Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Japanese Celebrations at Souq Sharq (revelation: must visit Japan!)

A recently made friend (she should be starting a blog soon) and I went to the Japanese Celebrations at Souq Sharq Friday night to immerse ourselves in a little Japanese culture. We had a gala time!

To commemorate 50 years of relations with Nippon, Kuwait has been buzzing with all kinds of Japanese related activities and shows this week, like the Kendo Tournament (missed it), Japanese drums concert at Mishref (missed it, but there is a consolation!)  Gamarjobat at the Avenues (missed it *wails*).

I wasn't going to miss this.

We had a terrible time getting a parking spot and ended up in the area farthest away from the mall, in front of the fish market. Thank goodness we got a spot!

The celebrations took place outside in the crisp winter air. There were stalls selling Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza) and Japanese seafood dumplings. If you've read my Before I die list you'll understand why I stood in those immobile queues for over 20 minutes while my sweet friend (we need a name for you!) patiently waited with me. Making dumplings the Japanese way is quite a tedious process. I'm in two minds as to whether it was worth it. They tasted strange...

Okonomiyaki in cheese and seafood

First the strange dumpling maker is whisked clean

Then dumpling mix is poured in

With the filling strewn on top of each mold - cabbage,
spring onion, ginger, seafood stuff, grated carrot

Dumpling mix is poured over again
but I'm not sure if this is supposed to happen :-/
The dumplings, once they begin to take shape, are then turned manually, one by one, with a TOOTHPICK (that was the tedious part. I didn't get a picture of this)! Nobody, but nobody, can have more patience than the Japanese.
Waiting for the dumplings to turn the right shade of brown meant we'd lost the chance to get a seat on the steps for the show and I stood behind an elderly couple trying to get a good shot of the children singing Sukiyaki with my left hand, holding the cup of dumplings in my right. The guy had his arm around his wife (didn't see her face but I vividly remember the black and white pattern of her coat) and he kept trying to make eye contact with me but I was too wrapped up in the performance. But he continued doing so all through the song and when I finally turned to him about to mutter something in irritation, he pointed at my cup and then to his wife's coat, politely gesticulating what was supposed to mean, 'woman, lay off the coat'. He needn't have worried, I'm much more likely to drop stuff on myself than on other people. Unladylike? Yes, very *dies of shame*

They then sang the opening song of My Neighbour Totoro! =D I LOVE THIS SONG! Wish they'd also sung Tonari no Totoro.

A fashion show of kimonos of gorgeous hues followed. At this point, I got a seat. I missed the names of them all and a lady sitting next to me very kindly educated me a little on the exquisite dresses I had tried to take pictures of. Please correct me if my captions are wrong.

I can't remember what this one is
Formal Kimono for unmarried women.

Semi-formal kimonos for both married and unmarried women
Definitely my favourite.
This was with a square necked jacket
(she's holding it)
Informal kimono with trousers,
now worn as a school uniform

Bridal kimono
And then came the consolation I mentioned earlier.

A fusion of beats from a Japanese Taiko drum with that of the violin and saxophone. I'm not a fan of jazz music so I wasn't too keen when the sax came out, but this performance captivated me. Note the soulful playing of the violinist. I apologize for the abrupt end, it was at that point that my memory card decided it had had its fill.

Going shirtless was a big hit with the crowd!

An ear for applause
And then? The Ban Odori folk dance! The audience was asked to join in. I really wanted to but I was on the top of the steps and the place was packed.                                  

Ban Odori! This looked like so much fun!
A quick look at the stalls before leaving.

Ikebana (flower arrangements) from Tokyo

This stall had pix of the aftermath
of the earthquake
I didn't visit some of the other stalls but I stopped by the Origami one to make a crane (the bird).
A lady making a crane at the Origami stall
It's NOT as easy as it looks
There were other oddities on the table of the Origami stall like boats, boxes, shurikens (!!).. wish I'd made a shuriken instead of a crane. Although I can't really say I made a crane, the helpful lady there did most of it!

I took a shuriken home. I feel like a shinobi from Konoha ;)
(you won't get this unless you've watched Naruto)
Must visit Japan. Soon.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Night to Remember: Iszonica Fashion Show

Last night I attended a fashion show (BIG thank you to Maxine of Better Books!) - UMOJA (Swahili for Togetherness) organized by Iszonica Modelling School (IMS) and Trash to Treasure, under the umbrella of the Salvation Army. I loved it. It was an amazing show, bringing so much talent to the forefront for such a deserving cause.

The head ruined my picture.
There's always a head or a limb ruining my pictures.
Held to support the women at the Philippines embassy that are facing deportation (as well as to persuade people to recycle), the money raised will be used to provide them with counselling services and buy them materials and things they need. Michelle Johnson, Managing Director of IMS and co-host of the event (together with Heather Grinsted, Regional Officer of the Salvation Army), in her opening speech mentioned that women in the Philippines earn just 50 KD a month for the same jobs in Kuwait. And so they head here, leaving their families, looking for a better future for their children. While most of the women find good jobs and are happy, some others flee to the embassy to escape abusive employers. Tragic but true. The recyclable dresses were designed and tailored by them, giving them a chance to channel their creativity, time and resourcefulness into constructive activities.

On with the show! Click on the picture to enlarge.

I had to take a picture of the lighting.
Made the hall look so resplendent. 
Unfortunately, I got very few decent shots; there were a lot more dresses than you see here. The music was easily recognizable, some of my favourite soundtracks just 'pimped' - Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Devil Wear Prada...

In the first segment, the models (of various nationalities - in line with the theme) exhibited rugs made by the ladies at Trash to Treasure using discarded materials.

Next up, some of the Recycle Company Logo Dresses =) These were dresses made to showcase the logos of the sponsors of the event. The Cake n Bake drew a lot of oohs from the crowd!

Dress depicting logo of Cake n Bake
Better pic here and here

The above two dresses were made using Annahar newspapers, commemorating the paper's fourth anniversary.

Frilly blouse and a four tiered skirt
for Organica Fish & Chips

Sassy ain't it? Made with dried orange skin
and pistachio nutshells!
The next segment had guest designer Sara Karami feature some of her exquisite collection of rich blended fabrics and styles from her label 'Just Jazz, Just Sara'. She was my classmate in school and it's heartening to see your schoolmates go so far! Congratulations on your first show Sara! Wish you all the very best!

I would so wear this.

Chic. Love the look of the fabric.

This elegant dress was saved for last,
and very rightly so!
Michelle Johnson was the second designer. Her dresses personified grace, beauty with a hint of sexy.

The models then sported accessories designed by Hamac and Ja-Lynn. I didn't take great pictures of this segment, so to make up for it here's a glimpse of Ja-Lynn's stall.

Handmade Bags

Wooden bangles in vibrant hues
Chunky jewellery in every colour
Accessories made from discarded materials by the women at Trash to Treasure:

And finally, the dresses made by the women at the Philippines Embassy themselves, using fabrics discarded or left over by tailors. Here, when the models encountered each other on the runway they'd each do something funky, like check each other out with pretentious gasp =D It was cool!

Doesn't she look like she really enjoyed wearing that? =D The model's name is Krsytle Nazareth and she was in school with me too. It's a small world.
Don't miss the flower - it just about completes the look.

I love how her dress blurred in motion when she turned!

Blurred, but too ingenious to have ignored.
Those curving lines? Bottle caps!

Can you guess what was used
to make this dress?
No? Rice bags!
A variety of prints were used for this one.
Would make gorgeous harem pants.
I'm not a fan of any kind of checks pattern
(completely ignored the checked shirts trend)
but the flowers detail is beautiful

Looks like basket weaving.
The dresses of this segment were judged by three judges and awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes.

Winners: Gold dress, Rice Bag Dress and Scottish Dress
An artist, Ferrah Haider was also displaying her work.

The origins of some bits of this collage are discernible.
Can you make them out?
The models walked the runway with a lot more but yours truly could not capture them on camera effectively. 
Had a lovely time. The level of imagination and resourcefulness employed in the making of each dress and accessory just blew my mind. 

Among the stalls, there was one selling Kashmiri handicrafts, unleashing a flood of Indian memories all of which I usually keep locked up.

Wooden table with an Indian royal and his...
well I'd say wife, but who knows really.
I'm not sure where the camel came from..

That stool looks comfy.

Bells. All the way from Kashmir, India.
I like this picture.
And finally:                                    

The designer, Sara Karami herself, poses with some of
her collection.

Next time you're about to throw something out, give it a second thought: do you have the imagination to turn that piece of crap (well it is if you're throwing it isn't it) into something stunning?

Which dress did you like best?