Tag: Travel

Exploring Maboneng.

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Location: Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg. South Africa.

Maboneng has been on my travel wish list for a long time now. It reminds me a little of the creative artistic vibe I got at Block 338 when I travelled to Bahrain last year, only rich in African art and culture so thick you can feel it in the air. Around the corners you’d find bands of musicians performing reggae and soul compositions. Amidst all this, the streets are filled with colour as artists sell their wares in temporary stalls, similar to Maasai Market in Nairobi. No comparisons, it’s just the best way to describe the vibe.

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I bought two malachite bangles from a lady selling little bibs and bobs, souvenirs and beaded jewellery. These added a flair to my look in the ‘photoshoot’ that followed shortly. I posted one of these photos on Instagram and the love I’ve received from you all was amazing, some even sharing that I look more confident, which I feel I’ve consciously been working on. I’m trying not to brood on mistakes but realize that it’s normal and integral for growth, and remind myself to instead focus on continuous self improvement one day at a time.

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I tipped this old man and his band so he sang a few lines dedicated to me which was kinda cool.

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The rich smell of coffee is too tempting to ignore so I satisfied my cravings at Little Addis Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant with authentic cuisine that also serves Ethiopian coffee, which is one of the best coffees in the world for its unique roast, flavour and brewing style. Here, they served it in a wooden pot with teeny white coffee cups I’ve also seen in Swahili households, and pop corn on the side for only R40, equivalent to about 4$. Coffee and pop corn go surprisingly well, if you’re wondering.

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A short walk around the precinct reveals more gems to explore next time, like Soul Souvlaki, pictured below, and others like Pata Pata and Uncle Merv’s.

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The architectural character is quite intriguing, with a mix of classical old buildings to contemporary lofts and container apartments. Fascinating. Maboneng is the kind of place for creatives, I left feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the week.

On a random note, in 2017 I’d always keep track of what day of the year it is, like today, Wednesday 15th August 2018 is day 226/ 365. Keeping track of the days like this always feels encouraging, like I have 139 days in the year to do more meaningful things. And then somehow I feel accountable and just want to fill my life with more life changing experiences, travel and beauty in all shapes and forms.

I could say an afternoon in Maboneng is good for the soul and spirit.

Useful links to check out when planning a visit to Maboneng:

I rely heavily on Google Maps when I’m new to a place. It not only is for navigation, but also when searching for local attractions and great places to eat. The links below may also be great for your reference.

www.gauteng.net 

www.mabonengprecinct.com

In Transit.

I don’t know when I stopped counting down the days in a year. It used to be a habit I started with the intent of making me more conscious and aware of time.

At that time, I felt like I was really chasing after something. Keeping track of my goals every day amidst anxiety, hope and extremely bourgeoisie dreams. It hit me the other day that I got drowned in working hard that I forgot that I initially had an end goal.

When you end up working so hard you lose track and forget your goals… Just working. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a moment of lucidity that prompts you to realize you got a little distracted on your goals. It’s great, because it will force you to sort of restart your system and get back on track.

Remember, the work is a stepping stone but it is not the end goal.

So you take a step back, take a deep breath and empty your mind. The world sort of goes quiet in those moments. And you get to watch your life from a few steps back and think, hey. I’m proud of you kiddo.

That lucid feeling descended on me on Thursday. I looked up to the sky and saw the thin crescent moon at around 4.30 pm marking The Islamic New Year, 1439. A new moon. A new year. It just seemed very special and magical in that moment.

I can’t describe what happened next but I felt the hairs raise on the back of my neck and arms, and the entire world went completely silent. And there I was – just staring at the Alzu Petroport view point.

There’s this pool where wildlife come to graze – I remember seeing zebras and buffaloes. It’s almost as if that moment overcame all my senses that I couldn’t really digest all that was before me. Like, I was in a dream.

We got only five minutes to take pictures then we were back on the road. It was a long ride, from Nelspruit to Sandton, and I’m grateful I got to see the sunset. The sun sets quite early around here – a huge ball of fire in the sky from around 5.30 – 6 pm. It’s magnificent.

Oh, and today is the 268th day of 2017. 268/ 365.

97 days remaining in 2017.

I need to do more memorable things.

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? 🙂