people flogging their wares on stalls. The Grand Bazaar is just that, grand and diverse. Most of the market is inside an old building with several winding hallways and corridors, each one packed on both sides with sellers and shops. Below are just a few of the things which caught my eye, lanterns, carpets, scarves, lamps, spices and sweets, but there’s so much more. I caught sight of fake Louboutins, gold jewellery, ice creams, jewellery, paintings and hundreds more things which are available on display.
We ended up spending a few hours here looking for souvenirs, haggling and comparing, and came away a little dazed and overwhelmed, not to mention the fact that we had entered from one of the Market and exited half a mile in another direction!
Every now and then I’ll come across a dish that I fall in love with unexpectedly (and then try to replicate which always ends badly with some burnt fingers). I visited Basuba Eathai recently, and having no halal option, opted for the fish section instead. I went for the chilli cod dish with stir fry vegetables, which was scrumptious, and my friend went for the grilled salmon and rice option, which was also lovely (but not as nice as my dish!) I love Thai food and this is one of the reasons why, there’s a good palette of flavours and it’s healthy too – definitely one to go back and have!
I don’t watch as much soap operas and those day-time tv series as much as I used to, mainly because they frown on watching television at my workplace (it doesn’t look good to have iPlayer running in the background of my reports, managers tend to frown on that), and also because after years and years of watching Eastenders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Neighbours, I got sick of watching the same storylines being disguised and recycled with each generation.
How many times will Den die? Will Kat cheat again? More importantly, will she be wearing leopard-print while doing it? And how on earth do people like Tony from Hollyoaks and Ian from Eastenders convince so many women to marry them?
It got me to thinking about how a lot of TV’s soaps follow some unscripted rules which seem to be unchanging over the years – even if they’re disguised to reflect current issues. In the 80’s and 90’s there was a lot of controversy over story-lines like homosexuality and teenage pregnancy, these day the storylines will be about immigration, transgender issues, terrorism or just about Cornish pasties – but the results are the same, possibly because the soaps follow the same ‘rules’.
I expounded on some of my theories about soaps to a friend of mine and she urged me to share my theories so I can enlighten you all with them. Admittedly, her exact words were “write a post about it, it sounds funny”, but I’ll take that as a positive too. Read on follow soap-cynics, and tell me if you agree.
Rule #1: There is no such thing as a happy relationship or marriage.
No matter how long the ‘romance’ has been dragged out, and the suspense built up, when a couple finally ends up together or gets married, it will never last. I have yet to see a marriage which has lasted on any soap. Even those married couples who have supposedly been married for 50 years suddenly end up having problems with each other.
It is inevitable that there will be three possible outcomes in any relationship: 1. One of them cheats (which probably means nothing because the other one is likely to be cheating as well) 2. One of them dies (which forever immortalises them and makes them the perfect partner) 3.They just give up their relationship because it gets boring/one of them has to leave the country for obscure reasons/one of them turns gay (i.e. their relationship got boring and producers wanted to spice it up)
The best relationships have been the ones where one half of the couple is dead (probably because they’re too dead to argue or cheat) – in which case, the living half will remember the relationship with unrealistic fondness. Strangely enough, this doesn’t stop characters from having an impaired memory – the amount of times Pauline Fowler talked about her beloved (and belated) ‘Arfur’, despite the fact that he was a cheater and she was a husband-beater. Sounds like him being dead suddenly redeemed him.
Rule #2: Everyone must visit the pub.
It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a drinker, every soap has a thriving pub which is at the centre of all business, drama and gossip, which means it’s a place that everyone eventually ends up being in the episode. Teetotal and/or ex-alcoholic? Why not go to the pub and surround your lemonade with some drinkers? Muslim and don’t drink? Down to the pub with you. Underage or with young children? Why not have a rest at the pub, there’s plenty of people to keep an eye on your children while you have a quick pint. Best of all, no one will ask you why you are at the pub at 11.00am, plus a possible pub lunch and a quick pint after your dinner too.
Some would argue that the pub is a great equalizer – the rich, poor, working class, middle class and people of all colours and ages congregate to the pub cos they all want a drink at the end of the day (or want to witness the latest debacle about to take place). But I’ll just say that the Queen Vic and Rover are too over-populated to be realistic, especially when you know most people would prefer to be at home in front of the telly (I wonder if there is a soap that the characters watch in Eastenders, something called The Market maybe).
Rule #3: Ian is always going to be a git.
I just don’t like him. ‘Nuff said.
Rule #4: There should only be one taboo topic at any one time.
Every season in soap-world will have a new scandal going on, whether it’s affairs, crime-doings or someone ‘aving a go in the market. In order not to confuse us simple viewers, there’s only ever major story arc at a time, so that we can keep our bums on the edge of the seats without being distracted by other storylines. The downside of this is that a story can drag on for months until we stop caring. But it also means that you can watch a story about an affair in January, go on holiday for a couple of months, come back in April and the affair’s still going on. When it comes to ‘taboo’ topics which become major storylines like teenage pregnancy, homosexuality, immigration or similar issues, I can’t help but think that they’re dumbed down and simplified so that we are beaten over the head with the overall message.
Rule #5: There is always a loophole for characters to come back, regardless or how they leave.
Death is not a preventive factor because there’s always an explanation , even if it’s not a realistic one. We may have seen someone get shot/stabbed/go on the run for twenty years, but it still means that there’s a small lee-way for them to come back. Yes, you, Dirty Den, we’re looking at you. What do you think this is, the Resurrection?
Rule #6: There is always a villain that we love to hate in every soap
It’s practically a requirement. In Eastender it’s Ian (for me), but there’s plenty of real ‘baddie’ characters to spice things up a bit. And there’s different strands of baddies too, whether it’s the gangster type;, the smarmy type who everyone hates; and, worst of all baddies, the ones who pretend to be good but have serial killer eyes and end up going cuckoo crazy before they get carted off in a wheely bin to a local asylum (which they’ll probably escape from). Think Annie from Sunset Beach, maybe.
Rule #7: The token ethnic person is never accurate.
I have a personal gripe about this because every time there has been an Asian, particularly a Pakistani character in a soap, they’ve never sounded or behaved like anyone I know. The Masoods are a classic example of unrealistic storylines which have either been lifted straight from a Bollywood serial or just made up by non-Asian people who think that Pakistani families are like this. Coronation Street was just as bad, although the only thing they got right was that the Indian family owned the corner shop. As for Emmerdale, well, I have yet to see any Asian people out in the fields.
Rule #8: Time is irrelevant in soap operas and doesn’t run at the same speed as real life.
Don’t try to make it make sense of it, it’ll only give you a headache. A character may find out she is pregnant in May and then be ready to give birth just two months later, pay no attention to that, it’s just producers speeding up time for us. Similarly, a baby will grow into a toddler and suddenly get replaced into a teenage character in a couple of years (I may be exaggerating here, but still). And if it’s highly convenient that Christmas day in Soap World is on the same day as real life, well that’s just clever timing.
Rule #9: Every character has potential to have a huge (translation: stupid) secret
This ‘secret’ will cover a storyline that will drag on for weeks until we stop caring and the producers are forced to do a ‘big reveal’ so they can try to save the storyline and make us all interested again. Usually the secret is something like having a criminal past or that they’re really someone’s secret mum, or that they were the one who stole Dot’s sandwich. Admittedly, there have a been a few interesting storylines in the past, like the secret serial killers, the complicated affairs and the random storylines which make no sense but which still are fascinating. At the core of soap operas, the moments we all hang on for are the ‘Big Reveal’ parts, the moment everyone finds out something that we knew all along – even if it’s a boring secret.
Rule #10: I can’t think of any more rules so here’s a picture of a cute turtle.
Look how cute it is.
That’s all I could think of folks, I know some of these are silly and some of you might not agree with these, but a lot of these are silly and down to the fact that I watch a lot of rubbish TV which doesn’t always make sense, so I may have done some over thinking here!
Next up, clichés and rules about Bollywood films (and Indian TV serials) – expect some silliness!