Tuesday, August 24, 2021


It suddenly occurred to me just now—just before bed—that I used to have a blog. I used to draw and photograph and write, I used to share all this with you, and it was something that gave me joy.

So much has happened—so much.

I just wanted to say hi, for now.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

zaza in zagreb

Some time ago when I visited Zagreb for a long weekend, I had a thought that this was a city I could see myself living in. Here I am, five years later. Life in Morocco was challenging, though I left with a heavy heart, having made so many wonderful memories... I don't think I have ever cried so much leaving a place...

So far, the three of us are loving it in Zagreb. I am hoping I can elaborate more, but this is all the time I have for now. It feels funny to write again. I have missed it.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

farewell, maroc

My time in Morocco is coming to an end, and I'll be off to a new country with a new job, and hopefully, a renewed sense of self. Though I grew to love Morocco deeply, the fours years spent here was not easy— my work life ate away at everything. Yes, motherhood has changed the game for me in terms of how I spend my time, but the most exhausting aspect of my life here has always been tied to my job. I believe that this move will be a positive change for all three of us, and that I will finally get back to doing the things that I love— the things that make me, me: drawing, painting, reading, exploring, and writing here.

A heartfelt shukran to Morocco, and to Rabat especially. There is so much that I will miss and treasure. I will be back one day, inshallah.

Friday, February 1, 2019


Hello there. I’m huddled under a blanket in a little house in Marrakech, where I’m spending my birthday. I’d like to think that I might pick this blog up again, but we’ll see how it goes!

Sunday, July 8, 2018


I haven't been able to keep up with much this past year, but I am happy to report that I have survived the first year of motherhood! Baby is growing strong, using those fine chubby legs to walk and dance to Iggy Pop. There are kisses being blown, dogs getting barked at, and some sharp little teeth poking their way out for that grin I love so much. It has been hard though, being a working mum, but thankfully it's summer now.

I have done so little drawing and travelling that I haven't felt that I could add anything interesting or of value here. Sometimes it crossed my mind to write about my favourite baby soup recipes— I had no idea I could get so passionate about making baby food— but that's not what I want this blog to be. To be honest, I don't know what I want it to be, nor what it is anymore. In any case, I know that I have missed writing, and sharing my photographs and drawings with you.

So this is for the mums, new or not. At the end of each exhausting day, there's a little one who thinks the world of you. I am not known for my sense of humour, but I'm a riot to Baby. It's all pretty awesome.

Fernando Botero. Maternidade. 1999. Bronze. Jardim Amália Rodigues, Lisbon, Portugal.

Monday, June 4, 2018

ramadan kareem

It has been a long time, my friends. We are in the midst of Ramadan here in Rabat, a cool near-summer evening, the mournful call of a trumpet announcing the setting of the sun.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


Today was the first day of the last year of my thirties.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

harika holidays from florence

If I don't get a chance to post a "Happy New Year" to you all in a week or two— have a very happy New Year! May it be a harika year of happiness and good health, inspiration and fulfillment. When I find a moment, I have so much to show you— Artemisia, Botticelli, Lippi, Titian, Raphael, Leonardo... Magical names to invoke for 2018. Until then, ciao my friends!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

moroccan doughnuts

I do not have a sweet tooth, but every so often I indulge in a sugary treat. For some time I had been curious about these so-called Moroccan doughnuts, which every now and then could be seen carried away down the street by men in djellabas, the fluffy rings strung like beads on a strip of palm frond. I had incorrectly assumed that they could be found in a café or bakery, and after many disappointing attempts to get my hands on some, I consulted my students. I learned that the doughnuts are called sfenj, and can only be acquired from a dedicated sfenj hole-in-the-wall.

On one of Baby's afternoon walks, I spied a man in a striped djellaba turning away from a little crowd of people with a string of golden rings. Could it be? As he walked past me, it was confirmed: sfenj. In a shop no bigger than a closet, sandwiched between the entrances of apartment buildings, sat a man and a vat of boiling oil. A steamy display case separated eager clientele from the man, who was diligently spooning the sfenj out from the bubbling pool of oil.

I got four plain sfenj on a palm frond, and one dusted with sugar in my hand for immediate devouring. The dough was delightfully crispy on the outside and fluffy inside— far better than your average American doughnut, with or without sugar— and there's something so wonderful about carrying your string of sfenj down the street. Now I just need a blue djellaba...

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Nine years... where have they all gone? Little did I know when I started this blog that I would find the love of my life, leave the other love of my life— Istanbul— and end up in Morocco with a baby. In the wee hours of the morning while feeding the little one, I was reflecting on how much I have loved sharing my journeys with all of you, and how little of it I have been doing since moving here. It feels like time is just slipping away— and there's never enough of it. Sketching and any kind of artwork seems out of the question, and this has plunged me into a sort of loneliness. Drawing and painting is such an integral part of my identity, that without it I am left with an emptiness.

So I managed to do three small sketches in the past month. It's hardly anything, but it's a start. I've been playing around with some pigment powders that I bought in the medina of Tangier:

Just above is Hamide, a Gnaoua musician who zipped across our path on a bike, down one of Asilah's narrow alleyways, sintir on his back. It was so quick that at first I wasn't sure what I saw— a hunched figure in a striped djellabah with what looked like a guitar— but after turning a few corners, we ran right into him. Hamide was laying out a few items on striped and tie-dyed cloths when he greeted us, which involved placing hats on our heads.

Sensing that I was eager to sketch Hamide, Pedro asked if he would pose for a portrait. With a wide grin he pulled out the sintir, a low, banjo-like instrument of stretched camel skin with three goat gut strings.

Je joue pour le bébé.

A deep, trance-like melody filled the alley, lulling Baby to sleep. Seizing the moment, I drew. At some point during the song, a young man popped out of a door with a plate of couscous for Hamide, which he shared with us.

Nous sommes une grande famille. He explained.

So here we are, nine years later. I've really got to start drawing again. Make the time, get over my new nervousness when approaching people. It goes by too quickly.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

the colours of asilah

Like so many places in Morocco, Asilah is white and blue— sky and clouds, water and salt. The blues range from an intense ultramarine to a bright cerulean.

I spied this secret blue haven through a shop window, and dreamed of sitting in that chair under the stairwell with a glass of fresh mint tea, a pad of paper, and a pencil...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

lovely asilah

My third visit to Asilah ended in food poisoning and a bad cold— for all three of us. I've always prided myself on having a stomach of steel but Morocco has an uncanny ability to smash any notions of gastrointestinal strength that one might have. What was intended to be a long weekend of relaxation, grilled fish, sight-seeing and birding, turned into a hasty retreat back to Rabat with a poor baby wailing in the car, and two rattled parents.

And so, over the next couple of posts, I give you the few photos (and one sketch coming— can you believe it?) that I managed to take in this lovely seaside town of whitewashed alleys and colourful murals.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

day at the museum

Back in Rabat, the beautiful Musée Mohammed VI Art Moderne & Contemporain is holding an exhibition of work by Spanish artists from the time of Goya until the present day. Here are some of my favourites, followed by Baby's:

We are grateful that the museum is so child-friendly— our nerves about taking an infant to see the work finally settled when the smiles kept coming from the gallery guards. Baby loved the bright colours and contrast of some pieces, and we hope that more experiences like this will build a future appreciation for art!

Francisco de Goya. Miguel Fernandez Durán, marquis de Tolosa. 1787. Oil on canvas. 
Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. José Echegaray. 1905. Oil on canvas. 
Ignacio Zuloaga. Alejandro Fernández de Araoz. 1936. Charcoal and chalk on canvas. 
Rafael Canogar. Untitled. 1973. Silkscreen on paper. 
Rafael Canogar. Estudio para un monumento. 1972. Lithograph on paper. 
Equipo Crónica. El constructor. 1971. Silkscreen on paper.
Equipo Crónica. Guernica. 1971. Silkscreen on paper.
Equipo Crónica. La pincelada con Felipe. 1971. Silkscreen on paper.
Equipo Crónica. Interior de Las meninas. 1971-1972. Silkscreen on paper.
Equipo Crónica. Composición. 1971. Silkscreen on paper.
Ferrán García Sevilla. Poligon 32. 1988. Acrylic on canvas.
Ignasi Aballí. Serie Biografias. 2001. Oil, acrylic, tempera, and vinyl on canvas.

Monday, November 13, 2017

anchovy tajines and strawberry trees

One bright blue morning we drove off in search of the green of an Algerian Oak forest. The winding hilly roads twisted my stomach as I sat in the backseat attempting to entertain Baby with an owl puppet and renditions of Bowie songs. After passing through so many dry agricultural fields, we finally reached the forest— and my guts began to spin.

Pedro pulled over to the side of the road (which by now had become rather patchy), and took the opportunity to search for birds while I gathered my head and fed Baby. We were nearly surrounded by strawberry trees— their bright red fruit beautifully popping out from the green, so deliciously enticing. In fact, this was precisely what I needed: to get my legs moving and to eat something. I foraged a handful of ripe fruit that had been missed by the birds and Barbary macaques, and slowly crushed their thin spiky flesh between my tongue and the roof of my mouth, delighting in the sensation. Soon, the sugar did its magic, and I felt a little less green myself.

The oak forest was lush and expansive; a reminder of how there are so many Moroccos. We didn't stay too long though, as it was getting late and we had skipped lunch. On they way back to Chefchaouen we spied a troupe of macaques lurking in the trees off the side of the road, who vanished the second I pulled out my camera. We headed to the Uta el Hammam plaza, where we were certain to find food being served at such an odd hour.

I had heard that the goat cheese in the Rif is not to be missed, and I've had it on my mind ever since I saw the rounds of creamy goodness beautifully wrapped in palm fronds in Tangier. Though I'm not sure this is the same cheese, I enjoyed it on a fresh salad that came with olives and zaalouk, a cooked eggplant and tomato salad. This was followed by a tasty anchovy tajine, with a lemony tomato sauce.

Mid-meal, Baby scored us both a glass of tea from the neighbouring table. This sort of thing has been happening lately— the most unusual of which has been a gift of sole from the fishmonger on two separate occasions. In Morocco, men, women, and children run up to kiss a cheek or forehead— something that would horrify most Americans— a stranger kissing my baby?! I find it endearing (and cross my fingers that the kisser doesn't have a cold).

Sunday, November 5, 2017

a closer look

Have you ever seen anything so blue that wasn't the sky or the sea? Apart from an Yves Klein work of art or the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, I haven't experienced blues so blue— and it is an experience, rather than a sight. These are colours that swallow you.

The Rif town of Chefchaouen began to turn blue somewhere around the 1930s, and it is said that a Jewish population fleeing Nazi Europe began to paint the old medina blue for spiritual reasons. The various shades of blue, pigments mixed with lime, became a tradition that soon attracted tourists from all over the globe.