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New York-SoHo/NoLIta

31 May

Honestly, this is my first guide to any city ever written, and I don’t know how to go about it. Should I cover just the highlights? Should I just tell you everything that I did or should I just be an escapist and not write it at all.

While the third is my favorite, I asked some friends and they suggested i break it down into parts. While their idea was to divide it into where to eat, what to do, where to shop-I wanted to do it slightly differently. Mostly because I have spent most of my time in Soho, I wanted to make a guide just for it. The other parts to the NYC guide might be more generic, but here is my guide for you to Soho (and the neighbouring regions including Nolita)-the place I fell in love with and the place that saw me grow more in a month than I had in probably years!

Where to eat

  1. Balthazar  
    My roommate, the queen of Soho, took me here and I will always owe her for that. The place has very strong Godfather vibes making you feel like you walked right into a spot where all the Mafia lords are coming for a meeting (but like minus the goons and with an extra hint of polished glamour). However, even if you put the interior aside-the food itself there is divine. Their service is immaculate and the desserts are beyond delicious. That, and their bathroom entrance is one of the most rad one I have ever seen (so dungeonesque, if that is even a word).
  2. Rubirosa  
    If the Hadids say they love a particular place’s pizza, you have to check it out. And, oh my god, was I glad that we did. I have never had a better pizza in my life, that too an all-veg one. You better believe it guys, it was even tastier than many non-veg ones I have had. Plus the interior is totally groovy. The vibe is very laid back chic but still cosy (made more so that day because of the crazy rain outside) with a bar that made me want to skip sitting at a table altogether!
  3. Dominique Ansel
    Cronuts. Enough said. (p.s. the other baked goods here are spectacular too, so I will say try as many as you can without going into a food coma, but if you have to pick one, pick the cronuts!)

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    Dominique Ansel Cronut

  4. Georgetown Cupcakes
    The shop itself is gorgeous, but what makes it better is the street it is on. The cobblestone pavement, the cute stores around it and the laid back, quiet vibes of the area-you feel like you are walking in some old English town and not in loud, over crowded New York-loved it. Plus, I swear they have the best cupcakes ever. Ever…..Ever!!! (Just wanted to make a point here.) You can stay there and eat or get your cakes ‘to go’. Either ways, it is a must try!

The Instagram-able spots

  1. Cha cha matcha
    If you are a matcha fan, you have to go here. If you are a fan of cute little cafes being a little extra, you have to go here. If you want cute clicks of your coffee for your insta feed, you have to go here.
    In short, you have to go here, period!

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    Cha Cha Matcha

  2. Once upon a Tart
    Some of the most influential bloggers from NYC still turn to this spot for a picture in front of this picturesque bakery/cafe. Case in point, this picture of Blair from Atlantic pacific! If you are looking to up your insta-feed game, do stop here!

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    Once upon a tart

  3. Shuka 
    This is another NYC blogger favorite for their pictures and correctly so, seeing the blue store front of this cafe makes any outfit (and picture) pop!
  4. Sweet Moment Cafe 
    It is not exactly in Soho/Nolita but it is Little Italy which is right next to the two and, if you have a sweet tooth or crave cute colorful pictures, this place is a must see!

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    Sweet Moment 

  5. Greene street
    And other cobblestone streets, that Soho is famous for, provide the perfect character to any picture. The more towards the south of Soho you go, the more of its historic buildings you will find (i.e., get closer to Canal street if you want both the famous cobblestone streets and the historical cast iron buildings in your picture).

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The places worth experiencing

  1. Laduree Soho
    Getting a bit of the Parisian experience in your travels is always a fun idea, but this particular branch is always fully reserved for a reason. The little patio/open-air seating area that they offer in the back is divine. I preferred it at night when all the garden/fairy lights were on and the atmosphere seemed almost magical, almost Parisian but they are generally more frequented for their brunch. Either ways, don’t forget to get some macaroons to-go, because-why not?

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    Laduree Soho (the outdoor seating area)

  2. Little Cupcake bakeshop
    Again an eatery in this category? Odd? No, because I frequented this shop more for its ’70s diner vibe than their food (which was good but not my prime attraction). Like my friend justly said, it reminds one of the diner from Pulp Fiction. MUST EXPERIENCE!
  3. Jack’s wife Frieda
    Ok, last eatery, promise but although their food is ridiculous (read:ridiculously amazing), it is the festive vibes, the welcoming staff, the feeling as if you are in an Italian backyard with your friends, the cute gold pendants, and (most importantly) the adorable sugar packets that all contribute to the absolute, mind-blowing ridiculous-ness of the place. The green shakshuka has mystified me though. Why is it green and what makes it so good?

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  4. McNally Jackson Books
    So growing up one place I always wanted in my hometown was a book store where one could sit for hours and read but one that also offered coffee and snacks as needed. When I found out that God had blessed me with the exact place I had always day dreamed about right around the corner from my apartment I could not have been happier. A huge book store offering literature from all over the world including books on and from Russia, France, India-I was in my kind of paradise. But what added to the charm was the cute seating area/coffee shop in one of its corners complete with window seats and the nicest staff ever along with small seating arrangements all over the two floors of it. It is needless to add, but I went there almost daily. And if you go there even once, you will know why, especially if you believe paperbacks are better than e-books!
  5. Washington square park
    It is not Central Park, but what it lacks in its size it makes up for in its beauty. And because it is less crowded by tourists pouring in from all directions, it is the perfect spot for a quick picnic or to spend your evening with a book. Plus, it lets you see New Yorkers New Yorking (yes, I just turned it into a verb) and giving you a more wholesome experience of the city.
    Note:- It is not exactly part of the Soho/Nolita region but it was close enough for me to be able to walk here oftenn!
  6. Washington Square arch
    It is a part of the Washington Square Park, and not only an architectural landmark frequented by a large number of tourists but also a spot most first timers deem essential for a quick picture at. And once you see it, you will know why. But, word of caution, it can get pretty crowded.

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  7. Little Italy
    Ideally it is not a part of Soho but it is right next to it and Nolita and a walk away from both, so I am putting it here. It is not just the food you go here for, though, but rather for the whole ‘Italian” experience (which, having never been to Italy, I can’t really attest for but it felt Italian enough to me). Grab a friend, a camera and walk through it with your wallet full and your belly empty. You wont regret it! (Also, there is some really amazing wall art in this area!)
  8. Chinatown
    Mentioning this because of its proximity to Soho/Nolita, I honestly cant gush enough about this place. With buildings mirroring old Chinese architecture it simultaneously gives you a glimpse into Chinese cuisine and maybe some of the lifestyle there too, but for me it also reminded me a bit of the ‘bazaars’ from my home country and made me like it more. Again I found some of the most amazing street art in this area.
    My suggestion would be to take a walking tour of Chinatown and Little Italy that lets you experience both more thoroughly (plus these are usually very cheap)!

The must stay ats-

  1. The Nomo SoHo hotel
    Although it is gorgeous to look at from outside and the walk inside is almost as good, it is the lobby that I fell in love with.  Buzzing with cliché New York hotel moments the space stays true to the grit of the city via its decor. And the rooms with their over-sized windows and welcoming interior are just what vacation dreams are made of! The NoMo Kitchen (sitting off the lobby and along the walkway entrance) is their cherry on top with food as good as it can get!
  2. Sixty SoHo
    Following a (remarkable) renovation, Sixty SoHo is a visual expression of the neighborhood’s most treasured qualities. It’s chic and vibrant and offers all the little things characteristic of any great stay, particularly on the dining front. Dinner at their Sessanta will leave you speechless, and their Gordon Bar is a perfect place to end a night!

Where to Shop

I would love to give a list but if you are visiting New York and want to shop without the craziness of Times Square (which I can never take) or the long lines of the 5th avenue stores, SoHo is your place. The vibe is fun but not obnoxiously loud, the staff has more time for you, the lines are shorter and the architecture is swoon-worthy. Honestly, even basic stores like Forever 21 look like taken right out of a painting. And every store is there, from Sephora to Chanel to Tiffany’s to high street brands to fancy grocery stores!

My favourite thing to do there was to walk along Broadway (literally as far as I could go) and try new stores every day (covered a lot in a month to be honest). Plus that allowed me to discover the small boutiques that offered the latest trends at prices that made me want to dance. And the streets off of Broadway are filled with even more brands and fun little places to eat. So, give shopping there a try for sure.

Note-Dean and DeLuca is a grocery-shopping-lover’s heaven. The fruits so fresh, the bakery items so good and the flowers always with the best fragrance! Shop there at least once if you can, you will love the experience. It is a little pricey but the food is worth it!

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Travelling tips for the anxiety ridden 

23 Mar

I’m not going to lie. I love traveling but so many times I’ve let my anxiety get the better of me and have ended up cancelling more of my plans than I would like to own up to. 
A perfect example? I’m right now in Orlando, Florida but I postponed this plan for two weeks before letting it be finalised. And then the day before my flight, I tried my very best to wiggle out of the plan. The only reason I didn’t succeed in that is that I practiced the tricks I’ve taught myself, concentrated on the pros in coming down here and hence was able to say yes to the plan and make my way over. 


The reality is that avoiding stress inducing stimuli (like traveling in this case) is easier for me than not but, over the last couple of years, I’ve learned some tricks that not only help me overcome said anxiety but that actually help my happiness and excitement for the trips shine through.
Today I want to share these tips with you in the hopes that maybe someone out there will benefit from them.

1. Make sure your packing is done on time

Before med school, when anxiety wasn’t my most constant companion, I would always be the one to pack last minute (usually on the day of my travels). But med school had me reconsidering my ways till I worked out a better, less stressful routine for myself. Now, I start with making a rough plan of “what to pack” a week (or more) before. And I begin the packing itself at least four days in advance. My aim is to have everything packed and zipped a day before my day of travel except for any essentials I need to use on that day. Those go in to my carry on.
This routine has saved me on two ends. One, I don’t end up forgetting to pack any key items. Two, I don’t have the additional stress of packing on the day of my flight, which usually itself is stressful enough. 

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2. Make lists



This is one trick I learned from my eldest brother, who makes lists for everything while travelling. And now so do I and I honestly can not explain how much easier travel has been for me since I started doing this. The three minimum lists I now make are one for each of my two bags and one for the documents that I need to be travelling with. Over time though I have even perfected the details of the said lists, especially the ones for either of my bags, because when I divide them into sub-headings like my “tech gear”, “bath essentials” and “cross body bags”-I rarely forget anything which is as much helpful as the act of making the lists itself. It calms me, leaving me reassured that I am not missing out on anything. Plus, if I need to go buy anything I am aware of that well in in time.  

3. Reach the airport ahead of time.



I know it sounds basic and boring at the same time, and it’s also something my sister loves teasing me over, but since I began doing this, flying has become less daunting for me, especially when I’m travelling alone. It keeps me off the edge and makes the long security checks less anxiety ridden for me. Once I am all checked in and sitting in the waiting lounge, the last dreads of my stress wash away and I can finally let the excitement take over me. 
Try it. Next time you are flying out reach the airport a half hour before you usually would. See how much it helps. 

4. Keep hydrated.



My way of avoiding airport and plane restrooms used to be as basic as ever-avoid drinking anything. Especially water. Can I just stop here and ask this-why didn’t anyone tell me to do otherwise? 
Dehydration never helps anyone. Ever. And not just my skin but my anxiety levels would suffer because of it. Dehydration means that your whole body is worked up and famished at the same time, your cooling system is off, your blood thicker and your blood pressure is on the higher end! As your body adjusts to all the changes, your heart rate quickens amd the sensation of light headedness increases adding to the sensation of an axiety attack. For a patient with anxiety, that sensation in itself is bad enough. So keep hydrated, it will keep you calm and your stress and anxiety controlled. Small trick but massive advantages. 

5. Avoid late in the night flights.



Nothing puts anyone more on edge than lack of sleep. And having your whole cycle disturbed will have you more worked up throughout your flight than is pleasant! My advice is to avoid late night flights, catch up on your sleep before flying out no matter how small the flight is and get a good healthy (not necassirily hearty) meal before your travels. A fresh, energised you will mean a lower stress level and a more fun flight! 
6.  Take that travel pillow.

Sleeping in flight was never easy for me. Hence the previous trick was always very important for me personally. However, I have over the time found small ways to help me get a nap or two on the flight. One of them has been to travel with a small crossbody or a fanny pack. When I have my important documents close to me and safe, I feel more able to relax. Add to that a neck pillow, an eye mask and a warm jacket and I can actually get a minute or two of shut eye. 
Note:- For longer flights I avoid taking anything except my hand bag on the plane with me; that is, if I can, I check in all my bags (for luggage). Try that on your next flight. That ease of having no bags to worry about will calm you like nothing else. 

7. Avoid coffee

I know, shocker! A caffeine junkee asking you to avoid coffee, bizarre! But I have good reason to do that. In fact make that two. One, coffee makes your kidneys over work, causing you to lose water faster, leading to easier dehydration, which will add to both your anxiety and number of bathroom visits. Without good use. Secondly, coffee itself is going to add to your anxiety, making the flight more “jittery” than memorable. 
 And, if none of those reasons are motivating enough for you, how about this one-the water they use to brew coffee in planes comes from the tap-and the water for that comes from storage tanks that are cleaned barely once a year. Testing on said water has repeatedly proven it to be unhealthy and even unsafe. So, if hygiene and health are a concern of yours, avoid that coffee/tea. 

8. Pack healthy snacks

Just as dehydration does, low sugar levels and low energy levels can add to your anxiety. But if you keep snacking on the high carb, high fat content foods that airplanes companies are happy to provide you with, you will end up feeling more bloated and less sated by the end of the day. They will only cause your sugar levels to sky rocket soon after the meal but then they’ll plummet. That is, your anxiety will go up soon after, again. My adivce is to pack with you food items with a low glycemic index (that is the ones that will let you stay sated for longer) which include most fruits (especially berries), oatmeal based snacks, sweet potatoes, bran and wheat or barley based snacks. It will allow you the ease to nibble whenever you are hungry as well as the ability to say no to the horrible food airlines are famous for. 

9. Eat healthy pre flight

I’m usually too worked up on the day of my flight to be able to eat much, but I know low sugar during the long airport lines is not going to help me. So my compromise is to always eat something healthy and fulfilling before I leave the house, even if it’s not a proper meal. It allows me to navigate myself throughout with high energy levels and low stress levels.

10. Take screenshots 

Of everything-from your tickets to boarding pass to the address of where you will be staying to important phone numbers. You never know when your internet will bail on you. And knowing you’ve back up will keep you calm no matter what. 


11. Take charge 

Always, always, always keep a fully charged battery pack with you for your mobile along with at least two charging cables and the corresponding plugs. Nothing causes havoc on your anxiety levels like a mobile with a low battery. Or realising you forgot your charging cable behind, mid run to your connecting flight. 

12. Be prepared 

Know that no matter how much planning you put into the details of your trip, somethings are just not in your control. Like flight delays. So go in with the “I’m ready for changes in my plan” mindset and keep reminding yourself that extra stress will not change the status quo.
So, there they are. My twelve main tricks to keep my travel anxiety in control. Most of it goes down when I’m travelling with someone, therefore I’ll say these are much more important for those of us who travel alone. 
What tricks do you use to keep your anxiety in check? Let me know in the comments below, maybe you know something that might help us all! 
Also, if you’ve been to, or are from, Orlando, Florida, any local recommendations for fun things to do here (other than the theme parks) would be highly appreciated.
Much love,
Gull

Valentine’s day wish list

3 Feb

Every year I devote February to my loved ones.

Is not that what we are taught from grade school? We have whole lectures devoted to writing letters to our parents and then our class fellows and friends, telling them in every one of them as to how much we love them. And then whole evenings spent wrapping little gifts for the same people. Whole days spent making lists for what to get for whom and more days spent in buying them.

So for me, February has always been about expressing my love to everyone around me.

 

BeFunky Collage

Diptyque Rose delight candle| NARS velvet lip glide duo | Dessert date at Laduree | Cuddle up faux fur heart accent pillow | Valentino Rockstud pumps | Furla bag |

But one very important person our school forgot to tell us to write letters to, a person that maybe should have been close to the top of all our lists, if not that at the very top, a person we should all have been buying gifts for every year too. A person as important as the rest of them.

Who is that person you ask? You!

Growing up, although we were always told to respect ourselves and even love ourselves we were never shown how to practice that, how to reinforce that. And over the time I have realized that to love oneself is not just to say it on a daily basis, but to practice it. To take care of yourself before anything else, to look after your own needs and requirements-it is not selfish, I realized, but essential. And it is almost as important to reward ourselves for little accomplishments as to shower ourselves with love on special occasions.

Hence, I decided that this year I will celebrate my love for myself right along with celebrating that which I had for those around me.

So when people began sharing ideas for what to get for your loved ones, I began to make a list of what I would like to buy for myself this year. A wish list for Valentine’s day that is, and today I want to share it with you to hopefully inspire you to go and get something for yourself. And if not that, you can use this as a guide for valentine’s day gift ideas for your best girlfriends. Or your singular, very much loved, girlfriend! 😉

So, here it is-my wishlist/ a Valentine’s day gift guide for her.

What are you planning to get for yourself? And for your loved ones? Do let me know, I would love to hear your ideas!

Love,
Gull

Stop judging a book by its cover

10 Sep

I was sitting at a community table at a coffee shop today, waiting for my friend to show up, when a woman came and asked if she could sit by me.

I thought the gesture kind and a sign of being brought up right, for of course she could, it was a community table after all!

As she sat down, we started conversing, and the flow of it was so good that we did so for a good thirty minutes at least-the time it took my friend to arrive (seriously, though I need to stop getting to meet-ups on time).

However, although the conversation was fun and it felt like two like-minded individuals were talking, she said something towards the end that left me feeling less than great, and yet I realized it wasn’t something new that I was hearing.

Her exact words were ” I am shocked to find out that you are completely different from what I thought you were when I saw you, I wasn’t expecting this kind of thinking from you nor this type of a conversation with you.”

Let me rewind a bit.

You see when she came to me, I saw only a woman. When we were talking, for me,  I was a medical student and she a practicing doctor.

But here is what she, and I think most of the world, saw when she approached me.

She, a burqa clad woman with a niqab covering her face, saw a girl in three-quarter jeans, a top and, (as she pointed out) a made up face and stylized hair. (For the curious ones-I was wearing eyeliner and lip balm and had walked out right after a shower-it was one of my most laid back looks.)

She saw a woman who was everything Islam represented, going and starting a conversation with a woman that in her head embodied everything Islam resented.

And yet, to her shock, when we started conversing she found out that I didn’t only have enough brain cells to hold up a conversation about politics, the rights of women and the importance of career goals, I also had morals as strong as her, a stronger knowledge of my religion and a better realization of the distance we had developed from our religion.

So let me decode her words for you-what she meant was, when she saw me she thought I was a shallow girl with no moral code and no idea of my religion, and thinking back to the conversation, I could see the points she had already tried to prove that to me.

A tiny example, when she tried to make me agree that the girls from my high school have the worst reputation in Lahore, there must be a reason to that, I wouldn’t agree no matter how much she pushed. I might have spent only two years in LGS Defense, but they were enough to prove that those girls were nothing like the reputation that preceded them-but do you know what they had in common?

They were strong, opinionated, ambitious girls who were-you guessed it-fashion forward. Just like I was. Just like Islam told us not to be (in her head, at least.)

However, while I failed to persuade her that most of what she had heard about the school’s girls wasn’t true, I will give her this much though, that she changed her view on me at least. By the end of our conversation, we exchanged numbers and she urged me to stay in contact because she liked me that much.

A small win? Yes, too small in fact and hence, the bad taste left in my mouth wasn’t done away. And although I can’t blame her, I am tired of this.

This perception that because I dress a certain way, my religion is bound to be worse than yours.

I respect every woman who covers her head, those more who follow the rules of dressing in Islam down to a ‘t’, but to the same women, I want to say this-don’t judge me because I am not practicing my religion the way you think it should be practiced. You don’t know how much I pray for the strength to gain that level too, you have no idea of my struggles on that and most importantly, I believe, you don’t know whose way of practicing religion God prefers.

But, just for the sake of perspective-if your Islam was honestly as good as you deem it to be, you wouldn’t be busy judging me.

Honestly, I have been at this end of the conversation times too many. People see me from far and think of me (and even go as far as to call me) an amoral girl or a slut (excuse the language). Till one of them somehow gets to know me and realizes (admitting said realization to my face) of how wrong they were.
But the ones who don’t get to know me, continue on their tangents-with me, with other girls like me.
They see the jeans and the tops and assume we are sluts, assume that we have no sense of our religion, assume us to be below them hence, and the chain of assumptions goes on. If the girl in jeans goes and talks to a guy, he must be her boyfriend. If she goes out with male friends, she must be sleeping with them.
If she doesn’t talk to you, another man, it must be because she is too proud.

If she does, then she is trying to get you in her bed too.

If she wears make up, she is a slut trying to seduce you.

If she dresses fancy, it is to attract you.

Stop. Stop. Stop.

Stop labeling us and putting us in a box just because you don’t get us. We don’t fit the box you are trying to put us in to.

You know how you lie? That is a sin too-oh, I can almost see you smirking as you think to yourself that showing my skin is a bigger skin. Well staring at it is an even bigger one, isn’t it? Gossiping about it is even worse. Spreading rumors, is probably the worst.

But of course, you get to judge me because we sin differently.

‘Sinners judging sinners for sinning differently.’

I learned a lot from this quote, but mostly this-I can’t judge someone for something I deem religiously or morally wrong because I can’t see the whole picture. And I definitely can’t see who God prefers amongst us.

It taught me the need to focus on my own religion, for how can I judge a thief if I am a liar? How can I judge a sinner if I am not a saint?

In short, I am not saying my religion is perfect-but is yours? And yet do you see me pointing fingers? How are you sure yours is better than mine, stronger?

Just because you cover your head makes you so sure you are better in front of God than me, then please continue to bask in that ignorance and judge me endlessly.

But if you can, consider this-what if my morals are better than yours?? What if I am closer to God? What if I do something on a daily basis that God likes more than you covering your head daily?
Do you have any guarantees? Because I don’t.

Consider this-what if not covering up as Islam instructs is my one sin (or amongst a few), and one that I ask for help on a daily basis, one that I regret the most. Look at your list of sins, how many do you have?
Look at that list and shorten it, and stop looking at mine, because that in my head is the most important thing Islam teaches us-no judgement on anyone’s religion, just attempt to perfect your own.

Learn the basics. Learn to be tolerant. Learn to stop judging a book by its cover.
And remember that Islam isn’t about sitting in groups and bashing others on what they wear and how they live their lives, and using that to make yourself feel good about your religion.

Islam is about practicing good deeds, and that too so well that you force the people around you to be impressed and inspired by you to work on their own personas.
Lead by example, that is the basic teaching of our religion!

Hence, I repeat, learn the basics. And remember, that Islam puts women on a pedestal in every way, in every walk of life, then who are you to try and pull them down based on outward appearances? 

More importantly, Islam taught us repeatedly to to look into the hearts of people, not their actions.

The whole concept of intentions is so clear in our religion-a good intention is almost as good to our Lord as a good deed. That in itself shows how important the goodness of our hearts is.

And if you think you can’t know how good someone’s heart is just by looking at them, then how can you judge their whole religion based solely on what they wear?

I end this post on a heartfelt request.
Stop judging us just because we dress differently from you.
It hurts. Me yes, but your religion even more so.

 

Twenty-something lessons learned

21 Aug

As I turn a year older this week, I sit back and reflect on the year that has gone by. And as I do so, I can’t help but notice all the lessons life has taught me in it. And although some of them were more bitter than not to live through, they were nonetheless important experiences for me to face, to learn from.

Today, I want to share some of those lessons with you, in the hopes that maybe they will aid someone out there in some way. After all, its best to learn from others’ mistakes than to go making your own, right?

  1. Sometimes you will trust the wrong people. It will hurt but you have to realize that it was not your fault and you will have to forgive yourself for it.
  2. Words can hurt more than you realize, so be careful with them.
  3. No one is irreplaceable, except your mother! If someone leaves your side, it is only to make space for another person. So stop fretting over the ones who walk away!
  4. On that note, remember this-hold your family close to yourself but your mother even closer. She is God’s greatest gift to you!
  5. Stop thinking about what others think of you and stop trying to see yourself from their eyes. Don’t re-type that text. Don’t reread what you sent! Learn to see yourself from your own eyes, learn to love what you see. Celebrate every part of yourself!
  6. Believe in miracles. That girl with the three rounds of failed pregnancies will call you from the hospital nursery post the birth of her twins. Your friend will get to marry the man she always loved. The class fellow who seemed to fail at everything will finally meet up with you and brag about all that they have achieved.
  7. Absolute honesty can at times hurt more than you can imagine. Don’t learn to lie, but do learn to identify the exact point where you need to, well, shut up.
  8. Love freely, but expect none in return. If you do, that is recipe for disaster. If you don’t, you shed half of your troubles.
  9. Buy those Stan Smiths. They never go out of style!
  10. Use the words that broke you the most as your biggest strength. Let them drive you to be your best self!
  11. Humility is the sexiest attribute to possess. That and intelligence.
  12. Opening about your insecurities isn’t easy, but if you talk to the right people about them you will be fine. If you choose the wrong person, don’t worry. The right ones will come along soon enough and help erase any harm done.
  13. Don’t pick up that call your instinct tells you not to. F**k your heart. Trust your mind in this one,
  14. Put your strengths in a box, block out everything else and focus on just them. Everything will then fall in place.
  15. Also, block every form of hater and hatred from your life. Don’t be mean, but just don’t give space to negativity in your life.
  16. Being young means you will make mistakes no matter how careful you are, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy life a bit.
  17. You can’t control every situation, it is just not humanly possible. So if things don’t go according to plan, don’t beat yourself down on it. Instead let yourself go with the flow for once!
  18. It is okay to have dreams different from your peers, you don’t have to want what others around you want.
  19. If your career is your number one priority, not only is that perfectly fine, but anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t have your best interests at heart. If they love you, they will support you no matter what, that is how simple the equation is. No ‘raised to the powers’, no variables in this one!
  20. Some people will hurt you no matter how much you love them and some will love you no matter how much hurt them. Cut out the former kind from your life, and start valuing the later group. Those are the ones that will be sitting proudly in the front row, cheering you on for every single one of your accomplishments, because they will be part of the reason you got on the stage in the first place!
  21. Your mom was right about there being a specific way to fold your laundry and to do the dishes and to dry the dishes. She was also spot on in her ways to identify and avoid fuc*boys. In fact, she was right about almost everything. You are old enough now to admit that.
  22. But maybe not old enough yet to admit how much like her you have become!
  23. Don’t let yourself be walked over by anyone, no matter how important they are to you or how much you love them. No one should have that kind of power over you, period. 

 

Friday Five

12 Aug

Travelling isn’t easy. 

There. I said it. 

I love travelling, honestly. But like all good things, it has its cons. And for me one of the biggest con is  packing. 

Somehow, every time, no matter how much I try, I end up leaving behind at least one very important thing. And mostly it’s not that I forget to pack it, it’s usually because in the past trips I wouldn’t have needed the item so I skip packing it this time. And by some law, it’s always that one thing I end up needing the most in the particular trip. 

One thing though that I no longer compromise on, and hence never leave behind, is my small collection of skin care products. Simply because you need to take extra care of your skin while travelling. Plus, no matter where you are travelling to, the chances of not finding the exact products that work for your skin are always higher than not. 

To avoid the risk of them bursting into my luggage though, I always hand carry my skin care products. Which essentially means I have to get travel sizes for all of them but thanks to shops like Sephora, it is so easy to get my favourite items in mini versions that it seems like no trouble at all!

Since I just got back from travelling abroad, and having packed my must haves again proved to be a great decision (for my skin), I figured I’d share with you the five travel sized skin care products I always have in my carry on and that I wouldn’t risk travelling without, ever!

1. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate® Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash 

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again. This cleanser is the best-especially for acne prone skins. I tend to break out more while travelling, but since I’ve begun travelling with this my breakouts have reduced marginally!

2.  First aid beauty Ultra Repair® Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 40

I’ve combination skin that dries up even more when I’m travelling, so this is an essential travel item for me. If a strong (long lasting) moisturiser isn’t enough of a pro for you, the fact that this one comes with an SPF 40 should have you running for your credit card. 

3. Ouai Morning After Kit

Once you begin using this on your travels, there will be no going back. Trust me!

4. Dr. Jart+ Pore Minimalist Black Charcoal Sheet Mask

I love a good sheet mask. Especially when I’ve been out all day being a tourist. However, this charcoal one by Dr. Jart is probably the best one out there! Easy to use and very effective!

5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15

Just like the rest of yoir sun-exposed body parts, your lips deserve a little extra protection too and this sunscreen is here to save your day while keeping your lips moisturised and tinted!

Till next time,

Gull. 

Letters to you

9 Aug


What a month July was!

I fell in and out of love ten times a day, I did things I had never done before, ate foods I had never heard of and made memories that will last me a lifetime. You guessed it right, I spent the month of July travelling.

And I absolutely loved every minute of it.

And now that it is over and I am back in my country, back with my loved ones, I am living through a bittersweet haze made more confusing thanks to my jet lag!

I have so much to share here with you, so much I am bursting to tell, but I am short on time and feel terribly guilty knowing my posts here will be more infrequent in the upcoming month than ever before!

However, I do promise to try and write to you all as much as I can before my final exams get so close that opening my laptop will become impossible. For that upcoming inevitability, I apologize in advance, but until then here is a sneak-peak into what I am going to be sharing with you in August

As my base camp for July was Chicago, a detailed guide to Chicago will of course be coming your way intermixed with fun stories of my time in the city. Along with that, I will also be sharing with you the best weekend road trip destinations close to Chicago and will share my tips on how to enjoy your weekends in Chicago to the max.

Also, because it took me a trip to Orlando and two days in Disney to figure out how to make the best out of a trip to Disneyland, I will share that with you too in as comprehensive a guide as I needed when I was headed there (and failed to find).

The Friday Five posts will be coming your way too and because I have my birthday coming up in a week, be prepared for a partly corny post on what I have learned in this past year.

There is a lot more on the agenda for what I plan to post here from my trip to the States, but with exams so close, I can’t promise as to when the posts will be headed your way. Hence, keep your eyes peeled to this place (aka, follow my blog here or on Instagram) and watch out for when they go live! Trust me, there will be some crazy stuff in there that you do not want to miss out, especially if you want to hear about some of my most embarrassing moments from the trip!

Really looking forward to writing all these posts for you, even if they will be fewer than ever before-quality over quantity though, right?

Till next time,

Gull.

 

 

 

 

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