Life Lesson: Respond, Don’t React.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, what matters is what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

This is one of my favourite quotes, if only because it addresses so much of how we experience life.  Every problem, every success, every experience no matter how mundane has the ability to affect you in profound ways.

The underlying philosophy is that what you experience does not matter. How you respond to whatever you experience does matter.  One of the biggest lessons I have had to learn in life is how to respond to situations instead of merely reacting to them.  You need to put a gap between whatever happens to you and your response to that stimulus, you need to give yourself time to weigh the options and choose the path that’s better.

Then we have to ask “better for whom?” Ideally, you should be attempting to get win-win situations. Assholes think only of themselves. Don’t be an asshole.

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How To Live in Istanbul

Coming to Istanbul for a holiday is great. There’s so much to enjoy here. All the things to see, the history seeped into everything you look at. The interesting food you get to try out. The interesting culture you get to learn about.  There’s bad stuff too though, pickpockets, overzealous salesman, fake goods, nobody speaking english, etc.

But living here… is something different. Yeah, you get all the above but the volume gets turned down and it’s like looking behind a curtain.

The lack of English becomes a real problem and you can’t go on living by Google Translate and Charades for ever, so tip No. 1 is…  LEARN THE LANGUAGE. The simplest way is to use apps like Duolingo and Memrise. Also, the best Turkish/English dictionary app is called Sesli Sözlük. Google Translate is useful for quick things, but isn’t as accurate for the long term.  Admin is the hardest, trying to get anything done when someone doesn’t speak the same language as you (and they generally lose interest in you and shoo you away, literally) is the most infuriating thing ever.


Pickpockets are something to look out for at all the tourist spots, but when you’re an expat and venture further out, you still stand out and you still get targeted.  I’ve had friends and family experience theft of handbags, with wallets, passports, everything in posh, high end shopping malls like Zorlu, Mall of Istanbul, etc. with some very devious tricks. So Tip 2: Just be careful out there.

The food… is always fresh, but bland. The vegetables are amazing, I actually eat tomatoes raw here. Coming from a South African Indian background, the blandness is NOT a good thing. One week in and I was scouring the city for a good Indian restaurant… and there’s like 5. Not all that great though.  Okay, I’ve recently found one decent one, but I digress…You can survive with the food here, but you’re gonna need to find some home-made food at some point, so Tip 3: bring your own spices to cook your own or do a better job than me at shopping for what you need. But, since you are going to eat out at some point, get on YemekSepeti, it has an app too. You can use Chrome web browser, it automatically translates the site into English for ease of use.

Next, Getting around the place.  Public Transport is AMAZING here. Tip 4: Get an Istanbul Kart, it’s like an Oyster card in London, it’s cheaper than single tickets and works across busses, the metro and the ferries all over Istanbul. Next, Tip 5: Download Trafi, it’s an amazingly accurate public transport app which lets you know the fastest way to get where you need to go with Public transport. It’s like the Citymapper app in London and elsewhere, but specifically for Istanbul.


If you’re in a hurry and want to use a taxi cab, you can use the Bitaksi app, which you need to register with a Turkish mobile number. I would still recommend using Bitaksi anytime you require a taxi, simply becuase you’re far less likely to get ripped off. All details of the driver and their cars are stored in the app when they pick you up, plus they can get reviewed… and nobody wants a bad review because it means they will get less money.

UBER and CAREEM are also available. Pro-tip: Uber XL’s are the same price as taxi’s here… so you can luxuriously lounge in Mercedes Vito instead of a standard cab if you wish.  Just avoid Uber going to the airport, it’s apparently “banned” and there’s fines for the driver and the passenger if caught out… but it works everywhere else in Istanbul with no problem at all.  So Tip 6: Use Bitaksi, Uber and Careem whenever you can to have a more pleasant travel experience.


You could hire a car, but I don’t recommend that. Driving in Istanbul majorly stressful if only because the drivers work with a margin of error this big –> ||. So, unless you’re planning a road trip across all of Turkey (which I do HIGHLY recommend you do), just get taxis.

Making Friends… here’s a list of Facebook forums and groups you can join… Expats in Istanbul,  Istanbul Expat Centre, Foreign Women of Istanbul, Expat Events in Istanbul,   Istanbul Expats & Internationals Group, Expat @Savers and Cook’s Corner for Expats in Turkey. If you’re going to be doing the admin on your own, I recommend you make some Turkish friends fast that can help you out, otherwise it’s like navigating in the dark without a torch.

Lastly, if you need more than the tips above… My, TimeOut Istanbul,,  The Guide Istanbul. I’m sure they’re more detailed for anything I’ve missed out like great places to eat, what’s hot and happening, etc. etc.

That’s about all you need to get started 🙂 Enjoy Istanbul… all things taken into account… it is a beautiful city.

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The Best Steak in Istanbul

So this is pretty hard, actually.  There are a lot of great steak and burger places in Istanbul.  But, I can only talk about what I know so don’t kill me in the comments (Who am I kidding, nobody comments here! hahaha.)

First, I want to talk through the experience of having steak in Istanbul. It’s AMAZING.

The meat literally melts in your mouth, falls off the bone… and it tastes like it’s supposed to taste, obviously with added salt…

… but seriously though (I’ll get to Nusr-et later), that’s exactly what it is.  Now, granted, my experience before this was over-cooked steak, Indian style, overloaded with spices so you don’t actually taste “meat”.  This was a revelation.  and this goes for all the meat – beef, lamb, whatever.

That’s not all though, there’s mustard, two kinds, light and dark… the dark is the one you want to go for (which we refer to as wasabi, because it has the same effect but different, kinda)… Now, I’d like to get into that experience, but a good friend of mine actually poetically put it down as…

“There’s a moment when you’re rolling your eyes at the amazing steak and then the wasabi kicks in and plays on the nasal passages it’s like a theme park ride it’s awesome.” – Zubair Habib

Another notable quote to make my point … “the steak was amazing… I love that it’s naked, just steak, no sides no sauce.”

Okay, let’s get to the meat of the matter, what are the best places in Istanbul to eat steak at?

  1. Nusr-et
    It may seem like a cliche because of all the media attention and the meme extraordinnaire but make no missed-steak (hahahaha), this place is the real deal.  I recommend the Meat sushi (for the theatre and the thing itself), the Beef Ribs and the lamb chops. The one in Etiler is the original steakhouse.
    Trademark Moustache, same quality as Nusr-et. Story is they both trained at the Gunaydin (next in the list) in the list before they became big names themselves. He’s obviously not as big as Nusr-et but the place is just as expensive and he’s just as quirky.  Go straight for the steak on the menu, but even the lamb chops were pretty amazing.  This guy’s also in Etiler.
  3. Gunaydin
    These guys are the standard Turkish Steakhouse, but that doesn’t mean it has any lack of quality.  It’s less expensive than the above, less fanfare and theatre and quirkiness, but it has all the great meat you need.  The one in Etiler is the best, in my opinion, but they’re everywhere… you can’t miss them.  Go for steak or kofte on the menu, they’re all good.

I should mention though, generally, the service is pretty awful, everywhere. Still trying to figure out why… but it is what it is.

… and sorry for the dad jokes.

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The Problem With (Some) TV Series

Firstly, this is based on Suits, Designated Survivor, Quantico (puke) and other similar idiotic American nonsense.  There are other great TV series, but I won’t get into those.

Most of all, it’s the bad writing.  Here’s a breakdown…

  • The same situation happens over and over and the characters respond in the same way, over and over.  Example: The 7 Things That Happen on Every Suits Episode
  • The actors say the same things, over and over. The characters end up flat. cliches.
  • It doesn’t resemble, at all, how actual humans behave, real people would not talk or behave like that. It stands out, it irritates, it takes the attention away from what’s happening because it’s so bad.
  • There’s no planning, which is just lazy, creating plot problems which lead to the above. Also, they sometimes just go over the top.

One of the frustrating things about the pilot for ABC’s Quantico is that it’s just good enough to make you want to watch another, but also filled with enough worries to make you want the second episode as proof that the flaws might be magnified. Source

and then there’s this…


The plus side is they’ve actually made me start reading books instead… and there are some exceptions: Chicago PD and Blue Bloods. Both of those manage to be relevant and good viewing.

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New Year, New You… Am I Right?

Happy New Year?  New year, new you?  Am I right?

How do you actually make it work this time?  Make some little changes which have some real positive effects…

Easier said than done, I know, but you can do it.  The hardest part with these is that it’s only hard the for like the first week, but once the habit starts to set in, the routine, it just becomes life.  Think of it like this, if you’ve watched WestWorld, everybody is on a loop (habits)… the question is, is the loop you’re on serving you, helping you become better?  What this is is basically you reprogramming your life according to what you want ot make happen and not just idly floating by and letting life kick your ass. So, here’s a list of my 3 most important habits… you can add, subtract, append your own if you want.

By the way, it’s okay to fail, just pick yourself up after and try again. Know that you’re only a failure if you stop trying.

1.Sleep Earlier and Wake Up Earlier

Why would you want to do this?
Because very few people actually do make it happen… and those few are generally the more stable, happy and materially successful crowd.  Look it up, waking up early is magic.

How do you do it?
In order to begin, don’t try first sleeping earlier. That shit doesn’t work. I’ve tried it.  What you need to do is set your alarm earlier, even if you’re getting less than your recommended 8 hours (let’s face it, at this point, that doesn’t happen anyway), however little sleep you are getting, set your wake up time at least 2 hours before you have to head to work.  You need an alarm clock and you need to force yourself to get your ass out of bed no matter what (this is easier to start in summer, winter just makes it that much harder.)

The reason for starting with getting up earlier is that the going to bed earlier will sort itself out.  Logically, you will be tired earlier.   Now the main question… what do you do with 2 extra hours?  You can follow the online advice of what the world’s greatest CEO’s do, but basically it can be the next two things.  Just don’t end up having a 2 hour breakfast, scrolling Facebook and wasting your damn time. Focus.

2.Read More Books / Learn Something New

Why would you want to do this?
I’m not going to even justify this. You know it’s a good idea.

How do you do it?
Again, you have to force yourself to do this, at least exercise some will power… but this will make it easier…

a. Pick the right book/course – start with fiction and something entertaining that you’re interested in. Something academic or hard to read and this will all die quicker than your dreams.
b. When do you read? – try the morning, or, what actually did work for me with a great book was when I had the urge to watch another episode of a series and instead ended up finishing a quarter of the book. Woohoo!  Find what works for you, trial and error.

3.Start a Small Physical Activity at Least 3 Times a Week. (you knew this one coming.)

Why would you want to do this?
So you can look good naked and not have a minor heart attack everytime you climb a flight of stairs.

How do you do it?
Start small. I started with one of the 7 minute exercise apps. Just once a day, 7 minutes… easy right? Naah, it knocks the shit out of you in that 7 minutes… and I swear the 7 minutes lasts like 30 minutes while you’re actually going through it.  But, it is just 7 minutes.

If you’re really serious and plan on going to the gym (and don’t want to waste the membership fee)…
a. Wake up Early (see Number 1)
b. Prepare, so you don’t have any time to stop yourself in the morning. – sleep in your gym clothes, have your gym bag packed with everything you need the next day ready to go next to the front door.
c. Have a glass of water, or two
d. Get out of the door (THE MOST IMPORTANT THING) – being at the gym and working out is the easiest thing in the world… the hardest thing is getting your ass out the damn door.  Get that done and the rest will follow.

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You Should Be Reading Octavia Butler.

So, I’m currently reading “Kindred” by Octavia Butler. I don’t know how I’ve never heard of her until a couple of months ago as I deep dived into Sci-Fi… and Oh My God, you should be reading her. If you like sci-fi, it’s amazing.  She most definitely belongs up there with Philip K. Dick (but less crazy and drug-fuelled) and Isaac Asimov.

Here’s some simple background info on her…

Octavia Butler. Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947- February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction writer, one of very few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula

It’s not only for sci-fi fans either, if you’re into human rights, anti-racism, and just being a good human being this is for you. She wrote “Kindred” in the 70’s and being an African-American woman her work does what great sci-fi does so well, comment and exxagerate aspects of society and humanity (racism, classism, politics, the economy, the refugee crisis, etc. etc.) in order to highlight them, break them apart and make you actually think about them deeply, shine a light on different aspects you didn’t realise before. Also, while most sci-fi looks forward to dystopia, “Kindred” looks back at slavery and juxtaposes it with the modern era.  It’s also written amazingly, the can’t-put-it-down type of writing.  I can’t wait to finish it and get to her other work.

That being said, the reason I’m highlighting this and feel the need to highlight this is because women, and in particular african women, regardless of Geography, are ignored in so many aspects of society and culture.  We are missing out on a gold mine of genius and creativity and we need to widen our bloody cultural references and influences. Get  a wide variety of perspectives.  Open your damn mind.

Here’s a few other links you should look into:

15 Fascinating Facts About Octavia Butler

Take a look at the Book Club at Well-Read Black Girl.  (support them too if you can)

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The Art of Disagreeing

We’re smack bang in the middle of Holiday Season. Which means we’re going to be interacting with a lot of family and friends… and we don’t agree with some of them on a few things. Thing is, how do we avoid the awkward spiral of…
“I’m right!”
“No! I’m right!”
“I Hate you!”
“We only invited you ‘cos Mom said so. Everybody hates you. Even the dog.”
*bangs mug on table*

Cue awkward family reactions, some picking sides, some apathetic. Holiday Ruined.

So, since this is my blog, I’m going to write up how I kind of deal with these situations and a lot of it is mindset.

1. Don’t be an asshole – By this I mean, stick to the argument. No ad hominem attacks, even if they are really ugly and stupid, don’t do it. Be focused on what you’re trying to get across or understand.

2. Know Your Logical Fallacies – related to ad hominem attacks above… brush up on all the Logical Fallacies. Train yourself to get your thinking right (never a wasted pursuit).

3. Focus on understanding rather than being right – You’re a human being. You’re occasionally wrong. So, in an argument, the best way to always proceed is to get the person you’re arguing with to explain their position and you focus on listening and trying to understand their perspective.  This also means you have to get used to admitting you’re wrong if you do have the wrong end of the stick.

4. Pay attention to who you’re arguing with – Please don’t try and persuade someone the of some strongly held opinion of yours in an area where they have expertise e.g. arguing about chemotherapy with an oncologist. Recognise when you’re out of your depth and don’t argue at all. Smile and nod.

That’s it. The above guides me when I’m confronted in any way or form with this type of situation.

I hope it’s helpful.

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What Makes a Great Pizza?

It’s subjective, but there’s definitely a few elements which, if you get them right, makes it all come together.

So let’s start… (This is describing a Margherita… naturally)

  1. The Base – It MUST be thin… and crispy.
  2. Sauce – The tomato sauce needs to be high quality, tasty. Which means it stays away from being sour or too sharp.  Secret ingredient here is a little bit of brown sugar (kinda the same as pasta sauce), adding basil also adds a great dimension to the taste.
  3. The Cheese. – A nice melty cheese is key here, and nothing with too strong a taste on its own.  Gouda, Cheddar, Mozzarella are good options. Better if all three together.
  4. Garnish with other mixed herbs.

That’s what makes a great pizza. To me anyway, as I said… it’s subjective.

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Fiction and Non-Fiction: The How and What of Consuming Literature

Have you ever noticed the way you actually “read” books? A thought struck me the other day about the actual act of “reading”. I, for example, read off a kindle, consume audiobooks and now and again pick up an actual paperback.

Given these three different reading mediums (granted listening to an audiobook isn’t exactly reading), I’ve noticed that there is some interaction with the way we prefer to learn.

I can only read fiction while I prefer to listen to non-fiction in audiobook format. Non-fiction just can’t seem to keep my attention long enough on a page, my mind kind of gets heavy with the reading and I struggle to focus while listening to it passively, provides no problem. Fiction, however, I can consume in both formats equally. It’s most probably the entertainment factor, but it’s also the writing. A book of any kind, badly written, would irritate me to no end.

There are exceptions, ofcourse. I was able to read Malcolm Gladwell’s books pretty easily which makes me think the hypothesis of reading fiction alone merely because of it’s entertainment value doesn’t holdany water. It’s the writer and the writing that’s important, along with the ideas and the way they’re conveyed. Above all it has to be relevant.

I’ve noticed that with a lot of non-fiction books, there is a LOT of filler. Either saying the same thing over and over in different words or taking a long time to get to the point. I honestly believe that most non-fiction books can be easily cut down to 15 minute reads covering the main ideas. Apps like Blinkist prove my point easily, but even Blinkist has a lot of extra in it which doesn’t need to be there.

There’s a definite gap in the market for consuming these books and merely getting the main ideas out.  If any explanation is needed, analogies work the best to make people grasp foreign concepts.  There’s a real nugget here.

Anyway… wherever it ends up… keep reading.

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How Many Times Am I Going To Start This Damn Blog?

I’ve started and re-started this blog about 4 or 5 times over the last 10 years. Lost all the previous content. But that’s life. I have to begin again. So here it is.

Let’s hope I can actually start writing consistently again. I need a routine for this writing thing otherwise it’s just not going to work. Another dead end blog in the sea of dead end blogs.

I need to get my shit in order.


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