You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.


My first belly-dancing class was this Wednesday! My instructor, Anita-Cristina dances for the Goddess Dancing belly-dancing troupe, and she is a charming lady! Her dance group “empowers women” through teaching them how to awaken their spirits and bodies! She encourages us to express our emotions and to create our own unique style of dancing. She tells us that knowing ourselves and the power of our feminine movements means to love ourselves! I find this philosophy wonderful and relaxing!  

In Dubai, I watched beautiful bellydancing, and I was inspired to take a class

 

During the first lesson, she taught us how to isolate the hips and tummy and how to do the shimmy-shimmy! We dance to amazing Middle Eastern rhythms, which are not that different from what I’m used to listen to in Bulgarian clubs (but a little bit more traditional and classy). I can’t wait until she shows us how to use the veils!   

Check out The Goddess Dancing website! http://www.thegoddessdancing.com/ 

And I am off reading more about this form of art!


Today Eva and I were thinking about the eternal songs that never fail to touch our souls.

She named Ederlezi as her all-time favorite. Ederlezi is  a song about the life of Gypsy or Roma people on the Balkans. The name originally signifies a the Muslim holiday celebrating spring, but the Slavs on the Balkans have long ago assimilated this holiday into the Christian St. George’s Day. Ederlezi originated as a folk song and was immortalized by the music of Goran Bregovic. Today, there are versions of the lyrics in Roma, Serbian, and Bulgarian. 

The song I chose as one that always filles me with emotions is Horchat Hai Caliptus, or translated from Hebrew, Eucalyptus Forest. It is a song about the Palestinians and the Israeli, and the beauty of the Jordan river shores despite of any wars. The song is originally sang by Ishtar, but here I am posting a cover by Bulgarian Music Idol contestant Preslava Peicheva. I am sure that Ishtar wouldn’t mind this gentle voice singing her song.

Both songs leave a bittersweet feeling in your heart. They are both about ancient peoples whose historical fates have been filled with turmoil, but whose culture and traditions have been kept alive through the years. I think this is what makes these two songs so powerful.


One of the greatest commercials ever made about the greatest whiskey-makers dynasty ever born.

Breathtaking windpipe music and a spectacular road view in the background.

“Hey piper, shut it!” And the Scottish actor Robert Carlyle starts narrating the story of the young lad named John and the Johnnie Walker brand.

When he was only 14, young John inherited a grocery store from his father. There, John developed a passion for blending different single malts. Later his sons, who carried the same entrepreneurial spirit, further developed the whiskey, and their brand became a leader in the industry.  Some of their trade marks became the square bottle, the tilted at exactly 24 degrees label, and the slogan Keep Walking.

As the narrator keeps walking on a picturesque mountainous road, various artifacts like portraits, bar doors, and barrels illustrate his story. The Scottish accent, in perfect synchrony with the soundtrack, recreates the truly unique atmosphere of Johnny Walker’s magnificent journey. 

A state-of-the-art commercial about ambition and true Scottish spirit.


Timmy just came back from a jousting tournament in Florida!! Yes, the Medieval sport where two knights with long lances spur their horses on each other! Yes, in 2010 in the States!

It seems that the National Jousting Association frequently recreates the 12th century sport – with all the traditional shiny armor, with different competitions with lances, sword, axes, and daggers. And the stallions were gorgeous, Timmy said. People are dressed up as peasantry and nobility and really do compete! And the American crowd obviously loves it. Actually, Wikipedia shows, jousting is the official state sport of Maryland. It was the first sport to become official anywhere in the States. So it was not baseball, to Red Sox’ fans greatest dismay!!

I am so jealous of him for going! Sounds like something amazing to witness! A living anachronism! Well, I hope he enjoyed himself and felt at least a little bit like a knight himself. He is my knight in shiny armor afterall.


I wish there were streets like this in Boston. Still, there are beautiful places, such as North End and downtown, which carry the spirit of Europe

I hadn’t seen Bailey since the study abroad semester in Madrid last summer. She spent the fall in Ecuador, where she met a charming young man named Andres and has been living in an Ecuadorian romance since.

After a very energizing aeroboxing class (and a shower) at FitRec, I picked up Bailey from her StuVi2 apartment and we hopped on the T. We had so much to talk about! Spain and our friends there! Her adventures in Ecuador, mine in Dubai and Florida! We strolled down the beautifully lit Newbury street and talked about all the cities we’ve lived in.

We thought it would be a nice continuation of our tradition to find a quaint Spanish restaurant. In honor of the good old times, we ordered sangria and tapas: sizzling shrimp with garlic, goat cheese with honey,chicken croquettes, and lobster ravioli. Delicious! We told each other stories about the most romantic surprises our boyfriends made us and how much we missed them now that they are so far away from us, hers in Ecuador and mine in Florida.

Sometimes, having dinner with a girlfriend at a cute little Spanish restaurant can be the most relaxing thing in the world.


Munich is surrounded by "controlled" woods, which aim to compensate for the city's heavy pollution from gas emissions

 

Sofia 2020 started as the innovative project of twelve architects who share their vision for the future of the beautiful capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. 

The web platform demonstrates several conceptual projects that would improve the city environment: bicycle alleys, pedestrian zones, city sights, and offers the chance for professionals and citizens to discuss these ideas. The goal is to inspire governmental agencies and entrepreneurs to invest in a newer and better Sofia. 

The project that strikes me as genious and simple is a proposal for a new law that obliges every citizen who owns a car to plant a tree in specified uncultivated lands around Sofia. One new tree for every new car. How simple and easy is that? Planting doesn’t have to be done by the person him/herself and shouldn’t take much resources or effort. But it would raise the awareness of both the government and the private citizen about abundance of desolated land around our capital and its potential use. In a fast-developing city like Sofia, construction sites appear around every corner while green areas disappear at an exponential rate. We need businesses that build shopping malls and office buildings, but we also need ones that develop more environmentally friendly sites.  


Check out this amaaazing song!!! It can lift up your spirits even after you go all the way to Boston Logan to find out that your flight is 50 mins late and there’s no chance you could make the connection and have to go back to a cold dark dorm room and spend a night doing homework. Yeeey for Delta Airlines!! And Discovery Channel’s awesome ads!


First day of classes turns out to be not so bad. All worries were in vain.

View of Boston and the Prudential from the Charles

My professors are quiet but amiable. There are familiar faces in every classroom now. I see familiar faces on the streets too, and we stop and greet each other.  I walk about the same streets (before they have become completely covered in ice and snow) and rediscover the beautiful views of Boston, a city that pleasantly reminds me of Europe and of home.

I even started signing up for fun classes and applying for fun positions. But more about them later.

Something very typical of here and not so typical of home is the chance to make small talk with clerks and cashiers and to walk out of it with a smile on your face. Back home, shop-sellers and waitresses are not trained to say “Hello” and “How are you?,” so it is easy for them to bring the negative thoughts from their persoanl lives into the work place. The result is that sometimes you turn out begging someone to sell shampoo or feeling guilty for asking for more water. Not always, but sometimes, employees from the service business back home are impossible to talk to like we talk to with the Boston ones. 

Working ethics here are different. Although [usually foreigners] will argue that this several-minute interaction is simply part of someone’s working duties (aka little bit fake), it never fails to charge me with positive energy.  I know they “have to” be polite, but I usually initiate and expand the conversation. Thus, I can see through their “working smile.” And I usually receive many and sincere smiles in return for breaking their routine and making them feel more interesting than their job.  In short, I had two wonderful talks with the lady at the fitness center window and the man who helped me at the bank, and they made  my first day back in Boston quite pleasant.


The best thing about school are vacations: like this one, in Mexico

Today is for packing and getting ready for a new semester in Boston.

I’ve always felt the butterflies in my stomach the day before classes start.

 Having to leave the house early in the morning, not knowing what new commitments I would have to make and what tasks I would have to accomplish, has always filled me with anxiousness. I’ve never been a bad student , and I’ve always had good friends in class, so I guess my fears don’t make sense. 

Yet somehow the day before going back to school after a break and meeting with all those students and teacher all over again has always been a challenge. Maybe it is because I cherish my freedom so much and I want to dedicate my time only to things that I am passionate about. Maybe it is because I was self-conscious and doubted my motivation and abilities.

And today, maybe it is because I am so far away from my home and I am still questioning my ability to meet the challenge I set for myself by coming here.


PETA is famous with its brave and clever campaigns. Nudity seems to be their trade mark

 

According to animal activist from PETA, the only way to decrease the number of homeless cats and dogs dumped in shelters, where most of them are eventually euthanized, is animal birth control. This is exactly what this clever campaign with adult movie star Sasha Grey promotes. 

The phrase “Too Much Sex Can Be A Bad Thing: Have your cats and dogs spayed or neutered” is fresh and catchy. The photos are sexy and artsy. The cause is good. What more does it take to make it work? 

Please spread the word!  

Read more and watch a video at http://www.peta.org/Featuresashagrey.asp


It is always difficult to find the best present for your friends and family. Especially when you are coming from a vacation abroad and want to bring them something thoughtful/practical/beautiful that carries the spirit of the place you visited.  

In addition to the traditional handicrafts, key chains, fridge magnets, postcards, or duty free items, I rediscovered an often-underestimated type of souvenir.  

The Pomegranate, Rambutan and Mangostan from Duabi turned out to be a delicious souvenir for our Bulgarian friends

 

As unusual and exotic presents from Dubai, we brought several kinds of fruit that are unfamiliar on the Bulgarian market. The most well-liked was the mangostan, a sweet fruit with a hard violet peel and a soft white heart from Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The persimmon originating from Japan, also known as “paradise apple,” and the rambutan from Thailand, or “hairy litchi,” were the other fruit that captured our taste buds and hearts.  The nuts-filled dates and the pomegranate, although well-known to us Bulgarians, were also among our favorites.  

The best part of giving such an organic gift is sitting around the table and sharing the interesting fruit as well as sharing your adventures with your guests.  Enjoying the fruit makes them co-experience your voyage.


An Arab woman wearing abaya is buying spices from a traditional souk

 

The futuristic Dubai offers something even for the admirers of the old and the traditional. The Spice Souk, the Golden Souk, the Fabrics Souk, and the Fish Souk carry the lively atmosphere of the Arabic bazaars from Scheherazade’s Thousand and One Tales.  

Massive golden jewels and precious stones weight down the shelves behind the shops’ windows. Linen bags of herbs and spices stacked along the narrow streets fill the air with heavy aroma. Merchants peep out the doors and call upon you “Hello! Buon giorno! Zdrastvyi!,” inviting you inside in many different languages. There is nothing fake about the merchant’s manners, and his words are not memorized lines. When he asks you where you are from, he asks because he loves talking to people. He knows Bulgaria’s best football players Hristo Stoichkov and Dimitar Berbatov. He gives you a few compliments, fox example that you look Italian, takes a picture with you in front of the colorful shop, and offers you his best price for the local cardamom or the candlenut from Indonesia.  

Despite of their archaic look, the souks are not a tourist attraction. They are real and functioning marketplaces with aggressive salesmen, wide variety of marked-up goods, and sometimes significant profit.  

Persuasiveness is the greatest skill of the souk merchants. They become your friends, sell you a ton of useless things for a very high price, and make you walk home feeling glad and happy!

 

Among the spices: rose petals for tea, incense for burning, laurel for cooking, chili, blue paint for coloring fabrics

 

Souks offer not only goods but also an experience. They are a perfect place for one to practice one’s bargaining skills and, inevitably, to get cheated.  Although they seem ages apart from a modern supermarket, souks and bazaars like these are suppliers to “the grocery store down the street”. It mesmerizes me how tradition and modernity work together in a small souk in Dubai.


Take a look at this very informative material on the transition from communism to democracy in Bulgaria in 1989, by Ralitsa Vassileva, a Bulgarian journalist working for CNN.


Henna painting after the Desert Safari in Dubai

Henna Painting, Henna Tattoos or Mehndi is a popular form of body art in Dubai and the Middle East. It originated from South Asia. It was traditionally used during special ceremonies such as weddings, but today henna painting is popular in the everyday life.
Henna paintings are done of the hands, palms, and feet. They are fast, easy, and lasts only a few days.
The dye is made from a plant, so it is not harmful or permanent.
The Arab girl who drew our hands took less than 2 minutes for each paining.
Aren’t they beautiful? The painter is wearing the traditional black abaya .
Read more about my journey to Dubai.

The Arab girl who painted our hands is wearing a traditional Abaya


Sheikh al Zayed Boulevard, on the way to the hotel

 

Dubai is one of the seven members of the United Arab Emirates. It is located on the Arabian Peninsula, south of the Persian Gulf (or the Arabian Gulf, as the locals call it). It is the fastest developing city in the world and a miracle of modern architecture. 

Before the discovery of oil in the Gulf in the 1960s transformed Dubai’s economy, the region had been a pearling and trades center for almost a thousand years. Today, Dubai has become the financial center of the Middle East and a magnet for millions of tourists every year. 

Only 1 out of 5 people is local Emirati. The rest are immigrants mainly from India, Pakistan, and East Asia, but also from Europe and the States. 

I traveled to Dubai in January when the temperature is at its lowest, about 20˚C (as opposed to up to 45˚C in July and August). 

What fascinated me most about this city is that it literally emerged from the desert. I discovered with astonishment how the oil business drastically changed the life and culture of the region in just a few decades. From a desert settlement, Dubai became one of the richest cities in the world. 

 Thus, Dubai is a city of discrepancies. Bastakiya , the old Arab neighborhood with the typical wind towers for ventilation  look directly at the modern-state-of-art skyscrapers from across the Dubai Creek.  The traditional Souks, bazaars for gold, spices, fabrics, or fish, are as busy as the huge malls, among which Dubai Mall, the biggest mall of the Middle East, and Mall of the Emirates, which hosts an indoor ski resort.  Time-honored sports and arts like falconry, camel riding or belly dancing, co-exist with golf, yachting, and sand-skiing. Arab women successfully match the floor length black abaya and traditional face mask burqa with Gucci bags and Prada stilettos. Men still wear floor length white kandooras with head scarves and the black cord agal around the head (once used to tie the camels legs), and they also drive Maserati and own  five-star hotels. 

 Today, the Bedouin culture has merged with a cult for the luxurious. What other explanation is there for having a vast desert to grow a city into, but instead choosing to build artificial islands shaped like Palms and a Map of the World in the Gulf and building on them? Dubai is also home to the only seven-star hotel in the world, Burj al Arab, build in the shape of a sail on its own artificial island. The tallest building in the world, Burj Dubai, is also here.  Everything in Dubai, from the flashy shops and the grandiose malls to the glitzy cars and the flamboyant nightlife speaks of the new face of Dubai, what some travel guides call “the 8th wonder of the world.” 

Traditional Arab home in the Bastakiya neighborhood

Enter your email address to subscribe to Zikata's blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 69 other followers

Follow me on Twitter!

Share this Blog

Share |
January 2010
M T W T F S S
    Feb »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Read it? Rate it!

RSS Getting curious:

  • Toy Brands Break Gender Barriers at This Year's Toy Fair
    Just over a year ago, consumers were up in arms because of the lack of representation of "Star Wars" heroine Rey in the franchise's toys and games. The suspected dissing of the crucial character led to the hashtag #WheresRey and numerous excuses from fumbling marketers who missed the mark over equal gender representation. Now, in 2017, it seem […]
  • Watch Last Night's New Ads From Porsche, Groupon, Haribo and More
    Every weekday, we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new and trending TV commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention analytics from 10 million+ smart TVs. The New Releases here ran on TV for the first time yesterday. The Most Engaging ads are ranked by digital activity (including online views and social shares) […]
  • Retail Politics: Can Macy's, 'America's Department Store,' Survive in a Divided Nation?
    Sara, a Manhattan psychotherapist, has shopped at Macy's for most of her life. But her trips to the retailer's Herald Square flagship store in Manhattan ended in October with the launch of #GrabYourWallet, an online campaign urging consumers to boycott companies that do business with President Donald Trump or members of his family."I don' […]
  • YouTube Promises New Auditing Measures Will Prove Ad Quality
    YouTube introduced new ad quality standards that even Procter & Gamble's Marc Pritchard could praise.Google's video service will now offer independent audits of campaigns to show brands when ads were served, viewed and validate the internet traffic.YouTube's new measurement regime was accredited by industry group Media Ratings Council, whi […]
  • Murillo to Lead McDonald's Team at Alma, Mariano Joins Zulu Alpha Kilo
    Miami-based U.S. Hispanic shop Alma has promoted Jorge Murillo to VP, executive creative director. In his new role, Murillo will lead the McDonald's creative team and co-create with McDonald's new agency model We Are Unlimited. Alma is part of Omnicom's DDB network, which is behind Unlimited. Murillo, in his previous role as senior creative, h […]

Your Green Eyes

Ad