During the summers, my family and I would travel to my native country, Pakistan. It was our family ritual. School would end, and we would pack our suitcases which were with filled lightweight clothes to beat the heat of the summer that was inevitable when going to Pakistan in June.
The air is different in Pakistan. The minute you leave the airport, you can feel it. The wind dances with spices, and the aroma swims with warmth. Pakistani people love color. The cargo trucks are painted with landscapes and portraits. Women wear clothes full of patterns, each shirt an artwork itself. Walking down the streets, vendors sell colorful jewelry made of stones and metal. The air is mangoes and iced drinks. It’s corn with spices, and buying ice cream on street corners.
I bring a bit of Pakistan back with me through my photography, but Sanaa and Sabaa have taken their love for their Pakistani heritage and jewelry, and brought us Ronak and Bahaar.
These two lovely women are UK based, but their Pakistani heritage has inspired them to create their business Ronak Bahaar. Ronak (which means lightness, or a lively presence) and Bahaar (literally translating to spring) is the lens they have given the world to take a peek into the colorful world of Pakistan, and without traveling there, you can experience a small piece of it.
The beautiful products that these two ladies offer are handmade, and evoke a sense of nostalgia for all that have been to Pakistan, and a sense of adventure and longing for those who have yet to travel there.
Their products have a traditional Pakistani feel to them, brining elements of traditional culture and practices with a modern twist. The products include earrings, chokers, clothing, necklaces, bags, and even home décor. Their work is making a splash among Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis alike. They feature customer photos on their instagram, where people from all over the world are rocking the Ronak and Bahaar merchandise.
Their work is giving light to the Pakistani culture, and it is actively showing how beautiful and vidid Southeast Asian cultures are. Sabaa and Sanaa have managed to take beautiful and fragile pieces, and made them into products that evoke power, strength, and resilience. Their work shouts "I am different, and I like it!", giving the women and men of all races who wear and buy their products an air of confidence, and a voice that blooms up, holds a microphone, and screams that it is daring to be different.
To see their beautiful products, and take a quick trip to the atmosphere of Pakistan, visit their website www.ronakbahaar.com
All of the beautiful images are taken for the Ronak and Bahaar instgram, so make sure to go follow them for all their updates.
There are recorded events of sailors seeing mermaids swimming in the waters below. Even Christopher Columbus has a mermaid sighting of his own, but in reality, this was the first written account of a manatee. In Weeki Wachee, a city in Florida, one can Kayak and swim with these "mermaids." My first time at Weeki Wachee was March of this year, and after a month, I made another trip because the beauty of the river where I kayaked was overwhelming.
During my second trip, I took one of my best friends, Sandy, who was visiting the state along with me. It was wonderful to see her reaction to the clear water and the trees which were making a canopy above us.
The water was so clear that while kayaking, I could see the bottom and fish swimming underneath. During my second trip, I saw two manatees swimming in the clear water. Manatees are majestic creatures, peacefully swimming and minding their own business. When I saw the manatees, I was so engaged in the moment that I didn't take a picture, and part of me is glad that I didn't because it made the moment more special for me. After Sandy and I had kayaked a while and our arms were getting tired, we stopped on the side of the river and tied our kayak to a stump. Then we took a cooling swim in the water, and snacked on peanut butter sandwiches. The whole moment of stopping in a river to swim and eat was so beautiful that one forgets about the outside world and life's problems. The only thing that matters in that moment is the beauty that is surrounding you, and the soft sand under your feet.
If you live in Florida, or are visiting the state, I would highly suggest making a trip to Weeki Wachee for kayaking. If you're lucky, a "mermaid" might swim by you.
I had heard about Savannah, Georgia from friends when they told me about their visits to the beautiful yet eerie city. I didn't have an image of Savannah, and I tried to restrict myself from doing a quick internet search on the city, because I wanted to experience the city wholly for the first time in person. When my husband got days off for spring break, and the talk of taking a spontaneous trip started, I brought up Savannah. He smiled and said "So when are we heading out?" We were on the road the next day, a duffle bag packed with our clothes, and a bag full of snacks that we bought from a gas station. We drove north, shedding off the miles toward what is known as one of the most beautiful, yet haunted cities in North America.
We drove into the historic district, where the old buildings are breathtaking. The streets in Savannah are filled with trees looming, Spanish moss hanging from the branches, swaying along with the wind. While walking around the city during the day, I forgot about the haunted tales my friends had told me, but these stories were quickly remembered when we decided to take a haunted tour that evening. During the tour, the whole place took on a completely different face. The city that during the day was gorgeous, I found was build on top of a Native American burial ground. During the tour, the beautiful houses took on a more eerie shape as the tour leader told us stories of death that flooded the area. The law school building that I saw during the day turned out to be a hospital used during the Civil War time for soldiers. Many terrifying stories of its hallways are rumored through the city of Savannah.
The tour leader dropped us off at the Marshall House, the hotel in the heart of the historic district where we were staying at. I asked her if the hotel had any stories behind it, and surely it did! The hotel was also used to house soldiers during the Civil War, and there are many accounts of guests experiencing goosebumps inducing occurrences. Despite the stories, I had a wonderful sleep in the gorgeous hotel, and woke up wondering if I had missed anything that might have been lurking in the dark corners of the room.
As the sun rose into the next day, the haunting feeling washed away, and the trees were warm again. Savannah is littered with wonderful independent shops, including little bookstores, coffee shops, and cafes with some of the best vegetarian food I've had! Savannah also has the childhood home of the American queen of Southern Gothic writing, Flannery O'Connor. Alongside the history, Savannah also has some of the most beautiful cities voted by people in North America. Savannah is inviting by day, and sinister at night. I don't know how much of the ghost stories I believed, but whether you believe in ghosts or not, Savannah is a must see city.
At the end of the trip, I thought how odd but wonderful it must be to be considered one of the most beautiful and haunted cities in North America. I fell in love with Savannah, and even though the city has thousands of dead bodies that you hear stories about during ghost tours, the living bodies are very warm and welcoming, displaying southern hospitality so much so that you might even forget the chilling wind that blows on your neck while you stroll alone through a bookstore, or the little giggle you hear while walking through a hallway where there are no children to be seen.
I see you have stumbled upon my page, and if one were to use statistical analysis to see how likely this was, I would say that the probability of you being here is so minuscule that it is miraculous and magical that you find yourself on my page. So now that you've defied probability, relax, and peruse through.