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Friday, February 12, 2016

South Africa: It’s Not What You Think

Samantha is an avid food blogger and she loves to travel. She recently went on a holiday to South Africa. She had many adventures there. In a first of a five part series , she tells us how she swam with the sharks. This is her story. You can follow her on

AFRICA! What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear that word? I will tell you what came to mine…poverty, monkeys, lions, and giraffes! Basically I was thinking Lion King with a little Blood Diamond mixed in! Boy was I wrong! South Africa is the most gorgeous country I have been to thus far. The oceans sparkle, the countryside is vibrant green, and the plentiful vineyards are back dropped by gorgeous mountains that look like a scene from a movie that was edited to look that beautiful. The trick is to land in Cape Town but rent a car and travel outside the city. The roads are better than ours here in the States, no potholes and everyone followed the rules, but just remember that you will be driving on the opposite side of the road. Everything was so affordable and the best part was the delicious wine and food. It’s a 5 star vacation on a 3 star budget for those of us visiting from America.

I had traveled to South Africa with my sister and met my cousins from India, London, and Canada there. It was 5 girls in Africa and we had an unforgettable and amazing time! Let me tell you about the time I came face to face with a Great White in Gansbaai.

I was going to say that this was the best and worst experience of my life but then I remembered climbing Table Mountain and let’s just say, it’s a tie (more on that later). My cousin had suggested the shark cage diving. It’s not something that was at the top of my bucket list by any means but I like to think that I would try anything at least once.

Well it’s the night before the big dive and the house fell silent as we realized that tomorrow may be our last day alive! DO NOT watch YouTube videos on shark cage diving, you will inevitably end up on the “When Sharks Attack Your Cage” video and you will either chicken out, have nightmares or have knots in your stomach for days if not all three. Seriously, the things that run through your head other than a Great White shark biting you in half, what if the cage gets detached from the boat and you sink, trapped in a cage to the bottom of the ocean. How long can I hold my breath for? Can I out swim a Great White?

The drive down to Gansbaai the next morning was long, scenic, and quiet. We were half asleep and at the same time half terrified. When we arrived, we were greeted and told to “Calm down! Everything will be fine,” I guess you could see the fear in our eyes! A small breakfast was provided but most of us couldn’t choke down any solid foods at that point. We saw some photos of Brad Pitt and Matt Damon on the wall, heck if they could do it so can we! Then we saw the 'Great White Fact Wall' that I would have preferred reading after the dive. For example, they have rows of teeth that could number in the thousands and their eyesight is amazing….GREAT, let’s go swim with some! We signed our waivers, made our payments, heard a short orientation and headed to the boat.

Now let me say, that boat is my mortal enemy! The ride out was fun but when we anchored it hit us one by one and it hit us hard….MOTION SICKNESS! That damn rocking boat! All at once my fear disappeared and all I wanted to do was jump in that cage, in that freezing water and see the biggest, baddest Great White there was and get back to dry land ASAP! The ordeal of putting on a damp, wet suit on a tiny boat with 25 other people while having motion sickness is really one of those unforgettable torturous experiences that I think deserves an award. Somehow I managed to get that suit and googles on and being one of the first people ready, the captain basically just picked me up and dropped me into that cage!

I was floating all around, bumping into the people next me, my legs were moving out of the cage. I thought this is it! This is how I am going to die, a Great White is going to come and bite my feet off and then my hands! After the initial 5 second shock, I told myself to get a hold of myself! I hooked my legs to the bars of the cage on the boat side so they weren’t floating forward and out towards the sharks, I grabbed the inner bar that was painted red signifying HOLD ME ONLY and I steadied myself in that frigid water. Now, all I had to do is wait for Brucey ( the shark from Finding Nemo) to show up and he did! It all happened so quickly! He bumped into our cage first and then we were told to go under and that’s when I saw this massive, beautiful, Great White swim directly in front of my face! It was majestic and he was smiling at me! Honestly, the sharks we saw were the most peaceful creatures ever! I truly loved seeing them in their natural environment and so up close! I would do it all again but this time I would make sure I stuck those motion sickness patches all over my body!!!

After we got to land and kissed it, we needed some time to recover so we headed to this little café called Coffee on the Rocks overlooking Gansbaai and it was the most beautiful view! The ocean was literally sparkling like little diamonds.There were whales everywhere, breaching the water!It seemed surreal. And I thought to myself, 'Is this real life?'

Coming up….
2.       Visiting the vineyards in Stellenbosch and Franschoek
3.       Climbing Table Mountain in Capetown
4.       Aquila Private Game Reserve on the Western Cape
5.       Robben Island

Monday, February 8, 2016

Istanbul: A cultural delight

This space is called Journeyman and I thought it is about time I post something about people's journeys around the globe. My guest this week is Natasha Abraham and she tells us about a recent short trip to Istanbul. You can follow Natasha on at

Here the link to a piece she wrote about her trip.
to visit Turkey again.

Friday, January 29, 2016

To Keep or Not to Keep: A New Year's Resolution

At the start of the new year, most of us must have made various resolutions for 2016, but as we head into the second month of 2016, some of us are still trying hard to keep up with our resolutions while some of us may have already forgotten about them.

Why then do we do this?

I recently read an article by Juli Fraga in The Guardian titled 'False Hope Syndrome: Why We'll Quit Our New Year's Resolutions This Weekend.' Here Juli Fraga talks about false hope syndrome which is defined as having unrealistic expectations of self-change. There is a scientific reason behind this. In order to succeed and reach our goals, we must set realistic expectations for ourselves. Later, Juli states an example of Mark Zuckerberg's goal of running 365 miles in 2016. When broken down, it works out to a mile a day which really is a manageable goal. When we set unrealistic targets for ourselves, we are eventually setting ourselves up for failures. It's like trying to put five liters of water in a bucket that can hold just four.

Why should we decide to change ourselves after a particular date? We should go about doing it from the moment we realize that we need to change something in our lives. When you realize that you need to lose weight or stop smoking, what is the point in waiting for the start of the next month to do that? The earlier you start the better. We have all heard of the saying 'The early bird gets the worm.'

My goal for this year, thus, is to write a blog post every forth night. I don't think it is a really difficult task and I will do my best to accomplish my goal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Painting and Patience

Painting is not important. The important thing is keeping busy.

                                                                                                            -Grandma Moses.

Grandma Moses was right when she said that the most important thing was to keep yourself busy. I recently started painting during my free time. Now when I say painting, I don't mean painting on canvas like  Van Gogh or Picasso, I mean painting houses with a friend. I saw it as an opportunity to learn a new skill. I thought, it would be a simple task, but I was wrong. Painting is not as easy as it looks. After a while I soon began to realize that there is much more to it than dipping a brush in a bucket filled with paint and maneuvering it over the wall. 

Painting is back breaking work. I did not expect it to be as hard as it was. But I got used to it soon. Over time, I not only got better at painting but also learned a very important virtue - Patience. You need to have a lot of patience when dealing with the home owners. They are not always satisfied with your work, no matter how much effort you put into it. And most of the time they are unhappy with the colors, even if they are the ones that chose them in the first place. I once painted the same wall eleven times in different shades of green. Yes, it did get me annoyed, but guess what, I now know that there are more than just three shades of green.

Another thing I learned while painting is to pay attention to detail. As with any project you take up you have to pay attention to every minor detail, the same goes with painting. Even a single bad spot can make your whole wall look bad. I soon learned that if you do one thing well the first time paying close attention to all the minor things you save so much of time and effort in the long run.

There is a saying that goes, it is as boring as watching paint dry. But after taking up painting, I can confidently say that watching paint dry is not a boring thing. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment on a job well done !

This job gave me the opportunity to meet so many different kinds of people. I not only learned to paint but I have also developed qualities that I can use in different walks of life.