Don’t Listen To What They Say. Go See.

Anonymous

I admit Palma was not high up on my list but sometimes you just have to take the plunge especially when it is February and you need a nice budget friendly place for the school holidays. Hence, I chose to go to Palma a few months ago. And boy, was I surprised? The promise of eternal sunshine aside, I met some of the friendliest people in Palma. Mix that with the sights, the tapas and the Sangria (aaah, Sangria!) you have a winner.

  1. Royal Palace of La Almudaina

My first pick is the Royal Palace of La Almudaina. Originally an Arabian Fort, this grand palace today hosts key events. Located right in the centre of the city, this imposing Alcazar was built in 1309. The insides are built in the medieval style and you will see decor from 15th to 20th centuries adorning its various nook and cranny. The outside is a vast expanse with an open theatre and an adjoining lake meandering by–a perfect spot to just sit, relax and do nothing.

2. Banos Arabes

This is a quirky little garden surrounding the remains of Arab baths from the time of Moorish rule. It is a nice spot to get in some tranquillity away from the hustle-bustle of the city. The bath or the hammam dates back to 10th century and what remains today is just the remains of it but the garden itself is so peaceful, and green that you would forget everything and just want to sit and soak in the sights.

3. Castell de Bellver

Castell de Bellver is a Gothic-style castle on a hill. It was built in the 14th century for King James II of Majorca and is one of the few circular castles in Europe. The best part? To reach this place, you have to go through a mini-forest full of pine trees and interesting flora. That trek itself is a fun experience to have before reaching the Castle and seeing the whole city from the top.

4. Old City

Palma’s old city deserves a mention here. It is an eclectic mix of shopping, history, gastronomy and life. Gothic Churches juxtaposes with scenic squares and century-old patios. Meandering through these streets is a must if you want a true sense of Palma and an explosion of daily-life and culture.

Palma's old city
Palma's Old City

5. Cuevas Del Drach and Torre Del Serral

If you want to explore something outside of the city then head towards Cuevas Del Drach, in the town of Porto Cristo. These ancient caves are about 1,200 metres long with a maximum depth of 25 m. below ground level, The caves contain a large underground lake, Lake Martel. The calcareous formations were formed between 11 and 5.3 million years ago, during the Miocene era. The colours and formations within the cave are truly astonishing and you can see formations resembling a cactus, a flag and even a snowcapped mountain. The tour lasts a little longer than an hour with a floodlit, floating violin concert on the lake—known to be Europe’s largest underground lake, about 170 metres long and between 4 and 12 metres deep.

If you want a bit more of nature then head towards Torre del Serral dels Falcons, a nice walking and picnic spot with beautiful views of the Mediterranean.

As you can see Palma has things for all kinds of travelers–young, old, family, couple, solo, adventurous or laid back. I am definitely glad that I was fortunate enough to experience this place.

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Maxi dresses are the perfect pick for Spring/Summer but till now I thought finding the perfect long sleeved maxi dress is akin to finding a real life unicorn. My hunt for unicorns is still on but at least I’ve found my long sleeved maxi dress.

With its fun bell sleeves and quirky floral motif, this maxi dress has a decided boho vibe. As versatility is a big factor for me, I paired and styled in different ways all in one day.

As you can see this dress can be styled in several different ways. Add a nice belt, denim jacket, heels or flats; your options are endless and the back details take its ante a notch up, don’t you think? Thus making a true wardrobe hero.

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Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally.

If there’s any writer who can write hard-hitting essays as persuasively and compellingly as novels and short stories and make them utterly readable it is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. To say, I have read all her work would be an understatement. I have devoured each one of her work and cannot quite point which one I like the best; hence it was natural that I added Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions to my Chimamanda collection.

This book is a quick read with 15 actionable steps to raise a strong and empowered daughter. It shines with Chimamanda’s characteristic warmth and forthrightness but is deeply personal. According to Chimamanda, her friend Ijeawele wrote to ask how she should bring her baby daughter up a feminist, and in response, after the right hesitations – “it felt like too huge a task”– Adichie made this list of 15 suggestions.

I would say that this book should be an essential read to women (and men) everywhere and not just mums with girls—because it would help us to develop more empathy and fine tune our mind on how patriarchy catches up—often unaware. And yes it would help us to raise stronger girls and wiser boys.

For eons, women (and men) have been taught how we need to behave. Girls should be softer and men should be more aggressive. And no matter what women have been taught to be more likable (or risk being tagged Nasty woman, cue Hillary V/S Trump). But this book helps us to identify these unconscious biases and give it a massive f*** you. It also tells us how to defy the societal norms and standards to become your own person.

I wrote about the infamous Nasty Woman episode, a few lines ago. Why? One of the advice in the book is to reject likeability. Easier said than done, I painfully learn even now. I have never been the cool, popular kid, never been the one to succumb to peer pressure and in the face have rejected likeability but even today in moments of honest introspection—I often wonder if I am liked enough by my set of girlfriends, my colleagues, even my family for that matter. See, how unconsciously these societal standards affect us?

Human beings are cultural beings, consistently shaped by ideas and values around us. Throughout history and even in art and culture, we see likeability a major factor (especially for women). Women are unconsciously raised to become people-pleaser. And we need to stop doing this to ourselves and our future generation because as another wise woman said, “Well-behaved women, rarely made history”. 

The other suggestions in the book– about marriage, motherhood, and reading  as well as the often told ‘because you are a girl’, is never a reason for anything” also make equal sense and they all come with personal anecdotes.

I repeat this book is an essential and urgent read. Why? Because to raise feminist daughters (or sons), mothers must take pleasure and pride in their own achievements, follow both the challenges and delights of life and give themselves room to fail. Because ultimately, as Adichie writes, children must be raised to be full people. 

As a self-confessed shopping addict and fashion lover, I must say shopping for me is the greatest pleasure-seeking activity! I shop–when I am happy, when I am frustrated, when I have had a bad at work, when I have had a really good day and sometimes just because I can. The other day, after a cleaning spree, channelised by watching Marie Kondo on Netflix, I realised that I actually have clothes enough to fit a little town. This made me uncomfortable.

This discomfort is amplified when I read about how fast-fashion is destroying the planet. If you have been living under a rock for all these months and have missed these reports, here are some sobering facts:

These numbers are staggering and if the fashion industry and fashion lovers like me do not take this seriously, we would just end up contributing to this problem more.

I have taken a conscious decision that I would stop impulse shopping and only buy things I genuinely need. The key thing I would ask myself before buying a garment would be: Will I be wearing it at least 20 times? The other thing, I have promised myself is that I would restyle and recycle clothes. I am actually quite excited about the restyling element because it means really expanding my style creativity to come up with various looks without buying anything.

breton top style

So, this is exactly what I did whilst on holiday recently. Instead of buying “at least one new piece of garment for the holiday” I decided to restyle my old Breton (striped) top. This is an old one and you can see how I wore this few years ago (pictured above). Breton top is one of those classic style items which every woman should have in their wardrobe simply because they are versatile.

This time, I wore the top with a skirt and red boots both which I bought last year.

So, you see you do not have to keep buying stuff in order to be fashionable/stylish/trendy/happy. I know this promise to buy something only if I really need it, is going to be a tough one but I am determined to make it work.

And yes as I just showed you, you can be stylish and save the planet too because hey it’s the only one we got.

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Running isn’t a sport for pretty boys (and girls)…It’s about the sweat in your hair and the blisters on your feet. It’s the frozen spit on your chin and nausea in your gut. It’s about throbbing calves and cramps at midnight that are strong enough to wake the dead. It’s about getting out the door and running when the rest of the world is only dreaming about having the passion that you need to live each and every day with. It’s about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there’s not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fibre in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you’ve finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that’s all that you can ask for.” 

From The Gift – A Runner’s Story, Paul Mercer

Basingstoke Half Marathon 2018 what running has taught me about life

I have never been an athlete or a runner ever in my life. Needless to say, I never thought that I would actually be able to participate in and finish a half marathon even in my wildest dreams. So, last Sunday (7th Oct) when I finished my first half marathon in a mostly hilly terrain of Basingstoke, Hampshire in 2 hours and 35 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised.

I have always liked doing things that are out of my comfort zone and running has always intrigued me. So, I took up this challenge of running a half marathon just to see what I am made of.

Last year, I took up running seriously. Earlier this year, I  started training for the Basingstoke Half Marathon. During this process, I realised that there is more to running than just putting one foot in front of the other; running teaches you a few important things about life and builds your spirit and character.

You can achieve anything as long as you are willing to work for it:

As I mentioned earlier, I am not a natural runner. Running was not just difficult for me; it was impossible. But hard work, discipline and sheer stubbornness to achieve something are the essential qualities you need to achieve anything in life just like in running.

Believe in yourself and be your own cheerleader:

You will have many naysayers who will try to bring you down, the worst naysayer could be your own negative voice. Cut it out, tell it to shut up! Belief in your self and that can do mentality is the first step to actually being able to do it. Life is a marathon and some of it will have to be done alone, so it is important to love yourself to love the process. Simply put, be your own cheerleader.

Basingstoke Half Marathon 2018 what running teaches you about life

Setbacks are inevitable but Perseverance pays off:  

Injuries, tiredness, a beaten up spirit, these are some of the things I’ve experienced in and out of running. Every time I found myself down (sometimes, despite my best efforts), I got up, dusted myself, healed and carried on. It was not easy but giving up would be have been worse.

Be Proud of your Body:

Like many other women, I have been conditioned to not love my body and be obsessed with its shortcomings—the mummy tummy, the cellulite, the scars. But when I had my daughter four years ago, I finally realised the enormous power of the female body. Its ability to split in half to push a tiny human being and to heal itself is truly wonderful. Training and running the half marathon has made me more respectable, loving and prouder of my body because you realise that your strong legs and an even stronger mind can literally take you places.

It’s Your and only you Race:

As adults, we love comparing ourselves to others and vexing ourselves endlessly. Sure, someone would be faster, better, have a more of runner’s body, is more successful than you but running teaches you that is your and only your race. Enjoy it, cherish it and make it worthwhile. Comparing yourself to others simply steals the joy.

As I said, Running teaches you a lot about life. If running has helped please share your story in the comment section.

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