Travels With Gloria

Finding beauty mile by mile.

Category: Uncategorized

We are all related.

Ta'leef Collective, Fremont, CA. Photo by Bassam Tariq.

For the past two years, Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq have spent the month of Ramadan traveling to mosques across the USA. Visiting thirty communities in thirty states (including both Alaska and Hawaii), they’re gradually documenting what it means to be Muslim in America today.

They’ve sparred with an Olympic fencing hopeful in New Jersey, sung Arabic songs with a hafiz (someone who has memorized the entire Quran) in West Virginia, and broke the fast with the Muslim women of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Here are a few photos of their journey.

Prayers at a women's shelter in Baltimore, MD. Photo by Bassam Tariq.

Basheer Butcher, a Muslim convert from the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota. Photo by Bassam Tariq.

Fridays on Etsy: Norsk, ja?

This week, I'm pining for the fjords. Photo by Today is a good day, via Flickr.

Välkommen! This week’s installment of Fridays on Etsy has a Scandinavian theme, for no reason other than the fact that I found a couple of cool things on Etsy that both happened to be Scandinavian, and then I thought, hey, I could have themes, right? So now I do, and the first theme is Scandinavia.

Best of all: there's both a shoulder strap and handles. Image via Etsy seller OldLikeUs.

First up, this bitchin’ SAS flight bag. I have a bag a lot like this from SwissAir, but this one is nicer because it’s very tall. I can just barely squeeze my laptop into my SwissAir bag (which, if I had to guess, I would say is 9 x 13 x 5?), but I bet you can fit a laptop in here easily. I’m also a little jealous of that Viking boat logo. All this, and only $30!

I can imagine wearing this to ride a bike through Copenhagen. Image via Etsy seller bohemiennes.

It gets cold on planes, and even though Spring is (gradually?) coming to Brooklyn I bet it’s still pretty cold in Nordic parts. Which is a good excuse to grab this sweater. The listing doesn’t say which specific Scandinavian knitting tradition it comes from, but it seems authentic enough to me. Unfortunately the sizing is a bit confusing (either the numbers are wrong or it’s a child’s sweater, so you might want to send the seller a message), but for only $40, you could take a chance.

Windmills in Sweden? Who knew? Image via Etsy seller NeatoKeen.

I’m just going to come out and say this. It’s weird how, when you look up vintage linens on Etsy, they’re almost never photographed on actual tables. Vintage housewares dealers of the internet! Buy a table already! Anyway, this adorable tablecloth depicts the different regions of Sweden. I don’t know whether my favorite part is the Swedish bikini babe in Bohuslan, the maypole dancers of Dalarna with their crazy top-heavy house, or that quaint little gaggle of geese who don’t look like they’re about to bite that farm girl’s face off AT ALL. Anyway, it costs $32, which is more expensive than whatever garbage they have at IKEA these days, but still totally worth it.

Finland: showing up those dumb Swedes since 1809.

But perhaps your taste is a little more modern. Scandinavian design is famous for its simple minimalism. In that case, what about this FinnAir promotional poster? It’s like if that tablecloth were directed by Ingmar Bergman. At $200, this guy is a lot more expensive than the usual Etsy stuff. In fact it’s not from Etsy, it’s from somewhere called I don’t think anybody on Etsy is selling anything this beautiful.

Fuck yeah, Norway. Fuck yeah, pointy red hats. Image courtesy Etsy seller Dipper Vintage.

But maybe the Finnish stuff is too modern for you. Maybe you just want to drink a nice cup of coffee and think about pretty girls in traditional folk costumes (or men in knee socks, whatever floats your boat). In that case, you probably want something from Norway’s Figgjo brand of ceramics. For a mere $27, this vintage plate and mug set could be just the thing to get you through those long winter nights.

Anyway, that’s Scandinavia as seen through the lens of Etsy (and some other website with better vintage posters). Enjoy your weekend!

How to shop for souvenirs when you’re broke and yet have impeccable taste

Shoppers in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar. Photo by Sara Clarke.

I don’t think there are many places left in the world where you can’t buy a cheap mass-produced souvenir. You can buy keepsake shot glasses in Cleveland, I Heart Reykjavik tee shirts, and snow globes from Bangkok, where it never even snows. Every world region that is famous for handicrafts has markets set up every ten paces, selling cheap foreign-made versions. I wonder if any tourist has ever visited the Peruvian alpaca-yarn mitten and Turkish pashmina factories of China?

With all this crap to buy, we find ourselves looking for a truly unique souvenir. Being someone who, as we’ve already learned, has champagne tastes and a “wanna drink forties in the park?” budget (and whose grandmother was a tough act to follow in the souvenir shopping department), I’m always on the lookout for cheap stuff to bring home from my travels.

While Gloria can spot the perfect weird bit of antique farm equipment at fifty paces, my souvenir specialty is ephemera. I bought vintage Bollywood posters on Mutton Street in Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar for a couple dollars apiece. At the end of a trip to Italy, my backpack already stuffed with €2 bottles of wine (my other souvenir speciality is hangovers), I was sad not to be bringing anything more durable home. Then I realized that my free tourist map of Rome was a specimen of flawless European design. It now hangs above my bed, a reminder not only of a fun vacation but also that I am the queen of cheap beautiful things.

Sadly, this is not one of the posters I got. Great movie, though. Abhimaan stars Amitabh Bachchan and his wife Jaya Bhaduri. Creative Commons image courtesy ramesh_lalwani, via flickr.

But let’s say you’re traveling light. Or that you’re sitting at home, moping that you didn’t bring any cool examples of the local design aesthetic home from your last trip. The amazing thing about art as a souvenir is that, through the glory of the internet, you can turn back time and correct this oversight. And it’ll still be a lot cheaper than deciding you really did want that silk Kimono or Persian carpet.

The Madrid metro system, courtesy of Lineposters.

Nostalgic for your semester abroad in Spain? This stylized map of the Madrid metro system will run you $28.

Drawing by Jennifer Maravillas.

Pining for New York? Jennifer Maravillas’ colorful illustration of the lower Manhattan skyline is just $35.

Drawing by Suhita.

Maybe you regret not taking more photos in India. You can pick up Suhita’s lovely watercolor sketches of Varanasi for $20 apiece. She even takes commissions!

The holy grail of illustrated ephemera, though, is the event poster. In order for this to count as a souvenir, at the very least the venue has to be in a city you’ve actually visited. Ideally, your poster should reflect a place you’ve actually been, and the gig should be something you would actually go to (a band you like, a gallery show that reflects your tastes). Even better, look for posters advertising events you’ve actually attended. This is something I haven’t managed to pull off yet in my travels. I don’t know if I’m too discerning about my poster art, or maybe just not going to cool enough spots. But someday, I’m going to score something like one of these:

A poster for the band Tortoise's shows in Madrid and Barcelona. Image courtesy Error Design and


This would be even cooler to have if you've been to both MoMA and Falling Water itself. Image courtesy MoMA Design Store.


One of the Birmingham Museum of Art's posters from the Who Shot Rock N Roll exhibition that's been making the rounds of American museums over the past few years. I suppose it's a tall order to have seen Jimi Hendrix live, though.


On the other hand, if you'll be in Fredricksburg, Virginia, this May, you have a shot at seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd. Poster by Les Herman, image courtesy of


The above posters can all be purchased at, the MoMA Design Store, and the Birmingham Museum of Art. It’s unlikely that any of them cost more than $30 or so.

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