Thursday, 20 September 2018

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

collecting stories at airports

there was a security scare at frankfurt airport and i was stuck for a while, majority of my time was spent eating soft pretzels (at one point i bought five thinking i will ration them but i ate them one after another and have no regrets, tbh my only regret is not eating more). between eating, i spoke to others i encountered, here are a few of many people:

48 hours earlier, julien had been drinking a beer while steering a boat on a lake in kraków. he was then arrested by the 'boat police' and thrown in jail where he stayed for 24 hours, before being released and given a fine he doesn't intend on paying. he didn't speak any polish, and he didn't call the french ambassador when he was arrested because he didn't want to worry his parents. he says he was stripped fully, and then searched beyond that. he shared a cell with a chainsmoker and didn't eat the one meal he was served. he tells the story with humour and adds 'you know this story is way better in french, it's a shame you are hearing it in english because my english is... comment on dit, merde!'

ismael came to frankfurt 30 years ago, he is half turkish and half kurdish. he has two daughters with his first wife, who unfortunately passed away. he has another baby daughter now with his current wife. he spends all his spare time with his daughters and grandkids. 'they are schön,' he says, and shows me photos on his phone. 'sehr schön,' i respond. he tells me his mama passed away when she was 60 but his father is 104 and still kicking. i don't believe him and he shows me a photo, and yes, his father is literally kicking the air in one image dated last month. he kisses my hand goodbye and wishes me the best for this life.

she reminded me of a teacher i had when i was 11. she is visiting one of her daughters in frankfurt, her other children are based in england, canada, and the usa. she is en route to visit her sister in sweden. her husband and her mother both passed away in the last couple of years, and she says it's been difficult to move on. she has never migrated like the rest of her family because her husband and her always loved life in tehran. he was a professor in mathematics. her eyes light up when she mentions his past students still visit her, and view her as a second mother. she tells me things that i have been thinking about with my own family in the last couple of days—as if she was a godsend.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

divide and conquer

pineapple* bun

*no pineapple zone

Monday, 11 June 2018


this is something that happened almost six years ago. i was en route to shanghai after a few days by the li river in yangshuo. i left early in the morning, headed to the bus stop, and caught the next one available to guilin (from where i could take the train to shanghai).

upon arrival in guilin, everybody shuffled out of the bus. as i was the last one to alight, the bus driver looked at me and asked 'where are you off to?' i responded the train station, which i knew was a few hundred metres walk away. he leaned closer and warned 'hold on to your belongings. whatever you do, hold on to everything. thieves are everywhere.' i laughed and thanked him for the tip. 'no, this is no time to laugh. you have to hold onto everything, it's dangerous between here and the train station.' i nodded but felt blissfully ignorant and confident.

my phone was in my pocket (deep by pocket depth standards, there was no way someone was going to be able to reach into it without me noticing), and my belongings were all locked in my backpack.

when i was almost at the train station, i stopped by a small grocer for ice cream. as i was buying the ice cream, the man behind the counter asked me 'where are you going?' and i tell him i'm just going to the train station, which was now less than a 100 metres away. he looked at me, and said 'between here and the train station are plenty of thieves, makes sure you hold onto your belongings.' i looked down and could still feel the weight of my phone, so i didn't reach for it incase he was a thief.

this story could have ended here and the scars of that day would have never existed, but as i closed in on the train station, i decided to stop by the post office near the entrance to send some postcards. it was exceptionally dark for a public institution that was not a jail. suddenly i felt a hit to my body, i can't describe the sensation, i looked down and saw blood my pocket (deep as it was compared to standard pocket depths!) was turned inside out.

my phone was gone. 

sure, i noticed.

but my phone was gone.


those moments immediately after felt strange. my head started spinning and my stomach wanted out. i threw the postcards i had intended to send in the bin because the weight of five cards suddenly multiplied. i looked around to see the man who bumped into me walking out the door. i ran after him, out onto the street.

'you stole my phone,' i said to him. 

he turned to look at me, there were some people who stopped to see his response and he laughed. 'i didn't,' he said with a smile, 'but there are a lot of thieves around, you have to be very careful, and hold onto everything!' he got on his motorbike, and before i could gather my next thought, he drove off.

later when i finally got to file a police report they kept asking me if the thief was uyghur (he wasn't), berated me, blamed me, and said i deserved what happened because i was 'travelling instead studying'. 


Sunday, 21 January 2018

stingray bay

all the footsteps
on the cove,
were ours

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

a matter of love

my sister

1, 2, 3, 4

Saturday, 25 March 2017

mind the gap

navigating youth
her mind: a map
without a legend

Monday, 6 February 2017

through aragon

for the first day of the year we were on the road, stopping in a town of few houses to eat our packed lunch in an empty park. everything was quiet and overcast. barcelona had been nothing but warm, no more than a couple of hours inland my bones felt raw.

when we did arrive in zaragoza (much later in the day). we hid in a tapas bar while we waited for our airbnb host. there are people who own eateries because they love it, and then there are people who download recipes from the internet and hang up an open sign because they need money. this place was the latter and it made me feel terrible, but for love or survival, gotta respect their hustle.

we saw the old town later at night. wow, i guess it's hard to explain, and i may have been under the influence of freezing temperatures, but things looked big and small at the same time, as though someone brought a toy town to life size.

there were several establishments with the name goya.

him: goya was born in a village close by
me: goya is a brand of canned foods in america
him: francisco goya
me: black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans
him: he's a painter
me: adzuki beans, lentils
him: arrêt

we ate baked potatos with olives and called it an evening.

when you stop yourself from doing something you will think about it until it happens: and i woke up wanting churros. however! the churrerria i had seen last night on the way home was very closed at 8 am, but after a bit more wandering, we found a low key gem with people spilling out called 'la fama'. tip: order through the hole-in-the-wall outside. the dipping chocolate is questionable goop but no words are worthy to describe these churros, you know when food just moves you in a very emotional way?

*flicks tear from corner of eye*

Saturday, 4 February 2017


we stayed on the edge of town, where wild boars would wander onto the footpaths, and everyone in the neighbourhood owned at least one hunting dog. sometimes i wonder if i have ever been to a city more vibrant than barcelona (no). with the exception of driving (cars literally hit both vehicles in front and behind them to park), this place has everything a traveller could want (sorry for overcrowding your resources though barcelona). my two highlights of many (and apologies they are food related):

bar celoneta sangria bar: they serve alcohol free sangrias (thumbs up), but the food drew us back twice, including for a 9 course meal on new year's eve. the neighbourhood (la barceloneta) is crowded with holiday makers possibly all from marseille but give or take a few.

les escales: small cafe in the suburbs where i ate the best bread of my life. they served life changing hummus too. that being said i hadn't ate any fresh hummus for years, and the life change hasn't been big. change yes. big change no.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

catalan country

santa pau

we made the drive here to get guitar strings. knobloch sounds like you're being blessed by an angel, but nobody was home when we knocked on their door. which made sense, nobody answered their phone either when we called hours earlier from barcelona. i felt like an investor who defied common sense to strike a deal, lose, but soon realise the real deal was something else all along. look at the village! we ran up the castle stairs, rolled down the damp hills, and jumped across the moat only getting our knees dirty. i felt nothing but joy and it was beautiful.