Thursday, 20 October 2011


I love Winter. Yes, it may be freezing and it's difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Here in Northern Europe, you run the risk of contracting pneumonia when you step out of the shower and the water on your body immediately turns icy cold. The heating bills are ridiculous. There's nothing worse than getting snow in your shoes. Hanging baskets of colorful flowers disappear from alleys, windows and doorways.

However, you also get to get all bundled up in your scarf, cute winter coat, gloves and boots. You get to snuggle up with your hot water bottle or some hot chocolate. I love the smell of cold in the air. I love it when it gets dark at 3pm. I love the sound of frosted grass scrunching up underneath your feet. You don't get a lot of grass in the city centre, like where I live in Edinburgh, but there are gorgeous gardens which are just as nice to walk through in the winter as they are in the summer. I wish I had a little dog (a pug or a chow) I could walk with! I live in the Old Town, where things haven't really changed since Medieval times, and even when the sky is grey the place has so much colour - it's so picturesque! The city centre is famous for it's Christmas and New Year celebrations, old buildings are illuminated different colours and there are lights everywhere. Little old pubs which line closes (narrow passageways between tenaments or old buildings. They've got a really interesting history, walking down them brings you back hundreds of years) light fires and you can pop in and get a hot toddy to keep away the cold, or if you don't drink they all do hot drinks like tea and coffee too. So many places around the world are so beautiful but this city really makes me appreciate European (particularly) Scottish style and architecture.

Some pictures of Edinburgh in the winter (Which I didn't take, I'd love to though - I need a camera!)

Photo Credits
1 2 3 4 5

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Haifa Wehbe teams a Burka with a boob tube

Lebanese popstar Haifa Wehbe turned up to the opening of the Nawa3em website wearing this, saying:

Dress code is Khaliji tonight, but I'm not sure I'll follow the rules. I'll wear what I wear.

Haifa's face veil is a bling bling version of the Khaleeji burka. I love the look of these burkas from the Gulf (Khaleej), completely different from the long Afghan style full body burkas mostly talked about in the media. It's said that these beautiful pieces, which can be so glam and gorgeous like a lot of Khaleeji style, were made to imitate a falcon. Sunglasses, bracelets and other high fashion accessories have been made to imitate this style of burka in recent years. Any thoughts on how Haifa's done it?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Mosque Kitchen

Picture a Mosque, where, at the back when it's not prayer time, Muslims and non Muslims of all walks of life congregate daily to eat, chat and give charity. This is Edinburgh Central Mosque, Scotland. Started a number of years ago to raise money for Scottish and Afghan charities (all profits go to these causes - the kitchen is run by volunteers) the mosque has attracted many loyal customers - most of whom are non Muslim. It's great to go to University and hear people raving about the food at the Mosque - the food is cheap, plentiful and authentic. It serves authentic Indian and Pakistani food, and although the menu is not large, portions are so generous and tasty at half the price of neighbouring curry houses that it is definitely one of the most valued eateries in the city. However it is not like any other restaurant. Food is served canteen style and seating is expanded outdoors in this cold city, under cover of tarpaulin - it's a mosque after all. They've recently expanded further into a building near the mosque which serves food buffet and diner style.

The mosque itself was fashioned with the traditional features of a mosque like a minaret, but in the style of traditional Scottish architecture. So much about it is a model for integration and acceptance which goes both ways. Not only is it refreshing to be in a city where people spend time at the mosque and think nothing of it, and are even fond of it - as though it is any another restaurant but also the other way round. By welcoming non muslims into the fold, in such a universal way like food and charity, those at the mosque are reaching out too. The mosque has taken advantage of Edinburgh's almost constant stream of world famous festivals by holding educational events where everyone is welcome to come along and learn a bit about Islam, including art, science and history.

And to bring the point home, some of the workers are white, Scottish 'reverts'. It's a fantastic place. In this city, I haven't come across so much discrimination or ignorance and I think this is one of the reasons why.

Some quotes from Edinburgh Residents:

Legendary. If you're expecting ambience, luxury or proper cutlery don't come here. But it's places like this that give this city it's character - and the food is tasty at frankly unbelievable prices - Gavin

The offer huge dishes for next to nothing! The food is delicious and the people there are beyond wonderful.

It feels like you're getting a cuddle every time you're in here, it's a total diamond in the rough! 
- Emily

This is the best. place. in. Edinburgh. ever. - Julia.