The Arabian Gulf… or how I began the year

30 01 2009

After almost killing myself working during Christmas, the time to leave for the trip came… I found myself running around like crazy, forgetting a million things (including the usb drives), barely sleeping, living in two time zones once again, tired, stressed, wishing I had two more days to finish things and concerned that I was going to miss my flight…

But the day came, and because I am lucky to have the best friends, Channe came over to help me pack, clean my house, give me support, share some wine, and drive me to LAX…

And a few days later, I was in Dubai…







I was hoping to find more desert, a more “Arabic” experience… Instead I found myself surrounded by the tallest buildings, one way “freeways”, lack of parking space, shopping malls bigger than my city, tourist “tours”, random workers that only spoke english, or Urdu, Tagalog, and Punjabi… The Emiratis were a rare group, rarely seen out on the streets… They wore the traditional Desert clothes, and could be found carrying their kids, while their wives spent a fortune on clothes meant to be seen only by them… They were warm and friendly, and surprisingly accessible, even to me as a single women…. and not only them, but all the muslims I encountered… It is almost like they shared the same relaxed attitude of someone that is on vacation… they went on with their lives, thankful to be there, happy about the diversity, curious about our upbringing, but, more importantly, eager to tell me about where they came from…

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Back to the desert…

25 11 2008

We have been talking about this for a while, and today I finally got us tickets to travel to Dubai… Dubai people, like, in the Middle East..We will be presenting in a conference there in January, and then I am taking a few days off to go to Paris… I am so beyond excited, although I know that this means sleepless nights and extensive meetings for all the holiday period. Things have been tough lately at work, but I have to appreciate that we are still busy, and expanding, considering the mess the world’s economy is in… and the fact that I get to chose my projects, and I am doing something I REALLY LOVE… Plus, as much as I complain, there are perks, like the trips, and the experience, and the meetings, and the fact that my boss trusts me enough to put me in charge of operations like this…and in case I need a vacation from this trip, I will be spending four days in Paris on my way back…

It was so hard to choose, because I could technically go anywhere in Europe… But, north of France it will be too cold, Greece?, too risky, fuck I call Greece when I am drunk HERE, god knows I would have just made my way to his village after few ouzos, and Italy? A bit out of the way… The other option was Madrid, but Paris was easier logistically, and way cheaper.. and besides, it might be dangerous to go to Spain alone, I might fall in love with the… ahhh.. buildings.. and then have to stay there 😉

So get ready to hear a lot of complaints about my lack of time, a lot of travel planning ideas which I won’t be able to fit into two weeks, and my usual random stories… Oh, and I am leaving for PR on Thursday!!! but more on that later…





jewish wisdom…

3 10 2008

“When faced with the choice of first healing ourselves or first healing the world, the answer is that we must do both simultaneously”
-Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan

As I have been studying more about religions that attract me, their interconnectedness is astounding. well, I am not what you would consider a “religious person” in any way.. But, in my constant quest for understanding, I’ve become very interested in Buddhism.. and as I have been learning, it has been surprising how much it relates to Judaism, to science, to psychology.. thus further supporting my way of life, where I try to learn as much as I can about a subject, incorporate what feels right and move on to the next one.. The other day I was reading an interview with a Buddhist monk, where he establishes the same principle… We do not function as individuals, we are part of a whole.. and this quote summarizes my current way of life at its best.. We can not reach a state of fulfillment if we only care for ourselves, we must care for the world at the same time..
Somehow, this view creates a bigger sense of purpose.. I am not here just for me, but for everything else.. I belong to the world, therefore I must care for it as much as I care for myself.. Little things, like eating organic local produce, make me feel better, because I am caring for my body and the environment in equal measure… In my job, I encounter situations everyday where people can chose to do the right thing for the world, thus also benefiting themselves, or they can chose to make those decisions from a selfish standpoint.. looking how they would benefit THEMSELVES, paying little attention to how this hurts their surroundings.. and it saddens me, in a way.. but it also empowers me, to try harder, to use the tools I have to educate them..

When I began developing my company, creating green education program ideas, developing an eco-friendly product from scratch.. people laughed at me.. saying things like, you are so smart, do you think you should invest your energy in something that will make you rich?? well, in the end, I am the one laughing.. even if I never make a dollar out of my projects, I am so so happy I got to do this.. because, in my world, every little thing we can do to help the environment, our communities, our neighbors, our enemies, counts.. if everyone just did a little, can yo imagine how powerful we could be??

However much time you invest in healing yourself, is pointless if you don’t work on healing the world, because, seriously, how well can you sleep at night, when you know there are kids DYING everyday because of corrupt governments and bureaucracies?? For how long can yo meditate, when you have seen the pictures of dead soldiers, sick kids, desperate mothers??

So let’s try to make our goal this month to, at least, think a bit about the current situation of the world.. about all the damage we have created.. about how we, while we take care of ourselves, can also heal the world..





The promised land…

17 08 2008

So…Since a day by day recap is out of the question because: 1) There were days in where, although relaxing, there is not much to talk about, and 2) I have lost track of which day we did what.., I will divide the trip’s posts by city…
Let’s begin…My first experience of Israel was Tel Aviv.. That magical place, according to my israeli friends, filled with hot israeli men and endless partying, not to mention the beach, and the food.. OK, first thing, these people need to travel more.. I mean, at any given point, if I disregarded the signs in Hebrew I could have sworn I was in PR, in the suburbs that surround Old San Juan.. The weather wasn’t as hot as I expected, and the infrastructure is very poor..

But I guess than when all the neighboring countries are trying to eliminate you, rebuilding the city just for aesthetics becomes second priority…

The beach, on the other hand, is amazing… What else would you expect of beaches in the Mediterranean? Although according to a certain Greek the waters here are murky compared to the ones on his end of this sea.. We were staying on Dizengoff, which according to the locals, is the place to be.. kinda central, full of cafes that never close, kinda hip, always busy…I was a 15 minute walk from the beach, and just around the corner there were more restaurants than I could remember.

Here are more pics..

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is definitively a magical place, but for a different reason.. This place has a vibe like no other I’ve experienced. Maybe the constant death threats make the people here really enjoy things.. They live hard..





Afghanistan

18 12 2007

I read The Kite Runner about 3 years ago. It was one of those books that you just HAVE to finish… and I finished reading it in one day. We went to see the movie last Sunday night. It was one of those movies that portrays the book amazingly. All the important and relevant parts are shown, the end is not rushed, and the cinematography is to die for. And it gives the oppressed people of Afghanistan a face, a name. It brings home, through a story about friendship and love, a picture of what their reality was, and how scared and confused they were, while continue being human, and facing all the doubts and hopes and aspirations we have. The desire to belong, loyalty, wanting to be accepted, guilt.

When the US decided to invade Afghanistan, the American people knew very little about the Taliban, or the oppression present in that country. Or how they had been oppressed for years, invaded by so many others. For me it all seemed so surreal, watching them on tv, their suffering, their hopelessness. I tried to learn as much as I could about them, trying to find a logical explanation of why they were in that situation, what had brought them to that position, where religious extremists controlled their country, their everyday, their lives.

In his second book, Khaled Hosseini goes deeper into the political situation of Afghanistan. It was such a sad book. How these women live. With no hope, forced to not exist. With no rights, no future, no education, and in constant fear. And it was so much more touching for me. How did the world allow this to happen. How can we sit here sipping martinis on a rooftop bar, and driving our expensive cars, and worrying about who wore what, when these atrocities were going on?? How do these things take place, still, all around the world?? What can I do to change that, to help them??

Sadly there is not much to be done, in most of these countries the governments are so corrupt and unstable, that help barely makes it to the ones who need it most. I have always opposed war. And whatever reasons Bush had to invade Afghanistan i don’t really trust. But the fact that, despite the rise in violence, and the obvious destruction that comes with war, freedom was restored, is comforting. The thought that while not completely free, they have more liberties, more happy moments, and ultimately more hope, makes me feel that not all is lost for them.

So this year, in the light of this newfound awareness, I am celebrating the Holidays in a different way. I have been modifying my lifestyle. Trying to live simpler. Not buying so much, and concentrating on what is really important. Instead of expensive presents, I am making meaningful presents for everyone…Letters, pictures, paintings..Things that evoke emotion, and gratitude… We are so blessed to live here, to have all this…Freedom, Peace, Rights…And we should always remember to be grateful, every single day.