Sunday, December 15, 2013

Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave

Albert Einstein said, "He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice," in reference to the promotion of war and defining ones patriotism by the barrel of a gun.

Open market in Hargeisa

Whenever I visit Somaliland, I'm always struck by the political choices this small autonomous region made in the past 25 years to keep the peace and build a nation in the midst of endless violence in Somalia. As a student of international relation and political affairs, you learn that one of the key factors of achieving peace is forgiveness of your enemy through 'truth and reconciliation'. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Those who educate children well are more to be honored than those who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well

From right: Nimo, Zahra, Ubah, Nimo II, Deqa, Suad and Zulekha

Powerful words by Aristotle, which speaks to my experience touring an orphanage in Hargeysa, Somaliland this summer. It was just two years ago, on September 2011, when I started this blog as an outlet for my love of travel and photography. Its been a struggle to find a meaningful focus that motivates me to turn this little blog into something that not just speaks to the reader/visitor, but also to me. I just did not see the point in posting mere pictures of my travels, a privilege few of us in the world can boast about, when many young women and men in 2/3 of the globe are struggling to access basic needs. So in the spirit of my blog's anniversary, I will be focusing more on what I find politically and globally engaging and interesting. Whether its my fieldwork in Africa or upcoming mini documentaries on Somaliland child labor, primary education (girls education in particular), I would like to profile a world, few of us in the West are privileged to witness and hopefully, a voice for the many who cannot speak for themselves. So, I hope those of you who have enjoyed my blog or follow it, can join me in this new journey of mine. Don't worry thou, I will still post fun and interesting pictures I take, there are plenty of architectural and historical shots from the Middle East coming up in the next few months.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail

Last year, I ended up staying for few days in Puerto Rico mainly because my friend who has the biggest crush on Ricky Martin insisted we stop there on our way home. We mostly stayed in El Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan), which consists of Spanish colonial buildings, some amazing shopping spots and of course awesome night life. We visited El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th century citadel that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as many museum and salsa bars as possible. Here are some of the pictures I took of this beautiful city considered the Gibraltar of the West Indies:

 We stayed in Da House, one of Old San Juan funkier hotels and an amazing bargain

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living

Inspiring words by Ms. Miriam Beard and true from my experience traveling to different countries. Here are the rest of my pictures from Cuba, this time from Trinidad and Santa Clara.

Trinidad - beautiful city and the most Caribbean-like in Cuba

Saturday, March 30, 2013

History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies

It took me a while to process my trip to Cuba, mainly because its a place where you either visit for its affordable resort destination or to experience a country that has yet to find its place and stuck between a bygone cold war era with its decaying iconography and austere socialism amidst profitable tourism industry. Outside of the boring resort gate, also known as tourist prison (I'm calling you out Veradora) by Cubans, there are so many amazing local spots and artisans to explore. The jarring paradoxes and contradictory beauty in this small Island that has been a political thorn for some and an admiring force for many revolutions around the world can be overwhelming.

Our first stop was Havana and what an experience it was to be surrounded by erudite museums, alluring street festivals/theater and the everyday hustle and passion of Habaneros (the people of Havana). My favorite part was walking around UNESCO World Heritage site of old Havana, with its fascinating cluster of buildings and churches, mostly restored from near ruins in the past decade.
We met this interesting lady at the Historic Square - Plaza de la Catedral 

Friday, February 8, 2013

We will be known forever by the tracks we leave

Since we are going through an unexpected snow storm in good ol' Canada (aka stuck at home, can't go anywhere at the moment), I thought to share some of the amazing pictures we captured in Guamá, Cuba. I spend about 10 days in Cuba during my Christmas break including few days in January 2013. Just looking at the images of a warm climate, wild animals and beautiful architectural buildings makes me less gloomy about the freezing weather outside of my window.

For inquiring mind, Guamá is a municipality in the Santiago de Cuba Province of Cuba. It is located in the south-west of the province, and contains most of the Caribbean Sea coast west of Santiago de Cuba. After it was invaded by the Spanish empire, most of the Indian tribes (Ciboneys and Taíno Arawaks) that inhabit the island were treated brutally by the Spaniard, where the slightest infraction of Spanish rule, or refusal to accept Catholicism, resulted in mass torture and executions. Tainos who never experienced any hard labor were forced to work in gold mines or sugar cane plantations until they died of exhaustion. They were initially replaced by Native American slaves from the Southeast, but eventually, most slaves were either Africans or persons of mixed African-Native American heritage.

 holding baby crocodile, their skin is so amazingly soft.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Music in the soul can be heard by the universe

I think Lao Tzu was on to something with that quote. I'm bored with sharing my travel pictures, so I thought instead to share some of my favorite international artists and mini documentaries for the nomadic travelers in us all.

Through music and film, "1 Giant Leap" explores the universal complexities of human nature. Jamie Catto (Faithless co-founder) and Duncan Bridgeman set out on their journey recording musical jewels and words of wisdom with the cream of the world's thinkers, writers and entertainers along the way. The duo traveled to the farthest corners of the planet, to ensure immense cultural diversity in this time capsule of humanity at its most inspirational.

Monday, January 7, 2013

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

Happy belated 2013, hope everyone had a safe and joyous holiday season. Mine was spend relaxing and having fun in Cuba with friends.

I thought to start the new year with a topic I always wanted to write about, without getting too political. Let's call it.....Vintage Somalia, before violent conflict destroyed the land and caused so much horror and pain for millions of Somalis around the globe. I hope you enjoy these beautiful pictures from my parents home country. Somaliland, northern region is where my parents were born and raised, but they lived many years in Xamar Waayn (Mogadisho), aka Somalia familiar to most people. So to them it hits home when they see these snap shots of bygone time in Somalia, the horn of Africa.

Somalia Gulls -Mogadishu beach, 1979.