There are some places you dream about and because you dream about them so much they will never live up to what you imagined in your head. But, both times I visited Spain it beyond exceeded my dreams. The first time I went with my cousin and brother and I think it was a good mix of all our interests. The second time I brought Nihar and that trip ended our time in Europe which turned out to be one my favorite things we have done together. Although it was unbearably hot the ENTIRE time. Even when we would come home at 2am we would be sweating profusely. There were certain things I didn’t want to miss and we had two day trips planned because we were there for eight days. If we get to spend a couple hours in a coffee shop or cafe, I think we have spent enough time in that city. Enough time to just be and really experience the culture by people watching and enjoying each others company. Feeling like a local for a little while. I feel like Nihar and I always have work to get done and it doesn’t stop when we are on vacation. So given some time in a coffee shop is always welcome and makes coming back from vacation easier. 

This post is about highlighting all the spots we went to - coffee shops, food spots, and bars. 



Flax and Kale



La Fabrica

Veg World India

Teresa Carles

The Green Spot

Coffee Shops:

Sabio Infante

Onna Cafe

Santans Corner

Espai Joliu

SKYE Coffee Co.

Nomad Roaster’s Home



Bareconleta Sangria Bar


Barcelona Beer Company




I don’t think Malta was ever on my radar as a place I wanted to visit. Until, a good friend of ours moved there. We decided that after Germany the next stop would be a few days in Malta. I am so glad we made the trip. Malta stayed one of my favorite parts of our entire vacation. 

We started our first day of exploring by getting locked out of the cabify app. So, instead we had to figure out how the buses worked. That turned out to be not that bad and pretty easy to use. The first bus we took to Mellieha which held the beach Ghajn Tuffieha. We spent half the day relaxing on the beach and in the water. The juxtaposition of blue sky that met at the horizon with clear blue turquoise water was breathtaking and certainly put you at instant relaxation upon being greeted by the landscape.  

You see, the thing is - Nihar didn’t grow up going to the beach or hanging by the pool. He can’t just BE by a body of water. So he kept going in the water in shifts and trying to entertain himself in the water. Me, on the other hand - can spend hours by the water just being at peace in the sun and sweat. I instantly feel much better when I get that first tan of the summer and if on a day off I wake up cranky I just bring myself to the beach with a book and feel much better instantly when I am approached by the sweet salt water. 

So in the nature of true compromise, we left the beach a few hours in when Nihar had sufficiently enough time by the sun and water. We headed to the ancient city of Mdina. 

We started off our time in Mdina by going to the Tea Garden with an amazing view. I felt like the food and drinks were just alright, but you go there just to take in the view. We spent the next few hours just strolling through the ancient streets of Mdina while taking in all the architecture and small intricate lanes. We had dinner at a fancyish Lebanese restaurant called Ali Baba. When we got there, Nihar drops on me that our anniversary was the day before. I had absolutely no idea and couldn’t believe he didn’t say anything. I always get confused if it’s in July or August and somehow this year I had it set in my mind that we were not going to be traveling on the date. I did however know how many years it had been which Nihar wasn’t sure on. I guess after so many years when you start referring to each other as partners it all starts to blend together. After a lovely meal, we met our friend at his company party on the rooftop of the Intercontinental Hotel which was close to Paceville. 

The next day started with doing some touristy things in Old Malta. We visited the church that is known for having paintings done by Caravagio. I always say traveling is my biggest inspiration. I tell myself that these are inspiration trips. Each and every time something from the trip finds its way into my work. The story is known only to me, but left up to interpretation for the viewer. Over the past five or so years, I have really come a long way with how I talk about my work and in return has left me with more success from my viewers. I hate getting the annoying and generic response of “it’s beautiful.” Helping the audience see what I intend helps understand the work better, but still leaves space for one’s own interpretation. I continue to seek the balance between intention and intuition and it has been amazing to see how my process has evolved because of this.

I try to bring my slr along whenever I travel, but i don’t always use it. The moment I saw these columns in the church, I oozed with inspiration! I quickly took out my camera and could not stop taking pictures and admiring what I called in my head “party columns.” I am still uncertain how they will show up in my work, but rest assure they will in a huge way. That moment inspiration hits every trip is a moment I cherish and don’t take for granted ever. It keeps happening, so I shall keep on traveling.

We checked out what is apparently the only good coffee in all of Malta and it hit my quota of finding a hipster coffee shop in every city I visit.

I put my party pants on and we were ready take on an evening of going out. It’s rare that they are on and especially rare to wear them without a huge pep talk from my brother. 

We started the evening at Chalice. Where to even begin with how much I enjoyed this spot? The playlist was absolutely on point with playing all my favorite hip hop throw backs. The interior was well designed with some special touches I so appreciated. Every cocktail we picked out was especially well crafted. It was on the smaller side and was the type of place that lets you sit in nice fancy chairs/couches and provides an atmosphere where one can hold a nice conversation without raising your voice to the person next to you. Dinner was next door at ImPasta. Somehow I had never heard of arrabiata sauce until our trip to Italy a few years ago. Since then I have started making it at home and if it's ever on the menu at a restaurant I always choose to order it. European spicy is usually somewhat of a joke, but Impasta had my lips tingling from the spicy flavors of the sauce.

Our last day in Malta included lounging by a pool called Pearl. Everything was served right to your pool side chair and I think Nihar was loosing his patience by doing nothing for so long. But, I enjoyed every moment of it!

Just like that we were headed to our second to last destination - Barcelona!

Germany Is Hot For 15 Days A Year

A wedding of a dear friend brought me to spend a couple of weeks in Europe this summer. The trip started in Germany. I went a little early before the wedding started to spend time with her and help out with prep for the wedding. She lives about an hour outside of Stuttgart in a small town called Backnag. The wedding took place in Schwabisch Hall which is where the groom is from. There was a small town and the surroundings were a bit more rural. The wedding was a combination of German, Bosnian, and American traditions. 

Next we spent a day in the Western wine region called Pfalz. There we went to a few wineries and drove around the country side while exploring a few of the small towns. The landscape was truly beautiful set among all the vineyards. We spent the night in Kaiserslautern and the next day we were off to Berlin! 

You see, Germany is hot for about 15 days a year so there is no air conditioning anywhere. You better believe we were there during that heat wave. Actually most of our trip was during unseasonably hot weather. We decided not to really do any touristy things, but instead just explore by walking around. 

I remembered seeing on social media that my old friend from Pratt had moved to Berlin. We hadn’t been in touch for quite some time, but I wrote to him in Instagram and we met up the next day for coffee. It was like no time had passed and we just picked up where we left off. That turned out to be such a pleasant surprise of Berlin. He was describing the neighborhoods to us. He mentioned that the young hip people will move into an edgy neighborhood and stay there to settle. So those areas get a bit gentrified and then turn into an area with hip parents and kids. Until, its the next neighborhood’s turn. So, right now Neukolln is a little on the edgier side and still pretty raw in my eyes. 

Some of the neighborhoods we hit included: Mitte, Museum Island, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Neukolln, Tiergarten

Recommendations for food and drinks: Limonadier, Umami, Amrit, Monsieur Voung, Silo Coffee

Thus ended our time in Germany - next up: Malta!


I am gonna go ahead and say it: I like Montreal bagels better than New York bagels. I love food rivalry and if something is described to me as Sally’s vs. Pepe’s, I am so on board. We got bagels from St. Viateur first and ate them in the alley as one is supposed to. Then on the last day we got bagels from Fairmount. I am not exactly sure if I could tell the difference, but I couldn’t stop eating them. Montreal included a whole lot of walking and exploring, good eats and drinks, hiking up Mont Royal, and just basking in the sun a little. The trip would not be complete without some art so we hit up Musee des Beaux Arts of course. I felt like we could have used a couple extra days to experience a few of the other neighborhoods, but we loved it and definitely need to go back during the summer months!



Pilsen and YJA

The end of school finished up in a bit of a whirlwind. Things like the party bike and union party come to mind. But, I felt like I was almost busier after school got out than during the school year. How does that even happen!? 

Next up was beginning to prep for my trip to Chicago. I ended up in Pilsen a few days early and stayed in THE cutest Airbnb. My room was inside of an art gallery and the owner cooked me breakfast each day. Pilsen originally was the Czech neighborhood, but has turned into the Mexican neighborhood since then. This meant the absolute best noms. The first meal I ate was at Los Comales and for five bucks I got a vegetarian Gordita and a Jarritos. How can you even beat that. For dinner I was flying solo so I went to the bar Pl zen which was the Czech spelling of the neighborhood. There I had some veggie tostadas which were just so amazing with the most evolved flavors. I was looking for a drink not too sweet so I asked the bartender what she recommended. I got a hibiscus margarita which just the right flavor balance. The next one she made with Mezcal and that was absolutely spot on. Next day after my host made me breakfast, I was off to meet a childhood friend in south loop. We had brunch at a spot called Yolk and walked around a bit. Dinner was back in Pilsen at a new restaurant called S.K.Y. and boy did it not disappoint. I would highly recommend that one! Since it was also the fourth of July I encountered a lot of fireworks and it literally sounded like bombs were going off outside of my bedroom windows. They were so rogue and so amazing. We went up to 18th St station to watch them and the combination of rain and wind is exactly how I expected a Chicago fourth of July to be. Next day it was time for the Mexican Art Museum and if you ever end up in Pilsen, it is a must see. Things like neon signs of “Make Tacos Not War” and the most amazing Diego Rivera’s along with some more local artists. 

Before I knew it, I was taking a train over to the Westin O’hare for the Young Jains of America Convention. I was invited to speak at the convention after writing an article for their publication. I guess they liked what I had to say about being an artist growing up in the Jain community. Originally, I was going to tie in my abstract work to a Jain principal. But, my go to person Neelam told me not to force. That made my life a lot easier. I conducted three sessions and ran them all the same way. I started off with a Keith Haring drawing game. I posted up four huge sheets of paper to the walls and had the kids count off by fours to create the groups. I am referring to them as kids like my students, but the reality is that the Jain Networking Forum group was just about my age. After this game was over I had everyone take their seats and I went through my little slide show. I basically had some pictures taking them through a journey from end of high school through my current day life. Two of the sessions ended with a theater game however, the college discussion went so well that we didn’t even have time for a last game. 

I felt like the sessions went pretty well. All the people seemed pretty engaged and participated with everything. Each audience held some people who were perusing a career in the arts and I think it was a little cathartic for all of us to have found people who struggled with similar things. One interesting thing did happen during the high school session. They all agreed they were creative, but no one was really going to go to college for a creative field. The session included all girls and one boy. When I had the group unpack this a really backwards mindset came forward. They told me that girls go into more liberal arts fields whereas boys may tend to go into more of a STEM career. I am still thinking about this sentiment. It made me wonder what kind of a bubble some of these kids were growing up in. That is really not my reality nor one that I grew up with. Looking back on my experience with the Jain community, we were really progressive. Even down to a thing like not doing ghee bohli ever. I mean our high school patshala teacher used to be an atheist and brought a really different perspective to all the discussions we had. 

But, this is how the mindset is going to change. Starting these conversations and opening people’s minds is how we are going to end up with more south east asians in the creative fields. I didn’t truly feel like I could BE an artist until my summer after graduating from undergrad while I was at Oxbow. I want the Indian community to know they can pursue the field. It is definitely not going to be the safe choice and you have to work so hard to make sure you are the best at your craft and hone your skill. But, it will leave you infinitely more happy.