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Foreign language love on Netflix.

So I watched 2 Spanish movies back to back and I absolutely loved both. What am I doing only watching English movies when Peru and Spain and Mexico are coming up with some amazing stories? The most recent movie I watched was 'How to get over a break up'. Now I know that the title is really cheesy, but the movie is really well made. All the characters are well developed, the setting is beautiful - I mean you can watch the movie just for the house, and the story is well written and it leaves you inspired.

I basically love stories based in cities around the world - that side of the world that doesn't really get a stage on Hollywood or Bollywood. This movie is based in Lima and that was enough to convince me to click on play. It's the story of 28 year old woman that goes by the name 'Fe' who gets dumped in the beginning of the movie by a guy whom she has been dating for 6 years! The movie is about her journey as she starts to understand who she truly is, and the movie shows how she goes over all the stages of a break up - the denial and the anger and the negotiation and the depression - I don't remember all the stages to be honest. We get to see some really nice characters like her friends, colleagues and her ex as well - and some of them get their own sub story.

I love how the movie ends - I can't say it wasn't expected - we all have seen enough series and movies in our lives to predict endings. But this was a great foreign language movie for me and if you are subscribed to Netflix - a must watch. Here's the link. If you want to check out some other foreign movies - you can try some of these which I watched on Netflix.

No Estoy Loca (I am not crazy) - the story of how a woman accepts and understands herself. It's a light comedy, about life, heart breaks and importantly, also about mental health. Set in Chile.

The Tribe - a story of a man who goes through a rough patch, a loss in memory and ultimately a true finding of himself. Again, it's a light, feel good drama and lots of dancing. Set in Spain.

The Red Thread - This movie started off as a light romantic drama but kept getting more deep. I don't know how I feel about this movie to be honest. I guess I lean more towards romance+comedy genre and this was mostly romance. A fateful encounter of 2 people that would start a passionate story.

And finally, a series - that is if you're looking for something longer - that I really liked was 'The hookup plan'. A French romantic-comedy drama series. The characters are all amazing and if you're looking for some fun+love in Paris - watch this one.

Hope you liked these recommendations - let me know if you have any other reccos. Have a great day.

About sleeping soundly

It had been a few months that I have been thinking of a solution to my sleeping problem. I couldn't sleep. Extremely small sounds would wake me up. Footsteps outside. Snoring. A fast car driving by (mind you we stay on the 12th floor) but still the faint sound of vehicles would keep me awake. I had sampled out simple ear plugs that you get in hardware stores. Those cost peanuts - but they don't stay in the ear properly neither do they drown out any sound.

I tried out noise cancelling Bose headphones and of course they served the purpose - but you can't really use an expensive pair of ear phones - you'll land up pretty much destroying them and after a while - they begin to hurt your ears.

I did some research and finally bought something off Souq.com - a pair of Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone ear plugs - they're a pair of 6 silicone putty moulds. They're literally moulds - soft round ones placed in an easy to carry travel case.

It's not brand new - I wanted to use the silicone ear plugs a couple of times before writing this piece - just to be sure.

They're unconventional - imagine rolling them to a soft round dough kind of thing, placing them in your ears and allowing them to take the shape of your ears. It may come across as icky to many.
Anyhow, if you can move past the unconventional bit - these plugs work real fine. They drown out the sound so beautifully - I have been sleeping quite well the last few weeks. They're sticky so you can plug them in your ears and they'll stay the night just fine. I was quite apprehensive the first couple of nights - but over a period of time, you get used to the quiet after you put them on and then you just get used to the putty moulds.

Is it safe to use and can it be reused?
It is safe to use - as long as you don't break each plug into 2 pieces so you can save some money. There are clear instructions on the box which tell you to not roll them and place them far inside your ear or to break them and use them as two instead of one. As for economy, I typically reuse the plug for 3-4 nights. The trick is to keep it in a clean and dust free place after each use. After that, it loses it's stickiness and gets dirty.

Does it actually work?
I have tried many methods to cancel the noise but these Mack's, by far, have worked best. They reduce ambient sound very well while not hurting your ear. They're quite soft and just stay put - blocking out noise.

Are they worth it?
For me, getting a good nights sleep was becoming challenging so I was willing to spend a reasonable amount. I got my 6 pairs at 25 AED / 7 USD (I got it during a sale) and that you can reuse them means the cost to block out sound comes to approx. less than 40 cents a night.

These are unlike other plugs - these are just a moulds. But it does the job. If you have had a success with a pair of ear plugs or any other method that allows you to sleep peacefully - let me know in the comments. Have a good week!

PS - This is not sponsored, I am just happy to have come across these and thought of sharing the information with you all. 

5 months off Facebook

Well before the scandal at Facebook broke out and well before Mark Zuckerberg was invited to speak (defend?) to the US senators regarding Facebook data privacy, I deactivated my profile. Honestly, I thought it would be for a week or two - like the previous times I had deactivated my profile.
But it's been 5 months. I think I was concerned about the inappropriate amount of time I spent scrolling through the timeline - often times commenting - in my head - on every single post that appeared on my feed (how narcissistic was that?)

Photo by Rawpixel
Facebook is great - but lately, I prefer a more 'pick up the phone and talk' kind of approach. I talk to lesser people than I used to. I struggle when someone asks me, 'so who all do you keep in touch with?' I can count the people on my fingers. But I have better conversations with those fewer people. And that's working for me.

Postcards from a village near Pushkar, Rajasthan

I've always wanted to go to an actual village, and on a recent trip to India - I got to experience one of the best 24 hours of my life. When you live in a big city like Dubai, the idea of silence, barren land and 'no wifi signal' fade to make sense. We live immersed in so much convenience and technology even without actually understanding it, that to see how lives are lived in small villages in the middle of the desert in India can be a heart wrenching experience. (I am not exaggerating)

Why did I choose Pushkar - and where is it? 
Pushkar is a small town a couple of hours from the capital city of Rajasthan. It is very famous for its annual camel fair - when thousands of camels from all over India are brought to this town to trade, showcase, breed etc. That's how I know about this place. I have a fascination for small towns, the community - what makes the people stay in these towns, how they earn a living, how the children think, where do they buy their every day groceries from and what kind of functions/ festivals do the people go to. The fact that there was easy access from Jaipur via the railways and that I found this amazing farmer who had a small boutique hotel (like really a tiny hut) that seemed like an experience worth having combined with the fact that I did not have a reason to travel to Pushkar; made me go to Pushkar.

It's been a while in Dubai

It’s just any other Friday evening. As the colours of the sky change from a dull indigo to a pale crimson to a beautiful midnight blue, I can see the lights come on. From where I sit, I can see the skyline of the famous Dubai Marina. The shadowy silhouette is slowly changing to a beautifully lit silhouette. I am tempted to take a bus, the F29, my lifeline, to Dubai Marina; just to walk by the water – with the many yachts parked, swaying almost negligibly, on one side and the tall rise buildings on the other side. There are residential buildings, hotels and office buildings, all shining glamorously as the designers have ensured that the steel and glass live up to their reputation of being popular modern architecture elements.

I don’t know if Dubai has ever been called the land of dreams, but for more than a million Asian and Western expats, this city has become synonymous to being called a second home. From the outside, Dubai is a perfect city – I say perfect thinking of Nadia Comaneci and her famous 10 score at the Olympics. But Dubai allows, or rather unceremoniously ignores the chaos, the tiny streets where hustlers sell their artefacts, where taxis park erroneously; surely making the visionaries of this futuristic city scratch their heads in their sleep, where an older generation – the one that came to Dubai in the 90’s – lives in buildings so old, it could remind you of a section of Mumbai’s Dadar.

Art inspiration in Dubai

Last weekend, I visited Alserkal Avenue, which is alternatively called a hub of creativity and art. I wanted to check it out for myself, see what exactly the place was all about. Even though it's October it is still hot and humid here in Dubai (I would have loved to declare that Autumn is here, but alas, not yet).

There's a lot of walking around to be done, the Avenue is a maze of warehouses, dotted neatly alongside a criss-cross of tiny lanes. Unsure of where to begin, I walked over to the A4 Space, it seemed like a popular meeting spot. The day I went, there were dozens of NYU students who had come to check out the place, like I had.

The A4 Space is a minimally designed, artsy warehouse space, with benches and chairs, plants and eclectic lighting fixtures all over. A small stairway led me to the top - where there were more couches and hundreds of books to browse through. This was only my first stop at the Avenue, and I couldn't wait to walk around (in spite of the heat).

Some photos from my visit.

Swimming with dolphins in Dubai

At around 7 am on a lazy Friday summer morning, I look out of the window - hoping for a slightly less sunny day than usual. I was nervous, I hoped that day would go as expected. We took a cab by around 9 am after a quick breakfast - we'd rather be early than be late. Atlantis is a luxury resort located at the northern tip of the Palm Jumeirah (I always wondered how these artificial islands look like - would there be a lot of swaying palms ? Apparently not.).

We drove past the Atlantis hotel, and it was definitely majestic. On one side was the hotel on a sprawling piece of land, on the other side was the Arabian Gulf - the water looked a beautiful blue. As we walked into the Atlantis, along with 100s of other tourists, I was surprised. I did expect company, not throngs of people - the activity we had chosen was quite expensive (or so I thought). However, eventually I realized that most of the crowd would take a small turn towards the aqua park and the aquarium called 'Lost Chambers'. I was restored to my original state of mind. I really wanted to enjoy the morning.

We were given a map of the property, and I remember rolling my eyes (unconsciously of course) when I realized the Dolphin Bay was at another end of the property. 'Don't worry ma'am, there's a buggy that'll take you around' a nice lady quickly told me.

As we walked towards the buggy, we were instantly transported to a tropical island kind-of place - there was lush greenery wherever our eyes could see. After the buggy dropped us at the entrance to the Dolphin Bay, we were greeted by the staff. But hey, I wasn't listening. I had spotted the shiny dark grey figures swimming around casually in the bay. I stood fixed to the ground, seeing them swim around in one of the large pools was so beautiful. For someone who has never seen dolphins, this is a beautiful spectacle - for kids and adults alike.

Traveling solo, tips and some safe destinations : Aswathy Honeylal

I am always in awe and inspired by a few friends of mine, who are bitten by the wanderlust bug, those who have full time jobs and yet, manage to travel, quite a bit. We got talking to Aswathy, an ex-colleague and a friend, who, yes very much, hopes to see as many countries and experience as many moments all over the globe as she can. She has been traveling solo for a couple of years now, and has traveled to 24 countries, and while I write this, I am sure she's planning her next trip.

1. Why did you first decide to travel solo?
I first decided to travel solo mainly because it was difficult for my friends and I to manage our leaves at the same time. At one point the desire to take a break and travel was so overwhelming, that it made me take the leap of faith, and do a solo trip (the best decision of my life :)). The mantra running in my head was, if not now, then when?