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Posts from the ‘My path’ Category

A Vegetarian’s Guide to Bodrum, Turkey

Vegetarian Mezzes in Bitez @ Bodrum’un Mezecisi

Bodrum is delicious, health-trendy not! If you are into the vegan lifestyle or organic raw or gluten-free diet, Bodrum can’t deliver. We spent two months searching for places that can provide clean health-food but alas, we didn’t have many breakthroughs. Below are reviews of the only two mainly-vegetarian restaurants on the Bodrum peninsula.

KISMET LOKANTASI

Atatürk Bulvarı No: 35 / A Konacık Bodrum, Turkey (Behind Finansbank)
+90 252 319 0096        Hours: 11am-4pm

Open only for lunch, Kismet Lokantasi is the first Slow Food restaurant on the Aegean. Located on a side street in Konacik, a town right outside of the Bodrum harbor, Kismet Lokantasi offers an array of Turkish/Aegean vegetarian dishes.

The restaurant is set up with a collective feel of a canteen– patrons must gesture to the manager what dishes they want from the glass counter. After the manager has written down the order, one must find a place to sit among the communal tables. There is both indoor and outdoor seating. Miraculously, the food arrives at one’s table within minutes — even though the  manager doesn’t give out numbers or take a name!

tomato and eggplant mussaka, shepard salad, chickpea mash, hummus, yoghurt with mint, quinoa bell pepper salad

The scrumptious healthy home-cooked meal is served on small white plates in order for everyone in your party to share and get in on all the flavors. The manager, the waiters and the cashier are all very helpful and rich in smiles. Prices are extremely fair thanks to the fact that this lokontasi (casual restaurant) is only known by locals; in fact, each time we dined here, we were the only foreigners.
Tip: Either get here before noon or after 2:30pm as it gets very busy! Be aware that some of the dishes may already be sold out if you get here in the late afternoon.

Dont Forget! Kismet Lokantasi only serves lunch!

BODRUM’UN MEZECISI

Atatürk Bulvarı No: 35/C Bitez
Bitez, Bodrum, Muğla (Down the street from the famous Bitez Dondurma)
+90 252 363 9500

Tired of eating at restaurants? Head to Bitez to pick up great vegetarian take-out. Like Kismet Lokantasi, Bodrum’un Mezecisi is also part of the slow food movement but rather than serving Aegean dishes, this mezze-deli specializes in Ottoman cuisine. They offer 30 cold mezze dishes daily and one hot dish after 2pm  (at the moment, it’s spinach fritters).  Dishes are priced by weight so you can get exactly as much as you want.

Yes, you can dine-in at this mezze-deli but they prefer if you take out. 

On the plate: Hummus, green beans in olive oil, spicy yoghurt, chinese cabbage, walnut mash

On the plate: Hummus, green beans in olive oil, spicy yoghurt, chinese cabbage, walnut mash

 

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Apology to Beirut

In a prior post (Living Beirut? No, I prefer to be a summer tourist) I lashed out against living in Beirut (construction on Sunday, lack of security, traffic etc.) and now, living in New York City, which some consider “the center of the world,” I feel I must apologize to Beirut by talking about my living experience here in NYC.

Let’s start at the beginning. I am from California and we do not have cockroaches. So, when I moved into my studio apartment on September 2nd, 2013 I completely lost it when I found cockroaches hosting cocktail parties on my floors. And they wouldn’t even die when I put them down the toilet!

Dressed in my nightly layers

Dressed in my nightly layers

Then in November, when it started to get winter-coat cold and I needed heat, of course the radiators in my apartment didn’t work. It was so cold in my studio that even when the tough superintendent (what one would call a janitor in Lebanon) walked into my apartment, he had to put on a big winter coat and boots. To cope, I wore double socks, a hat, two pairs of pajamas, a sweater and a scarf to bed and still had to sleep in fetal position to feel almost comfortable. Frozen nights were finally warmed when I bought a small heater, and the radiator was fixed for a wooping fee of $700 dollars (thank God my landlord paid). Then the winter really started to never end.

Evil mice in the Nutcracker Ballet

Evil mouse in the Nutcracker Ballet

Next there were the mice. I ignored it for a while, pretended I didn’t hear scurrying. It’s your imagination I told myself until I actually saw one! Its long tale snaked across my kitchen floor and I screamed. In California, due to an outside compost bin, my family’s home hadrats, but out in the open, in big spaces, it isn’t quite as petrifying. Here, in my tiny apartment, with no real door between the kitchen and my bed, it was terrorizing. In my head, the mice in my kitchen became bigger than the humongous mice dressed in military suit found in the Nutcracker ballet. I went out to buy glue mice traps and caught the mouse soon after. All I wanted was to get out of this mouse-infested apartment. Why am I here?  I kept asking myself.

My disconnected toilet pipe from the pipe in the wall

My disconnected toilet pipe from the pipe in the wall

There was the leaking sink and then there was the toilet problem. All of a sudden, the toilet flush stopped working. The hinge itself had no leverage. Now, this could get awkward pretty fast if I don’t get someone to fix it! Thank God I hadn’t eaten or drank much that day. Subsequently, the whole back of the toilet got disconnected from the pipe in the wall. Water sprayed to flood the bathroom and reached the living room. I had had it.

In March, a small electrical fire occurred when the vacuum was plugged in; wires were so old. And then, there was the gas leak. Supposedly there was more than one! Although plumbers fixed the leak a week after it was discovered, the whole building did not have gas (which means did not have a working stove, oven and dryer) for at least a month. It could have been worse—thank God we had hot water.

When I was in Beirut, I never once had these problems that seem so 19th century. I never once saw a rat or mouse and the bathroom only flooded when I put paper down the toilet when I shouldn’t have.

Today, I found nesting cockroaches in my AC. So, living NYC? No, I prefer to be a spring tourist, and I am heading back east.

Does a BA really matter?

I have now been home a month and, after battling reverse culture shock (see: #TravelProblems: Transition back”) I, for the first time, had zero plans in regards to what I would do in the coming months. And what a scary feeling that is!

All I knew was that I wanted to write and experience life out of a university setting where my schedule was not set for me and where I had to really “bring it!” So, I applied to internships and jobs and shockingly people started calling! I never imagined I would be wanted by BIG companies or be asked to be on the core staff of a new start-up or work at the HUB, an entrepreneurial space WITHOUT MY BACHELORS DEGREE!!!!

I am so shocked that people in San Francisco really do not even blink an eye when I tell them I have not yet graduated college. This has gotten me excited and intrigued and has led me to believe that no, you do not need a Bachelors Degree in San Francisco if you have entrepreneurial instincts, a strong skill set and are willing to learn from others through experiential means. However, I tend to believe that this new wave of thinking does not have a very big radius; rather, it appears in certain areas around the globe, in pockets of open-ness. As the UnCollege  (http://www.uncollege.org/) and DoItYourselfEducation movement (http://eduventurist.org/) have grown in the past 5 years, I do believe the world is moving toward a different educational model but, while the tide is shifting course, higher education is still an extremely important part of moving up the social ladder or, quite noticeable on the international stage, maintaining that standing.

Upon many months of reflection, I have come to the conclusion that a Bachelors Degree is extremely important for most of the world as it denotes a stamp of intellect and class upon the person (now, if the person actually does have that knowledge is a different topic!) and, if one does not want to work in technology or entrepreneurial fields in the limited liberal innovative spaces scattered around the globe than, a BA is probably a good idea!

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind and I am just now settling my internship/work deals and seeing how to juggle multiple projects. There have been letdowns, miscommunications and miss-following of protocol on my part, as I have never had to “be” anything other than a full-time student. I certainly have learned a tremendous amount. Seeing how complicated and difficult it all is made me comment to my father:  “I want to go back to school! Going to classes everyday, turning in assignments and labs was SO much easier!!!”

In the following months, keep reading to find out what I decide to do in regards to that whole University and BA degree issue 😉

 

 

#WorldTravelerProblems: The Transition Back

Well, who doesn’t say that sometimes the most difficult transitions are those back to your “normal” place, or life before leaving your status quo. My return and readjustment back to the Bay Area, back to living with my family and electricity 24/7 (Ok, maybe that aspect wasn’t too bad), was not smooth.

I had forgotten how Americans, without even being aware of it, seem to get easily caught up in their isolated island, their own individual realities and lose a sense of curiosity for what is out there. The Bay Area, being the technology capital of the world, lives under the guise that “we are SO connected to the world and thus experts on EVERYTHING”—which leads to a sense of fake global awareness and knowledge.   Again, as mentioned in my prior post (“Lebanon: A Harmonic Clash?”), since most American’s truly believe that they are living in the best country that presently exists, do not need to allow their minds to wonder to far off places and different actualities. This is in contrast to all other nationalities that are always so curious about the culture of the Sates, how their particular country is viewed in the US etc.

Now, I remember how isolated I felt when moving back to the Bay Area from Italy and just how off-put I was that the only question I was ever asked was: “How was Italy?” How can you describe YEARS in one sentence? Let’s sit down, get a cup of coffee, a gelato and talk.

Talk. Here, people don’t seem to have the time to talk. And if there is time, often the conversations have seemed so petty. I do understand I am coming off a high of amazing intellectual conversations had during my stay in Lebanon. While I am not saying that this is the norm EVERYWHERE in the beautiful country, I was fortunate to find the most interesting, smart, quirky people and have the best conversations of my life!

Alas, slowly, I’ve noticed, I am getting used to this rhythm of this bay—although I am going to attend a concert given by a famous Syrian singer so I don’t forget THAT rhythm. I never want to forget how I felt in Lebanon.  I hope to bring the vibrancy, urgency, finesse and awareness of the other city by the bahr (sea) to all whom I encounter.

Do You Have Enough Freedom?

Last night, Chris Guillebeau started his book tour talk by asking the important question: “Do you have enough freedom in your life?” What an important and not usually asked question! After reading the $100 Startup (http://100startup.com/)by Chris Guillebeau I knew I had to meet the author and be around people who are thinking in the same vein about life as I am. The book is a how-to guide to all those wanting more freedom in their lives. It chronicles a diverse array of people who, many unbeknownst to themselves, have become (yes, the big word) ENTREPRENEURS!  The book is an “account of people who found a way to live their dreams and make a good living from something they cared deeply about.”

Chris Guillebeau speaking about the $100 Startup model at Booksmith in San Francisco

The criteria to have your story included in the book were:

  •  Follow-your-passion model (building your business around your passion)
  • Low Startup Cost (businesses that required less then $1,000 in startup capital)
  • At least 50,000 in year net income
  • No special skills (for example, no do it yourself dentists etc.)
  • Full financial disclosure
  • Fewer than five employees

The lesson most poignant in the book was Guillebeau’s explanation that, a business can be made by converging your passion and skills in creating something valued in the market. You may think—oh no, I do not have any skills!—But you do, if you become creative. An example in Chris’s book is Michael Hanna who after being fired from his job was given a truck full of mattresses that he successfully sold individually on craigslist. After the first few sales he had an idea:  He could create a mattress business built around the family and so different from the seedy nature of many mattress dealerships. Thus, thanks to his ability in selling and desire to help others he started a business where the whole family would be involved in buying the mattress. He set up a play area for the shopper’s children and a coffee bar for the adults. He also became the first person to have a bicycle mattress delivery service—free if the shopper arrived on bike himself to find the mattress!  Thus, VALUE can be created by deploying a skill you already have in another form.

Chris handing out cupcakes to the packed book store. standing room only!!!

Value, Guillebeau writes, means helping people. Business does not have to be so cutthroat. It does not have to be so sterile and corrupt. By thinking in the terms of creating a tool that make people’s lives easier and less-stressful and, which people see value in buying—you have yourself a business.

San Francisco is a beautiful bubble. Last night at the book signing I met fellow bloggers and people that want more freedom in their lives. I have never received more “congratulations!” on not returning to college next year. So bizarre and so awesome. But, I realize that I am in a very unique position: I live in the Bay Area. I understand that the sentiments of San Franciscans and Tech-Valley people are dissimilar from the majority of the world. It is not that others cannot create businesses stemming from their creative enlightments BUT, it is just much more common and accepted here. In San Francisco“What startup are you building?” is never far from anyone’s tongue, while elsewhere the question may be, “My God, are you sure you want to take the risk of starting your own business?” Bay Area people tend to see entrepreneurship (I am sorry to use that pretentious word again—I will start thinking of another word!) as a conservative choice in the unstable job economy of today.

Saying that, Chris Guillebeau has an extremely big following globally and his book explores micro-businesses from around the world. I can just imagine that people in the Bay Area are much more supportive of this type of do-it-yourself employment than others. Reading this book and meeting with Chris (He recognized me out of his 77,863 twitter followers after tweeting him earlier in the day) further encouraged me to live by Steve Job’s saying: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Chris measures the success of his book by the action people take after being inspired: Chris, you are successful in my book as I already have an idea in mind which I will start working on in Beirut!

My own signed copy of the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

My own signed copy of the $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Yet To Come: The Best Years of My Life

It hadn’t hit me until a friend said to me, giggling with that vacation glow, “I am on summer break but you are just beginning everything.”  Now I understand why being on summer break has felt so anti-climactic. In college, I would continuously remark how my every day life felt like summer camp (No, I never went to sleep away camp but this was how I imagined it). My friends would agree and chime in, “Yes, I was thinking the same thing earlier today.” I have left that campy bubble and entered another: that of the “real world.”

I keep recalling the relief I felt one year ago when I graduated high school. My IB exams were done and I was off to college– “the best years of my life.” Now, I feel relieved but for a different reason: I will be 20 and in charge of my life. I will be 20 and living the life I create and want. I will be 20 and out of the machine I was put in and, it will be my choice if I want to go back. Curiously, I will be studying this summer out of desire to gain a valuable skill while dissecting cultural complexities–my greatest hobby.

I have only been out of school for four days but my to-do list has grown with my many scattered plans, which I have begun to act on. In fact, I will be attending my first skillshare class this Wednesday evening!  Some may say I am all over the place but I truly feel that I need to try out as my different things as I can in order to find my focus. And so my journey, which many do not understand, scorn and become defensive about (I am not saying you should change YOUR path) has begun.

Skills, skills, skills

As an article in the Atlantic magazine said today: “For an education to be worth anything these days, it needs to impart skills.” Reading these words solidified the WHY I am leaving higher education for an alternative path where my goal is to become a skill-gainer. I fear that after four years, although I would have a diploma in my hands, I will not have learned any tool that I can use in the “real world.” No wonder 53% of all newly graduated college students are unemployed or are working jobs which are way under their supposed skill level as BA holders.

Language fluency is a skill. That is why I have embarked on the journey to learn Arabic. (Yes, I think the language is beautiful as well!). Painting and art are other activities that, in my mind, are tools. In the fall, I am planning on taking an EMT course in hopes of getting certified. Who wouldn’t want a person who is qualified in saving lives in their vicinity? And I hope one day to be able to code, among other aspirations. Now, let’s see how this all unfolds…

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