Thursday, 22 December 2016

Saving Aleppo - How You Can Help

"I See Humans.  But No Humanity" - Banksy

If you have struggled to comprehend the images and stories about Aleppo over the past week, you are not alone. I have been transfixed of late. It is difficult to fathom the terrifying nights and days that children and families have endured over the past few days, let alone five years.

Through all the stories I've seen, what has struck me most, is the number of small children being evacuated. Older siblings taking on their parent's role, makeshift families where people have been thrown together after their homes have been destroyed; all now homeless in desolate streets under desperate conditions. So many displaced in a barely recognisable place, in neighbourhoods which seem more akin to a dsytopian landscape. 

The UN Refugee Agency tells us that there are 4.8 million refugees scattered across several countries in the region and globally, and a further 8.7 million Syrians displaced internally. Last Tuesday, the UN has voted to put monitors in place as observers for the Eastern Aleppo evacuation. Yesterday, they voted to create a team to investigate war crimes and human rights abuse.  It will be an incredibly difficult road to rebuild Aleppo and other cities, and it will obviously take time, but I sincerely hope, everyone will be able to return to their rightful homes eventually.

This time of the year is full of traditions and celebrations, and as many of us prepare to welcome our own loved ones home for the holiday season, it is easy to turn away from the current events around the globe.  Even if we all live oceans away, we are all connected.  If it we were in the same situation, how could, we not ask for help?  Here are some of the aid agencies  and charities helping with the humanitarian efforts on the ground in Syria - please help, if you can by way of donations, or share this message through your networks.

1. Medecins Sans Frontieres ( Doctors Without Borders) providing medical support through six medical facilities across Northern Syria, and through 70 healthcare facilities run by Syrian doctors. To date, they have been denied access to government run areas, and so are limited to operate and provide support to the opposition areas where they support medical facilities and staff.  Please help them to keep hospitals and facilities open. Donate

2. The White Helmets are a truly heroes - a band of 3,000 volunteers from all backgrounds, tailors, teachers, bakers and in some cases, ex-soldiers.  They collectively form the Syria Civil Defence and seriously, in my opinion should be awarded for their work. If you are looking for a story to follow on this crisis - follow theirs.  You can help them rebuild families and save lives. Donate

3. International Rescue Committee are providing emergency supplies people fleeing unsafe areas such as Aleppo, and they support local health facilities, and education for children, and livelihood centres. Donate

4. The International Red Cross working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are working jointly to provide food and life-saving support.  You can help via their Syria Crisis Appeal. Donate 

5.  Save the Children - There a several charities on the ground in Syria helping with the children and families during this war.  Save the Children are providing food, emergency care, protection, clean water and warm clothes.  Please help them.   Donate

Friday, 6 November 2015

Hello, Again.

It occurred to me that I only had to sit here and write whatever thoughts popped into my head, and nobody would judge me.  At least, I hope not.  You see, I have composed numerous posts, countless times over this year - and then, just before posting them, I've not quite been able to push the 'publish' button.  Like a territorial old ghost who surveys her draughty house, moving slowly from window-to-window, floor-to-floor, and lingering outside in the gardens - I've drifted in and out again. I have left those unpublished thoughts in limbo.  I don't why. 

So, where has this old ghost been this past year?  Life, in the parallel universe has been busy. And I have been juggling hours and timezones and work, and travel and family, but, finally - I can start to let my musings loose onto the blog once more.  So, here I am. And it feels like confession time! I will blow off the cobwebs and pull the covers from the furniture.  For now, though - this feels right and I know, I'll push the publish button, this time.

PS:  A few snaps from this year's adventures. I am obsessed with travel, food, and photography - if you are on instagram, please come play.  Instagram: @taleiii

Ice cream in Paris, always a great idea!

Road to Napoleon's tomb, Paris.

View from le Tour Eiffel, Paris

NYC dreamin'

Victoriana bar in the heart of Manhattan!
Who knew? 

Hong Kong from the Peak. Lovely! 

Scribe Jnr, Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, taking in the heat and cityscape! Lovely. 

Auckland, my old hometown. LOVE. 

Scribe Jnr, looking across to Mt Rangitoto, Auckland,

Boston for a friend's wedding - our view from the hotel suite!

Home, finally! Autumn has arrived.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


It’s been several days, and he’s not called. Actually, he rarely calls. He’s more of messager — texter — child of the digital age. We barely speak on the phone. Does — “I’m outside” — count? Thought not. Truth be told, we barely speak when we see each other — at least, not in the conventional way. Our bodies speak, our minds scream — unspoken words claw at each other. Our eyes feast. Arms and legs; unleashed.
I’m waiting now. And, it’s in the waiting that the wanting starts. Unfurls.Slams itself against walls; cases the floors. Falls on the floor; lays in disarray.There’s a discipline in waiting, a comfortable silence. And it’s somewhere between the hunger and the anger, and frustration. Why won’t he just pick up the damn phone?
Here’s another truth, — I’ve googled ‘He’s not really that into you’ — countless times, and ticked each box. If he doesn’t contact you within 5 days — he’s not that into you. Tick. If he keeps cancelling on you -he’s a total shit, and you should totally delete his number. Tick. You should hunt down his last lover and get the low-down. Okay, maybe not tick. Enough ticks to make the Bingo lady’s head spin, and my girlfriends to give me that ‘hard stare’ across the table. It’s the judging I can’t abide. And yet, I still wait.
How did I get here? How many times have I been here? The hard wood floor beneath my fingers is cold. Outside in the garden, the neighbour’s dog has chased something — another bird or a squirrel, — into the undergrowth, it’s barking switches quickly from impossible excitement to frustrated growls. I glance at the windows where the rain gently tap-tap-taps on the panes. Barely audible while I lie here. Lost in these cotton-wool-like thoughts. Of him. Of me. Of us? And why do I wait?
I wait — because I’ve fallen deeply for this man. Fallen hard; fallen fast — but, there’s a freedom in this falling, bittersweet and ‘oh so lovely’. There’s a courage in failing, and a macabre beauty in the unravelling of someone’s heart. Even more so terrifying if it’s your own.
How many times can this grown girl fall? Countless, it seems. And what’s that lesson in life — in love? It’s not in the falling that we learn, but in the getting back up? I believe that getting back up translates to ‘hope’. And if we don’t have hope — then what?
So, I stare up the grey ceiling, and wait. The rain stops tapping, the neighbour’s dog falls silent, the afternoon’s shadows slowly sweep across the floor. I close my eyes and inhale slowly, deeply and carefully I release that breath. My ribcage deflates, letting it all out. And, as if on cue, there’s a low buzzing sound from the phone beside me. At last.
Yes. I’ve fallen, but it’s in the vain hope, that I will learn to fly. Again.
Photo credit: Talei Loto
PS: We all ride that roller coaster of emotions when we pin our hopes on someone we really like - and I thought about that recently - the highs and lows of that ride, - all the times when you wait for someone to call-text-message you - and they take their sweet time about replying.  I posted this over at Medium earlier, I hope you enjoy, let me know your thoughts.  - Talei xo

Monday, 26 May 2014

Monday's Musings: The Twisted World of Elliot Rodger.

Several thoughts crossed my mind yesterday, gave me reason to pause.  Admittedly, it was during the morning scroll through my Twitter stream, so you'll have to excuse the randomness of this post.  The thing about Twitter is that, it is a fluid, living, breathing entity in its own right.  Crowds amass, shake angry fists - express their collective outrage at all manner of life - Politics, Religion, War, Crime, Poverty, Dictators, and barely-clothed twerking musicians. On the flip-side, it's a seething love nest over Film, Fashion, Food, Hipster brands, Books - the list is endless.

This weekend, we gathered to shout! Yes, shout!  Both genders stood shoulder-to-shoulder, horrified at Elliot Rodger's shooting spree in Santa Barbara. But then, quietly in the background, there were a few who were sympathetic to this young man's cause.  And at the risk of having missiles tossed my way - I'm going to go out on a limb and say this.  Watching the now infamous video, I saw a hurt, rejected and simpering young man with an inferiority complex, whose uncontrollable anger at the rejection he felt, not just by the hot blonde sl*ts, he repeatedly jeered, but also, by the society he grew up in, - resulted in the horrific shootings and loss of six young lives.  Don't ask me to explain that laugh though, it struck me as something of a pantomime quality.

Elliot Rodger's manifesto, if you actually attempt it, is revealing in itself - not just about the young man's deluded sense of entitlement but, in my opinion, his words, his story, his life is a sad reflection of our society today.  We covet lifestyles of the rich and famous, our appetite for the material objects is insatiable, and we chase love in the form of a faux beauty - only because that embodiment of beauty is what's been shoved down our throats since before we hit puberty.

I'm outraged that innocent people were killed by this clearly, disturbed man; it's gut-wrenching to watch the victims' families speak out on TV.  I, absolutely feel their pain and agony.  Their child will never come home again.  There will be no engagement parties, or weddings, or grandchildren.  I've witnessed loss through my own parents - when my younger sister died tragically in a car accident.  I know what ghost footfalls sound like, the expectation of an arrival, of laughter bursting through the back door.  I've stood in my parent's garden, unapologetically screaming, "Fuck you, god!" Dead at 18 years old, with everything to look forward to.  

I'm equally annoyed that many people won't recognise Elliot Rodger, as 'our problem' - guns and mental illness are always at the core of mass shootings, irrespective of city, country or nationality.  In this digital world, everything, love, dating, and friendship - are all online, instant, accessible - and built on a billion fucking photoshopped pixels.  What we really need to do is change the perception of what beauty and true love is for the younger generations.  

Dismantle Sororities and Fraternity houses, pull down the exclusive clubs that separate the rich from the poor.  Teach children that love really comes from within, that beauty radiates in everything.  That beneath the blushed skin of a shy person lies another human.  Teach them, that friendships can really last a lifetime.  Teach equality, respect and responsibility.  Teach them that everyone - as the saying goes, is fighting their own battles, that kindness is good and good manners are not a mythical trait from Grandma's generation. Teach them, that men and women come in all shapes and sizes and shades - and under everyone's skin - we all bleed the same colour.  

Last night, as I sat here and stared out into the evening light, I wondered... if there was a girl out there in Elliot Rodger's twisted world, who maybe - just maybe, fancied him enough to date him - but he was too caught up chasing the fucked-up-faux-fairytale to even notice. Yes, in amongst the bloodshed and twisted metal, I'm still a romantic - I still believe that love can save us all.  Lord, help me.  

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Holidays!

Flower Seller on Old Bond St.  'Hello Deer'
Gosh, this year has flown!  December is almost over and another Christmas evening is fading.  I love the festive traditions of this season, celebrating family and friendships, exchanging gifts, writing cards -the 'old-fashioned' way, and yes, even traipsing down to the Post Office to pick-up parcels.  My absolute favourite 'chrismassy' thing to do', is decorate the tree with my little one.  I say 'little one' but he's now 8 years old, and will undoubtedly tower over me in the not-too-distant-future.  Deep sigh. 

Another favourite from my Christmas to do list, is to take a stroll through the old streets of London, Nobody does Christmas, quite like London.  Methinks.  Well, okay, maybe NYC comes close, and I hear Iceland is pretty good.  I love browsing through window displays in the rather glamourous stores, soaking up the atmosphere in the streets.  There is always such a sense of excitement in the crowds.  Did mention the pretty Christmas lights? Tres sparkly.

This holiday break, I will mostly be horizontal on the sofa.  It's a welcome reprieve after the manic rush in the lead-up to Christmas.  My feet and liver are grateful, let me tell you.  From the comfort of plumped cushions, I can indulge a little reading, writing, and yes, possibly a few culinary treats!  How about you?  If you are celebrating Christmas, I hope its a good one where ever you are.  Here's a few snaps from My December thus far, I hope you will enjoy.

Happy Christmas, Lovelies!  And wishing everyone a fabulous 2014!  XO

A rainy view from the Big Wheel @ Winter Wonderland.  

Oh Christmas trees!  @ Indie stores in Greenwich.
A most ostentatious Father Christmas @ Fortum @ Mason

Fab windows @ Fortum & Mason 

Spot the Cat at Cartier on Old Bond St.

Favourite window on Old Bond St.

Traipsing through Soho

Eros captured @ Piccadilly Circus
Festive Christmas dining with Bestie.

Angels beneath the Dolce & Gabbana Christmas tree
@ Claridges
Man down! Santa's train @ Wonderland. 

Alright, maybe one more festive cocktail.. 

Our tree - decorated by Scribe Jnr.
Photocredits: Yours truly via my instagram @taleiii

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A Stellar Evening In London - With Stella McCartney

I love it when my friends send me emails with subject lines that read - 'Stella McCartney Spring 2014 Preview RSVP' - and then they add a casual 'Are you interested?'  Interested, wot?  Cue Conor Maynard's latest tune, 'Are you crazy? Are you stupid?  Must be crazy...?'  YES, PLEASE! I reply, and hit 'send' faster than a doughnut-crazed-lady-post-gym-workout-looking-for-her-next-sugar-hit.

For the record, my friend is not crazy or stupid.  She's very smart - and quite fashionable.  My next question to her was, 'WHAT TO WEAR?'  And then I ran around the house like a crazy-person-who-needs-to-find-a-new-outfit, that you know, was suitable to be seen in, - in front of Stella, and oh - several fashionistas of Knightsbridge.  No pressure, then.  *sucks in cheeks, tummy, and clenches thighs*  

So, anyhow - in a nutshell, that's how I ended up sipping champagne, and eyeballing fabulous floral and python print frocks at Harvey Nichols last night.  Vogue's UK contributing editor Christa D'Souza interviewed Stella McCartney, statuesque models slinked around the pretty flower stall setting behind them.  Stella spoke about her inspirations, on her parents creativity, her early days studying at St Martins, how Savile Row tailoring influences her designs, and the importance of pockets - and wait for it - whether or not to show your knees.

A few memorable quotes from the interview:

"A woman of a certain age has to look good."
"Celebrate your knees!"
"I'm not a screamer as a designer, I'm not trying to take over the world."
- And my favourite -  
"When a woman comes into a room, she should be noticed for the right reasons, not the wrong reasons." 

During the Q&A time with the audience, I was lucky enough to ask my own question - which went something like this:

Me:  You're very passionate about fashion and design, - (um really, nothing like stating the obvs), - you've built a successful brand -Stella McCartney, - if you hadn't become a designer, was there another path you might have taken?

Stella:  Well, I did think about singing - but I  didn't that was a good road to go down... (insert raucous laughter from the room)  -  and my family aren't bankers or hedge fund people - so I knew something creative is what I wanted to be.  I always knew I wanted to be a fashion designer from very young, otherwise an architect or landscape gardening - I love gardening!

All in all, t'was a fabulous fun night in London.  Stella's Spring 2014 collection was a welcome antidote to a dark and dusky autumnal eve, and I can't wait for the next casually scripted invite to land in my mailbox.  *opens email, waits...*

And, a few snaps for your viewing pleasure:

It begins... drinks beckon.
Cute staging... yes. CUTE. 

Waiting game....

Ms McCartney and Ms D'Souza - the Q&A begins.

A glimpse at the Spring 2014 collection for ladies. 

Python print over floral shorts - loved this jacket! 

The 'Miro' dress!

Gorgeous florals!

The 'Match' dress!  

Lucious lace, and um... legs.

Bloodshot eyes are the new black.
 ME and my dear friend S.

Pretty pink roses and goodie bags - what's not to love?

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Endings, Darlings, - Or Not.

I love books.  I love reading them, I love losing myself in the worlds that are far-flung from my usual day-to-day routine, and lately I've been desperately searching for a novel that will actually surprise me, one that will genuinely catch me unawares - some might say 'Holy Grail', but I say, pffft - if you want it - it will come.  Yesterday, I came to the end of a murder-crime-thriller, and to my 'horror', on page 482 of the 483 page novel, I found the main character was 'offed' - stabbed, left to die alone on a bed of leaves in the corner of some London cemetery.

Having read so far, i.e to the very end of the story, I was utterly appalled to find another senseless killing.  Worse, I felt nothing for the character.  I'm not sure what that says about the story overall, however this whole 'Killing Off Your Darlings' concept has gotten up my nose of late.   And I have to ask myself - is it really worth it?  Do we have no other alternative ending to stories?  Because, 'hello' - in case you didn't know it, killing off characters is a little passe.  So very last season.  At least for ce moir, and I'm not alone on this one, right?

When I read endings which are mind-numbingly nonsensical, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  My general reaction is cyclical - like this:  Mild Annoyance -> Abusive Language -> Tosses Book Hard Across Room -> 'What The F**k - I could've been writing my own book' face, A***hole ->  Angry Tweets About Book - Moves On To Next Book -> Goes Back to Start.

Last week, I stumbled across a tweet which I think is a great reminder of how passionate readers are about books - and this book in particular was about a Dystopian YA series where the MC bites the bullet at the end.  I won't 'name' names because it's the reaction I'm interested in.  The tweet was via @evilwylie, it's from an excerpt of a book review, it went something like this:

" Dear___, Your Characters Belong to Us, the Readers, Not You.  How Dare You?" 

Other reviews online for the same book were along the lines of: "WTF Ending? The End?" and, "I didn't see that coming - oh, but now I'm seeing a unicorn."

And I think, these reviewers comments sum up a lot of what I'm feeling about 'Unhappy Endings' right now.  If you're writing - and you feel the need to kill someone off - please make sure it 'fits' the damn story.  Don't kill your darlings because you think it makes you grittier or somehow, a more serious writer.  Unless you're writing pantomimes, don't toss in another body for the bloody sake of a 'shock-horror' ending.

When readers connect to characters, and follow 'their' journey ( not yours),  from Book One to Book Two - don't slam a 'ha-ha-gotcha' ending in Book Three.  Because thats how it feels.  I'll leave the final words of this ranty post to another reviewer.  "I feel empty. I didn't think I'd feel empty."  I think this translates to, that was boring - I read your book, you gave me nothing in return but sore eyes and a late start to the morning.

All in all, what I'm saying is this - don't go for the usual endings, it's boring - and when all is said and done, what the hell is so wrong with a happy ending?  How's that for a twist?

PS:   If you've waded through this post to the end - please do share any good reads you've found lately - I am hungry for some great books right now!   Happy Halloween, Tricksters!  XO