Even with significant progress in women empowerment in Bangladesh, it still remains a social taboo for women to travel to far-off destinations on their own. Religious, family and social restrictions have limited travel and adventure for young, enthusiastic travelers for decades. However, in September 2017, one millennial decided to take action through the creation of an online community for female travelers. We caught up with Sabira Mehrin, the founder of this online travel platform called Wander Woman.
“There was a need for a platform which could bring all female travel enthusiasts together to exchange information and travel together. That is why I started Wander Woman,” explained Sabira Mehrun. “I believed, we women had to cross extra barriers to pursue global opportunities and lacked the courage and confidence required to explore a new destination alone. This is why we needed to hear stories and experiences of avid Bangladeshi women from all around the world to get motivated and step out for change. I started with a closed Facebook group to create a safe space for the like-minded travelenthusiasts”.
What started off with 200 facebook friends is now an 8,500+ strong community of women travellers who are constantly empowering and supporting one another and lifting up their love for adventure. Over these three years, Sabira has achieved several key milestones, starting with registering Wander Woman as a Travel Company. She was able to introduce the first ever credit less EMI system on her travel platform, a sim card exchange plan, launched petty currency exchange plan and other incredible ways to make traveling easier for her members.
She even established the WW Academy to teach women skills required for safe adventure traveling, such as swimming, self-defense, etc. In the last three years, Sabira has been able to arrange 20+ trips for women to travel to various parts of Bangladesh and beyond. The WW instagram page is used to promote female travelers of Bangladesh to the world.
“Wander Woman members have been supportive to help with any query placed by other travelers. This has created a trusted peer network where women are coming forward with their first hand experiences in order to help fellow travelers. As a founder of the community, I have been strict about maintaining a positive and non-judgmental environment to ensure that everyone feels safe to share their stories without any fear. I focused on collaboration over competition to show that nothing is more beautiful than women uplifting other women.”
The Diana Award recognizes the young change-makers who are youth-led, inspiring and able to create social impac. Wander woman’s vision to provide access to travel information to women from developing countries has inspired thousands of women to explore global opportunities and new destinations. The Diana Award is the only charity set up to honour Princess Diana of Wales.
“This award is truly special as my late mother was a big follower of Princess Diana and her humanitarian acts. Recognition as her legacy is indeed a worthwhile milestone as an individual as well as organization. We will be receiving mentorship and development programmes recommended by Diana Award organization to further our cause.”
Even fifteen years ago, the general population of Bangladesh did little to nothing to promote animal rights or to fight animal cruelty. Whether it was to help rescue and rehabilitate stray animals, abused and injured animals, or those living in the wild. When a few scattered animal rights proponents would speak up, they would often be shut down with the dialogue that there is no room for animal rights in a land where many humans don’t receive basic rights to safety, food, or shelter. Nonetheless, the online and offline community of animal rights activists has grown significantly over the past decade. From individual volunteers feeding stray cats and dogs to full-fledged non-profit organizations pushing for legislative change – the animal rights scene has undergone drastic changes. I was lucky to have been able to track down and interview some of these key individuals and organizations who have helped make significant progress on this issue. Today, I am excited to introduce them to my readers at Millennial Things to demonstrate the power of our generation and what we can achieve despite socio-political and economic challenges.
My first over the phone interview was with Rubaiya Ahmed, who founded Obhoyaronno in the year 2009 as a way to heal from a very personal loss. After spending 10 years in the United States of America, Rubaiya returned to Dhakaand began to work at her full-time job, unaware of the system then implemented in Dhaka to control the stray dog population. In 2009, Rubaiya’s own pet dog was killed by Dhaka City Corporation workers, as part of their program to ‘control’ the population of stray and thus reduce the risk of rabies. With the loss of her furry friend who was confused for a stray dog and killed, Rubaiya first became aware of the inhumane practice which didn’t need to be the solution to prevent Rabies.
That incident motivated her to look deeper into the problems of this system and try to come up with better and alternative solutions. By founding Obhoyaronno, Rubaiya and her team of trained vets are now able to implement a system of Rabies prevention called CNVR (Catch Neuter Vaccinate Return). “Since then, Obhoyaronno has been running the country’s first CNVR programme in Dhaka with support from Dhaka City Corporation, Humane Society International and FAO”, explained Rubaiya.
She elaborated on how the team of 3 veterinary surgeons and 14 animal welfare officers (all of whom refresh and update their training every year) helped make this program a reality. “It is not done in random areas based on requests but rather it is very methodical. Say we work on Ward No. 46, at least 80% dogs in this ward need to be covered before moving on to ward no. 47. We cannot respond to complaints of stray dog populations out of order as we need to follow the schedule and continue in that manner.Till date 17,000 dogs have been processed by our CNVR program.”
The CNVR program has since then been well-accepted and appreciated by the government of Bangladesh, local authorities, the local community and has received several local and international awards including the “Humane Society International Animal Advocate of the Year” award in 2012.
When asked if this is a model that should be copied and implemented by other volunteer groups, Rubaiya also explains the risks associated with it. The importance of trained, skilled and certified professionals to carry out the surgical procedures is paramount to bring about good health outcomes for the animals. Furthermore, there are unique aspects of the type of surgery performed so the animals can be quickly released back into their natural habitat without requiring extensive post-op care. All these coupled with the essential collaborations with local authorities make it a slightly more strategic project that may not be possible for civilian volunteers to necessary partake in. However, the overwhelming support of civilians through small donations and acceptance of the program symbolizes their appreciation of what Obhoyaronno has achieved.
Advocacy from individuals, online communities of animal activists and non-profits have helped change the general attitude of the average Bangladeshi on the issue, although a lot more work remains to be done. The animal cruelty act of 1920s was the only piece of legislation that covered this issue and needless to say it required updating. Finally, 100 years later in July of 2019, this became a reality in Bangladesh.
Rakibul Haq Emil
Founder, PAW FOUNDATION
In the year 2012, Rakibul Haq Emil found himself rescuing stray animals, often injured and tormented by automobile accidents or direct civilian abuse. Rakibul felt an innate moral obligation to do something for pets who didn’t deserve to suffer at the hands of humans desperate to urbanize and self-preserve.
In particular, Rakibul recalls a paralyzed dog named Maloti, whom he had rescued and attempted to give a better life to. Unfortunately, he was not able to give Maloti a better life, but he became determined to find friends and community members who felt the same way he did. In 2014, he began to organize people who also supported animal rights and preservation of their lives. Finally, in 2015, he was able to form PAW FOUNDATION.
While the main goal of this foundation is to promote compassionate values towards animals and fight for legislative change, there are many different “wings” of the foundation which are helping to work towards the goal. One such wing of this foundation is the non-profit veterinary clinic called “PAW LIFE CARE.” The in-patient part of the clinic is great for rescue and rehabilitation of animals, while the out-patient wing allows community members to bring in their pets for swift treatments and consultations from the trained vets.
Apart from that, there is a legal wing of the foundation which actively engages perpetrators of animal cruelty by using legal avenues and tools. This wing has filed multiple police cases against animal abusers, sent legal notices threatening to file cases against communities who actively torture or cull animals.
“We have sent A Demand of Justice to the Forest Department and Rural Electrification Board to remove and stop the electric lines passing through the reserve forest of Modhupur. It caused the injuries of local monkeys by electrification”, said Rakibul.
In order to encourage other young animal rights activists to get involved across the country, the foundation has started an award for the most compassionate animal lover working at the root level. The award is named “Pranibondhu Award” and it is a way to encourage the humanity and compassion among the youth for stray animals who face the brunt of abuse from civilians.
Stray animals were referred to as “Bewarish”, a slang for unwated and orphaned, by local authorities and even in legislation. Through advocacy from organizations like these, the term has been replaced to “unowned” animals, who do not belong to any particular human, but are free. Changes like these, accompanied by legal proceedings followed up by the foundation are helping to pressurize authorities to begin to take animal cruelty seriously. Every positive verdict in support of animal rights groups that brings animal abusers to justice adds to the power of this movement.
Founder, Animal Lovers Bangladesh
At the age of 12, Dipanwita Ridi rescued her first kitten when she saw some children bothering and hurting her. A week later, she rescued a puppy from a similar situation. It didn’t take long for Dipanwita to realize that she has a special spot in her heart for these furbabies and that she needs to do something to help them.
As the number of rescue animals kept increasing, it became difficult for her to house them in her apartment in Dhaka city. Soon enough, people were bringing rescued animals to her to foster while they figured out how to house them with loving families. In 2013, Dipanwita moved to a spacious village home which she transformed into an animal shelter.
General people;s understand of animal cruelty was still limited and so cases of abuse and cruelty were rampant. She was getting dozens of injured animals who had been rescued. The goal of the Animal Lovers Bangladesh shelter is to temporarily house rescued animal and helped them find good, loving and permanent homes.
Many people use pets to breed them, many then try to sell them for a profit like commodities. These are aspects of the pet industry that Dipanwita and other activists find deeply disturbing. This is why their shelter’s slogan is “Don’t buy, Adopt!” With that in mind, her goal is to help find loving homes for all the hundreds of rescued animals that end up at her shelter. Dipanwita also points out that simply adopting isn’t enough. Any responsible pet parent would need to cat-proof or dog-proof their homes so the pets do not leave the home. Often run-away pets get lost, injured, pregnant, or infected when domestic pets end up on the streets.
“The purpose of my shelter in Narayanganj is to shelter cats and dogs in need who won’t survive on the street by themselves. Most of them were extremely sick, injured or abandoned by their owner. We rescued orphans without a mother cat, pregnant mother cats and dogs, handicapped animals with permanent physical or mental injuries. We have paralyzed, blind cats, and cats with epilepsy or nerve problems. They get to have safe place, food and treatment at the shelter until we can find a loving home for them. Since 2013 I sheltered around 2000 animals. And there are always 50/60 cats and 20 dogs at the shelter at any given time. They get their monthly routine check up, defleeing and dworking medication here and all of them are vaccinated and neutered”, said Dipanwita.
With her enthusiastic group of youth volunteers from the community, she is hopeful that things will turn around with awareness. Purchases of pets are dropping and adoption rates are increasing, according to Dipanwita’s personal experiences. These shine a ray of hope that someday every cat and dog in her shelter will have a loving home to return to.
Since his childhood, Fahim Zaman was awestruck by the beauty of wild animals of channels like National Geography. In 2013, Fahim would go out for adventures in the wild where he would observe wild animal in their natural habitat. As much as he adored them, he knew that the wild if where these animals belonged.
“In terms of conservation the first real project I volunteered for was with Creative Conservation Alliance (CCA). They were radio tracking wild pythons and Elongated tortoises in north east Bangladesh. We would go out to the fields to track those animals to know further about how they behave when relocated form/near villages. Later I did volunteer for them quite a few more time in some other projects.”
Fahim is currently working for Creative Conservation Alliance as a facility manager for their Turtle Conservation Center. It is a Captive breeding facility for critically endangered turtles and tortoises of Bangladesh, who are bred to increase and reinstate their normal population for future release into the wild.
“Our main focus is the forests of Chittagong hill tracks. The bio diversity is incomparable to any other forest in the country and the government pays very little attention to it due to its remote location. We take both a top down and a bottom up approach to save the forest, the wild life and the communities living there”, explained Fahim. In his case, Fahim is mostly working with Asian Gaint Tortoise species which is almost on the brink of extinction. His favourite part is to see the released tortoises laying eggs and those eggs eventually hatching to make more babies in the wild. “It’s takes a long time to see the fruit of this work since these animals take about 20 years to reach sexual maturity.”
The CCA also focuses on awareness and education. “We do speech and presentations in schools and universities to inspire youth to come forward and work in this field. Out center is open to them to know further about how conservation work being carried out in Bangladesh. We even teach kids in our remote school located deep inside Bandarban about the importance of the forest for their survival and how the symbiotic relation can help both parties. We believe teaching the next generation will ensure the forest stays protected by the communities living in them. For tourism it’s a totally different issue, bigger things like that need policy changes which is a whole other chapter,” mentioned Fahim.
All animals, be they stray animals on the streets of Dhaka or wild ones on the sandy beaches of our country deserve to live, grow and continue the existence of their species. Human intervention, be it in the form of cruelty and abuse or taking away their breeding grounds essential for the survival of their progeny, have ultimately endangered these creatures and trampled on their rights as a member of the ecosystem. Nonetheless individuals, organizations, volunteers and donors of such initiatives give us hope to a changing landscape when it comes to animal rights in Bangladesh.
Since 2011, Raaga Models & Talent Agency based in Toronto have been organizing the prestigious pageant of Miss (&Mrs.) South Asia Canada! The goal of the event is to help build self esteem and confidence among young women of the South Asian community, nurturing competitive but friendly peer learning opportunities, teaching good sportsmanship, public speaking skills, poise and elegance. Most importantly, they are to encourage participation and involvement in the community and taking part in fund raising events, donations and volunteering.
In December of 2019, a young woman named Sunita Pun stunned everyone on stage with her mature and well thought out answers and won the title of Miss South Asia Canada! Before the final title, Sunita also bagged the titles of Miss Bollywood Diva and Miss Congeniality.
“I first participated in a pageant in 2015 for a charity to help victims of an earthquake in Nepal. It was then that I realized how a pageant can be an opportunity for me to come out of my comfort zone and explore my inner potential. I participated in Miss South Asia Canada 2018 and I made it to the top five and also won two subtitles. Not winning the crown was unsettling but a learning curve for me. So I came back in 2019 and competed in Miss South Asia Canada 2019 to prove it to myself that hard work pays off and that we can do amazing things when we don’t give up,” said Sunita in an exclusive interview with Millennial Things Blog.
Since missing the title in 2018, Sunita knew that she had to believe that she really deserved the title from her heart and so she practiced positive self-talk, self-acceptance, and self-love, including Meditation and yoga.
Q. Can you tell us about the different rounds in the pageant and what skills they tested?
“The first round was a traditional round which was my favourite, because I got to see all the beautiful and colourful outfits representing South Asia. The second round was called the saree round and I was a bit nervous about standing on stage for so long in a neat but delicately wrapped outfit. We said our introductory speeches, and after delivering mine, I became more confident about my presence on stage. “
“I eventually made it to the semi-finals where we picked a question and answered it. The question was a bit tricky but I told myself that I will have to remain calm and answer the best I can.”
“The last round was the final question answer round. This is the most important one and I was always nervous thinking about this round prior to the completion, but during the competition I was the most calm and confident in this round. I told myself that I would give my best and that it was my time to shine.”
Q. What is the one moment of the competition that you are the most proud of?
“The answer I gave was something I truly believed in my heart so instead of being nervous I had fun answering my question. I got so emerged in the moment that I did not care about the result at that time. I knew I got to say what I believed in and I felt truly satisfied from within.”
Q. Can you tell us how you felt right before the final results were announced!
I was a bit nervous in the beginning of the show thinking about things that could go wrong. I reminded myself of how gracefully I handled failures in the past and how much I have learnt because of it. I reminded myself that I have worked hard and I am ready for this. As the rounds went on I started feeling more excited and hopeful that I will win. After I won, I felt accomplished and very grateful.
What was your take away from this competition and the title you receive? Do you plan to continue to partake in such competitions in the future?
“My take away from this competition is that hard work pays off. There is nothing you cannot achieve if you put your mind to it and try relentlessly until you achieve it. I do not have plan to take part in another pageant in the future, but you know life always surprises us.”
Sunita holds a bachelor’s degree in public health and I works in community mental health. “I want to continue working in mental health. Mental health is challenging at the same time very rewarding because it gives me opportunity to make someone’s life better at the same time expand my own knowledge. In my community, I often participate in local charity events where I showcase my dance skills and I would like to continue doing so. I am passionate about public speaking and in the future I hope to become a motivational speaker and advocate for mental health issues in the community.”
Q. As a millennial, how do you think this competition helped to inspire you or encourage certain values in you?
“When I lost my previous pageant, I thought about reasons why I lost it. Insecurity crept in and I started thinking that maybe I lost because I am not beautiful enough or not smart enough. But deep in my heart I knew I had to stay true to my values. I came back to compete to prove to myself that hard work, integrity, and self-acceptance is what makes someone a pageant winner. Winning the title has made me believe in myself more than ever and I am ready to take on new challenges.”
Q. What is your message to other South Asian women out there?
My message to other young south Asian women out there is that our self-worth is not dependent on what anyone says or thinks of us. Our self-worth is made of our resilience, compassion, and all the challenges we overcome. Chase after your dreams and have a courage to live a life true to yourself.
We all enjoy the process of exploring new cultures differently. For some of us, it is the stunning sights and remarkable history of a place that makes it memorable. For others, it is the people and their colourful traditions which keep ancient cultures alive. For foodies like us…it is the mouthwatering delicacies that are unique to that area which helps us relish and immortalize the trip through our taste buds. Today we are sharing the experience of such a food-lover and travel blogger, Eriko. Over the years, Eriko has developed a palette that enjoys mouthwatering and diverse cuisines as she travels to the various corners of the world. Her adventurous spirit allows her to appreciate every aspect of foreign cuisines, from street food to michelin star restaurants. That’s why today we have chosen to feature her journey through 20-Food images that she took during her trips. Scroll down and check out the 20 plates of food which she selected to share with us at Millennial Things Blog!
Romania is the first country I visited in Eastern Europe, and I loved how cheese was such an integral part of their food. I visited a lot of higher-end restaurants during my time there, and I came to this restaurant twice (the second time to try the dessert which we couldn’t have the first night as the restaurant was closing). The building is from the 14th century, and the food is inspired by Transylvania’s colorful cultural background. The cheese-stuffed mushrooms were particularly outstanding, as the balsamic dressing complimented the flavour of the cheese beautifully! The duck breast with wine plum sauce, arugula salad and glass-plated yellow carrots was an interesting mix of sweet flavours—usually “sweet” isn’t what I look for in mains, but this was actually really nice. The crème brûlée was amazing as well, and it was completely worth the trip back there just to try it!
2.Cabinet de Vin & Cocotte
Although Cluj does not have any Michelin star restaurants, a lot of people feel that this restaurant should have one. I tried to get a table here on the first night, but it wasn’t possible to do so without a reservation, so we made one for the following night. We tried the escargot, beef tartare, duck with risotto, and seafood with a creamy mash, and most of the items were delicious. I am not the biggest fan of risotto, which is probably why I didn’t enjoy it too much (although it was highly recommended online). The restaurant has some quirky decorative pieces, and the waiters were very helpful and knowledgeable.
This restaurant was another fancy place in Cluj that I visited on my last night there. A more modern restaurant, the décor was simple yet eye-catching. We ordered the foie gras, soup, lamb chop, and angus beef steak, and the presentation of each item was top-notch. In particular, the lamb chop with Jerusalem artichoke texture and coffee was incredible. The notes of coffee that could be tasted hit the spot, and I would gladly fly back to Cluj just to go back to this restaurant!
While researching restaurants in Bulgaria, Hemingway was one of the highly rated restaurants in Plovdiv that kept coming up, so we had to check it out. It was definitely amazing– the beef tartare was excellent, and so was the trout! The fish soup was fairly good, and the mushroom and cheese main dish was superb. I cannot stress how great the beef tartare was. It’s a bit tricky to get a table at the restaurant without a reservation, but we went a bit after lunch, which worked out for us! I’d wholeheartedly recommend this, and I shall definitely go here again next time I’m in Plovdiv.
Located in a cute corner of Vitosha boulevard, Samurai is a casual yet fun restaurant. We originally went there for drinks, but ended up trying the mussels which were surprisingly good. We also tried the seafood risotto and the grilled mushrooms, both of which were good. I particularly enjoyed the tiramisu (which is my favorite dessert in the world). I loved the colors in this restaurant, and the location made it a perfect place to grab a bite!
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Intrigued by my first introduction to Balkan cuisine in Bulgaria, I was curious to see how it differed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, so I set out to try the local items in restaurants that were recommended by other foodies around the world.
6. Ćevabdžinica Željo
: A Bosnian staple is ćevapi, which is a dish made from grilled minced meat. It’s typically served with “Somun” bread, and onion, yoghurt, and cream. I settled on this restaurant in the Old Market Square in Sarajevo due to the raving reviews it had online, which were supported by the bustling atmosphere within the restaurant, filled to the brim with customers (perks of travelling solo: most restaurants will always have room for one more). Service was swift; it reminded me of the kebab shops in the UK or Gulshan Plaza Restora in Dhaka. It tasted quite similar to kebab and rotis/naans that are served in Asia as well, and the addition of onions definitely drove that deshi flavour home!
7. Buregdzinica Bosna
Another must-try on my list was burek, which is a pie made with ground or chopped meat, onions, and spices. It’s rolled into a thinly rolled phyllo dough, and served with yogurt. There are numerous places offering burek, so I researched a bit and settled on this restaurant. It was by far the more popular burek restaurant in Sarajevo, and it didn’t disappoint! Even after my ćevapi from earlier, I scarfed down the entire plate of burek alone. Living on good quality grilled meat served with a dollop of yogurt and veggies… hmm I can definitely see myself living in Bosnia and Herzegovina for sure!
This café is situated in a corner of the Old Market in Sarajevo, overlooking the mosque and the shops. It was my first time trying Turkish coffee, and I fell in love! The strong, deliciously bitter flavor of the coffee was complimented by the excessively sweet locum, a traditional sweet served with Turkish coffee. This café had over options for food, which I didn’t try, but I’d recommend it for the coffee itself!
By the time I arrived in Croatia, I was a tad bit tired of the grilled meats and cheese-based items that are a staple of the Balkan cuisine, so I found myself gravitating towards seafood or vegetarian/vegan meals. This spaghetti with mussels was one of them, and it was fantastic! The slight hints of lime in the spaghetti made it the perfect lunch under the scorching Croatian sun (while watching the myriad of interesting people making their way down the promenade on this nice summer day).
10. Terminal F
This restaurant was chosen primarily because of its fun vibe. The shrimp burger (once again chosen because of the desire to avoid meat) was so good that I went back twice to have it again (usually a big no-no for me while travelling). It was juicy and light, satiating you without making you feel sluggish. The Terminal F special pizza, on the other hand, reminded me a bit of the Shwarma House pizzas because of the ground meat. It was a bit heavier, so we ended up taking some of it home (despite being big eaters– having so much meat and cheese for a week does that to you I guess!). They also served a variety of interesting drinks and cocktails. My choice for the night was a drink called Adios Motherf*ckers, which was what I had to say about all the people hating on my extended holiday (let a girl live!).
Now, I’m all for trying local cuisine when I visit a country, but I also LOVE fine dining. Zoí is a Michelin plate restaurant that is located on the south wall of the Diocletian’s Palace where the emperor’s apartments were located in Split, Croatia. I knew I HAD to try this place, and after attempting it for two days, I was finally lucky enough to get a reservation on my last night in Split. This was not Croatian or Balkan food, but a nice fine dining restaurant. The beef tartare was excellent, and the mushroom risotto was creamy yet light, with the right amount of flavour without overpowering the senses. The tagliatelle was fairly good, but as someone who is overly picky about any kind of pasta with red sauce, it was my least favorite item from the restaurant. However, what some of the food lacked in flavour, the restaurant made up for with the ambiance. I may have taken 1209432 photos against the glowing moon over the promenade, and shall cherish the memories from this night forever!
12. De Zuikant
I visited Bruges for a weekend, and immediately knew that I have to venture out to Damme, a neighbouring town, just for this Michelin star restaurant. The items were served based on my tastes, and unfortunately I don’t remember the exact items that were served that day. The started was a salmon with interestingly served greens, and the main was juicy steak with some seasonal squash. The memory of the rhubarb and ice cream served for dessert still lingers in my mind. Fun fact: After this delicious meal, I walked 5km back to Bruges because there were no forms of transportation heading back there as it was a weekend. I’d do it again in a heartbeat though!
13. Christmas Market
A staple for me at every Christmas market is a plate of cheese fries. The cheese fries in the UK are not your average cheese fries that you find around the world. No Sir, after moving to the UK, having gravy with fries (also called chips here, NOT to be confused with crisps, which are what potato chips are referred to in this country) has opened my eyes to a whole new range of possibilities. The cheese fries here are essentially a plate of fries, with melted, gooey cheese poured in abundance over the them. The cheese stays warm enough to withstand the cold outside while you devour the fries to warm up your soul, which is definitely an added bonus!
14. Pimlico Fresh
Now, boomers are quick to complain about how all millennials do is complain about their inability to buy property while wasting their earnings on avocado toast. I may not have reached the age where I am thinking about buying property, but avocado toast can literally make your day better when served right. I’ve become a bit of a narc about avo toast, so after returning to London from a trip and finding myself with a bit of free time before having to catch my coach back to Nottingham, I decided to try what was supposedly the best brunch place near the station: Pimlico Fresh. It’s one of those super busy places with people sharing tables with strangers, and I loved it. My avo toast came with a healthy serving of smoked salmon and cream cheese and some freshly squeezed lime. It was actually heaven on a plate; so good that I momentarily forgot that I was amongst complete strangers who witnessed me inhale the toast within a few minutes. I washed it down with some kombucha, because hey, your girl couldn’t be more millennial or basic if she tried!
15. Dalloway Terrace
I came across this restaurant on one of my favorite Bangladeshi bloggers in the UK’s profile, @bsiddlife (https://www.instagram.com/bsiddlife/). It was the first fine dining restaurant I visited after moving to the UK, and the restaurant was decorated in full autumn galore. I tried the octopus carpaccio, which was immaculate. The grilled organic salmon main was super light, and zesty with the squeezed lemon, served with some truffle fries. I tried the dark chocolate fondant with hazelnut ice cream as the dessert, and it definitely took the cake for this meal! The menu at this restaurant changes seasonally, as does the décor, so it’s definitely one of those restaurants that you can keep going back to without getting bored.
16. Le Quai Saint Tropez
Did you even go to France if you didn’t try escargot? I knew when I booked my trip to the south of France, I HAD to try it. Escargot is a French delicacy, comprising of cooked edible snails. It might not be something that appeals to everyone, but I was definitely game! I arrived at Saint Tropez a bit late for lunch, so my first choice to try escargot was closed. This restaurant was possibly even better than the first, as it was located right on the promenade with a bunch of boujee yachts parked out front. The other patrons were having a whale of a time, and the fans which sprayed mists of water was definitely welcome in the intense summer heat found in the island in mid-June. The escargot was served with some lemon butter, and it tasted quite like mussels or oysters. The only off-putting part of trying them was that I could see the nerves and veins of the snails through the skin, which was a tad unsettling. However, on the taste aspect, it was perfectly fine, so I would totally have it again, next time I’m in France! The oysters served at the restaurant were also cooked well, so it definitely knows what it’s doing with seafood!
17. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
I’ve been to a number of fancy restaurants in my life, but this one is definitely in the top three of my favorite restaurant experiences ever. The restaurant is dimly lit and the interior is mainly red and black (my two favorite colors, yay!), and patrons are seated around the bar. It has one Michelin star, and the cuisine is largely French, and the chef Olivier Limousin came to speak to me during the meal. We tried the foie gras and avocado rolls (not French, but I love my sushi so I just had to!) as starters, and a lobster and vegetable fricassee with lobster bisque and some lamb for the mains. My favorite item was the lobster, which was beyond delicious. I was also celebrating my birthday, so I got a complimentary dessert, which is always great! This restaurant is currently closed for renovations, but it is a must visit! They have stores all over the world, and I’d definitely recommend visiting one!
18. Boomerang Restaurant
This chicken thali that I tried in Nepal tasted very light and fresh. I don’t like my lunches to be really heavy, so I was a bit apprehensive when I saw the rice in this meal. Surprisingly, it did not leave me sluggish, and the chicken, vegetables, and daal served with the meal were flavourful and delicious.
Momos in Nepal are a whole different level of goodness. My love for all kinds of food that are served wrapped in dough knows no bounds, and I went crazy over the momos in Nepal. There are so many kinds, and they all tasted so good! I love both steamed momos and fried momos, especially those with a chicken or mushroom filling. Your options are limitless in Nepal; the ones pictured here are from a random roadside restaurant in between Kathmandu and Pokhara!
20. Premium Sweets
I realize how Bangladeshi I am when I think about this restaurant. I literally couldn’t stop thinking about it after I booked my flight back this year, and writing this now is making me salivate. The letka khichuri at Premium Sweets, with the kala bhuna and mehzbani ghost is my favorite Bengali food of all time. Through in the brain masala into the mix and I couldn’t be any happier! It’s moist and spicy, and cooked to perfect. The khichuri is served in a clay pot, and a rumali roti on top (which is what I usually have my brain masala with). The faluda at this restaurant is also top notch!
As you grow up, the question of, “What do you want to be when you grow up” turns into “What are you going to do for the rest of your life.” If you’ve always known what you wanted to do, then great, if you didn’t then that’s okay, too. I didn’t think about becoming a lawyer until almost the end of my undergraduate studies. If you ever thought about or are thinking about pursuing a legal career, then I have a few tips to you.
1. Volunteer or get work experience as soon as you can
One of the things I am most grateful for is having gotten to work one summer as an intern and assistant at a small law office before finishing my bachelor’s degree and deciding to study law. You should try to get a feel of what it is like to be in a legal work environment before committing to a legal career path. There are some who have watched television, maybe dreamed of becoming a paralegal or lawyer, and then realized that the job and the environment isn’t what they thought it would be like. I wasn’t someone who initially thought I would become a lawyer when I was younger. I was someone who was still figuring it out. It was during my undergraduate studies of psychology, when I thought about the connection to law and had the opportunity to work with a lawyer, when I decided to go to law school. This work experience is especially important if you are thinking about going to law school or becoming a lawyer, and are concerned about your financial situation, as not only is tuition of law school expensive but there are many other fees in addition that you will have to pay for (more on this below), and so you should know what you will be working towards after your degree beforehand.
2. Have a financial plan or significant savings. Do not carry debt going into law school if possible
The legal profession is an expensive career path, and do not assume that you are going to be able to make up for it all right away once you become a licensed legal professional. Yes, law school is expensive, but so are licensing fees. What’s that? Yes, there are more fees after you graduate. Whether you are becoming a lawyer or a paralegal in Ontario, after you graduate and want to become a lawyer or paralegal, you will have to pay for fees upfront to join the legal professional body, licensing exam fees and more. Law school doesn’t really give you that much time off to have a job, and the expenses you will be paying for will be a lot more than how much you can earn part-time at any minimum wage position. Unfortunately, for us millennials, you probably know that there is already a shortage for university graduates obtaining meaningful career positions after they graduate that pay well, and the legal field is no different. To become a lawyer, after you have your law degree, each province has their own licensing process, you will have to apply to the law society of the province you want. In Ontario, you will have to pay for another application fee to get put into the licensing process, then you will be required to write two bar exams, and complete an experiential training component, either “articling” which is a supervised internship for 10 months or the Law Practice Program. You may have heard some positive stories of students who were well paid working at a large law firm after graduating, but that’s not always the case, and many smaller firms often can’t pay you a significant amount. In fact, you will be lucky to work for the minimum wage at some smaller firms. The Ontario bar exams with the required materials will cost you over $2000, and for your experiential training component, you will have to pay over $3000 (I don’t remember the exact numbers). That’s right, you must PAY to have your work or internship recognized. If you fail a bar exam, you will have to pay to do it again. These exams are also 7 and a half hours each filled with a lot of material, and many people must take some time off work to study. After this, you will have to pay for the bar ceremony, possibly buy/rent barrister robes, and then when you do get licensed, guess what… MORE FEES! Within the first few weeks after getting called to the Bar, congratulations, you will be handed an invoice from the law society asking you to pay for the remainder of the year as a licensed professional, even if you aren’t working. If you are not practising law, you can apply to change your status with the law society to pay less fees, but you are still required to pay something more than a few hundred dollars just to maintain your license, otherwise your license may be administratively suspended for not paying. If you are practising, you will have to pay much more, and in addition, it is mandatory for licensees to have practising insurance coverage. In Ontario, we use LawPro Insurance. A new call has a 50% discount, but surprisingly that’s still over $300/month currently for a new lawyer in their first year. Thus why, I would suggest you plan out a financial plan or figure out how you will survive financially for several years (not a few, not for just when you’re in law school, but after too), and you do not want to be in debt before starting this career path.
3. Maintain and build your support system
If you have great friends, and people you have met through work experience before law school, you will want to maintain their friendships to help get you through any mental struggles you may face throughout your career journey. In law school, don’t be afraid to make friends, not everyone will be amazing, some become too competitive, and you may want to stay away from those, but if you find some great friends in your class or in another class above or below you, then you will have an advantage over those who are just competitive and want to do everything alone. It’s great if you can find people who can share with you notes or would be willing to build notes together with you or provide other tips. The people I attempted to befriend in the beginning did not become my friends I later had. Friends I later had in law school, were people that I eventually became close with and still stay in touch with. When I first started at law school, I lived in a studio apartment, and this girl who lived two doors down from me who was a semester senior to me ended up becoming one of my best law school pals, and that was not something I expected. Although we were in different semesters, we attempted to compete in various legal competitions such as moots, client interview competitions, and negotiations. I later took a few courses with her as I took a few courses out of order, and she later introduced me to my roommate I moved in with 2 semesters later. I was able to form a study group sometimes then. I also got to know someone else who was senior to me, who I would regularly meet in the library who taught me Microsoft Word tricks for formatting my exam notes that I will forever be thankful for.
4. Don’t try to be a “Shark” or super competitive going into law school or college
There is this falsehood with a lot of new law school students who believe that they need to be as competitive as possible, and perhaps even sabotage other students or should not help anyone else. I don’t really blame anyone for having this initial view as many do and it can somewhat feel encouraged by schools that curve class grades. However, in the real practising world, legal professionals often need to work with each other, and rely on asking each other for help, guidance and advice to do better, and so you should start building your relationships early on. You never know when you may need someone. Try to help others when you can.
5. If you’re thinking about going to law school abroad, do your research and plan.
I went to Bond University in Australia, but before applying, I attended an information event for their law programs in Toronto, and some of their webinars where I could ask them questions. You should find out whether the school you are thinking about is planning any information sessions nearby or if there are any international university fairs. At international university fairs, you can get some information, and find out about various law school programs but you should then do further research into any schools you are then seriously considering, and then see if they will host a specific information session for the law program.
There are often also consultant agencies that will help you with informing you of information sessions and sending your applications. I signed up with KOM Consultants, which is based in Hamilton and asked them about universities they communicate with. Another popular agency for helping students interested in studying in Australia is OzTREKK. Both agencies can provide you with an abundance of information if you are interested in studying abroad. You should research into whether the University is recognized by the National Committee of Accreditation (NCA) (the Canadian association that assesses legal education and professional experience outside of Canada) or whether they have had students come back to Canada and what their experiences have been like in the past.
After you have completed your legal education abroad, if you plan to come back to Canada to practice, you will have to be assessed by the NCA. This process can take a lengthy period, so you should also be prepared for an additional time period spent completing the NCA process. The NCA requires a final transcript from your school to be sent directly to them. Towards the end of your studies, you should enquire into any forms you may have to fill to have your transcript sent. You will have to apply to have your education assessed by the NCA, which you can do so on their website: https://nca.legal/process/application/ . Once your transcript has been sent to the NCA and they have assessed your application, then they will tell you if they require you to write any additional exams, or to take any courses at a Canadian law school. When I applied, I think they had up to 12 weeks to assess, and you can’t start signing up to any of the NCA exams until they have properly sent you back your assessment. Once you have completed the NCA requirements, they will send you a notice and ask which law society (province or territory) you are planning to join. They will then send your Certificate of Qualification to that law society and send one copy to you. After this, then you will have to apply to the law society you intend to join, e.g. the Law Society of Ontario, and you will start the process with them and pay for all the fees noted above in my second tip. Oh, also you should be prepared to have to pay for NCA fees as well if you plan on going abroad and coming back to Canada.
If you are interested in staying abroad and practicing in another country, then you should ask about possible VISA options for staying after your studies that other graduates have applied for at your information sessions or to your consultant agency (E.g. KOM consultants or OzTREKK).
Bonus Tip 6: Connect with fellow students and graduates
Lastly, if you plan on embarking on a legal career or know someone who is, you should join the social media community or follow and subscribe to Ginny Law Blogs at www.ginnylawblogs.com, a resource for new lawyers and those seeking a legal career.
I hope you enjoyed this article if you’re a millennial who is thinking about going to law school or are seeking a legal career.
About the Author: Virginia Ng aka “Ginny” is a new millennial lawyer, blogger and creator of Ginny Law Blogs, a blog that not only explores various interesting legal topics but is also a blog that discusses the journey of navigating the legal professional world as a young female lawyer, giving insight, motivation and tips to other upcoming or aspiring legal professionals.
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:
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).