Sunday, 28 October 2018

what i've been #8

Hello! 

It's been a while. The last time I posted on my blog was on the eve of the 'big move' to university, possibly one of the biggest changes in my life thus far. Over a month later, I'm back on here alive and somewhat kicking (the hills here are no joke) to update you all about what has actually been going on in my life since I wrote that bitter-sweet ode to London.

what i've been doing-
Oh god. Where does one even start? I guess a simple answer would be going to university. A more complex one (which is what I'll actually be giving) is a shit tonne of stuff. I've been going to lectures (many of which start at 8am) and subsequently wondering how on earth I managed to wake up at 7am for a full week of school/sixth form, reading many an academic text, trying to decipher 16th century Spanish literature (I honestly did not sign up for this), cooking and actively trying to get my 5 a day in, meeting lots and lots of new people, battling freshers flue, experimenting with my style, going on trips to the beach, carving pumpkins, walking up and down hills, venturing into town, buying £1.50 Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the Forum for charity week, attending many a Latin night and surfing. There's a lot more but I don't want to bore you. My first 6 weeks at university have been strange to say the least and it's been a shock to the system to go back into academia after almost 4 months of summer and relaxation- in fact, I just did a summative Spanish presentation on Hispano-american literature on Thursday which I'm so glad to have gotten out of the way now. 

My dad and sister came over to Exeter last Friday and I think I had the best weekend yet, on Saturday we spent a day at Exmouth and the glorious weather meant that we could actually lie down on the sand *yes, sand!* and take the sun. We had Devonshire ice cream overlooking the sea, took pictures by the brightly coloured beach huts and had a long walk all the way to Orcombe Point where we saw the red cliffs of Devon. I can't wait to experience Exmouth in the summer and actually swim in the ocean and tan. I'll forever be grateful for the proximity to the coast, in London it's around 2 hours by train to get to Brighton which, don't get me wrong, is a fab city but it's very crowded and busy. The next day we went to Aldi to do my food shop, as you do, and then had pizza opposite the Cathedral and then brownies and hot drinks at Boston Tea Party. I've also been surfing which has been really fun. 
what i've been reading/watching-
I've really gotten into Bake Off this year, I only started watching a few weeks ago but it's now my favourite thing to catch up on every Friday night with a hot chocolate in hand. In terms of reading, I guess it's just been stuff related to my course- I have essays on chivalry and how women's work differed to men's work so my reading is very much focussed on that. I also read an article on the conservative 60s and what the right were doing during the left dominated civil right's movement which I really enjoyed- it was such an interesting read. I've read El Estudiante de Salamanca by Espronceda and it's such a great piece of Romantic literature, the ending is a very big shock to the system. I've also been working my way through some of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's works, just out of my own interest, and I would highly recommend Solo vine a hablar for telefono (I only came to use the phone in English) which had a crazy ending that honestly made me gasp.

what i've been listening to- 
Before I came to uni I made a playlist of Moroccan/French songs so I've been listening to that on my way to lectures. Dutch rap slaps as well, especially Moroccan-Dutch songs. You probably already know that I love a bit of reggaeton so I have a whole playlist of Spanish music which I honestly love to dance to whilst I wash dishes/hoover/do laundry/clean my bathroom etc. The instrumental to Jocelyn Flores by XXXTentacion is really nice 'white noise' music with super chilled vibes, I'm also really liking his song SAD! I understand he was a really controversial person but I've been enjoying his song.   I've kinda gone back to my roots and have been into J Cole, Drake and Travis Scott. The 1975 is coming to Exeter in January and I'm so tempted to go and see them play so I've been listening to their older albums. 

what i've been wearing-
This is a new one but clothes are such a big part of who I am. I bought a pair of navy Adidas Gazelle's after stealing my cousin's for the most of the summer and they've started replacing my white superga's (they're barely white tbh) I love how classic they look and they go so well with everything! I also bought two wrap tops a few weeks and I am so in love with them! I've always wanted the white American Apparel Julliard top but then they closed down in the UK which was so annoying. When they reopened their online store, I was so tempted by delivery charges put me off. So, I settled for some from Forever21 and I adore them, they're so flattering and are the perfect basics that go with all my patterned trousers (I have a lot) and high waisted loose leg jeans. My faux leather jacket I bought from Zara in Venice has been practically glued to my body since September, it's the perfect jacket for this in-between weather we're going through. 

what i want-
A pair of flared jeans, I've been seeing them on so many people and my sister, who spent the week with me, has been pushing me to get a pair. My mum will probably laugh at me for wanting a pair because I would literally shriek when she'd try to dress me in them when I was younger, but I mean fashion is a full circle. Another very unjustifiable 'want' is the Doc Marten Jadon boots which are like the 1460's that I already have but just with a platform. There is absolutely no need for me to spend £169 on them when I have a pair that are literally almost the same. Absolutely no need. 

what i've been anticipating-
a DM back from someone...jesus how hard is it!!! It's my reading week right now so I'm really looking forward to taking it a bit easier and catching up on sleep and my reading. I'm going out on Tuesday night and then to a house party for Halloween on Wednesday- I'm planning on going as a widow. My friend Ambra's coming to visit on Friday and we'll be going to Bath on Sunday for a day trip so I'm excited for that. I'm also so excited to go and see Bohemian Rhapsody in cinema, I'm going with a friend who is equally as enthusiastic as I am. Queen's music were the soundtrack to my earlier years so it'll be really nice to gain a bit more insight into their personal and professional lives. It also helps that I have a huge crush on Freddie Mercury. I'm going to Morocco in December which is going to be a first. December is the only time we actually have a whole family holiday as it means both my mum and dad can take time off work as opposed to summer, we usually go to European cities (e.g. Vienna last year) but my cousin's wedding is in mid/late December so we're all going for that. We're planning on either going to Marrakech or Agadir for a few days. It'll be my first time visiting Morocco in the winter so I'm excited to see what it's like. Also, Moroccan weddings are so so grande and extravagant so I'm looking forward to picking my kaftan (I'm thinking emerald green with gold embroidery), getting my hair and makeup done and eating lots of good food. I've gotten the urge to go inter-railing, I'm patiently waiting for the 29th of November so I can apply for the Discover EU pass. I annoyingly didn't get to apply for the first round as I wasn't 18 until late August and the requirements were that you were 18 on the 1st of July. I would love to go travelling in  the summer months- UnJaded Jade has definitely inspired me. I'm considering a quick trip to Barcelona in February too- it's about time I visited and now I have free accommodation (thanks Sofia) I basically have no excuse...


I think I'll leave this post here so I don't bore out with the ins and outs of my life. I'll probably come back and add to this! I hope you enjoyed the little catch up and the photos

How's life been for you? Rant or rave in the comments :)
-Dalal

Saturday, 15 September 2018

A love letter to London

As I write this I am sat on a train on the way to Exeter. My home for the next 3 years (with a year in Spain sandwiched in.)

It felt weird booking these train tickets. Having my parents and sister buy return tickets and myself only a one way. We haven't even arrived and they haven't even left yet but I'm already feeling like I've been thrown into the deep end. I'm more than capable of spending time alone and away from family- this summer alone I spent a total of 41 days without my family whilst I was away in different places. But actually living and studying alone in a new city feels strange. But this post isn't about how much I'm going to miss my family or even my friends. It's about how much I'm going to miss London. The city I was born in and grew up in and the city that has essentially made me into who I am today.

I'm so used to slating it; calling it a soul sucking and depressing place but as my days in the capital dwindle away I'm starting to realise how much I'm going to miss this place. I'm so blessed to call this place my home, to live in an area where Tower Bridge is a 10 minute walk away, 6 if I speedwalk, an area where I can walk to Covent Garden and Oxford street if I really wanted to and get there in under half an hour, the double deckered busses that have served me for the past 18 years and that I've never had to pay to get on, even that god awful Central line service. The Jubilee and Northern lines which whenever I get on, mean that I'm on my way home. The convenience of everything. On the day of the Westminster Bridge attacks, when all public transport was held and roads were blocked I simply walked home. It's been the only way of life I've ever really known- having everything at my disposable and as I count the days till I'm gone I truly understand a) why my parents decided to migrate here and b) the quote "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."

A few days ago I met up with my secondary school friends for the last time before we all parted ways to embark on new adventures from gap years to Biology at Oxford. We walked around Soho under the candy floss coloured skies as the sun was setting and I couldn't help but say "wow, London is actually beautiful." Covent Garden by night, a place that is usually full to the brim of tourists and locals alike was deserted, with a slight hum of people chattering from rooftop bars and alfresco restaurants. We walked around the cobbled streets and appreciated our last time together until Christmas. And that night, walking back to Elephant and Castle where we would all see where the next leg of the night would take us, with a bottle of Bacardi and a litre of coke in hand felt somewhat monumental.

Those who know me will know that I will defend South London till the day I die but walking over Waterloo bridge at night, a journey that would take us from the North side of the river back to our local South felt so bittersweet- as if we were leaving behind our new memories from that evening in central London and returning back to the reality of home. Home where suitcases are strewn across the floor in a failed attempt to pack for the 'big move' They say that walking over Waterloo bridge at night is an almost euphoric experience. Seeing the cities landmarks lit up and the reflection of those lights onto the Thames. I don't know. It does something to you.

So as I get ready to settle into a new city and start a new chapter of my life, I will mourn my departure from my beloved London. The place that I and my dearest friends call home.

-Dalal

Thursday, 6 September 2018

marrakech | مراكش


I wanted to write the title of this post in Arabic as well as English as a way to pay homage to my background and culture. I was in Marrakech almost over two months ago but the experiences that I went through are still fresh in my mind. Like the rest of Morocco, Marrakech was a huge sensory overload- one that can be overwhelming if you've never visited the country or city before. As a Moroccan native, I'd already visited multiple times before with my parents. Despite this, I had never actually done Marrakech the true touristy way. We would always stay far out of the medina and even Gueliz, the new town, favouring resorts and hotels to the hustle and bustle of the medina. We would subsequently spend our days by the pool and only ventured into the city in the evening before escaping back to the Europeanised version of the city.


I wanted to change this.

How could I, out of all people, continue experiencing one of the most vibrant cities in the country through the watered down perspective? Even the European tourists I love criticise so much were getting out there and exploring more than I was. Katie and I spent a few days smack bang in the middle of the Marrakechi medina in an oasis of calm that was Riad Aya (even though we may have gotten henna on the bedsheets and had a whole issue sorting that out afterwards)


I don't know where to start but perhaps summarising it in some bullet points would be a good beginning:

  • crazy, unbearable heat that drenches your backpack straps (which your friend will then have to feel when you alternate) gross but very effective way to bond with someone lol. 
  • 3 hour slots of pure tranquility on a terrace, by the pool and the smell of spf engulfing you. 
  • orange juice. so much orange juice. 
  • warm tones everywhere. and tiles.
  • lush gardens that I still can't wrap my head around- how are they still so green when they're basically in 30 degree + heat for most of the year...
  • questionable cat calling. seriously: lady gaga and shakira? 
  • early breakfasts in the courtyard.
  • haggling. 
  • someone's sleep talking. to this day I don't know who the missing third person was. 
  • visiting all the historical monuments the city has to offer from ruined palaces to tombs.
  • spending 2 hours looking for a place and going through some sketchy places only to realise you literally walked past the entrance before. I even looked and read the signs but still missed it. 
  • a lost phone in the middle of the medina- miraculously still there and actually got it back.
  • (after paying 50 dirhams because the hustle don't stop) 
  • wild roads. if you don't cross, you never will. those cars will not stop. 
  • a whole load of languages. 
  • random garages filled with watermelons. and a sleepy vendor beside them. 
  • getting the best seat in a restaurant, looking at the menu and realising it's much more overpriced than you thought, feeling too awkward to just get up and leave, pretending to get a call from someone and loudly declaring that you're on your way down just so you can avoid confrontation with the staff. then assuring yourselves that you don't owe that restaurant anything. 
  • 3 hour car journeys to the waterfall (mostly spent asleep) 
  • navigating the souks- thanks Katie. 
  • a nose bleed and banged heads. what a day...
  • the constant drumming in the main square. 
  • finally learning the word for stamps in Arabic (it'sتنابر btw) 
  • going straight up the terrace as soon as we got in late at night to just lay down and talk. 
  • wondering what on earth a group of lads could be doing in Marrakech (?!) 
  • borrowed wonky sunglasses. 
  • cats!!! 
  • buying a ridiculous amount of 1 litre bottles of water. 
  • forcibly drinking mint tea because you don't want your friend to miss out on the experience. 
  • "excuse me miss can I have [your] snapchat?" 
After reading through this bullet point list, I think that it encompasses my time in Marrakech perfectly. A collection of fast paced events that have made this trip one that I'll never forget. 

And I don't know if it's strange to thank the person you travelled with for, you know, travelling with you, but I can firmly say that having experienced Marrakech (and Ouzoud) with Katie has made it even more memorable. So here's to internet friends/pen pals turned travel buddies. I hope we have many more trips together. 

Dalal