brooklyn street cred

words & image ona abelis

The Brooklyn of Spike Lee, Pat Benatar, and Woody Allen is now the Brooklyn of barbershops-slash-coffee shops, yoga studios-slash-florists, and a sneaker emporium-slash-cereal counter. That same Brooklyn now has astronomical rent prices and more luxury condos and hotels than public libraries. But, there are still signs of the Brooklyn that Eddie Murphy and Larry David might recognize: diners, dollar slices, community gardens, outdoor basketball courts, clothing stores for regular people, and bagel shops that just serve bagels.

How to dress for the new Brooklyn? Where to go in the old Brooklyn? And what if you want a little bit of both? Well, start right here:

unfazed in india

words sonya c. patel  |  image sanjeev patel

The humidity—even in the winter—the layer of dirt that sticks to your skin the moment that you finish toweling off, the noise of vehicle horns, of animals, of countless people, and the mixture of spices, sweat, and pollution descend upon you all at once in India. It can feel like an assault on the senses to someone who doesn’t live there or didn’t grow up there. Raised in the United States, that’s what it was to me the first time.

But by the second, third, and fourth visits, I started to feel more at home. I like how people are unfazed when walking through busy intersections next to an owner-less cow. Unfazed by ten people crammed into a tiny rickshaw. Unfazed by eight-year-olds using massive knives to peel the skin of an apple. Unfazed by infants in the lap of a mother on the back of a “scootie.” First visit? Bring these items, then: go to the markets, find some kites, and fly them on Juhu Beach; pick up a rickshaw and do a tour of celebrity houses; take in the wooden ladders used in constructing tall buildings and imagine what it would be like to work like that; go sari shopping and say Yes when they ask if you want something to eat or chai, dripping with sugar.

a staycation for your inner introvert

words ona abelis

It's summertime in the city, but sometimes it feels like you have nowhere to rest your tired feet. You go from an open office to a crowded subway (or highway), to a packed beach (or shore) (or pool), to a noisy restaurant (or cafe), to a long line at the store just to buy some SPF. The woman in front of you is loudly chatting away on her phone, and you start to wonder if it's just you and not everyone else? Where can you go to hear yourself think? To find your inner quiet?

The good news is that it's not just you—it's one-third of people like you, who are introverts in a world built for extroverts. And, Susan Cain, a self-proclaimed introvert and the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, compassionately feels (and studies) your pain: You need to recharge in solitude, take time to decompress, and steal moments of silence in a loud, high-octane city. How do you do it? And are there shortcuts? Yes—here's how to get started:

the art of eating on the go

words & images courtesy of aloha 

Airport food. Only slightly better than airplane food, the phrase conjures images of mushy chicken, sad salads, and food court offerings you haven’t considered since the early 90s. You wander through the terminal, half-starved, until you stumble into some sort of a prepackaged situation. Chips? Sure. Cookies? Why not? You’re traveling! This is vacation! Live a little!

A few bites of inexplicably dry and soggy sandwich later and you realize that this is actually not what vacation tastes like. Even worse, someone had the gall to print the calories right there on the label. Nonetheless, you finish your meal and continue on to your destination slightly sick and rather guilty.

There is an obvious solution to all of this, of course: Bring your own food. It is easier than it sounds, but there is a method to successfully packing food for travel.

First, stick to small baggies or disposable containers that can be tucked into a variety of places—you might not have space for one big container of food, but you will find little pockets of space where you can easily slip a snack or two (If you have a carry on, shoes are perfect for storing wrapped snacks). Try to avoid prepackaged trail mix and snack bars since they tend to have extra calories and chemicals that you simply don’t need.

Second, avoid things that are saucy, soft, or complicated. Teriyaki sauce is not an option. Grapefruit and mangoes must be avoided and even bananas are suspect.

Third, think about things you can prepare at the airport or hotel. By bringing ingredients that only need some basic items to become a meal, you can greatly expand your selection while trimming down on luggage space.

Here is a list of our favorite whole foods to carry along on our trips:

Pre-Made Snacks

We stick to hydrating vitamin-rich foods that don’t require utensils, excessive napkins, or refrigeration. Pack a combination of sweet and savory to get through all of your cravings in a day.



Bell pepper slices


Pineapple spears


Cucumber slices

Mary’s Gone Crackers, or other sturdy cracker

Peanut or other nut butter—two tablespoons in a plastic bag

Hummus—less than 100 ml in a plastic bag

Granola or dried cereal

Roasted chickpeas

Roasted nuts

Dark chocolate

Dried fruit—We love dried mangos, peaches, apples, cranberries, goji berries, and goldenberries. Just make sure to only pack a few tablespoons since these can be harsh on your stomach.

Pre-prepped Beverages

These take up virtually no space, can mask the taste of bad-tasting tap water, and make it easier to get in that extra H20 your body needs during travel.

Lemon, cucumber, or ginger slices, in bags

Powdered coconut water

Favorite tea bags and matcha powder

ALOHA Daily Good Berry, Greens, or Chocolate to mix in with water

Meals to Go

Depending on how long your flight is, you will likely need something more substantial than a snack. Here are three recipes that have you covered for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Superfood Overnight Oats


You can easily make and bring five or six of these packets to last your entire trip. This combination is full of fiber, protein, and Omega 3’s and the ALOHA Daily Good Berry powder has two servings of fruit and vegetables. No matter how the rest of your day goes (Gelato for lunch? An entire baguette with extra fromage?), you can feel like you started off on a high note. This makes a hearty serving that is intended to fuel you all morning, so split it in half if you want something lighter.


Dry Mix to Prep Beforehand

1/2 cup oats

One tablespoon chia seeds

Two tablespoons dried cranberries

One to 1/2 packet ALOHA Daily Good Berry

Liquid to Add at the Airport or Hotel

One cup milk of choice (We used almond milk, but any will do)

Optional Toppings


Nut butter

Honey or maple syrup



Mix the dry ingredients into a baggie. If you are making it in the airport, add the liquid and toppings to your bag and let sit for 20 minutes (You can raid a coffee shop for cinnamon and honey). If you are in a hotel room, then let sit in the fridge overnight.

Quick and Easy Collard Wrap

We are obsessed with collard wraps because they are essentially salads-to-go and the leaves won’t get soggy or gross. Also, they are pretty and make the perfect mess-free lunch or dinner.


Collard leaf, washed and patted dry

1/4 cup hummus

1/4 cup quinoa

1/2 a bell pepper, sliced

1/4 an avocado sliced

salt, to taste


Place your leaf stem side down and cut off the thickest part of the stem. If the stem is really thick, then cut up into a V so that the leaf stays intact. Pile your ingredients into the center of the leaf, then fold the shorter, horizontal sides down first, and roll to keep everything contained. Do the same thing with a rectangle of tinfoil to keep everything in place.

No Bake Granola Bites

Turning your bars into bites cuts down on prep time and makes it easier to space your snacks out throughout the flight, especially if you tend to mindlessly graze when you are forced to sit still like we do.


3/4 cup pitted dates

1 cup chopped, roasted, unsalted almonds

1/2 cup roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup chopped, roasted, unsalted cashews

One and 1/2 cup rolled oats (If you want them to be gluten-free, then Bob's Red Mill has a great version)

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup salted, creamy nut butter (We chose almond)

1/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup cranberries

3/4 packet ALOHA Daily Good Chocolate

Two teaspoons salt

Optional: Two teaspoons garam masala


Use a food processor or Vitamix to purée the dates. If you don't have either tool, chop the dates as finely as possible. If the dates aren't sticky and moist to start, soak them in water for ten minutes then drain before processing or chopping.

Optional: Toast the oats in an oven or toaster at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden. Alternatively, leave them raw. They are good either way, we promise.

Combine oats, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and dates. Warm the honey, coconut oil, and nut butter in a saucepan over low heat until they are mostly liquefied. Mix the wet ingredients in with the dry. Add the cranberries, ALOHA Daily Good Chocolate, salt, and (optional) garam masala.

Be generous in your measurements. Adjust to taste.

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compendium to over packing

words & images rawan hadid 

a travel editor’s black & white compendium to over packing – warm weather edition

First things first – traveling light is overrated. People invent all sorts of vacuum packing tactics and devise new strategies to rolling and multi-tasking to “pack light” so that they are … missing essential items? I don’t know about all that but I think that traveling comfortably is paramount. I hate being stranded. Go for it - Over pack. It’s why suitcases have wheels. Sure, I live in a Manhattan walk up and usually have to bribe a passing deliveryman or bike messenger into helping me bring my luggage home, but I almost always have the right shoes when I’m on the go, and am never want for q-tips, cotton balls or a nail file. Yes they are available at every corner shop in even the smallest and most remote villages but what about when I arrive late at night? Yes, I travel all the time and maybe I could have a constricted system that does not require a monumental investment of time, space and sanity, but I would argue that mine is as efficient as any – vacuum packing sounds equally, if not even more, tedious.


Your carry on must be dedicated to the absolute essentials – electronics [regular camera, go pro camera, laptop, iPad, iPhone and emergency backup iPhone], little jewelry and accessories wrap, mini first aid kit, a scarf, two magazines [one serious, one light reading] and a toiletry bag which we will get to discuss later, hand sanitizer, snacks, wallet, passport and in-flight socks. Any Duty Free purchases do not figure in to this tally. There is room for them that miraculously finds itself when you’re rushing to the gate.

You need three toiletry bags, and all of them will have only TSA approved 4 oz. or less bottles – one main bag for shampoo, conditioner and any relevant hair and skin products, q-tips, cotton balls, teeth retainers, nail files, etc. The secondary bag is smaller and is designed for make up, nail polish [because they don’t have nail bars on tropical islands and you’re a city girl at heart so palm trees will not get in the way of grooming], perfume, face and hand cream, while the third is reserved for your carry on – here go the essential oils, water spritzer, emergency polish, tooth paste and other vital items already conveniently packaged in travel-friendly containers. Do not confuse the American 4 oz limit as equivalent to the global 100 ml limit because that security officer in Athens will take away your 120 ml, 4 oz bottle of hypoallergenic sunscreen no matter how much you cry that it’s 4 oz in Amehruka and that you had to buy it on Amazon because you have sensitive skin and absolutely need a zinc based sunscreen and you will pulverize your skin in Symi without it. 

You do, in fact, need 6 pairs of shoes for a three-week trip and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Allow me to explain – loafers for long walks, sneakers in case you ever make it to a gym [you won’t, but you need the sneakers because you packed the rest of your workout gear – also, hiking happens], flip flops, light toned sandals and dark toned sandals to go with different outfits, one pair of formal shoes, usually a heel of some sort. This is, of course, a plan for a warm weather trip; we haven’t even started imagining the possibilities for a winter scenario. May I suggest you don’t go nuts with the purse situation – it is really not necessary, one every-day bag [right now that would be a bucket bag], an evening clutch, and a clever, structural, bag pack should do just fine. 

You will need a few books, and definitely those magazines for in-flight. If you are in a non-English speaking country, the airport shop will most likely sell only local magazines, and photos alone are not enough to distract from turbulence. You always, always, need scarves. They are the most versatile item in the fashion world, functioning as head wrap, a sweater in cold weather, protection from the rain, stylish addition to a cute outfit as well as towel/cover up when necessary. Don’t think that means you only need one. Just because they are versatile, this does not distract from the realities of color and fabric so you will likely need four.

As a rule, I usually keep it to 4 sundresses, 2 jumpsuits, 1 romper, 1 pairs of jeans, 1 skirt, 5 tops and that workout/hiking gear. Don’t forget PJs. If you are like me and are likely to feel cold at even the slightest breeze then you will need a denim jacket and two sweaters. It is summer so don’t be silly and forget your hat. All of these need to be slowly ROLLED one by one into your hard back suitcase. The ones with zippers and pockets are in fact much more practical but the hard cases look more put together, and that’s more important. You will attempt to close it by sitting on it, jumping on it, calling your husband for help, feeling abandoned when he gives up, calling your neighbor and feeling rejected when she sheepishly shakes her head and makes a lame excuse about how she hurt herself last time and makes a run through the rear exit, and then eventually, mercifully, removing those hats and grain free granola you packed because they don’t have gluten free where you’re going and you’re a New Yorker with food allergies goddammit, and inch that little lock shut. At this point you will see a large bag filled with gifts for your mother, but alas, you will be forced to abandon those too because opening the bag again is a health and security risk and you can’t pack more than one suitcase – not because of the extra charges, but because it interferes with the aforementioned put together look of your hard case. You can’t pull off large sunglasses and a sundress while lugging two suitcases, a carry-on, and a purse, no matter how hard you try. Celebrate with a well-earned mimosa and try not to miss your flight because uber is on surge pricing and the taxis all disappear at 430 pm, which is when you have to leave for the airport.

Have a great trip!

eat pray love

words rawan hadid

How many times have you thought about leaving your life - checking out of the mundane, unshackling your feet from your obligations and going away to pamper and learn? Maybe you've been working really hard and have lost touch with some basic aspect of your self. Maybe you've been climbing an uphill battle for too long and the original plan is clearly not panning out - time to reevaluate. Home bound self-care simply can't cut it and while Elizabeth Gilbert may have started an amusing movement among the middle aged and dissatisfied, the idea of self-discovery looms among a larger age spectrum - as much as they may be loathe to admit it. We're not advocating in either direction but if you do decide to eat pray love - we think these little add-ons will help - whether or not you actually get on a plane. 


words rawan hadid

intercontinental flight survival kit

We wouldn't dream of boarding a flight without these--there are so many things that are required in my carry on, they just stay in the bag from trip to trip. The longer the flight, the more obligatory the bric a brac becomes. A long haul flight, no matter where you are sitting on the plane, is harsh on your skin, bad for your circulation, and can take a tough emotional toll if you're not in the right frame of mind. To avoid the nightmare scenario of landing unprepared, I won't get on a long-haul flight without my tools of the trade. Inner Peace Energy Mist might sound over the top, but that relaxing spritz can make the difference between smiling at the customs officer and crying to the TSA agent.

the grand tour

words rawan hadid

the grand tour

Part memoir, part essay on the theme of the Grand Tour, "The Elsewhere Community" by Hugh Kenner discusses the role of travel as part of completing one's education and as a metaphor for intellectual discovery.  One learns by going (or being) elsewhere -- geographically, with other people, in another frame of mind, or with other types of literature. One learns by being around what one doesn't know -- something else. The Grand Tour is no longer requisite -- visits to Europe by the English (and later North Americans) are not quite perceived or distinguished the same way they once were. We are much more global, and that "something else" is readily available from birth. That doesn't mean you won't benefit, or more importantly, that you can't dress the part. 

stuff aid workers like

words rawan hadid

Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like took the twittersphere by storm - because the sometimes satirical, sometimes ironic, usually humorous (but sometimes dead serious) posts where an honest reflection of an industry [is it an industry? it sure functions like one] bent on doing good in a way that can be filled with contradictions. Anyway, if you've decided you want to spend your twenties living out sweaty romances in the Central African Republic - these items will be the essential tools to your trade.

i hate kindle

city bumbkin

mapping maps

going away gifts

words rawan hadid

bags, bags, and baggage. people are on the move, so our friends are always throwing bye bye bashes. bittersweet farewells always leave me scrambling for how to express my affection, sorrow & excitement. oftentimes the panic has left me shamefully empty handed. here's a selection to help you say "my friends are always leaving me!! but...i'm still happy for you. this time." 

paper trail

words anna weber


Humans have a compulsion to leave something behind. To make a mark. To leave a legacy. With the advent of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and many other social media platforms, that compulsion hasn't changed—in fact, it's gotten stronger. Social media is simply the twenty-first century's new and improved way of making sure everyone knows that we are here. We present a public self for all to see, and our lives unfold in the cloud. We were traveling through a country where we didn't speak the language. We were eating food we didn't know how to pronounce or describe. We were making friends we knew we'd never see again. We were here. 

There's nothing wrong with this; it's how communication works these days. We update, upvote, like. We post and repost, share and reshare, comment, emoji. There's no need to #unplug, to delete, to deactivate, to turn off. But there are parts of ourselves that can get lost in the static of the internet—the parts that comprise the private self, the space inside us where we take notes, form thoughts, arrive at interpretations and conclusions, observe, ponder, muse, wonder. We make choices about what we share and don't share, and there are some things that are unshareable. What are the sensations and ideas that don't make the cut? Where do they go? What do we keep for ourselves? What do we save, put aside, covet for a select, cherished few?

Joan Didion states in Why I Write, "In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind." In other words, that writing is the original, tangible social medium, and remains the base of social media as we know them.

I have a chronically empty mailbox. I have changed addresses two or three times a year for the past five or six—it's normal that my family and friends might have trouble keeping up. So I've started to fill it by sending letters—one has to give to receive, after all. The gratification one gets from reading a personal account on paper, in pen ink, free of ads, free of notifications, is rare and rich. I don't just write to my immediate family and closest friends—I write to people I talk to once a year, people I know through friends of friends, even people I've never met. The content of the letter depends on the person to whom I'm writing; some are commentaries on something I read in a paper or in a book, some are accounts of things my students or colleagues said or did, some are sensory observations of a place in time, some are simply scattered thoughts I've tried to thread together. Some are journal entries I've rewritten, and some become entries I copy into my journal. Personal record-keeping goes hand-in-hand with letter writing.

In writing these notes, I'm not looking for likes, shares, or even comments. With letters, knowing that at least one other person will read it is enough. With journals, knowing that I'm listening to my private self is gratifying enough.

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