Taking Flight higher like Dolphins

Dolphins taking a flight, shown in Tiergarten Nürnberg Dolphin Show in Germany

I love Dolphins, I think they´re the cutest animal.Watching a dolphin show is something that I really enjoyed, especially with my little one. Although I only began to appreciate Zoos only when I had a child, a a sight of group of Dolphins, Manatees and seals are always magical for kids. Wonder why it´s nice to watch them and their tricks–because it shows their intelligence being taught & trained.

My daughter says ” Mama, I love them because they have cool faces…and cool tails, nothing more.

I´m sure many people would opt to watch a Lion jumping into a ring of fire and applaud it, but me, I would rather choose a Dolphin show, together with sealions. Their movements, their graceful flipper moves, and yes, their adorable face.Looking at them, they can´t be physically looked unhappy. It´s like their smiles are built in, in their facial anatomy.

There´s really something about their face…and their eyes. I am sure if you look closely at their facial expression, you´ll probably understand what I mean. Watching them in small pools made me cringe in reality because I they don´t really belong there.Nowadays I really enjoy watching Bunnies running around in the park, I think they are really great out in the wild instead of being held in cages.

I really think they missed being in the ocean and swimming in the vast oceans beside the ships.In their normal habitat, they can swim for about 160km and dive very deep, but in an artificial pools and sanctuary, it ´s not just the same.

Imagine their Stress.

“Nobody should be allowed to have a baby until they have first been required to train a chicken.”

Dolphins are highly intelligent marine mammals, belonging to the family of tooth whales just like Orcas and Pilot Whales.My friend had the chance to swim with Dolphins and even ride them, I really envied her. That is one in my Bucket list so far. But I am afraid it could bite me–what if they get stressed when I touched them?

Watching them from a far really fascinates me.Come to think of it, they live quite long, more than 40 years so far. But when they are captive, they live twice less.No wonder they are one of the top animals faved by wildlife watchers.

But….reality bites, they are only motivated and trained because of one thing—the food.For animals, they care only for their prey- It´s their last chance to survive at least.

Flying higher like Dolphins

Who wouldn´t love their playful behaviour? their agility and their flying techniques. Crowds gather and give automatic applause when Dolphins take their flight and soar high—soaring out in the sky and making a vertical rise out of the water (spy-hop) and view their surroundings. It´s like watching how many people are clapping, cheering and yes–being in awe, seeing those children´s faces in shock and open-mouthed!

Am I there yet?

Aside from flipping through the air, they are born to be fast Sprinters.Bottlenose Dolphins are the one that are slow swimmers,around 2mph.They are carnivores,mainly eating fish and squid. They even have a technique to eat fish with the head first so the bones cannot hurt their throats..clever right? Just watch out closely in a Dolphin show, it´s how they do it!

Catchy, graceful tails

Dolphins use echolocation when hunting for preys. I was really surprised to know that given that they are smart animals, they are able to recognize themselves in the mirror. Meaning, they can see their own reflection!It´s funny to think that they can make half of their brain sleeping, and the other half functioning with one eye open, keeping eye on the group so they don´t get lost! Hahah

A trainer puts on a ring for a Dolphin Show in the Tiergarten Park in Nürnberg, Germany

“There´s no questions Dolphins are smarter than Humans as they play more…” -Albert Einstein

I´ve read that Dolphins and whales actually have a brains that is actually bigger in proportion to their sizes. You know what it means when they say you have a big brain–that means you are intelligent.No wonder….

“To get rid of depression, I swim with Dolphins…” -Patty Stanger

Writing this made me think of just how wonderful the job of a Dolphin Trainer. Does he get´s close and form a sort of connection with the Dolphins?or vice versa? It really takes commitment and hardwork since these animals have different personality. Just like taking care of a child, Dolphins need mental stimulation,physical exercise and care.

When it comes to taking their flight, they always made sure to make a grand entrance. No doubt why there´s even called a ” Dolphin-style gliding” in the field of Aerodynamics!

Bottomline, animals belong in the wild and no matter how high their flight is, it´s doesn´t meant that sky is the limit.I respect them more, knowing beyond what I know, this is not their world, but still, they manage and still soar high.

Have you ever seen a Dolphin show? what´s your thoughts about it?

This post is actually inspired by Lens-Artists Challenge #144 -Take Flight hosted by Tina. She has this wonderful theme for this week´s challenge. Check out her Post about the wild birds in Kiawah and be amazed!

Until then, Tschüss!

Ramadan-A day in the Life story from a Non Muslim

Fanous (meaning Light or Lamp in Arabic) is an important symbol during the holy month of Ramadan. These colorful lanterns gives Ramadan a symbolic mood.

I could write a novel about my Ramadan day to day experiences while living for a long time in the Middle East. But then, summing it up, I decided to write it like a day in the life of a Non Muslim surrounded with Islamic culture.Good thing I have taken lots of photos to remind me and yes, as I look back in it, I still think it was all wonderful experience.

I am grateful , I am really glad.

A lady in black Abaya in front of the Murals with Arabic calligraphy

I was born Catholic and growing up with Christianity doctrines made me feel odd when I was exposed to Muslim Culture and religion.Kuwait is a very conservative country and very traditional Islamic state.Islam is the predominant religion and Arabic is the preffered language. Though lifestyle is modern and yes very competitive, in Expat´s eyes, all of these are just temporary living arrangements.

But what ´s the first thing you think when you hear the word Ramadan? Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word Ramad, meaning “intense heat.” So like heat, Ramadan is a chance to burn away bad habits and carry positive ones throughout the year and beyond.

The month of Ramadan is beautiful, I see it as a solemn time of the year.It is a month of goodness and self-inspection.Inormally view my days as work-home statistics, but then during Ramadan, I felt kinda different.It´s not all about self-righteousness, but more of looking at yourself and deciding to do more good.I´ve got the feeling that during Ramadan, people around me just become conscious of others, they become kinder, and yes,more considerate.probably because this is the highlight month where most locals are serving others, donating help and to sum up--strive for repentance and be good.

A local vendor prapare for another busy morning day in the Souk. Dates (or tmar) is staple for Ramadan, and well known food preference in breaking the fast. It can be stuff with cream cheese or eaten as it is .Have read that the date fruit is mentioned 20 times in Quran therefore its closely related to Ramadan. It´s actually quite impossible without Dates during Ramadan.I love dates and I truly missed eating the good ones…

I know its Ramadan when I hear these greetings .”Ramadan Kareem“(or May Ramadan be generous to you) is a muslim greeting I have leaned from my colleagues at work and I think this is better than saying ” Sabah el Khair” ( or Good morning).Another form is also “Ramadan Mubarak” (Blessed Ramadan) and at the end of Ramadan, everyone greets with ” Eid Mubarak” ( Blessed Feast).But if you don´t speak any Arabic, you can just simply say “Salam“.

While I was running today, I saw a small leaflet attached to a tree stating well wishes for everyone for a safe Ramadan. I totally forgotten that this is the second year of the pandemic, and as well Ramadan for my Muslim friends.The holy weeks of Ramadan started last April 13 and will end on May 12 and yes, my Muslim friends are fasting!

Fasting for Muslim is not a way to lose weight, I am telling you, fasting and abstinence from sunrise to sunset is NO joke, it´s hard and not everyone understands it and thinks its ridiculous.

Living in Kuwait have exposed me to this culture though I am not a religious person nor an Atheist. But I do believe in one thing, ” faith without deeds is dead“. I grew up in a very conservative Catholic country so my background is quite a mixture of all the religious beliefs I have learned as a kid and growing up in a multicultural environment.Coming to Kuwait had opened my eyes even more to such beliefs and traditions.Above all, I love trying out new things and living as an expat taught me a lot about respecting my host country and its culture just like how I am embracing German culture now.

Anyway, for Muslims ( as I observed from my colleagues), it´s not really all about fasting.I really commend their discipline and perseverance.I see them still trying their best to do their job and not compromising. I never heard them complaining.After a while, I got used to their behaviour and avoid doing things that is not allowed during Ramadan. I am not forced to fast but we respect it and avoid recklessness, loud music, or eating in public. It´s against the law and you could be jailed if you violate it.We should also learn to respect prayer times. Afterall, everything is quite common sense and self-explanatory.

Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and heightened devotion to prayer and repentance . I´m the only one at work that is not Muslim so everything was really new to me especially their bowing and reciting of Quran. In the office, it´s normal when the Quran is played.I find the whole thing ridiculous at first, but then through time I began to understand it all.They prayed numerous times during the day, starting at the break of dawn, but then during Ramadan, I observed that they do more. Most of my male colleagues take their yearly pilgrimage in Mecca and they really devote themselves to it. They saved money for it, and it´s a great achievement if they´ve done it.

At first I am quite excited when Ramadan starts because it means we need to work less.Many shops are closed during the day so people enjoy shopping until midnight and especially eating out in restaurants.Most restaurants have Iftar buffets and packages for companies, even Hotels offers the same.During this period, ( which practically lasts almost a month), our work schedule is shortened, and yes, we really have lesser output than the normal days. This means we need to do all the deadlines before Ramadan starts, and postpone all important meetings until Ramadan is over. Most inspections are preferably scheduled not on Ramadan, its quite normal. This also applies to all parts of the government since most of them worked only for 4,5 hours, maybe even less.Doing paperwork this time is hard because of timings.

There is an unseen sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness. We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox is stuffed full of anything, no music,but if brain and belly are burning clean with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire”. – Rumi

Through time, I have learned that true Fasting with intent is a privilege.I mean anyone can fast if they really want, but fasting without a meaning and purpose is just nonsense! It could even endanger your health.Abstinence is quite rigorous and requires a disciplined stamina.The period of 29 or 30 days—the dates change every year, following the lunar calendar of 13 months is pretty exhilarating.When your stomach is empty, your concentration might suffer and you barely can´t think.

Kuwaitis enjoy some leisure walks with Misbaha (Arabic: مسبحة mas’baha) in their hands. It has 99 pieces of beads corresponding to 99 names of God in Islam and 2 small beads separating every 33 beads.

The weather during this month is actually very warm, with average of 26 -38 degrees , humid & dust storms is frequent.After breaking their fasting, people usually went out to visit the Mosques, eat in restaurants for Iftar, meet friends , walk in the beach or just cool down inside the mall.

Busy Friday at the Souk (market)

I find it also worth mentioning that the Muslim´s tradition of breaking their fast is quite remarkable.It´s a holy ritual of gratitude and thanksgiving. ” Iftar“, the feast of breaking the fast after sunset marks a glorious victory every single day for every family. I have been invited in numerous Iftar, with close friends and their family and it is really amazing, not only the food but also the ambiance. Sharing a local Arabic home cooked meal is one thing that really bonds people and I give high thumbs for their elaborate food preparations. Arabic foods is really good and again, I kinda missed it all.I enjoy myself a platter of dates, nuts and their tea with cardamon and spices.

A local vendor selling the local ” Desert Truffles” which has become a delicacy in Kuwait.This is a traditional prized ingredients for Bedouins who loves to put these into their rice with meat dishes.Fresh Truffles are only available from November to April in Kuwait and the production highly depends on the precipitation.

As i said, ” Ramadan has the invincible power that brings people together” .Families, friends, colleagues sits together and share a meal, talking about the day´s about.It´s a time to focus on seeking forgiveness and being “kinder“. I was once in the Friday market and it´s about sunset so I really saw how normal people breaks their fast. They tedioulsy prepare their meal, pray together and they eat together. It´s very simple but really humbling to watch.One vendor laid out old newspapers on the ground and prepare the dishes elaborately. First the fruits, Laban or fermented drink juices, then some meat, vegetables and bread.I can see from their faces how grateful they are for this simple feast.Then they gather around , chatting and eat with their fingers.

Delicate detail of the walls of the Grand Mosque

In the arid, humid climate of Kuwait, it´s a tough challenge in the days of Ramadan. With scorching heat outside, you won´t even have the energy to go outside.The prayer times seemed like interruptions in our daily routines, but then it´s quite the opposite. My colleagues would get up and get their prayer mats and wait for others to gather around in the big hall patiently. They would do this every single day and watching them really amazes me.

There is no need to hurry, there is a time for everything under the sun.During Ramadan, time goes by slowly, but if you focus on your intent, you´ll realized that you have all the time that you need.

Muslims do the Salah (prayer) and goes to the Masjid together if they can. There are plenty of masjid and prayer halls in Kuwait, even inside malls they have it.In the Grand mosque, they have these racks of slippers to wear after they removed their shoes and washed their feet. The “Fajr“(Sehar) at dawn, the early morning prayer is the start of their spiritual journey during Ramadan.My friend who converted into Muslim since her husband is Muslim would wake up an hour early and gather her children to get some “ Suhoor” to have something to eat .It´s a family ritual so they can have something to last as they go through their day.

They wash their feet and faces, and stand by each other. The color of your skin doesn´t matter. Your title, education, job or what car you drive.Once you´re inside the Masjid ( Mosque) , everybody is equal, everyone is bowing their heads and pray the same prayer, everyone looks up to one Allah.For a non -muslim like me,the sound of the prayer time is heard everywhere and it becomes a natural signal for me to take a moment as well and yes, take some time to meditate.

The next prayer time will be around noon, called “Dhur “(afternoon),so this is the time that I see them praying at work.Afterwards they continue reading the Quran or just meditate or so.Next Prayer time will be on late afternoon called “Asr“which I think is really difficult. By this time, I saw them that they are mostly worn out with fatigue and their energy level is low.For women, they busied themselves preparing for Iftar and wait until “Maghrib”, (after sunset) . After Maghrib, the family gathers around to eat Iftar. The last prayer time is “Isha” (night) .

At the end of Ramadan comes the big celebration of Eid el- Fitr. But this important date depends highly on moon sightings. I remember asking my colleagues how do they know when is Eid, and they told me that it depends on the appearance of the new moon so they usually wait until night to confirm it.

It´s bigger than Christmas I think. It´s a special day filled with celebrations among friends and families and people really take time off or go on family outings. Kids are showered with presents and some give or donate money to the poor.It´s very common as well that everyone dressed up extra on this day. This festive moment reminds me of children waiting to open their gifts left by Santa Claus on Christmas Day or Sinterklaas in the Netherlands.

Did you know that it´s common in the Gulf countries during end of Ramadan to pardon prisoners?

Everyone is just happy , and greeting each other ” Eid Mubarak” ! Most families exchange visits with each other and eating is non-stop. The food is really flooding. Women gets special Henna tatoos on their hands and yes, spends the rest of the day shopping with kids. Most of the shops, especially in Kuwait offers big sales .There is something special about Ramadan evenings, maybe because I just love seeing the lovely lights.

Lovely colorful lights at night
Quran

Because of the pandemic and corona restrictions, I guess it´s a complete Ramadan experience for my muslim friends, but then in solitude of lockdown, would even be more meaningful.

” Ordinary men hate solitude. But the master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness, realizing he is one with the whole universe.” –Lao Tzu

Have you ever tried fasting? What do you love to do in solitude?

Ramadan Kareem and stay safe.

Until then, tschüss!

Medieval Beer Fountain ( Bierbrunnen)

Waiting in line at the Beer Fountain (Bierbrunnen)

Let´s talk about Beer for a while and let me take you again to another fascinating, unique hidden gem in my old town, Ingolstadt. Germans take pride of their Beer, especially the Bavarians. One of the pride of the locals here in my town is the Georgianum Beer Fountain or what we also called in German “Bierbrunnen“.We have lots of Beer gardens but then this fountain is really special.

Well, yes, Beer is an important part of Bavarian tradition, especially here where the Beer Purity Law or Reinheitsgebot from 1516 begun. For locals here, Beer is an integral part of the daily life and people regarded it not as an alcoholic drink, rather a “staple food” or Lebensmittel.With this Purity law, it goes by the rule that only 3 key ingedients should be present in brewing beer.These are Water, Barley and Hops.

With this Beer Fountain, it looks rather more than a faucet per se, but then before it was really regarded as a sacred fountain where fresh water is dispersed and people quench their thirst here on hot summer days.This place was an old school then turned into Catholic Seminary and were later bought by the local Brewery Herrnbräu.On the Jubilee year anniversary special, a golden liquid started to flow giving this little nook a special charm for the locals and visitors.Of course, only the finest beer of 16 years of age flows in this fountain.

Beer Fountain or Bierbrunnen

Last 2016, we had a local celebration of the Jubilee Year of the 1516 Beer Purity Law.It celebrates 500 golden years of the Reinheitsgebot and to commemorate this event, the Beer Fountain was made.The event was actually very festive. Starting with the programme, parade, and musicals, the whole town is really very noisy and full of people.Recalling the times before Corona, we have yearly celebration for this.People dressed up in medieval costumes and made an reenactment of the old times where people gather around the fountain to have their drink. I think it was really cool and I am so lucky to have seen this. My daughter was really thrilled when she saw Knights, and people clad in vests, funky shoes, hats and yes, swords!

Mural Bronze made by Alexandra Fromm

This bronze Mural was designed by the artist and painter Alexandra Fromm from Neuburg an der Donau.Along with the 500 year anniversary celebration, the state of Bavaria also released a limited post stamp, and coins from silver and gold. I managed to go home with a Beer mug (Bierkrug) and the golden coins so that makes me happy!

My husband and few of our friends attended the Beer tour which caters the history of the different kinds of Beer and their brewing process. Of course participants were able to taste all of those beer so practically, this day is really a celebration of Beer! With all of these beers, from dark to light coloured ones, I always go to my favourite—the Pils!

Pils is invented by the world class Master Brewer from Bavaria, Josef Groll from Vilshofen.

Declaration of the Beer Purity Law with the Little visitor

The Beer Festival, together with the whole celebration was attended by so many people and there were beer stalls where people have the chance to know the Beer history. It was decorated with stalls, weapons, tents and a stage where the law was read and declared by the Duke.

I was totally shocked to found out that world record of 1.3 seconds is what only takes for an American man named Steven Petrosino to drink a whole maß of Beer! That is a big gulp of 1 liter of Beer! This record is still unbreakable…

I am not a heavy Beer drinker but when I came to Germany, I began to appreciate their beloved Beer drinking culture. Sitting in Beer gardens is a normal habit, it is super cozy and the whole family can totally enjoy it. Writing this post made me missed those times.Because of Corona, Beer gardens are closed .People dressed up especially on weekends, wearing Lederhosen and Dirndls, even the children are clad in Bavarian Tracht as well. Most Beer gardens has a corner for children to play so it´s really an ideal place for weekends.

And last thing, here in Bavaria, we say instead of ” Cheers” , “ Prost” !

Do you like Beer? or are you more of the Wine type?

If you´re interested for more Beer related stories, I have written quite a few of them ,feel free to read them if you have more time to kill.

The green Gold of Bavaria, the Hops

Beer Gardens and Beer drinking tradition of Bavaria

1516 Reinheitsgebot -Beer Purity Law in Ingolstadt

Until then, Danke und Tschüss!

A very Bavarian Easter

A very Bavarian Easter

Let me share with you how Easter looks like in my little old town, which I particularly branded as very “Bavarian easter“.I grew up in a very different environment as people observed Holy week here.But then as an Expat I have learned to love this LOVELY tradition here in Germany.One thing, here I observed that it´s not a religious event, mogre like a feast. It´s also a big celebration, just like Christmas sans the snow and it´s mostly enjoyed within families. The best part is that we can finally sit outside and enjoy some warm weather. This week, we had spring T-shirt weather,we have 10-21 degrees! On the other hand , sadly, just like last year though, we are still in Lockdown. Travelling is not actually required because of Corona restrictions, but finally it´s Spring.

Anyway, here, three weeks before Easter, shops are already full of Easter things, that includes colorful easter egg chocolates and Easter Bunnies. The designs are limitless, everything is colorful. When it comes to chocolates, Germany has it all.Top chocolate makers like Kinder, Lindt, Milka and Cadbury are always the top choices for children. When it comes to Easter Bunny chocolate, the bigger, the better.I am not so fond of this but I have a kid so we get some for her as well.
Egg hunting is an old tradition for German speaking countries (same as in the Netherlands) where painted colorful eggs are hidden in the bushes or in between plants, or almost in every nook for children ( and adults!) to seek and find.Easter decorations adorn each houses with painted eggs hanging around, baskets with colored eggs and early spring flowers.


Actually , there´s nothing much special in it compared to other countries when it comes to celebrating Easter, but then there´s something about our blue and white themed Egg Art work here in Bavaria.
Does it look familiar?

It resembled closely to Dutch´s Delft paintwork, using only two shades, blue and white .It´s a local heritage here where creative ladies handpainted all these eggs all year round.Imagine the time they consume blowing and drying all these eggs then afterwards painting.These two colors are the prime Bavarian colors which is also seen in Bavarian state Flag.

Handpainted blue and white Easter Eggs adorned the Fountain in the city
Every egg is unique and painted with different designs.What makes it more laborious is that it needs to be hanged together in a steel rod to join them together.Each piece is a masterpiece and the ladies put on so much effort in binding all of them.I´ve heard that it can count up to 10,000 pieces of eggs as of 2019.Those are indeed lots of eggs.

The eggs are binded with green garlands and decorated with little flowers so it can be hanged in the fountain.It´s another long time tradition here to put up an Easter Fountain or Osterbrunnen.Normally we have Easter Market, where people can sit and enjoy the festivities and listen to folk Bavarian music.There are small craft shops, Beergardens, play areas,face paintings, games and programmes, but then now everything was cancelled because of Corona virus.

A very Bavarian Easter celebration

Then there´s the osternbaum, or the tree with painted eggs.Handpainted or plastic eggs are hanged on foliage, trees and bushes are an example of this old tradition.It´s not only in Christmas where Germans decorate their trees, it happens that it´s quite the same in Easter as well. I , myself did this as well in our garden.My daughter brought home some Easter creative art projects, which she eventually displays at home.

Why do I love our Bavarian Easter, probably because it´s unique, cozy, Gemütlich and festive; and anyway, who doesn´t love chocolates?

Do you celebrate Easter?

Happy Easter, or in German we say it best with ” Frohe Ostern!”

tschüss.

Not to Scale (NTS) Expat life

Dominating the skyline in Kuwait, the Al Hamra Towers

What do people usually means when they say “Not to Scale“?

Looking back in my college days where we are asked to draw a floor plan, elevations and everything, this term is very common and eventually it becomes a normal terminology. Triangular Scale is a very important tool that I have often used, and through the years, I have learned that in reality, not all things can be presented with the exact proportions. Everything depends on how you make your own perspective.

Just like we gain and lose weight as we grow old…

Idealism has a fair play through the years.I asked myself before where could be a perfect place that expats finally call it a “home”?

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The view of the Skyline of Kuwait from the Liberation Tower , here despite the dusty weather, everything seemed quite a normal day.

To scale means allowing us to understand the relationship between a drawing or an illustration and a presentation or a scale model—against the Reality. If you are able to draw accurately as per scale and you can immediately shift from one scale to another, like from 1:100 to 1:50 then you can do very well in doing architectural drawings and spatial design.Looking at scale models help us to have a perspective of what would it look like once it built, a bird´s eye view, a glimpse of the vision into reality.

I can very well use the principle of Scale in my life as an Expat.

After we leave our homelands, we , too have a perspective in minds. We all carry a luggage of dreams, hopes and expectations.

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Beautiful well-preserved Gable Houses in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I know from a fact that from an Expat eyes, everything is different from the tourist’s view and from the locals itself. A Tour Package always highlights the best, the most sought-after destinations and attractions, the off the beaten path are reserved for adventurous ones.As tourists, we want to see the icing of the cake.

What´s in? where´s the famous places? where are the top attractions?

The quaint beauty of an old Fortress ,Kaprun Castle where in 1645, the Salzburg Musketeers once occupied

A place is only a setback of your expectations, dreams and aspirations. Everyone has their own reason why they decided to move to a new place—either for work, better life, education, to bridge a relationship, or to just simply fulfill a wanderlust—the longing for a change.But in reality, the moment we started to see things in a different way, our perspective of the new place is changing.Probably this is the stage where we start to integrate, accept and ” do as the locals do“.

Pre Covid-19 Virus Era, where touring historical places like the Reichstag in Berlin can be a good place to entertain your 4 year old daughter and listen to audio guide telling about the charms of this City.

I grew up not knowing what is “Recycling ” or upcycling is.But since I came here, I started to obey and do what is norm and not just to avoid the angry stares of my neighbours if they ever saw me putting plastic in the Restmull, the black container.I started to dispose the Green, white and brown glasses in the Glass Containers as well and yes, I got acquianted with the “Yellow Sack” as well. In my bag is always an extra shopping bag, even in my bicycle and in the car, there is always a place for shopping bags.

Why, because here in Germany, you bring your own bags and pack your own grocery. I even observed the Rühezeit, the silent Sunday where we don´t mow the lawn in the garden and no loud music.I remember our times in Kuwait where the shopping cart is alwys full of plastic bags. There is no recycling there, people totally just throw garbage everywhere.Littering is quite a norm.They are really a big fan of using plastic bags there for grocery shopping.I think you collect up to 20 pieces of shopping bags for every grocery!

Now that I remember it, I felt odd.

Fast forward,5 years after, I began to look at Germany, especially Bavaria, in a “Not to scale”terms.Do I really belong here ? or this place does even exceed my expecation?

Cycling in my new neighborhood offers a new freedom to explore places

If you have your own terms of measurement about the quality of life that you want, or your preferred surroundings, then it is better not to put borders. If you expect too much and then ended up into a mountain of dissapointment, then you just feel worse.

“Why are people here are so unfriendly and “cold”?

“Why the weather keeps on changing every four hours?”

“Why Winter here in Germany is too long”?

” Why learning German is necessary to survive here?”

” Why customer service here sucks or totally non-existent?”

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Because in reality, things can be crooked, out of proportion, partially twisted, and though it looks to be perfect, it will have uneven features. I call this “Reality bites in the life of an Expat.”

As an onlooker, with naked eyes, I always ponder on the views that I see. I think it´s normal.For 5 years that I am walking the streets here in Bavaria, I still am not that fully integrated yet…or maybe I am, but sometimes, I feel like I am feeling at home.A combination of these rollercoaster feelings.

I hate it here during the long winter months but I really love it here during Spring and Summer. I loved how good the roads are and how communting can be so easy and flexible, and yes, that everything adheres to punctuality. I loved that I can even worked from home during this Pandemic times ,do part time jobs and have a job security. I appreciate that women even can take longer maternity leaves to care for their babies and come back to their jobs.

I loved the fact that my child is growing up in a kid-friendly environment and we are surrounded with playgrounds and nature.Its even amazing that traveling becomes easy, and I don´t need to worry about cash when I get sick because of the good Health Insurance System here. I even got new vaccinations ( all for free!) since I came here.

Speaking of Not to scale scenarios, here in Bavaria, the tallest building ( a Tower or a Turm) actually that I have ever been to is the Olympic Tower in Munich and the Pfeifturm here in Ingolstadt, which is btw a former watchpost. The tallest building here in Bavaria is actually the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt, reaching up to 259m.Actually, Frankfurt is the only city with lots of Skycrapers.Here in Germany, they try to preserved the German cultural heritage therefore the historical, Medieval and Renaissance skyline still dominates most of the old towns up to this day. It´s actually its unique charm.

There´s nothing compared walking into lovely, German old Town´s unique streets lined up with well-deserved architecture and rich history.

Exploring my own little town where not seeing “Skyscrapers” is actually also nice.The Architecture and landscape is so nice and very picturesque.
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The view deck from the interiors of the luxurious Al Hamra Towers in Kuwait

This is an absolute contrast to the former views that I have while living in Kuwait. Kuwait is a small city but it has skyscrapers and modern buildings. Quite a few are worthy to mention actually, just like my favorite-the Al Hamra Tower, the tallest building in Kuwait.It´s even named as one of the best inventions in 2011 by Times Magazine.After we left I´ve heard that there are more sleek buildings and modern architecture built.We´ve got used to the norm that modernity and functional aesthetics comes with beautiful modern buildings.

Speaking of malls, I haven´t seen quite comes close to the Avenues in Kuwait.It´s really a shopping mall with beautiful architecture.This mall itself is an attraction there.While here in Germany, shopping is like taking a leisure stroll in the inner city lined with authentic, unique shops.I haven´t really had that “mall feeling” even from our local Ingolstadt Village where “branded” marks have their boutiques and it´s already considered high end .I am not a shopaholic and into top end brands.I am more of the functional shopper–getting what I need and love to ogle some pretty nice things.Nowadays, a trip to the Greenhouse, Botanical gartdens and anything with plant shop is my thing.

But then I guess, “not to scale ” in Expat life also means that you perceive things depending on your taste.When you have seen beauty and therefore your standards have been set, then others can either comes to second or outweigh your preferences.

I prefer sightseeing in the beautiful streets where there are unique , wood-timbered houses looks like a fairy tale land.

But, looking through Kuwait from above made me realize that scale is really not important. Some things might quite look a bit odd, or lacking in proportion, but then, it embodies the urban presentation of the area.

Why would the local ladies dressed up to kill , heavily make-up on, nails are done and perfumed when they are covered in Abaya with only the eyes being shown , in stilettos and doing grocery shopping?”

Or why would most of the drivers love to speed up their cars, with children in front without seatbelt and with loud banging music?

Recently we came across a car and it´s driving a bit faster than allowed, with loud Arabic music in the background and then suddenly, I realized that I already made an assumption .They are absolutely Arabic ( doesn´t matter if they came from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or UAE; or even Kuwait) but when I´ve heard the word “Yalla , then I am sure I haven´t been wrong.

Was my mind programmed? or were my ears gotten used to these local behaviors?

I am sure I would probably recognized in a crowd that they are German,or coming from Bavaria if they say ” Servus, Grüs Gott! ” as well!

What do you loved the most in your city?

Wishing you all Happy Sunday and Stay safe.Tschüss.

German word of the day :Frühlingsfreude

The first signal of Spring –Crocuses

Here´s another interesting German word : Frühlingsfreude (n) which means Spring Joy.

Frühlingsfreude is actually a combined words of Frühling ( Spring) and Freude( Joy) . Anything that brings gladness in hearts during Spring .As always, nature comes first but it can also means a simple act of kindness, hearing all day long the chirping of birds, or even running on an early morning with fog.

Over the past few days these are what gives me Frühlingsfreude;

I smiled when I finally saw these tiny yellow buds, and purple Crocuses! They definitely brings me a feeling of new beginnings.It´s still so cold outside and mostly minus temps, good thing the sun shines graciously.

The amazing smell all over the house filled with the scent of freshly home baked Èmpanadas` and Frühlingsrolle or Lumpia for a light Dinner.

Frühlingrollen or Lumpia tastes better when shared with friends.

Taking long walks while soaking up under the sun.

I don´t know why but there are plenty of swans and ducks over here.Everypond, lake and river it is impossible not to notice a duck.So yes, seeing them at this time is always refreshing.The other day, we sat by the river and ducks came to us immediately, waiting for some bread pieces…!

I had also few trips to Garden shops ( since they finally reopened!!!) to get some soil , pebbles , fertilizers and seeds.This Spring I wanted to start a new Hochbeet ( or elevated garden) to plant some veggies and herbs).Its still minus temps at night so I am waiting until the last frost then I could proceed with garden work.

What had made you smile lately?

Until then, Tschüss!

Up close and personal with Camels

Camels of different sizes and colors in a Camel Farm in Kuwait

I think one of the most memorable memories I´ve had in Kuwait was meeting up close and personal with Camels. Yes,not in a Zoo, but rather in awild Camel farm.Camels are integral part of Kuwaiti culture and it´s valued highly in this country.

Before I never even imagined that such farm exists .Before I have always wondered how it is to ride them or even touch them, afterall, they are not that high standard animals.They are wild, big and some people can´t stand their smell.I prefer seeing them wild like these rather than when they are touristically made up for people to take photos , and ride them.

I asked a friend to go with us and we took a drive along the 6th Ring road and further down in the direction near the Iraqi borders. This trip offers sights of the neverending highway with only views of desert trees, swayed by gentle breeze, the wide barren dessert is very inviting and hundreds of Electric power lines stood before us.There´s something peculiar about the ARabian landscape over here. The Camel farms of Wafra and Kabd can be reached almost an hour of driving .Along side the road we came across huge trucks and some on-the highway Bakalas.

Camels can close their mouths and nostrils to avoid dusts during sand storms.

My friend knows someone who owns the farm there and arranged the day of our visit. We were able to visit the camel farm quickly and even allowed to use their tents. Seeing them wild, in herds and some even rearing their babies is definitely worth this trip. I even tried milking a camel and it was one of a lifetime experience that I´ve ever had. I have never heard of Desert Ship before but meeting these camels made quite an impression on me. They are indeed a superanimals of the desert.

All I know that they symbolize endurance to me.They are tough animals so to speak. They can tolerate long hours in drought and carry heavy aprrox. 200 kg of weight loads without drinking and still walk up to 40-50km a day!

I saw camels of different sizes, colors and built. Some looked so calm and weak but the others are quite nosy and aggressive. I remember they loved Kubz or the local Kuwaiti bread to munch. Most expats in Kuwait indulged in adventure like this especially during the winter months where the heat is bearable and the light cool breeze is a luxury against the 48 degree summer temperatures. Most families make a family trip and have desert camping on these sites.Now I understand why these animals are strong, resilient and very domesticated.In this farm I think I´ve seen more than a hundred camels plus other animals like goats and horses.

Camels can stay without water for months together. If available, they can suck 100-150 liters in 5-10 minutes.

Kuwait is an oil-rich country, with a high income economy and personally I know that (KWD) Kuwaiti dinar is one of the highest valued currency in the world. 1kd is equal to approx.2,77 Euros. Working in this country have helped me so much about understanding the locals and I have learned so much from its culture.

Speaking of camels, one of the unique sights in Kuwait is their Camel racing.I haven´t been able to watched it live on the tracks but I have heard that it´s quite famous and unique in Kuwait.

I have heard that only female camels are used in racing because the male camels doesn´t obey orders.This actually made me laugh!

Did you know that baby camels are born without humps?

Their beige skin is soft to touch and their face is quite dorable when seen up close. Did you know that camels have two rows of thick eyelashes to protect their eyes? These eyelashes serves like wipers to prevent their eyes from dusts and sand storms.They are able to close their mouth and nostrils to keep away from the dust.I watched how they move, and sit lazily, and they are a bit friendly.They loved to munch on cactuses with thorns as well, no wonder they have that kind of mouth!

Quite fascinating as well is that apart from the largest Dhow Ship that has been built that entered Guiness Book of Records, is that a camel named Bedour also bag another World Record.It´s for being the most expensive Camel purchased in the world amounting to 2 Million dinars from a camel auction in Safat Camel Auction in Sulaibiya in Kuwait.The seller even refuses to take Atm or cheque payment.Ma´shallah!!

Have you ever did a camel ride?

Until then, Tschüss and Salam.

Art Project : Salva Vida ( Saving Life)

A smudgy reflections in the waters of Kunnetegraben where venue of the travelling Art Project “Salva Vida” can be found.

I totally forgot about this post, but suddenly while searching my Drafts, this Title stood up. Good thing I was reminded of the on- going creative Art installations in my City. Aside from exploring my neighborhood through walking, I discovered much more Art nooks that I´ve never imagined that exists!

Anyway, the Art instalation´s name caught my attention as well. Salva vida in my native tongue means a swimming inflatables. You can´t do without them especially while swimming in the wild waves of the beach.Back then we only used or rent these things made upof the tire´s interior lining so mostly the color is black.Here in Germany, there are various kinds of inflatables.Children enjoy their colors and design as soon as summer begins!

This unique Art project is called “Salva Vida” or Saving Lives and arranged and initiated by Münich Artist Christian Schnurer. I am suremost of us are totally absorbed with other issues surrounding us. Corona virus, surviving Lockdown, Climate change, Vaccinations and etc., but how about the desperate cries of Refugees? especially during ice-cold temperatures ?

At first I was also confused why a pile of garbage were dumped in the waters.I was so ignorant and have no idea at all what´s it all about. This art installation awaken some curiousity in me and now I understand why .I respect this cause properly without the political alignments and totally amazed of the creative art behind it.

Inspired by the desperate situation that “Flüchtlinge” or Refugees are facing, Christian Schnurer collected around 4,000 pieces of old and disposed Life jackets used by the Refugees and disposed on beaches.The starting point of the travelling exhibit started in the Greek island of Lesbos in 2016.It finally arrived here in my small town of Ingolstadt together with Kap 94 last Fall.

Christian Schnurer explained in one documentary works that each of these Life Jackets represents a person and not just a pile of garbage. Every person who faced life-threatening hardships together with their loved-ones, struggling and bearing the fear for their lives and salvation.

Each of the orange -colored vests represents their cry for help and reminds the victims of failure to help.

We walked further and explored the place. So much chaos , many things lookedlike thrash, but then arranged like it was meant to be there.i noticed that most pieces are quite ” from other place”, seemedlike these pieces are managed to emigrate.

An old Piano with a red polka dot bicycle stands and in front lies a rows of pots.

A “Rikscha” in the middle of a potted garden.

Ever wondered how Art evolved during Corona Times?

What do you think about this piece of Art?

If you love Art like me, then maybe you want to read more about the Corona-Lab Here.

Es war eine Mutter ( Art + Work)

Original Aquarelle Artwork “Es war eine Mutter” /JustbluedutchArt 2020

This post is actually inspired by recent events in my life. I recently had this painting done inspired by current situations and I thought it might be a good idea to relate it to ” a day in the life of a Mother”. I have done quite a lot of painting to survive the lockdowns and so far, it has taught me great lessons about motherhood as well. Now you know why I love this subject for my artwork.

Maybe not everyone can actually relate to Motherhood subjects and all about Mother and son/daughter stories but then at least it´s our own story. Mother and daughter is not always full of sweet moments, reality can be tough, it can also be stressful, chaotic, tiring, and yes, just too much to handle.

All parents love their children, there´s no question about that but how to teach them to learn without the classroom. For a fact that in Germany, Homeschooling is actually illegal since 1919 ( European Court of Human Rights).But not in the times of Corona.This article even had quite notable explanations.

Homeschooling is not so “cozy” as it sounds. Because of Covid-19 Pandemic, we´ve been through so many Lockdowns, before and after Christmas actually. And now, in the middle of Winter, with zero public life, schools stays closed along with playfrounds and libraries. Lockdown is supposed to end by Feb.14 but there´s no bright lead yet when will our lives return to normal.We are waiting…

Motherhood in different colors

I realized that I don´t even have the right to complain.Afterall I only have 1 child. There are more parents who juggles between their dayjobs and household responsibilities, and yes, they are bearing more load than I do.I do have high respect for them. I´ve known a friend who even had twins, and had more children to handle.A dear friend of mine just had her baby recently born, and she also have another Grade schooler, a very active one.She bears all these with her two full hands.How do they do that is simply amazing and praiseworthy!

But imagine the chaos…. the “heartfelt” agony.

Homeoffice seemed to be the newest trend nowadays. Working from home has its own benefits, but hey, have you ever tried working while your kid shouts and screams on your videoconferences? Funny as it may sounds but with us, life and struggle during Lockdown is real. I am sure I am not alone in this.

The moment we sit together in the table to go with Home study program doesn´t eventually ensures success in every subject.There has been fights, screaming, yelling and yes, pencils and papers flown in the air. The drama is real and so as the dilemma. The biggest problem that we faced is maintaining her focus and this has been challenging for both me and my daughter.

When I was in college, I did a part-time job tutoring kids from 6-10 years old. I normally help them with the main subjects and help them with their homework. The stress was different. With this Lockdown, the challenge was different as well.

No I was not blaming the virus. Honestly ,sometimes I blame myself as well. Maybe I was not prepared for this and my patience limit is so small that I excuse myself for a meltdown as well. I am tired and in need of a break but yes–motherhood knows no such breaks.I don´t like this isolation anymore and I wanted it to end.

Anyway,one time while we are learning about the seasons of the year ,we encountered this song ;

Es war eine Mutter” song by Nena ( originally in German)

Es war eine Mutter ( There was one Mother)
Die hatte vier Kinder ( She had 4 children)
Den Frühling ( Spring)
Den sommer ( Summer )
Den Herbst und den Winter. ( Autumn and Winter)

So motherhood and seasons of the year have one thing in common, right or maybe I just carried away by nature that I correlate them with Homeschooling and everything.The great thing is, life evolves and I was reminded that this too, shall pass and everything should not be permanent.Soon, everything will be over and chapters of our lives will also evolve, in other words, we are in a journey together.

Homeschooling might feel like Autumn and Winter right now.Parents struggled as well as children but then its not the end.Spring soon will come and Summer too.

Der Frühling bringt Blumen ( Spring bring flowers)
Der Sommer den Klee (Summer brings clover leaves)
Der Herbst bringt die Trauben ( Autumn brings the grapes)
Der Winter den Schnee. ( Winter brings snow)

Und wie sie sich schwingen ( and how they swing together)
Im Jahresreihn ( all year around)
So tanzen und singen ( Dancing and singing)
Wir fröhlich darein. ( we are all happy with it..)

Original Aquarelle artwork “Mutter” / JustbluedutchArt 2020

Homeschooling and on line learning is something that we´ve all embraced this year.There were more time spent in front of computers and tablets instead of actual class participation.Here in Germany, I must say that they had quite handled the crisis well when it comes to distance learning.My daughter spends almost 8 hours in a mask at school before.Washing their hands and divided in groups were her previous routines, then she was confined at home, with homeschooling and with me. I am grateful that the school had a precise plan for this crisis and have given us enough support that we´ve needed and another thing is, we have an access to technology which can be challenging in other countries.We received a weekly Plan for each lessons, and even with a timetable to achieve every day. There was enough Learning Platform offered and the activities listed are varied ,so children won´t feel bored and too squeezed. I particularly appreciate the online help and daily accountability as well. Some of the apps that helped us go through Homeschooling is Antolin app and Sofatutor.They even have Tablets to lend if families are without so everything comes handy.

Mother and son original Watercolor Art by JustbluedutchArt

Lessons learned and experiences gained, so as struggles were credibly overcame.Yes, we´ve been tired and fatigued, but we´ve never given up.As a mother, teaching my child is like feeding them. Its like nourish or undernourish them.Once again, it´s the choices that we make that affects us the most.We´re not yet there but I am sure, the end of the tunnel is not far behind.

Have you had any experience about Homeschooling? How was it?

Plätzchen and more Christmas Cookies!

There´s always a place for Plätzchen, the more the merrier.

First I made an Adventkranz this year, and now we´ve back to baking for the third time around some Christmas delicious goodies called— Plätzchen, or simply classic German cookies. Germans loved them and so do I!

You see, I have been totally integrated into German culture , so when it comes to celebrating Advent and Christmas holidays, Germans have a way to doing it very merry and yes–brighly delicious. The scent of raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, spekulatius, and dried oranges really fills up the air! Here´s the thing, though this year is quite disaster filled,and because of you know already, Corona lockdown and everything, but then, we decided to skip the stress. We took lots of nature walks, wear our masks , send christmas packages to family and just let the amazing smell of home-baked christmas cookies filled our home.We light our candles , decorate our Christmas tree, make handmade christmas cards, as simple as these things, we managed to have the holiday spirit.

Over us here, just like the traditional Germans, we love baking Christmas cookies. We rushed to supermarkets the moment we see many “Angebot” or sale for bakings stuff, forms, and decorating mix, for me, I stocked up on Flour , weird, right?!

Look at these small but super “Lecker” cookies with almonds, walnuts, pistachios, coconut flakes and Marzipan! I totally fell in love with marzipan and I stuff everything with it. It makes my cookies stay moist, decadent and yummy in every bite!

Actually, the one thing that makes Plätzchen so special because it is actually made with labor of love.Of course it´s laborious—no joke! I mean if you really spend too much time making the perfect forms and making it Instagram-worthy photogenic, then I am sure that´s another thing! The simplier, the better!

Not everyone loves baking, so making these cookies really is a no´nonsense at all. they are super easy to make, the ingredients can be found in any supermarkets, and let me tell you, it is really a big thing here in Germany.

A whole round of delicious Weihnachtsbäkerei or Christmas Bakery

I love rummaging through Konditorei or Pastry shops, and bakeries that are filled with these traditional German cookies .They are filled with mouth-watering cookies.They even sell it as early before Advent together with Glühweins, and Lebkuchen.This year in Germany where we didn´t have Christmas markets,so I guess people stayed at home and really devoted many times doing self care , of course, another reason to bake cookies every now and then!

It´s very normal for families to bake together with their little kids.It´s messy but that´s what really makes it more meaningful.The crazier, the The more the merrier, so the variations depends on how much you wanna make, it doesn´t matter. Sharing it with friends and families is also a great tradition that I eventually pick-up.

See, I have been busy!

Kids are on break for the Christmas holidays so one way to keep them occupied aside from stuffing their bellies with these little threats is to let them help how to make it.Make sense, right? Every year, I try to let my daughter see how it goes and let her help with the kneading, shaping and making decorations. As soon as I rushed it into the oven, she just keep on asking me what time will it come out.

After cooling down the cookies, the fun part begins…

A special variant of “Vanillekipfelrl”, with marzipan filling and chocolate drizzles!
A cup of tea on a cold Winter afternoon is always a great way to bond and de-stress

Since we are in Lockdown and observing Social distancing, we have lots of time spent indoors nowadays.I think its becoming the new norm nowadays. Our homes becomes so treasured and it´s the safest place for all of us.

So aside from homeschooling, we try to spend quality family times. I packed some of the cookies in small bags and give it away for Christmas to our neighbors and close friends and they were simply delighted. It was the same thing when I´ve got to receive the same thing as well. It´s like a boomerang, the moment you give, you receive.

Our Christmas Tree this year

It´s Christmas Eve, so I wanted to wished you all a meaningful Christmas. I wished that everyone stay grateful, healthy and joyful.We are almost at the end of 2020, and this turbulent year will soon end.

Have a happy holidays with your circle of loved ones! Fröhe Weihnachten, and Tschüss!