It´s no Ordinary year

The photo we entered for this year´s Photo Contest finally made it into 2021´s Calendar

This year is not only all about the tons of masks we bought and wore, or the excessive disinfecting of everything we´ve touched and our hands turning into a resemblance of chicken skin. Aside from all this hygienic crazy mantra that becomes a new norm now, I realized that this year was actually a no ordinary for me, personally.

This year also is the year for the first time that I joined a photography competition here in our local town, hosted by one of our local Bank, the Volksbank Raiffeisenbank Bayern Mitte.I actually mostly forget its name because you know, its long and its kind of twisting my tongue. Well, that´s what German does to me.Anyway, turned out that loved our photo and included it for next year´s Calendar called “ Die schönsten Motive Fotowettbewerbs 2020″.

I was thrilled and excited.I was not expecting that my photo could be chosen considering that there were so many nice landscape photos who were chosen in the whole region.We just got lucky, I guess. We received a prize and donated half of it to another organization.It was a great experience and I think it made our year a certain mark, to remember, to be thankful for the beauty of nature who seemed to be the only one unaffected by depressing situations around us.

The photo that I took is titled “Glacisbrücke im Herbst” ,or the Glacis Bridge in Fall. I love this photo particularly since it caught the mystic beauty of Fall in my neighborhood, plus this bridge is quite fascinating as well since its one of the landmark near to where I lived.

Whenever I crosses this bridge, I am being reminded of this recognition.Who could have thought….?

The “Mushroom” Water Towers of Kuwait

When I was still living in Kuwait, I took pictures of most of the places where I visited. It´s pretty normal since I am an Expat working there and yes, the culture is different and there are so many things that is new to me.My iPhone Gallery was filled with snapshots, candid selfies and landscape portraits which I even used most of the time in my Blog articles.Using these Photos rekindled my memories of being in there and appreciating the unique beauty that Kuwait has, like for example this “Mushroom ” Water Towers .

At first glance you wouldn´t even imagined that it´s a modern water supply system, but then it was.The shape, the color, the size, everything about this symbolic reinforced concrete system is unique.Maybe to local Kuwaitis it´s just a normal water towers but definitely not for me. I am still amazed and perplexed of its function and design.Clever design from VBB , A Swedish engineering company, with Sune Lindström as its chief Architect.No wonder it won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, cycle 1980.

Mr. Antoon Kuhlmann from Hortus Nijmegen in the Netherlands along with Dominique Clement sent an email to me informing me if they can use my photo as a research material to be used in their upcoming manuscript about Mushrooms.What a brilliant idea!

This book really expains what special role Mushrooms played in Arts, Culture and yes, in Nature.I was totally honored to be a part of this book, to think even that Kuwait´s Water Towers was used as an example how Architects used mushroom as a concept for building a modern water system.

Just in time before Christmas I got a copy of this Book and couldn´t feel more proud than ever.It is cleverly done !Unfortunately, it´s only in Dutch language.

This post is not a promotion of the book mentioned above. I just felt grateful that one of my post and photo was used to compile all the amazing information supplied by this book.The Dutch Autors did a wonderful job in coming up to this phenomenal piece. If you are reading up until this part and interested to buy a copy, you can find the link Here.

Thought this year was only staying at home, social distancing and wearing masks…not for us actually.It was a no ordinary year because of this Online Art Project by the International Youth Library in Munich ( International Jugendbibliotehek München) called ” Kinder, malen sich Selbst” or the I-solation, Children ,draw yourselves, an online Exhibition initiative organized by this Library . The exhibition was joined by 800 participating children all over the world!

And my little daughter joined herself into this exhibition and by Spring of 2020, her drawing was submitted to the Library.By around June, we were invited to visit the Exhibition and had a Tour in their Library and see the beautiful grounds of Blutenburg Castle. It was her first, at the age of 5.

But as I wrote before, this year was actually a legendary year for all of us.Came December and we are still under stressed because of Corona infections, in Isolation and wearing Masks in School.Christmas Markets are cancelled and we entered a second Lockdown on Dec 16. Another melodramatic feeling of isolation creeps us, but then home is where we felt the most safe, well I guess, for everybody´s sake it´s the ony way out.

Nothing more to expect, we can´t change the tides.But then, we managed to have a meaningful Christmas season at home, without the frantic craze and glittering lights.

Here in Germany, children and adults are crazy about Adventskalendar. It´s literally a calendar, a coundown from the start of Advent to Christmas Eve.So this time, our local town hosted a drawing competition for children for the Adventskalendar with Winter moments as a theme. Once again, my daughter had her entry and yes, her drawing was chosen to be in the 15th day of Adventskalendar. On that day,she met the Christkind to receive her prize but of course, with a mask and distance!

Little clever Artist being proud of her Artwork.

I guess a Not Ordinary year means that we stopped expecting, and more of appreciating and giving.4 days to go til this year ends and I just want to document it here in my Blog what a meaningful year it was as well.There´s nothing much to tell of what we did, but we did the best of what we can do…

I think we´ll do this again next year if there´s another chance again!

Did you have a no Ordinary moment this year?

Alles gute und Tschüss!

Yallah Yallah, Kuwait!

This photo looks like in an Autumn mood, but its taken on a bright, cool winter day (dry winter) somewhere in Kuwait.

Do you have a foreign word that lingers in your mind? or reminded you of a place you´ve been to?

I can understand a little bit of Arabic but I can´t read or write it. I think it´s one of the most complicated language in the world that I have ever encountered, German still on top! 🙂 In Arabic, so many intricate strokes,so many unknown lines, its really an artistic language, i meant on the writing technique.Arabic writing is a way of ” Kunst” .The very first time I have heard the Quran prayers, I find it really intriguing. I thought, are they singing, wailing or saying a poem? Hearing it almost 5x a day , then it becomes naturally a part of my senses, just like a song that reminds us of a memory. Whenever I hear it, I know that it´s the prayer time, or Salah. At work, when I see my Muslim colleagues gather and start their prayers, I know that the prayer call is always on time.

Everyday life in Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf

In my days in Kuwait before, I always hear the word ” Yalla”. It signals a new day, a new beginning, and another call of the hour.

The Avenues and the Prestige— the most beautiful piece of Architecture in Kuwait where a shopping mall defines a whole lot of modern design, elegance and Function.

Looking back, there are many useful and simple Arabic words that are really helpful to Expats. It´s very handy if you happen to know and memorize them. The words ” Mashallah, ( normally means something beautiful, a form of adornment, or compliment) “ Salam Walaikom ( Muslim greetings of peace) , and “Inshallah” ( God willing..) are very important words to take note aside from the usual “Shokran ” ( thank you) and “Afwan ” ( you´re welcome)

But for me, the one that stands out is “Yallah “.

Yallah, Yallah means many things. It can mean, “let´s go” , or okay, or a form of agreement, encouragement and exasperation. When I needed to call a Taxi, I dialled “Brother” ´s number and just say “Yallah” and he immediately understands me.Brother is an expat from Bangladesh whom I really trusted while I was in Kuwait. It is very normal to get service in Kuwait so you can have a regular taxi service to avoid running into rude taxi drivers. With Brother, I felt safe and I don´t need to worry to much.I´ve lost contact with him so I don´t know anymore what happened to him. I hope he is safe during this time of Pandemic.

The word Yallah really depends on how you use it in a sentence. It can also means ” Hurry Up!” or quickly get it done.Just like the life of an Expat is always on the go for changes whether its a new job, a new place..or a new, challenging weather to get used to.

Friday is the rest day in Kuwait ( as well as in other Muslim countries). It´s a no- work day, and a day to rest, sleep-in, do groceries, meet friends, watch a movie or just stay at home.Normally I would visit the Friday market with my friends ; haggle like a pro, and often utter the word “Yallah” to convince the vendor. I terribly missed the authentic flavors of Shawarma and freshly grilled kebabs, the Biryani and Baklavas.The Madjool dates that I buy in Lulu Hypermarket is unforgettable.The hustle an bustle in the old Souks is really chaotic, but nevertheless beautiful to watch. The number of expats in the streets is overwhelming, as well as their authentic smell. It makes me dizzy, and claustrophobic. They say that smell can trigger memories in us. That once our memory is impaired, then our sense of smell is also affected. It makes sense though…

Yes, some things are really unforgettable…Ma´shallah!

The arabian carpets are laid down in the tiny streets of Souk Mubarakiya.Now I regretted that I did not buy one from these!

One of the fascinating things I did was watching the fishermen haul their boats and getting ready to unload their fresh catch of the day. Everywhere in Kuwait, you can have a glimpse of the Arabian Gulf . Aside from boat trips, fishing is quite a normal sight. Along the Road no.5, traffic is always heavy, and crazy. Since cars rule the roads and definitely Kuwaitis loves speed , it´s really easy to get distracted and things go unnoticed.It is a scary thing to ride your bike there. The weather is scorching hot, and there is definitely no cycling paths! Yaállah!

At the beaches in Salmiya, Khiran and Mahboula, are the perfect place to watch sunrises and sunsets. I lived in the area of Salmiya for a long time.I loved watching the sea from our windows and it brings me such nostalgia.Those were beautiful scenic views of nature, so simple and yet so precious.

A Fisherman´s idle times…
At night, the promenade along the beach and Marina malls lights up.
The ” Mushroom” water towers in Kuwait

Strolling through the streets of Kuwait can be quite strenous especially if you are not used to hot, dry climate as high as 48 degrees in Summer.Wearing long sleeves and long pants in a heat like this? and living in an air conditioned room for almost every single day…? Yaállah Kuwait!

But this weather did not stop me from discovering its hidden facets and gems. These “Mushroom” like water towers are really beautiful, and there are lots of Arabic traditional teapots spread all over the city, serving as water fountains landmarks.In Kuwait, we always drink from the bottle but I really don´t understand why they are fond of having landmarks in a shape of an arabic teapot?

Another beautiful landmark in Kuwait. It is lighted in Kuwaiti flag colors and illuminates along the roads going to Salmiya.

I wish that Kuwait continues to grow, as a city, as a place ful of compassionate people and that the expat community will thrive to be an important part of its growth. As an Expat, I believe that our stay in any foreign land gives us a chance to contribute something and make an impact to any circle we belong.

Salam, and Tschüss!

Kuwait Towers, a symbolic Architecture in Kuwait

Kuwait from A to Z

Beating the heat in Kuwait, an expat´s lifestyle

Life in the Desert, life in Kuwait

Hidden gems in the Arabian Gulf

Friendly Friday : Alternative version

This week’s prompt for Friendly Friday Photo enthusiasts calls for Alternative version. When I thought of alternative , it means a second option for me, a second choice, a quick substitute when the ones that I want is unfortunately not around. It’s like better than nothing.

Alternative choices maybe is the right word.

It might not served as the original purpose for me but then it would do good, for a while, or for a time being. I thought for a while what can I write about this subject and after watching the rain continues to drop outside,my mind goes blank, but then I just kept on writing.

The Dhow ships in Kuwait are done with sailing, but still standing.

Alternative version : Done with Sailing but still standing

Suddenly I thought of alternative purposes. I searched through my gallery and found the photos I’ve took about Kuwait sailing boats, the Dhow .

Before, Dhow boats main purpose is for maritime sailing vessels.It’s history is long lost but during my stay in Kuwait, I was surrounded with its rich cultural heritage. I was able to see them and marvel at their beauty and significance to Kuwaiti culture. I even got my wedding reception inside the Guiness World record Al Hashemi Dhow boat in Kuwait overlooking the Arabian Gulf. I thought it was a great idea since this country has such a huge impact on our early days as an expat family.

Serving its alternative purposes

These boats have done their purpose for a while, they have sailed against the winds gracefully through endless voyages, looking for pearls and brought home harvest from the sea. But now, they just sit on the banks, still, unmoved, probably bathed in dust during sandstorms. They are only displayed for touristic purposes.They may not bring you to vast seas but learning about them can bring you to old tales and far away maritime saga.

One thing for sure, during their sails, they had their best times.

Now they are serving their purpose on Alternative versions.

Have you ever seen such a thing where it’s only there as an alternative version from its original version?

Happy weekend everyone. Tchüss!

Wordless Wednesday

Friendly Friday : Electric

It’s Friday once again and I can’t almost smell the weekend. Here in Germany it’s Dirndl and Lederhosen time because Oktoberfest opens this weekend! Who’s coming?!

The mood for Friendly Friday Photo Challenge calls for Electric and here’s some photos I wanna share to interpret this mood.

Have you ever been “electrified” by cool Graffiti Artworks?

I am always fan of Art, in all forms. I love painting in different mediums but not tried Spray. I think this technique requires great talent, control and electric motivation.I find Graffiti artwork very moving. It has a silent message, a radical expression I must add. It requires a lot of attention because our senses are easy to deviate from its message. Some call it only a fuzzy mess, some says it’s vandalism.

Some says it’s an aggressive way of expression. What do you think?

But then, it can move you. It catches your attention and maybe, maybe out of the blue, it can be “electrifying”.

Do you like Graffiti Art?

But I am never fan of an piss-off electric attitude.

I piss the wall {East Side Gallery, Berlin, 2019}

And yes, sometimes, it pays to have an electric attitude.

I used to wear electric shoes in Kuwait to combat sandstorms!
(Desert area, Kuwait)

Happy Friday everyone!

Peek |Sneak preview of the “What Ifs?”

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We all love to have a sneak peek of all the What-Ifs” of life… It’s normal, ingrained in our human nature.

I , myself have a habit of having a sneak peek of almost everything, especially when I have the chance to do it. But, I am not so fond of taking a look through the lenses of the viewing binoculars to admire a view from a top. I don’t know why.

For me, I prefer to gaze through the vast expanse and look at a view from my own vantage point.I like this way of having perspective of things in front of me.

It’s common to see these coin-operated binoculars in any observatory deck. Even on top of Zugspitze, from the top of Alps, you can have a stunning view through these binoculars. Most of the towers I have visited in Kuwait have this same  amenities where aside from enjoying the view from above, visitors are given a chance to look further, for an intent close up of any sight they wanted to explore, for sight seeing purposes.

I had the chance to visit the Liberation Tower in Kuwait. It was one of the striking tower where you can see a great skyline of Kuwait in between skycrapers. The tour was privately arranged, and in Arabic, but I don’t really mind. I’ve always wanted to visit this tower so I grabbed the chance when the tour was offered by Aware Center.  At 372 m, the Liberation Tower is the world’s 38th tallest free-standing structure, by pinnacle height. It is standing proud & big symbolizing Kuwait’s liberation from Iraqi invasion. When we reached the 150th floor, within span of seconds, these views from the photos below  greeted me. I can’t really recall how fast it took for us to be on the top observation deck, all I know is that it was fast. Although the weather was fine, it was not a clear view because of the glass windows. Unfortunately, they are dirty, smudgy, and dusty, which is actually common in Kuwait because of frequent dust storms.

But then, it was a great experience to see the skyline of Kuwait from a view on top, almost desert. The buildings, the urban panoramic setting, with all of its beige tone dwellings. I can almost see the rummage  with all the trash piled up. The busy city center, in between the skyscrapers, and the crowded Souks (market place), and yes, the traffic jam. It’s surreal to see that this country is so small and yet managed to rise up, developed its own identity when it comes to architecture and modernization.

While I was still living in this place, I’ve always been a stranger on a daily basis, always roaming around, exploring like locals, and discovering the many facets of this city. I wanted to have a sneak preview of  everyday life in Kuwait, naturally. This particular view from the Liberation tower is no exception.

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Sometimes its good to look through the binoculars, to see things at a large range. But then, which is really a better view? After quite some time, your views will change eventually. Real experiences unfolds each facade of the postcard beauty you see .

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Sightseeing from above the tower is like a sneak peek of  “what is life in Kuwait?” It gives you a swift scan of all the what ifs of living in this place, dust, heat and all.

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In the end, it takes one to experience a certain culture in order to really know one.

Have you ever tried visiting a new place, and taking a look into the Observation binoculars and thought “what is it to live in this place? ”

This post is inspired by this week’s Daily Photo Challenge |Peek

The taste of Dusk | Evanescent

“Dawn comes slowly, but Dusk is rapid..”

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My Expat Life : One fine but swift taste of Dusk in Kuwait

If you live in the Middle East, like for example in Kuwait, you would probably shun the abundance of the sun, but I have never met a sunset that I did not like. With the heat during summer that rises up to 52 degrees C, and that needs to getting used to, the mild 25~30 degrees now that we have here in Germany feels like a tropical summer sans the humidity.But in real life, it’s impossible to completely divorce our perceptions of the sun scenes from our awareness of the hour. These times are both crucial, first getting ready to start our day and the latter is ending it, rushing to get home.

How do you really know the taste of dawn from the taste of dusk?

Back then I used to live in a flat located at the upper floors and I always enjoy watching the sun rising up, slowly, sluggard as the date trees swaying on an early morning dawn. I could take lots of photos while enjoying it changing the horizon from reddish, purplish, to burnt oranges. We have large windows and during sunset, I love the way our place is filled with these colors. A sweet and yet swift moments to enjoy.

I love jogging along the Arabian Gulf on early mornings and watch the sun’s  masterpiece almost every weekend and when I have the chance. If not, our bedroom window is like a giant screen showcasing this beauty. With the sea in the backdrop, life back in Kuwait is full of precious, evanescent  sunsets.

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A fiery show in the sky during dusk here in Bavaria during Fall.

But then thorough watching dusk is a different thing. Or is it only me who notices this. Now I have written before why I adore watching  sunrises and sunsets in my life, whenever I have the chance and wherever. In different place, there is a different magic that happens when the sun sets. It is a swift, rapid, retreat. From coming home from work, I can watch the sky while the sun sets, or when I passes by the sea nearby our home or watch the boats docked in the harbor create a magical atmosphere, like a graffiti artist burst his colors on his canvas. Here in Germany, where we have 9PM sunsets , more often I am too tired to stay outside to watch it or I am too caught up with putting my daughter to bed.

I have read an interesting article how to distinguish the difference of dawn from dusk. I couldn’t really tell if its true or not but it says that the first is in our heads. At sunset, our eyes are daylight adapted and may even be a bit weary from the day’s work, or eyes might be strained already. As the light fades, we cannot adapt as fast as the sky darkens. Some hues may be lost or perceived in a manner peculiar to sunset. At sunrise, however, the night’s darkness has left us with very acute night vision and every faint, minor change in the sky’s color is evident. In short, you may perceive more colors at dawn than at dusk. [Red-Green & Blue-Yellow: The Stunning Colors You Can’t See]

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As swift as a ride back home, the skies changes into a rapid kaleidoscope of colors.

Great thing to know, right?

I’m sure if you are a keen observer, you will distinguish these colors, as evanescent they might be.

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Watching my life away during sunsets in Kuwait

The most important thing is, a peaceful sunset, watching the sun sets can really change the way you feel about your day, a proof that any bad day can still end up beautifully. This is by far the best mantra that I wanna keep.

Do you love this post?

If so, when was the last time you have let yourself get lost in watching the sun sets and tasting Dusk?

This post was inspired by this week’s DP Photo Challenge |Evanescent

The Dhow ship: Kuwait’s timeless Heritage

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The timeless Dhow ship of Kuwait, a precious Maritime Heritage

Speaking of Heritage — The Dhow ship is probably my most photographed icon, next to the Kuwait Towers, from my years of stay in the Middle East. A distinct symbol of Kuwaiti culture.

This boat, the Fateh-Al Khair, is a graceful against the winds, beautiful boat, originally used for trading and fishing purposes have long defined this oil-rich country’s identity up to the present times. Wherever you go, the iconic Dhow ship is displayed in many public spaces in Kuwait and there are so many museums dedicated to this heritage.This one in particular is my favorite, next to the gigantic and huge Al Hashemi II, which garnered the coveted Guinness World Records for the largest Dhow ship ever built in the whole world.

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Dhow ships and fishing boats in Souk Sharq

One of the scenic spots in Kuwait where anyone, especially foreigners can have a glimpse of the Dhow ships and fishing boats displayed and docked gracefully in the harbour. This one is taken in  Shouk Sharq, one of the places where I buy fresh local fishes, just adjacent to the fish Market. Here, you can watch the hustle and bustle of the fishermen as they go about their day, making rigorous  bidding for their pricey catch.

An ideal place if you want to catch a beautiful Sunset from the Arabian Gulf.

 

If you are interested about Kuwait ‘s culture and Islamic Heritage, here are further readings which I have written based on my personal escapades while living there.Photo credit to my friend Ramil Sunga for the second photo. I used this photo as my painting inspiration for my series ‘Kuwait’.

 

Diving for pearls with Dhow

Life in the sea in Kuwait

How to beat the 50 degrees Heat in Kuwait !

The Art of Islamic Patterns

This post is inspired by this week’s Photo Challenge | Heritage