New York Bound and Newly Found

Culture

First thing’s first, let’s talk about how fast this summer has swung by. Life took over and the next thing I knew, I hadn’t blogged in months. College has me back in the rhythm of things and this fall weather is looking oh, so good. Hold your horses. It’s not boot season yet, folks.

So what have I been up to lately? Don’t worry, I wasn’t just lazing around all summer long on my couch binge watching Grey’s, as tempting as that sounds. I wouldn’t be putting this baby on the backburner if it wasn’t something big. If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Snapchat (@rafafarihah), then you should know that I was spending my time as a news video intern at BuzzFeed New York. That’s right. New York City. You know, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of?

RAMA-WHAT?

Blog, Culture

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered a Holy month by Muslims across the globe. Muslims endure a month of daily fasting in order to honor the first time the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him), according to Islamic belief. This month lasts 29–30 days based on the sightings of the crescent moon.

This year, Ramadan begins on June 6 and lasts until July 5. We celebrate the end of Ramadan with the religious holiday Eid al-Fitr (or just Eid).

From Fandom to Fashion

Blog, Culture

I peeked around the corner of the street and there they were. Hundreds of odd looking anime characters. Some presumably schoolgirls, and others, disturbingly ugly creatures that you’d think would haunt you in your nightmares during the depths of the night.

Welcome to the World of Anime

Culture

600 staff members and a year of planning goes into the annual Anime Matsuri convention, the 8th largest anime convention in North America. Promoting the Japanese culture, this 3-day event from April 7- April 9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center covers everything from cosplay, music, fashion, anime, to art and collectibles.

Founder Deneice Leigh started Anime Matsuri 11 years ago in the Woodlands, and as it grew exponentially, the convention was rezoned to downtown Houston to accommodate a larger, more diverse audience. Anime Matsuri is one of the few conventions that utilizes every single floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Farewell to Super Bowl Fever : 2017 MAXIM Party

Culture, Fashion & Beauty, Take a Chill Pill, Wellness

Did you show your patriot-ism for the Falcons last Sunday? Am I funny yet?

It was a one of a kind game, making history for the first Super Bowl overtime. As a Patriots fan, I was undoubtedly disappointed during the first half. I nearly gave up hope (until Gaga’s halftime performance of course), but when my Internet resumed to stream the game after a brief lag, I noticed the Patriots went from 12 to 20 on the scoreboard. Like I said, Gaga makes everything better. The Patriot’s comeback was mind-blowing.

I sat on floor in front of my LCD TV, legs sprawled out, moping till the fourth quarter while I snuck in whatever few homework questions I could during the commercials. Unfortunately, most of them weren’t even good. What I did notice was that many of them centered around the topic of inclusion and diversity. Budweiser, on the other hand, straight up made a commercial about immigration. Subtle much?

I have to admit the Skittles ad was my favorite, mainly because that was the only remotely engaging commercial that genuinely made me laugh out loud (and I don’t mean a courtesy chuckle).

Living in Houston, Super Bowl fever was prevalent in my life, whether I liked it or not. Super Bowl propaganda, radio promotions for free concert tickets, significantly longer commutes to college the week before, constant construction to widen highways and revamp the bridges are among some of them. The constant buzz about all eyes being on Houston was kind of empowering, though. When does Houston ever get this kind of exposure? The city officials even had the downtown homeless population relocated to the outskirts, to give tourists the illusion that downtown Houston is pristine beyond gentrification.

Now that it’s all over, it feels weird. What now? What happens on December 26 after you hype up the entire month for Christmas?

So I started my fellowship at Houstonia Magazine this past January. I absolutely love it because of all the new experiences I get, and interesting people I meet. One of these amazing events I was privileged to attend was the 2017 MAXIM Super Bowl Party on Feb. 4, which happened to be at a new venue around five minutes from my house.

I bought myself a Tadashi Shoji gown from Nordstrom Rack for $87 that morning. What I realized during the party was that there was an inch-long thumb tack embedded within the dress which poked out the entire night, scraping my arm. I now have a 2-inch scab by my left elbow. There is no way I am keeping this dress.

The party was phenomenal, and probably my once in a lifetime experience being invited to a celebrity event as a member of the media. I had a press pass and everything, granting me access to every nook and cranny of the arena.  Even VIP backstage with free valet parking.

Six rounds of security checks and a metal detector separated guests from the party entrance as celebrities waltzed down the red carpet.

Singers, reality show stars, celebrity wannabes, and fans took to the Smart Financial Center, looking like a million bucks. You could see the fuchsia-lit stadium from miles away. Stunt motorcyclists flew through the air at the Monster Energy FMX Motorcycle Show outside the center, which had been transformed into a glamorous party hall. Models danced on illuminated platforms as waiters served light bites.

Famous faces we’d seen on TV and in tabloids stood inches away. Patriots cheerleaders walked out of their bus, posing in their cocktail dresses for the flashing cameras. Pop stars Fergie and Nick Cannon were there, as was Rocket James Harden and Dallas heartthrob Chace Crawford from Gossip Girl. Chace passed by me on the red carpet, as he avoided most of the media, keeping a low profile before hopping to another party with Fergie.

Even Ludacris made the bash. Some stayed only for a bit before hopping to other parties, while others spent the entire evening in their private suites. I spoke with Texans player Andre Hal and his girlfriend. I interviewed a Patriots cheerleader, former Cheetah girl Adrienne Bailon, Bow Wow, and even Olivia Caridi from the last season of The Bachelor.

As guests entered the grand hall, they were greeted with bright red lights, blaring music, lingerie models, and elaborate displays of macarons, cupcakes, and spiked ice cream. The Monster Energy Lounge and the open bar kept the audience in good spirits throughout the night. After crowds spent hours socializing, at around eleven, the performances got underway and everyone went insane.
Agile, graceful, acrobatic dancers hung from the ceiling on red ribbons as DJ Khaled dropped beats. DJ Khaled is cool and all, but a DJ can only entertain the crowd so much before he just gets boring, as he stands behind a booth for an entire hour scrambling to find a song we aren’t already tired of hearing on the radio. It got boring after 20 minutes, and I was left there swaying to the music for 40 minutes as I prayed for DNCE to swoop in to save me from my boredom.

DNCE came on at midnight and got the crowd screaming along to hits “Cake by the Ocean” and “Toothbrush” while tossing them everything from DNCE “currency” and roses, to beach balls and sex dolls. Yes, it was weird. I was front row in the VIP section during DNCE’s performance. Joe Jonas (aka my crush since the 3rd grade) held my hand twice during his brief performance. Just when I thought I died, I was reincarnated, and died again the second time. Ok I’m done fangirling.

Maxim Super Bowl Party - Inside

Me awkwardly staring at my phone despite being beside the love of my life.

Travis Scott ended the night at around 2:30 as the partiers roared along to his hit “Antidote.”

Follow me on IG @rafafarihah to see my interviews and photos with some of the stars. I will have a MAXIM makeup tutorial video out tomorrow on my YouTube channel.

Check out my original Houstonia article here with a video of the event.

Review: Anastasia Eyebrow Pomade

Culture, Fashion & Beauty

Here is a makeup review for many drugstore and higher end makeup products, including the Anastasia Dip Brow Pomade from Sephora! I absolutely love it, but I also mention a cheaper Walmart dupe in the video.

Make sure to Subscribe!

Islamophobia Discussion Shines Light on Hasty Fear

Culture

On Wednesday at the University of Houston, the Urdu Baithak student organization and Indus Arts Council held their largest event of the semester, “Islamophobia,” to discuss the prevalence of anti-Islamic thoughts in modern culture.

The event took place in the Kiva Room in Farish Hall and featured Jibran Nasir, a prominent Pakistani lawyer and political activist. The event commenced at 4:40 p.m. with Nasir showing an audience of approximately 30 people “Reclaiming Pakistan,” a documentary about his political activism since 2014.

“Muslims are thought to be the masterminds behind planes being hijacked and crashing into buildings,” Nasir said. “The world’s most popular airlines are Emirates, Etihad and Qatar from the Middle East, and Westerners are very comfortable flying in those, knowing that even when they take off, all the announcements are made in Arabic.”

Nasir said things are different on a U.S.-based airliner.

“If someone were to make the similar announcement to him, reading the Quran or exchanging greetings on Southwest or United Airlines, they will be thrown out of the plane,” Nasir said.

Blindly fear thy neighbor

Nasir is known for his youth outreach on nonviolence and combating Islamophobia.

As a result of myriad political scandals and terrorist acts such as the Peshawar attack in Pakistan, Nasir has been committed to eradicate extremist violence. He co-founded social welfare organizations such as Elaj Trust, Pakistan For All and Never Forget Pakistan.

Nasir discussed that although the media portray Islam in a negative light, Muslims and non-Muslims are guilty of being ignorant. He said that Muslims don’t know enough about their religion and non-Muslims don’t make the effort to research about what Islam actually preaches.

Most Muslims rely on the interpretation presented by clerics that Nasir said can possibly be biased.

“You see anchors sitting and speculating that once an attack has happened and a person is found to be Muslim, it becomes more about his religion than his socioeconomic circumstances,” Nasir said. “The question will immediately go to ‘Which mosque did he go to?’”

Nasir added that while Muslims are obliged to condemn an attack after it occurs, the Pope doesn’t defend all Christian Catholics when a Christian commits a crime. Muslims are often considered guilty unless proven innocent, Nasir said, and to mitigate the extent of Islamophobia they must be compassionate and increase their tolerance to criticism.

“Personally, I am just going to get out there and talk to people about being involved, the same way that he does, but in Pakistan,” Public relations junior Mehreen Arshad said. “I think the best way to be the best representative that you can be is to talk to people about their problems.”

A sentiment needs changing

As Nasir’s discussion continued, the audience became more engaged.

Some asked questions, and Nasir responded with information gathered from his research and personal experience. He said it isn’t always the religion that preaches violence, but a violent person can make their religion violent because they incorporate their behavior with their faith.

“People tend to generalize each other, and one of the things that my family does that they think is innocuous is they will see someone who is covered or someone who is dark-skinned and say ‘That man is Arab’,” Environmental studies senior Oscar Lázaro said.

Lázaro then took initiative to reshape his parents’ perspective.

“I finally corrected my parents and told them, ‘Well, that person may not be Arab, and if they are Muslim at all, you have no way of knowing what sect they are in or what their beliefs are, or if they are homophobic as you presume them to be,” Lázaro said.

Urdu Baithak will host an event with Nasir at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Athletics/Alumni Center. The event will be in the Urdu language for native speakers.

Nasir will continue his tour to multiple universities across the country once he concludes his event at UH.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Her Formula for Awesome

Culture, Motivation & Inspiration, Wellness

I recently had the privilege of meeting renowned Australian TED Talk speaker, Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Looking at that gorgeous feature photo of her, what kind of person do you think she is?

An oppressed woman trudging through the world wearing colorful scarves to alleviate her every day pain of being a woman? Is she a musician? An artist? An activist?

My Fate in the Hunger Games

Culture

Most of us know what Buzzfeed is. The one site and YouTube channel that has some of the coolest quizzes, listicles, and videos I have ever seen. I have to admit, they are very addicting sometimes. The moment I get on, I have to allocate an entire hour for it, because I know I won’t stop browsing. That’s what happens when videos like that are in reach
and accessible to all with a click of a button and social media.  Anyways, I was browsing quizzes, and I came across a quiz about my fate in the Hunger Games. Of course, I had to take it. I took it with a friend and we filmed it together. Check it out!

I am actually thinking of applying for an internship at Buzzfeed. Let me know if you know anything about that. You can find the quiz here. Let me know what your results were in the comments of my video!  Subscribe and give it a thumbs up!

What Have We Become?

Culture

Gone are the days when youngsters go outside in the beautiful weather and come up with creative games to play, ideas to earn some money, or even converse with each other on a face-to-face basis. Since the rise of technology this century, children are glued to their electronic devices like a baby to its pacifier. That is basically what students are doing to themselves. Pacifying themselves, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

The youth is meant to be energetic, adventurous, and involved in the community. As a child, I would knock on my neighbor’s door to ask if their kids wanted to come out and play after school. We would play hopscotch, four square, hide and seek, ride bikes, and anything else we could come up with. In the early 2000s, children would ask around in their neighborhood if anyone needed a babysitter, someone to mow their lawns, or wash their cars for some extra cash. I haven’t so much as seen a child in my neighborhood since I moved there 3 years ago, other than as they drag their groggy selves to the school bus every morning. Yet, the road sign stating “Drive slow. Children at play,” remains posted on my street since who knows what century. In this situation, electronic devices are not validating our existence, but are providing us a shield to hide behind, every moment we are too afraid to speak up or associate with another mortal being.

I recently read a book called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. That is what inspired me to write this post. I highly recommend you all to give it a read! It poses some very reflective questions we have to ask ourselves once in a while.