Category Archives: culture

Indian Diaspora in Africa

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Indian Diaspora in Africa

May is a special month in my household, well, for my mother at least! Because it’s Mothers day (May 13th), my parents anniversary (May 8th) and her birthday (May 24th). She’s had it good lol. So I wanna talk about her, her history and where she is from.

My mom was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. So basically she’s African ha. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get information about my family roots and history just because it’s something that interests me and I think its important to know my roots. Supposedly my family (on my dad’s side) has some list tucked away in some temple or something in India with names upon names of relatives from back in time to now to create a family tree (I💖this!!!) My next trip home (I mean India when I say that) I have to inquire about this more from relatives who told me about it and GET MY HANDS ON THAT LIST!!!!!

I guess these days a lot of people don’t realize how large the Indian population is in Africa – because it seems like we are all in America, Canada, UK and Australia, outside of the motherland, obviously. I have met brown people in England who have such strong Africa roots, that they are clueless about their Indian roots. It’s just sad that down the road it’s going to become more blurry for all Indians in the diaspora. I remember once meeting someone in England, and when I asked them where they are from (expecting either a town/city name or region in India) and they said “Tanzania”…and I was like “okay, where are your grandparents from”….same answer. đŸ˜ŹđŸ€ŻđŸ€Š I kept trying to get the answer I was looking for but they just wouldnt budge. They didn’t have any details on India because they claimed that their great, great, great grandparents have been settled in Tanzania and they don’t know anything about India (đŸ€š!) even though I can’t remember their name right now but it was either Khan or Patel!

Thankfully, I’m not that kid!! And I know where my grandparents are from 😁 lol – my mothers parents are from a village not far from Amritsar and moved/settled in Nairobi after they got married for my grandfather’s work related reasons. She’s told me stories of how beautiful a country Kenya is and I used to wonder if she ever missed it or wanted to go back for a visit, because she left right before my parents got married and never returned. The only couple other noteworthy thing she’s told me is that she went to an all-Indian school and also they had a family servant who they taught how to speak fluent Punjabi in our house.

Here are a few facts about Indians settled in Africa:

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  • The Indian diaspora in Southeast Africa consists of approximately 3 million people of Indian origin.
  • South Africa is home to the largest population of people of Indian descent in Africa, at 1.3 million, mainly in Durban. In fact, Durban is sometimes called the “largest Indian city outside India” – though this claim has not been determined conclusively.
  • Although most East Africans believe that the people of Indian origin in the region are descendants of the laborers who built the Kenya-Uganda railway, this is not actually the case. About 32,000 indentured workers were brought in from India (mainly from the Punjab) to build the railway, but the majority returned after their contracts ended. Only about 7,000 chose to stay.
  • After the railway opened up East Africa for trade, and large numbers of “free” emigrants, mainly from Gujarat, followed in the years after many of the laborers from Punjab left. They came and set up trading posts deep in the interior, and became the traders and merchants of East Africa.
  • Remember that little boy named Gandhi (😜hello history lesson!!😂) he was 24 when he arrived in South Africa in 1893 to work as a legal representative for the Muslim Indian Traders based in the city of Pretoria. He spent 21 years there before returning to India.
  • In 1972, military dictator, Idi Amin, announced the expulsion of all persons of Asian origin in Uganda. The majority of those expelled went to the UK, Canada and Kenya. (so yeah – explains the British kids who think they are African when their last name is Patel – ALSO explains why in England they refer to Indians/Pakistani’s as “Asians”)
  • I need some less boring facts…….
  • One of India’s biggest cultural exports to Africa has been Bollywood, and it’s popular not just among the Indian diaspora. One unlikely place where Bollywood has long enjoyed immense popularity is Nigeria, particularly in the Muslim-majority north – which does not have any significant Indian immigrant community whatsoever.
  • One of the most popular of all Indian films in Nigeria is the 1957 classic film Mother India. A record from a popular entertainment magazine noted in 2013 that some people in the audience of a theatre showing the film had already seen the movie 15 times and sang along to all the Hindi songs (although their native language is Hausa).

SINCE THAT WAS KINDA BORING, HERE ARE SOME FUN FACTS ABOUT NAIROBI:

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  • Just like New York has yellow cabs, Nairobi has “Matatus” which is a slang word for mini buses used for transportation.
  • Matatus are famous for their hype graffiti! Art representing pop culture, music, celebrities, etc are all painted colorfully on the body of the buses!

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  • The Nairobi National Park is set in the city’s southern suburbs and is the most famous aspect of the city. What’s so amazing about this is you will find a sprawling field with wild animals with a backdrop of the city’s magical skyline! It’s the only place in the world you can capture lions hunting in the morning, and in a few minutes you are in a fancy shopping mall looking at Cartier watches.

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  • Nairobi has the most number of malls in Kenya. The top shopping malls include Thika Road Mall ( TRM), Yaya Centre, The Junction and Garden City.
  • Nairobi was once a swamp. The skyscrapers of Nairobi sit on what was once a large swamp that Maasai pastoralists referred to as a place of cool waters. Over the century, this city has grown and extended over three counties to form the greater Nairobi metropolitan area. Now, Kiambu, Kajiado and Machakos counties are part of the greater Nairobi area.

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Anyways, just wanted to give a shout out to my very favorite human on this planet and the place she grew up during her most special month. 💖 Her history, her life, culture, traditions, values, ways, teachings, blessings, ssacrifice, etc all make me, so gotta be thankful!

Everyone has their own rendition of where they think they are from. Living in a city like New York, people get asked a zillion times a day where they are from – the question can mean multiple things, and people will most likely answer with what they consider to be the strongest culture they represent – or what they assume the other person means. Travel and this melting pot of a world, we come across many different people from everywhere and not all of them look what one figures is “typical” of that region. We also come across many people from other parts of the world that immigrate and assimilate (forgetting or maybe not forgetting their roots) and I always have to stop and stare when I see someone who looks of a certain culture speaking fluently in a completely different language (example: Chinese people speaking fluent French – or I don’t know a black person speaking perfect Hindi)

hashtag traveldiscoveries 🙂

-Karen Bahri

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Lath Mar Holi – aka Holi gone Violent!

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Holi – the celebration of spring, the festival of colors originating in India is the festival that signifies good over evil as well as the welcoming of spring.  For many, it is a festive time to meet others, play, laugh, forget and forgive, repair broken bonds and spread happiness and positive vibes.

Different regions in India, as well as the diaspora, like to add their own unique twist to this colorful festival. Lath Mar Holi is a celebration in the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon, which are near Mathura in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. This celebration takes place days before actual Holi.

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Lath Mar Holi translates loosely into something like “the hitting sticks Holi ” – A LATH/Lathi is a thick traditional type of stick. Mar (I think it should be spelled in English like MAAR, because Mar means to die) means to hit. You get me..

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According to legend, Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s village on this day and playfully teased her and her friends (*insert eye roll* Siiggghhhhhhh!).

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Don’t even think about messing with me, Krish!!! I’m warning you….

The women of Barsana, taking offense to this, chased him away. 

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I don’t think much has changed in this day and age!

Keeping this tradition alive, the men from Nandgaon visit Barsana each year – and each year the women of Barsana await them, Lathi in hand! 

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(It’s like they never get it!)

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The men try to shield themselves as much as they can while the ladies attack them with the sticks – hahahah!

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don’t mess with me, homie!

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The unlucky ones are captured and then are forced wear female clothing and dance in public. (*I need that one emoji*)

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The festivities are held in the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple in Barsana, which is said to be the only temple in the country that is dedicated to Goddess Radha.

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Thousands gather to witness the festivities and watch the men get beat up by the women! And let me tell you, like any desi party, the crowd getssssss hysterical, sing Holi Songs and shouting out for their team!! Sri Radha vs Sri Krishna. It’s insane! It’s so insane, the women of Barsana start preparing a month in advance.

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Holi is one of the largest festivals in India. In general, it signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring and the end of winter. People typically throw kaleidoscopes of colored powder/water at each other playfully.

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Growing up in the US, I have fond memories of DANCE PRACTICE for Holi shows in school and within the community.  I used to do choreographed dances on stage for functions, as I think most kids in my generation did.

I hope you have a very kaleidoscopically colorful, joyous Holi – and ladies, please don’t go chasing any men with sticks – you most likely are not in Barsana and we have laws here! 🙂 HAPPY HOLI!

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-Karen Bahri

 

Raja Sapra – Changing the Face of Fashion

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Raja Sapra – Changing the Face of Fashion

It was a gloomy Thursday and I was on the train scrolling through my Instagram, when I ran across a post that people kept reposting and reposting. The post read basically as followed:

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And if you saw the pics attached to this message – they were pretty cringe…let me show you:

 

I don’t want to get too involved in the politics but as a proud Punjabi, I do have to say shame on you Gucci. Quite a disappointment.

Anyways I had to reach out to the person who created this post. This post that spread worldwide on social media to create awareness on this topic. I actually did not expect a reply, but I actually got a very appreciative and kind message back from Raja Sapra. From there I got the opportunity to learn about this amazingly ambitious British Asian lad making his mark in the world of fashion!

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I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with the young, hip, stylish Raja Sapra who is an extremely bright and talented fashion blogger/influencer and model based out of London.

He began blogging about fashion on his own about a year ago. He would go out and purchase his own clothing and created his own photo shoots. He then would post them on his Instagram and would tag the brands. One bright, blue sunny day in the month of June, NEW LOOK approached him – and just like that he got signed for a year! Go on to their Instagram page (newlook_men) and check him out!

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If you take a look through his Instagram photos, he is always creating fresh, creative, unique photos, not only in London but also in various locations he carefully picks out all throughout the UK. You will notice that he has put an effort into keeping his content unique and consistent, which is why his content stands out!

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Something Sapra should be proud about is he was literally the only Sikh at London Fashion Week this year! I do hope that changes in the future and more people of all faiths, colors, and backgrounds walk the ramps, but it’s a big deal for Raja and his journey and it’s definitely a big deal for our entire Punjabi community! He’s done shoots for many major brands in the UK such as River Island, Moss Bros, New Look, Primark etc!

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During LFW, he took over the Instagram stories of Moss Bros on day one, day two he walked the ramp for New Look, and for the rest of fashion week he was invited to numerous shows.

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He’s accomplished a lot in 22 years of age with the support of his family. He has a bright future ahead and hopes to one day be an ambassador for the British Fashion Council! I am sure he will achieve this and much more as he has a very positive energy and spirit!

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Raja, continue what you are doing and remember to put yourself first. You are already successful but your future looks so bright! Keep making our community proud!

Jump on the gram and check out his page @iamsapra

He also has a fun blog filled with tons of mens fashion and will soon be adding a travel section: http://iamsapra.co.uk

ALSO!!!! I am very excited to ANNOUNCE that RAJA SAPRA will be the OFFICIAL INFLUENCER at INTERNATIONAL FASHION WEEK AMSTERDAM!!! He will also be modeling. We are very honored to have him be apart of our efforts to CHANGE THE FACE OF FASHION, and broaden peoples minds in a positive way using Fashion! Keep looking out for more updates on the show at IFWAmsterdam on Instagram and STAY TUNED!!!!!

-Karen Bahri 

 

Alacati, Izmir, Turkey – add this to your bucket list!

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Alacati, Izmir, Turkey – add this to your bucket list!

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Alaçatı is a unique Mediterranean town on Turkey’s ÇeƟme Peninsula, on the Aegean Sea. It’s known for its beaches, old stone houses, narrow cobblestone streets, vineyards and windmills.

 

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Alacati made its name in the world of windsurfing and kitesurfing, with its crystal clear water and consistently steady wind for over 150 years now. The Professional Windsurfing Association (PWA) Windsurfing World Cup is held here every year in August.

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What stands out the most about Alacati is that it is largely undiscovered outside Turkey, yet, many Turks, including several national celebrities, spend their holidays to escape the more touristy scene in Bodrum.

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Quiet and sleep a beach town it lays by day, but Alacati buzzes at night!

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The pictures do all the talking. Definitely something to consider adding to your 2018 travel itinerary!

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The best time to plan a trip is from the end of April through May or from September through October, when temperatures are still high (reaching over 20C), and prices are at their best value.

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-Karen Bahri

 

 

The Most Wonderful time of the Year – German Editon!

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The Most Wonderful time of the Year – German Editon!

It’s the holiday season and so many cities around the globe are known to attract tourists as they deck the halls to the max! Many countries draw crowds for their own traditional holiday touch and Christmas markets are great places to discover provincial traditions, but no one does Christmas quite like Germany! Known as Christkindlmarkts (Christ child markets) or Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas, or Holy Night, markets), Germany’s holiday markets have been recorded as early as 1310! Here are 11 of the country’s can’t-miss markets.

Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt

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Widely considered by many Germans to be one of the most traditional markets in the country, Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is an excellent spot for those looking for a hint of nostalgia! Known as one of the most beautiful markets in Europe, the main Stuttgart market, comprises nearly 300 stalls,  is set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Old Palace.

Munich Marienplatz Christmas Market

With over 20 different markets in Munich, there is something for everyone; from a medieval market with gospel choir, to the gay-friendly Pink Christmas Market, where wares are sold from pink and purple pagodas with added cabarets and shows. The Kripperlmarkt  specializes in all things Nativity. For something completely different, the Tollwood Market is an urban cultural festival offering a diverse range of international music, drama and cuisine. The main market in the city of Munich, though, is the Marienplatz Market.

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One will find a gigantic fir tree lit up brightly as the centerpiece of the market, with more than 3,000 lights! Dating back to the 14th century, this market remains quite traditional. Predominantly loaded with Bavarian produce, unique Christmas gifts and delectable treats, this market will undoubtedly fill you with the holiday spirit!. Concerts are played daily and you can look down on the sights of the market, well away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd, from the balconies of the spectacular town hall.

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Few Christmas markets are as incredibly beautiful as the one in Rothenburg, a walled medieval city dating back to 950. Come December, the town transforms into a winter wonderland, and the market—which has been occurring since the 15th century—is its crown jewel! The Reiterlesmarkt is held on a medieval stage and Rothenburg is illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights! Unlike cosmopolitan Berlin and Cologne, Rothenburg has an entirely different feel, with smaller markets and a more intimate setting.

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Rothenburg’s Schneeball (snow ball) is a must-try for those with a sweet-tooth, made from strips of sweet fried dough covered in powdered chocolate or sugar.

Dresden Striezelmarkt

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With accounts dating back to 1434, Dresden’s Christmas Market, traditionally known as Striezelmarkt is the oldest in Germany. The Striezelmarkt boasts both the world’s tallest Nutcracker, and the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid. The highlight of the market is the Stollen Festival on the second Saturday in Advent.

Leipzig Christmas Market

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Second only to Dresden, Leipzig otherwise lays claim to the oldest Christmas market in Germany, tracing its origins back to 1458. Here, in front of the Old Town Hall where Johann Sebastian Bach signed his employment contract, you’ll find everything from a ferris wheel to a Finnish village!

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

In front of the impressive backdrop of Cologne’s landmark cathedral, this market has all of the expected bells and whistles: your glĂŒhwein, your crafts, your twinkling lights. One thing that stands out, however, is its entertainment, which comprises more than 100 stage performances through the duration of the festival.

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Apart from the Cathedral, the Alter Markt is the place to go for children — with a Santa’s grotto, puppet theatre and stands filled with toys. The Rudolfplatz will transport children to the world of the brothers Grimm, with fairytale figures and festive illuminations.

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Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

With the majestic Alps to the south and the medieval Imperial Castle perched proudly at the top of the Old Town hill, Nuremberg is a spectacular back drop for one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. The Kinderweihnacht, or Children’s Market, provides plenty of family fun, featuring an old-fashioned carousel, Ferris wheel, steam train and Nativity scene trail.

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Over 180 traditional stalls, blanketed in red and white cloth, ensure that this extremely popular market remains authentic. Modern and mass-produced goods are strictly prohibited and officials police the stalls to ensure that the vendors are offering the visitors hand-crafted wares in keeping with the tradition of the market.

Konstanz Christmas Market

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This sprawling market runs from the town center to the shores of Lake Constance, Germany’s largest lake. Tuck in to traditional KĂ€sespĂ€tzle, freshly made pasta with cheese; and spend some time on the ‘Christmas Ship’ moored in the harbor. Just be sure to bring extra layers!

Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market

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The snowy Black Forest is picturesque enough come wintertime, but this market in its midst manages to be even more Instagram-worthy. Here, over 40 stalls proffer handmade Christmas wares, while even more can be found nearby at the Hofgut Sternen Inn, where the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once stayed.

Frankfort

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Germany’s financial center taps into its inner medieval market town every holiday season with a Christmas market that dates back to 1393! Traditionally held with orchestras of carols chanting with religious mystery plays. These days you’re more likely to hear live music. Make sure to peek inside the 300-year-old timber Honey House, which sells pretty much any imaginable honey-related products. Fun fact: Poet Goethe was a fan of the Frankfurt market’s famous BethmĂ€nnchen, or marzipan cookies.

Freiburg Rathausplatz Market

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On the edge of the Black Forest, Freiburg’s medieval center looks straight out of a Brothers Grimm folk tale! The fair’s merchants, around 115 in total, sell their wares (beeswax candles, cuckoo clocks, blown glass) in the shadow of a 380-foot Gothic spire. The market opens every year with a ceremonial cutting and distribution of a giant Lebkuchen, or gingerbread loaf, to the waiting crowd.

 

 

Karen Bahri

 

 

Kazan, Russia’s Temple of All Religions:

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Kazan, Russia’s Temple of All Religions:

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The Temple of All Religions, or the “Universal Temple”, is an architectural complex in the Staroye Arakchino Microdistrict of Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia.

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As one reviewer on tripadvisor stated:

How much longer are we going to be divided by different religions? God equals Good. Here is one creation in the name of Greater Good.

Clustered tightly on a small plot of land, the complex consists of several cupolas, minarets and spires representing the religious architecture of 12 major religions of the world. There is a Christian cross, the Muslim crescent, the Star of David and the Chinese dome.

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Because it is not a functioning temple, no ceremonies are actually performed inside. The building is basically a cultural center which also serves as the residence of its owner – Ildar Khanov, and his assistants. Khanov is a local artist and philanthropist who practices spiritual healing upon willing subjects. Khanov is known for his efforts in the treatment of alcoholism, drug addiction, and various other diseases. His former and current patients help him to maintain and develop the Temple, either by direct involvement in the construction work or through sponsorship.

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Khanov believed that all religions are equal, and the Temple of All Religions was his way to bring them all under one roof. It was started in 1992 and still currently under construction.

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As the story goes, Ildar Khanov, a graduate from Kazan Art School, was an eccentric individual who claimed he met Jesus when he was just three years old. It was during the difficult years of the Great Patriotic War. Khanov almost died of starvation when Jesus saved him and showed him heaven and hell. According to him, it was then that he embarked on his journey as an artist and healer.

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The Temple has become a popular landmark in the city of Kazan, which takes pride in the peaceful combination of different cultures including Islamic Tatar, Orthodox Russian, and others. Khanov describes its mission, a “temple of culture and truth”. The Temple is visited both by tourists and by people seeking Khanov’s healing touch.

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-Karen Bahri

 

18 of the World’s Strangest town names

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18 of the World’s Strangest town names

Whenever I travel to England, my flight typically goes over Ireland (I’m the type to always have the map on to see where I am traveling over) and I always notice this one town name that makes me laugh – Kilkenny, Ireland. LOL! What a name! I recently met someone from Ireland and asked him if he’s ever been to Kilkenny. He told me it’s actually a very beautiful place! I couldn’t agree more.

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Here is a list of more odd city/town names around the world:

1. Rest and Be Thankful, Argyll and Butte, Scotland

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2. Moron, Mongolia

Fine. it’s actually “Mörön”

3. Silly, Belgium

The name of this town derives from its stream called the Sille (French) or Zulle (Dutch) and has no relation to the English world (But tell that to an American!)

4. Hot Coffee, Mississippi

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5. Egg, Austria

6. Eek, Alaska

7. Gogogogo, Madagascar

8. Disappointment Islands, French Polynesia

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Sparsely populated group of coral islands which are arid, and not especially conductive to human habitation.

9. Drama, Greece

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Dramatically stunning!

10. Monster, Netherlands

11. Christmas Pie, Surrey, England

12. Come By Chance, Canada

13. Chicken, Alaska

Chicken, Alaska is a community founded on gold mining and is one of the few surviving gold rush towns in Alaska.

14. Gofuku, Japan

15. Crapstone, UK

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16. China, Japan

Not to be confused with China, China 😛

17. Butthole Road, Doncaster, England

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Do you know anyone from there?!

and finally…

18. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales

Yes. A small village in Wales calls itself by a name with more letters than residents…

 

~Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

Maarkah New York Fashion Week Show

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Maarkah New York Fashion Week Show

New York Fashion week was last week and I had the pleasure of attending a few shows. One of my favorites – if not my favorite – was the Maarkah New York Fashion Week Show, by Runway Prestige. Maarkah is an Arabic word for Brand – which makes it the perfect name for this show as it is aimed to show off amazingly talented designers from the Middle East and Africa!

Runway Prestige is ran by Rabab Abdalla – who is an extraordinarily talented, sweet, amazing woman!

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I came to the show to see Houda El Fechka Eddiouane – who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Couture shows last year. I also wrote an article about her work from last years show: http://www.hautedvie.com/houda-el-fechka-eddiouanes-debut-couture-fashion-week-new-yorks-25th-season/

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She showcased two of her collections at the show. I would describe her 1st collection as modern and elegant.

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I would describe the 2nd collection as traditional and dazzling!

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She is an amazing Moroccan designer from the Netherlands. She is definitely one to follow on social media. Her Instagram is houdaee and her facebook is https://www.facebook.com/houda.elfechka

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The show lasted about 2.5 hours and there were designers from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America! The entire show was amazingly captivating! I could keep talking but the pics speak for themselves! Also, if I were to post all the pics from all the designers – we would be here forever! Also, I ran out of storage space!! (LOL) So here are juust a few of my favorites (before I ran out of space on my phone!!)

It would be tough for me to decide because ALL the outfits and models were stunning, but the first 3 are my top 3 favorites! For more (photos and videos) – go to my Instagram: karenskaleidoscope and lastly please follow Maarkah & Runway Prestige on Instagram, FB and Twitter (Runway Prestige only on twitter)! This was the first of MANY shows, so stay tuned for lots more from Runway Prestige!!

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The Queen of the Night!! #arabiannights ❀

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~Hi My name is Ms. Fabulous but you may call me “Ms. Fierce”~

 

-Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to add this Rainbow colored Indonesian village to your Bucket List!

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Time to add this Rainbow colored Indonesian village to your Bucket List!

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Just when you thought the world was becoming dull and lifeless, you discover a rainbow colored village in Indonesia!

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There has been a colourful makeover in the town of Kampung Pelangi, which literally translates to “Rainbow Village”, in Randusari, Indonesia. It’s bringing in tourists in flocks – and it’s all for a great cause!

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The town, originally called Kampung Wonosari, is home to 223 houses which have all recently been painted a minimum of three bright colors and decked out with fun, artistic murals which are so much fun to pose against and post up all over your instagram page! It’s an artists paradise!

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All this color has been provided thanks to funding from the government, who were hoping to banish it’s slum status as well as boost the tourism to the area. It’s certainly working, Instagram is filled with pictures of travellers in front of the colourful buildings and giant murals with their fun and creative poses!

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This project has greatly increased the economy in the village and has turned it from a slum to a thriving tourist destination you should definately add to your bucket list!

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-Karen Bahri

Travel back to 1910 England at the Black Country Living Museum!

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Travel back to 1910 England at the Black Country Living Museum!

I just returned from the UK and all I have to say about that was it was cold! Didn’t get to really do much unfortunately but I did get a chance to go to the Black Country Living Museum! It was actually a surprise and I didn’t know where I was being taken, and once we got there, I was explained in full detail of what exactly it was, because for an American, the name doesn’t really sound like what it actually is about! Haha!

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The Black Country Living Museum is an open-air museum of rebuilt historic buildings in Dudley in the West Midlands of England. It is located in the center of the Black Country conurbation, 10 miles west of Birmingham  (England’s 2nd largest city). The museum occupies 105,000 square meters (26 acres) of former industrial land partly reclaimed from a former railway goods yard, disused lime kilns and former coal pits.

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The Museum opened to the public in 1978, and has since added over 50 shops, houses and other industrial buildings from around the Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton (collectively known as the Black Country); mainly in a specially built village. Most buildings were relocated from their original sites to form a base from where demonstrators portray life spanning 300 years of history, with a focus on 1850-1950.

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The museum is close to the site where Thomas Dudley first mastered the technique of smelting iron with coal instead of wood charcoal and making iron enough for industrial use. Claimed to be “the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution”, the Black Country is famous for its wide range of midsteel-based products from nails to the anchor and anchor chain for the Titanic. I actually saw them make a nail!

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The site’s coal mining heritage is shown by an underground drift and colliery surface buildings. I was asked several times if I wanted to go inside the tunnel as you can but you have to wear the hardhat and it’s dark and creepy. I’m not so fussed about the dark and creepy part but more so about wearing the hat and getting hat hair! Lol! INSTEADDD..I really enjoyed peaking inside all of the home and seeing whst typical homes looked like back in the day!

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Another cool section of the museum was the theme park, or “fun fair” as they say in the UK! With old school rides, slides, swings and candy. Btw they call Cotton Candy “Candy Floss” lol.

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Oh yes, there was a tiny corner barn too, filled with pigs and chicken. 🐖🩃20170412_141145 20170412_141156

In addition to the barnyard crew, there were a couple garages filled with antique cars! What a treat!

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One thing I forgot to mention is the accent in this area is very different and distinct! Definately hard to understand for us “yanks” lol but fun to hear and it took me back to watching those disney christmas films from old school England (you know, Scrooge McDuck!!! Duhhhh!!) Here are a few more pics for you to enjoy! This museum is definitely worth the visit if you enjoy history and traditional village settings! I definately say check it out if you are ever up around the west midlands!

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-Karen Bahri