The Face of Newark Abroad

Posts tagged ‘paris’

Birthdays Abroad

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This year was the 6th year I have celebrated a birthday outside of the USA. My readers know that I’ve spent my last 3 birthdays in Paris, France. This year I had the opportunity to go there again but decided I should give Paris a rest go back to one of my new favorite places: Morocco.

I first visited Morocco a year and a half earlier to attend my friend’s wedding there. She is American and married a Moroccan. I really enjoyed my time there and said I wanted to get back. I mulled it over in my mind for some time but didn’t actually make any arrangements until the week before I left.

I booked my flight and paid the deposit to stay at the hostel that my friend owns. I arrived at the airport in Marrakech and she had a car waiting for me. After a brief ride we arrived at Mama Marrakech. I spent the afternoon walking around, grabbed some lunch and then had dinner catching up with my friends. That evening I booked a trip to the Sahara desert right at the hostel. The “concierge” made a quick call on his cell phone and I was told to be up early as I would be picked up for my excursion between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. They also mentioned that breakfast would be served before we left. SCORE!

That Friday we left bright and early for the desert. After hours of sightseeing along winding roads and driving toward the Sahara desert, we finally arrived to a group of camels. There was no ceremony. We mounted the camels and took off into the desert. At first I was holding on for dear life but by the end of the ride I was taking pictures of my new friends and even snapping selfies!

The next day (my birthday) I rose early to watch the sun rise. I was so relaxed. I was a little sore from hours of camel riding but I felt incredible. The desert does something to you. It’s hard to explain so I recommend everyone to head to Morocco. This birthday definitely topped ALL the others. I had to out-do Paris. Mission accomplished. It will be hard to top this next year.

Until next year ….

– TravelingMad

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Flashback of the day: Paris, France Bonne Année a Paris!

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Intimate gathering of a few very close friends. 

Happy New Year Paris! This flashback is a very fun memory. My friend Ted, (bottom left of the photo) invited us ALL to his apartment for drinks, snacks and a good time before we head to the Eifel Tour for the countdown. As you can see his apartment was about 11 or 12 feet only. There’s actually a shower door hidden in the picture. Anyway we had a great time at Ted’s and then took the 5 minute walk to the Eifel Tour. We (yankees especially) were waiting for some type of countdown. There wasn’t one so we counted down at least 3 times according to different watches before it actually happened. 

 

The tour lit up and everyone was sprayed with champagne! It was really fun! Best Paris New Year’s ever! 😀 

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Me and some of my closest Paris friends. New Year’s 2011

Flashback of the day: Paris

In Paris, France, at a restaurant called La Perla, some friends and I met up for someone’s birthday drinks. I don’t drink so of course ordered food. I ordered a chocolate brownie. I was told they didn’t have ice cream and was surprised and disappointed but, hey, this is France!

When my brownie arrived I was still sad and said it would have been so much better with ice cream. My friend Deborah asked if I wanted some. I said, “Yes. Why? Do you have some?” She pulled a vanilla pop out of her purse and saved the day!! It was delicious. Thank God for foodie friends like myself!

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Brownie from La Perla, ice cream from Deborah’s purse!

For the Love of LENNY

Lenny's Promotional Poster

Lenny Kravitz LIVE!!

The finale of Lenny Kravitz’s Black and White European tour 2011 was held on November 29, 2011 in Paris at Bercy. I knew this information well in advance. Knowing I’d be in Paris at the time (and being one of the biggest Lenny Kravitz fans ever), I purchased my ticket in JUNE! Arriving on time of course, my adrenaline was pumping as we walked through the crowds of people to get to the entrance way.

Once inside I knew I needed Lenny merchandise. The question was just how much should I buy. I wanted one of everything! I ultimately settled on a black Lenny t-shirt with a photo of Lenny on the front and the European tour dates on the back. (Love the shirt!)  The purchase also came with a giant program.

Lenny sang all of his great hits as well of a few rising singles from the new album, Black and White America. The concert appeared to have ended when Lenny reappeared with Craig and an acoustic guitar. They played a few slow tunes. As the crowd continued to roar, Lenny began taking his jewelry off and spoke to the fans standing in the front. He said, “Don’t worry I’m coming down there.” Lenny went into the crowd! He made his way through thousands of people to emerge on an elevated island. The standing crowd was going crazy! He then pointed into the seated crowds and said he was coming up there too! Could it be? … Is Lenny Kravitz coming to my section?!? Lenny made his way around the entire stadium walking the crowds (heavily guarded by security) giving people high-fives and allowing fans to touch him as he passed by.

Though some may have thought Lenny was dangerous and crazy for doing that, it made the fans feel appreciated. Lenny put his heart and soul into a great performance and then showed even more love to the crowd. This is a much different approach than some so-called artists that lip-sync or ask the crowds to do more singing than them. Lenny is a veteran musician and still knows how to WOW the crowd. Thank you Mr. Kravitz for the best concert of the entire 2011.

Lenny's In the Crowd!

My finger touched Lenny Kravitz!!! ahhhhhh

Our Last Day in India

After a night of celebration with dinner, drinks, gift-giving to our mentors, and swimming in the restaurant pool, we all slept soundly that night.

Saturday arrived, our last day in India. Bright and early we made our way to the dining hall in the Tibetan Pavillion. Our hostess Kalsung (and company) prepared our breakfast of bread and jams, fresh fruit, oatmeal, and tea & coffee. Around the breakfast tables the consensus was most people were either going shopping in Pondicherry for last minute gifts and souvenirs or to the beach for some last minute sun, sand and surf. (A few people had to go into their NGO’s to drop things off and say proper goodbyes.)

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Everyone was happy with their last day spent around the beach, Kulu Payam, Pondicherry, and Auroville. The evening wore on and people ventured out for some food before we had to load up the “bus” at 9:30pm. Some went to a restaurant called Paris, some went to Tanto’s and others went to the ever faithful, Visitor’s Center. Many of us spent our last rupee on those meals. We were sure to leave a nice tip for those poor waiters at the Visitor’s Center 😉

 

The pavilions had rush and adrenaline in the air. A few of us decided to create a donation bag for the Social Awareness for Liberation Trust (SALT) Children’s Home. This home is essentially an orphanage and was severely affected by the cyclone. People came by and put toiletries in the bags, a few clothing items and flip flops, first aid products, and headlamps and flashlights. It wasn’t much or very fancy, but we were positive that it would be of greater use to them than it would be to us in Paris, especially since the home was still without electricity. 

 

True to form at the Tibetan Pavilion, we also lost power (again) when everyone needed it, while packing! Thankfully we still had some candles. People continued to pack and pray that their suitcases would not be overweight.  As we brought our suitcases down to the front of the building, everyone was saying goodbyes to Sacha, Luke and Kalsung. There were also a couple of us that were left behind (of their own volition). Kalsung said she will never forget the night of the cyclone and the night after where we shared a soup for dinner because we had virtually no food and only a stone-aged method of cooking.

 

We all huddled up into a big circle with our arms around one another’s shoulders and began to sway. Some started getting a little emotional. I thought to myself, “Finally!” I had been waiting the whole trip for us to bond like this and sing Kumbaya! I began singing it. We didn’t make it through the whole song but it was sort of like a gigantic, 25 person group hug and we ended on that note.

As the bus drove away we waved goodbye. Some of us waved goodbye forever, some for many years, and some will return next year. Each person took away something different from this adventure. But we can all agree that it was a “Once in a lifetime experience.” Image

India: Day 13

I decided to do a vlog for this one. We survived the cyclone and were putting on brave faces.

… At least we did have some snacks.

NGOs Galore

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I traveled to Tamil Nadu, India with my university through a required course called the Sustainable Development Practicum. The aim of this practicum is for students to act as consultants to various organizations, assisting with their communication needs. Between day 2 and day 8 we toured and visited several non-governmental organizations (NGOs). There were about 23 units on our list of possibilities to work with. Each day was packed with multiple units where they presented their goals and missions to students and answered any questions we had about how they function and the groups they serve.

The overarching themes of the NGOs we worked with were health and human rights, environmental sustainability, education, and sustainable fashion. These broad terms included causes such as women’s empowerment, Dalit rights (formerly known as Untouchables), children, sustainable and ethical fashion, sustainable living, radio, solar energy, waste management, and more. This NGO practicum really offers something for everyone’s interest or passion.

With so many “good causes” it was difficult to choose just one. I could have easily chosen about 3 places I was interested in working for. The other factor that could make choosing an organization difficult is matching an organization with student’s skill sets. Some organizations needed assistance with website building, creating pamphlets and flyers, or creating short videos to display on existing sites. Fortunately, there was a wide range of skills within the group and we mentored each other.

After a few days of visiting 5 organizations per day, we had an idea of where we wanted to work. Many of us were quite anxious to begin our jobs and projects right away. I chose to work at the ADECOM Network. This agency advocates for the rights of the Dalit community. I was happy to assist with my small contribution, helping shed light on discrimination against an extremely vulnerable population. Check out their blog here: www.adecomnetwork.wordpress.com

 In the end we wound up doing a major project at only one organization, but we’re well informed on almost all that Auroville has to offer in terms of advocacy and non-profit organizations. For communications students/professionals, the work we did came naturally and we were able to produce useful and practical material for the agencies to use and build upon long after we’ve gone. All of the organizations were extremely impressed and grateful for the projects accomplished with such a limited amount of time.

For three years, my school has genrously offered the free services of students. In turn, students gain practical skills that are useful for their professional experience and invaluable to the NGOs. It’s kind of a win-win-win.

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