September 17, 2010

Ace of Spades?

I am feeling lucky today. Are you?

September 16, 2010

Driftwood.

 
I am asked almost every day by a number of people what our plans are, more specifically, when are you and Andrei planning to return to the United States? The reality is our plans will probably not entail an immediate return to the U.S., at least not as our next best course of action. It makes sense professionally for us to both continue to invest in time spent living and working in the field, where the more interesting work opportunities also happen to reside. A decision to stay in the field may provide us with a comparative advantage in this notoriously competitive field.
But this simple and logical explanation for our locational decisions, does not mean that I do not experience moments of doubt about the lack of formative plans on the near horizon, especially as my year long visa will be expiring in the next couple of weeks. In fact, I would be remiss to not admit that awaiting responses on career-related news and decisions that are not within our control, makes me feel wholly out of control.
In an attempt to gather personal clarity in the face of looming professional uncertainty, I found myself soulfully clinging to the words of this song today...I would like to be like driftwood, floating with the flow...being taken for a ride...

September 15, 2010

Paper Anniversary.

Andrei and I just celebrated our one year anniversary on September 11th. And what a year it has been. In commemoration of our paper anniversary, I share this song.
Happy Listening.

September 14, 2010

Do You Rue?

The hugely anticipated Rue Magazine opens on line this week and it promises to be good. For those lacking patience, here is a sneak peak

So, do you rue?

September 8, 2010

He said, She said.

As most of you are well aware by this point, my interest in home design and fashion borders on the verge of obsession. I have found a great outlet to explore these interests in the form of blogs, especially as conversations with the less than interested husband often leave me wanting. When Andrei and I fail to see eye to eye on matters of fashion and home design, I find that his perspective and opinions are often truly hilarious, even when he fails to see that my opinion is of course, the "right" one. Alas, I did not marry a gay man...

It seems I am not alone in this aspect of "marital bliss," Alison of My Little Happy Place has a hilarious feature, called "He said, She said." As you may guess from the title, basically she shares home design images with her husband and records their respective reactions to each image. I encourage you to check it out, well worth a few laughs. But I digress...

Recently Andrei picked up an issue of Elle he found lying around our bedroom. Casually flipping through the pages he stumbled across this Chanel ad, and so began our version of "He said, She said."
Andrei: Beautiful.
Matty: er, um...
Andrei: These images are going straight onto the man repeller.
Matty: Yea, seriously, I just dont get it.

And so it seems, Andrei and I have agreed on one thing, the Chanel Fall 2010 collection is simply atrocious, or maybe to be fair, we simply just do not get the appeal of fur covered everything living in the tropics. In the ultimate ironic twist of fate, images from this collection have made their way into the header of the man repeller blog.

For the record, this does not mean that I no longer covet the fabulous $3000 white quilt Chanel purse. Its a classic. Yes, I am living as an unpaid student intern in one of the poorest countries of the world and longing for a $3000 purse. And so it goes...

September 6, 2010

Hello Sunshine.

Abnormal Wide Load.

All of these situation were real, witnessed firsthand. And yes, the roads of Tanzania are indeed scary.

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Photo Credit:
Large Tire: Kristen Pfau

September 3, 2010

September 1, 2010

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When I started to blog in October of last year, I conceived this as an opportunity to connect with friends and family back home in the States. I did not hold any bold ambitions about the reach of this blog nor any delusions that my thoughts and insights about my time overseas would reach anyone beyond a close circle of friends and family back home.

But since that time, my blog has managed to generate feedback in a surprising number of ways. I have been touched along the way to find out that I have some dedicated followers and I have been pleased to learn that my posts have presented learning opportunities or that I have managed to share a new and fresh perspective on a tired topic, experiencing life overseas.

Every once in a while I will hear from a friend who casually mentions something I know I have not told them directly, and it quickly becomes obvious they have read about my experiences on my blog. Thanks for reading friends and family.

But there was one time, when I received the below message in response my post entitled East meets West, and Back Again:

Dear Meghan,

Thank you for blogging yours truly and the SFW [Swahili Fashion Week] on your blog...much appreciative.

Warmest regards,
Mustafa Hassanali
Fashion Guru/Managing Director
Mustafa Hassanali HAUTE COUTURE

Thank you Mustafa, this message was truly inspiring.

Then there was the time when I received a personal phone call from the owner of Le Corsica, he informed me that when he read the contents of this post to his mother, she cried tears of joy and pride.

Thank you, P.F. I remain dually impressed with your culinary adventures in Dar es Salaam (and a superior darts player).

But two weeks ago, in response to my post Fanciful Excuses, I received perhaps what is the best form of feedback possible. A mere sidenote mention of a broken Lululemon messanger style bag, generated the following message from Lululemon's Online Community Educator, she wrote:

"I’m sorry to hear about your experience with our bags. I would love to know what bag specifically you have had issues with, as it sounds like something worth passing along to our Quality Assurance team.  We are dedicated to producing quality items, both clothing and accessories and I’m sorry to hear that you have had these issues.

Have you gotten a chance to return the bag to a local store?  If not, we’d be happy to offer you a refund or replacement bag. As an alternative to the style you have already tried, I’d recommend our Cruiser Backpack.  It is extremely practical and durable and my personal favourite of any of our bags: http://shop.lululemon.com/Cruiser_Backpack/pd/c/620/np/620/p/1046.html.  I look forward to hearing back from you and working to find a solution to your bag dilemma." 

Now seriously folks, this is customer service at its finest. Not only was she proactive in reaching out to me in the first place, but she was creative and thoughtful in her approach to helping me find a replacement bag, even offering to overnight ship a new backpack to my mother who could carry it with her on her recent visit here. And so it seems, I no longer have a viable excuse for not riding my bike straight to the gym after work!
But the best part, is that this backpack is AWESOME! Upon laying his eyes on it, a good friend said, I am buying one immediately upon my return to the U.S. A gentlemen in my office spotted my new backpack on my desk at work and immediately started thumbing through all of the secret compartments in deep adoration. Thank you Lululemon, I am now in possession of a highly coveted object and remain a truly loyal customer. Many, many thanks.

The "Typical" Safari Experience?

A few weeks ago we went on a "do-it-yourself" safari to Mikumi National Park. We took self-guided drives through the park in our Rav4, we set up our own tents and camped inside the park, and we packed all of our campfire food and drinks ahead of time. Our total costs for the whole weekend came to a whopping total of $100 per person, based on shared expenses among our group of 5. But the trip itself was priceless, seriously nothing beats seeing the silhouette of a giraffe in your headlights once dark falls.

That same weekend, some acquaintances of ours in Dar also went on a safari. Instead of the "do-it-yourself" approach, they opted to take advantage of an offer to stay in a luxury tent camp, priced at $1200 per person per night (although they were lucky enough to secure a "deal" which needless to say was still well out of striking distance from our $100 per person range for the weekend).

We all returned to Dar eager to trade stories of our respective safari experiences. Their opening question was, "Did you tents have a chandelier?" Hilarity ensued. While we all got to see animals and take snap shots til our hearts' content, it quickly became clear that our respective experiences were beyond compare. We all readily agreed that neither experience was for the better nor the worse, although perhaps that was just a convenient accord to strike between the "haves" and the "have-nots." Incidentally, most of our more luxury seeking counterparts are MBA students visiting Dar for the summer from a prestigious Ivy League program. Whatever happened to the life of a so called starving student?

Following our recent tour of Tanzania's northern park circuit, including 3 day game drives through Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara, I almost laughed out loud when I came across the latest Louis Vuitton "safari" ad campaign shot in Africa. The ads star Dree Hemingway, as in Earnest's great-granddaughter. Described as "quite simply superb," the ads within this 2010 Travel Collection catalog contain all of the regular features of a safari experience from tents to lions to sunsets to jeeps, but somehow the final effect is so jarring from my own safari experiences to date that these photos somehow seem to mock the "typical" safari experience. Perhaps I should ask my more luxury seeking friends for comment? Until I get a chance to edit recent photos from our more humble safari experience, feast your eyes on these glamorous shots.
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References:

http://habituallychic.blogspot.com/2010/08/chic-on-safari.html