Dig Deeper…facing challenges as an expat

Dig Deeper…facing challenges as an expat

Yeah, I couldn’t resist using another Shaun T’s quote again. I work out to his videos everyday, and even though it’s about exercising, I can apply it to other aspects of my life.

Sure, being an expat can be different and adventurous, even fun at times, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty parts…a prime and popular example is the language. Just the other day I wished a certain person a great summer and instead of being reciprocated the same thing in the same, warm way, the reaction I got was a writer’s block face. They stood there, with a blank expression on their face, and after what seemed like two minutes, they replied “you too”, but they had rephrased what I said every so slightly, and in a way which they were “correcting” me. All because I hadn’t phrased my “farewell best wishes” the way they’re used to hearing from the exact same people they see every single day. I felt like telling them that they need to open their mind a little (a lot) more and adjust their ear to people who’s first language isn’t Spanish, but who do make every effort to be understood. Heck, I don’t want to leave out the part where the thousands of expats like myself in that city have left their comfort zone and are trying to live a decent life in a place where English isn’t spoken. You must multiply people like them by millions because otherwise that example doesn’t serve any purpose nor have sufficient leverage.

So what I’m trying to say is that the more understanding and compassionate “native” people are to immigrants, refugees, and expats when it comes to speaking and understanding the language, the easier it will be for both sides.

When life gets tough, “dig deeper”. At least you’ll know how to react if a similar situation arises.

But what’s the point of life if we aren’t met with challenges which help us grow? Hmm…

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

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What it feels like to be tricked by new businesses

What it feels like to be tricked by new businesses

In the past year the first two electric car rental companies opened up in Madrid. Last year, Car2go was launched charging customers 19 Euro cents a minute. This year, a similar agency called Emov appeared in our lives offering the same rate but with a couple more benefits. Both agencies let you pick up any of their cars with a drop of a hat and return the car anywhere within the perimeter they’ve set out in the city. The unfortunate part of this story is that the first agency, Car2go, increased its rates to 21 cents after Emov was introduced. By this time it had accumulated enough customers and won their loyalty so it was a wise business move, I understand. A 2 cent increment isn’t much, I know, but it’s the principle of it that makes me less inclined to use its services. In fact, I refuse to rent from the company. As if that weren’t enough, subsequently Emov increased its prices too, to a whopping 25 cents a minute. Call me a rebel for saying so, but what a significant hike that is in so short a time (4 months). I’ve lost all interest in renting out either agencies’ cars. Is this considered boycotting? Probably. I know businesses increase their rates all the time, but really. Really. It’s not cool to increase your prices shortly after introducing your business and winning loyalty from new customers. From an opinion of a former electric car renter enthusiast, I must admit that I am disappointed.

I invite you to argue my point. If you don’t agree with me blacklisting those two companies, then tell me why. I doubt you’d be able to change my mind but I’d like to see you try 🙂

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

 

Slow down, but city life?

Slow down, but city life?

Having grown up in a small city like Halifax, Nova Scotia, moving to a big city like Madrid has had its ups and downs. I don’t mean to be a pessimist but let me dwell on one “down” for a sec. Ever since I’ve moved to the hustle and bustle of Madrid, I have become part of the hustle and bustle. It’s been a continuous run to make the subway train, make the bus, and make it across the street before the lights turn red for pedestrians. It’s a nonstop race to get anywhere in this big city. It’s no fun dodging all the slow people on such narrow  sidewalks, with pedestrians walking on the wrong side. If there was such a thing as sidewalk jaywalking, we’ve got experts here. I’ve got to hand it to Madrid though – it does have an excellent public transportation system. However, the fact that it’s a huge city means that it takes more than a minute to get anywhere, which means that everyone scurries to get to their destination on time. But I’ve realized over time that even when I’m not in a rush I still find myself literally running to make the next train or the green light, even if I’m ahead of schedule! I’ve caught myself red-handedly hastily making my way down, or up, the escalator of the subway. What’s wrong with this picture? Is this the destiny all big cities?

Something’s made me slow down my pace, and even made me relax a little. I was tired of my sandals getting worn out and the straps loosened, because it was uncomfortable to walk like that. I know this may sound ridiculous, but because of wanting to save my sandals from getting worn out, nay, keep myself from feeling tired because of how it’s affected my feet I’ve started walking slower, which means that I’ve stopped walking briskly as if I was in a walkathon and running like a maniac for nothing. Now I actually enjoy going from one place to another, instead of feeling stressed. I miss going on walks just for the sake of walking. It’s a pity that we let something as simple as our journey to a destination stress us out. We must go somewhere all the time, everyday, whether it’s for work or something else, so why not do it with ease? I think it improves the quality of our life.

The picture in my featured image is one I took as I was walking somewhere today. I noticed two cute little houses that stick out in a neighbourhood. Who knows how many times I’ve passed by these buildings but never really noticed them.

I’ll leave you with this quote by the famous Eddie Cantor:

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

Tips on how to avoid bike accidents in Madrid

Tips on how to avoid bike accidents in Madrid

As a Canadian coming from Halifax, NS, riding a bicycle in a decent, nay, warm weather is a luxury. That’s why I’m such a big fan of this fairly new public transportation system put in place in the city I live in, Madrid. Cycling from one point to another and then having the convenience of parking the bike at one of the many, many point-stations all around the city is something to be grateful for. If I need to be somewhere and don’t feel like walking or taking the subway or metro, or even driving a car, I can rent a bike at one of the stations near my house and ride it 5 kilometres and park it literally 2 minutes from my destination.

But let’s be careful and not make the same innocent mistakes I’ve made. Having trusted in other clients like myself, I didn’t think about checking the bikes to make sure it’s useable and rideable.

  1. Check that the chain on the bike is tucked in where it’s supposed to be. If the chain’s out, your bike will not move no matter how much you pedal. Oh, by the way, did I mention these beauties are electric and can be motor run if you want them to be? This makes the bike go faster and you reach your destination in a jiffy!
  2. Check that the tires aren’t flat. That can be a bumpy ride! Been there, done that!
  3. If the bike cannot be hooked back into the station, then you must write a note to the company at the big machine there. Let’s avoid a random stranger pulling out the bike while it’s still connected to your account, shall we!

That’s all for now. I had an all but lovely Saturday morning bright and early when I was confronted with all three of those mishaps I outlined above. Hopefully they won’t happen again.

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

Photo credit: tumblr.com/blog/alexeylin

 

A fun and interactive Saturday in Madrid

A fun and interactive Saturday in Madrid

Living in Madrid certainly is no boring city. There’s always something cool to do any day of the week.

Today, I had the privilege of being invited to my stylist and makeup artist, Shimada’s launch party. He was promoting his new eyelashes straight from Tokyo, Japan. And he also promoted his new Shine Frizz Control Color Protection Argan Oil hair serum. It contains macadamia extract so it smells (and perhaps tastes?) divine, mmm! If you’re interested in the lashes or serum, I’m sure Shimada would love it if you got in touch with him!

If you’ve read my post about being the model of the month, or modelo del mes, then these pictures will look familiar to you.

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The one and only: Shimada! This photo was taken before I was asked to have some lashes put on my face, as well as makeup.

Shimada’s friend and makeup artist gracefully added some eyelashes and makeup on my face and made me look brand new! She used some M.A.C. products. Can you guess what by looking at the photo below?

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Can you tell I’m wearing fake eyelashes?

The balayage in my hair was done by Shimada back in January, so well over 3 months ago. The Spanish sun can do a number on it in terms of brightening it up.

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I couldn’t leave the party without taking a picture with the beautiful makeup artist herself. I didn’t even intend on being worked on when I went to the party. It just happened. If there’s one thing I learned about being a model for a makeup artist, it’s that when they ask me what I want done, “natural?” or “go all out?”, my answer is, “whatever you want”, because it certainly made this one happy! She let free and did her thang. She tousled my hair up and made it look like she did more to it because I looked way different than when I walked into the studio.

Last but not least, I went ahead and bought Shimada’s Macadamia Argan oil hair serum.

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That’s my thumb.

None of these photos, taken with my iPhone SE, have filters. So au natural baby.

Did you like looking at the photos? If yes, what was the most interesting thing about them?

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

Featured image credit: @sethdoylee

What’s it like living in Spain…

What’s it like living in Spain…

I’ve got to follow up on my recent post, Expat Coffee Talk – these are the days of our L.I.V.E.S. mainly because I promised you I would. But you have to read the post above, otherwise you won’t get any of what I’m about to share with you.

So what I can tell you is that the style of life in Spain is pretty much a completely different experience than that of Canada. I’m going to throw in the United States of America just because. I also happen to like the US (minus a few things to obvious to mention); it’s our sister nation so I don’t want to leave it out.

Before I continue, let me just say that I’ve been assumed to be American too many a time because people here me speaking English here. Because of that, too, I’ll be including the US in this post as well.

I’d also like to say that when I’m talking about Spain in this post, it’s always going to be about Madrid the city, unless I say otherwise. I live in Madrid, so I figure it makes sense.

One thing that pretty much differentiates Spain from Canada and most American cities are the beautiful palm trees. Need I continue? I could stop right there because that’s a big difference in alone. I live in a city, a pretty big one, and there are actual palm trees here. It’s so nice to see them. I, as a “cold” Canadian, think it’s pretty cool.

Sun. Say the word out loud, nay, merely think it, and you’ll have the sun at the back of your hands for days on end. You know what the even cooler thing is? That I’m not even talking about summer. In winter there is sun for what seems forever, day after day after day. Why call the season winter even, when my cold Canadian heart knows what real winter means in Canada? You want to talk about sun in the summer in Spain? Please, brace yourself because what I’m about to say is going to make you want to drop everything in North America and come here: The sun is around for weeks, weeks, and weeks on end. What does that look like? Come 8am, say good morning to the sun and expect it to stick around until the wee hours of night. I feel like it’s 5pm, as I’m originally from Halifax, but when I look at my watch it’s actually 10:30pm Spain time. It makes me feel like there’s something wrong with that picture. Let’s give it up for the Spanish dictator “_______” for doing something interesting in a positive way. You know what they about sun: less seasonal depression in Spain because we see the sun all year round. I just made that up, but it’s got to be true.

The list goes on, quite well, I may add. Stay tuned.

Palm trees and sunny days. This is the Spanish craze.

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

 

 

 

Expat Coffee Talk – these are the days of our L.I.V.E.S.

Expat Coffee Talk – these are the days of our L.I.V.E.S.

This post has been brought to you by the Chronicles of LIVES – Living in Very Entertaining Situations.

I’m a Canadian who lives in Spain. Forget about the “Canadian” part for a moment. I’m an expat who has chosen to live in a land far, far away that isn’t my home country. Are you American, Australian or from another part of the world and have always wondered why people like me leave their country of origin to go live somewhere else?

Maybe you’re that person that only travels to other countries to spend time on the beaches, a.k.a. all inclusive resorts. If you are then perhaps you’ve asked your expat friends when they’re planning on returning to their country of origin, because surely, they don’t plan on being away from “home” forever….right? “What about being close to your family?” “Raising your kids?” No? Ok, ok, well, I hope I’m wrong. One thing is someone growing up with the same friends all their life, getting married in the same town, having kids in the same town, and having the same job in the same town, but another thing is being presumptuous and expecting everyone else to do all that. There are friends who grow up in the same city and travel to places like Punta Cana and Riviera Maya, and believe that they’ve seen the country, or *cough* *cough* the world.

I digress.

It could be that our expat friends who live away from their country of their upbringing call their new residence “home”. Thank goodness for the existence of diversity of thoughts because I’m an expat and do not call my country of residence “home”. I’m fortunate to be able to call both Canada AND Spain my home. What, you think that just because I’ve left my native land I don’t think of it as “home” anymore? Or just because I’m a foreigner in Spain means that I can’t call it “home”? I actually feel comfortable calling two completely different countries “home” because I’ve been lead to feel that way. Plus, it’s a complicated way of life and I like it 🙂

Maybe you have expat friends who believe that there are no such thing as borders along countries, that if they feel like living elsewhere then they will go do it.

I always wondered how expats do it. Do they just wake up one day and say that they feel like picking up their stuff and moving to a foreign country? What if they don’t even speak the language? What then?

Do expats move to be adventurous? Or because they are adventurous? If by adventurous they mean that they’ve been treated differently because they’re not from that country, or misunderstood because it’s not their native language, then I’ve been there! Like I said, my way of living is complicated but I always feel like it was worth the move.

So, what’s it like living in Spain? I’ll have to leave that topic for another time now, so feel free to stay tuned.

Signing off,

Shamim Sobhani

 

Photo courtesy of Utomo Hendra Saputra