I spy with my little eye... a reflection on mirrors and image.

I love when my coffee comes with a side of art! Lots of restaurants and cafes in Dubai work with artists or galleries to decorate their walls, and La Serre is one of my favourite places in town, so I'm always happy to meet with their artists. These days, they have a collection of mirrors by Karma Mirrors, and I have a big crush on the plain copper and golden pieces. 

But apart from the fact that they are pretty to look at, I thought bringing mirrors in Dubai as art was a very relevant choice, so well done to the management team at La Serre! Dubai is a city where the obsession of looks goes beyond my parisian love for fashion and aesthetics. I admire this city, I love the diversity and opportunities, but I am sometimes overwhelmed by the energy, time, money and attention some people are willing to put into their image. I'm all for making efforts, being fit, healthy, using makeup and enhancing your best features, but I cannot deal with long-term technologically induced physical change. This is where I personally draw the line. I don't deal very well with hair or eyelashes extensions, fake nails, breasts, fillers, plastic surgery in general... Of course I understand that a complex can ruin your quality of life, and if you can correct it and make your life better, than of course you should go for it, and I'm not even going to get into reconstructive plastic surgery, these are completely justified. But there is a pretty clear line between one complex and changing the very nature of your DNA. I am not judging or pointing, I am just observing the fact that we forget how props and plastic surgery affect the mind as much as the body. It can make you feel better, it can help you reinvent yourself, it can also make your children wonder why they don't look like you. I think that working on the mind a little bit more could help deal with body issues, instead of doing it the other way around.

It is so easy to throw money at the problem... I would rather learn how to grow my hair and eyelashes naturally than get extensions that might ruin my actual hair. Cherry on the cake? It teaches you patience and forces you to understand how your body works. Same applies to breasts, lips, noses... There is always something to tweak, but I would rather learn to play it with clothes, fabrics, makeup, a bit of research and a lot of patience, rather than get into surgery or long term modification. I would hate for my children one day to look at me and fail to see the resemblance. I would like to feel confident when it comes to teaching them to love themselves just the way they are, and I do believe in teaching through example. I get worried when a 20-something young woman in Dubai vlogs her "first fillers"... I admire the ambition though, these are the first batch people, stay tuned for the next one!

That was a bit of a long post, but that's what Karma Mirrors inspired me, and after all, isn't it what art is supposed to do: start a conversation, open a subject and a reflection? Again, a big bravo to the La Serre team for this selection, I think it is brilliant and very relevant for Dubai!

I spy with my little eye... Charicycles.

In a city where everything is new is shiny, it is so refreshing to find second-hand items so I couldn't help but fall in love with Charicycles: they use old vintage bicycles to make new customised ones, and every time you buy an item, you contribute to funding bicycles for children in refugee camps. Zaina and Rania Kanaan are two Canadian-Palestinian entrepreneur sisters who moved to Dubai five years ago and created Ananasa, an online marketplace for handmade items in the Middle East, but the creative duo didn't stop there: a couple of years ago when Zaina couldn't find a bicycle that would meet her expectations in terms of design and price, she decided to make one! After watching a couple of Youtube tutorials, the two sisters managed to assemble a bicycle using parts from other old bikes and repainting the frame. It got so much attention that their practical and philanthropist minds soon came up with an eco-friendly, sustainable, local, charitable, stylish concept that also promotes a healthy lifestyle (what's not to like?): Charicycles was born!

Please meet Zaina, Rania, and their amazing bicycles!

HOB: If you could live in a painting, which one would it be?
Zaina: "I'd skip the painting and choose Figueres, just because the whole town embodies Salvatore Dali's paintings, his life and his love. It's a surreal place to get lost in, it's a tangent and a never-ending story."
Rania: "The Persistence of Memory, from Salvatore Dali."

HOB: If you could live in a different era, which one would you pick and why?
Zaina: "I'd probably go for the Victorian era, there were so many true romantics practising hopeful love in luscious gardens surrounded by butterflies, wearing stunning dresses."
Rania: "I am too young to have made this decision :)"

HOB: What piece of clothing reminds you of your mother/father?
Zaina: "For my mother: a mustard coloured sweater with illustrations of Middle Eastern olive trees and gardens, her way of keeping us aware of our roots since a young age. I carry it in every closet I've had over 20 years now. For my father: Italian linen shirts, my dad is our Casanova, he knows it, we know it!"
Rania: "Although not a piece of clothing, my mom always has lipstick on rain or shine :) and my father is obsessed with nice Italian leather shoes."

HOB: What scent takes you right back to you childhood?
Zaina: "Lavender and jasmin combined. We had so many of those trees around and it was always the most accurate signal of the arrival of spring."
Rania: "Nabulsi soap, it reminds me of my Teta's room."

HOB: When do you feel on holiday?
Zaina: "When I travel to volunteer. I usually like to go on holiday to grow spiritually, the more relevant experiences the more I grow and learn. I find volunteering especially with children gives a strong sense of freedom and the power to allow me to live in my childhood, purely and innocently."
Rania: "Most days :)"

HOB: What designer would you take on a camel ride?
Zaina: "I'd take the designer of a little cafe in Siem Reap, Cambodia called Sister Srey Cafe. The design and energy of that place is unforgettable, it speaks to me in so many ways and it's one of the few places I never feel restless at. I'd think the designer of that cafe would have interesting ideologies and superb energy on a camel ride."
Rania: "Baron Karl von Drais."

HOB: Your favourite recipe to make?
Zaina: "Orange-cranberry eggless cookies. I'm allergic to many food ingredients, so baked treats are out of the question most of the time, except those cookies which I both love to do on a cosy day and love to eat."
Rania: "I am not frequently in the kitchen, but every year, once a year, I cook a Turkey and enjoy it very much."

HOB: Best piece of advice you were ever given?
Zaina: "Never take no for an answer. It made me question life and get much more from it. If we settle for a "no", the road ends. I'm all for stretching the road and peeking beyond the horizon because life should be an adventure."
Rania: "Always send the elevator back down."

HOB: What book changed your life?
Zaina: "The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, I read it when I was really young and every time I pick it up I relate to it differently. And the Forty Rules of Love by Elif Sakaf."
Rania: "The Prophet by Khalil Gibran."

HOB: The movie you've watched 30 times but you might watch again tonight?
Zaina: "Mrs Doubtfire."
Rania: "Aladdin."

HOB: Your theww favourite spots in Dubai?
Zaina: "Bastakiyah, a quiet beach I get to on my bicycle, and my room."
Rania: "The rooftop of my parents house, anywhere on the beach, and Bastakiyah."

For more information, check their website: www.charicycles.com 

Hint of Beautiful. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.