Muse: Saudi-Hawaiian yoga instructor Hanan Faiz talks self-discovery

Hanan Faiz is a Jeddah-based yoga instructor. (Photo supplied)
Updated 21 July 2018

Muse: Saudi-Hawaiian yoga instructor Hanan Faiz talks self-discovery

JEDDAH: The Jeddah-based Saudi-Hawaiian yoga instructor talks self-discovery, finding peace and ketchup.

Yoga has taught me to accept myself. I never thought I’d be able to say I love myself, but 99 percent of our struggles are mental — many of our negative beliefs aren’t true. With time, you realize that and think to yourself, “I’m not so bad.”

People think because I practice and teach yoga that I’m some sort of guru — cue angelic hymns in the background — and that I have everything figured out and am so peaceful. On the contrary, I practice yoga because I’m a bit crazy. Part of me is peaceful, but yoga is just one page in the book of my life, but that’s the image they see on my social media.

Humans love drama. We all want this fancy super-food gimmick that’s going to heal us. And a lot of first-timers think yoga will (magically) bring them peace and they’ll be practicing this cool, calm yoga flow. They don’t understand that I can’t bring them peace. It’s within themselves, and practice isn’t always fun. But I feel like people keep coming back because they’re tapping into self-discovery.

I get the weirdest things as gifts. I once got a package of different sauces and ketchup. I can’t even get my mind around that one.

I’m a believer in natural remedies but by far the quirkiest thing I’ve ever bought was eye drops from India made of onion, garlic, lemon and ginger extract. I tried it and felt like my eyes were on fire. But a few seconds later the burning sensation was gone and I could see better. I swear it works.

Less is more. We don’t need a lot to be happy.

I have found courage and acceptance that things can or can’t work out. I don’t allow fear to rule or take over my decisions. If it’s meant to be, then I’m grateful, and even if it isn’t, I’m still grateful. Everything that happened in the past led to who and what I am today. So I don’t have any regrets.

Comptoir Libanais brings the Levant to London

Comptoir Libanais has outlets across the UK. (All images supplied)
Updated 19 September 2018

Comptoir Libanais brings the Levant to London

  • Comptoir Libanais has 22 branches around the UK
  • The restaurant is known for its colorful interior and delicious food

LONDON: For years, London has been known for embracing culinary tastes from all over the world, served up by establishments ranging from snazzy and glitzy new restaurants to venues that are more than 100 years old and have been handed down from one generation to the next.
Comptoir Libanais (Lebanese Canteen), which was founded in 2008, stands out among the more recent arrivals for bringing a true, authentic taste of the Levant to London and beyond, with almost two dozen restaurants in the English capital and other cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool.

For years when he was a child growing up in Algeria, Tony Kitous, the restaurant’s founder and owner, watched his mother create tasty meals for his family. This was something he carried with him when he moved to England at the age of 18.
“I came to London with a dream but it wasn’t until I scrubbed dishes and slept in friends’ houses that I realized what I wanted my dream to be: To bring a taste of home to London, a city I grew to enjoy and love,” he said.
Kitous’s passion for Middle Eastern food and what it symbolizes, the culture and hospitality, is clear in his colorfully decorated restaurants, which resemble traditional Beirut canteens or souks. The menu offers a mix of hearty and light dishes, including mezzes, wraps, grills, salads and traditional side dishes.
“I want all visitors to feel right at home, even if they’re on the go,” said Kitous. “The patrons that try the restaurant for the first time can see how we choose the freshest ingredients from our partners and can truly feel as if they’re in the Levant region.
“Lebanese food is universal. It has a bit of everything in it without having the ingredients over powering one another — all dishes complement one another.”
Every dish, every ingredient and even the plates on which they are served are personally selected by Kitous. “Nothing but fresh is allowed here,” he said.
It all sounds great but does the food live up to the expectations? I dined at the Oxford Street branch and found that the fatoush, hummus and cheese sambousak were great starters. The fresh halloumi manousha had just the right amount of crispiness around the edge, with a soft middle complementing the cheese.
The lamb and prune tagine, served with a side of couscous, swept us to the streets of Morocco. The lamb was soft and melted in the mouth, complemented by the sweetness of the prunes. As a vegetarian option, the aubergine tagine was balanced and tasty.
For Arab diners the menu is filled with the tastes of home and it is hard to imagine how anyone could limit themselves to ordering just one dish. Every option was perfectly seasoned and the table was a beautiful, tasty mess — truly a canteen experience.
The interior design of all Comptoir Libanais venues is similar, offering a burst of color and eccentricity through mismatched tiles, colorful furniture and walls adorned with old Arabic movie posters, including one of legendary actress Sirine Jamal Al-Dine with her signature smile. Thanks to an open kitchen in the back, the restaurant is always bustling with activity and the sounds of patrons enjoying their meals. You could really sense the hints of Kitous’s childhood memories imprinted in the decor. Whether you are in the mood for a hearty breakfast, a quick lunch or a good, delicious dinner to end your day, Comptoir Libanais will not disappoint.