June 27, 2013

Quotes from The Alchemist

I had been meaning to read Paulo Coelho's much talked The Alchemist for years now, and finally got around to doing it last week. I liked the book. A lot. But I think I will have to go back and read it again because there are so many layers to the story. 

It's an inspirational tale of pursuing one's dreams. The story is of an Andalusian shepherd who goes in search of his treasure from Spain to Morocco and finally to Egypt. The locations itself had my attention - the story did not even need to be captivating for me to read a book that's got 3 of my top places I want to visit! South of Spain, Morocco and Egypt - I'd read any book based on these countries. An amazing story line and some beautiful quotes are cherry on top. 

I won't even try reviewing it, because the book is too deep and I will not be able to do much justice to it. However, while reading, I marked down some of my favourite quotes from the book, and I feel like the quotes deserve a blog post of their own!

I started out with quotes in pictures, but realized there were too many I like and too lazy I am to go through all that work. So after a few picture ones, I gave up. All pictures are my own. 

"... at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie.” 

“He never realized that people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dreamed of.” 

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

"If you pay attention to the present, you can improve on it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings."

"When you make a decision, you are really diving in a strong current that will bring you to places you never dreamed of when you first made that decision."

"...and when each day is the same as next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day the sun rises."

“His way isn't the same as mine, nor mine as his. But we're both in search of our destinies, and I respect him for that."

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” 

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” 

"Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn’t have the courage to say “yes” to life?”

"What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream."

June 19, 2013

Back to the Middle Ages!

Remember when I talked about how I want to go back in time to the Middle Ages? My wish was granted on my birthday a couple weekends ago. That day, I found myself in a place so magical that made me want to say, 'move over Disney, Rothenburg is boss!'.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a very small medieval town and one of the very few ones that has its walls still remain intact all around the town. It is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany and has an amazing old world feel to it. It is situated along the Romantic Road in Southern Germany. Romantic Road is the name given to a 350km stretch of highway which links a series of picturesque Bavarian towns and cities. It ends at Fussen, where the popular Neuschwanstein Castle is located. 

Sometimes I think Germany and I are meant to be. If I could go back in time, before going to the 13th century, I would make a quick stop into the mid 90s and tell little Naima the following:

Present Naima: Hello little Naima, you adorable but ignorant little girl who has no clue what this world is like.
Little Naima: My mama says I shouldn't speak to strangers.
Present Naima: Well, you don't really follow through that advice later on anyway, so it's okay.
Little Naima: I'm going to go look for my mama.
Present Naima: No wait. I am here to tell you something. Something about princesses and castles and fairy tales!
Little Naima: I like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. 
Present Naima: I know honey, which is why I'm here. You know when people tell you that fairy tales only exist in cartoons and movies? Well, don't believe it! 
Little Naima: *confused puppy eyes*
Present Naima: Yeah, people don't know. When you grow up, you'll see. There's a place called Germany. It will make your dreams come true. It will have magic and castles and maybe toads... 
Little Naima: When I grow up? I want to see it NOW!
Present Naima: I forgot what an impatient little thing you were. It's okay kid, patience.
Little Naima: NO... NOW!
Present Naima: And stubborn. I wonder how my parents dealt with you. Jeez. Anyway kiddo, hang in there...someday you will! I promise! 

While I am at it, might as well go back further in time to maybe the 13th century. 

Oh look! That's the present me standing by the entrance gates of Rothenburg, back in the 13th century of course.

Peak-a-boo! Little kids must have so much fun in this town....maybe I should've brought Little Naima with me. Would that even be possible?!

It's a different world out here. A world like in the storybooks.  Every corner is like a cut out of a story book or a fairy tale.

The arcs, the architecture, everything has the perfect old world charm to it. 

There's so many towers all around!

This has to be my favourite one...
But I'm not sure why people are dressed as if they're from the 21st century. Maybe there's others who're back in time?!! Or maybe history just has it wrong and these guys were well ahead of their times. 

Even the stuff hanging by shops and walls are so cute!

Walking the wall...and peeping through the little windows that open up to the outside world to make sure we are not being attacked!

Below is the main centre of the town - Marktplatz, where the rich patricians, senators and the nobles live. Or lived. Excuse my tenses because I'm not sure myself which tense I belong to at the moment. 

The town is absolutely magical and so cosy.

And there's a well!

Oh look who I spotted, now he fits right into this world. 

image found off google. i didn't take a picture of him from my cam.
It's Rothenburg's Night Watchman! While the people sleep in deep and safe slumber, the watchman guards the town, walking around to make sure no enemy enters. However, even though he is the main security guy of the town with the main job being to protect the Rothenburg citizens, his status is not an honourable one and general public is not a fan. But I like him. He is somewhat funny and tells some interesting stories about Rothenburg. And he's one guy in this town who got his dressing right! 

The night watchman also tells me that back in the day, Rothenburg wasn't so 'romantic and charming'. It usually smelled of filth from thousands of farm animals such as goats, cows, pigs, and geese that roamed the streets. Imagine the contrast from then and now! Let's ignore the absurdity of me talking about then and now when I am currently back in time. 

I can now hear the countdown going on in the back - it's my time machine. I suppose it's time....Goodbye, you wonderful world of magic! And farm animal poop, I suppose. 

End note: I would like to thank Mr. John J. Mcloy, assistant secretary of the War, because it was due to his love for this town, that the U.S. military were banned from bombing Rothenburg during WW2! Because of him, I can now say I have found my favourite place in Germany! 

June 6, 2013

One Year of Living in Munich.

Today completes my one year of being away from Toronto and home, and living in Munich. It feels a little surreal, like it all just happened yesterday. The day I landed, my first walk on the cobblestones, my first lunch in Munich which was an amazing four cheese pizza, my first night away from Toronto and family - it was a mix of excitement and sadness. After one year, It feels good...to know that I was able to manage life independently for an entire year. Of course, with tons of help from the hubby. Before this move, I had never stayed away from my family, so it was quite a big deal to leave them all behind and move across oceans. After living 25 years of my life with them, I finally moved out....of the continent. And it would not be wrong to say that it was very difficult. I was scared as hell, nervous and anxious. 

After a year, I'm much less nervous and anxious, and not scared at all. I've also learned quite a few things. I've learned....

  • that staying in your comfort zone means you miss out on some of the greatest things in life. 
  • that sometimes in life, you need to take a leap of faith and do things you would've never thought to do. 
  • that google translate is a pretty damn awesome means of communicating with a technician who's trying to fix your dishwasher. 
  • that I can only have sushi as a snack food, not a proper meal. 
  • that no matter where in the world I am, whether in a gorgeous resort in Mauritius or at the top of the Eiffel Tower, a piece of my heart will always be where my mama and papa are. 
  • that I am not a big fan of Ethiopian food.
  • that some German songs can actually be catchy! refer to song: augenbling - seeed. 
  • that life in Europe is pretty sweet. 
  • that Thai food has now become my favourite, replacing Italian. (which had always been my numero uno)
  • that the best pizzas in the world are in Europe. I don't know if I can ever go back to Pizza Pizza. 
  • that life is all about trying new things and welcoming change with open arms.
  • that growing up can be fun and that growing up doesn't mean letting go of my childlike personality. 
  • that Germans use a bajillion forms of "the" - der, die, das, den, dem...
  • that living in a country which doesn't speak your language can actually be....fun at times. 
  • that North Americans need to stop racing against time, and have a coffee and cake break. 
  • that you may think something looks impossible, and that you're not capable of doing it, but once you make up your mind for it and take the plunge, things fall into place. It all works out. You can do whatever it is you want to do. 
  • that I absolutely, absolutely do not like reading maps. 
  • that my husband is one of the most amazing and inspiring people I know. 
  • that I can be a pretty awesome wife ;)

It was my one year of being a wife on June 3rd! Crazy, crazy...I still sometimes have to take a moment and think in my head 'what, I'm actually married?!!'. I still remember the pre-wedding days and the chaos. So many things to take care of, so many emotions. I still miss it actually, and I still sometimes read wedding blogs. Can't believe it's been a year!

Anyway, figured I'd pick one picture from each month of my past year in Europe. So here goes:


Edinburgh, Scotland. Umair surprised me with this trip for my birthday last June.  This cafe is where JK Rowling first got her idea of writing Harry Potter, while overlooking the Edinburgh Castle!


In Prague with my lovely sisters who came to Europe for 2 weeks.


Brussels. Took a week long trip to Paris and Brussels end of  August.


My first Oktoberfest in Munich! Dirndl shopping was fun! We went quite a few times to Oktoberfest because I loved the rides! My favourite was the 5 360degrees loop rollercoaster, went on it 3 times.


Back in Toronto!


Day trip to Regenzburg - a small medieval town an hour from Munich. We were on detox diet during November and it  was probably the most difficult month for me! 


Christmas Markets! So fun, they go for a whole month and we went there about 4-5 times during the month.  Also visited the Christmas markets in Nuremberg, they're huge!  But the Christmas holidays were spent mostly catching up with Breaking Bad. 


Parasailing in Mauritius! Definitely one of the top highlights of this past year. I was absolutely freaked before going, but once we were up in the air, I felt like a bird :) Mauritius was lovely and so was our 2 day stay in Dubai before Mauritius!


London for 4 days! It was cold and rainy the whole time...


Cafes around our area. March was mostly spent with me trying to find things to do, play around with my new camera while Umair worked, worked and worked some more on every weekend of the month.


In Venice! Finally Umair took a break from work and we took a trip to Italy! 


Took a road trip to Berlin for a weekend. Berlin is the city of bears!

That's it folks!