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

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

 

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´s 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´s a 4 Euro fine per hour from that moment onward. As long as you make sure you place the bike back when you´re finished with it into the slot at a station which has an available slot, and it won´t come back out, then you´re good!

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

Signing off-

Shamim Sobhani

 

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

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

 

 

 

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S. – Another day in the life of an expat in Spain

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S. – Another day in the life of an expat in Spain

This post has been brought to you by the Chronicles of LIVES: Living in Very Entertaining Situations, while living abroad.

I get off the bus at the same stop as I have been the last 5 years, every Monday to Friday. As I enter a green, quaint, residential area, I see parents and children walk in the same direction, some wave at me, others smile and say hello or “Buenos dias”. My face lights up as I see all these people, children and adults alike. “What am I, a Canadian expat, doing in Madrid?” I still ask myself from time to time.

As I walk through the door, I sign my name on the sign in sheet, and make my way to my still-empty classroom. I hang up my coat and paraphernalia, wash my hands (because after taking the subway and the bus, I’ve been in contact secondhand with hundreds of people), touch up with some hand creme, take a gulp of water for a hydration boost, and I enthusiastically go back to the front entrance and start greeting students and parents walking into the school. I say “Hi” and “Hello”, and whatever else that I come up with impulsively. A kid clasps onto my hand and I guide her into her classroom. I go back to the lobby and walk another 2 year old and 3 year old, and more, to their classroom. Every time I leave them with their teacher the other toddlers try to throw themselves at me from excitement of seeing me (and me them). I instantly feel grateful for having this job.

Can you guess what I do?

No, I don’t just greet children and their parents and take the children to their classrooms (although it’s so fun doing it). That’s part of my job. I’m a language teacher for babies, toddlers and children who are short a few months of losing their first tooth. It’s an adventure every day and there’s never a dull moment.

I can’t imagine doing anything else in my life at the moment because I love what I do so much. Sure, I had other plans and ideas of what I’d imagine myself working as when I was in university, but reality doesn’t always reflect our plans. I don’t regret any of the decisions I made leading up to this day, and every day I’ve lived in Spain so far. Am I lucky? Do I deserve it? Is it fate? All I know is that I waking up looking forward to my day and going to work has had a lot to do with it. That and working really hard. But because I’m happy with my job, it makes working hard feel faint.

Sometimes what we plan doesn’t exactly pan out the way we expect, but life isn’t about planning…

…it’s about living.

Signing off –

Shamim Sobhani

Photo credit: Luca Upper @lucistan