Interviste me Fanfara Tiranen dhe Hysni Zelen pas koncertit te tyre ne Londer

Me siguri keni degjuar te flitet per Fanfara Tiranen. Si? Jo? Zgjohuni menjehere, keni humbur nje nga spektaklet me te bukur te muzikes shqiptare me miksim tingujsh tradicionale e moderne. Fanfara Tirana luan bashke me Transglobal Underground dhe pjese e grupit eshte edhe mjeshtri i muzikes popullore shqiptare Hysni Zela. 

Nese kerkoni ne Google emrin e tyre, do t’ju dale faqja Facebook a grupit me datat e koncerteve. Ata jane vazhdimisht ne turne  dhe se fundmi ishin ne Kine, ne veri te Anglise dhe me pas ne Londer. Shikoni daten me te afert dhe sigurohuni te zini vend per koncertin e ardhshem. Kercimi, vallja dhe hareja jane efektet kryesore që ju shkakton ky bashkepunim unikal. Ose blini albumin Kabatronics dhe shikoni videot ne YouTube.

Po cfare muzike luan Fanfara Tirana dhe Transglobal Underground?

Me nje pershkrim te shkurter, eshte muzike tradicionale e jugut te Shqiperise e miksuar me tinguj moderne. Disa kenge jane “Shege e kuqe”, “Xhixhile” te përziera me ritme elektronike, reggae dhe dub. Por ka dhe polifoni dhe hare dasmash.

Si dy zerat kryesore te grupit, Londinezi Tuup dhe mjeshtri i madh i këngës popullore Hysni Zela, mund të duken sikur nuk kanë asgjë të përbashkët por në skenë prodhojnë një harmoni perfekte, në sfondin e tingujve që vijnë nga anë të ndryshme të botës.

Pyetjes se si funksionon bashkimi midis dy rrymave muzikore kaq te ndryshme, Hysniu i pergjigjet:

“Me thoni ju se si ju duket bashkimi?” Fantastik eshte pergjigja e publikut.

Fuzioni midis tingujve të kabasë së Shqipërisë së jugut, klarinetës, perkusioneve dhe kitarës tradicionale indiane, tingëllon si një fuzion organik, ku të gjithë anëtarët e grupit luajnë në simbiozë. 

Por si u krijua bashkëpunimi unikal midis dy grupeve? 

Idenë e vuri në jetë Olsi Sulejmani, themelues i agjensisë World Music Management bazuar në Itali, i cili duke njohur muzikën e të dyja palëve, e drejtoi grupin londinez drejt grupit shqiptar. 

Prania e Hysni Zelës veshur me fustanelle te bardhe, qeleshe e papuce, i fton njerezit per fotografi si dhe pyetje e kureshtje pafund.

“Veshjet tradicionale janë pjesë e mrekullive tona”, thotë Hysniu. “Por mrekullia me e madhe  është polifonia”. 

Edhe pse në pension, Hysniu bashkepunon me Fanfaren. Pjese e procesit krijues per te eshte mbledhja e tingujve dhe e muzikes nëpër fshatra, pasi “kënga është në popull”, thotë ai.

Një anëtar tjeter i grupit Xhemal Murraj na tregon për pritjen e publikut anglez që ka qenë shumë e ngrohtë.

“Bashkëpunimi me një kulturë tjetër dhe një stil muzikor shumë të ndryshëm, ka qenë pa vështirësi”, thotë ai, gjë të cilën publiku e ndjen.

Ndërkohë muzikanti i Transglobal Underground, Tuup, e shijon bashkëpunimin me muzikantët shqiptarë. Në skenë ai kërcen duke ‘lëvizur lehtë shpatullat’, një mënyrë kërcimi karakteristike shqiptare dhe tregon se këtë  ‘e ka mesuar nga anëtarët e grupit’. 

Ai thotë, “3 cilësi i pëlqejnë më shumë te shqiptarët, respekti, ngrohtësia dhe vlerësimi i gjërave të mira ne jetë, ushqimi, pijet dhe prezenca femërore”.

Përballë një përzierje sa të çuditshme po dhe aq tërheqëse, publiku ndjehet i “çarmatosur” dhe nuk mund t’i rezistojë tingujve “ngjitës” që të bëjnë të hidhesh e të kërcesh. 

Kjo muzikë është një nga ambasadorët më të mirë të Shqipërisë jashtë vendit dhe si e tille meriton te gjithe mbeshtetjen dhe pelqimin tone.

Our long-waited home renovation project, 10 things we are looking at now

It has been since September last year that we have been waiting to get our hands on a house. The process of buying and selling in the UK is over complicated and unnecessarily long. So we were caught in it, waiting to complete the purchase of a house for 10 months. What holds the whole process up and makes it lengthy, is the concept and practice of a chain, a number of people buying/selling from each other. Instead of having a one to one transaction, in the UK you are bound to wait until everyone in the chain completes.

So with a lot of frustration and anxiety we went through the 10 months, worried every week that it would fall through. But in the end it didn’t and we got the lovely house we were waiting for.

Except that we can’t live in it straight away. The house needs a whole renovation. It hasn’t been changed probably since the 70s, it has had leaks, water marks and damage on the ceiling, the wooden floor is broken, the carpet is so old and has lost the fabric, wall paper is falling off and the paint is colourless. There is mould in the bathroom, the bath tub is broken, the shower’s side glass panels have been nibbled at the bottom. The kitchen is small, with cabinets that desperately need replacing. The garden is massively overgrown.

On top of the complete overhaul of the existing space, we are also going to extend in the loft and in the kitchen.

I have already got an idea of how I want the kitchen to be.

And ideally we’d love to fit 2 bedrooms in the loft extension and a small bathroom. We have parents visitin often and staying with us for a while, so that’d be the perfect space for them. And perhaps a small room for a study or the occasional au pair.

So what are the kinds of things we are going to focus on, in the initial stages of the project?

  1. The overall design of the house, including loft and kitchen extension. We have chosen an architect, she is very nice and she will be drawing the plans for us. We have to make a number of decisions there, about the use of space, the loft size, the details of the side extension, the opening from the kitchen into the garden. I will dedicate a separate blog to this as it’s such an important part of the works.
  2. The architect will finalise the plans and apply for a planning permission at the council.
  3. We had to clear up what was left behind by the previous owner, which was a lot of rubbish, toiletries and other more sentimental items such as a nursery report from 1984. The family who sold the house had lived in it for the last 40 years. Roger felt quite emotional when he read the nursery report, as we are at a similar stage of our lives with our older son just finishing nursery and starting school. And I felt emotional too when he told me about it. We used Junk Monkey, a company that takes your rubbish away. All done in one afternoon. 75 black bin bags, in total! And that is without the garden and a few more things, that could fill up a skip on their own.
  4. Next stage will be to get quotes from builders once we have the plans from the architect, so that the quotes can be precise.
  5. I am keen to include eco friendly features that are easy to incorporate and don’t cost a fortune. Solar panels, wall and roof insulation, smart energy reader and double glazed windows. I would also like to see if we can include, a rain water tank harvester but they require a lot of space and that might be an issue.
  6. Once we have had the quotes, have met the builders and have discussed our specs it will be the stage of choosing the builder. Such an important decision that can ‘make or break’ the whole project and experience.
  7. When we get to the stage of actually starting the works I will be so excited and pleased that we got there.
  8. While the builders do the works we need to have our shortlist ready for the next phase, kitchen appliances and fittings, kitchen tiles, bathroom fittings and tiles, wardrobes, flooring, wooden floor or carpet, colour paint for the walls. 
  9. Moving in – I don’t expect this to be before January next year but if it does, it will be a very good surprise for the start of the new year.
  10. Once we are in, we will have to finish the interior decoration but that is a stage I love taking the time for. I love browsing on eBay for second-hand items. I will have to get familiar with scrapyards that we can go to easily from London. And if there is any budget left, we might buy something new, if not it will have to wait.

We have done a renovation project before but it was very different as it was a flat and also we didn’t have children. This time, we have two of them and it will be harder but we are very excited about it!

This is during our first project, in our flat with the main builder.

This is during our first project, in our flat with the main builder.

What about you, have you any tips for things to consider at the initial stage of a home renovation project? Have I missed anything important?

Multitasking, is that really such a good ‘female skill’ to have?

Everyone today talks about the need to multitask, and the fact that in particular women are natural ‘good multi-taskers’.
In our post-modern, digital society, multitasking is ‘the way to go’.

1. Washing the dishes while supervising children’s dinner and cooking the meal for next day (yes I have done that in the past, with what I have called ‘tremendous speed’)

2. Taping on our smart phones while walking down the street (I see so many people do that, constantly, every day despite it being bloody dangerous!)

3. Checking on google maps for directions while pushing a buggy and frantically trying to hold a toddler in tow (me and many other mums do it regularly, trying to get to a playdate or birthday party in the middle of an unknown common)

4. Talking to family members on the landline while checking emails on the mobile (and loosing track of what is being talked about in the conversation; they didn’t notice, did they?)

5. Doing our online shop on the app, while finding recipes and ordering a gift for a 3rd birthday present (that’s called not wasting your time).

We make lists. We use apps. We work hard. We entertain ourselves. We read a lot (blog posts, social media updates, ebooks, books). We have a social and family life. We have kids. We commute. We write blogs. We take photographs. We have wider interests.

The list can be even longer, if I was to include the whole range of tasks I complete most days.

This is the kind of fast-paced life we live, where our attention is continuously divided between numerous tasks, presented to us in rapid succession and sometimes even simultaneously.

While women perform better than men at multitasking and prioritising in particular ‘in stressful situations’, as numerous studies have reported, women tend to downplay their multitasking abilities while men tend to overplay them.

However, the truth is that the more we multitask, the more we make mistakes.

Our brains are not that well equipped to deal with constant interruptions and distractions that take our attention away. It even seems to be counter-evolutionary.
My husband regularly reminds me that I am ‘putting too much on my list’, an inflationary process that ends up with some randomly selected items, dropping off my list. And the ‘to-do’ list becomes a ‘wish-list’. What was the point of the list, in the first place?

Concentrating and completing one task at the time, can sometimes be much more efficient than trying to do, three other things at the same time.

For example concentrating on pushing the buggy and holding the toddler in tow, without also holding the phone and causing it to fall and break (that would be a disaster, right?)

So in fact I think, multitasking can sometimes be unproductive, especially on competing tasks such as checking email while on a phone call or walking. But for certain tasks it can work, such as commuting and reading, or pushing the buggy and running.

Personally I am growing tired of multitasking. 

I am going to start scanning my lists for competing items, remove them from today’s list and add them on to a new list. This way I will end up with a number of lists, based on priorities, but at least, I will lead to completion one list at a time.

Good at multitasking? Maybe, not so much for me finally. How about you? Are you good at it? How do find the right balance?

Some visual examples

Multitasking, is that such a good 'female'

My Little Star Is 1!

This is the first video on the blog. What a better occasion than my little boy’s 1st birthday!!!

He had the most incredible birth, in a relaxed environment at home, a great way to start a life’s journey.

He has been an amazing little baby to have and to cherish.

And now he is 1! He can walk, has 8 teeth, he can throw balls and he loves his brother, Edward.

This is a snapshot of Elliot’s last 6 months’ journey.

The devolution that matters for housing 

I have written another work related post, during the three days I attended the CIH housing conference. 

I have been going to the conference every year apart from last year, when I was heavily pregnant with Elliot. 

This year’s conference was by far the one I enjoyed the most, as I made good use of my time, going into sessions, writing 2 blogs for CIH, one quick news article for Inside Housing, took lots of notes to write other content. I also enjoyed the sessions, had chats with some delegates at the conference, met some of the exhibitors and enjoyed getting to know CIH’s staff in Coventry more. 

Here is the piece on housing and devolution, the hot housing topic in town. 

The devolution that matters for housing

This year’s general election reignited the debate surrounding the devolution of powers away from Westminster. CIH policy and practice officer Laura Shimili shares her thoughts on this divisive topic following Housing 2015’s masterclass session: ‘Is the UK on course for a break-up – and what impact for housing?’.

In recent months, the sealing of the Greater Manchester deal – and other potential city deals to follow in Leeds and Sheffield – has hit the headlines. Devolution has become another ‘hot topic’ and is much debated, perhaps most of all as a result of the Scottish referendum which, despite not achieving its intended objective, managed to give the Scottish independence legitimacy.

Read more

Why housing needs to be talked about by everyone?  

Housing became a political issue during the 2015 election campaign but it needs to get even bigger with the general public. 

The reason why people don’t talk about housing is because it sounds complicated and difficult to tackle. 

But it isn’t necessarily. Housing can be as simple as:

everyone needs a home 

we all need to be able to live somewhere we can afford

we all should be able to have some form of asset (housing is one of them) or skills that enables us to participate in the economic activity 

some people cannot afford rents or house prices and they look for help. They register with local authorities and wait for a long term to have a subsidised house 

some people can only afford a portion of their house and they look for a product such as shared ownership 

some people can afford to buy and they do 

a supply of different products and types of housing is needed to cater for all the different needs. 

So all these situations are about housing. Something that affects everyone. 

However not many people talk about it in these terms. 

The housing sector which is all the social landlords, including councils as landlords and all the people that are employed by them, together with housing charities, think tanks, pressure groups, social activists are passionate about housing. 

They are passionate because they believe in the purpose of their work. Which is to manage homes and communities and give their tenants, who need some help, support for a better life. 

The housing sector needs to talk passionately about housing outside the sector. 

“We want people to be enraged by the education issue”, said during the CIH Housing conference 2015, Jo Denye from Teach First. 

Teach First have managed to become the leading graduate recruiter in the UK in the last 12 years. They attract and retain talented, high flying graduates who want to give something back to the community. 

Housing needs to be able to talk to students about housing with passion and have a leadership programme in place for the talented students who want to make a contribution. 

The social and economic case is there. We just need to shout about it and have a strong offer and clear language in place for everyone.  

Why I love children’s birthday parties?

Since having children this has become an area where I feel my expertise is growing year after year. Although it can be tiring and stressful I enjoy the excitement in the build up to the party and the immense gratification when it is over. Phew, we don’t have to do this for another year!!!

But there are some really good things about children’s parties. I am not talking about the money you spend on them, neither the most impressive act you organise. My birthday parties are simple, in a venue or at home, with some music, entertainment and cake. And some crazy, excited kids. And they are the real stars of the show.

This is what I love about them.

1. You meet parents of the children, your child keeps talking about often

2. You compare notes with other parents (not that you need to..)

3. You gain new skills. I was the entertainer at my son’s latest birthday party with about 18 loud and screeching kids. I realised that I actually need to be louder to be heard, who would have thought that one?

4. You improve your skills in planning and organising

5. You create lovely memories

6. You get to invite your own friends and their kids

7. You give joy and receive a lot of it in return

8. There is always a star child, who is easy to talk to and ready to take part in activities

9. You give party bags, children adore them

10. Presents are so well thought and they always surprise me. They give me inspiration for presents and make my life easier when I have to choose.  Last year, when my son was 3 the presents opened new doors for us, puzzles and games. This year at 4, the new doors are, quite good fun, with action figures and all sorts of superheroes but I guess it is a phase…

Why I love children's birthday partiesWhat about you, is there anything in particular you enjoy when you organise a birthday party? Or when you are invited as a guest?

9 sure signs that you live in Britain

There are a few things which are definitely British, things that you are not likely to experience in other countries. As an Albanian expat living in London I have been through them, in the last seven years of my life.

1. You know for sure you live in the UK if you still cover yourself at night, with a duvet in the summer.

2. You call the summer season, summer, just because that’s what called generally, but you feel cold and you go to work wearing a blazer and a scarf. Something you also do in the autumn and in the spring, so where is the difference?

3. You wear lovely summer dresses with leggings. Leggings were invented for the British summer. You would not need them in the Albanian summer.

4. One particular British habit seems to cause uproar in among fellow Albanian expats, sending thank you cards. You send thank you cards after birthday parties, when you or your children receive presents, when you receive greeting cards or thank you cards. To which you respond with a thank you card. And then what happens to all these cards? The cards industry goes from strength to strength in Britain but it’s something we used to do during communism in Albania and people feel allergic to it.

5. The summer solstice (21 of June) is not celebrated in Britain. Well it is but only at Stonehenge by some disciples of the sun. It is one of the best things they do in France; they celebrate it as “la fete de la musique” with gigs in public squares with a jolly atmosphere, drinks and a lot of “camaraderie” (read friendships).

6. When you start fretting about your child’s success in life at the age of 4, is definitely a sign you live in the UK. That is the age when they start primary school and there are many, many studies that show a direct correlation between your child’s future profession and earnings and the school they attend, of course private schools, feature highest.

7. There is only one country in the world where people are so polite, they don’t tell you what they think. In all other countries, people die to tell you what they think. But not in Britain, you can try but you will never succeed and you will always wonder what people really think of you, for ever.

8. British people are so protective of their land that they have all sorts of planning rules that discourage building on land. So it’s only about 10% of land in England that is built on. On the other hand, they have one of the most expensive housing markets. No wonder as they don’t want to use their land for other things, other than leaving it empty.

9. Green spaces and lush countryside is another sure sign you are in the UK. It’s great for the eye and for recreation purposes but does create huge imbalances between those that own and those that don’t (see above)!

Have I missed any other definite signs that you live in the UK? Have you got any others I have missed?

9 Sure Signs You Live in Britain

Why I miss being pregnant?

Alright, to be honest I don’t miss it so much.

In particular the physical side of it, getting big, tired and out of breath. Oh and I forgot, feeling hot and having bigger feet.

I read a great piece of advice, to buy shoes one size bigger. I did it and it made my pacing up and down the Northern line, much smoother

But there are two things I do miss, a little, in fact a lot.

The special feeling of having a little human being growing in my tummy and the superior mission, of looking after this fragile little creature.

Responding to that superior mission, I did so many special things that nurtured the baby but also myself.

A healthy diet. Although I was careful, I was not too obsessed in terms of risk, so I did eat smoked salmon, which is allowed in the UK. I also washed my salad only with water, as opposed to rinsing it with vinegar, as they do in France to reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis… I know, a bit too much…oh la la!!

Having a daily rest after work or at weekends.

Lots of relaxing baths. I loved soaking in the hot water, with lovely Sanctuary Spa products, relaxing music, candles and all.

Sleeping on the left side, especially after week 32 is thought to encourage the baby to position itself in the OA (ociput anterior position which means baby’s back against your tummy), one of the optimal positions for birth.

Hypnobirthing for my first and hiring a doula for my second.

I spent a lot of time reading about the physiology of birth. I read how the signal of pain from contractions, is transmitted to our brain and especially how a different signal, the “I can cope with this” message after going through a contraction, reaches the brain even faster, causing what is known as “altered perception of pain”, or in simpler terms less pain. Dimmed lights, music, massage can help getting to that state and once there, it is easier to continue labour, feeling encouraged and euphoric.

I did reflexologie sessions as both my babies were late. Having your feet massaged is amazing, I loved it.

Swimming regularly.

I took homeopathic remedies. I swear by colophylum for a quick and efficient labour. I took it for a week, after my due date with baby nr 2 and I believe it made my labour faster: 2 hours 15 minutes of active labour and a baby delivered at home, with my husband and paramedics in the last 15 minutes.

Perineal massage with almond oil. I swear by this as well, for reducing the risk of tearing.

Sex, more than now. I don’t know how that makes me and my husband look? Like tired parents of two boys, 1 and 4 year olds??


Listening to yoga nidra relaxation tracks from the Yoga Nidra Network.

There aren’t many other experiences as intense as pregnancy or giving birth. They are all consuming. Once you’ve been there it’s never the same afterwards.

That is what I miss the most, the intensity, the overwhelming euphoria from giving birth and having a new baby and all the other special things I did.

Now, if I did more of these other things, perhaps I would not be tempted to start all over again?

Why i miss being pregnant

Huge crowds call for politicians to build more homes for everyone – the Homes for Britain rally

Protesters gathered in Central London on 17th March 2015, asking for all political parties in the UK to commit to ending the housing crisis and building more homes, for everyone.

An impressive crowd of 2,500 protesters from the Homes for Britain campaign, heard Jonathan Dimbleby welcome political party speakers Grant Shapps, Hilary Benn, Caroline Lucas and Ed Davey and UKIP party leader Nigel Farage, to the rally.

Tenants, housing professionals, young and old have gathered for the #homesforbritain rally in Westminster today

Tenants, housing professionals, young and old have gathered for the #homesforbritain rally in Westminster today

Film director Ken Loach also took the stage, to rapturous applause by the audience, reminding everyone of the tremendous effect, his 1966 film “Cathy come Home” had on raising awareness of homelessness and building more houses.

“It is much worse now” he told the audience “with 93,000 children homeless, in this rich country”.

The housing crisis and housing inequalities have deepened, especially in London where housing wealth is more than a quarter of the whole nation’s property wealth (£1.2 trillion) according to analysis from the National Housing Federation.

In London, younger renters, first-time buyers, wealthy domestic homeowners and international investors all compete for the same properties, driving prices up and excluding even more young people from the dream of home-ownership.

“Levels of home ownership are collapsing among young people but increasing among older people” says the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Solving the housing crisis needs political will.

“Politicians need to make housing affordable but they don’t live in the real world. Everyone needs a home”, Pearl Halliday, a retired tenant and volunteer of Bolton at Homes said. She had travelled a 5 hour journey to join the rally on the day.

Not being able to afford, renting or buying a home, is not an individual problem.

“Housing is a problem for all our (business) members”, added to the audience, Rhianon Kelly from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). “It is one of the biggest weaknesses of the UK economy compared to other countries”.

Housing policy has undergone extensive change since the current coalition government came into power.

“Housing has always been close to my heart”, told the audience Grant Shapps. “Council houses are being built at the highest level in 23 years”, he added. “It’s true that we must end the housing crisis within a generation”.

Housing organizations from across the whole housing market came together and “found their voice” as David Orr, Chief Executive of the NHF coined it, in a final speech to end the day.

All along the day, small baby voices were heard intermittently in between speakers. A little girl was in the rally with her father from Bristol.

She couldn’t speak but her father while holding her, said: “She is the younger generation we need to build more homes for”.

This was an article I wrote as part of an assignment for my Journalism course with the London School of Journalism.

How is it, to be in a relationship with a Brit – my interview for Migrant Woman magazine 

Back in September last year, I gave an interview to the pretty and engaging Migrant Woman magazine about:

“How is it, to be in a relationship with a Brit”

The interview is here

The Brit in question is my husband Roger who I met in Albania.

Being an adventurous spirit he accepted an offer from his company to relocate to Albania and work on a big infrastructure project, building the nearly 1 billion euros highway that links rocky mountainous regions of both Albania and Kosovo.

We moved to London in 2008 and that was the start of my British journey. A country and a culture I hardly knew. It all seemed pretty obscure and difficult to understand for the first couple of years, especially the Brit humour and psychology – the “don’t show your emotions or thoughts” kind of thing.

Or otherwise “the stiff upper lip” a very British expression and behavioural rule that calls for moderation or self-restraint in the expression of emotions.

The Albanian way is completely the opposite, we have dramatic ways of expressing our emotions and that is our strength and part of our culture. Our songs, music, books, paintings are like this, strong, dramatic, with long lasting impressions.

But hey, there lies the beauty of differences and of those differences coming together. As long as differences are managable the relationship can continue and thrive. But we need to adapt, make changes, give way and learn to be a bit of everything.

Adopt an English style when having intimate conversations (so that my precious English husband can open up).

Then become an excited Albanian girl at a dinner party – but only after ‘the English’ have had a few drinks. Be eccentric when partying, that’s how they will remember you…

But reserved at the start of the party, giving everyone space to shine.

Otherwise be yourself, however you are with a dose of caring, empathy, humour and interesting conversation.

That is how I survived the British cultural shoc. I am still here 8 years after.

Apart from the interview and probably most importantly, what we have as a lasting memory are some beautiful photographs by a young Albanian photographer Rinaldo Sata.

The photos were commissioned as part of the interview by the magazine’s warm and professional editor Mirela Sula.

Rinaldo came to our house, and made us feel very comfortable and at ease. He spoke Albanian to my older son and managed to get the best out of him – Edward tends to be shy with new people, so that was an achievement of some sort.

Elliot was very young, 2 months old and it is so lovely to have these beautiful photos with Roger and the two boys, as a family.

Thanks Rinaldo for the photos and thank you Mirela for sharing our story.

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.