2011 in review.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

2011 was a great year for us and I’m thanking my lucky stars. Here is a review of our incredible year.

We ended 2010 with P’s first trip to India to meet the extended fam. We rang in the new year in a penthouse in London with our good friends Jon and Katie (who are headed here soon….yippee!). Soon after that we left Berlin for a weekend to watch my best friend since I was 13, Clare, get married in Minnesota.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I loveThe cold Berlin winter in February proved to be too much and I ran off to Turkey on a last minute vacation with two friends, we ate tons of food and bought diamonds. In March we met up with a couple faves in Budapest for some fun and managed to send out our wedding Save the Date video we made.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

In April I went to the US to finish up planning our wedding and we went on a romantic weekend trip to Nice with lots of filet mignon et Champagne.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

In April, P took me on a trip to Paris as part of our Europe Farewell Tour 2011. We biked around the city using the Velibs, saw the Eiffle Tower which we had both seen before but never together, held hands, and talked about our future in South Africa.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Pat’s friends threw him a surprise bachelor party and I got to help. I made sure he took the days off work and they bought him a round trip ticket from Berlin to NYC to take him on a weekend of white water rafting and beer drinking. The night before they sent him a video to tell him about the surprise. What an amazing group of friends.

 Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

In June and July we found new renters for the fabulous, huge, old, high ceiling’d apartment in Berlin. We planned a farewell party to celebrate our marriage with our Berlin Tribe. Clare and Jake came to visit us. We staged a photo booth (the BEST most worth-it DIY project I’ve done till date) there and set the pictures to this annoying song that wormed its way into our hearts when it was played and replayed after Germany won EuroVision in 2010.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

After that we  embarked on the task of saying goodbye to our poor but sexy city and friends. We had one last eat at our favorite restaurants, and even did a few “Berlin-y” things we had not done as happens when you live in a city.  We had an epic weekend with our friends Nick and Rachel that started in a secret pop-up restaurant with quail-egg sushi, made it past the bouncer and into Berghain, and ended at dinner Sunday at a Sri Lankan restaurant in Freidrichshain.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

I boarded a plane for the States to get married, but first I got upgraded to first class (transatlantic-ly!) and met my sister, cousins and girlfriends in NYC for a bachelorette party. We ate at Shake Shack, brunched, shopped, stayed at the Gansevoort, had dinner at Stanton Social, and danced the night away. It made me miss living in NYC soo much but then I remembered that when I lived there I never stayed at fancy hotels.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love


Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Then, finally it was August and time to get married. My entire family came from India, friends came from all over the US and the world to come and celebrate with us. It was so special and truly one of the best months of our lives. And my sister threw me a bridal shower I’ll never forget.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

We went on a honeymoon to Bali where I got a very bad case of food poisoning but it was amazing none the less.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Then, we moved to Johannesburg. I went on safari in Kruger National Park, we went to Cape Town and Durban.We learned and bought a manual transmission, and moved into a house with a pool and a tennis court. I started blogging seriously and got into photography.  I made lots of new friends through blogging. I took a course and now I very proudly shoot on manual mode and can’t wait to continue learning and expanding (my lens collection hehe). We celebrated thanksgiving, AND I started doing Help Portrait, and then we celebrated Christmas in our new home.

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

It’s been an amazing year and I’m so thankful, I’m only disappointed that I didn’t photograph or blog our two years in Europe. My sister comes for three weeks on Friday and we’re going to have SO MUCH FUN. Here’s to a wonderful 2012 and a Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Whale Watching in Hermanus

hermanus, south africa, namrata singh

  Today I am going to try and experiment with proper grammar and punctuation. This is because my lovely mother-in-law is regularly reading my blog and now I am quite ashamed of my lack of capitalizations. Since we travelled to Cape Town for P’s work and he was occupied during the weekdays,  I got to meet up with my friend Heather and her friend from home to go whale watching. We hitched up her rental with a Garmin and were off to Hermanus, a small city in the Western Cape that is a hot bed to Southern Right Whales in the spring.  I have seen whales migrating from afar in Hawaii, but here it was completely different experience. The water is like fish soup- teeming with whales, dolphins, seals, and even sharks (which we did not see from the land). P mentioned that Alaskan waters give him the same feeling, like you can seemingly reach out from the boat and just touch a magnificent fish.

southern right whale, hermanus, namrata singh Since I did not have my camera ready for the whale tail water slaps, I have about 200 pictures like this. You can see the white callosities on his/her face due to whale lice (cyamides). These magnificent creatures grow between 36 and 59 feet and weigh up to 91 tons. Unfortunately we did not see any breeching, but not for a lack of trying. We had our camera lenses at the ready but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

seal in hermanus, namrata singh This little guy entertained the whale watchers during whale lulls by being omgadorable!

dassie rat in hermanus, namrata singh Also competing for attention was the rock hyrax. They were scurrying around and like the seals, they seemed to be completely aware of their adorableness. But even they had to stop and stare when the whales made their appearances.

dassie rat, hermans, namrata singh

After lunch we made a stop at the shops and galleries (where I got some more material for Fashion Fridays) and had become expert whale watchers. If you are not good at spotting the whales you needn’t worry as Hermanus has a Whale Crier (who I stupidly did not take a picture of). He is supposed to blow on kelp every time he sees a whale, but he has graduated to a Vuvezela which is just as effective but not as romantic. You also needn’t go out on a boat to watch the whales, they are plenty visible from the land. Southern Right Whales arrive in Walker Bay (where Hermanus is) in May and trail off in November.

hermanus, south africa, namrata singh

Spending my days safariing, whale watching, and lunching with my friends makes getting a job the last thing on my mind. Who knew that Namrata Singh would enjoy being a housewife? I don’t intend to keep going this way for too long, but I figure that a few months to enjoy our new country is a privilege that I should take advantage of. Besides, for a grown-ass-woman learning to allow someone else to take care of you for a while is a social/emotional skill all on its own.

      I am very excited because tomorrow I am shooting for Ubuntu Help Portrait (under the encouragement and guidance of my friend Bing) which is an organization which aims to shoot, edit, and print portraits for kids who have never had a picture of themselves. I’ll tell you more about the organization and why I appreciate the mission when I post about it.

fashion friday: afro-prints

a refreshing aspect about shopping in africa is color glorious COLOR.  my wardrobe comes in three shades: black, grey, or outrageously colorful. i can get my fill of the entire brilliant spectrum here through the african prints that are available everywhere you look. there are so many beautiful prints that they give diane von furstenburg a run for her money.

i apologize for the lackluster pic, the idea was to get the background (below) in but we were rushing to leave for the airport and there is only so much last minute barking p is willing to take.

i wore this outfit on our last day in cape town for our trip back to joburg, and to my photography class as i successfully dodged the protest that julius malema was leading, (little do my photography classmates know they are getting a regular fashion parade).

headband: lululemon from my friend anna, it is a very practical accessory for ladies with long hair on the outrageously windy cape.

earrings: antique from the antique market by the tiergarten u-bahn stop in berlin. a present from p when our friends jon and katie were visiting.  warm memories.

glasses: miumiu, i already told you the story on those.

necklaces: same as last week

shirt:  promod in my favorite color after black and grey, azure blue.

skirt: suga suga from woolworths. as i’ve noted before woolworth’s (i refuse to call it “wooly’s”  is a department store in rsa that is best known for its yuppy organic market. they have an initiative to feature local designers so i happily bought this skirt for 200 rands (about 25 USD). while 200 rand is nothing in dollars or euros i am starting to think in rand, and this is depressing not as fun as thinking in euros. despite all the trouble the eurozone is giving the world i miss it, you sweet sweet currency.  by the way, the smallest size i’m ever able to find at woolworth’s is an 8 so i only buy things if i can alter them myself.

shoes: zara somewhere in berlin. they were cheap-as-hell (in my old version of cheap-as-hell when i was a working woman and didn’t even have to pay german taxes) and reminiscent of some sparkly flat jimmy choos that i couldn’t bring myself to spend 400 euros on.

i hope you have a great weekend! i have so much to write about next week including whale watching, a young south african artist, joburg’s china town, and a trip i’m taking to Kliptown in Soweto. bis dann!

Discovering Cape Town Part 2: the Cape Peninsula

for our second day in cape town we woke up early once again to catch a seal tour. you have to get up early to see the seals or the water gets too choppy. after a roller-coaster-like ride on a giant boat (we were in the front) which consisted of me yelling at p to brace me as i switched camera lenses to alternately get in the seals’ faces and wide landscape shots, we pulled up to the seals. these are the same glorious seals that make their perilous journeys over shark infested waters that you watch being chomped on the discovery channel. after we had our fill, the boat turned around and i was able to get some more shots of the landscape.

then we started our journey up chapman’s peak drive. it’s the same one where the car commercials are filmed: when you see some car speeding around the corner perilously above the ocean to some racy music, that is where we were.  the cape is a photography enthusiast’s dream. the landscape is breathtaking, and because of the mountains/hills the clouds are constantly changing so the light is always new and it doesn’t even matter that it is the middle of the day because the clouds are giving you some interesting light to shoot in.

after screeching asking nicely for p to stop several times for pics (the guy is a patient, patient man) we got to the game reserve on the cape peninsula. it was arid because of all the wind and there was some small to medium game to be seen. the best part for me was the vegetation.

then, it was time to see the Cape of Good Hope. many people (including me) thought/think that this is the  point where the indian ocean and the atlantic meet, but that is a fallacy. this was disappointing because i was on a mission to take some shots of the mixing water. but the the indian ocean and the atlantic are starkly different colors and you can really see that (though not at the cape of good hope).  we got our obligatory touristy shots in our ridiculous safari clothes, (p’s boss in berlin un-ironically bought him a safari jacket as a going-away present ).

we hiked to the top of the rocks and the views did not disappoint.

the water was blue, the wind was blowing, and i was happy to be alive. happy to be alive is a feeling i often get when i’m south africa (and in the proximity of wild game) and this little trip was another confirmation of our decision to move here.

i mean when is the last time you’ve seen an ostrich in the wild?

the reserve was full of ostriches and, since it is spring time, their babies. they were quite unafraid. i chose this pic because this guy had walked right up to our car and was mugging for the camera. i was also a bit scared he was angry at me and about to attack since he was about 2 feet away and looked exasperated. who is this little indian woman taking my picture?

then, on to simon’s town for some lunch and penguins. remember i told you can see the difference in color of the two oceans? i guess i knew that oceans are different colors since i’ve seen lots of large bodies of water be starkly different than one another, but the close proximity of two of the world’s largest water masses being so different and so close to each other really drives home the point.

the last stop was to see the penguins. first when i saw the little guys i thought they looked lethargic and depressed. i was confused…don’t you live in the wild little penguins? do the tourists who take your pictures really make you that sad? then i found out they were molting. while they are molting, they do not eat. they hadn’t been eating for about 20 days! that explained everything…when i don’t eat i get in a terrible mood, like a small child. p is always making sure i’ve had enough to eat so he can avoid this.

our day trip around the peninsula (and it does take a whole day) ended in dinner at a touristy but yummy belgian restaurant on the water called Den Ankar. we went there since joburg is lacking in good beer and p read that they carry my favorite beer, a belgian brew called delirium tremens.


the last shot i would like to show you is the arid peninsula game reserve. i love the ominous clouds in this photo. the next lens i want to get is a wide angle lens so i can get better landscape shots (cough, christmas present, cough). have i convinced any of you to visit us yet?

Discovering Cape Town Part 1: the Surrounding Wine Lands

this weekend p and i got up at the ungodly hour of 4 am to catch a flight to Cape Town. there is so much hype surrounding this city i thought i might be underwhelmed by it (you know, like when you go to prague or something). that was a silly assumption. i was so overcome by the natural beauty, where every new thing i saw was more beautiful than the last. i wasn’t sure exactly how to write about it so i’ll let my pictures do most of the talking. i will say that we had so much fun that it was like the honeymoon we didn’t have in bali (on account of I had very severe food poisoning). i will also say that my photographs get better in parts 2 and 3 partially because the Cape Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places on planet Earth and partially because i learned a lot about my camera during this trip.

    our day started with a trip to vergelegen wine estate (seen at the top) which is known for being mandela’s favorite (and i think quite touristy). since we had started our day at 4 am we were sampling wines by 10. nothing wrong with that.

    vergelegen has an elaborate garden where it is easy to waste spend fifteen minutes at least just photographing the flowers. the other thing it has is german tourists. p and i spent at least ten minutes unintentionally silently snooping in on several conversations.

   after vergelegen we drove to spier. we didn’t get to sampling the wines however, because i miraculously spotted that they have a cheetah conservancy. i spent 200 rands just to play with the baby cheetahs while p  thumbed through his blackberry watched lovingly. they were extremely adorable, and worth every penny even though i now have conflicted feelings about ‘animal encounters.’

    we headed into Stellenbosch for some lunch and one of our favorite couple activities: sheeshah. in south africa, they call it Hubbly Bubbly. that such a ridiculous name that we concluded it must have been an indian who came up with it. i ordered Bob’s Your Uncle wine…and it came in a beer bottle. for those of you in the back: instead of a glass of wine you get the amount of a large beer bottle. the hubs helped me out because i don’t think he wanted to drive a passed-out wife back to cape town. i think we have found an economical girly drink for our housewarming braai though.

we drove back to the city and went to El Burro in Green Point for dinner. anyone living abroad (unless it is in Mexico) knows how difficult it is to find proper mexican food. well this place is legit and i highly recommend you try it if you’re in town. the pork tacos are better than most of the tacos i’ve had in my life, because the way they braise it is HEAVENLY and SPICY (i think for me spicy=heaven).

     we capped off the day with, you guessed it, more sheesha at Al Diwan in Mainroad in Greenpoint. what it is lacking in ambiance it makes up for with amazing sheesha. i leave you with one last pic of the amazing stellenbosch wine lands and tomorrow i’ll show you even more breathtaking views of the cape peninsula.

photos via namrata singh