Spring in London

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Photographer: Lamya Alfaify | Model: Duha Ali

I have always wanted to take a picture like this.

But then again I have wanted, for the longest time, to experience spring in Japan (mostly in cities like Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka) but have encountered the beautiful season here, in London.

The picturesque cherry blossom trees attract young photographers or any passer-by, similarly to the way it attracts bees. However, they are not easy to find. I had to walk for an hour in Hyde Park to find one. My love for cherry blossom trees is eternal. I succeeded in finding more than one, surprisingly. White and pink cherry blossom trees were all around the park if you know where to look. They are scattered in different places and only the lucky ones get to picture them. As the flowers tend to fall pretty quickly. In full bloom, the trees are simply hard to miss. If you are not a fan of Hyde Park, Holland Park is the best option for you. The park has beautiful forest like views, colourful plants and shrubs, neatly chopped wood on the ground, which I am sure is for decorative purposes only and peacocks. Yes, you read that right. And no, you are not allowed to feed them.

“Contained within the park is the beautiful Kyoto Garden; a Japanese garden donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991.”  The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The parks are filled with people. Some would have a picnic with family and friends, others would ride their bikes. Older people will be sitting on benches, reading or otherwise staring at the lake in front of them. You will see more of the active groups – doing what they love; skating, running or yoga. Others just simply like to have a walk and enjoy the warm breeze. Like my friend and I. We tried jogging just for the fun of it and oh boy! that was embarrassingly awful! We had to stop every half a minute! We were so bad at it.

I would normally get a cup of coffee and a chocolate brownie and walk with my friend till sunset. We try our best not to let time pass without us making memories. We would take lots of photos and videos. Funny or serious. We would remember every single moment spent that day. The parks of London have joined many people together, from long-lost friendships to loved ones. I would find markings on trees and benches of initials and a heart symbol and be inquisitive about their story. How many have passed by and left a mark on wooden canvases just to be remembered? It triggers curiosity and makes myself and people wonder.

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History of Art

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Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

Since I was a child, I wasn’t really interested in our culture, traditions and customs. I’ve been going to an English school my whole life and did not take Arabic or Islamic classes. I lived like a foreigner in my own country. I remember when I used to shop and ask for a specific item, the saleslady would stare at me and asked if I was Qatari. I would reply: “Yes I am” with a smile on my face seeing her astonished expression.

In 2008 a museum opened here in Doha. It’s all about Islamic architecture. It was the first in the Middle East and contains many spectacular Islamic arts. The museum also has a library and many restaurants. It is located on the edge of Doha harbour. The man who designed it took about six months to travel and learn about the Muslim world.

The entrance is beautiful, with all the palm trees on your right and left-hand side with winds blowing through them. And let’s not forget the water fountain, hearing the sound of little drops splash into the water and rise again. You walk up ahead and turn to your left and see these high buildings that weren’t there years ago, this gives me the feeling of pride.

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The interior is amazingly designed with Islamic patterns, and when I got to the third floor and look down there’s this wonderful view of the whole building from inside. The way I.M. Pei designed the steps is rather intriguing. My personal favourite was the ceiling! When I stood near the steps and looked up, I was awestruck.

The works on display were stunning indeed. I loved the warm lighting and feel of the room. The collection of objects really suited the theme of the museum. In our religion, the colour green is the colour of heaven. I saw two masterful pieces, the green dagger and the green necklace. The handle of the dagger was made beautifully with olive green marble, covered with tiny flowers which had ruby stones. The dagger looked very sharp and had a green cover. The start and end of the cover were gold with beautiful details. As for the necklace, it was truly amazing, made out of gold with white pearls all around it, and then came dangling stones which looked like transparent marbles but with a touch of green. There was another set of dangling marbles which were medium forest green and had little bubbles in them. The marble in the middle was a little lighter in colour than the other, but seeing it as a whole makes you want to own one.

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Overall, I really liked what I saw. The museum was pretty neat and clean. The setting and the way the objects were placed caught my attention the most. Every time you enter a room there is a different smell and feeling. It’s a lovely place to visit; I would totally recommend it to newcomers.

More information here.

Foreigner’s impact on local communities

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Foreigners are everywhere these days. Some come as tourists and others stay for a while. By coming to your country, they bring a little of their ways with them. And you ask yourself if what they are doing is right due to what you believe in. So the question is: “Do foreigners influence local communities?”

Some might agree and some might not, it all depends on how they were raised. In Qatar, for example, some families are very strict on how their children grow up to be. From day one they plan the child’s future. The parents also choose one of their relatives to be their future life partner. This is also known as ‘arranged marriage’. Hearing such stories makes one feel sorry for them. However, many other families do not pay any attention to their children. This leads teenagers to think that they are old enough to do what pleases them and that they can handle anything that comes their way. Teenagers get these influences from what they see around them and from social media platforms. This is where the foreigner’s impact comes in.

A few days ago I interviewed a lovely housewife, Angel Carvalho. She is a mother of two and is currently working to make money for her daughter’s wedding. I asked her “how did foreigners effect your country?” which is India. She replied straight away with a smile on her face: “Business people from all over the world had brought wealth to this country.” Indians are known to be the best at information technology. She added that foreign students visit India to study and learn about its culture and old history. India was ruled by Britain back then. “I have seen foreign students run around with their notebooks all over the place” Carvalho said. They explore ancient buildings and write about what was once there and how it ended up being like this today. It was interesting to know that foreigners, so many of them come to learn about the country’s traditional dances, arts and how Indians use herbs as medicine. The native word for that is “Ayurveda.” Making medicine and learning natural massage techniques and yoga is the main reason why many foreigners visit this country. Let’s not forget about India’s beautiful nature which fills the heart with awe. “There are many lakes, rivers, mountains and greenery that will make you feel as if you are in heaven” she said. Carvalho did not mention anything about how foreigners effect the local community. She said that Indians stick to their culture, traditions and beliefs. Carvalho ended the interview by saying “anyone who follows people such as these is not considered as family.”

Some may say it is the parents’ fault but I say otherwise. If a child wants to do something, nothing can get in their way. They make and plan their own lives as they grow. I know from self-experience.