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.

Minimalism: Less is more

Fashion

It’s officially the first day of fall but this Houston heat hasn’t backed down even a smidge. It might even be mid to late October till we get a cool breeze around here during the daytime. My wardrobe sure as hell won’t be waiting around for that (trust me, we’d be waiting till January for a decent drop in temperature).

It’s a new season, and I’ve got a new fashion approach I’m willing to take on. It’s trending, it’s in, and it’s what all the broke college kids are talking about these days — minimalism. You mean like minimal body coverage? Ummm, no. It doesn’t mean minimal effort either. Minimalism is about living with fewer material possessions and making the most of what you have so you can focus on what’s really important in life. This can mean redecorating your home in the simplest way possible, reducing clutter, and donating things you really don’t need.

2016 Best & Worst Makeup Products| Happy Holidays

Beauty

Hello everyone! I hope you are all getting ready for the holidays, because I am definitely excited to venture the town for Christmas lights and decorations. This year has been very interesting to say the least.

From my blog taking off and creating a YouTube channel, to having Donald Trump elected as our president, this year has been a bumpy ride with some exciting twists and turns along the way. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and an even better New Year. I might just sit this New Year’s Eve out and relax in my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fleece onesie, exactly as I did last New Year’s Eve. Talk about déjà vu. Expect a 2016 memories and important events post from me in the next few days.

What are your plans for the holidays? Will you be traveling or relaxing in the comfort of your bed? Let me know in the comments below. Please share my video with friends and tell them to subscribe!

 

P.S. On a completely unrelated note, if you are able to, please donate as much money as your heart desires to the Islamic Relief USA  organization so they can use our generous donations to provide humanitarian aid to active emergency countries including Syria and Yemen, among many others. We may be enjoying our holidays gifting our loved ones, but this is your chance to use that holiday spirit to help out the children who don’t have access to food, shelter from harsh weather, and medical care.You don’t have to be Muslim to donate to this organization. All you need is the heart to care about humanity. Loads of love to you all!

A Friday in Fall OOTD

Fashion

This week has been hectic. With a divisive election, nationwide protests, riots, and hatred pervading our communities, things aren’t looking too good. We must stand strong and hope for the best for our nation, because there isn’t much we can do beyond that. This is a democracy; rule of the people, by the people, for the people. If it weren’t for our whispers that meld into roars, America wouldn’t be as established and prosperous as it is today. Don’t ever feel like your voice doesn’t matter. Trust me, it does.

Today’s look is dominated by blue hues, but the photo’s vintage edits give it a somber, warm tone. The photographer was my good friend Laraib Hashmi.

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Shop my look

Top: Max, India

Jeans: H&M

Shoes: JustFab; Maile – Cognac

Nail Polish: Tuesday in Love – Yolo, $12.47

Scarf: Get it on AliExpress here

Concealer: Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer – Medium 29, $24

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

Lipstick: Maybelline New York Superstay 14 Hour Lipstick – Wine and Forever, $6

Watch this tutorial to get my hijab look and check out ColourPop Ultra Matte swatches here! I swatched the ColourPop Metallic Lipsticks as well.

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

The Day After the End of Time

Self

It was December 21, 2012. I woke up at the dusk of dawn hyperventilating from a nightmare, my body aching with shooting pains accompanied by the sensation of my brain throbbing against my skull. Apart from my own discomfort, something was terribly wrong and my conscience was not permitting me to believe otherwise. The city of Los Angeles was in turmoil knowing all the prophecies of doomsday associated with the date 12.21.12 but my family did not raise me to believe in such notions. I was a firm believer in science. Then why was I feeling this way?

I went about my normal day trying to remain oblivious to the local gossip, refusing to worry about something I knew was not going to happen. The more I went along with this attitude, the stranger the events seemed to me. At noon, I could hear the tides of the Hermosa beach in front of my home crashing vigorously as the ground began to tremble and break in ripples like an unsteady pond. My parents and younger sister began shrieking my name. Our first instinct was to bolt outside before our abode crumbled to pieces on us. Upon reaching the beach, we met with a tide higher than anything I had ever seen, enveloping us with a shadow so dark as if it were about to consume us. My family and I held hands and prayed. Whatever happened, we would be in it together. We thought there was no possible measure we could take, but to wait for the colossal tsunami to hit us while we still had our dignity and solidarity.

I knew what was about to happen. This was no ordinary earthquake on the San Andreas fault. The Mayans were right about their Mayan Long Count calendar and I was a fool. This was the last earthquake, larger than any Richter scale could measure. This ‘earthquake’ would wipe out all life forms as we knew it. But this didn’t happen quite as it should have. Here I am telling you my story. My family and others somehow managed to make it out safely. No life would be worth living without them, and they are my saviors.

We are survivors.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Her Formula for Awesome

Thoughts

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?

Airport OOTD

Fashion, Self

Hey guys! As you all know, I went on a trip to Canada recently for Eid and had a wonderful time exploring. I went sight seeing, food hunting, shopping, and more. You can follow me on Instagram @rafafarihah to watch all the cool videos I posted while there. I even brought back Canadian candy and made a YouTube video of it! I put so much work into my videos so I would really appreciate if you all Subscribed 😘

Anyways, on with my OOTD at the airport:

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Normally I look like a bum at the airport, but this year, I reinvented myself and started dressing up more often. I was going for a laid back and comfortable look, which is why I chose the joggers (basically cute sweatpants) and a light knit shirt with long slits. I have to admit, add a touch of leather to any boring outfit, and it becomes street chic. If you buy anything from my look, do invest in a quality faux leather jacket and pointed faux leather flats (which are about $10 sometimes if on sale). These two items will make any ordinary outfit go from “Okay” to “Wow!” And sometimes…we all need a little “Wow!” in our lives.

Shop my look

Top: JCPenney

Navy Faux Leather Jacket: Forever 21

Joggers: Charlotte Russe

Pointed Faux Leather Flats: Forever 21

Scarf: Get it on AliExpress here

Faux Leather Purse: Commercial Street, Bangalore, India

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: ColourPop Ultra Matte Liquid Lipstick – Avenue, $6

Watch this tutorial to get my hijab look and check out ColourPop swatches here!

Make sure to request on my Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat/Facebook any other makeup swatches/tutorials you want to see or other OOTD ideas you want me to try!

The Orlando Shooting: Little Did We Know

Thoughts

It was like any other day when I woke up on Sunday morning. I sat up in my bed, groggy  and a tad bit hungry since I was fasting for Ramadan. My first instinct was to check my phone, as if I am immobile unless I am constantly updated. I checked my e-mail hoping to hear back from an online magazine I had applied to write for. No luck.

“Oh my God, my group chat is blowing up again. These people stay up all night talking about who knows what,” I thought to myself. Little did I know that America had its deadliest mass shooting a few hours before, in the city of Orlando.

I grabbed my laptop and scanned the headlines sprawled across Yahoo News. The first thought that sprung to my mind was “Please don’t tell me the shooter was Muslim.” We already get so much loathing from several people as it is. We don’t need psychopaths stirring up any more trouble for us.

Omar Mateen. Such a beautiful Arabic name, meaning long-lived, powerful, and eloquent speaker. It’s a shame the shooter didn’t know how to live up to it. If his heart was suffused with that much rage against the LGBTQ community, why not post a Facebook rant? Worst comes to worst, he may have lost a few online friends. Not literally.

This man was enraged when he saw two men kissing at Pulse night club that night. What did we assume? We assumed he was a radically religious man who wanted to put an end to something he hated, gays. But what we didn’t know was that this man wasn’t as religious as he seemed. If he was, he wouldn’t have picked up his Sig Sauer MCX that day and snatched the innocent souls out of 49 bodies ruthlessly. But what did we do wrong? Assume. We assumed his motives before we had any evidence. Just because he was a “Muslim”.

Little did we know that he was gay. All the dating apps he used prove it, but this man was too cowardly to come to terms with it. Sources say that most of the people he reached out to blocked him because he was too emotionally unstable. Maybe he was furious at the men he saw not because he was repulsed, but because he was jealous. Little did we know that he was trying to fight his inner demons and get rid of his homosexuality that he didn’t want to deal with. So he took out his gun and killed the joyous spirits of those who accepted themselves and were proud of their identities.

I am proud of who they were because they put smiles on faces, loved one another, formed a community to withstand the hate that society throws their way, and they owned up to who they were. My condolences go out to their friends, families, and loved ones who are grieving.

Omar Mateen was not a human, nor were his actions Islamic.

 

Watch the emotional story of Orlando shooting survivor, Patience Carter here .

Are You Scared of Me?

Self, Thoughts

I am a Muslim and I have dreams and aspirations just like you.

Shortly after I was born in Missouri, my parents moved us frequently during my childhood till my dad could get a stable engineering job and till we found the perfect “home” that met all our needs. New Jersey was wonderful. I grew up there with the few cousins I have in America and I immensely crave that sense of family and homeliness.

New Jersey was too cold and pneumonia every winter wasn’t something I looked forward to every year. On the day of my 8th birthday, we hopped into our Denim Blue Mica Toyota Sienna to drive to Texas, where my dad found his ideal job. Houston is my home now and I wouldn’t want to have been raised anywhere else. I am taken aback by the beauty of this city, it’s cultural diversity, and friendly Texans who ride horses to school (don’t tell me you fell for that).

Since I was a child, I always knew I would do something artistic in life. My dream has always been to go into the film industry and it still is. Now that I started wearing a headscarf two weeks ago, I am putting acting on the hold, but I can always direct films. For now, I am focusing on becoming a journalist. It’s not going to be easy at all but this is a choice I made for myself. Not going to lie, I question my decision more frequently than I should. But I know that this scarf only makes me unique and stronger.

Maybe I am one step behind in my career. However hard others have to persevere to break into the journalism industry, I have to try twice as hard just to convince people I am capable before they even consider looking at the resume I so carefully put together. That doesn’t stop me from pursuing my dreams. I am going to strive just so I can put an end to this discrimination and make life easier for headscarf-wearing women all over the country.

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This one article of clothing changes everyone’s perception of me and I don’t understand why. I am still the same quirky, funny (at least I think I am), creative, ambitious and generous person I was two weeks ago when no one even assumed I am Muslim at first glance. Come on, I am that girl who cries when she sees an animal in pain.

My parents are somewhat lenient in these kinds of things and I am so grateful for them. Not once have they pressured me into doing something I don’t want, so don’t tell me I am oppressed. What is oppression? Merriam Webster defines oppression as “the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control.” The only people oppressing me are those people denying me jobs in a career I know I am skilled in. It sure as hell isn’t my religion.

And for those people who randomly shout “Allahu Akbar” at the Muslims they see, does anyone actually know what it means? It means “Allah (our name for the same God Christians believe is Jesus’s Father, just through the preachings of their own religion) is greatest.”Atheists and people of other religions, you do you. I still respect and love you as humans.

Just because stereotypically, terrorists scream this phrase before murdering innocent people like us (because they psychotically think that’s what God wants them to do) doesn’t mean “Allahu Akbar” is a bad phrase that you say to insult Muslims. You can kill someone saying “Potatoes.” Does that make potatoes bad? No. I still love my french fries. And you know what? God is awesome. So Allahu Akbar. I wish peace for every one of you and I hope all of you are given all the happiness you can ask for.

 

Do I still scare you?

How about now?

Please share this on your social media. Change must start now. Let’s end this struggle together.

Rama-what?

Self, Thoughts

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).

What exactly is fasting?

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Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which is a basic framework of the Muslim life. Fasting is fardh, or mandatory, for all adult Muslims except those who are elderly, ill, traveling, pregnant, breastfeeding, or on their period.

240713113311--Bristol Muslim community invite city people to Open Iftar on Saturday

The daily fast is done from dawn until sunset and involves giving up all food, drink (yes, even water), smoking, and having sexual relations. We usually wake up early in the morning before sunrise for suhoor, the morning meal, and break our fast with dates and water sharp at sunset, called iftar. Basically, we just have an extra early and filling breakfast, skip lunch and snacks, and have a normal dinner. Don’t worry, you can still have your midnight ice cream runs.

Iftar-cover1

Iftar

All you do is fast?

In this month, Muslims pray extra, read significantly more Quran, refrain from sinning and give up bad habits like backbiting, fighting, gossiping, lying, and insulting others which may nullify the fast. These bad habits also include wasting time, such as binge watching Netflix (I am guilty as charged), excessive internet browsing, when we can be putting that time to good use like ibadah (acts of worshipping God), spending time with friends and family, engaging in a hobby, or work.

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Since we give up so much during this month, it gives us a great sense of self-control. You can’t always get what you want in life, and that is the reality. Our extreme diet in Ramadan helps us learn to not overeat later on, taking us one step closer to leading a healthy and fit lifestyle.

We believe that during this month, the gates of Hell are closed with Satan chained up. This means that all the sins you commit are based on what your ego and subconscious force you to do, and the devil plays no role . This helps us assess what problems we have that we need to work on.

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Muslim woman reflecting as she gazes at the sky

 

The idea is that if we give up our bad habits during this month, it is easier to continue this in our normal life after Ramadan ends. After all, it takes 21 days to break a habit, and Ramadan gives you 29.

Why do we do all this?

The fasting, extra prayer, and zakat are meant to purify the body and spirit and bring the
believers closer to God. It just shows how much we are willing to give up for God, andbadh allows us to see what it feels like to be poor (only the food and hard work part). All of this is done with good intent, and hopefully it will help us find out what character or personality issues we have, how to improve them, and help us become more productive and optimistic humans.

 

To my fellow Muslims:

May Allah make is easy for us to build on our characters, spend our time productively, achieve our goals, and fast. May Allah bless all the Muslims across the globe, forgive our sins and strengthen our imaan. Ameen!

5 Tips to Succeed This Ramadan

1. Wake up to have suhoor. It’s a Sunnah and empty stomach= grumpy muslim. You need all your strength for maximum ibadah.
2. Plan your Ramadan days (and life) around salah times, not the other way round!

3. Block at least on hour for Quran each day and one hour for dhikr.

4.Choose 3 important tasks you want to achieve the next day.
5. The most powerful times to make dua are in the last-third of the night and just before Maghrib. The key is to be sincere in your prayers and have trust in Allah that your wishes will come true.