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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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!

SaveSave

SaveSave

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

Hey, I’m Nicholas, you probably know that already. 

Writer, thinker, hopeless poet and most importantly a student of life embracing the quirks, the quandaries, and curiosities that make us human. 

Photo by Tomu00e1u0161 Malu010do Malu00edk on Pexels.com

Oh, Education:
I’m launching this campaign as my semester comes to a close. Eyes turned eastward, dreaming of snowcapped mountains and ancient monasteries, cultural exchanges and roads less traveled. I’m diving head first into deepening my research in Asian Studies — go hand in hand with outreach programs and volunteer work — and launching a series of educational webcasts promoting diversity and cross-cultural understanding from an entertaining slant — let’s call it EduTainment

The Web-Series: 
So this bit is particularly exciting. Additionally, though in its beta, The Wandering Scholar will consist of webcasts, vlogs, potentially even podcasting, on the cultures, foods, customs, traditions, and experiences that make us human. Think of it as a highly integrated travel blog. Full of interesting and meaningful information.

Your generous contributions will directly support tuition and tuition alone. I will update you at a later point as to which institution I’m accepted into – aiming for Dharma Realm University. As a student, I am at the mercy and heavily dependent upon the financial generosity of others — for which I am endlessly grateful.

College Fund

$1.00

I’ve run a successful website for nearly six years now. Whew! As a writer, archaeologist, and former travel blogger. All the while striving to publish my debut novel — a novel about a grownup of students in Arabia searching for purpose, finding love, loss, and “growing up” in the Middle East — all during the Arab Spring. An emotional rollercoaster, full of wild romps, heartache, and all that delicious adventure we seek in a good story.

Look, I understand this is an absurdly individualistic request. And I am no way under the impression that I am owed, or deserving of asking for financial assistance. But I just wanted to go out on this limb and be open, honest about my financial setbacks and take this next step towards achieving my dreams. So here I am, slightly -very- embarrassed and asking for your help, from the bottom of my heart, to support these dreams so that I can become a participant in the global peace process. So that I can deepen my studies/understanding of Eastern Philosophy, mindfulness, and language at the University level. All with the intention of bringing it full circle and sharing every morsel and lovely detail along the way. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. I am an open book, read me. If you have any comments, thoughts, or want to connect otherwise I’d love to get to know you! 
Reach out here on Fund My Travel, or email me at 
andriani1208@gmail.com
You can add me on Instagram at @NicholasAndriani
And on Twitter at @nickandriani

One Dollar, Almost Free

$1.00


Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

Tao Te Ching

Whether you’ve come for The City of Fountains, Paris of the Plains or Cowtown, Kansas City is an innovative and inspired place, full of kinetic and potential splendor. People frequently ask us, What’s fun here? Where should we eat? drink? shop? We love talking about our city and thought it helpful to compile a list of our favorites. These are among the various places and reasons to make Kansas City your next Weekender

No longer the Midwest’s flyover town, KC is striding forward with newfound vigor and a burgeoning sense of self which has the world watching — as if to say, ooh, what’s all this? When juice bars replace steakhouses and the maker movement is now commonplace, you know something interesting is brewing. 

**disclaimer: this is a deep dive into locally owned and small businesses. Like us, these businesses are unique and non-mainstream. To us, that is what makes them the best places to patronize. 

Eat: It’s not all steak and potatoes

  • Port Fonda: Why we love it: Port Fonda is an absolute gem. Authentic, yet creative Mexican cuisine. Chicharrones and Salsa, Borrego, Jackfruit al Pastor. The brunch menu is one of the best in town. Their agave (tequila/mezcal) collection is monumental and arguably unmatched. {locale: Westport}
  • Rye: That rare quality of providing comfort food done right. A difficult task and executed masterfully. Upscale comfort food prepared beautifully. {locale: Plaza}
  • Extra-Virgin: Sure tapas are trendy, overblown, and often leave one feeling empty and cheated. Not the case at this lively eatery. A marriage of purposeful menu groups, meaningful bartending, and a rotation of fresh ingredients spearhead Chef Michael Smith’s bistro. He has a James Beard thingy so take note if your into that stuff. Regardless of accolades, Extra Virgin remains our favorite treat when the mood strikes — which is always. {locale: downtown/crossroads}
  • Room 39: Atmospheric ease. Room 39 is the kind of place you walk into and never leave. We love the small, intimate and all around low key vibe the space and staff provides. The farm to table menu never disappoints. {locale: midtown/39th St}                                                           

Worth noting: Novel, The Majestic.

Drink: (Bars & Cafes) Early Mornings and Night Caps, something good is brewing about. 

  • The Campground: Why we love it: They do it all. We couldn’t decide which category to put this in. The drinks and the food are tops. And both are prepared with flawless execution. The cocktails are timeless yet full of nuance. Inspired, yet not highfalutin – and still not your fathers drink. Additionally, they offer a collection of naturally fermented Pétillant Naturel wines — also known as”PétNat” — which have become our drink of choice! {locale: West Bottoms}
  • Green Lady Lounge: A hallmark of the freshest Jazz Kansas City has to offer. That late night feeling. {locale: downtown}
  • Our Daily Nada: Boozy Bookstore – Enough said. Add to that an impeccable wine list, craft toasts (hello smoked salmon) AND a thoughtful selection must-read books: from the Greats to the hidden treasures. Our Daily Nada emerges ahead of the crowd in a movement to marry both liquor and literature, literary fancy and libated fun. Pouring coffee from one of our favorite roasters, the baristas-cum-bartenders never miss a beat. Lounge: this is the sort of place you can hang around all day.. {locale: River Market}
  • Ça Va: “Champagne for the People.” Ca Va features a list of bubbly from across the world specializing in Grower Champagne (wine produced in small batches by artisanal vintners). Those who like to indulge will love their menu with everything from duck fat kettle corn to caviar. P.S they offer the best absinthe service in town which I’ve indulged many a night!  (locale: Westport}

Worth Noting: Mildred’s. Nomad’s 

Shops: Keeping it local 

  • River Market Antiques: Our go-to resource for past treasures and present whimsy. At 30,000 sq.ft. and boasting nearly 200 vendors, this remains one of the true resources for finding vintage gems. The Rivermarket stands its ground and we stand in solidarity. From vintage clothing to esoteric vinyl, Victorian ephemera, this is one of the funkiest, freshest collections of randomness through which to find some legitimately valuable and meaningful pieces. {locale: downtown/river market}
  • Foxtrot Supply Co: Owned & operated by two genuine and friendly guys, their leather goods are utilitarian and elevated (we happily represent their line here at Coveted Home). {locale: downtown/crossroads}
  • Shop Dear Society: Modern & Vintage. Thoughtfully curated pieces from centuries past and present. All things dear in fashion, accessories, and home. {locale: midtown/broadway}
  • Fine Folk: Shop high-end apparel and accessories as well as the beauty and wellness shop en shop, Within Apothecary {locale: downtown/crossroads}
  • George: A lifestyle shop after our hearts. George marries a beautifully curated arrangement of high-end accessories, apothecary, antiques and jewelry. {locale: south plaza/Crestwood shops}

Worth Noting: 45th & State Line Antique District houses many quirky and wonderful small shops filled with curiosities

Do: Do/do not miss.

  • Nelson Atkins: Why we love it: Museum with a world-renowned collection. Everything from Monet to Lautrec. Reconstructed Hindi temples to regional exhibitionists. A brilliant Egyptian/Near East collection. If you visit during lunch hours, the Rozelle Court Cafeteria, located inside the museum is both beautiful and delicious and worth a visit in its own right. {locale: east plaza}
  • Country Club Plaza (home of the Coveted Home!): Why we love it. Touted as America’s, maybe the worlds, first modern shopping mall. Established in 1922, the Plaza boasts beautiful architecture and fountains. Don’t miss the last few standing locally owned shops (besides us), The Better Cheddar (with one of the biggest cheese selections in the country) and Made In Kansas City Marketplace, where you can get beer on tap, t-shirts, coffee and more that are all..you guessed it, made in KC. And if you’re in town for an event, Parlor, next door to us, does amazing blowouts/up do’s/braids and makeup. 
  • River Market: Shops, cafes, restaurants, mostly locally run businesses with a genuine spirit. Worth an entire day: Brunch, lunch or dinner at The Farmhouse, pick me up at Quay Coffee, Al Habashi Restaurant and Spice Market, Japanese Imports, and much more. Come Spring, Summer, and Fall Farmer’s Markets fill the square with produce grown everywhere from Kansas City to parts unknown, offering cheeses, flowers, produce, honey, and an abundance of repurposed goods (weekends only). If you have the chance we encourage you to check it out. {locale: downtown}
  • Union Station: Not that long ago KC was the end of the line, everything West belonging to the various tribes and nature herself. Schlepping itinerants since 1914, Union Station remains a KC icon. catch a train home or dine in the luxurious Pierponts Restaurant — an exquisite 1920’s steakhouse feat. an extraordinary wine list, oysters, the most detailed service. A number of shops, from chocolatiers to KC memorabilia, Science City  Imax, all great places to entertain kids. {locale: downtown}
  • Loose Park/Rose Garden: To “escape the city,” head just south of the plaza to discover 75-acres of rolling hills, expansive fountains, and secret gardens. A popular destination for weddings and picnics alike, you can truly lose yourself in the rose bushes or spend the day meandering the fields. Also, a great place to take kids, with a large playground and water splash park in the summer. (locale: South Plaza)

Stay

  • The InterContinental: Legendary, swanky, conveniently South Plaza, the InterContinental plays host to celebrities and staycation-ers alike. Newly remodeled and we love the modern brasserie’s swanky new decor. (locale: Plaza)
  • The Crossroads Hotel: Downtown’s newest gathering place, for locals and out of towners alike, known equally for their hospitality, restaurant/bar, and accommodations. Enjoy a delicious upscale Italian meal at Lazia, located on premise. (locale: Crossroads)
  • The Bell Victorian: On a budget? Consider staying at our newly remodeled historic 100+ year old Victorian home, listed on Airbnb. We currently offer a guest room in a shared living space, suitable for 1-2 people. (locale: West 39th/Midtown)

Afterthoughts

  • Southwest Boulevard with its drag of authentic Mexican restaurants: menudo, lingua, and traditional dishes abound. A Kansas City past time and the best lineup in the Midwest. Try El Patron, La Bodega and Tropicana. 

                 The Majestic: Old World steakhouse meets 30’s Jazz club.  

A Note on BBQ: There is a dispute among local residents as to who remains the truest, most OG of all BBQ pits. These are among the most popular:

  1. Arthur Bryant’s: FRIED CHICKEN. Simply the best. 
  2. Q39 (a newcomer but immediate 1KO contender): Classic BBQ plates, from brisket to burnt ends.
  3. Gates. Known for their sauce and their friendly greeting. 
  4. Kansas City Joe’s (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s) Featured by every food critic on every food network covering KC BBQ. Charmingly located in a historic Shamrock Gas Station (still fueling the empty!) Try the Z-Man Sandwich or the pulled pork. Noteworthy vegetarianoption: Portabella Sandwich 

Cheers, and welcome to Kansas City! We look forward to meeting you and know you’ll enjoy the beautiful people and businesses that make this a great city. 

The 9-Minute Novelist: How to Write a Novel in Just Minutes a Day
Story 1

Writing a novel is a complicated equation involving a lot of variables and moving parts — not the least of which are the authors themselves. In fact, the process of writing a novel is so arduous and soaked in magical thinking that many writers struggle to explain the process coherently, and about the only thing anyone seems to agree on is that writing a novel requires an author. While artificial intelligence has certainly come a long way, you still need a human being to get a great work of fiction. And if you ask that human being about the most important aspect of their writing process, they’re likely to say “time.”

In fact, “not enough time to write” is probably the number-one complaint of most writers when asked. Between jobs, school, families, chores and everything else that comes along with a busy life, it often takes a superhuman effort to find time to write, much less write a fully fledged 80,000-word book. Much less 80,000 words that make some kind of sense.

Except that’s actually a fallacy. Because all you need to write a novel is nine minutes a day.

FAMOUS FAST NOVELS

It’s common knowledge that every year a bunch of perfectly mad writers challenges themselves to write 50,000 words in one month — and plenty of them succeed. There are also loads of examples of well-regarded published novels that didn’t take long to write:

  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac: Three weeks.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne: Two and a half days [4].
  • The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: 26 days.
  • I, the Jury by Mickey Spillane: Nine days.

You get the drift — great novels don’t need thousands of man-hours. Of course, there are caveats. Kerouac spent months on the road making notes and experiencing the things he synthesized into fiction. Dostoyevsky was broke and desperate and agreed to deliver a novel by a specified date or lose the rights to future works, providing inspiration. But the fact remains that if John Boyne can write a novel in less than 72 hours, you can write a novel in short daily segments.

STRIP IT DOWN

None of that means the struggle to find writing time isn’t real. We have only so much mental, emotional and spiritual energy — all three of which are required to write something true and beautiful.

Most often, the real problem isn’t so much time, but how we use it. This is one of those situations in which Perfect is the enemy of Good; we’re often stymied by the desire for a “perfect” writing environment — the right spot, with the right implements, in the right mood, with the right music, sipping the right cup of tea, basically the right everythingincluding the right amount of time.

But very few things in life can be perfect. The first step toward writing a novel in nine minutes a day is to think objectively about where your writing time actually goes. For the majority of us, much of it probably isn’t actually spent writing. We search the internet and do on-the-spot research, we review yesterday’s pages, we procrastinate. Sometimes that’s part of the process, of course — but sometimes it’s just wasting time. Chances are if you strip away all the rituals and the idea that everything has to be optimal before you can concentrate, you’ll find that much of what you think you need isn’t really necessary to the process.

After all, aside from those novels that were written super fast, many great works have been penned under terrible conditions. Jean Genet wrote Our Lady of the Flowers while in prison, mainly so he’d have something to, uh, entertain himself with. Peter Brett drafted his debut epic fantasy, The Warded Man, on the subway commuting to and from work. And William Carlos Williams wrote most of his poems in-between seeing patients while working as a doctor.

Like them (and countless other writers who are typing “The End” on novels every day while working under imperfect conditions), you don’t need a perfect nook or endless free time. You just need those nine minutes.    Read More…

Sometimes between the sun and us, I can a see this filter, almost like a glowing. As if the world were cast in a fragrant haze of bougainvillea and rose. A saffron sunrise. A malbec night. The moon circulating, all the time drawing us closer together as if the world were rushing into the singularity of us. This is all I will ever see again, in the morning, the evening, night, fall, and spring. The red castle haunts the periphery of my every moment. Could it ever be the same?

–Between the Sun and Us, Nicholas Andriani
Coming 2019

Our story is never-ending.

That to say, I will always love you.

Aware of this dream state which is my tendency to romanticize the past. Regardless of the truth, of fact — all those details are less real than the world I remember. Our twirling through the markets on the jackknife edge of recklessly falling into one another. A hopeless, twisting, deep down belly falling. Weightless in the Sierra Nevada.

To Ingvild, the one who never was but always will. My forthcoming novel is in part an apology to you. For everything.

from Quo Vadis Fan Profile: Nicholas

An absolute pleasure to be interviewed by none other than Quo Vadis. I’ve been using their notebooks/journals for years now –*particularly for my literary endeavors.

QV: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
NA: I’m a multi-genre novelist and explorer. A has-been archaeologist who exchanged trowel for pen. A Texas native, Kansas City transplant with a passion for the Middle East.

You can browse my body of work, read short stories and essays from the road, as well as stay up to date on future novels by subscribing to my website at nicholasandriani.com

You can also follow along on Instagram @nicholasandriani and Twitter @nickandriani

QV: How and when did you first discover Quo Vadis products?
NA: Back in 2012 I moved to the Middle East for work and as a parting gift from a buddy received a pocket Habana, this one became something of a trophy. Actually, this is the very pad that revealed my passion for writing (and painting). I’ve been been devoted to Quo Vadis ever since.

IMG_6381

*READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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…)

Rhythmic swells reverberate trough my lungs. The back streets of Valencia.

Back street Europe.

Romani enclaves and gypsy parts of town.

We’ll sit here in the Plaça de la Virgen with our stiff sangria, smartly bashful in red-faced delerium.

For it is Spring and the blossoms have begun to sing.

A nod to blanco nerium.

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…)

A strange thing happens when you begin to contemplate the end. It’s as if setting such a definitive goal opens the world to endless possibilities

A phone is buzzing

It’s occurred to me that with the end comes the potential of a new beginning.

There are many types of death. Just as there are many types of love in which the subject, or subjects simply depart from one existance to another. Trading this for that, and in exchange receiving a fresh beginning and a new life, a new identity.

We are flowers forever teetering from Spring to deep Winter.

Forever waiting for Summer. For Fall

Our chance to really live.

Only to rise and be struck down.

Spring. Winter. Awakening. Death.

Where is Summer?

Where is Fall?

This realization came so urgently, slapping me across the face, I shot right out of bed that morning. Before the sun herself could shine and make me straight again, before the day could cleanse my palate as it often does and, in the deadpan winter, shuffled across my frozen, miniature tundra in snow flurry Kansas City, and drained my savings account in exchange for a one-way ticket to Morocco.

That will show em, I thought. Still unsure of who them was. For some reason, whenever I looked outside my window, hoping to spot them, all I saw was the hollow reflection of myself…

A phone buzzed, gliding smoothly across the bistro table. I don’t recognize ringer until realizing it’s mine: I’ve never heard it ring.


It was a cold spring night.

The city still reeling from the previous year’s terror attacks and whispers of Al Qaeda carried through the streets like cautionary tales foretelling the bogeyman. Maybe that explained the police on every corner, their unwieldy machine guns and serious frowns. They had no effect on me. That’s not true: I found it absolutely intoxicating, that life or death appeal is what lured me here in the first place. 

“Nobody said it was supposed to be so cold in the desert.” I said, catching my scarf as it fluttered in the sharp wind. It only occurred to me then that I hadn’t checked a single forecast. 

Moona laughed, “That’s because this isn’t the desert.” She said, looking up at the snow covered mountains. “It is winter isn’t it?”

“Is it?” I cringed as another gust came down from the mountain, lifting table skirts and extinguishing candles.

The waiter returned with my drink just in time for us to leave. I paid, left a few coins tip, downed the drink, shay ma nana, tea with mint, and flagged down the first cab on the square. A big burly man, mustachioed and jolly.

“Where from? Where? Oh, Kansas City! I have cousin in Kansas City, maybe you know him? Welcome to Morocco, America. We love America. Welcome to Morocco!”

He shook my hand as we paid and crossed the street to the souk on the other side. The shops were being washed out, dirty water came surging over the cobbles. And the streets were being watered down, to keep the dust from rising when the tourists arrive.

“And that is how we do it in Morocco.”

“You know it… Do what?”

“He just ripped you a big one. Do you realize what you paid him. What, like twenty dollars.”

My heart sank with shame. OK, so I didn’t check the forecast. But what about the exchange rate? The currency? The mysteriously scrolled dirham papers, lined with calligraphy and stained in pinks and greens. I could count to one-hundred in Arabic by then, but what did that mean of money, of value. Not a thing.

I had just paid twenty dollars for a two block ride down the boulevard.

“Now,” Moona said with her big smug way, “you are in Morocco.”

“My sudden love of these two women came into existance upon two separate planes of thought: like the inner improvisation of a jazz troupe, somehow merging into one cosmic dream.

Like a split in the multiverse that is the self.

Shay. Shay is stability. Comfort. Success.
Whereas Ingrid. Ingrid claims the part of me which belongs to the world. A manifestation of my desire to roam freely and simply be.

But, I know in my heart of hearts these two worlds can not coexist.

For they, separately, are everything. Yet together, in the folds of life, they cancel each other out.”

–In Another Country

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…

*unedited from rough draft (The Outsider: A Novel)

I woke up one morning in a state of complete despair and found myself debating the absurdity of carrying on like this when I had options. They were clear as day and night and manifest out of who-knows-where:

One, I could kill myself.

Two, I could go to Africa.

On one hand, wouldn’t it be convenient to throw in the towel? I mean, if Cobain had anything right… no, that’s not right. Then there is Africa. What is the purpose of suicide? Escape. What is Africa but that exactly, and what’s more, Africa felt like the crazier, more dramatic, more risky decision. So I broke my lease, to much objection and name calling and heartbreaking fights with my ex, sold everything from my beloved guitar to our shared kitchen table. Traded my car for cash, donated all the non-essentials, essentially keeping only what fit into my shiny new 70-liter pack and bought a one-way ticket to Africa.