Confident in my own skin

In one of my previous blog post I spoke about how conscious I was at showing any amount of leg. For those who haven’t read it – see below; for those who have – skip ahead! 

It’s incredibly rare that I walk around in public showing my bare legs – be that in summer, on holiday or even at the beach.

It’s partly to due with the fact that I am always cold, but mostly because it’s something I am just not comfortable with. I used to run around with shorts as a child, climbing trees – being a monkey – you know the jazz. But, when I got older I became more and more self conscious about my body, and the part that I hated the most were my legs. I have scars from a cat, bruises from my monkey adventures, dry skin and to top it off I’ve forever had this thought that my legs are just too plump.

So, when it came to taking pictures with a dress/ skirt recently – the mere thought of not wearing tights made me not want to do it. I felt a little pressured to have to wear it without tights as there seemed to be no one on social media doing it – and you know conformity.

So I decided to rebel, I wore sheer tights and took the photos anyway. I’m sure there are people who will say it would look better without tights, but the one thing I realised is how much more comfortable I felt with them on. I wasn’t thinking about my scars, my dry skin or my bruises – I was focusing on enjoying myself instead.

I have just returned from my trip to Italy where I roamed the streets of Milan and Venice wearing play-suits and dresses without tights.


And guess what? I did not care about whether my legs looked plumpy or dry. I didn’t care about the scars on my legs or my darkened knee caps. I truthfully couldn’t care what my legs looked like, I was in love with all my summer outfits and having a blast focusing on the cities and not my legs. Yes, I may not YET be comfortable with being barelegged everyday, particular when in England but doing so on holiday is actually a big step for me. Walking around in Milan – taking small steps to the bigger goal 

I have spent a good year consciously making an effort to be more accepting of myself and my flaws. I have slowly pushed my boundaries in this case from thick tights to sheer tights to no tights on holiday. I have surrounded myself with positive people who encourage me to be comfortable in my own skin. Reflecting on this trip I have realised how far I have come and how confident I have grown in being in my skin. It is amazing how a little bit of effort into looking after yourself, focusing on your well being and working on you can actually have such a positive impact. I am actually excited to see where I am a year from now.

Love and light

xo

Getting lost in Venice

After travelling around Milan – very much glued to Google Maps to guide us around, we decided to consciously only use our phones to capture moments in Venice (of which there was plenty – sorry for the spam instagrammers). It made such a huge difference but I’m not sure if that’s also because of the way Venice is laid out, that is easy to manoeuvre.

We spent our entire time walking around on foot, without a map and guided by ‘oo look that way looks interesting’ or ‘something smells good this way’. We did take a Gondola boat with a bunch of lovely strangers who I’m sure thought I was crazy as I started a discussion on whether Venice residents have to pay Canal tax or boat insurance.

Venice is truly an amazing place to wonder. Every road looks interesting, the main tourist areas are flooded with markets and shops and the locals are really friendly. Even as you sit by a quiet canal, you are welcomes by locals passing my in their boats with, ‘Buongiorno’ (Good morning!) or ‘Caio’ (Hello).

So, my main advise for people that are thinking of going to Venice is:

1. Simply wonder.

2. Take a Gondola, they tell you a bit of history about Venice.


3. Visit the Rialto Bridge that is near the Fondaco dei Tedeschi luxury mall. Enter the mall, avoiding eye contact with all the shiny objects and make your way up to the terrace, then simply enjoy the view!


4. Visit the markets, they are filled with goodies

5. Buy take away pizza, crepes or gelato and sit down by a quiet canal and eat

Stepping into the unknown – Milan

I’ve been on holiday before with my family, I’ve travelled across seas to visit friends but this was the first time that I was travelling to a city I had never been to, where I didn’t know the language and I knew absolutely no one. For the first time I was stepping into completely new territory – I was both excited and nervous at the same time. I was travelling with my cousin though so at least if we got horribly lost we were lost together. There’s some comfort in that.

Package essential: phone, portable charger, phone charger, portable devise charger (yes I’m packing for the highly likely case we get absolutely lost) and clothes.

We arrived in Milan early morning and the weather was beautiful. We set off to find our airbnb and guess what we got lost! Thank you Google Maps for being there for me in my desperate times and for bringing me back on track when I stray. You are my saviour!

All in all my fears of being in a new country didn’t last long. Google maps really helped as our tour guide plus in touristic areas restaurants, and train station employees actually understood you but the further you ventured the harder the communication barrier was. But a few words with an Italian accent with hand gestures and people seemed to understand what I wanted. If all else failed there was always Google translator!

In truth what I realised during this trip is how reliant I am on technology and I wonder how difficult I would have found this trip without it. Perhaps in Venice I will set aside my device and simply wonder!

What I learnt about Milan:

1. There are a lot of green doors


2. The buildings are incredibly tall
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Duomo Milano Cathedral. A Gothic Cathedral that’s hard to miss. You can even see it even before you get out of Duomo station.

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Duomo Milano Cathedral door up close. This isn’t even half the door in the picture.

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Galleria Vittoria – right next to the Duomo Cathedral. I swear I spend the whole time facing the sky in here. Bit pricey but worth seeing.

3. Hot water is rarely if ever ordered. I really struggled when trying to communicate what I wanted to them. Often trying various synonyms: boiled water, kettle water, heated water etc Most of the time I was successful, I did give up once though.

4. The coffee, even latte, is tiny. Tiny but strong.

5. The gelato is amazing!


6. Validate your tickets when using a train! We got fined but it’s only £10 so it’s not too bad but you really don’t want to be paying fines on holiday.

Dress for yourself

This Wednesday I had a civil wedding to go to and I had what was a most confusing predicament: I wanted to wear a lengha, but no-one else (that I knew of at the time) was, they were wearing a saree.

When I first considered outfits, the beautiful red lengha sitting in my cupboard seemed like the obvious choice. But when I heard everyone else was wearing a saree, I started to consider other options. I got worried that I would stand out and look odd. I was scared that the aunties would make comments that I was trying to ‘show off’ or that people would think that I was trying too hard.

The night before the wedding I tried on 3 different sarees, none of which I was feeling and let’s not even get into how bad my pleating game was. I’m assuming that this was because my heart wasn’t into wearing a saree. I wanted to wear the lengha, but pressure to look similar to other people was driving me to pick a saree. So I did what any girl would: tried the sarees on, took a picture and sent it to some people on whatsapp to get opinions and then threw the outfits on the bed while they awaited judgement.

I have some pretty awesome people two of whom I’m going to quote – who were real game changers in my choice of outfit.

Shaan: ‘Wear what you want to wear. Don’t look at what other people are wearing.’ 

Suna: ‘Since when does Shiyaa conform to what is ‘supposed’ to be worn?’

They both struck a chord with me and I felt empowered to just halt, breathe, stop caring about what other people MIGHT say or think and just do what I KNEW I wanted to.

The day of the wedding
I threw on my lengha and looked in the mirror. I have not worn a lengha since I was like 8 years old and have always felt self conscious about wearing one (showing stomach, looking like a kid etc), so this was a big deal. But I felt confident with what I was wearing, and I felt bloody happy to be wearing what I wanted.

When I got to the wedding and met other people I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that I was wearing something different. I was so content with what I was wearing and how confident it made me feel I didn’t even wonder what other people could be saying or thinking. Truthfully though, the only only thing that I did hear about my outfit was compliments (yaay)!

So what did I learn: 
a. It’s okay to stand out, it’s not always a bad thing. It’s possible to stand out in a good way.
b. Wearing some thing you feel happy and comfortable with is much more important than trying to dress to fit in


Details are so important. I accessorised with gold and pearl 🙂
Earring: Shriba Creations
Choker: stolen from my Chitthi in Canada
Waistchain: DazzlingDarling
Outfit: ShebyShiyaa

P.S. CONGRATULATIONS THANU AND THUJEEE!!!!!

The story of every Asian: you have to get married

Hindu wedding couple

When it comes to graduation for many of us Asian girls it’s both a blessing and a curse. Our three-six years of hard work and labour are finally paying off, we no longer have to write another exam, we can finally find a job and start earning money instead of waiting every semester for our loans to drops. But, it also means that we are to brace ourselves for the inevitable: our parent’s trying to get us married.

I was rather fortunate in this sense; questions of my marriage did not come forth until I actually had a job. Some of my friends were not so fortunate; some were getting pressured to accept or consider proposals before they even finished their final year. Girls seem to reach a particular age after which they are constantly bombarded with questions from aunties about the absence of a Thaali around their neck/ ring on their fingers.

I understand that for some people the next step after education is getting married and that’s fine. It’s what they want. But, I finished university when I was 23 years and I already felt that I was ‘behind’ with my ambitions. Marriage wasn’t really on my list. Even now, I’m not ready: I am not financially secure, I can barely cook and I love food (so that’s a problem).

Truthfully though the proposals and questions about getting married aren’t really what make me angry. It is this: as an Asian girl I am often told that I have to get married because I can’t live alone. I feel that as a women I am undermined. I am told that I am unable to be happy or secure on my own. I am told that marriage is a necessity. But what I fail to understand is why?

Is it because marriage provides financial security?
Yes, perhaps when my parents were younger women were dependent on others and a marriage provided them with security as many of them didn’t work. But now things have changed, we are educated to be independent. We are encouraged to learn to support ourselves and stand on our own feet.

Is it to have children?
There’s adoptions and even IVF, you no longer need a partner to have a child.

What exactly is the reason that I must get married? We need to stop forcing the idea of marriage as a necessity. We need to stop pressuring people to get married like they have an expiry date to get hitched and be happy.

One day I would like to get married, for love. I mean I’ve been planning my wedding since I was 13 – I’m not really against it. I’ll get married because I want to, not because I have to, and I’m sure that most of Asian girls who are often pressured with married feel the same.

Me time is so underrated

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This picture was taken at Battersea Park, somewhere I have explored on my own but obviously this picture was not taken when I was alone. It looks like I’m being all reflective and thoughtful on my own so let’s pretend it fits.

Though-out my years (I make myself sound old) I have changed my view on ‘me time’ dramatically. When I was younger, I had a lot of ‘me time’, predominately reading, drawing and getting on with my academic learning. As someone who struggled with anxiety being alone was sometimes the easiest option. Getting close to people was scary.  This kind of ‘me time’ I would not say was healthy at all, it was driven by fear not a love for my own company.

A few years later I then did a complete 180, I became so dependent on people. I was always speaking to someone. People became a distraction from the negative thoughts I was prone to when alone. Even after I started to be a more positive and mindful person, that dependence that I had grown accustomed to stayed. It was a habit.

The concept of going for a coffee or seeing a film alone was bizarre. If I was going out, it was to see someone. I mean why would you do those activities on your own? What was there to enjoy? Even if I wanted to really go somewhere or see something I wouldn’t if no one else would come with me. I wouldn’t want to be alone and have that experience alone. Isn’t that crazy? But I think it’s something that many people probably feel. I have met people who have wanted to go somewhere, try something, travel somewhere but didn’t because they couldn’t find someone to go with.

I decided to change that part of me.

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Caramel Creme with Shia, on a stroll through Greenwich!

I started to go places and explore things on my own. I started small: grabbing a coffee on my own, then sitting in a coffee shop to working there on my own. Next I started shopping on my own. This was truly an eye opener because it allowed me try new things, things that I would have felt uncomfortable trying with others because it may have been ‘judged’. I could take my time to explore stores I liked which sometimes isn’t to the taste of my friends. I could experiment with my style and find myself without the input of others and this has really helped me to find my style (something I am still doing).

I then started to write lists of places I wanted to see and started to explore them on my own. There were a lot of parks and art galleries. Most of my friends aren’t the type to travel and spend hours at museums but I find it quite peaceful to go there and sketch. V&A is one of my favourite places in London and was conveniently quite close to my university.

Whilst at first I had to force myself to try doing things on my own, I found that I ended up rather enjoying my own company. I discovered that you could still enjoy places even if you weren’t with other people. I still love socialising; catching up with people and trying new things, but the point is that I am not afraid like I once was of doing any of it on my own.

This whole process has been a long journey (we’re talking at least 8 years) but one through which I have learnt many things:

  1. I have come to appreciate my quirks and accept myself
  2. It has helped me in my commitment to love myself
  3. It has allowed me to explore new things and meet new people
  4. It gives me time to reflect and work on myself and my goals

Essentially, I think everyone should learn to love ‘me time’ – it’s really helped me. And everyone who feels judged for doing things on their own – be that sipping tea in a Coffee shop, going to the movies or reading a book quietly under tree – it’s completely healthy.

Discovery at Harrow – The Chocolate Room

On a cold Sunday I was looking for a place to have a quick coffee while waiting to be picked up by my friend. I searched for the nearest Starbucks to me and made my way when I came across a little café, I was intrigued.

From the minute I went in I fell in love – probably because of all the cute bitesize chocolates. My favourite: vanilla cupcake! Though the pistachio was pretty good as well.


The best part of place, was how the tea was brewed! I was expecting your usual: here’s the hot water, your almond milk and here’s your Earl Grey tea bag. BUT NO!
The waiter bought over:
– loose tea with water in a little container
– a timer (so I could keep an eye on brewing time)
– a glass cup and a tiny milk jug

My childish side of me got excited by how the tea of poured into the cup though:

Honestly, a good vibe, lovely service and a 1/2 minute walk from Harrow on the hill 🙂

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