When I decided to start Güzel Günlerimiz I swore to myself that I wouldn't dwindle for too long between posts and leave the masses un-entertained. The past ten days of inactivity, however, have flouted my own personal rule and left me frustrated with my lack of commitment. Why am I taking this so seriously? Because it's in my nature to start projects (be it a blog, a handmade hair accessories business, or self-teaching myself German) with a colossal amount of enthusiasm, only to abandon said project after a few weeks... Well, upon finding another quirky hobby that piques my curiosity, of course. I suppose I have a valid excuse this time though. I'm interning at Penn Schoen Berland for six weeks this summer and I'm having the time of my life. It's a great atmosphere to work in because the people are fun, cool, and good at what they do. Today, for example, in celebration of Eid, our boss ordered in biryani and mithai for the entire office. MMMMMMM. If you're interested in politics, media, and market research and communication, I strongly suggest you check out their website to see the kind of work they do. Some of their notable clients include Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, who they backed during the re-election campaigns! Cool stuff, I know. I work 9 - 6, five days a week, and though I'm not doing any physical work, sitting on my butt for nine hours makes me crave a couch, the tv remote, and a continuous supply of food to be placed in front of me the second I reach home. 

While going through my archive, I decided it was relevant to post a couple of pictures from a beautifully sunny day in May when Anna Banana, Noury, and I decided to visit Portobello Road. Why relevant? Yesterday, after a ridiculously long period of time, Nour and I were able to battle the terrible time difference between New Delhi and New York City, and Skype for an hour-ish. Now that she's back in the US to finish her final year of university, I won't see her for a while - well, till she visits me in London teehee (Nour, I hope you're reading this). I love how going through our old pictures never fails to make me giggle and reminisce over our the great memories we built in such a short period of time. Good times, good times. 

Me and my breakfast Börek, which kept me full all day! For some reason, the Turks serving me in cafe wouldn't reply to me in Turkish except for a Görüsürüz! in the end...it was odd and disconcerting and my flawless Turkish and I were offended. Geesh.

 I swear to God, su böreği is one of my favourite foods on the planet and this one in particular was just...OOOMMMPPHHHH. +1 for tangy feta and creamy spinach compressed between layers of soft doughy pastry.

Over the past year(ish) that I've been at SOAS, I've grown to love London and everything about the city that I'd like to consider my new (and hopefully future) home. I love London. I love it, I love it, I love everything there is about it. No matter what kind of a person you are, you're bound to find a niche for to settle yourself in in London - and if you haven't, then you haven't looked hard enough! The multiculturalism, the beautiful energy, the old-world charm are all small pieces of the puzzle that give London its vibrant atmosphere - an atmosphere that I became instantaneously enamoured with.

Having said that, it must be said that I've been having the time of my life since being back in India this summer. I hadn't been in India since September 2011, and being back home, with my family, my old friends, my old way of life - it's been quite different from the past nine months in London, but it's been absolutely fabulous. I've already started feeling these pangs of heartache every time I think about having to leave my loved ones here at home and go back to living alone in London (yes, yes, I know I live in university halls where there're tons of people always around but it is different nonetheless..) I'm a sappy sucker when it comes to sentiments, so you can expect waterworks at any point when his particular topic is being discussed. 

To add another bit of juxtaposition and undeniable inner-conflict to this post (great, I know), ever since the Olympics started I've been nostalgic about my time in London. Olympics-hysteria has taken over the globe and the UK is at the centre of the world's attention. The Brits and their enthusiasm have really done a great job by accentuating the sportsapalooza and though even I'm not a great fan of sports, I've become hooked to the television watching whatever event is on, whether it be women's weightlifting (new favourite sport what whaat), rhythmic gymnastics, or synchronized swimming! Seeing aerial views of the city - from Trafalgar Square to South Bank - during the breaks between events, I myself want to be down in Hyde Park with a Union Jack in hand (strictly for the atmosphere, I promise - Team India all the way ahem), a picnic on the way, and cheering on the athletes with all the others lounging around the public viewings. A glass or five of Pimm's, some yummeh foods from the nearest M&S, a mandatory combination of red and blue somewhere on your body, and you're set! Ahhhh London. See you in September!

ps: It turns out that today was just one of those days that I was really in the mood to write. For that reason, this isn't a picture-heavy post, but I quite like the idea of a rant or two from time to time (and I hope you feel the same way ahem). If you've been being a wonderful person and visiting Güzel Günlerimiz, do post below in the comments and let me know your thoughts (you don't have to be a blog owner or anything of the sort to post comments btw). It only takes a few seconds, and I'd love to hear from you! 

Cheers! (See what I did there?...)

December 2011 - When la familia visited me in London during winter break. Best of both worlds? I think so. Win! 

I learnt that the neighbourhood of Kreuzberg is the centre of Turkish immigrant life in the city. Over time, however, given the vibrant nature of the borough and - apparently - very affordable housing, the area's become inundated with young people, artists, musicians, and hipsters across the spectrum. Because of this, Kreuzberg is home to tons of great restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs. Super, super cool. 

I took an Alternative Berlin Walking Tour, and areas in Kreuzberg featured very prominently during the three hour tour. Ben was our guide - an American art graduate from Maine who came to Berlin for a holiday, and decided it was too great of a city to leave...clearly a man after my own heart. "You know how poverty soon becomes 'hip' and synonymous with an alternative-edge?" he asked us. "Well, that's what happened to Kreuzberg.". When I look closer to home, I can see how what he said rings true. Heavily immigrant neighbourhoods across London, from the African-dominated Brixton, to Bangladeshi-Bricklane, and Turk-led Dalston, have all recently acquired a 'hipster' status by the trendy youth of the city. Ahh, the cultural vibrancy in these boroughs are just so wonderful, so enchanting - and Kreuzberg is no different!

In Kreuzberg there's a beautiful symbiosis of an 'old worldly', rough-edged, gritty charm (which comes with the territory in minority populated areas, I suppose) with a fast-paced, suave, alternative 'cool' factor. I have to say that what I loved most about Kreuzberg was the overwhelming Turkish influences. Big surprise there? No, not really. My Turkophilia doubled, tripled, quadrupled, and then exploded. It was so great.

A quick note to anyone interested in visiting Berlin: I stayed in a hostel called Baxpax Kreuzberg for four of the eight days I was in Berlin. Baxpax has a couple of hostels all over the city, but this one is definitely the most exciting one (read: party hostel).  What I really loved about the hostel was that it had a really relaxed, laid-back atmosphere which made it easy to meet fellow travellers! Even though I was travelling alone, I met tons of cool people from all over the world during my time in Berlin and it really made my trip that much better. Don't stay here if you want quiet, though. There's electro, house music booming from the speakers in the reception and common area all day, and it's a party every night. WIN. I loved it, but an American brother-sister travelling duo I met in the hostel couldn't deal with the noise and checked out after their first night and moved to another hostel. Awks. As long as you're not a party pooper, I'd highly recommend a stay here!

 This astronaut/cosmonaut by Victor Ash (2007) is on the side of a massive building in Kreuzberg, and is without a doubt my favourite work of art in all of Berlin (and the world? Hmmm.) It's size is just so impressive - I was blown away when I first saw it.

Kripoe's yellow fists, as seen above, can be found all over Berlin. Apparently they stand for a rebellion against mass advertising. I loved the random placement of these particular fists, and had to take a picture! I can imagine the conversation right now -  "Yah, let's just paint on a random metal pole in the middle of the river, nbd." So perfect!

 These two are also ridiculously impressive works of art. You have to make a turn from the main street into a perpendicular road to be able to see them, and when I first did I was stunned and speechless. The sheer size hits you in the face like an out of control baseball. These buildings are massive, and just...wow. Wow.

Why Iker?! Why not Lukas? Urrrghhhhh.

Under a U-Bahn station.

 I believe this was a music/arts school. It's so funky! The walls have these very fun, colourful murals and it's such a great atmosphere.

 One of the many adorbs murals.

This was also on one of the walls in the school.

 This is the canal next to the huge Turkish market in Kreuzberg. Note the swans!

A German-Turkish flag? Two loves combined into one - I NEED THIS SHIRT IN MY LIFE.

The perfect flag returns again! 

 I cannot make a post without atleast one food item being displayed. So here's a token picture of a delicious lahmacun I had at a cute Turkish cafe. The servers were most enthusiastic to talk to me in Turkish, and I ended up having lunch and tea with the owner teehee.

My fascination with sheesha started a good five or six years ago, when the then-gorgeous Mocha Cafe - which specialised in thick, gooey milkshakes, heavily spiced Maggii noodles, and 'exotic' hookah flavours - opened up in Gurgaon. Soon after, whenever my friends and I would spend time together the presence of a sheesha pipe was almost an unsaid rule.

With sheesha bars becoming highly sought after in recent years, it's almost impossible to not bump into one no matter which city of the world you're in. When I travel, I love to visit a 'local' restaurant/bar/cafe/shady place where nargile is on offer. Some of my unforgettable sheesha experiences have been at a small, local Egyptian cafe overlooking the Pyramids, next to the Bosphorus, under the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, on the beach in Larnaca while soaking in the Mediterranean breeze, and in Bangkok's infamous Arab Street on Soi 3. 

While I was in Pattaya this June, my mom and I were on the hunt for nargile. But after much pacing up and down seedy sois (streets), we realised that we were more than ready to pass on the sheesha if it meant not having to sit in gaudily lit open bars crammed with older Caucasian gentlemen and very respectable women looking for a good time and blasting everything from Black Eyed Peas hits to ridiculously upbeat Thai electro-pop. Avoid.

Unfortunately now in Haryana there's a ridiculously unfounded ban on all public displays of anything hookah-related. Don't even ask. However, strangely enough, Utsav and I found what seems to be a licensed sheesha cafe the other day - sweeeet. One of our new go-to places to hang out this summer? Certainly. Pictures from the day are below. 

Sheesha, hookah, nargile, waterpipe, hubble-bubble - whatever it's called, wherever I am, I'm drawn. The ethereal aromas of fruity concoctions, from double apple, watermelon, grape and mint, and pina colada. The satisfaction you attain from the long, deep, slow drags from the pipe, accompanied by the bubbling tune of water rushing around in the colourful, adorned glass base. The billowy, white, cloud-like smoke that envelops you after even a brief exhalation. Bliss. 

More pictures to follow when I'm done going through my ridiculously unorganised archive of photographs. 

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