As our world grows increasingly smaller it’s easier than ever to seek refuge in the comfort of familiar places. Yet, we live in a time when thoughts and ideas manifest in flashes of delight, th blink of an eye and round-the-world travel is at the fingertips of risk takers and adventurers alike. I see Marco Polo and Gertrude Bell in the men and women I met abroad. Sharing the road, sharing tales of individual split-second experiences worth more than time itself.

I started blogging back in 2012, shortly after moving to Jordan — not only to share my story and to learn from others, but to inspire, to instill the momentum it takes to lace up ones boots and hit the road. It wasn’t until I found myself alone in a most foreign country that I felt the hot passion of life. Where my native tongue was about as useful as the moo! of a cow and most the time, I had no idea what the hell I was putting in my mouth… but it tasted good and I wanted more! And that is why you must hit the road.

Don’t be victimized by the culture of fear. Our planet is waiting to be explored, to reveal it’s secrets to you, to me, to any who dare ask, it will expose you to the raw truths of life. To the quarks of distant cultures and alien tongues. To disgusting foods and delicious cuisines, to dangerous and countless blessings.

Let’s take control of 2015. Don’t be afraid to leap without looking. I encourage you to take off the training wheels and take the road less traveled.

-Yallah!

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The Wandering Scholar is a free, non-profit resource for radical, educational, and hopefully, entertaining material. I hope eventually that means podcasting, vlogging, and much, much more but until then we're working tirelessly to bring you relevant and provocative material with stolen time between work and school. You contributions directly support this site! And we are deeply thankful.

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What an immense pleasure it was joining fellow author Maria Rochelle in what became quite a revealing conversation… A discussion on travel, literature, writing, life, love and losing oneself in the beautiful madness of all things.

Since reading Knausgaard i’ve determined to take several wide steps away from the ego (easier said than done, right!). Giving my literature room for accuracy, honesty. It’s too easy to dress yourself up with fancy words, credentials, achievements etc. but what I want to hear, what I need to hear, comes from the fabric of reality — the truth.

So, it’s my objective this year to be more honest, with myself as much as others. Learning to say “no” more, and feeling less obliged to the prophetic “yes.” And in turn, taking care of my very self — I have a tendency to overcompensate, to be “too nice,” as they say.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy our conversation and be sure to visit Maria’s work as well. As a multi-genre author, she’s covered some very impressive territory, including her tour de force children’s series, Jasmine Dreams.

Read the full interview here.

All of these things are true...

I had been in Jordan for several weeks and my love affair with Arabian sweets had reached a lofty peak. In fact, I would begin and end each day with a platter of pastries, smothered in honeys and syrups that would flood through heaps of pistachios on my plate.

Then it happened… I voraciously reached junkie status. More, more. Never enough! Every bakery that caught my sight was fair game,  out for a greater high, exploring the labyrinthine neighborhoods for the more legendary bakeries. But it was in Wadi Musa where my friend, Khaleed, led me right into the snare of Kanafeh.

An unmarked door led to an unnamed bakery where, despite the raging 100f degree day, a father and son were cheerfully slaving away, racking out sheets of pastries. They were using round, shallow pans and alchemy to produce what many call “Arabian cheesecake”.

This “cheesecake” was Kanafehe

A definitive oxymoron- soft and crunchy, sweet’n’salty, cheesy, gooey and crispy. All neatly encased in a glaze of simple syrup and rose water. Good enough to make one prostrate in reverence to the baker.

The ingredients are few yet they lend themselves to an endless array of pastries. We all know and love baklava but it wasn’t until I discovered Kanafeh that the Arabian culture opened up before me, so delicate and sweet behind that mysterious veil.

Now, please excuse this appauling photograph…

…but 1879!!!

IMG_2298
Knafa, Kanafeh, Kunafa? Whatever it is… Tel Aviv, Israel

Let’s just say there’s no right/wrong way to spell it- “A rose by any other name” and all that-

523975_3679462710501_1083950525_n
Kanafeh in Ramallah, Palestine

 

IMG_2093
Kanafeh and assorted pastries in Wadi Musa (Jordan)

There are three variants of kanafeh but in this recipe we’ll focus on khishnah (rough Kunafa)

Ingredients

  • 1 Package- Kataifi Pastry (kataifi is something like spun phyllo. Rather than laid out in thin sheets, it is processed in a way that produces vermicelli-like noodles. Check out this great video to see how it’s made)
  • 1 cup- Ghee
  • 2 cups- Akkawi cheese (you can substitute with mozzarella)

Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup- water
  • 1 1/2 cup- sugar
  • 2 tbsp- Rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Optional Toppings

  • Pistachios (crushed)
  • Almonds (whole or crushed)
  • Whatever else catches your fancy (if you dare stray from pistachios…)

As with all recipes- preheat your oven (350f/180c)

Prepare the simple syrup (so that it can cool entirely before the kanafeh is finished) by mixing the water and sugar in a pot- bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Promptly remove the syrup and allow to cool for several minutes. Then add the rose water, or orange blossom water.

At this time, you’ll want to begin shredding the kataifi. This is best done with a food processor but can be achieved by hand. As packaged, kataifi comes in endless noodles and you’ll need to shred them further- so that the average noodle is around one inch in length.

 

Once you have the noodles at the right size, place the kataifi in a large mixing bowl and gently incorporate the melted ghee (clarified butter.)

As the noodles set, begin the process of cutting down the cheese, or even shredding it if possible. I’ve experimented with many cheeses, some sweeter, some saltier, and there’s no rule for what you use. Just be sure to have 2 cups of a quality melting cheese to your liking either shredded or cut in long, narrow strips.

Taking a 9×13 pan, spread out a generous layer of the processed kataifi (about 2/3 of your noodles). Press the noodles firmly into the pan working it into a flat, even surface so that you can then evenly distribute the cheese, all of the cheese.

Follow the cheese with the remaining kataifi and, again, pack the noodles into the cheese, evenly.

With the oven heated, cook the kanafeh until the noodles have become a golden brown (around 10-15 mins)

Once the kanafeh has baked through you’ll want to allow it to cool for 10 mins

At this point, the kanafeh should have become more firm and set into its cheesy, sexy self.

Now, carefully place a cookie sheet atop the baking dish with the kanafeh and invert the pan so that the kanafeh is now on the cookie sheet.

Litter the surface with crushed pistachios and drown your darling with the simple syrup/rose water concoction.

Voila.

OK, so the example given below, about that. I had a tough time finding kataifi, so I substituted the noodles for simple phyllo sheets… no harm done. Yet, I will admit that iteration does neglect all the pleasing textures that comes along with kataifi. However, i’ll take what I can get. So get creative.

20140418-111911.jpg

20140418-111902.jpg

 

So, any takers?

Yallah’bye!

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All of these things are true...

A couple weeks in my desperate affair with Arabian sweets had reached dangerous highs. In fact, I would begin and end each day with a platter of pastries, smothered in honey and flooded with syrup and pistachio.

Junkie. That’s what you’d call me. A baklav-addict. More, more. Never enough. Every bakery was fair game as I lurked ancient cobbled alleys, out for a greater high, wandering deeper into the labyrinth in search for legendary bakeries. All of this was is good and well but it was in Wadi Musa where my friend, Khaleed, led me right into the snare of Kanafeh.

I followed him downtown through an unmarked door into an unnamed bakery where, despite the raging 110-degrees, a father and son were cheerfully slaving away, racking out sheets of pastries. Round shallow pans and alchemy. Arabian cheesecake.

This cheesecake was Kanafehe

The edible oxymoron – soft and crunchy, sweet’n’salty, cheesy, gooey, and crispy. All neatly encased in a glaze of syrup and rose water.

The ingredients are few yet they lend themselves to an endless array of pastries. We all know and love baklava but it wasn’t until I discovered Kanafeh that I finally tasted the essence of Arabian culture: so delicate and sweet behind that mysterious veil.

Now, please excuse this appalling photograph…

IMG_2298
Knafa, Kanafeh, Kunafa? Whatever it is… Tel Aviv, Israel
…but 1879!!!

Let’s just say there’s no right/wrong way to spell it. A rose by any other name

523975_3679462710501_1083950525_n
Kanafeh in Ramallah, Palestine
IMG_2093
Kanafeh and assorted pastries in Wadi Musa (Jordan)

There are three variants of kanafeh but in this recipe we’ll focus on khishnah (rough Kunafa)

Ingredients

  • 1 Package- Kataifi Pastry (kataifi is something like spun phyllo. Rather than laid out in thin sheets, it is processed in a way that produces vermicelli-like noodles. Check out this great video to see how it’s made)
  • 1 cup- Ghee
  • 2 cups- Akkawi cheese (you can substitute with mozzarella)

Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup- water
  • 1 1/2 cup- sugar
  • 2 tbsp- Rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Optional Toppings

  • Pistachios (crushed)
  • Almonds (whole or crushed)
  • Whatever else catches your fancy (if you dare stray from pistachios…)

As with all recipes- preheat your oven (350f/180c)

Prepare the simple syrup (so that it can cool entirely before the kanafeh is finished) by mixing the water and sugar in a pot- bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Promptly remove the syrup and allow to cool for several minutes. Then add the rose water, or orange blossom water.

At this time, you’ll want to begin shredding the kataifi. This is best done with a food processor but can be achieved by hand. As packaged, kataifi comes in endless noodles and you’ll need to shred them further- so that the average noodle is around one inch in length.

Once you have the noodles at the right size, place the kataifi in a large mixing bowl and gently incorporate the melted ghee (clarified butter.)

As the noodles set, begin the process of cutting down the cheese, or even shredding it if possible. I’ve experimented with many cheeses, some sweeter, some saltier, and there’s no rule for what you use. Just be sure to have 2 cups of a quality melting cheese to your liking either shredded or cut in long, narrow strips.

Taking a 9×13 pan, spread out a generous layer of the processed kataifi (about 2/3 of your noodles). Press the noodles firmly into the pan working it into a flat, even surface so that you can then evenly distribute the cheese, all of the cheese.

Follow the cheese with the remaining kataifi and, again, pack the noodles into the cheese, evenly.

With the oven heated, cook the kanafeh until the noodles have become a golden brown (around 10-15 mins)

Once the kanafeh has baked through you’ll want to allow it to cool for 10 mins

At this point, the kanafeh should have become more firm and set into its cheesy, sexy self.

Now, carefully place a cookie sheet atop the baking dish with the kanafeh and invert the pan so that the kanafeh is now on the cookie sheet.

Litter the surface with crushed pistachios and drown your darling with the simple syrup/rose water concoction.

Voila.

OK, so the example given below, about that. I had a tough time finding kataifi, so I substituted the noodles for simple phyllo sheets… no harm done. Yet, I will admit that iteration does neglect all the pleasing textures that comes along with kataifi. However, i’ll take what I can get. So get creative.

20140418-111911.jpg
20140418-111902.jpg

So, any takers?

Yallah


“A line will take us hours maybe,
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching have been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather—
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world. “

So there you have it: writing is hard work. Now, the question remains, what will you do with this condemnation? Will you pitter and patter and moan and groan (which is my general state): or, will you buckle up and DO the hard thing, the work?

travel blog morocco zellij tile nicholas andriani

be confident — not sad sap, sipping quietly in corner bar.

be, act, speak with intention.

be finished, shop your novel. 

be-gin and finish the next one.

be published, and write freely.

be mindful and in tune with your environment

be kind

be gentle

be better.

be 29

be.

Just be – be OK with that. 


I wish you prosperity. I wish you health and wellness. I wish you success, and that all those dreams and whimsies come to find you.

How are your goals for 2018 coming along?

It was during my long and dusty sojourn in the Middle East when I first saw them. Buried deep in this old collapsed village, on the far end of town where the market spills into a sea of sand and slate. My boots had worn thin, literally, threadbare the cheap rubber soles were no thicker than a sheet of paper and I was due to return to the excavation any minute. Pressed for time I went to the tattered edge of an old cobblers shop and there they were, hanging in pairs of two, from the vaulted ceiling down to the cobbles like lattice.

The Turkish Yemeni

Now, i’m not the most fashion-driven or even fashionable guy, but the effortless, dare I say, timeless cool of these utilitarian shoes embedded deep within my heart. So much so that I refused to wear anything else –weather climbing, hiking, excavating or swimming the coral banks of the Red Sea (true!).

But it wasn’t until I returned to America that their spell had fully settled in. When I was heartbroken to find my home country a desert for yemenis…

Then in 2012 I met the Sabah Dealer.

(more…)

Did you know that every week I draw a name from my mailing list and send out a personalized gift?

Sign up and you could be next.

Who knows, if i’m in Morocco maybe i’ll send you a crystal from the Sahara. If in California, a shell. Or if i’m home in my lonely Middle West i’ll send you a book based on our friendship. Or some local chocolates. Mhmmm.. chocolate.

c Flash poems and much, much more.

So, what are you waiting for?

The Bosphorus splits Istanbul in two parts. A rift in the madness of Europe and Asia, drifting between bodies of fresh and salt water cooling the heated passion of a most ancient urban jungle.

The hot, hot, heat of human movement generates organized chaos as this great strait, this rift, cushions the blow, keeping this romantic city on its axis.

Gulls parade our smooth cruise to the Black Sea as Istanbul, in all its glory, surrounds us reaching out with minarets and the omnipresent aromas of a heavily spiced city.

It’s here, in the interstitial space between East and West, that time stands still…

photo


Will Write for Food. Or Coffee!

Being an artist, whether poet or ventriloquist, violinist or Beck, it's a taxing gig. Low pay, long hours. Sleepless nights,spotty work. If you find that my writing provides any pleasure, any sense of joy at all, I hope you will consider throwing me a bone, or an espresso.

$5.00

Don’t do it.

For he love of all things Didion!

I mean, I get it, there is this undeniable sex appeal. This intrique: scattering your notes across that old bistro set, the heady demitasse begging for your lips: what’s the WiFi code? Nah, I write longhand.

I fall prey to this allure now and again. Loading my satchel with pencils, paper, notes, books. Stalking southbound traffic to my favorite watering hole. Order a Gibraltar, catch up with barista, discuss life. By the time I’m sitting down to write, like an hour later, my coffees cold and the cafe packed.

Cling-clang cutlery. Blah-blah-blah business meeting. “Well I just don’t know about Johnny Depp anymore, why is he so… extra” “Girl, that latte art though.” “Third quarter” shakes head “third quarter, down, down, down.” Steaming, always grinding. Cling-clang. Blah-blah-blah.

Meanwhile my fingernails are digging into the wood of my pencil and just before I think I am going to… SNAP! the pencil breaks. Crickets. Everyone stares. The business man, the gossip girls, the mustache twirling hipster, even the pour-over pauses in its drip, letting out a hesitant sh*******t!

And I scurry home, past the bookstore. Down 39th Street, by the old folk artists coop that may or may not double as a junk yard. Climb the two flights of stairs to my apartment, counting the first, wooden set stapled with AstroTurf, and the second wooden set awaiting carpet that may never come.

I brew up a fresh cup. Sit down. And that’s when it happens…

When

I

Write

It

Out

Never again, I tell myself. But next week, I’ll try once more…


I’m curious: what’s your writing habit? What fuels you’re creativity? Boosts you morale? What get’s you going? The more self aware, the more writerly I become, I find that solitude is key. Quiet. Voiceless and calm.

How I used to be a travel blogger is beyond me. The world kept closing in…

Will Write for Food. Or Coffee!

Being an artist, whether poet or ventriloquist, violinist or Beck, it's a taxing gig. Low pay, long hours. Sleepless nights,spotty work. If you find that my writing provides any pleasure, any sense of joy at all, I hope you will consider throwing me a bone, or an espresso.

$5.00

New Series. Composed of stream-of-consciousness writing and photoessays, thoughts on life, music, love and everything in between.


spontaneous combustion: #1

It’s your daily fix
Fresh ingredients.
Something new.
It’s not an ad.
It’s not for sale.
It’s not easy to digest.

I’m not here to pretend to be some guru or act like I know anymore than you do because, believe me, the older I get, the less I know.

Funny how that works when the world is running wild with “twenty-somethings” peddling Nirvana and life-coaching: really just give me $99 and I promise you’ll feel better. Go ahead, try it.

Try.

It.

You ready for this?

(more…)

I’ve been smitten with @smdanler since, embarrassingly late in the game, encountered her interview on @litupshow. Just received my copy of #Sweetbitter -and just in time for the #readingwomenchallenge with @thereadingwomen.

Have you been called to any challenges this year? Resolutions? What are you working towards?

P.s. if you’re interested in the Reading Women Book Challenge, let’s start a book club. Maybe? Yes? No? 😉

These are a few of my favorite things.
Wishing everyone wellness and peace through the holidays!

What are you up to this week? New Years?
My material obsessions right now?
•Alt J • Poetry by @r.h.sin • Antique Bedouin Coffee Pots • Coffee via Portland • @originalfunko Luke Skywalker.

What are you wrapping this year?

Books. Cold Brew. Star Wars Gadgets. Pokemon Cards. Friends. Family. Brother. They’re all on my list and for the first year in my collected twenty-eight Christmases, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve completed my Christmas List!

Feeling rather mature about this.

Tell me, are you on the naughty list? The nice? Or that oft forgot, list’o’krampus?

Whatever you’re up to, know that you are loved and that everything, from the large swaths of snow covered trees to the dust bunnies collected under your sofa, is simply a figment of our collected imaginations 🤔💫

SCENE:
I landed in Andalusia, via Morocco, a few weeks/scenes before. In this text I’ve just met the Belgians Ingrid and Petra, We’ve been traveling together for a few days now and i’m beginning to feel a sort of tugging deep down, in my heart of hearts whenever she appears. Ingrid, that is. Of course, this feeling conflicts with my already strained, long-distance relationship (with Shay), yet I allow myself to be swept away by Ingrid’s presence. 

I remain unable to confront my own feelings. Therefore, before I say anything to Shay, before coming clean to Ingrid, I, selfishly, want to feel out my options.

The nights, dancing, tossing back jugs of Roja, the piles of Manchego, the furious foot stomping, hand clapping Flamenco, twirling through cavernous Gypsy grottoes and aimlessly, drunk on it all, wandering across the cobble stone markets. The old castle that was planted over the city have a millennia ago… this is all I’ve ever wanted. To be where I truly see excitement. To be where the world interests me and for the first time in my life I felt a purpose. 

And caught right there at the center of all that purpose nonsense were the two most extraordinary people I have ever met: Shay and Ingrid…


 From my working draft of The Outsider

     “I can hardly make out the old pointed steeple across the clay rooftops. A fog rolls in over the mountains and blanketing the village in that amber streetlight glow of Old World Europe. Church Bells pulsate through the clouds, as if echoing off canyon walls, a sort of wobbling, underwater sound. Even my own hands look strange in this light held before my face. The fog sweeps over the palm, through the fingers and the golden crown of Ingrid’s long curls. Blinking lights, something I can’t identify in the hazy distance, so foreign in this event –for haze so rich really is an event, isn’t it? Like a sunrise you never forget or the tail of a comet– glowing like dragons eyes… 

A sudden burst of red hits the rooftop as Ingrid’s glass falls to a shatter and wine washes over the Spanish tile where, beading at the edge of the terrace, it drips over the cobbles below.

“Shit.” Leaping up from the weathered futon, “–right back.”

When the coast is absolutely clear I dial the number.

“Hello?” It’s her. 

“Shay” My heart leaps, she’s answered!

How long has it been? A week, or two at least.

“Hi.” unhappy.

“Shay, how are you?” 

“Fine.”

Pause.

“I miss you.”

“Really? Because it seems to me that you’re having a great time on your own. In fact, I don’t know why you’ve called to begin–”

“–please don’t do this.”

“Do what? I’m doing nothing here. This is all you. If you want to go out and forget about me until it’s absolutely convenient then don’t even bother because I’m busy too y’now, i’m not sitting around, waiting for your call. This is all on you.”

“What are you talking about?” My voice cracks. Oh, how I revert to the desperate codependent puppy that I am. “I’m doing the best I can here. It’s not easy finding a phone, let alone a spare moment just when you’re available. The countless times I’ve called and gone straight to voicemail–”

“Words. Words, Nick. I want to see action. I need to feel you with me. To know you mean what you say. This is the first I know of these missed calls. You called this morning, well guess what, calling at 3 A.M doesn’t cut it.”

“Shay, please understand.”

“I do. You’re obviously onto bigger things and you should be. I’m not going to hold you back anymore. Don’t worry about me. Forget it. Go on and do you. It’s clearly what you want.”

“What I want? Would I be calling you from the other side of the world, busy and stressed and manic and missing you and in the middle of life, would I be calling you if this wasn’t what I wanted?”

“I don’t know what to say to that.”

“Be reasonable.”

“It’s never been so clear. You need to figure yourself out. Maybe someday that means us having something but now.” Shay pauses. “Now there’s just empty space.”

I can’t believe what she’s saying. A veil of darkness settles over my thoughts, muddling my vision. It’s all I can do not to crack this headset into the wall. To hurl my phone through the adjacent window across the chasms, stained glass raining over the alley below… but I hold tight. Oh, but to drain this bottle and hurl it through the window, wouldn’t that feel so good. I want to start a fire and watch something burn.

“Hello? Nick?”

I want to hang up. Give her a taste of what distance really feels like. But i’m still that codependent puppy in the throes of loneliness, hurling myself at the closest thing I know to be real.

Ingrid. On the stairs. She’s laughing and coming my way.

Shit.

“Nick? Hello?”

“You’re right. Maybe we’ve let too much air fill the space between “

Shay, hurt. “You really think that?”

Was she bluffing?

Now, agitated. “Isn’t that what you just said to me?” I let that sink in, feeling justified.

“Let’s talk about–”

“–how about I call you later. Let’s think about it. Email me. I have to go.”

“OK.”

I grab the bar as a wave of exhaustion crashes over. I need a drink.

“Hey Cowboy, how you holding up there?”

Ingrid’s cherry presence and brightness fills my cup once more. 

“I need a drink. Shall we?”

I mean, it’s not cheating if nothing happens. Oh, but emotions run deep. Which begs the question: What’s worse, an emotional or a physical affair?

The sky out my window is that fiery red which makes the heart swell with life and there it is again: that sensational expanding within my chest, rising to my throat, gripping and stinging my eyes.

Oh, no.

I bury my face into the scarf. Traces of fig leaf and sandalwood bring her rushing back to me as the mountains stretch into fractals, the tears come. The puddle on the red sky horizon, where the sun has fallen and melted, flickers with a faint shimmer and so suddenly the desert goes dark and I have never been so mysteriously out of sorts than I am on the six o’clock from Casablanca.

Gliding to a stop, the train hisses and pops, and ever so tentatively the doors stretch open, as if waking from an ancient sleep, creaking, stretching and finally, almost there, quit so those deboarding turn sideways, sucking in bellies and removing packs and balancing boxes upon trained heads. There’s no telling where we are. Out there, way out there, I mean stretching-your-eyes out there, is a city or at least a cluster of lights. Is that it? But here, it’s just a lamppost and a platform of backlit women, veiled and watching our subtle roll and pass through as their smiles fall into frowns, and they go on waiting and we lurch deeper into the African night.

Each one’s the same. Hiss, pop, impossibly congested desert town platforms, lampposts blackened with moths and large scaly things as the moon, rising beyond, lends a silvery glow over all the details she touches as the desert comes to life once more in this reversed role as nature returns to her rightful place and it’s our turn, us humans, to hide away within dens and shrubs.

So. Completely. Alone.

Every single desert town. Platform of veiled women. Waiting. Sometimes I catch sight of their villagers beyond, dusty main streets and always the shadowy figures of children running amok, kicking cans and beating the tattered remains of saggy cardboard boxes with twigs and old broomsticks.

Cracking the seal with a sharp click I down the bottle and bury the evidence deep into pack as the tremble in my hand steadies and I drift away…”

 


 

Scene:
The protagonist has just landed in a mysterious town in Africa. With nothing but a rucksack and a name scratched across a piece of paper: Djemaa el-Fna, “whatever that means…”

We open as he’s feeling deep regret for the past year and taking this tremendous leap into the unknown. But, at the same time, aware of this need to liberate the self from the old life which has led to a deep pit of depression and drinking…


 

While my novel is entirely true, there are moments which I allow artistic license to paint scenes with more interest.

I would love to know what you think.

Yes, this is only a small glimpse, but I know the importance of landing an intriguing opening. And this is my goal here…

This is basically how I recommend books to friends… Effective? Maybe.

  • Pan, by Knut Hamsun. A wild existential crisis. The narrator is living in the woods of Norway, maybe 1890’s. Going insane with every passing day while falling in love with a Lords daughter. Dark, funny, beyond its time. Norwegian authors are still years ahead.
  • Also, i’m really into Matthew Quick right now. He authored the Silver Linings Playbook and each and every novel follow a quirky set of people.
  • If you really want to fall off the deep end start Knausgaard’s series “My Struggle.”Six, dense as hell books that have driven me insane in all the right ways.

 

What are you reading right now?

 

*exceptional image from The Washington Post, of Knausgaard.

Before the world can truly reveal itself you must take a period of meditation. A time of reflection. To pre-game, to set a cosmic course of action by stating your intentions and making them manifest. This is the driving force behind Sketching Sights. To become one with the elements of each and every environment that strikes me.

Dreaming of old Bagan I left brush and paint to guide themselves across the stars and secure my itinerary.

Burma on my mind

Scattered about the enchanting valley of Bagan are the remains of some 2,000 structures (monasteries, temples and pagodas). Historically this land housed over 4,000–each one thoughtfully placed and with purpose.

With this country of monks, gold clad domes and incantations opening its doors I see no other location more relevant to our cause at Yallah’Bye. That is, to document indigenous cultures at risk in this world of globalization.

Burma 2018?

Until next time

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It was nearly a year ago that I discovered the Sabah Dealer.

A chance meeting on Twitter led me to this exotic, almost whimsical Instagram where I was transported to Anatolia. To the bazaars, the buskers and baksheesh and medieval villages. To a world still crafted by hand.

I soon found that behind the Sabah Dealer’s travels were shoes–Sabah’s themselves–hand stitched slippers crafted from calfskin and buffalo leather in the countryside of Turkey.

In other words–I was moved! Moved by a bloody pair of shoes that hit my like a Sufi poem.

At some point I shared my newfound passion for Sabah’s with Jaclyn and, with a trip to NYC in the near future, she emailed The Dealer. His reply came swift and his demeanor warm. He described his story:

“This style of shoe (and more importantly the construction technique) was once the chosen footwear of southeastern Turkey and Syria (dating back nearly 1,000 years), but has now mostly disappeared from daily wear. I personally discovered the shoe style because I lived in Istanbul for several years (working as an expat) and was gifted a pair by a friend’s grandmother who grew up wearing them.

The original style looks more like a genie slipper, not a Sabah. However, I was so impressed by the comfort and quality of my first pair that I wore them almost everyday and everywhere I traveled: the beaches of France, dancing in Beirut, a work trip to Munich, hiking through Morocco, even once with a Tuxedo to a fancy Turkish wedding.

A year later, in that same pair, I was back in NYC (they had worn in beautifully and were even more comfortable) and I couldn’t find anything like them in the market. My friends and even strangers on the street were always asking me about them as well. So I sought out the craftsman through my friend’s grandmother, and over the course of nearly a year, a couple trips to the ancient bazaar, (and many mistakes, I did not know a thing about shoemaking), I launched Sabah utilizing this family’s traditional construction technique and skilled craftsmen, but with a more modern design, better fit, higher quality leathers and a replaceable rubber sole. We still make every pair by hand with those same craftsmen today and are actively working with them to grow the business and train additional skilled labor.

To make Sabahs, we employ a traditional method of shoe construction that has been cultivated over generations in the ancient bazaars of southeast Turkey. We work with the few remaining traditional cobblers in the region whose families have been making this style of shoe for generations. The process to make a Sabah is quite difficult and tedious (requiring extensive training and practice), but the result is a pair of shoes that are remarkably comfortable, really well made and distinct looking. Also, since we use very high quality leather for all components except the rubber outsole, Sabahs mold to your feet after a few wears and continue to gain comfort and take shape over time. And, as a testament to the quality of materials, Sabahs never, ever smell – no socks, just Sabahs, all summer, no problem.” 

Sabah’s aren’t sold online. They’re made in small quantities, can be ordered to size in a multitude of colors and when they sell out, they’re gone. At least, until another batch arrives from Turkey. The only way to get your trotters into a pair is by arranging a visit to their showroom called the ‘Sabah House‘ or emailing The Dealer.

August came and we found ourselves on the subway towards the Sabah House. Jaclyn confessed a vivid dream about arriving to the Sabah House and swimming in a sea of colorful shoes (she still had not made up her mind on a color–red? blue? mint green?) but the only color in her size–white. The one color she really had no intention of buying. As we exited the subway we laughed about the fact we had become so obsessed that we were dreaming about them. Shoes!

Tucked between noodle bars and residential buildings, the Sabah House sits, low-key, harboring the goods that brought us to Koreatown. The only indication of what’s inside is the address. No signage, no neon lights, no fanfare. Just a Manhattan address.

While arranging for this trip we found that The Dealer would be out on a reconnaissance mission (aka – road trip across the States) and that we would be meeting with one of his trusted colleagues.

We were greeted at the door by Gabby, a former customer, now intern, who would act as our guide through this apartment-gone-showroom and we were quick to see that once you’re involved with Sabah’s you become part of this family, this movement.

Before getting down to business Gabby engaged us in conversation. Less business, more get to know you. Sparkling water and chocolate espresso beans flowed as she led us through the showroom, insisting that we take our time to explore the wide range of shoes by “dressing up” and getting to know the slippers themselves.

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Butter. Oh, the pleasure of slipping your feet into the softest,  form fitting calfskin leather. I grab a pair of oxblood red Sabahs, just for kicks, and they melt to my feet.

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This red pair on Jaclyn were perfection and they would have gone home with her had it not been for the sticky note on the inside reading “sold”. She tried on several other pairs before we realize that Jaclyn’s dream had manifest. The only pair that fit her was white. Deciding to take it as a sign, they left with us.

Gabby pulled out a pair of olive colored Sabahs explaining that this pair came in with a shipment that were produced during the month of Ramadan. Now, if you’re no stranger to Ramadan you’ll know that this is a time of fasting for the Muslim world. So these craftsmen, in rural Turkish villages, were fasting from sunup to sundown, high on piety and a abstinence, making this very pair of shoes! Meaning, that while still structurally sound, they exhibit more human error than is typical of Sabahs.

SOLD.

Without trying  them on I was completely infatuated with the humanity of this pair.

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Despite being the sort of place in which you could kick back for hours on end, where good conversation and mellow vibes are guaranteed, this is New York City and we had just tapped the surface of our itinerary.

Decisions made, white Sabahs, olive Sabahs, high on espresso beans, we bid Gabby farewell, strolling off into the sunset… OK midday sun, towards the Brooklyn Bridge.

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I wear them as a charm and in exchange they carry me safely through life. And, now i’m talking about a pair of shoes as if they were my brothers in arms… You know what? They are. To the market, on my back patio, and to the pyramids.

Onward.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Orquideas Hostel, Cancun, Mexico

On the Manhattan High Line.

*All photos by Jaclyn Joslin unless noted