Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts from the ‘Interview’ category

Interview by traveling blogger Ricky Shetty

Published author, blogger, and fellow traveler from Vancouver, Ricky Shetty is presently traveling around the world with his family. On his YouTube channel, he has interviewed a variety of people about travel, blogging, and becoming “digital nomads.” I agreed to his kind request for an interview, and we spoke over video during their final evening in Trinidad before flying out to Colombia the following day.

During our hour-long conversation, we talked about a number of topics including care for aging parents, my frequent travels to Germany, and some things I’ve learned about photography.

You can find Ricky Shetty on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Thanks again to Ricky for his time during the Google Hangout on 4 July 2017; it’s hard to believe we last did this in 2014. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-a9P.

Interview with astros: Aisha Mahmoud-Perez

The Traveling Astronomer

Once, I was an astronomer, spending time thinking about and working on the formation and evolution of dwarf galaxies.

Astronomers lead busy lives, including teaching and mentoring, research-specific small- and large-scale data programming, and the near endless cycle of paperwork including research plans, funding proposals, budget reports, and paper manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals. Much of the time also involves travel – conferences, workshops, and collaboration meetings around the world, as well as visits to telescopes at observatories in remote locations around the world to collect data for projects.

I liked the travel part more than I enjoyed astronomy. When I’d said farewell to astronomy, I’d accumulated over one million miles with American Airlines, and countless more with Air Canada, the old Canadian Pacific, Lufthansa, the old Northwest (now Delta), and United Airlines. Weary feet and tired wings aren’t surprising outcomes; I know there are still many journeys and destinations left to come.

The best of Palestine and Puerto Rico

In September 2006, I moved to La Serena, Chile to work at the Gemini Observatory. The following January a number of undergraduate students from Chile, U.S., and Puerto Rico arrived at the neighbouring astronomical observatory to spend the Chilean summer on research experience. After meeting these students over the years, I’m happy to remain in contact with a number of them.

I’m pleased to introduce Aisha Mahmoud-Perez. She is one of the most unique people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and calling friend. With a Puerto Rican mother and Palestinian father, she successfully blends into her life the influences of two vibrant colourful cultures and two fiery independent dispositions. She loves meeting new people, learning new languages (she’s presently at five), and she loves food, travel, and knitting. She completed her M.Sc. in astronomy and astrophysics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and she is now presently back in northwest Arkansas.


I remember the hectic schedules as a former and recovering astronomer. How do you strike a balance between the professional “necessity” of traveling for research with the personal “necessity” of traveling for your own satisfaction?

AM: “As an astronomer in the making, I find it hard to reach that perfect balance between doing research and research related activities and simply taking a week off to travel, but it is certainly not impossible. In mid-June this year (2014), I traveled to Chile for a collaboration trip lasting almost 3 weeks. Most of that time was spent working, but I’d take afternoons off to walk around town and weekends off to wander around the country. I found I was more productive at work after I’d taken some time to discover places on my own.”


With your Palestinian and Puerto Rican heritage, and a large fraction of your time in America, you’ve been exposed to and influenced by a rich cross-section of different cultures. How do these influences inform your travels? What have you learned about the differences and similarities among people?

AM: “I feel very lucky to have been raised under two very different cultures. There was never a dull moment in my house. Every day I discovered how beautifully different my parents were from each other – the saga still continues today – and how much they learned from those differences. Those differences helped me to be more open and to embrace different cultures with passion and enthusiasm. I also learned that those differences I talk about are superficial – one prefers tea over coffee, prefers to dress in a specific way, or prefers Abdel Halim Hafez over Marc Anthony – and that deep down we really love and feel the same way, regardless of where we’re born.”


What and where in the Middle East would you recommend people see and experience for something that’s uniquely Middle East? What and where in Puerto Rico would you recommend people see and experience for something uniquely Puerto Rican?

AM: “As far as the Arab Middle East goes… GO NOW, ‘YALLA’! The Arab world, from Morocco to Iraq, is extremely diverse: the colours, the smells, the food, even the local dialect of Arabic is different. But there is one thing I believe unites the Arab World and that’s their hospitality. I’ve met some of the most welcoming and warmest people in these lands. I’d say a truly unique Middle Eastern experience is to “be yourself” and engage with locals. Perhaps what’s a bit closer to me is if you wander around Palestine, make sure to visit the city of Nablus and try their famous ‘knafeh’ – a delicious cake with a gooey cheese filling. No worries, you will find more many who’ll be more than glad to take you to a place to try ‘knafeh’!

Hebron, West Bank, Palestine - by Aisha Mahmoud

“Kunafeh”, in Hebron, West Bank, Palestine (AM)

Puerto Rico, on the other had, is a complex melting pot between North American and Latin American culture. Given our all-year-long summer, Puerto Rico is a constant party. But, perhaps, our biggest spectacle or where one can experience true ‘puerto-rican-ness’ is during Christmas. The streets fill with Christmas music all day long, moms and grandmas cook traditional dishes and you truly feel the happiness and the excitement of the people in the air. Do note however that Puerto Rican Christmas songs are not your typical Christmas song, e.g. “your guests come, eat, pig out, drink, and then they ask you if you have an aspirin” (No hay Cama Pa’ Tanta Gente by El Gran Combo). Also, Christmas starts right after Thanksgiving and ends the second week of January. Happy Island!”

Nablus, West Bank, Palestine - by Aisha Mahmoud

“Family”, in Nablus, West Bank, Palestine (AM)

What place or country has left the most lasting impact with you? What are those impressions?

AM: “For me, that place is Chile. Even if you love traveling, it is always challenging to go abroad either as a tourist or to stay there for a longer period. In Chile, I never had that feeling of being an “outsider”. Chileans welcomed me like one of them right away: very warm and friendly people! Their food is amazing as well!”

Valparaíso, Chile - by Aisha Mahmoud

“Barrios”, in Valparaíso, Chile (AM)

Where is one place or country in the world would you like to live or travel? What are your reasons?

AM: “I can’t pick just one. One of my travel goals is to visit the entire Arab world. Out of all the nations in the Arab world, I’ve visited five; only 17 more countries to go! I was mostly raised in Puerto Rico and was involuntarily away from the Arab World for a long time. I think that that’s why I find the Arab world so enchanting and I still want to visit and be charmed by all of it.”


Follow Aisha

at her website | on Twitter | on Instagram

The photos above were made by and kindly provided by Aisha Mahmoud. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com at http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5oE.

Adelina Wong, guest interview

I’m pleased to introduce fellow traveler, fellow Europhile, and fellow native of Vancouver: Adelina Wong. She’s lived and worked in Budapest, Hungary, where a big part of her belongs, mirroring my own feelings towards Germany. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have interviewed her for Fotoeins Fotopress.


What circumstances prompted your move to live and work in Budapest/Hungary?

AW: “I had always wanted to experience what it was like to live abroad. I had a small taste of it when I studied abroad in the Netherlands, but that was only 4 months. During university, I was part of an organization called AIESEC which facilitates an exchange program for university students and recent graduates. Eventually it was through AIESEC that I found my placement in Budapest. I didn’t deliberately pick Hungary as I was open to opportunities anywhere, but I found a great job and the rest just fell into place.”

Budapest from Gellért Hill, AW packmeto.com

Budapest from Gellért Hill – AW, packmeto.com

What were the most memorable aspects of living in Budapest/Hungary?

AW: “Easily, the most memorable aspects were the people that I met that made the whole experience so rewarding and memorable. I made some great friends from all around the world who I still keep in contact with today. I also met a couple of really great Hungarians as well who I always look forward to seeing when I visit. Most importantly, I met my boyfriend there.

I also enjoyed aspects of the culture. North America is so driven by capitalism and the need for more and more that it was a refreshing change to be some place where it’s not as prevalent. I’ve been told that this is starting to change in Hungary, but comparatively it’s nothing. Work-life balance was also good. It was common for people to go out for a drink or two after work – especially in the summers when the patios are open and the days are long and hot. I’m a big food person and I love how the fad of organic food, farm to table, nose to tail cooking is just a part of everyday life. Going to the market or store everyday to pick out some fresh veggies for dinner was normal. Most things were organic by default, and the seasons dictated what fresh foods were available on shelves. Delicious in the summers, harder to handle in the winter, but definitely memorable.”


For someone visiting Budapest/Hungary for the 1st time, what would you recommend they see & experience for something uniquely Budapest/Hungarian?

AW: “I’m a firm believer that food is a great way of experiencing a new culture. I would suggest a wander through a market, not the famous central market that most tourists visit, but rather one where mostly locals shop. The market at Lehel ter is a great one (and easy to get to on the blue metro line). Barely anyone speaks English so be prepared to do a lot of pointing. You’ll get to see what’s in season, interesting breads and desserts, and people watch as they pick out what’s for dinner. There are only a few hot food stands at this particular market, but they’re worth checking out for a quick bite; lángos, deep fried dough with sour cream and cheese on top, is a must!

Budapest Lehel Market, AW packmeto.com

Budapest’s Lehel Market – AW, packmeto.com

A taste of palinka is also a must. Hungarians swear by this fruit brandy. The older generation uses it as an aperitif and believes in its healing powers for any ailment. There are palinka bars throughout the city where you can sip on different fruit flavours from plum to cherry.

AW: Another thing unique to Budapest are the ruin bars, also called kerts or garden bars, around the city. The courtyards and insides of old derelict buildings are transformed and repurposed as bars and gathering places. Originally, they were decorated with mismatched furniture found in the building, but many ruin bars are now designed intentionally to look old and random. Most visitors head to Szimpla which was the first and most famous ruin bar, but there are plenty of others worth checking out, including Kuplung, Ellato Kert, and Fogashaz.”


What is the ONE thing you miss most about Budapest/Hungary (that you can’t get anywhere else)?

AW: “My boyfriend! Cheeky (but truthful!) answer, I know. Other than him, I miss the energy of the city, especially during the summer. Yes, I complained a lot about the heat; 35+ degrees Celsius on average for months at a time without air conditioning is rather painful. But I also loved being able to wander around at 10pm in just shorts and a t-shirt. It was great to see people out enjoying each others company, relaxing in parks, chatting at bars, or splashing around in local pools.”

AW at Heroes Square in Budapest, packmeto.com

Heroes Square, Budapest – AW, packmeto.com

If you could return to live in Europe (not Budapest/Hungary), where would you go and why?

AW: “I like cities. There is nothing more I love more than the hustle and bustle of people. Of all the places I’ve traveled in Europe, the two places where I could see myself living (other than Budapest, of course) is London and Berlin. Both cities are steeped in history and have unique vibes that I like. I felt like I was at home even though I was a visitor. They’re different in their own ways, but I feel a pull towards both. I would love to live in either city for awhile and discover all their little secrets.”

The photos above were made and kindly provided by Adelina Wong. For more things Budapest, Hungary, and all around Europe, check out her website: packmeto.com. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5d0.

My guest video interview for YVR Bloggers

Published author, blogger, and fellow traveler Ricky Shetty asked if he could interview me for YVR Bloggers. It’s a community based here in the Vancouver area of people who blog fervently about travel, business, cars, events, fashion, food, lifestyle, parenting, social media, technology, and more.

I jumped at the opportunity, and I agreed to answer questions and talk about travel, my year-long trip around-the-world, and travel-blogging.

Thanks again to Ricky Shetty for his time and generosity. Our Google Hangout from 3 March 2014 also appears here on YVR Bloggers. This interview reemphasizes a need I’ve had for some time: a good quality external microphone! The present post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

ANZAC Day, Martin Place, Sydney, Australia

My Sydney: meet Ken Curran, OAM JP

ANZAC Day parades continue to march through the streets of Sydney’s Central Business District, but I depart from the crowds and wander over to Martin Place. Dressed in a green suit jacket, green tie, and a green beret, an elderly gentleman is describing the Commando Memorial to a number of curious visitors.

( Click here for more )

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