In summer of 2012, I interned at the Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya where they conduct very groundbreaking research especially on tropical diseases (and before you ask, yes they conduct ethically sound research that follows World of Health Animal Research Protocols). My favorite part of the internship was the enrichment project where select staff, such as myself, played with the monkeys, chimps, and other primates for at least an hour a day. This enrichment project was created under the reason that the primates should still have a life with some daily fun even though they were being used for research. I was reflecting upon this experience recently and I realized that even humans are primates so we have to remember to always create some joy in our lives. The word enrichment is befitting because it enhances the value and quality of our lives. Another phrase that I love is “la joie de vivre” which is French for “joy of life”.
I personally find my joie de vivre in three things: art, food, and music. I just recently had a quick vacation to Houston that encompassed those three things so let me highlight them below in picture format.
ART (all pictures taken at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX)
The Savoy Restaurant is definitely a must-visit spot for Indo-Pakistani food. At the bottom left of the photo, you can see green specks in the naan which are cilantro and Jalapeno peppers. As such, this naan is called “the bullet” naan. This was my first time having it and now I am obsessed. Also, tried goat brain masala which was better than one could expect. My favorite, of course, was the goat biryani.
The main person that inspired my recent trip to Houston is Lauryn Hill as she had a concert lined up on Thursday, May the 9th. Despite bad weather and flash flood warning, we showed up and luckily, she did too. Her performance was amazing and she delivered considering 20 plus years have passed since the release of her album, The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill. Her guitarists and backup singers were on point too. Please watch the clip below for a morsel of her performance.
Since February is the month of love with my previous post delving into love & divine intervention, I would like to dedicate this post to my second love (music). I am saying “second love” because it is more logical for your parent (s) to be your first love. Side note: when I was a little girl, my parents would try to ask me which one of them I loved more and I would smartly avoid the question by saying that I loved them both equally. Luckily, they never asked me that question during my teenage years because music was definitely my greatest love (cue that Ciara track) at that time.
After long days filled with teenage angst and drama, music brought some well-needed peace to my life. Specifically, Bob Marley music was what really spoke to me at that rebellious time. I would listen to “redemption song” at least once a day and knew the lyrics word for word. The guy I shared my first kiss with actually told me that he didn’t think Bob Marley was a good singer and that was a total deal breaker. I think one of the greatest moments in relationships, friendships included, is discovering each other’s music.
In the past year, I have added new music to my collection from Latino, French, and even fellow African friends. But the greatest moment is when someone collects your music and appreciates the songs you adore. On my last Houston trip, I met an African American guy who listened to Davido and thought Davido was Hispanic. I was so happy to tell him that Davido is an African like me. Also later in the year, I met a Hispanic couple who love listening to another African artist known as Koredo Bello. In both incidences, I asked how they discovered such an artist and YouTube was always the answer. So the invention of the century award deserves to go to YouTube, in my opinion, for bringing us music lovers together and helping us discover new music. So in the spirit of sharing music, here are 3 songs that I am currently obsessed with:
Shakira- “Whenever wherever”. I have always loved this song but it wasn’t until this year that I really listened to the song, looked up the lyrics, and realized what a beautifully written song it is. Here’s a little cameo for those of you who don’t have time to look up the full lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weRHyjj34ZE
“Lucky that my lips not only mumble
They spill kisses like a fountain
Lucky that my breasts are small and humble
So you don’t confuse them with mountains”
Sam Smith ft Normani – “Dancing with a stranger’. Definitely a song with better use of the lyrics “look what you made me do” (little shade to Taylor Swift fans). And both artists can really sing the hell out of those lyrics and those that follow. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brmW88EO_cI
Patoranking – “Suh Different”. When I need energy, this song delivers just that. It’s also that goodbye weekdays, hello weekend song that never fails. If you listen to the song, you would think Patoranking is from the Caribbean but he is actually Nigerian which goes to show that music transcends borders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WOHZ9QhI9M
This was one of the first songs I learned how to play on the guitar. It’s pretty simple and this version is shortened from the original song. I have always loved how this song has so much raw emotion and the lead singer of the band No Doubt, Gwen Stefani did it way more justice than I did. In the video, I am dressed in my work scrubs and hospital shoes because I had to work today for my final day of work for the year. I have decided to take a brief break from the blog until the week of January 14th so look out for the next blog post during that time. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and happy start to the new year! I think this song fits in with letting go of things that no longer serve you, fulfill you, etc. So I hope that now Christmas is over, people can find time to focus on their goals for the new year. Cheers! See you in 2019!
I know it has been a minute since I have posted a guitar cover and to be honest, it was because I chasing perfection. I recently started listening to a podcast called Jesus and Jollof with Yvonne Orji and Luvvie who preach about not chasing perfection as most of the time it leads to procrastination. So here goes a guitar cover that is far from perfect but I am glad I finally got it done. The song “Free Fallin” is originally by Tom Petty but most famously to me by John Mayer. Every time I listen to this song, I literally feel like I am free and to be free is to let go of all worry, doubt, and fear. So here is my new life mantra: “I am free”. I hope you may enjoy my cover and the original song (both of which I will post below). Thanks for reading and listening. 🙂 ❤
The people. I think no matter where you go, the people always play a major role in how much you enjoy being in a place. Luckily for the city of angels, the people are pretty nice. I will say the people in Orange County are even nicer and I am not just saying this because my friend lives there. I didn’t see any fights break out when we are enjoying the nightlife so I am going to take a guess that people are also pretty laid back as they are typically described.
The food. Man oh man. The food was amazing. I tried street food, restaurant food, and food trucks. None of the food I had in California disappointed me even a single bit. I had so much Mexican food (tacos, divorciados egg breakfast), that I should probably be able to speak Spanish by now. I seriously had the best taco of my life from a food truck at a food market (Smorgasburg, LA) and it was a pork taco, which I don’t typically eat (unless we’re talking about bacon). I have been to markets in other cities before: Boston, Nairobi, and Cape Town. I will say the Smorgasburg and the market in Cape Town are tied in my heart (mainly because South Africa really knows how to do burgers). See pictures below.
The events. My friend and I had come up with a pretty solid itinerary of events that we wanted to go. The Friday that I arrived we did a club/bar crawl in Downtown L.A. where we got to experience some really cool spots, including some clubs/bars that were underground and were renovated bank vaults. The second night we went to an African club that had an awesome DJ that kept playing the best afro-beats all night long. On the third night we ended up at a Jamaican party and later at a Kenyan party with DJ Fully Focus being the headliner. Both events were really cool and how we ended up at some of these events was divine intervention as they weren’t part of our itinerary. So moral of the story is, definitely have a plan but be also open to other experiences when they arise. See pictures below.
The places. If you’ve ever watched any shows or movies set in Los Angeles, you already know it’s a beautiful city. What stood out to me is that despite being such an urban place, there is so much natural scenery for your eyes to behold. From mountains to the palm trees (btw the palm trees there are so majestically tall), your eyes never lack stimulation. We went on a hike near the Hollywood sign and it was very scenic. We also went to Venice Beach, which not only had a beautiful landscape but also a lot of opportunity to people watch. What also impressed me about Venice Beach is that there a lot of activities to do like renting a scooter, skateboarding or watching other people skateboard, exercising or just enjoying the ocean. Lastly, we also checked out the Hollywood walk of fame, which was pretty cool because there are a lot of people on that street (especially tourists) so you really get to experience the big city feel. Also, I got to take a picture with Michael Jackson and Adam Levine’s star because who doesn’t love these pop stars.
The weather. If L.A. wasn’t so expensive, I would move here just because of the weather. No humidity, no snow, and very little rainfall. The place is basically a desert terrain but it doesn’t feel to dry. I will say that their oceans are pretty cold though as compared to the Gulf Shores. All in all, L.A. probably has the best weather in the U.S. Until next time, L.A.ers. Thank you for a wonderful time. 🙂 ❤
I am a visual person so the best way to show someone New Orleans is through an in-person tour or in pictures. My brother and I went on Saturday for Essence Fest and intended on coming back that same night. However, New Orleans has some magic and a family friend of ours who was there for a girls trip invited us to join them that night. Eventually, it was too late to go home so we crashed at their beautiful air bnb and did leave until Sunday evening. I didn’t take any pictures at the concert because my phone was dying but just to break it down for you: Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Salt and Pepa, Brandy, Xscape, and Mary J. Blige all had really awesome performances. Without further ado, let’s get to the photos.
Day Activities : click arrow for next picture in slideshow
Let me just say that the food in New Orleans never disappoints. Definitely, a must visit place if you’re ever in the Gulf Coast area of the U.SA. And yes I do believe in magic….New Orleans magic 🙂 ❤
In the event of Kanye West saying “slavery was a choice” and people we looked up to such as Morgan Freeman being accused of sexual harassment, we have to acknowledge the duality of human existence. A person can be a great musician, actor, co-worker etc but still be a less than perfect human. When we revere people to the extent of unrealistic adoration, we are bound to be disappointed because no one can ever live up to such expectations.
In the words of Tupac, “ a role is something people play and a model is something people make. Both of those things are fake.” I think it’s okay to have a role model for a specific facet of their life but not for their entire being. For example, we can admire Michael Jackson for his work ethic but not for his other life choices. We can admire Kevin Hart for his humor but not for his infidelity. When we realize that people are more complex than what we see with our eyes, we allow them to make their choices and have their peace.
I was watching an interview of Keke Palmer on the Breakfast Club radio show. Let me just say Keke is able to dissect being human so well for a person who is just 24 years old. In the interview, she discusses going through depression and growing up in the limelight. Her most interesting discussion for me is when she recalls the first time that her parents fell short of her expectations. She wasn’t trying to throw her parents under the bus. She was simply making the point that everyone is bound to disappoint us at one point or another. However, the greatest disappointment is when our parents first let us down. It’s not until that we are adults that we are realize that our parents are just human and were trying to do their best when raising us.
So to drive the point home, It’s important to recognize the complexity of human nature. It’s important not to harbor hate or judgment towards someone because of his or her life decisions. Everyone is going through life without a road map just like you. Nobody is perfect, including you, so don’t expect perfection (even from yourself). This post feels like a TED talk or therapy session, I’ve been avoiding writing this one for a while but I am glad that it finally came together in my head.