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

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

 

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.

IMG_1166

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 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

 

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S-Living In Very Entertaining Situations

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S-Living In Very Entertaining Situations

I walk into a bank and request to open an account. I understand half of what the teller’s saying, partly because of the thick Spanish accent along with the lisp and the vocabulary words which are different than from what I’m used to.

I never thought in a million years that Spain Spanish could sound so different than the rest of the Spanish speaking world. My bad. My ignorance. I should have moved to Spain more prepared.

Speaking Spanish as a foreign language, as a second language all day long is a challenge in itself, but I’m also expected to change my accent and use of words to match and accommodate to those of the natives of this land because I happened to learn Spanish in Latin America. It’s not that I think Latin American Spanish is better than Spain Spanish, but after learning a whole new language from scratch over 15 years ago, it doesn’t seem too much to ask to cut me some slack, so please, consider my situation before asking me and the like to re-learn the language when all you have to do is make in a tiny bit of effort on your end.

Back to the bank teller. If I can’t understand her, it makes sense to say that she¬†can¬īt understand me either. Me, throwing in foreign words into the conversation, coupled with my foreign/Latin American accent, does’t make this employee¬†a happy camper!

If attempting to talk with a bank teller, face to face, is a challenge, then imagine me calling the bank up on the telephone. It’s like speaking to a robot. Hello, Wall-E.

These are the days of my L.I.V.E.S РLiving In Very Entertaining Situations.

Featured image photo by nxphotography.uk.

Signing off –

Shamim Sobhani

A Discourse on Coffee Break

A Discourse on Coffee Break

In a follow-up to my latest post¬†From Canada to Europe. Reflections of an expat,¬†I wanted to share¬†an anecdote about a cultural experience. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you weren’t sure how to act? Living in Spain, I’ve witnessed that Spanish people¬†appreciate time spent with friends. It’s appreciated even more¬†when you’re a foreigner and you try to include yourself in social gatherings. It shows that you care about getting to know them. In my case it hasn’t been any different. I work at a job in Spain where my co-workers appreciate it when I spend¬†my coffee break with them, especially if they invite me. It’s almost a rule of thumb to not refuse an offer like that. “Coffee break” isn’t limited to coffee only. It’s more about drinking something or having a snack with them. To me this means that the Spanish value “people” time. Coffee breaks also provide a space for building and strengthening relationships. I’m all for that. However, I’ve come to face a small dilemma:¬†I’m a busy body and have recently been working on several projects simultaneously (and I enjoy all of them), and so¬†I like to take advantage of the little free time I have and work on them during my breaks. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like spending time with my co-workers; it just means that I like to be efficient. This is a¬†difference I’ve noticed between the Canadian/American culture and the Spanish culture. I’m aware that my¬†co-workers may¬†notice when¬†I¬īm not around during our breaks, so I thought a temporary solution would be to divide my free time or coffee breaks between my co-workers and my projects. I also thought of getting more data so that I could be around my co-workers¬†while working on my cell phone instead of having to use a computer in a separate office. I wouldn’t want to push anyone’s sensitive button! Is there anyone out there who feels like there could be a better solution? Do you agree with me? Your opinions are welcome!

Singing off –

Shamim Sobhani

 

The featured image is courtesy of Daria Nepriakhina.

From Canada to Europe. Reflections of an expat

From Canada to Europe. Reflections of an expat

I’m a Canadian expat living in Madrid, Spain. Yes, I left Canada to live in Spain, but don’t get me wrong, I’m fond of Canada. Who doesn’t enjoy the benefits of free health care? Spain has it too, though. Canada has great people, and so does¬†Spain. Are you catching onto my point? If not – both countries are cool. Despite the similarities, they are different countries,¬†and within¬†that umbrella comes an array of different cultures. Sometimes the differences in the Spanish culture shine through like the sun, positively speaking, and other times it makes me ask myself if I belong here. I’m not a newcomer, so I have learned some things here and there, but there’s always room to learn more! It’s like a journey. The question of¬†integration always pops up; it never seizes to prove its importance.

Are you an expat and have faced interesting experiences dealing with the culture of your second home? Share them please!

Signing off –

Shamim Sobhani