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Saturday, 11 January 2014

2013-2014 New Year's Eve was one of the scariest experiences ever!!

Taking a break from recipe posts for a while and talking adventure and all things NEW. Check the previous two posts (2014 posts) if you are curious to know why!!

New Year's Eve in Nişantaşı - Istanbul
Everytime I remember just how scary this new year's eve was, I can't stop laughing! I laugh now, but in it, I was so not laughing....! In fact I was scared to death!

So you know how I have been going on about new experiences, and looking for something new and exciting all the time? Well this new year's eve was no exception. My hubs and I decided that we want a totally different experience this new year's eve. We thought instead of the usual big NYE party, why not try something we have never done before?

So we went to Istanbul. Once there we found out that every NYE an outdoor celebration takes place at the hip and posh Nişantaşı neighbourhood. The celebration included a countdown, DJs mixing live music at every corner, Street food on strollers and fireworks... With such description we thought perfect! Something new and definitely different from the usual hotel or house parties.. We decided to go.

Once there, the taxi drops you to the neighbourhood's tip, after which all is pedestrian. You can sense the excitement, hear the music and the sound of people in the distance. You can also see gorgeous light displays everywhere and some people walking from all directions to where the countdown is supposed to be. At first, there were not many people, it looked relaxed some people walking, some standing and others buying food and drink from street vendors. I was even telling my husband: This is actually nice!

It was not long after that, when suddenly waves of people started drifting in, pushing us in all directions like a massive tsunami of human bodies from an unknown destination, all of which pushing and pushing that you had no control over where you were heading nor how fast you were going. I held on to my husband as the last thing I wanted was for us to lose each other in this mayhem of people. We tried to get out, but it was pointless, there was no getting out of there. Listen, I am talking about thousands of people if not hundreds of thousands, all pushing you in towards the centre that can only fit about five hundred!! I wanted out, I changed my mind!! I no longer wanted to celebrate NYE, I did not care for new experiences, I did not want to explore nor adventure!!! I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

People were literally jam packed!! Stuck to you from all directions, my bones squeezed to almost a breaking point, really at times it was painful! My feet were stepped at, and at times they were not even on the ground as because of the squeezing people, there were times when I was lifted off the ground, and drifted as people walked! At that point, I felt a serge of adrenaline, really like I can't explain, I thought survivor mode, this is it! I must survive this. I literally panicked and felt in danger. I held on to my husband and told him "we need to get out of here". We tried, but we were absolutely trapped. A policeman saw us and figured we were first timers, perhaps from out of town and held my hand in an attempt to get us out! No way!! He then looked at us and shook his head. At that point people were fainting around us, and the others are trying to save them, but all were stuck in this hell hole filled with people! Then the countdown began, I thought, good, once that is over, people are bound to start moving again! But no, the nightmare continued!!!

After the countdown was over, the bloody fire works started!! And to make matters scarier, the fireworks were dropping fire on (the trapped) us!! I am not sure what it was, but in description, it was like lit up tissues that were raining over us in every which way! Problem was, we could not move, and it was raining fire!!! At that point, I thought that is it. I am getting out of here. I don't know what it was, but I no longer cared if I pushed, shoved or even stepped on anyone. I had to live past the "very different" new year's ever!!! I had children to go back to and a life that I love and not finished living! Holding my husband's hand, we were both pushing out and literally shoving people to the side for about half an hour... in what was kind of like a deliverance, really panicking and dodging fire drops... No DJs, no countdowns, and no adventure mattered at that point!

Once out, I had to stop at the sidewalk and take a breath, I literally felt battered and exhausted! I had to breathe as I was in a huge mental mess!! We were quiet for a while, then both agreed that was dangerously scary!! Quietly, we walked and walked as all is pedestrian, until we reached the first hotel, and spent the rest of the evening chatting at the lobby bar!!!

Until now, I can't believe what went down that night! I know, it might sound like an exaggeration, or like I am too soft... Trust me, I am not... I am really saying it, as it happened and if you have any doubt, I dare you to go to the same event next NYE!!! They do have the same every year!!! And guess what? People Go!!!!!!!!

in 2013 I wanted New, and the year was filled with all things new. However, nothing to prep me for NEW year's eve!

Coming up,
Moving on, going on a new adventure (starts today), food related of course and slightly softer than the event above... however very exciting :)) 

So come back for more of my adventures in the name of "bringing food to life"

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A more personal post this time - about comfort zone, the search for adventure and the (sometimes scary) challenges of new experiences!

The Comfort Zone

They say "Be careful what you wish for" I say "Be prepared once you've wished".

When 2012 came to an end, I found myself thinking that I had been sitting comfortably in my little comfort zone for a while. Routinely doing things that I am very familiar with, together with the routine that comes with motherhood, homemaking and work (which yes I am blessed to be doing what I love for work, however, it is work at the end of the day and does get to a place where it is just routine, and really very demanding!) all have made me feel bored or kind of like I was not fulfilling the adventurous side of me. I felt like I needed a change, therefore, I set my eyes on making 2013 the year where I would take up things that are absolutely new to me! The year where I would shake things up...

I did just that and 2013 was one of the most bizarre years I have ever lived!

A New Adventure

I had started the year with a trip to Istanbul. It was my first time there. I had always heard lots but somehow I was never that interested! Don't shoot me, I know it is one of the culinary capitals of the world, but somehow I always looked for something else. Once finally there I had realised that before that moment, I was not ready for Istanbul, because as it turned out Istanbul was going to change me! I am not sure why, or perhaps it was the mood I started the year with, maybe I was ready for a change... whatever it was, I was there and for the first time in a very long time, things were clearly in perspective. I became more determined than ever that I needed to get rid of that comfort zone. I was never born to relive routines, my heart joys when I explore... Regardless what or where, one can always discover, even at home, doing what we always do, there is something to discover, we just need to see it.

Istanbul Resolution: "Look for the extraordinary in ordinary everyday things."

I had decided that since I am an enthusiastic culinary traveller who's always travelled looking for inspirations through culinary adventures from discovering flavours and produce, to (most importantly) exploring the experiences that food brings about, especially how it connects and unifies us; I wanted to allow myself the time to go and explore and see where that adventure takes me. I even started a culinary travel blog on this link, because I wanted a separate space for this exploration from the rest of my activities.

Still Adventuring

Simultaneously, I had started working on my first cookbook, partly because everyone was telling me "It's time", "You must write a cookbook"... but mostly because I felt "I have something I love that I really want to tell you about", however somehow because it kind of fell right in with the 'do things that are new' decision I had made. I had never written a book before, this was a totally new experience, so I got excited and dedicated the time for that.

I have huge respect for books, writers and any written text. I am a fanatic reader and I hugely appreciate books. With that said, I had never even come close to realising what it takes to write a book and I am only attempting a cookbook!! However, regardless, the thought process, the selection process, the details and add to that the self publishing bit that I so uncalculatingly added to the equation...! I must admit it became way too much to handle, I got frustrated and put the whole thing on hold for a while because I cared so much that it took a huge toll on me. I had to break.

half-way resolution of Cookbook experience (done in retrospect): You are never in control, you do but things only happen at the right time.

So I took off, to Mauritius this time. I had to go back to Mauritius because culinary wise the country is bountiful, however, as I remembered it, it was Paradise and after so much stress paradise sounded just right.

Mauritius was a huge break, there is something about this country that makes you forget what it is that you worry about. You are so taken by the natural beauty that your mind really has no more space for anything else! The food too a complete heaven of flavours, produce and abundance. I devoured every corner of Mauritius. I was curious about the lifestyle, I wanted to know how its people live and how it's like to eternally live there. I met so many people, and made sure to talk to everyone I saw. I talked to fishermen, farmers, restaurant owners, chefs, car repair corner shops, people at the beach... you name it, I went for it. I was invited into people's homes, cooked with them, ate with them and learnt a huge deal from them. Mauritius was all I needed to remind me why I originally chose to do what I do. I rediscovered how happy I am when exploring, discovering and connecting with people. Re-energised, I went back to Dubai and was ready for whatever comes next...

Mauritius Resolution: The world is beautiful, all cultures are equally important, and it is all out there for us to explore. Never take 'home' with you once on a journey, just be open to all things new.

Back in Dubai, it was only a short while until Ramadan starts. And if you follow this blog, you know I have a Ramadan tradition of posting daily during the month. I jumped into preparing the 2013 Ramadan Special, taking the year's resolution and all the experiences into consideration I wanted to make this year's 'Ramadan Special' really different and thought since I am exploring and rediscovering why not explore and rediscover the Ramadan Culture around the world.

Expanding Horizons

Working on the Ramadan posts, I got to know so many fabulous people, I learnt how one we all are, how despite the details we all share the same essence. I was reminded of a spiritual side to life that while various in definition, essentially the same in concept. A comforting thought that when liberated from labels, judgements and all connotations will in fact add another, very peaceful dimension to life. A new horizon if you wish...

Ramadan Resolution: Do not dismiss anything because you deprive yourself the freedom of openness.

By this time, the year is unwinding and I am starting to realise why everything took place the way it did. At the beginning of the year, I had asked for an out of comfort zone experience, for adventure, exploration, for new. I had unknowingly opened my heart for a whole new mind set, however as it took shape, I did not understand it and instead I scared out, got frustrated, and went on an emotional roller coaster like I can't describe! I was simply impatient to let the journey unfold. I wanted all that I wanted and I wanted it all at once.

Rough waters are always followed by a calm

I could finally see!
I now realise that change comes with challenges. At times, the challenges are small, when at other times they could be really testing. But change and challenges are the only road to an inspired and amused self, because in comfort there is only that: Comfort. While in challenge there is adventure and in adventure there is always discovery.

Final Resolution: outside your comfort zone lies your true self, and there is no other way to rediscover yourself and keep track of who you are today than venturing out of that comfort zone.

This was some of the major parts of my 2013, and while I do not always like to get personal on the blog, I have always aimed to somehow be inspirational. I thought that by sharing this I might be able to reach those of you who are looking for new. If you are, I strongly recommend you take it up. Journey in your everyday life, rediscover, and see the beauty of ordinary things when seen with a fresh perspective. Accept whatever comes, and know that while you might not like it now, in the end it always works out for the best.
The Journey Continues

Personally, I found the experience so rewarding that 2014 is the year I am dedicating to Exploration, Adventure & Discovery. But this time around, I am really going it with patience, an open mind and a full heart for all that it brings (The Good & The Bad).


in case I did not learn the lesson that adventure comes with scary challenges, New Year's Eve had to make sure I knew what I was in for when asking for new! 

Come back on Sunday for my scariest ever New Year's adventure that had me almost squashed to death!!! 

lol... Yup! come back you'll see ;)