block 338

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook.

 

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Editing these pictures reminded me of the feeling I got walking from the parking lot into the squares of Block 338, Adliya in Bahrain. It truly is a treat for sore eyes, with colour, landscaping and art at every turn. The focus of the planning is on the pedestrian’s experience, with ample parking spaces at the edges and side roads of the district and continuous pedestrian space thereafter – loved it!

My cousin Seif was driving us somewhere I can’t remember now, but decided to take a detour for ‘a few minutes’ stating, ‘Fatma, you’ll love this place’. What was supposed to be a thirty minute walk-through turned into a one and a half hour excursion into sunset. I bet you my cousins wanted to drag me away, because if you know me and my animated mind even flowers and fallen leaves are a photogenic affair.

The walls are covered in art by local artists, not restricted to just paintings but sculptures of varying scales too. Not understanding much about the Bahrain culture and politics, a few pieces seemed to have a deeper meaning, a statement of sorts, which made me question what the artist’s message truly was. For example, these cute houses all falling into a blue bin by Ali Hussein Merza. Is this a message about the abundant social housing around Bahrain? I loved their housing! But probably it was a political message I need to look into a bit more to understand. And then the ethereal paintings against black walls by an unnamed artist. On a lighter note, cartoon looking characters and random positive messages in corners were a sweet surprise. Artistic freedom in its most evident form, in my opinion. Everyone’s style is so different, and each one has qualities that are admirable and for an artist to share their work it takes courage – I respect that. Makes me think that’s how life should be – we all have something unique to contribute and that’s one of the beauties of life – the variety.

Speaking of sweet surprises, the district seems to comprise mostly of the cutest restaurants – street after street. I wish I had time to pop by each and every one as each had its own distinct character. It’s always a great idea to see and try to understand new things we come across – to soak up how other creatives interpret space and interiors. The interesting thing is although each building had it’s own character, they all seem to marry well together, forming a balanced yet eclectic mix.

I’ve mentioned before how one of my favourite things is art galleries with integrated coffee-shop/  restaurants. Well, the Al Riwaq Gallery was a page out of my fantasy art gallery mood board. I had the pleasure of interviewing Wafa al Ghatam who is a research architect currently having an exhibition at the gallery titled, ‘The Village in the City’, while I was there which I’ll share in the next post on here. I got to interact with a few other creatives and lady architects in that short period. They recommended that I try the peach iced tea from the gallery’s cafè which seems to be a hit with the customers. Peach iced tea, need I say more? (I loved it).

Not too far from Block 338 are more ‘traditional’ stores selling Persian carpets, oriental scarves, dresses and basically the ‘old school’ Arab experience. Oh and the best darn shawarma/ malghoum shops too, at a great bargain. Cravings!

Also, I feel like I’ve said gallery too much. Need to dust off a few books and grow my writing skills further.

Favourite pilgrim spots at 338?

Al-Riwaq Art Space (pictures coming up in a separate post).
Florence de Mediteranee, which is the cutest French restaurant at the edge of the district (also coming up in a post. Need to get more hours in my day!)
And uhm, basically the whole place! Wish I had more time to explore 🙂

Google maps location pin here.

Useful links to check out when visiting Bahrain:

Bahrain Authority for Culture and Authenticity.

Visit Bahrain.

Time Out Bahrain.

Take me back already, yah? 🙂

chasing dreams

“Artists have so much more control of their futures – they don’t need to rely so much on major labels or big companies to help them. You have artists like Skrillex that can dominate so much that he gets 5 Grammy nominees, and he’s clearly an underground artist.”

– Steve Aoki.

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Sometimes an incident, big or small, can occur that will make you second guess yourself. Your abilities, your dreams, especially when your purpose is unclear (it doesn’t need to be clear because everyone has a different rate of growth). I was in the dumps for a few days, second guessing whether I should proceed with my ‘pilgrim adventures’, asking if it’s worth it, do the easy thing, give it up, and conform or if I should do the difficult thing – keep going one step at a time and see where it goes. Then one evening I got a wave of an emotion I can’t describe as anger, but similar to it. Whatever it was, even after a long day at work, it kept me at my bedside table editing these pictures for the next two and a half hours until past midnight. It reminded me of something I read once that Maya Angelou said about the difference between anger and bitterness; ‘Bitterness is like cancer, it eats upon the host. But anger is like fire, it burns all clean’.

You see the thing is, I know I’m not perfect. I know I have a long way to go, a lot to learn and I don’t shy away from that fact. I embrace it. I came across a quote on Instagram that goes something like, ‘let the space between who you are and where you want to be inspire you.’ That is exactly what I live by. I will try something new today, may turn out well, or not. And I will get up and try again. The important thing is to keep creating, sharing, growing. I can describe more of who I want to be than of who I am now, so if I could describe myself in one word, it would be ambitious. This felt like an appropriate pretext to this post. Read on, I’m getting to my point.

On the second day of the Grand Prix, the entertainment section was just as incredible and exciting as the races. The organizers had planned activities for different age groups, and a post-race concert that began at around 7 pm just a few minutes from the viewing stands. Underneath the huge tents, were ladies dressed as mushrooms and fairies from Peter Pan, clowns on stilts and in inflated costumes, candy canes plonked into the ground at random places, the sweet and sticky smell of spilled soda, ice cream, candy, pop corn, pizza and Red Bull. An array of colour and activity, with furniture to seat at and observe the life around you if you’re as in awe as I am in new places! Additionally, there were several themed stands like the bubble making stand, sadly for children aged 5-10 so I just stood on the perimeter of the stand taking pictures, haha.

My family and I then dashed to watch the races and at 7 pm headed back to the stage early enough to get a spot at the front. My reaction to seeing Enrique on that stage was, drum rolls please, tears. I was tearing up remembering how at age 10 or 11, my dad bought his first CD and I’d sing along my terrible version lyrics to Hero and Escape. ‘Here’s how it goes, you and me, up and down but baby.. mumbles.. mumbles.. mumbles.. If you feeeeel like leaviiiiing’, you get the point 😀 I’d carry that CD with me in my schoolbag to show my friends (we’d call ourselves the Blooming Ladybirds lol) where we’d then appropriately scream and giggle like little girls.

I kid you not, at least 1000 views of the Bailando song on YouTube are mine 😀 And so by the time Enrique performed that song, my mascara and kohl was a mess, my voice was hoarse and I was in a dream like trance. At one point, he got off stage and came down to the barricade to mingle with the fans. I was star struck, paralyzed, and just stood there in amazement asking out loud, ‘Is this real?’ ‘Take pictures, be present,’ I’d then tell myself. At the end of Enrique’s set, Steve Aoki was next and woah, that energy! It made me think about people who I look up to professionally, leading the lives of their dreams doing what they love. Innovators. Artists. People who do different things and dare to step out of their comfort zones, prepared to take on whatever challenges are brought their way.

People like Enrique Iglesias, Steve Aoki, the formula 1 racers all take a huge risk stepping out onto the stage of life, opening themselves up to create and face criticism. They keep working hard at their dreams. I’d never been a fan of Steve’s genre of music but after watching him live, I now have a great respect for his craft. The visuals, his energy and enthusiasm. Wish I got to watch the whole performance but alas, we had to be home before the clock struck ten (and this was only because we were actually being chaperoned haha).

This post took me back to that barricade at the concert. Watching people I admire live their dreams, have people adore their craft and inspire others to do something too.

The easy thing for me to do would be give up on this blog (or any other ridiculous dreams I have) which is not only a hobby, but also what I see as a vehicle to help me live out a larger purpose. To push me towards following my dreams, and help you (whoever is reading) see that hey, if Fatma can get started then so can you. Whataver it is. Doesn’t matter who gets there first, just that you get started and keep going.

I’m writing to myself now.

If you have a dream, you will have to work at it and deal with whatever challenges that come your way. You will have to change some habits, create more time (borrow time from the future as Professor Anyamba would say) to accommodate all the responsibilities you need to balance. You will need to get things done. It’s the only way to grow.

Dream. Strategize. And work.

Watch this.

bahrain grand prix

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.

 

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I’m not going to pretend I know much about the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

I know a few facts. Some of the drivers’ names, teams, how their cars look like and their numbers. I also know I went to Bahrain and I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have experienced this. Heck, was it even real? The only proof I seem to accept, despite the thousands of pictures I have on my camera roll, are the selfies I took with my family with the Bahrain International Circuit tower in the background.

Since childhood, I’d watch the Formula 1 brief highlights after news in the sports segment, with the most memorable bit of the event being how the drivers shake up and pop a bottle of champagne with cameras flashing in their face to celebrate their wins. I never paid much attention, mostly wondering when my dad would be done watching the news so I could just change the channel and have the remote to myself. How I wish I paid more attention hah! Who knows, you could end up watching the F1 live one day. Unbelievable.

Growing up in Kenya, the closest I got to anything Formula 1 was this once when Michael Schumacher’s race car was brought on display at The Carnivore. I was about thirteen/ fourteen years old at that time. We didn’t go but at least it was in Nairobi. Fast forward to Bahrain. The thrill of watching from the bleachers is utterly unbelievable. The fast cars, sounds, crowds cheering and die hard fans waving their flags to show their support. The desert heat, and how the sweat gets your clothes to stick on your skin! On the last day, the race was so intense that we could smell the rubber against the tarmac from our stand. I can’t imagine how the drivers feel in their cockpits, it must be such a rush and one must be intensely present in the moment.

The event lasted three days, 15th 16th and 17th April. Day 1 was like a rehearsal, day 2 determined the pole positions (where the cars start the race from but here’s a Google definition as well 😀 ) and day three was the finale. The second day was one of the most fun things I’ve experienced in my life so far as we got to attend the post-race concert where we got to watch Enrique Iglesias and Steve Aoki perform live! We couldn’t stay long enough to finish the entire concert because of our curfew haha but it was waaaay more than I’d ever dreamed of witnessing. Stay tuned for that in a separate post 🙂

I also have an idea for a post about some life lessons I learnt watching the Grand Prix so stay tuned for that too.

In the mean time, here are a few pictures from the races.

Don’t stop dreaming 🙂