Whether it’s Christmas, new year’s or a birthday, we are all a little crunched for gift funds this time of the year. Apart from the few big gifts for loved ones, there’s always a whole bunch of stocking stuffers, secret santas, and workplace gifts that we need to get within a very tight budget. This year, I decided to take time to sift through the dozens of cheap-looking things at the Dollar Store to find the few great ones that are way under-priced for their quality and looks. Here are the 10 amazing finds from the dollar store that were well below my $10 budget!
Nasif Imtiaz is a 26-year old photographer from the small city of Narayanganj in Bangladesh. The young boy who passionately and obsessively took interesting photos using his low resolution phone camera, managed to teach himself the basics of photography off of free youtube videos. True passion and the hunger to learn something requires neither professional training nor a structured career path, and Nasif is an example of exactly that. From amateur photography to a rising freelance photo documentarian locally and internationally, Nasif is always seeking stories he can share through his work.
Nasif believes that far more important than high quality cameras and lenses is the concept and story behind each photograph. That is why he spends significant parts of time seeking out interesting, rare, moving and awe-inspiring stories which he can capture. In the photo above, Nasif was able to capture a “groupfie” which is a millennial term of group photographs taken in the selfie style. What is unique about the photo is that the photo is being taken by an instructor at an Islamic school, smiling with his pupils. In his own words, Nasif says this is the one project that makes him the happiest when he thinks about it. The image is remarkably powerful because of how Islamic schools (also known as Madrassas) and Muslims in general have been targets of Islamophobia and alienated in mainstream media on the global platform. The “us versus them” mentality has been steadily growing, often making people forget that we are not so different just because of the differences in faith or faith-based school systems. It also shows the uniting impact of technology and modern technological trends which surpass intangible barriers of community, faith, geography, and so on.
When asked which photo makes Nasif feel most sorrow in hindsigh, she says”It would be when I took a picture of an old mother crying at the scene of death of her daughter, who had just passed away in a fire at Chowkbazar area of Old Dhaka”. It is sometimes said that photographs and art are meant to incite emotions in people, and this image definitely does that. Anyone looking at the photo would have a stabbing pain in their heart and share in mourning with the mother who lost her child.
Nasif’s photodocumtaries have a unique way to capture joy, sorrow, love, and laughter in places where we least expect them. Below is an image of a blind couple, both of whom have visual deficits, smiling on their wedding day. This image, captioned “Blind Love” shows the innocence of a newly married couple and their expression of pure joy and genuine affection. The attire and background of the image show a humble background but the emotions of the moment transcend material needs. Another interesting aspect of this image is how it makes us question physical attractiveness and beauty. Love can clearly exist without the visual image of a lover. How beautifully they must picture one another in their minds!
Not only do Nasif’s images help us fight internal prejudices about religion, gender, and class, but his work also works to humanize those who we are quick to label and forget. In 2019, we continue to live through multiple refugee crises in different parts of the world. Nasif decided to interact with Rohingya refugees who are a tribal citizens of Myanmar, currently struggling to find a new home in and build a new life in Bangladesh.
This young girl named “Asma” who was photographed at the Cox’s Bazar Refugee Camp in Bangladesh has the most expression eyes. Her remarkable eyes speak volumes about how lost and uncertain her life has become.
In this image we see a little boy in Munshiganj town of Bangldesh, coming up to the surface of water for a breath of fresh air. You can almost feel and experience that relief and gust of air as his head rises above the water surface, surrounded by floating water vegetation. It is so refreshing and familiar a feeling for anyone who has been underwater swimming before, yet to strikingly different than the tile-and-cement pools most people are used to swimming in. We can be millions of miles apart and still share some very common experiences and joys of life.
Mothers across the globe will recognize that expression of sheer annoyance on their child’s faces when forced to take a bath and wash their faces. Halfway across the world this Bengali woman is doing the same to her son by the village lake. Nasif’s work truly brings out the common experiences of human experiences and relationships and reminds us that we all way more similar than we are different.
As someone who works both a full-time corporate job and has several entrepreneurial businesses, my days are rather busy. My day starts early and ends late but not too late. I totally believe in self-care and make it a weekly habit. Check out what a normal day for me may look like.
My day starts at 5 am most days unless I’m scheduled to be at work for 5:30 am; then my day starts at 4 am. I start every single day with prayer and devotion. It’s imperative that I do that in order to maintain balance and fuel my faith to get through the day. Whether working for my company or myself, things will come up to distract and disrupt my day so I must be armored up. I normally spend 30 mins to an hour in devotion depending on what time I have to report to work.
Creative Explosion Time
After devotion, I begin on tasks that I can complete in the time I have allotted for that morning. I try to never leave anything undone unless I absolutely have to. I like to complete everything while ideas are flowing and fresh so I don’t forgot anything or lose that spark. Most times it’s answering emails, writing a blog post or pitching brands for influencer deals. Once I complete everything then I make a list for things to complete in the evening.
Getting Ready for Work
Then I get ready for work. That takes me about 30-45 mins. I try to keep my hair in an easy to maintain style so it doesn’t take too much time. I prepare my clothes the night before so I’m not looking for anything to wear in the morning.
Caffeine & A Productive Workday
My commute to work is about 20 mins with no traffic. I normally stop for Starbucks on the way to work; my guilty pleasure. I’m a manager for a grocery retail chain. My days consist of 10 hours or more of work. I try my best to stick to 10 hours because I work on my business after work. Most days I’m off by 5 pm then I have my commute home. The commute home is a lot longer due to the horrible Houston traffic. I’m home most days by 6-6:30 pm.
Family Meals & Refueling
I take 30 mins to settle in, talk with my kids and grab either dinner or a snack before diving into work. I work my business from 7-9 pm. I have a list from the morning that I created to work from. Mid-way through this work session I will stop for dinner if I didn’t eat before starting.
Back to Business
This work session is mainly composed of writing blog posts, scheduling my social media for the next day or two. I may take this time to listen to a podcast or to view a webinar or training of some sort.
Bedtime is no later than 10 pm every night. I must adhere to this so that I’m rested enough to get up early and start my routine all over again. My ultimate goal is to be a full time entrepreneur again. I love working my business and blogging.
LaKisha Mosley is the blogger in chief at lakishamosley.com, a lifestyle and business blog. She’s also the event producer at The LM Experience, an event management boutique in Houston, TX. You can connect with her on all social media platforms as @lakishammosley
As a single working mother living in one of the busiest cities ever, Nazida Syeda has to manage her time extremely well. Motherhood is already an amazing and overwhelming experience, especially when Moms are on their own, juggling work, home, and a social life on top of it. Add to that some ambition and the will to engage in the community, and you are looking at an 80-hour week equivalent to multiple jobs. So, how do you achieve balance and harmony so you can be a proud mommy in good mental and physical health and excel at life? Find out from a woman who has mastered the art of time management in all these roles!
1. Stick to a routine
As a mom and a professional, I have to manage my time in the most productive way I can. The most important thing to make everything work is time management. I wake up early in the morning usually at 7.30 am, take a quick shower, and then I wake up my daughter to get her ready for school. Following that, I get lunch packed and ready for the both of us that (usually prepared the night before). I drop her off to her school and I head out to work myself. After school, she is dropped off to her father’s home where she spends time with her grandmother until I am done work. We both come home in the evening, talk about the day, spend some quality time together and eat dinner while chatting. Once she is asleep, I catch up on chores, social media, and my nighttime routine. I also try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Having such a simple schedule but religiously following it on every weekday allows me to stay on top of my to-do list, both at home, work, and with my daughter. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get enough sleep and to wake up early to keep making the wheels of your life turn as efficiently as it needs to be!
2.Stay Focused at Work & Fun
I keep the weekends free for my daughter and my friends. Since my family lives in Seattle, WA I don’t get to see them often. Living in New York as a single mother is pretty tough, but I am lucky to have a very strong supportive family, work environment, and friends who are always here to encourage me to do good and make boss moves! I believe if you have a non-toxic surrounding meaning friends/family that is the only time one can succeed in life. I am grateful that I have all of that now. By using my weekends to socialize, participate in hobbies, social and community commitments and personal projects, I am able to dedicate my weekdays to work and chores. This also refreshes me so I am able to stay focused at work when I am at work and to shut it all off once I exit the doors of my office. At the same time, my weekends allow me to other things for personal growth such as signing up for an interesting course which I will enjoy or which might help further my career.
3. Reject Negativity
The most important thing with divorced/separated mothers is the negativity. It begins with negative comments and suggestions from friends and family, and before you know it, you yourself are emanating a negative attitude as well. My most important tip is to stay away from negativity! For instance, don’t fight with the baby’s father if he wants to take out his kids; look it at this another way. By letting him take out your child, your can get some well deserved alone time alone. God knows I need plenty of “me” time! At the same time, if your daughter is with your an extra day or weekend, take it as a blessing and use that opportunity to spend quality time with her too. With all that is going on in my life, I need to prioritize and for me the most important thing is my daughter followed by self care.
4. Allocate time for Self Care & Alone time!
With juggling everything all at once, it is important that we give enough time to heal our mind and body. For that, I do a lot of meditation and praying. It helps me because I feel like I can tell all my problems to someone without being judged and ask HIM (the Lord) to solve all my problems. When I do that, I am left with nothing but peace. I also go to the gym 3 times a week after work and that keeps me physically fit and energized. I also love indulging in online shopping and get some retail therapy in there! It is the easiest way I can skim through everything swiftly and it saves me a ton of time. When the items get delivered to my doorstep, I feel like I am opening a new gift everyday! That feeling makes me really happy. These are some of the things I do to keep my mental and physical health in good shape so I can do be motivated and energized for the next day!
5. Have a goal & work towards it
My goal in life is to becoming an entrepreneur & a multimillionaire and I am currently adjusting my life to achieve that goal. I know the road will be long and full of bumps and hiccups so I am playing it slow, steady and smart. I also believe that it is important to keep my on-going personal projects to myself, because I do not want people’s negativity or pessimistic comments to effect my decisions. Therefore I do whatever I plan on and follow it through very quietly and smartly. By Allah’s blessings, I can say I am the happier now than I have ever been.
6. Love Wholeheartedly
In all these little things I do to stay happy and healthy, the final and most important one is to love wholeheartedly. I love my daughter, my family, my close network of friends and people in my community and that helps me remember how intangible the most valuable things in life really are. I know each of you millennial mommies out there must have your own ways of going about doing things. It doesn’t need to be meditation or prayer or anything specific that I do, but I do hope you are all taking time out of your busy days for some self-care because without caring for ourselves we cannot care for the ones we love.
You can stay in touch with Nazia and her positive lifestyle on facebook!
If you are a beauty/makeup junkie, then you probably know how important is to own a set of high-quality brushes which will not only help in applying the products, but also increase its durability and finished look. Something as simple as the brush you use can completely change the final outlook of make up application. That’s why as an instagram influencer focusing on beauty, Taskin Khan stays loyal to the 4 classic brushes that she has personally tried and tested over the years. No matter what new product she is trying out, reviewing or critiquing, these are her essential go-to tools to get that glamorous look! Find out, in Taskin’s own words, why she fell in love with each of these and how they are help you achieve a perfect look!
Here are my top 4 brushes which are vital to my makeup routine:
1.Elf Flawless concealer brush
This $4 brush from Elf Cosmetics is the real game changer when it comes to your concealer blending. The bristles are so fine and packed that it helps the concealer under your eyes or other parts of the face to spread evenly, while providing you a good coverage. The fibers are nicely packed yet slightly feathered at the top which gives it a great mechanism for a great blend in a very short time.
2. Real Techniques Setting brush
Need something that can help you more than applying highlighter? Drumrolls, we have this buddy right here. This is by far one of the most famous brushes by Real Techniques and there’s a lot of reason why this is famous. The tiny little sturdy brush has the most hair ever and the tapered-oval shape which makes this the perfect tool for your blinding highlighter to pop. It picks up the products gently and the blend it gives to your highlighters and powders is just phenomenal. The shape of this brush makes it perfect for blending powders and concealers as well on the hard-to-reach corners of your face. This is an absolute MUST HAVE.
3. Luxie 522 Tapered Highlighter brush
I mean who wouldn’t want this medium-sized cute pink brush? But there’s a definite reason why I love this brush so much. This is my go-to brush for applying blush. The rounded tapered shape makes it fantastic to apply blushes or shimmering powders on your cheeks. You can control the blending as the brush isn’t overly fluffy.
4. BH Cosmetics V2 Face Brush
I have enjoyed applying bronzer a lot more since I got this baby in my hands. It blends your bronzers and contours in like a dream. You can even use this brush to apply powders and it will do a great job with that as well. Being a makeup addict, I’m constantly on the hunt to try and explore new brushes and make up application tools, but these four have been my loved ones till date.
Check out Taskin’s work at Chronicles of a Glam Addict on:
Check out these brushes & more at great discounts by clicking the image below!
By Faria Ahmed
When I was 18 years old and entering university, I could never have imagined that ten years later I would be where I am today. Like my favourite characters in books and on television, I thought I would go through all the ups and downs of life by my early 20s, land my dream job by my late 20s, find true love by 28 and get married by 30. Probably have one or two kids by the time I’m 33. Now I laugh when I try to plan the next 2 years of my life because its unpredictability has finally set in. This brings me to the adventurous, tumultuous and widely enlightening journey that I made while seeking out my dream career.
It might sound like a bit of a brown immigrant cliche, but I was born to two physician parents in Bangladesh and was expected to also become a doctor as part of the family legacy. After I finally finished high school, I couldn’t make it through the brutal competition into the few publicly funded medical schools in my country, and I could not afford any of the private ones. As a result, I settled for the next best thing – a career in medical science research. All those cool shows like CSI seemed to have an amazing forensic team who did biochemical tests to prove or disprove crimes! That was definitely what I wanted to do later in life. Understand that not becoming a physician was already a big blow to my reputation (according to my family) and the only way to salvage the family name was by promising to work on a career in academia where I would get a Bachelor’s, followed by a Master’s and a phD degree. Eventually I would become a professor teaching at a university while holding the title of a scientist at a research institute.
I was mentally ready to accept that career path. I received an offer of admission into a top architecture program at BRAC University in Bangladesh after a few different tests and interviews. I also received an offer from North South University’s Biotechnology program. I picked the latter and eventually graduated Magna Cum Laude from that program.
However, during those four-plus years of attending university, my interests had begun to shift. I had realized during my undergraduate research project in the laboratory that I didn’t enjoy being in a secluded lab environment performing cool experiments as much as I liked being outside in the world, interacting with people and helping solve worldly problems hands-on. Things in my personal life had also changed a lot by then; my mother had passed away and it was time for me to move to Canada as an immigrant and go live with my father. This is when I was asked by my family to decide on what I wanted to study for my graduate degree.
Internally I knew that I wanted to do hands-on clinical work. I had checked out programs in nursing, EMT and paramedicine because working in trauma gave me an adrenaline rush like nothing else. However, the only way my family would have ever accepted me re-entering clinical work would be as a physician – not as anything else.
By my final year of undergrad, I already knew deep in my heart that I didn’t enjoy being in a laboratory. As cool as it was to design experiments and analyze the data to draw meaningful conclusions, the actual act of being inside a large, cold room, (often by myself) was just not a pleasant experience for me. So I began to do some digging to figure out what programs and professions are available in Canada that I could really fall in love with and actually enjoy doing. Medicine was definitely of interest, but going to school to re-do pre-requisites in Canada (because my ‘local’ credits were not acceptable to them) and then applying for a program where only a few percentage of applicants get in – was a bit nerve wracking. I also was interested to be less of a diagnostician and more of a hands-on caregiver. So, I considered paramedicine, nursing, EMT, dentistry, and pharmacy. After an extensive amount of reading online, watching youtube videos and speaking to actual people who were working in these fields, I felt that nursing would be the way to go.
The way I saw it was that there was nothing I could not do as an RN (registered nurse). I could choose to stay a nurse and work in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and doctor’s offices. I could choose to specialize in anesthesia, geratric care or pick another specialty. I could even become an independent NP (Nurse Practitioner) and diagnose patients in the community, much like a family doctor. I could combine by undergraduate research experience and my nursing degree to help conduct clinical trials. I could become a teacher and build a career in academia if I wanted to later. I could one day wake up and decide to join some international organization and volunteer my time as a nurse in warzones or places with famines and epidemics.
The one big problem was that I needed a full 4-year undergrad to become an RN. No one in my family or even my close circle on friends was on-board with this idea of me going back for yet another 4-year bachelor’s degree.
Meanwhile, my family’s insistence had driven me to apply to graduate school programs and my offer letters began to come in. My nursing acceptance came first and I was absolutely thrilled. Within a few short days, my acceptance to two different Master’s programs came in as well. With these offers, there was a guaranteed tuition scholarship for the two years of my Master’s program as well as the guaranteed research stipend (which is like a salary).
This made things very difficult for me. My family disapproved of nursing very openly. Not only because I hadn’t received scholarships for it, but also because it was a profession that was looked down upon (and unfairly so) in South Asia. The perception that nurses don’t get to make any medical decisions and they are only there to follow instructions of physicians blindly led to this poor attitude towards them. Everyone there assumed nurses were meant to bath patients, draw blood and clean their wounds. That perception is such an incredible disservice to what nurses do, especially in North American where they have amazing training, skills, opportunities and significant roles to play in patient care and survival.
This is the moment that I (kind of) regret a little in my life. I gave in to the greed of leading a comfortable life devoid of student loans and part-time jobs. I also gave in to what my grandmother, aunts and my father were rooting for. That’s what led me to continue my career in medical science research.
I want to say that I ‘wasted’ the following two years of my life doing a Master’s of Microbiology & Immunology under the Faculty of Medicine at OttawaU. However, that would not be fair to all the experiences and achievements I had during that time. I won awards and competitive scholarships. I attended conferences and got flown halfway across the country on fully funded trips, was put up in fancy hotels and gave talks in front of esteemed healthcare and research professionals. I also got a publication in a journal as the first author of the paper.
In the end of all that, I went right back to where I had started. Three scholarships, a few prizes and recognition, and one research publication later… I still remained unhappy and anxious being stuck in a Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory. I entered a dark period of my life when I began to realize how I would let people push me next into a phD. And just as I had thought, my supervisor eventually made me an offer I could not refuse, and I accepted a position in his lab to do my phD in Immunology as well.
I spend 30 incredibly suffocating days following that decision. After that, I had had enough. I went back to my supervisor and to his surprise I said I didn’t want to do my phD. He was disappointed beyond belief and so were the rest of my family members and loved ones. Even my closest friends were questioning my decision and my sanity. But I knew what I did was right for me.
I had never been so sure of something in my life. I knew this is what I wanted to do and I knew I would do it no matter what. I watched silently as my ‘world’ crumbled around me. I finished my degree, I graduated later than my peers, I had no job offers because the only thing I was trained for throughout my life was research. It became nearly impossible for me to get a job in fields other than research, as my skills were simply too specialized for that industry. My Scholarship money and my research stipend both ended and I was broke and unemployed. Even in that moment when my father kept asking me what I hell I was doing with my life…I turned to him and said with full confidence, that I was going to become a nurse.
In that very moment, I had found myself.
It’s always hard to find a nice gift on a budget that doesn’t say ‘I got you the cheapest thing at the store that you might not like.’ That’s why the trick to budget shopping and budget gifting is customization and handcrafting things. If you put something together with your own hands, the person receiving the gift will know that you cared enough to put in time and effort. So, this year I came up with the idea to prepare custom Christmas cookie jars for all my close friends, family and coworkers. I realized they would be cute plus they are all reusable things that won’t go to waste in a landfill and harm the environment. Moreover, I can customize it by filling up the jars with things that each person likes or wants! Here is how I did it:
Step 1: Gather the Ingredients!
There are just a few inexpensive things you will need for this project. These are the things I got:
- Small glass jars from the Dollar Store ($2 each)
- Chocolates or Candy of your choice; I got Hershey Kisses to fill the jars
- IKEA Tea Candles, Beads, Rocks, Marbles or other items to fill the jars
- A Roll of Jute Twine
- Paper, Sharpie, Scissors, Punch machine
Step 2: Fill it up!
Fill up the jar with whatever items you think your loved ones will enjoy. For my aunt who is diabetic, I filled the jar up with red and white IKEA tea candles. For my father who loves chocolates, I filled it up with Hershey’s kisses. I am also making some full of Popcorn, one with marbles and many more!
Step 3: Personalize with a Note
You can fold a small piece of paper in half, and punch a hole in it using a punch machine. After that, I basically used a sharpie to write in a cute little note for the person getting the gift and signed my name off.
Step 4: Wrap it up!
The very last step is to cut out a long piece of jute twine rope and wrap it around the top of the jar (not the lid). I wrapped it around a few times and finally I passed one of the ropes through the hole-punched note an then tied it into a little bow. That’s it, you now have your Christmas Cookie Jars ready for gifting!
With the growth of chain stores and brands in the big cities, it might be easier to find things when we need them, but it has become increasingly difficult to get things that are unique and beautiful in their own ways. This is why my visits to the small town of Perth, Ontario are so special to me. There are specialty stores here featuring locally and nationally made items that I almost never see in Ottawa. Today I’m reviewing four such places and their traditional beauty which instagram-loving millennials like myself would go crazy over!
1. Kelly’s Flowers & Gift Boutique
Within moments of walking into Kelly’s, I felt as though I had been transported to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. In every sense, the store’s decor, contents, and friendly staff with their warm and welcoming smiles will make you feel like it’s Christmas.
Kelly’s is a flower shop and boutique, but what stood out to me the most about this store was their incredibly beautiful collection of Christmas ornaments. Starting from wood, tin, fabric to crystals, they have every kind of ornament you can think of and all of extremely high quality. They have the type of things you will want to add to your family’s Christmas collection for generations to come.
Each item is so delicately crafted and do not even compare to the mainstream, mass produced items that I am used to buying.
Almost everything at Kelly’s is made in Canada and a lot of their items comes in from the town of Peterborough. Their collection of skin care products are made from all natural ingredients and some Canadian brands they carry are 100% vegan. If you’re looking for anything specific – just ask and they will be sure to share more details of the specialty items they offer.
2. Perth Chocolate Works
I thought I was past my sugar cravings after having all that Halloween candy, but visiting this store made me realize what I had been missing out on all this time! Perth Chocolate Works hand makes delicate barks and chocolates in small batches using high quality Belgian Callebaut Chocolate.
Although it originally opened in Manatoulin Island, it experienced increased requests to expand to the Ottawa Valley and soon found a home in Perth.
Items that stood out for me were the handmade truffle bars, bear claws and the incredibly wide selection of jams and jellies. I have quite honestly never seen so many different types of jams and jellies before and can easily imagine myself trying out some with cheese and crackers in the holidays coming up.
The store was quite spacious and I spent almost an hour looking around and checking out the various corners decorated with shelves full of handmade goodies! Even the window ledges were decorated with items you could purchase, and that included these gorgeous wooden cheese boards.
The holiday and sugar buzz almost reminded me of Diagon Alley (in the Harry Potter Universe) with Perth’s boutique little stores and stone buildings running throughout the town. This fluttering feeling of craving some holiday magic led me to the mystical store called Shadowfax.
As soon as you enter through those green doors, you will find yourself in a world of magic, mysticism and spirituality.
From natural crystals to tarrot cards, you will find everything you could possibly seek in this category of items. I loved how there were little notes explaining the name, type and healing effects of the stones. Some were for love while others were to help fight anxiety. I picked up an item for my aunt who has been dealing with lots of stress recently.
Every minute in that store seemed like a moment that I was learning. There were so many types of religious, spiritual and historical symbolism all over the place. The collection of books, too, were rare, fun and insightful!
Shadowbox isn’t just a place to buy things though. They also host events such as tarot card readings, soul glimpse readings, crystal and oracle card readings, palmistry and more!
4. The Crossroads Tearoom
Nothing beats the quaint and ladylike feeling of pouring myself some hot tea in the prettiest of settings. Decorated from floor to ceiling with vintage decor, furniture and accessories, The Crossroads Tearoom is every millennial instagramer’s dream spot to be!
Whether it’s for lunch or an afternoon of high tea with your girlfriends, this tearoom will make you feel like English noblewomen with its vibe.
Starting from the mannequin dressed up in Victorian era clothing and jewelry to the elegant piano casually placed so it truly belongs in the tearoom, you can find yourself transported back in time.
Elegant ladies’ hats, vintage china and paintings all in the theme pastel colours adorn the walls of the tearoom while the furniture is aged and rustic to add to the realism of the setting.
For me, the tearoom brought back nostalgic memories of my Grandmother’s teapots and tea cozy with cups and saucers all ready on a silver tray for afternoon tea time with the family. It also reminded me of Jane Austin books I had read growing up, and ignited an internal fire to want to play adult tea party with my friends (or dollies!).
Vintage tea rooms have surely made a comeback in recent years and are among the trendy places to spend a Saturday morning with your lady friends. Even though they are now sprouting up in the big cities in Canada, there’s no doubt that a certain level of authenticity can be experienced only when you visit ones in beautiful and cozy little towns like Perth.
Interviewed by Faria Ahmed
Every now and then we come across stories of inspirational women who dare to be different and leave their mark in the way they do things. Such is the story of Nibedita Saha-Chakravorty, a Bangladeshi-Canadian woman living in Toronto, Canada. Nibedita and her husband absolutely love travelling and they make it a point to travel at least a few times a year.
During a trip to Banff, Alberta Nibedita first came up with the idea of wearing a saree (a traditional ethnic Bengali clothing for women) and photograph herself against the gorgeous snowy mountains in Banff. In extreme freezing temperatures, she managed to get photographed against this striking landscape and look incredibly glamorous doing it. A saree is a typically light garment meant to be worn in the tropics and over the centuries it has become the symbol for Bengali women everywhere. Since that day almost 5 years ago, Nibedita took it up as a personal adventure to take photographs of herself against the various terrains and landscapes as she travels the world.
“Growing up I always thought I was weird because my ideas were always a bit different from my peers”, said Nibedita. “Assimilation in Canadian society was always encouraged in my family, especially as my parents desperately wanted us to fit in. In my adult life, I realized that my thoughts and desires weren’t necessarily weird but rather they were just different“, she continued. “One of those different ideas I had was to try and take this beautiful symbol of my culture, the saree, to the next level.”
“I’m always thinking about what has not been done before. In general , South Asian countries are hot so probably there aren’t pictures of women wearing them in the snow, I thought. Next I realized that many of our friends and family living in Canada hate snow. I get it..life is difficult”, she said. Nibedita explained how we should sympathize with those who are still struggling to get around in the snow. For so many women who first move to Canada, adjusting to the weather, the culture, the change in clothing…is all part of a very big life change and it can be challenging. They have to give up a big piece of their cultural identities or preference of wearing a saree on a regular basis and only wear it to parties. “Wearing sarees in the snow is quite impractical but I thought it would be fun to take a picture of me wearing a saree in the snow to make the ladies in my community giggle. That idea started my crazy journey.”
Although the initial thought behind it was a humorous one, she soon also realized how powerful and empowering it could be do to this. “In the Bengali community, many women are afraid to dream or vocally say what they want because traditionally women have been groomed to be care takers and support systems”. Nibedita explained how Bengali women are often expected to make bold sacrifices and their own wishes and dreams are often sidelined in the process. However, she wants to show the world that while being her most bengali self, wearing a saree, she can climb a mountain and walk in sand all the same. She wants to do it literally and metaphorically to help break barriers for Bengali women, so we can be comfortable in our own skin and ethnic garments and still be proud and confident enough to take on the world.
She wants to tell everyone that if something is a part of our cultural identity, we do not need to tuck it away. It is something that adds strength to our lives and lived experiences and should be celebrated.
Most Challenging Saree-Photo Venture:
“I think the hardest for me was Dubai. The desert seemed limitless to me, and I was but a grain of sand in the vast desert sea. The dunes were hot and I kept sinking wherever I stood. The wind was so exceptionally strong, I felt if I let go of my saree, it will disappear. I felt fear and excitement. Something was all around me and it was trying to take me with it.
Most Fun Saree-Photo Venture:
My most fun experience was during my graduation. I was the only person who wore a saree at my graduation from the University of Toronto that year. I loved explaining the idea to everyone who asked about it and I loved showing up on campus in a saree as compared to other days where my hair would be in a bun and I’d be in sweatpants lugging around chemistry and physics books.
Traveled So Far:
Bangladesh: Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittagong India: Kolkata, Sikkim, Orissa, Darjeeling, Kashmir
Greece, Dubai, Nepal, Paris, London UK, Belize City
US: Florida, Utah, Las Vegas, California, West
Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Cuba, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey Canada: Alberta, Ontaro
Travel Bucket List for the Future:
Australia (Great Barrier Reef), Egypt, Amazon Basin, Rain Forest
Travels in the near future: I would love to travel within Canada (somewhere in the Maritimes and Vancouver).
By Faria Ahmed
As a big fan of horrors and thrillers, I have pretty much watched them all. The only type of movie I try to avoid in this category are the gorey splatter/slasher movies (let’s face it they are kind of nasty). Needless to say, I’m a pretty big fan of Halloween and begin my celebration from the very first week of October! I enjoy dipping my hands into my bucket of candy and binge-watching horror movies on netflix every weekend of October leading up to the 31st. This year, I’ve particularly enjoyed the following titles from netflix that you need to check out as well and they are perfect entertainment for Halloween night.
- ELI: So Eli was released in 2019 so it’s a very new movie. As with all movies, I try not to look at reviews or ratings beforehand, so I can have an open mind going in. I did the same for ELI, and I actually quite enjoyed it. Without giving any spoilers, I would like to say that the first half of the movie has almost no relationship or hint of what the second half will be about. The second half could indeed have gone a very different way. Nonetheless, if you enjoy twisted and unexpected storylines and gradually building suspense, this movie is worth your time. Afterwards, I noticed it has pretty bad ratings on rotten tomatoes but it had all the elements I typically enjoy in a horror movie-innocent child, scary house, creepy doctor, and lots of symbolism.
- In The Tall Grass: If you think plain old lawn grass could not become creepy and deadly…you were wrong. Stephen King and Joe Hill are able to turn any simple story into a scary, mind-wobbling journey of personal growth, exposing the darkness and the light within human beings. Apart from a tiny bit of satan-worship and cannibalism, the rest of the story is quite interesting and full of symbolism and raw human instincts of good and evil. The multiple timelines that seem to be overlapping and in a loop in this tall grass area makes the story confusing but amusing at the same time. If you are in the right headspace for timeline manipulated Stephen King storylines, this is quite a slow-paced but fun watch.
- Hush: I think the next three movies are definitely ones that use one specific sense or function of the human body to make the storyline extremely real and intense. The first one is hush, where a deaf writer is found living in the woods, working on her book, and fighting for her life against a masked murderer. Living in the middle of nowhere with enormous glass windows and doors doesn’t help. I absolutely love the strong and single woman taking on the world plotline anytime and when the woman has an auditory disability, it only makes her more badass. This is a must-watch for me any year, but again it is a slow paced movie which needs to be followed to great attention.
- Birdbox: As if I didn’t love Sandra Bullock enough before, now she had gone ahead and made a film in my favourite genre. Birdbox plays on the visual senses, in that, when you ‘see’ this evil force you go insane and eventually kill yourself. Amazing direction, acting and human challenges of trying to find love and family in this mess makes this a brilliant film. Pretty much anyone who wants to survive needs to remain blindfolded whenever they are out and about, which makes us really appreciate our gifted health and visual abilities so much more. The gradual character and story development is top-notch in this sci-fi thriller/horror.
- A Quiet Place: John Krasinski from The Office takes up a serious role and kills it in this horror movie where everyone must remain quiet to survive. The first ten minutes of the movie is absolutely heartbreaking and really sets the tone for the rest of it. Without giving out spoilers, all I can say is this is an absolute must watch for those who enjoy steady story building and can handle being on edge for prolonged periods of the movie…while you watch them attempt to lead a normal life while expecting things to go wrong at any moment!
Those are the 5 Must Watch Horror/Thrillers that I recommend for this Halloween! Hope you enjoy them and don’t forget to leave us a comment about which one you liked the most.