Out & About in Halifax, NS

Out & About in Halifax, NS

Trying to temporarily adjust to how things work in Halifax while I’m back visiting for a few weeks, I discovered today that waving down buses isn’t necessary. I’m so used to doing it in Madrid that I carry the habit with me everywhere I go. It’s difficult to keep up with the complexities of an ever-changing, every growing metropolitan city like Halifax because it’s been just shy of two decades since I lived here. Also I can’t remember how everything works here.

Something else I discovered today was some beautiful shops along one of the streets in downtown Halifax. Pretty flowers adorn the outside. Some of them consignments shops, and others are cafe and restaurants, one of which is Turkish called Lemon Tree. I’ll be visiting there soon. Yum yum Red Lentil soup. Thank you Istanbul for opening my eyes to that utmost tasty dish.

 

Another pleasant place I visited was the Public Gardens where I had a nice “coffee” lunch at 12:30pm. I don’t have lunch till 2pm in Spain so I’m not used to eating early here. The ducks were hanging out at the pond, prepared to give them food, which I didn’t. They’d all flock towards me if I had.

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

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

40 Days

40 Days

What, you may ask, is it like returning for a summer visit (Canada) from my country of residence (Spain)?

It’s that time of year, where work comes to a close, where chaotic life pushes me to the limit just to see how far I can go without having a nervous breakdown. I experienced some episodes of crisis and victory prior to going on vacation for the summer. When I found out that my colleagues and I had to work a full day instead of a half day for the first two weeks in July, which was promised to us from… the beginning of time (!), I got so upset that I didn’t know how to handle it. That was the crisis. Life went on and I still haven’t dealt with it. The victory was that I saved some doh on not going to community swimming pools everyday for two weeks, as very eagerly planned. The second crisis was when we had to work like dogs due to low personnel those two weeks, but once those two weeks finished I was on vacation and headed to Canada. It feels good to look forward to returning “home” for 40 days. Especially when you know you deserve it after a hard year of working non stop.

So what’s it really like going back home for a visit? I go every summer, so it doesn’t seem like it should be anything new, but it’s refreshing every time. I need a change in scenery every so often, and this year I was overdue for one because I usually go on a side trip in the winter somewhere in Europe.

The moment I step of the plane, everything, from scenery to how people look and talk to public service is different. It all makes a significant impact in my sensitive mind. Is this what Culture Shock is? But wait a minute, “culture shock” in my own home country? Yep. Some of the most extreme culture shocks I’ve ever experienced has been right here in my own Canadian town and NOT in another completely different country.

But since I’ve got 40 days in this country as a visitor, I’ve got time to write more posts about this topic ūüôā Besides, it’s not something that can be covered in one sitting.

Stay tuned!

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

 

 

Renting a bike is as easy as 1, 2, 3

Renting a bike is as easy as 1, 2, 3

The other day I wrote about how to avoid accidents with electric bike rentals in the city of Madrid.

So how does one actually rent out these bikes?

  1. Visit their website, BiciMad 
  2. Register and plug in your credit card information
  3. Receive a code in your phone
  4. Plug in the code into the machine at a physical bike rental station and a physical plastic card pops out for you to keep
  5. To rent a bike, swipe this card at any of the rental stations that has available bikes

You can rent from any station where there¬īs an availability of bikes as long as you have enough credit in your balance. Download the BiciMad application onto your phone so that you can see a map of the stations. It costs roughly 40-50 cents per half  hour and 1 Euros per hour. If you go over your time limit (2 hours), there¬īs a 4 Euro fine per hour from that moment onward. As long as you make sure you place the bike back when you¬īre finished with it into the slot at a station which has an available slot, and it won¬īt come back out, then you¬īre good!

Tourists can also rent out bikes but the rules are stricter and they go by a slightly different process.

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

 

Trying new things

Trying new things

I’ve been a tad bit busy to write new posts lately, but one of the things I have done is that I have created a new Facebook page and you’re all welcome to like and follow it. It’ll be another way to keep in touch. If you also have a page on Facebook, I encourage you to tell me so that I can visit it.

You can find the page on @ShamimSobhaniPeralta.

Enjoy!

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

Photo credit: evadeboncoeur.com

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

A Canadian’s experience at a Madrid Derby football match, VIP style

A Canadian’s experience at a Madrid Derby football match, VIP style

I always wondered what the point of going to a football match was if you can’t see the players’ faces or even just be able to read their jersey number to make out who they are. It pretty much doesn’t matter where you sit because all you’re going to see is heads with what may be their bodies attached, running after a ball, which looks like a speck in the field. I don’t even know what my eyes are following most of the time when watching a match because it’s all so far. I’ve been to several football matches thus far and this is the experience I get in exchange for big bucks, rather, big Euros, since I live in Spain.

However, yesterday¬†something out of the ordinary happened. My husband and I got to sit not two meters from the main level of the football field and enjoyed seeing larger than life players and actually keep track of the ball. I could clearly see their expressions whenever they came to¬†wards us.¬†Even the press was as clear as the sun sitting right there on the border of the field snapping their cameras away. If I wanted to I could have jumped and made it into the field in one swoop (and then also made it to prison just as quickly). We also had the perk of having food and drinks in the VIP lounge, which, if you’ve ever been on a tour of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium you’d recognize it, because it’s one of the rooms¬†where some of Real Madrid’s trophies are kept.

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We were ever so fortunate to be offered two VIP tickets¬†to see the big Derby match, which doesn’t happen often. A “Derby football match” is referred to two teams that happen to both be from Madrid which play against each other. They’re called Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid. Why these tickets¬†happened to reach our hands is beyond me. Anyway, the real story¬†it¬†that my cousin, Kiyan Sobhani, who is a Canadian sports journalist from Halifax, asked me if we wanted these tix¬†because one of his friends¬†offered them to him because he wouldn’t be able to make use of them. As I’m married to a Real Madrid fan and I pretend to call myself a fan just to be a participant in the fun craze of football, we immediately accepted them. The master behind the tickets is¬†Anton Hakberg. Thank you, Anton, for being such a nice person, for letting us appreciate your star seat tickets for you.

The featured image is courtesy of Shamim Sobhani. I took the photo myself from our seats. We were so close to them I could smell their b.o.

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

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 ūüôā

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