Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Today I saw my new favorite movie in Icaria "Secret Life of the Words" by a Catalan director, Isabel Coixet. Beautiful, beautiful film.

So, on the way back, I took some photo of the new city landscape building, 'AGBAR' (Aguas de Barcelona)...a Spanish water company, which is also known to Nabí´s 87 year-old aunt as the ´suppository´, or as the rest of the city calls it, ´la Polla´...:)

dinner party with Alfred and José

dinner menu:

pumpkin and sweet potato soup with coconut milk
broccoli and tofu in creamy garlic peanut sauce
Thai fish cake with cod, cilantro, lime, green chili and red curry
chocolate cheesecake

Thai fish cakes

guests of honor:
Alfred and José

photo by: Nabí

Friday, October 28, 2005

an average outing

This month is a rare month when I am actually at home a lot, so today was one of the rare days when I went out...we had to stock up for a dinner party on Sunday. So here it goes:

Nabí walking down the stairs towards our parking space...I took this picture from the mirror behind him...looks like I´m stalking him, LOL

the second building on the left is the famous Casa Batlló on Passaig de Gracia in Barcelona, I like how the building next to it is under construction, and subconsciously, it looks like the Catalan flag...subconscious? really?

the sculpture on top of the Tapies´ museum, looks very cool against the grey sky, this is diagonally to the LEFT of the previous building which was under construction

we pulled up next to this guy at a red light in Plaça Catalunya, for a while he was just dangling his cigarette out of his mouth, and for some reason, I couldn´t stop laughing, I think I could just do a whole portrait book on red light stops :) see below ´WELCOME TO BARCELONA´

our very favorite bakery in the city, completely out of the way, but absolutely worth it...this is Nabí walking out of Forn Boix, not looking as happy as one would expect

oops, I noticed there aren´t any photos of the actual dinner shopping in the grocery store, we ran out of time, and the rest of the trip wa a quick blur, probably due to my ´photo journalism´, but I think Spanish-Catalan grocery stores deserve an entire blog of its own, so another day!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Danish bread

since our trip from Stockholm, we have been longing for the breakfast bread from Louise's house everyday. Nabí has been trying to crack the code by doing online searches on recipes. These two loaves are from his third attempt and I was stunned at how beautiful they turned out (pun intended :) It is not exactly like the grocery Danish bread we had, but I think these are way better, thanks, B! This bread mainly uses rye flour and cracked rye grains...mmmmmm

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Berlin - a weekend across times

Last weekend we went to Berlin to meet up with a few good friends. I have not been back to Berlin since the early 90's and to be honest, none of it looked very familiar. Contrary to me, since he has lived here for six years, Nabí knows the city like the back of his hand, a very detailed hand indeed, for such a large city.

One of the things which stayed with me was a story on the wall from the Jewish museum which we visited. Since I was reading William Darylmple´s From the Holy Mountain at the time, I noticed a story about a Jewish family which emigrated to Palestine. Years ago, I would have thought it to be the most natural thing, but since reading the book, I have then realized that some of these ´families´ who have settled in Palestine, have done some of the same atrocious deeds to the Palestinians in the Palestine. I wonder when they will erect a similar museum in Israel for all the Palestinians? I felt my belief system could be so fragile and subjective, I wondered that, in this world, is there a true right or wrong? or is it all limited to who we know and what we know? Is it so important to label everything right or wrong, or do we just need to label everything in order to feel righteous and at ease with ourselves? And if we don´t establish what is right or wrong, how do we learn from our past and from our mistakes?

Hot airballoon behind the Holocaust Monument

Luckily, before I became any more morose, we had plenty of friends to cheer us up by taking us to the happier parts of the city.

beautiful old train station

astounding new-er buildings near the Potsdam Platz

lagging behind, contemplating the meaning of life...not :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Santorini - a place which can be arrived only through a dream

written after honeymoon in April, 2003

Dearest Friends,

Greetings from Spain after two and a half weeks in Greece!!
We have been enchanted and entrapped by the magic and the sweetness of the Greek Island, Santorini. After spending a bit of time there, here are some memories we would like to share with you, we hope it makes an entertaining read.

the Agean Sea
thanks to our friends from Athens, Dora and Antigoni, we were recommended to go before the tourist season begins, which also means the weather would be less predictable than the tourist season as well. We got to see Santorini in all of its different disguises, often within one day. The northern winds plus the volcanic formation of the island can often create some powerful tornado-like ´breezes´...yet on other days, we could lay on the beach in our swim suits (or not ;) and drink in all the sun. Sometimes there would be a sudden fog which was so thich that we couldn´t see each other. By the end of the day, there were often the most unbelievable sunsets right from our balcony with the view of the volcano, which still puffs sulfuric breaths from the rocks. But against the vast blue Agean Sea, with its most audible silence one could imagine, anything and everything appears timeless and endless, as if the world is only made of blue sea.

Spring in Season
whoever said ´nothing grows on volcanic islands´ obviously didn´t mean Santorini, at the moment, the entire island is covered with white daisies, its abundance is so great that from afar, the entire island looks light green because of its mixture of white, yellow and green. Against the backdrop of the daisies, there are bright purple stalks of flowers, shockingly red poppies and buttercups which the sheer size of them would make any poppy blush even more!! If one looks closers, small area rugs of tiny blue forget-me-knots can also be seen. We tried not to step on them because they are so close to the ground. It really makes the heart flutter to see an island be painted in such vivid shades and colors and when the breeze comes through, it is accompanied by the aromas of wild thyme, rosemary and lavender.

the beaches
there are so many beautiful beaches on the Greek islands, we hardly know what to say. But Dora is right, this is the perfect time to go, most of the beaches are completely deserted, but the sun has already embraced the sea enough for us to swim in. The landscape vary so drastically, at our favorite red beach, there are three dramtically different sights: the dark red cliffs and sand, the pitch black rocks and sand, and of course, the beautiful white sand, all three are divided by nature, so from afar, one could see first the red, then the black, then the white. Pumice stones and sea sponges are littered everywhere on the beach, often the only company we had were the few fishing boats passing from afar.

our friends on the islands, the street animals
unlike in a metropolitan city where you see only dogs chained to a person with a small scrap of newspaper in hand, ready to ...
on the Greek islands, I honestly believe there are more animals roaming about than human inhabitants, and they are free to roam about the island, and probably because they are free, they are also very friendly. Hiking or driving, we REGULARLY saw donkeys, sheep, goats, hens and roosters, and of course, dogs and cats, and ah yes, the fish in the shallow sea. They appear in the most unexpected yet natural places, for instance, once we were on a rented moped, cruising around in Ios, we had to stop on a small highway to let a gigantic flock of goats cross, complete with a young sheppherd and his skillful whistles, plus his cell phone. Here are two other funny and sweet incidents:

Zorba, the pious ´Tom-dog´
one day we chanced upon a small orthodox church in Oia on Santorini,

we were attracted by the three men outside the church, with big ropes in hand, ready to ring the three bells on top of the church to announce the beginning of a daily service. As we came closer to the front door, we saw a small black and white dog, sitting squarely outside the threshold, directly facing inside the church, not being disturbed by the deafening sound of the bells nor the passing members entering the church.

Nothing could divert his attention away from whatever he was waiting for from inside the church for the longest time. 15 minutes later, another bigger (say, HUGE) dog came from somewhere, after a few seconds of the usual sniffing each other´s behind, Zorba, the name we lovingly gave to the black and white dog, started to hump the bigger dog from behind, right in the midst of all the church goers. Maybe it´s a common sight on the island, but nobody but us seemed to find it amusing, with its appropriate sequence and location of the story. Anyway, after 1 or 2 minutes of copulating, Zorba returned to the church door and sat down again to face the inside, by this time, the service is well on its way, but the door stayed open, perhaps to let the latecomers enter freely, so we decided to stay by the dog and observe some of the service. We, the three of us, Zorba, Nabí and I, must have made a very nice picture for some of the other tourists passing by, waiting outside with our camaras and looking rather respectful and quiet, sitting outside the church.

They all came by and petted the quiet Zorba and smiled at us, but before too long, began Zorba´s decreasing patience for whatever he was waiting for inside. Meanwhile, the ceremonious service inside was coming to its climax, one could hear the chanting of the entire congregation getting louder, and magnificently robed priests and candle holders were passing by the door entrance with Zorba sitting close by the door, whimpering and shaking his tail frantically. Zorba´s patience soon dwindled down to nothing when all of a sudden, whimpers became high-pitched howls, nothing could stop him.

The tourists looked at us uncomfortably as they passed, and some of the old ladies by the door gave us regular death stares from inside the service, as if we were howling ourselves. Anyway, the story ended when one lady decidedly came out to chase poor Zorba away, we will never know for what or whom Zorba was waiting for, or whether he just wanted to partake in the ceremony, but we were thoroughly happy to have spent some of our afternoon with the church that day.

our last night with an overnight guest

we have been feeding a kitten who came to visit us rather regularly, but as all cat lovers know, cats come and go, you love them and they leave you. This little cat came to us again on our last day there, we decided to feed him, and eventually he stayed late enough, we invited him inside and had dinner with us. After dinner, he could barely keep his eyes open, and fell asleep on Nabí´s knees, and when we tried to put him down on the couch, he climbed back on his arm and stayed sleeping. When it was time for us to go to sleep, we didn´t have the heart to put him outside, so we left him on the couch for the night. He must have been very tired and slept there without moving most of the night. About 4am, he whimpered out a few meows, so we let him out, and a few minutes later, heard him begging to come in again. We didn´t wake up to open the door again, but we wish him a nice life, filled with lots of fresh fish from the fishmongers and other tourists.

in closing
there are so many more beautiful images and stories in our memories, we shall treasure them forever.

We thought of all the friends who came out for our wedding from afar and nearby, as well as the friends who couldn´t make it. We hope to see everyone again very soon.

Much love, Heidi and Nabí

Monday, October 24, 2005

L' esmolet - the art of street knife sharpening

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I still jump out of bed every time at the sound of the sweet and shrill whistle of the Esmolet, the old man who bikes around the city, offering to sharpen housewives´ knives. Although I have never seen him stop to actually sharpen anyone´s knife, I like the idea and hope that he continues to come around for a long time.

La Catedral - photo by Kari Torkkola

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Can Fart - (Home of the Full)

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in Catalan, one of the two official languages here in Catalunya (the other one being Castellean), the word "Can" is an old word for home, and "Fart" means full (stomach)...this sign is on our way to La Garriga, where Nabí´s parents live. We pulled over to get this photo...ironically enough, every time we go to his parents´ place, after we stuff ourselves to death, we drive by ´Can Fart´...

"Welcome to Spain"

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this photo was taken while we were driving in our van, we loved his 'welcome to Spain' vest, on the front of the bike, he also had a little radio, complete with speakers and a small plastic dinosaur head...we particarly loved the fact that he waited at the red lights along with all the cars