How To Avoid Pickpockets in Paris

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I bet you thought I was done with blog posts about Paris. I thought I was too! But a friend who is leaving for Paris this month reached out to me for advice and I realized there was one last thing I needed to share with all of you- how to avoid pickpockets.

Let me tell you, I was petrified of pickpockets abroad. I had heard of two co-workers who has been pickpocketed and became almost paranoid that it would happen to me. Here are my recommendations for avoiding losing your very valuable belongings while traveling abroad. I’d also like to preface this by saying that after a few days in Paris, I felt extremely safe. However, I’d like to acknowledge that I do say this as someone who currently lives in NYC.

Photocopy Your Passport

It is always better to be safe than sorry. Photocopy your passport and leave one copy back at home and carry one with you in case you lose your passport or have to stolen.

Lock Up Your Passport

The idea of carrying my passport around Paris made me feel very uneasy. If you’re staying at a hotel with a safe, this is a great option. Otherwise, we just kept our passports locked inside our suitcases at our airbnb and our passports were completely safe.

If you’re worried about someone breaking into your airbnb and stealing your passports, a money belt is a great option. I bought one but didn’t end up using it. But you can keep it at your waist and leave your passport there so that is always with you when you’re out and about. That way it’s always on you but in a place that pickpockets can’t readily reach.

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For most of the trip I carried this crossbody and opted to hold it on my arm so that it was always in front of me.

Wear a Crossbody/Money Belt

Something unique that I noticed about Paris was the fact that everyone wore a crossbody bag or carried a backpack with a fanny pack. This was weird to me because I never saw anything like this in NYC. I think that wearing something to the front of you that you can see is the best way to make sure your belongings are safe. And if you’re carrying a lot a backpack is fine as long as you have a fanny pack to your front with your most important belongings.

Carry a Card-case

I once had my wallet stolen a few years ago at work and wish I had thought of this idea before losing my wallet. I can’t take credit for it by the way, it was advised to me on one of the many blogs I read before traveling to Paris.

Don’t put all your important cards in your wallet. Keep some cards at home. When I lost my wallet I had to cancel all my cards. When you’re abroad, maybe just bring your debit card and one credit card without a foreign transaction fee. Limit how much cash you take out or carry so that even if something is stolen, you’ll be okay.

Don’t be Dumb

I caught myself a few times during the trip panicked because I left my bag unzipped in front of me and worried if something got stolen. Watch your belongings. Always zip it. Don’t leave things unattended. Don’t be dumb and I’m sure you’ll avoid the pick pockets.

I hope you enjoy your time abroad and as long as you’re careful, there’s absolutely no reason to worry.

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Religion As A Spectrum

When I first sat down to write this blog post I had come to the realization that regardless of what you believe, belief often exists on a spectrum that can actually tie people of different faiths closer together than those of the same spiritual background. But as I explored this idea more I came to the realization that as much as I’d like to believe that religion is a spectrum, scripture tells me the unpopular message that I should be totally sold out to God or not believe in him all. 

While talking with a friend who is Muslim, I discussed the idea that in many ways, though I am Christian, I might feel closer to a Muslim who is religious than a Christian who isn’t that religious. At my current stage of life I am growing in my personal walk with God but have encountered countless people who have told me that religion is good, but not if it becomes too important in our lives.

I’m reminded of the guy from a dating app who warned me of his aunt who never got married because she was so religious and spent all her life serving God. Or well-meaning friends who see completely following God as a loss of sorts because of what could be understood to be rigid rules within Christianity.

The idea that I could connect with a Muslim more than a less religious Christian was crazy to me at the time because for a long time I held schemas in my head of what it meant to be a Christian versus believing a different faith. And to me, there was no way that I could really connect with others of different religious backgrounds.

The idea of connecting with someone of a different faith was first planted in my head years ago. I was hosting a GIG or Group Investigating God with a college friend and most weeks our group consisted of the executive team from the Atheist/Agnostic club at our college. During our last meeting I invited a Muslim friend and was surprised by how my Muslim friend and I defended faith and the existence of a God, though to us this God was different. Because to believe at all is to share something beautiful in common, compared to a person who does not believe in the existence of anything.

But before we can really look at the intersection of faiths, let’s look at how I personally define what it means to be a Christian vs. a Muslim.

Defining a ‘Christian’ 

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First, we encounter the argument of how you choose to define what it means to be Christian. For the purposes of this post- I’ve indicated how I categorize someone as almost a “baseline” Christian. I realize that you the reader may have a different definition of what being a Christian means.

And even as I tried to define a “baseline” Christian I wondered if it was fair to say that they tithe because I’ve heard that very few people actually do this. Then there are people who love God but regularly miss church.

Defining a ‘Muslim’ 

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I asked a friend how she defines a Muslim and she indicated the above and clarified that she also considered that recognizing one God, the day of judgement, and believing Mohammed is a prophet is enough.

The Intersection 

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You can see above how the intersection between how “close” you can feel to someone who also holds faith, even if they believe in a different God. That is compared to someone who is a different faith but isn’t as religious.

I was honestly super proud of this realization until I realized that I was missing one important fact.

God Doesn’t Want Christians On a Spectrum 

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To follow and listen to God’s word instructs me of the fact that God doesn’t want Christians on a spectrum. Thus negating the entire that a spectrum could even exist. 

Revelation 3:15-16 New International Version (NIV)
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

The reality is that Christianity cannot exist on a spectrum because scripture instructs that you must either you are completely sold out for God or you should not believe in him at all.

The danger of our society is a culture in which people decide that they are kinda sorta Christian. This is a topic that was spoken about this past Sunday at my church.

It also begins to become easy to think that giving 10% is a lot if you surround yourself with other people who don’t give at all. But God’s standards for serving him are radically not in relation to those in our lives and instead is revealed in his word.

As I grow as a person and in my walk with God I am also learning to respect the journeys of others and realize that though scripture is clear, we might still be on a spectrum of belief. But while on this spectrum, I think we cannot deny the command from scripture to avoid at all costs, lukewarm Christianity.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Can Christianity exist on a spectrum? Is my definition of following Christ too rigid? 

PARIS: Some Places to Visit

This blog post is inspired by Un-fancy.com. The creator of that blog is the reason I believe I first started dressing in a way that actually allowed me to feel confident and not guilty about spending money on clothing that actually lasted. I highly recommend you check out her post on what she packed and wore in Paris. I tried to implement the different categories that she shared from her trip to Paris, but with details from my stay.

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DAY ONE

AFTERNOON: We arrived in our Airbnb in Le Marais around 3pm. We decided to get food after walking around and exploring a bit. We ended up getting burgers that were made with waffles in lieu of a normal bun. Tre chic!

EVENING: I almost ditched the group to sleep because of my jet lag but decided to get drinks by a cute spot in front of our airbnb. As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I opted for a coke which was so darn good. Back at the airbnb we spilt the most delicious pastries together as a late night snack. It was then that I learned that I love pistachio!

DAY TWO 

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MORNING: Because of jet lag, we decided to watch the sunrise at around 5am by Ponte des Arts in the Latin Quarter. Before it was even 12pm we grabbed breakfast, saw the outside of Notre Dame and went inside St. Chapelle.

AFTERNOON: Early afternoon we visited Musee d’Orsay because it was nearby and saw the most beautiful pieces. I’m super grateful that was had an art teacher with us because she explained the importance of a lot of things that I would have otherwise overlooked.

Because I had booked a Bike Tour in advance, around 2pm I left for the tour while enviously leaving my friends who used that time for a much needed nap. At the end of the tour I saw the Eiffel tower for the first time.

EVENING: We walked around more and explored more of Paris before stopping by Luxembourg gardens and later getting Steak and Frites. Steak and Frites was literally the only thing on the menu. I learned that my Coke was more expensive than wine, but just by a little. We came back the the airbnb and as per tradition, spilt some desserts.

DAY THREE

AFTERNOON: The night prior, despite all my attempts I could not sleep. My super sweet vacay roomie boiled hot water for me in the middle of the night. I was coughing a storm and woke up in agony. I told the girls I would meet them at the Lourve. I met them around 2:30pm, saw Mona Lisa and realized I was going to pass out if I pushed myself any further. I left the group and passed out because of what I later learned was a fever.

EVENING: I woke up around 7pm and still felt weak and once I decided to get food, I realized that all the food spots by us were closed. It was Easter Monday. My only options was drinks or the grocery store. Because I was so tired, I bought some cookies and chips, and called it a day.

DAY FOUR

LATE MORNING: Praise the Lord, I got better! The girls and I grabbed some brunch at Seasons and we decided it was a shopping day! We were super content with all the progress we made the past few days (them even more than me considering my sick day) and wanted to take time to shop. 

AFTERNOON: We headed to the infamous Champ de Elysees and after spending an absurd amount of time at Louis Vuitton (inconsistent customer service btw), went to Ladurée for tea and desserts.

EVENING: Before heading to our evening activity, we stopped by Montmarte. We wanted to take a nap beforehand and decided to skip a real dinner because of the time crunch. We grabbed croissants, pizzas and whatever other random cafe snacks we wanted before heading in an uber. In the evening we headed to Moulin Rogue. I was entirely aware of what I was signing up for in the moment and although it wasn’t my cup of tea, it wasn’t as intense as I imagined it might be! I even kinda liked it.

DAY FIVE 

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MORNING: We started our day with a tour at The Palace of Versailles that we purchased through Headout. Though I was upset that customer service told us to arrive at 8am when we only needed to be there at 9am, it was still my favorite part of the entire trip. The tour guide was funny and informative. Meanwhile, the palace and gardens were simply stunning. 

AFTERNOON: The hard part about being in Paris is how long it takes to eat at restaurants. Because of time constraints, we decided to get a grab and go lunch before shopping in the area. I bought some cute pieces from Stradivarious and if you’re a smaller chest size I would recommend Oysho for lingerie.

EVENING: Before dinner, I went off to the original Shakespeare and Company on my own. I wanted to buy a book for my personal library. I met back up with the girls and finished the evening with dinner in the Latin Quarter at Maison De La Lozèro, my favorite meal of the trip! My friend even let me try a bit of snail. They offered a Prefix menu at a steal but because I somehow felt stuffed, I decided to go with one delicious entree.

DAY SIX

MORNING: To end our time in Paris, we grabbed a delicious brunch of sorts at The Broken Arm , a cafe and shop, while reading our respective books.

AFTERNOON: And just like that, it was time to take a cab to the airport and head home. 🙂

COST BREAKDOWN: AROUND A WEEK IN PARIS

This cost breakdown of my Spring break trip was inspired by The Luxe Strategist. She is one of my favorite bloggers and my favorite financial blogger. If you haven’t already  started following her, I highly recommend you do!


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To me it meant a lot to travel to Europe. My entire life I had flown back and forth to India almost every year from the time I was eighteen years old to twenty-two. Despite all the stamps on my passport, I had never visited Europe and really wanted to experience what that was like. This past July I went to England for the first time and this past week, I visited France.

I traveled to Paris, France with two co-workers and we all had distinctively different styles which I believed added a lot to each of our experiences.

I decided not to include any pre-trip expenses as well as shopping while there. I did shop a lot and will be sharing a diary of that at the end of the month.

Cost Breakdown 

I spent $1,651.46 for my time in Paris. We had stayed there for 4 full days and two half days.

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You can also get an idea of how much everything cost day by day. I decided to divide this by 5 because with the half days, we really had 5 full days in Paris. I actually only had four because I got so sick one day and couldn’t do anything. However, that doesn’t influence any of the categories except for food/transport.

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Flight= $745.35

We payed a pretty penny for our flight, it was $745.35. I think if I were to visit Paris again, I would go during February and go through London first. Though I will admit that it much easier to get through the airport in Paris than it was in London. A friend messaged me that he was planning to do that with his wife and got tickets for under $400, but at an off peak time.

Our airline was pretty much the international flight equivalent of Spirit airways. It was super barebones. But it did provide an in flight meal as well as a free checked bag. Those were two things I tried to not compromise on when booking my flight.

Housing=$296.52

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I need to offer a huge thank you to everyone who recommended the neighborhood of Le Marais. Many people confirmed that this was a great neighborhood to stay in. Several years earlier my financial counselor had visited Paris and stayed in this very neighborhood and was kind enough to even share walking tours of different neighborhoods with me. It was much cheaper than other neighborhoods and was pretty close to almost everything we wanted to do. We could walk, take the metro or split an uber to everywhere we wanted for a super small cost.

I adored my airbnb. It was pretty small for three people but beautifully decorated and a good compromise because I didn’t want to spend anymore on housing costs.

If you’re interested in trying Airbnb, use this link for $40 in travel credit. After your first trip I get $20 in travel credit.

Food- $225.63

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The meals in Paris were not cheap but everyday we unintentionally skipped at least breakfast or lunch. We ate lots of pastries and croissants to compensate for this. I thoroughly enjoyed our food as well as the delicious desserts.

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I should have guessed it, but I didn’t realize how important potatoes were to French cuisine. It did feel super heavy to eat though!

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There’s a huge coffee culture in France that I really enjoyed. People also drink orange juice with a lot of their meals. It’s also almost always cheaper to get the combo meals that you can then spilt with others.

Local Transportation= $84.96

This number includes the cost of an uber to and from the airpot. Super cheap, right? In most instances, ubers were a great option because we could spilt the cost 3 ways. Most rides ranged form costing between $2.50-$5. At times I opted for the metro which is around $2 or we would just walk because so many things were within a 20 minute walk from us.

Activities=$299.00

I’m so happy we didn’t get the Paris pass. But we still overspent on activities. We didn’t realize how tired we would be once we reached Paris and didn’t even do everything that we had payed in advance for.

It was really helpful to pay in advance for museums though and buying a “skip the line” ticket for the Palace of Versailles was one of my favorite experiences from the entire trip. The tour guide was funny and we literally saw ourselves skip a huge line of people.


 

Overall, it was a great trip! My inner frugal person knows I could do it again just a  bit cheaper and one day I intend to do that. I think it’ll be a few years until I visit Europe again (or at least, European cities).

Have you been to Paris? What was your experience like? 

Now That It’s Cool To Be Indian

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Something odd that has been brought to the surface recently is how things taken from Indian culture that once evoked responses of disgust are now “cool”. I read a post on the Facebook group #SubtleCurryTraits about how the stereotypical “white girl” who years earlier considered turmeric disgusting in “yellow rice”, now adds tumeric to their chai teas for the “health benefits”.

Well, the tide has turned. The teenage heart throb of my youth, Nick Jonas, chose to marry the stunning, Priyanka Chopra. But despite this change in heart by America as a nation, I’d argue that things really aren’t better. You must be thinking- isn’t this sudden love of all things Indian supposed to be great news? Indian culture may now be “in” but the truth is that I still know too many Indians who are ashamed of their culture, petrified of being labeled a FOB and are unable to erase the years of shame that we’ve associated with being Indian because of pop culture’s previous narrative. A message in which the worth or lack thereof, of an India in media was communicated by the void of people who looked like me on television shows, ads or magazines
and honestly, even within India’s own media that continues to refuse to include women of medium or darker shades on media platforms.

We still live in the same country in which I heard the white kid next door telling me that my people should get out of his white neighborhood. There are still people who are told that they smell like “curry”, presumably from people actually knowing what curry smells like. Or you still find the white guys on dating apps who only like Indian girls and treat an entire people group as a fetish. This leads to whole groups of desi people who refuse to engage in anything that associates them with their culture. Forbidden activities include but are not limited to: eating with their hands, being caught speaking their mother tongue or even spending a week in India.

The truth of the matter is that it’s not actually cool to be Indian. It’s only cool in the same way that people like dressing up on Halloween or decorating their Christian tree once a year, it’s exoticized. But even when this fad changes, I’ll still wearing my lengha blouses mixed and matched with American gowns. I’ll still try to rock my lengha skirt with a button down and my salwars pants with American tops. Because just as much as I identify as an American as my nationality, I am still and will always be Indian and that doesn’t need to be cool to you. It’s me.

Confidence & Clothes

*See the original post on Instagram*

In retrospect this outfit was beautiful. But I honestly felt so ‘extra’ wearing it until I reached the area by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Near FIT, everyone was wearing the most creative things and you almost stuck out more plain old clothing.
I asked my friend Lauren about how she is so darn confident and one thing she taught me was how when picking between a safe sunglass look and a bold one, she chose the bold one. Part of confidence meant being okay with sticking out.
As a minority and as someone tall-ish, I always feel seen and rarely try to attract more attention. Everyone knew the one of ten brown kids in school.

But I’m learning now that it’s okay to stick out, it’s okay to be noticed and be seen if it’s for reasons that are authentic to you. Time to try out bold outfits more often I guess. 😅

📷: @mallariproductions

 

Shopping Diaries: March 2019

Screen Shot 2019-04-03 at 6.52.52 PMI was inspired by Sophiewithablog to start documenting my monthly purchases in hopes of being more aware of my spending and maybe even make some changes to how I shop. This month I will only talk about clothing purchases but I can definitely talk about beauty/selfcare + home decor in the future if this is of interest to you. (I bought a rug this month!) 

The details (What I bought and kept)

Note: I don’t have pictures of me with the items but for future months, I will. 

Anthropologie Skirt ($29.99)

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I met up with some college friends by Chelsea market and I was a little early so I stopped by Anthropologie. I impulse bought the most beautiful mug and started eying a mustard skirt with floral print when my friend called. We left the store but I didn’t forget the skirt and instead tried to find it online the next day. I didn’t, but I did find this gorgeous skirt and I’ve already worn it at least 3 times. That’s $10 per wear within a month, I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth from this one. It’s super cute to pair with tall boots but is also classy to wear with regular old heels. Also, mustard has this amazing quality of being universally flattering on all skin shades, am I right?

Lulu Lemon Leggings ($80.36)

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Did you know that you can get 20% off of your purchase of Lulu Lemon leggings on National Woman’s day? I was pleasantly surprised to see my bill drop $20 when I bought these leggings.

I definitely recommend trying them in the store. A friend recommended I do a squat test, and really try them out and make sure they fit well. I initially went for some classic styles but the sales associate quickly recommended the Align leggings when I mentioned that I mostly workout with Orange Theory. A lot of their leggings are made for Barre or Yoga class and wouldn’t hold out well during intense runs, rowing and weight lifting.

These leggings feel amazing. I got a size 8 and my only real complaint is something I deal with often with leggings. They fall down when I’m really running. I also did experience some chaffing with them when I jogged for around 20 minutes.

‘Elevate Shirt’ ($18.00)

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Fun fact about me, I used to hate ‘group shirts’. I later realized that I was needlessly being difficult and decided to be okay with buying t-shirts for events or clubs. I just set my limits. I won’t buy every shirt, I won’t even take every shirt for free. I really don’t need a new shirt each year for an annual event. But if it’s for an organization I care about, maybe 1 shirt is okay? I’m a huge fan of long sleeve cotton tees and I have been wearing this shirt at home to death. It has become my favorite pajama and occasional shirt out. I ended up cropping it and love wearing it with high waisted leggings at home.

 

The details (What I returned) 

Jimmy Choo Heels (The Real Real) ($17 return fee)

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I’m always on The Real Real. I love buying used because it’s more sustainable than always buying new and I have a love for high quality items. I just can’t swallow the prices for luxury shoes. I’m not about paying $600 for shoes. But I can appreciate beautiful craftsmanship and after reading about Jimmy Choos, I decided they’re be worth it if I could find a pair for under $150.

This pair was $85 but when I got them, I had to squeeze my feet in and the heel was so high. Much higher than the picture indicated to me! I really wanted to justify keeping them. The craftsmanship really was superior. They were gorgeous and even used, they were in excellent condition. But what’s the point of spending all that money for shoes that aren’t absolutely perfect for you? They were returned.

The numbers

$135.45= March’s Total

3= Number of items added to my closet in March

Final Thoughts 

Honestly, I really didn’t spend a crazy amount. I think these diaries need to begin to include other purchases in the future because as a whole, I did some spending in March- just not on clothes. I’m really happy with all of the items I did end up purchasing and feel as though they’ll all remain in my closet for some time.

I’d love to challenge myself to buy less of fast fashion and buy more from sustainable brands that might be pricier but also sell costlier items or even just spend a little more on pieces that I know will last me a while. I can’t believe this reflection is inspiring me to spend more! Surprise?

How was your spending for March? Let me know in the comments below.

Nina