Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Blunders and Faux Pas in Sabrina's London Diaries

Hello My Wonderful Readers,
Thank you for reading Sabrina's London Diaries and subscribing. I am heading to almost over 100 posts in a few days. It's been an exciting pleasure for me to write in my diaries and share my experiences with the public, and good friends.

I wanted to let you know that I had to repost my last blog, and sorry if your getting a second posting. I want to get it right this time.

Also, wanted to say, that I am still very NEW to Blogging.  When someone told me to write about my experiences in London in Autumn 2008, I didn't know how to do it. I had to teach myself everything, pretty much, and AM  STILL teaching myself everything along the way. Usually, I am learning by experimentation.That said, I don't understand how everything works, and sometimes, if you get things from DIGG, sorry but I still don't understand how that happens, nor how to fix it.  Evertime, I publish some content from other articles I write online on DIGG it goes to my Sabrina's London Diaries blog. 

Recently, I published some quizzes and meant them to be published just on the side bar of my blog,Learning Spanish is Fun, ( it was meant for my Spanish students). I was surprised to find the Quizes published in all my blogs and as a post in Sabrina's London Diaries  I just don't get it.  So forgive me. Thanks in advance.

Hey, I did manage to put TABS in all my 3 blogs and to change the photos. So, I do know something. ( hehehe)... and evolution is possible... (he he).

sincerely,
Sabrina Grace

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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Part 1: Friends in London

One of the nicest things about living in London was meeting interesting people from all over the world. I met friends from Azerbaijan, Malta, Mauritius, Morocco, Malaysia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden. Since England has so many people residing from it's Commonwealth countries, I also met a lot of people from  South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. 



 One of the nicest people I met, and the most interesting was this opera singer, Joy, who hailed from New Zealand. I met Joy while we were staying at the same hostel for a few months in Hyde Park. One day, I heard someone howling from one of the corridors. But, in fact, it wasn't the howling of a banshee, it was this beautiful voice singing opera. I so admired her from the beginning, for having the chutzpah to practice her singing any little corner she could find.  Joy is half Somoan, and half Welsh,and was very sweet, she travelled all over England selling jewelry in castles and would regale me with her adventurous stories, by saying ," What's going on in the universe?" She was a real  Bohemian free spirit.I thought I was adventurous, she would still hitch hike all over England. She also travelled to Palestine and Lebanon, and said how she almost got decapitated over there.  She's my kind of girl, intelligent,fun, artistic and gorgeous. If that wasn't enough, she could recite Aristotle. She taught me a lot about opera, The Greek Philosphers. Wow !


One night, we hung out in my little flat in Bayswater, and we would listen to both our favorite Aria, from the movie Farinelli.
After a night of partying drinking cider and eating Brussels Pate.
Joy turned me on to Pate for eating instead of Chicken, we would eat copious amounts ofPate, Brie Cheese and crackers.


Sabrina and Katerina, Pizza Express near The Globe Theater- Southbank-London


I had known Katerina Weiss for a very long time. Katerina is from Check Republic. She came to visit me with her Doctor boyfriend in London. We all went out together to Pizza Express. I had known her since 1999, when we worked at Rizzoli's bookstore together. She's very intelligent, childlike and very sweet. She was married to the famous Chekoslavkian film maker, Jerry Weiss, he passed away and now she married his friend. Katerina is very well-read, and always lets me know about the best books. Apparently, she's moved back to Pennsylvania to be with her Doctor boyfriend Peter, and now they live in some farmhouse, in the outskirts of Philadelphia. She's invited me to visit her, but I haven't been able to make it over there yet. I am to busy still writing about my time in London. Ha ! Will find time, in the future, to visit her.

She met me in London along with some other friends, we went to the Globe Theater to watch Shakespeare as a groundling. I think the play was As You Like it.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Part 1: Peace in the Middle East: Chanting for Peace in London Monday Nights

There hasn't been PEACE in the Middle East for a long time.
We all know that.It's nothing new and most people just get sick
and tired of listening to the endless war of the Palestinians versus
the Israeli in their never ending battle for what they both believe is their homeland since Biblical times.

As a Buddhist we believe in Kosen Rufu(World Peace).We believe Peace starts with one person.When we have peace within ourselves, it is very easy to spread that feeling and experience the joy of the Buddha through out the world, in our families first, our communities,and extend that further into the WORLD and our Global Family.World peace starts with this inner transformation of the individual. And, yes it is a struggle to develop and elevate our state of life, but human revolution is the foundation for world peace and also for individual peace and happiness. It is at the heart of our Buddhist practise. It is about changing our heart and drawing out our humanity.

It is the most amazing feeling as you discover that if the cause of your suffering is within the realms of your own life. then you and only you can change that aspect of your life. This is the most freeing feeling. This is human revolution and the door to your Buddhahood.

A way to change your own inherenent negativity wheter it's about your own life or about other people is to chant. Every Monday Night there are Prayer sessions for Peace in the Middle East in Brixton, London and in people's homes.

You may not know this but there are indeed Buddhist in Israel.Apparently they are very silent about thier Budddhist practice.To my surprise there are a lot of Israeli Buddhist living in London. I personally grew up in Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles. Often people have often mistaken me for being a Jewish girl and going to Fairfax High School they would often invite me to their Hillel Club. I thought that was very friendly, but I declined not being a Jew.My first job when I was 16 years old was working for an Israeli family tutoring their daughter.So, in some ways I have always been connected to Israel and the Jewish culture. I have often been mistaken for being a Jewish lady, I am sure probably have had a past life or two, being a Jewish man or maybe working as a Bookseller or a writer in some aspect. Who knows.


In recent years, I have often been intrigued by The Middle East and especially what has been going on in Palestine and Israel. I have read and done a lot of research on the two countries. Trying to invesigate both sides instead of being blindly partial to one and disregarding the other's opinions. I try to stay neutral,but know like a good mother that her children have often been bad. Reading the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish stroke a chord with me. When he writes about being bombed by Israel from air, land and sea for three days.



I realize that in 2009, many people were very angry at Israelis for the destruction and apparent misuse of power. Bianca Jagger, former wife of Mick Jagger, Model,and Human Rights Activist spoke vehemently against the torture of innocent Palestinians during the massive attacks on Gaza last Janaury 2009. She spoke in Poets Corner in Hyde Park to a massive crowd of Londoners. She states,"Why did US give the Green light to Israel to kill innocent civilians?"



If you are interested in finding more about praying for Peace in the Middle East Tozos, please leave comments.


Lonely Planet Breaking Ranks: Turbulent Travels in the Promised Land (Lonely Planet Journeys (Travel Literature))


More on Buddhism:
A Brief History of Buddhism
Buddhist Centers in London


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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Every Woman Should Date an English Gentleman Once in Her Life


Images and feelings that conjure up a classic English gentleman are images that non-English women carry from the movies they have seen: Colin Firth comes to mind, Jude Law, Orlando Bloom, James Bond (but, Sean Connery was Scottish).


At first, when I came to London, I didn’t like the English men, I didn’t come to London to find an English gentleman,in the first place. My original intention was to give it a go with this Israeli Comedian I had met a few years ago in San Francisco.Anyway, I never liked English men, except for Colin Firth, with his dark looks, mysterious swagger, and retro side burns.( But what are my chances of meeting Colin Firth. And, besides he’s married to an Italian lady.) To me, I was not that attracted to English men. Too pale I thought. Too blond I thought, too thin lipped for my big full lips I thought, and to me, simply unapproachable to a warm and friendly American girl,too reserved, drinks too much and is closed emotionally. And, my tirade against the English men persisted through my head, like the drills in my neigborhood to restore the Victorian pipes.  Do forgive me, but English men have never been my cup of tea. Especially, as long as English men that did befriend me, insisted on having a relationship with their text messages instead of having a relationship with me on some level. I found these little things awfully annoying and such a time waster that my belief that the English man was not for me, (and would never be) had become more engrained in my system and my being for a very long time. And, the idea of having that notion reversed, was for me highly unlikely.


For the sake of curiosity, experimentation and just plain fun, I continued to explore the wanton and exciting possibilities of more exotic cultures. How about Pakistan, India, Japan.And, to no avail, they were all a big blob of disappointment in my dating landscape. The Indian men were bossy and macho. The Pakistani men a bit too blunt, bordering on the tactless,and they all get married by the time their 25 anyway, so that’s not a lot of single available good looking Pakistani men anyway. Israeli men are obnoxious and macho. Japanese men were too quiet and boring, unless, they were drunk and singing at a Karoake bar. Israeli men don’t use deodorant,and think of their dates as a combat zone, and part of their compulsory training for the Israeili army. Oh, and Italian men, charming, but charming to everyone. Who needs that? You can keep your lasagna and your designer suits.

Remember, I am an American woman. We aren’t used to the blatant philandering that happens in a lot of European cultures, that is perfectably acceptable and expected with a lot of other women. We aren’t used to cowering to a man’s will and dominion. Of following behind him, like you see in Japanese cultures, even to his day.We aren’t used to men’s armpits smelling like a grapefruit.We aren’t used to stumbling upon your man’s diary, only to find that he is scribbling in dates with other women behind your back in cryptic language, probably in code to hide his tracks( you see my Father was well versed in Sherlock Holmes and taught me to be a petit Sherlock Holmes) when you are on a weekend trip to Oxford.

Anyway, I continued to befriend everyone, all cultures with an open mind and heart unjaded and untainted by my previous dating conundrums, disappointments, and mishaps. I continued to date men, even from the English culture. My father was part English, of course, I was not going to reject an English man, just because of my silly prejudices and my previous bad experiences. Of course, I was going to be open to the English culture, I was in the country after all, studying, observing, listening with my soul and every cell in my being to all that England had to offer.

But something happened,three quarters of the way through my trip, I met an English gentleman unexpectedly at an Internet café and I fell in love. Or, I became infatuated. He was quintessentially English: schooled at Cambridge, very shy, reserved, proper in public, never cursed, always was extremely apologetic and courteous, very polite, self deprecating, extremely well mannered ( always said please, thank you and I am sorry willingly and without restraintm unlike American men, or even Italian men, they are the worse about apologizing, it's really detestable), funny , used deodorant, genuinely interested in me and my brain, my life, very considerate, gentle, yet very manly.

 Our first date, was unforgettable, we had a big lunch at The Orangery,( the big tea palace with long Greek Columns), right next to Kensington Palace, since we had eaten so much we went on a romantic stroll in Hyde Park and held hands. While we were walking and getting to know each other, I discovered I was currently reading his favorite book, Guns Germs and Steel. What a coincidence! And, needless to say, we always had so much to talk about. Our subsequent dates were fun and with lively conversation and romantic intrigue.He was always very charming and I always enjoyed his company. Then, he followed up with another 4 months of long drawn out literary emails and perfectly succinct, yet romantic text messages. I figured he he had another girlfriend,which is just fine, and started dating other people and reading more books, so in case we started dating again, I could have something to talk with him about. But, about 2 months, before I left to go back to the USA, we started seeing each other again. We reignited very quickly the previous spark we had 5 months earlier. And, they say that the English are cold, the English are reserved, not necessarily cold. Their behavior sometimes goes back to Victorian times, where it was considered in poor taste to show emotion in public.



He ended up being not just romantic with his texts, his emails, but his communication style was always very very poetic and eloquent, that he always inspired me when I spoke to him.  He was heavenly perfection in speech. And, always said the right thing at the right time,and  in some mysterious way he always touched me. I am sorry, but I can't tell you everything, you'll have to leave it to your imaginagtion. But,  I will tell you he  was very affectionate, sensuous, a fabulous kisser, romantic,generous, and the embodiment of finesse. Even  holding hands and walking in Hyde Park, he was quintessentially elegant. He blew me away, with all my expectations and notions of an English men.   He was an English gentleman and a scholar. And, if I didn’t like English gentleman to begin with, by the end of my trip, I most certainly did. Every woman should date an English Gentleman once in her life, even if it was short lived, to me, it was a magical experience, one I shall never forget as long as I live.





















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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Taplow Court -The Buddhist Castle in The UK


The Apple Orchard at Taplow Court

When I first came to London and didn't know a soul, I went straight away to see beautiful stunning Taplow Court, the home of SGI-UK, hoping to meet some new Buddhist friends. I know as a Buddhist that wherever I go in the world the Buddhist will give me a warm welcome and befriend me as if I was their own sister or daughter.To that I am certain.I am extremely very grateful of being a part of such a humanistic organization as SGI-Soka Gakka International, that encourages Peace, Culture and Education.



My second day in London, I believe it was a Saturday, I took a train from Paddington to Maidenhead ( about an hour). Viewing the English countryside from the vantage point of your window as the train speeds by a deluge of green is most relaxing and inspiring. Something about train rides makes you feel so refreshed and helps clear out all the cobwebs from one's mind. Once you arrive in Maidenhead train station,(in The Berkshires), the SGI-UK has a shuttle waiting to take you to Taplow Court. Very Classy. Taplow Court is what my friends in London call their,"castle".



Taplow Court in the Spring

Taplow Court, a mid 19th century mansion set high above the Thames near Maidenhead, is the home of SGI-UK, a lay Buddhist society.In the 18th century, Taplow Court was the home of the Earls and Countesses of Orkney.



SGI-UK
is part of a world-wide network in 192 countries that aims to contribute to a more peaceful and harmonious world through educational and cultural activities based on the philosophy of the 13th century Japanese sage,Nichiren Daishonin. Nicheren Daishonin taught that each person can transform not only their own lives, but also society and the environment,by revealing their most positive and creative potential through the practice of Buddhism.


Since many of the Buddhist Centers are not open during the day, during the week, I would often frequent Taplow Court in the middle of the week.
This particular day, the current ambassador of Thailand (Sorry, but I am rubbish with names),was to arrive and a big party held. Story has it one of his relatives had sojourned there some 100 years before.As luck would have it, I was in the right place at the right time,and was invited to the party and got to meet him along with other Thai dignitaries.


Please call Taplow Court a few hours in advance to reserve the shuttle. The Trains do not go directly to Taplow on Sunday and you have to exit Maidenhead.If you'd like to eat a luscious gourmet lunch in the hall, please call before 11 a.m. to reserve.


Taplow Court
SGI-UK National Centre
Taplow Court Grand Cultural Centre
Taplow, Berkshire, SL6 0ER
Tel: 01628-773-163
Fax: 01628-773-055


The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self

The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self


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