Indian Wedding Meets Natural Disaster

Self

The holidays are over and boy, I have so much to catch you up on. My three week trip to India for my uncle’s wedding was a memorable one to say the least. From enjoying a 5-day wedding in India to getting stuck in New York for three days because the airport shut down, I have had a crazy start to the new year. I’ve documented my entire trip in the vlog below, so I’ll just give you the backstory and tell you how my year went from 100-0 real quick.

The uncle who got married is my mom’s youngest brother, who lives in Canada. My grandparents live in Hyderabad, India and the bride lives in India as well, so we all flew there for the wedding. Indian weddings last about a week, so each day calls for its own outfit and jewelry, which you can see in my vlog.

I visit India quite often, but it’s not always fun. We mostly sit at home in my grandparent’s home and eat scrumptious food, but you can only do that for so long, till it gets boring. Friends would make the experience more exciting, but when I lived in India for four years during middle and high school, it was in a completely different state.

The wedding, however, made this trip exponentially better. This was my first family wedding in India that I’m old enough to remember. It’s also the last wedding that will happen in our close family until my own wedding.

All my favorite uncles, aunts and cousins came over to stay at my grandparent’s house and there was so much going on all the time, that it was difficult to be bored. Sure, the tiny apartment got stuffy with all these people going in and out, and sleeping on the floors and couches. But there’s something about family coming together from all over the world to celebrate a joyous event, that warms my heart. Almost like how it would be during a family reunion for Thanksgiving (but we’re brown, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving). We had two weeks to help with planning, find the perfect dresses, and treat ourselves with facials, manis, and pedis before the big week. You can watch all that fun stuff in my vlog.

Food Poisoning

The food was probably the best part of the trip (sorry, uncle). I had a feeling my four years of living there would give me enough immunity to eat whatever I wanted. Normally, it’s a requirement to get food poisoning as soon as you reach. But that didn’t happen, so I was taking advantage of it by binge eating all the local chaats and kulfis.  On January 2, my last day in India, I went to the annual Hyderabad exhibition, which is basically a carnival filled with food stalls, local shops and even rides. If you eat there as a foreigner, you’re basically asking for food poisoning by eating there. But I didn’t know that then.

I ate from 10 different stalls on my last day in India, and suffered the consequences when I woke up at 4 AM puking my insides out, on the morning of my 22 hr flight home. I was rushed to the family doctor and they ran an IV on me to get some glucose and antibiotics in my system.  I’ve only ever seen it in the movies, so you can imagine how cool I thought it was. After an hour of that, I felt like a new woman. Forget vomiting and nausea, I felt like I was active enough to run a marathon. We came home right after, spent 15 minutes gathering our luggage and went straight to the airport.

The ‘Bomb Cyclone’

I got accepted to the NPR Next Generation Radio weeklong boot camp, so my mom and I planned to come back home just in time to make it to that. I’d have two days to get rid of my jet lag.

On January 4, we landed in New York for one last flight to get home, but within moments of us landing, the airport shut down because of a ‘bomb cyclone.’ Don’t ask me what that is because I have no idea. New York was declared as being in a state of emergency. 4,000 flights got cancelled and to top it all off, they lost our four check-in suitcases full of clothes, jewelry and souvenirs from the trip. They said the next flight to Houston was on January 10, and that’s basically the end of my NPR program. With a 3 hour line to inquire about luggage and a 7 hour line to rebook a flight, he were stuck in JFK for 12 hours and it was chaotic. Think, natural disaster mode panic.

We left the airport hangry and disappointed. We couldn’t rebook the flight, and they told us to call customer service to find out the status of our luggage. The only thing we knew was that we had to take an hour long taxi ride to stay with my cousins in New Jersey, for who knows how long. These are the same cousins I stayed with during my summer working for BuzzFeed New York. I had no idea I’d be seeing them again this soon, but it was a pleasant surprise to both of us. After staying there for two days, which mainly consisted of my mom and I being on the phone for hours on hold with different airlines.

Ultimately, we found a flight the next day to Austin, and our family friends were graciously kind enough to pick us up and drive us home to Houston, which was 3 hours away. We got our luggage a week later, and I made it the night before my NPR program, which was absolutely amazing. The point is, it all works out in the end.

Animal Shelter OOTD

Fashion

Yesterday, I went to the animal shelter with some friends to pet the cutest kittens known to man (probably not but they were cute, okay). Their magical puny paws in my hands and soft fur against my skin felt almost too mollifying. No one can resist but fall madly in love with these cuddly creatures. I was tempted to adopt a tabby of brown and gray shades named Corinne.

This little kitten had the charm of a 2-year-old, initially shy, but very playful when comfortable enough. Unfortunately, my parents aren’t too comfortable with the idea of having a living, breathing animal roaming the house amongst us. Someday when I have my own apartment, maybe my dream of owning a kitten, or maybe becoming a cat lady will come true. Au revoir Corinne!

Here is my OOTD:

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Shop my look

Blouse: Worthington, JCPenney

Bomber Jacket: Forever 21

Ankle Jeans: Forever 21

Oxfords: Max, India

Scarf: Get it on AliExpress here

Concealer: Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer – Deep 34, $25

Foundation: Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Foundation – Warm Nude 30, $10

Eyebrow Liner: Walmart; Salon Perfect Brow Pomade – Dark Brown, $5

Lipstick: Maybelline Super Stay 14hr Lipstick – Enduring Ruby, $7

Watch this tutorial to get my hijab look & check out ColourPop Ultra Matte swatches here!

Make sure to request on my Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat/Facebook @rafafarihah any other OOTD ideas you want me to try!

Acid Attack Victim Models at NY Fashion Week

Lifestyle

Meet Reshma Qureshi, a young 19-year-old who survived a harrowing experience that she will never forget.

In 2014, as Reshma and her elder sister walked to school in their hometown in Uttar Pradesh, India, her brother-in-law and his friends grabbed Reshma and poured corrosive acid on her face in an attempt to avenge a family dispute. That’s not the worst part. The two sisters were wearing burqas, so Reshma was accidentally assaulted instead of her sister. Regardless, since when has this been a way to get payback? The wounds were not limited to Reshma’s facial skin. They were visceral. The poor girl lost an eye and was literally scarred for life, in the worst way imaginable. 

Initially a vulnerable, depressed, and suicidal girl, Reshma was found by Ria Sharma, founder of the non-governmental organization “Make Love Not Scars.” Ria’s compassionate personality and genuine interest in impacting lives was enough to help Reshma discover a newfound perspective on the beauty of life. Now, Reshma is a confident young woman who strives to ensure this injustice is not done with anyone else. She is no longer afraid to roam the streets without covering her face with a veil. Last week, Reshma was told that she will be walking the ramp in New York’s Fashion Week. Her reaction was poignant and absolutely priceless.

Acid attacks are widespread in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Columbia, etc. Every day, at least one girl’s life is ruined, or worse…is killed by these devastating attacks.

Why would someone commit such a horrendous act, you ask?

A majority of these perpetrators are uneducated men who:

  • Think this is a great tactic for revenge
  • Cannot take no for an answer by a girl they wish to pursue
  • Can’t deal with the fact that their wives are more attractive than them
  • Need to take anger management classes
  • Have to learn about a virtue called “forgiveness”

With concentrated acid being widely available to the common person for less than $1 in these countries (for cleaning purposes), we need to act fast to mitigate (if not eradicate) the situation. Please sign this petition to ban the sale of acid to just about anyone on the street.

Find out more about Reshma’s story in the video below.

*This video may be a little hard to watch, as the images are a bit graphic.