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The Importance of Random Acts of Kindness

December 4, 2017

We go through our routines day by day, often not thinking about them or questioning them at all. And then at the end of the day we go to bed with that vague feeling that something’s really not right with our lives, but we can’t pinpoint it. I submit to all of you that many of us would go a long way towards solving that by committing more random acts of kindness.

Where To Start?

A random act of kindness can be anything from taking a quick moment during your day to donate to Oxfam by phone, to leaving an unusually generous tip, to sending someone who you think might be lonely a postcard (a real postcard, emails aren’t nearly as nice), to paying for someone else’s purchase at a store, to giving stuff away for free online. There are so many other possibilities; be creative. The more you do it the better you will get at it.

One other way to start is to think of the people you see on a regular basis but are still strangers. These are the doormen or security guards at your work, or maybe the guard at a gated community you live in or frequent, the cashiers at the neighborhood shopping spots, etc. Make a point of greeting these people warmly, and at the very least getting to know their names. You are guaranteed to see a smile on their faces if you do this, and it’s very unfortunate how many people don’t even bother. Reverse the trend.

Excuses Begone!

-”I just don’t have the time”…. You will find that if you are mindful, opportunities to be kind are presenting themselves to you regularly, in the normal course of your daily grind. You just have to be open to them.

-”I don’t trust people”…. If you’re thinking of donating to an organization but not sure about their trustworthiness, you can put your mind at ease by going to a website that has already pre-vetted a bunch of orgs, for example, this one here. It takes a mere couple of minutes, and then you can put your mind at ease. If you want to help someone on the street, give them food instead of money.

-”It won’t make a difference”…. It will! And the most important difference it will make will be the one inside of you. All that positivity will come back to you in surprising and unexpected ways; trust us on this one!



Mayan Basketball and Persian Poker: Modern Games that Are Older Than You Think

July 14, 2017

Much of today’s culture revolves around games and major sports events like the Olympics or the Super Bowl. Granted, there are differences among countries in how popular various sports and games are: for example, Americans prefer football to soccer, while for Europeans it is quite the opposite, and the French in particular have a fondness for pétanque – a game that involves tossing or rolling hollow steel balls as close as possible to a set target – that seems quite unique to them. But in other cases, love for certain games seems universal across countries and cultures – and it actually might run much deeper in our veins than we might think.

Ancient Mayan Football: The Winner Literally Takes It All

Way before the NBA, the peoples of Mesoamerica had invented their own very popular version of shooting hoops. Played with a rubber ball called ulama, the purpose was to strike – and not throw – the ball through a stone hoop that was fixed high above the playing court, perpendicular rather than horizontally like in modern basketball. The game had many variations and was known by many names over the years, such as pitz in classical Mayan, juego de pelota in Spanish, and ullamaliztli in Nahuatl. In some versions, it included some further features similar to basketball, such as the rule that a player may not take more than three steps before passing the ball to a teammate.

Yet it was also a lot bloodier: the game was most likely developed as a type of religious ceremony, played during religious festivals and holidays, and some evidence suggests that some players were sacrificially executed after losing – or even winning! In any case, it seems that scoring was so rare, that the player who accomplished the feat was allowed to loot the spectators.

Âs-Nas: The Persian Poker that Was Lost During Iran’s Revolution

Âs Nas is considered the ancestor of poker and was a card game widely popular during the 17th and 18th century in modern day Iran – then known as Persia. The game was played in a fashion similar to modern 5-card poker and included many similar poker hands rankings, such as three-of-a-kind. It was played with a set of five subjects, all courts, each of which is repeated either four or five times to make for 20 or 25 cards in total. From highest to lowest, the subjects were called Âs (“ace”, featuring a lion), Padishah or Shah (“king”), Bibi (“queen”), Sarbaz (“soldier”) and Lakkat or Kouli (the lowest card in rank, more often featuring a dancer or huntsman respectively).

During the Revolution of 1979 in particular, the game fell from grace and into obscurity, as any pastime regarded as “futile” was frowned upon by the new regime. But the Europeans had already learned the game from their contact with Persia and called it “poque” or “pochen”. Yet it was really in the United States that the game truly flourished – although with modern day tournaments and the ability to play poker through mobile apps with anyone around the globe, players across countries are still connecting over their favourite hobby.

The descendants of these games have evolved into more elaborate versions and have – luckily! – done away with some of their most gruesome aspects in the process, focusing more on technique, skill and practice. Yet the initial concepts behind them seem to transcend the ages and fascinate us equally today.


How to Have a Great Date with a Food Lover

April 28, 2017

A date in a restaurant is an ideal date for the beautiful half of humanity. And for a girl who likes to eat it is just perfect. So, if your girlfriend is a food lover, then it’s even easier for you because you don’t have to think where to invite her. You just have to choose the place where you can eat.

  1. Coffeehouse

Perhaps, it is one of the most suitable places for a date. There she can order a cup of coffee or tea, and some dessert – a cake or an ice cream. In addition, such a place is very romantic.

  1. Restaurant

It is better for you to choose a familiar restaurant with a familiar menu. There she can order different dishes. Most likely she will order a salad, fish or meat and a side dish to it. You should order a bottle of wine or any other alcohol beverage. This will help relax and defuse the situation.

  1. Fast food

This is one of the best places where you can eat cheap food. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, French fries, Coca-Cola – all of it is so harmful, but so loved by almost all the girls. But if you look for Russian girls for marriage, it is better not to invite them in such places. It is unlikely that you will be able to impress them by hamburgers, even if they love it so much. These girls want you to invite them to a more romantic place.

  1. Sushi restaurant

This can definitely be called one of the favorite places for girls. A Peking duck, different rolls and sushi, rice with seafood, noodles and this is not the whole list of what your girl can order there.

How to behave

Before you invite her to a restaurant or any other place from the list above, learn the rules of etiquette by heart: who should go first, how to behave in a restaurant and who should pay for a nice evening.

Young happy couple celebrating with champagne at picnic

Open a door for her

If you are a real man and you are going to somewhere with a woman, then you have to know that a woman should go ahead of you. It must be anytime and anywhere, not only on the way to a restaurant.

You have to open a door for a woman for she goes into a place first. But then you have to be ahead of her. What for? By the rules of etiquette, you have to enter the hall first. Doing so you protect your girlfriend from unexpected collisions and you get a real opportunity to warn her about some steps or a threshold. Remember that she is no longer just a woman beyond a threshold, she is a lady. Don’t forget to give her hand and hold a door.

Choose a table

There may be a head waiter at an entrance of an elite restaurant, who has to meet you and follow to a table with you. He or she will offer you a free or an ordered table.

In an ordinary restaurant, you simply will be asked to choose a table by yourself. Remember that choosing of a table is your privilege. Don’t shift this process to woman’s shoulders, but listen to her opinion.

Treat your girl

When a table is chosen, then pull out a chair and ask a lady to sit down. It is preferable that you let a woman sit in the most comfortable place, for example near the wall or in the middle of the hall. Sitting there she can see the greater part of the hall. And don’t offer her to sit in the aisle in any case. It is better if you sit on the left of your lady or in front of her.

At the end of a date

Here everything repeats: open a door for her, let her go ahead, and show her a way to the lobby.

Leaving a restaurant, give your lady a fur coat or any other outerwear and only then you can put on your coat. But some sources recommend do it in the opposite way. In any case, you simply have to help her put on a coat. And don’t wait until a cloakroom attendant offers to do this. You will feel uncomfortable in such a situation. And you can wear a hat and gloves only on the street.

Finally, leaving a restaurant you have to let a woman go ahead.

Who pays

If you invite a girl to a cafe, then you have to pay for her. A man must be a support, and a strong shoulder, and in financial terms as well. If you have some relations, a woman always wants to realize that next to her a man who can solve any problems.


A Vegetarian’s Guide to Malta

March 13, 2017

As a Mediterranean island once occupied by a number of foreign empires, and in close proximity to North Africa and Italy; Malta has developed one of the most unique culinary cultures in the world. Unfortunately, however, Maltese cuisine is not particularly vegetarian-friendly. Tuna and rabbit are both very traditional and highly prevalent in dishes. Restaurants and cafes have become better at catering to vegetarian tourists and the growing local vegan community than ever before, but finding a spot offering plenty of high quality vegetarian or vegan options is still difficult. Here’s a quick guide to help you along the way.


Traditionally Maltese

All across the island you’ll find pastizzerias offering the classic pastries for which Malta is famous. Out of these, vegetarians can enjoy the classic ‘cheese pastizzi’ (ricotta cheese filled pastry) or its mushy-pea filled counterpart. Similar to the pastizzi, but with a harder and less flaky pastry case, is the ‘qassatat’. These snacks come with numerous fillings, the most common vegetarian of which usually consists of ricotta and spinach. If you’re feeling like something sweeter, try Malta’s traditional ‘imqaret’ instead. This tasty and vegetarian pastry is filled with sweet dates. Equally traditional is the Qagħaq ta’ l-Għasel – a bagel-shaped ring of honey-flavored pastry with molasses filling.

Dr Juice

This Maltese smoothie chain has a mostly vegetarian menu. Dr Juice offers a comprehensive menu of detox juices, healthy yogurt shakes and refreshing smoothies. All smoothies and milkshakes can be made with non-dairy milk. There are plenty of vegetarian food options, such as the avocado and feta wrap, or Middle Eastern hummus and falafel salads. There’s even a couple of vegan salads and sandwiches. So for a vegetarian or vegan takeaway lunch to enjoy down by the seaside, keep an eye out for the Dr Juice outlets in Sliema, St Julians, Valletta and Bugibba. To top things off – you can finish your meal by treating yourself to one of their raw and vegan cakes or protein bites.


Roots is a vegetarian food van which travels around the island in its mission to provide organic and delicious veggie meals for tourist and locals alike. The van serves up stir fries, crepes, polenta burgers, chickpea curries, quinoa salads, cakes and more! So keep an eye out for the light green van and its friendly chefs.


Grassy Hopper

This is the island’s number one vegetarian haven; no meat is served at the Grassy Hopper. Ingredients are organic, fresh and hearty. Choose between eating at the cosy cafe in Valletta or in Gzira, with their impressive menu of vegan and vegetarian dishes ranging from noodles, salads, curries, soups and burgers. There’s always a special of the day, as well as the option to get some healthy pre-noon breakfast like chia pudding or vegan pancakes. Vegan cheese, chocolate, banana bread and carrot cake are also available here.

The Grassy Hopper is an absolute must for any vegetarians visiting the island. The big portions are very reasonably priced, and you’ll be able to find a number of uncommon health foods sold at the cafe. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, try their wheat grass shot!


This Sliema cafe is an excellent place to stop by when you’re feeling like vegetarian sandwiches, baguettes or quiche. The cafe is located on the strand, just a few steps from the sea and close to all bus stops. If you’re looking for a place to grab some afternoon coffee and vegan cake, Mint is a great place for this too. Their vegan brownies deserve a special mention!


A reggae bar with great vibes, live music and amazing cocktails. The St Julian-based Juuls is open from 12pm each day, making it an amazing place to enjoy some food (from its predominantly vegan menu) in a friendly atmosphere. Try their stuffed peppers or pumpkin seed bread. As for cocktails – the strawberry mojito is a clear winner.


Blue Elephant

One of the island’s best restaurants, and a paradise for any lovers of Thai cuisine. The gorgeously decorated and atmospheric Blue Elephant is an excellent place to dine with friends, as the platters allow for sharing and the cocktails are divine. The menu offers an abundance of vegetarian options, including a much-recommended vegetarian platter which is comprised of several small dishes. Since the restaurant is inside the island’s five-star Hilton Hotel, it’s also in close proximity to St Julian’s nightlife. The Blue Elephant has  become known as the go-to place for the hundreds of international poker players who flock to the island during the Battle of Malta tournament – so booking a table is recommended!.

Electro Lobster Project

This chic restaurant and bar has an avant-garde vibe, with a Mediterranean-inspired menu with Asian influences. There are number of vegetarian and vegan dishes on both the lunch and dinner menus. The venue also hosts the occasional vegan-themed event, so check out its online calendar for full details.


Located in the scenic town of Birgu, this large and family-friendly restaurant boasts a large meat-free menu with dishes from a large number of different cuisines ranging from Mexican to Greek. One of the best things about Tate is that there’s something on the menu for everyone. It’s also situated in one of the less touristy towns of Malta, offering you a glimpse into a more historic part of Malta. After your meal you can simply sit outside near the harbour and enjoy the fresh evening air with a cocktail in hand!

All in all, there are just about enough vegetarian and vegan eateries on the island to keep you satisfied during your visit, providing you know where to look!

Culture, Food

Caribbean and Culinary Together?

February 16, 2017

Let’s be honest. When most people go on a Caribbean vacation, they don’t have good gastronomy in mind. Generally we go for the climate and the beaches, and perhaps the activities, maybe even the culture. But the food often is way down on the list of priorities.

But what if you’re a foodie AND a beachie, or what if you’re just a foodie and not much of a beachie, and you’re tagging along for the ride, say with family or such? Here you are, definitely appreciating one of your luxury Caribbean vacations, but you don’t want to eat the mediocre stuff everyone else around you for some reason doesn’t have a problem with. What can you do to save your palate from this particular purgatory? Here are some simple suggestions.

Go With Your Instinct

This is mentioned because often we get paranoid when we’re on vacation, worried maybe a little too much about sanitary issues and the like. If you’re passing by one of those roadside stands and feel called by it, don’t hesitate. Check it out obviously and make sure everything is copacetic, but don’t get overly cautious. Some of the best food is to be found in those kind of random out of the way places. So don’t be overly afraid to sample what could maybe even be a life-changer.

-Go Into Town

This is another big one, and it goes beyond even the topic of food. This is why all-inclusives are really a double-edged sword. They win for convenience, but not always for quality, and they severely limit your vacation experience. And really, most of the Caribbean is safe enough where you shouldn’t have to limit yourself to some little patch of private property in order to feel safe. There are some exceptions, such as the interior of Puerto Rico, but in general, and especially in the Minor Antilles, you would do well do walk around get some sun and get to know the local culture, and what better place to start than through the food?

-Insist on Going For Local

The Caribbean has a lot of incredible cultural traditions, among them the many amazing styles of cooking. Keep in mind that they do their own thing extremely well, but in general they are not so good at cuisines from other countries. If, for example, dining at some local French or Italian restaurant is suggested, shoot it down immediately. Point out that it’s just going to be a disappointment because it’s almost guaranteed that the French or Italian etc. is going to be better where you actually live. Not to mention, the idea of travelling is to gain new experiences. Try to eat whatever you normally wouldn’t. Some of you may need to break out of your own little psychological box to do this. Do it.

Hopefully with these three simple and easy to remember tips, your next Caribbean vacation will have a huge culinary upgrade. Feel free to write to us and tell us all about your Caribbean food experiences, hopefully positive ones!