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. 🙂

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The Truth About Solo Travel (London 2018)

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When I told my friend from church that I was traveling alone to London, her first reaction was, “Eat, Pray, Love!” To which I immediately responded, “No, not at all. I just want to explore.” The truth of the matter is that traveling alone is romanticized and although I think everyone should try it once in their life, there are lots of things to consider before, after and during a solo trip abroad. (If you’re interested in a vlog of my solo trip, watch this video from my YouTube channel.)

Here are some of my tips from traveling alone to England this past summer.

  • Plan, Plan, Plan

Then after all that planning, accept that there are some things you just can’t plan for. If you’re traveling alone, preparation is your friend. I took time to just watch endless videos of how to take the tube. Coming from NYC, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, but I still got confused at times. If you get a little lost, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I planned by making sure I could use my phone abroad, packing a portable charger and travel charger. The little things can help a lot if you get stuck somewhere random at night and need to call an uber. I luckily did not have much trouble navigating around London.

  • Stay in a hostel

Even if you are the most introverted person, I think you’ll eventually want to talk to someone. That was one of the weirdest things to me about traveling alone, as an extrovert with heavy introvert tendencies, I thought I’d be fine. I constantly do things alone and enjoy my own company, but when traveling abroad I eventually became really lonely. There were times in which strangers would randomly start conversations with me and I felt so lucky to just have anyone to talk to. At the hostels I had people to talk to every night. I was able to recap my day and there were even people who offered to explore London with me or get a drink at the bar.

  • Bring a kindle or an art pad.

There are times in which I dined alone and was able to open up a book. Everyone should go to a fancy restaurant with a book to soak in the amazing comfort that good food and a nice read brings. Also, if you’re into art, this might be a good chance for you to practice your doodles and maybe even incorporate them into your journals.

  • Be safe

Here’s the reality of solo travel, it isn’t as safe as having someone with you. Don’t stay out too late on your own. (After 10pm?) I looked crazy to my friends but I had a whistle tied to my keys so that if anyone tried to attack me, I could make noise and hopefully protect myself a little. I didn’t need to use the whistle but it never hurts to be prepared.

  • Go in with the right mindset

I honestly got a little bummed while solo traveling. When recounting the experience to my counselor, she noted that sometimes the mindset we have changes our experience. Go in with the expectation of learning about yourself, try to explore more of who you are. There are so many benefits to solo travel. You can be selfish with you time and what you want to do and see. Enjoy that freedom and when you come back, take time to reflect on how you have grown from the experience of traveling alone.

By traveling alone I learned that I was capable of more than I thought I was. I had never been to Europe and was intimidated by the idea of visiting and going own. When I went back home, I felt accomplished and my sense of confidence in my own ability grew just little bit more.

Have you ever solo traveled before? If so, what tips do you have?

How To Style a Lengha

If you’re an Indian woman, chances are that you have a lengha sitting in your closet. It feels like such a shame to me that such a beautiful garment could be worn maybe once or twice and then completely forgotten. Which is why I decided to show you some ways to style a lengha.

Special thank you to my friends at Mallari Productions for such amazing photos.

First Look: Traditional Outfit 

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Second Look: Lengha Botton and tank top 

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Last Look: Lengha Top and Leather Skirt 

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Comment down below, which of the looks is your favorite? If you don’t already, make sure to follow my Instagram account to stay updated on my latest photos of outfits.

The Second hand Burberry Trench

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I never imagined I’d own a Burberry trench coat one day. $1,700 for the cotton version seemed like way to steep of a price tag and I would not pay $700 for the Polyester version.

And then I decided to try thrift store shopping in an attempt to slowly build up a more ethical closet. One day it suddenly hit me- a used burberry trench coat would be much cheaper than a new one. I decided to scour The Real Real and  passed by a lot of beautiful Burberry trench coats because I wasn’t financially willing to pay just yet. Let’s be honest, even a used Burberry trench coat is super expensive. I had even decided I didn’t need Burberry (which I still don’t) and purchased a used Zara trench on Tradesy for $40. Really expensive for a second hand Zara trench if you ask me but still less than the $200-700 used Burberry can sell for. The seller cancelled the order, I got my refund and decided it was a sign.

One day I pulled the trigger and I cannot tell you how happy I am that I did. You can watch an unboxing on my channel and see me like a little kid on Christmas. At $200 for the coat I honestly think it is worth every single penny. It looked brand new one when I received it, going to show how amazingly some people care for their items. I’m hoping this will be a piece in my closet for years to come.

Are there any designer items you’d love to have in your closet one day? Are you also a fashion lover like me? Do you think there’s anything wrong with owning crazy expensive pieces? Let me know in the comments down below.

Being a Brown Girl in Nude Heels

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I started writing this blog post nearly two years ago. I’m continuing it now. Almost two years ago in June,  I took my first ever teaching course with the first professor to tell me to call him by his first name. After four years of undergraduate study I took the best class I had ever taken my first month of graduate school. My teaching cohort spent that month huddled in circles, crumpling up life stories, paired against each other defending our sides on various issues and growing close to one another as a teaching cohort. Of everything that teaching has given me, one of the biggest gifts was that summer with that cohort.

Of the lessons I learned in that classroom management class, the first that hit was: Privilege is having band aids match your skin.

Or in my case, my lack of privilege is wearing nude heels that stick out against my dark skin. It’s always feeling like you don’t just quite fit in and worrying that you never will. I first grew up in a predominately black and hispanic neighborhood. I was generally accepted by my peers and felt proud of being an Indian. I was surprised to find that when I moved to a high-school that was made of 99% whites students, it wasn’t as cool to be “Indian”. In fact, many people didn’t even know what it meant to be an Indian.

I spend a lot of time completely unaware of issues of race and class. It was always underlying every event and circumstance but I never knew what to call that feeling of knowing that my peers looked and grew up differently than me, despite the fact that we attended the same school.

Learning that bandaids didn’t match the skin was at first upsetting. But that summer opened me up to a whole new world in which I learned that when we become aware of a problem, we can do something about it.

I eventually found “nude” heels that matched my skin color. But I first needed to be aware that the shoes I had on before weren’t quite right.

 

How I Payed Off my Private Loan

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The most amazing screen to see.

 

It happened this year. I finally payed off my private student loan. I still have a government loan with a $20,000 balance looming over my head, but after 5 years of teaching done (currently in year 2/5), it will be forgiven, God willing.

This Discover loan loomed over my head for far too long. Back on February 8, 2017, I wrote to my accountability partner for my Financial Peace University course about how long I thought it would take to pay off my loan. I couldn’t imagine paying it off in a year. I owed $10,001.65 at the time and wrote to my friend that in 2.5 years I could pay back to $10,000 dollars. I was paying $400 a month at time. Somehow I managed to pay back my loan at a rate of almost $1000 a month, a substantial part of my income, especially considering my expenses (rent, groceries, government loan payments, tithe).

Here’s how I did it:

Lots and lots of extra work 

I didn’t intentionally work extra, but I ended up doing a lot more hourly work this past year. I have a per session rate of almost $40 an hour as a teacher. Almost every time I got an extra check from doing this work, it went to my loan. I said yes to a lot of extra work that I normally would never agree to. I went on extra trainings and took opportunities because I knew that the extra money would inch me closer to my goal.

Just put a little extra 

Every time I would make a monthly loan payment, my mom challenged me to put a little extra. For example, if I was paying $400 for the month and the loan balance was $5,500, my mom would tell me to pay $501 to see the balance drop a little bit more into the $4,000 range. It became so much fun to push myself a little more each month and to pay off more and more.

Budget! 

I never budgeted effectively before last year. I have my own weird system that works for me. I use Everydollar.com but at the beginning of the month I only vaguely put my money into categories. As I spend money, I keep receipts and adjust my budget to my actual spending. If I buy something and don’t get a receipt, I log it right away on my Everydollar app. I challenge myself to “feel” every purchase. I want to get better with this because often my money goes to things that aren’t important to me and I want to tell my money where to go.

Closing Thoughts

The truth is that I’m still learning how to manage money. Now I’m working on my rainy day fund. My goal is $6000. I’m following Dave Ramsey’s steps by avoiding debt and spending somewhat wisely. I still buy things I don’t need and make mistakes but I am so proud to now be one step closer to financial freedom.

Do we give up too easily? | Being a Woman in the Indian Church

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I was watching a video of Aimee Mullens’ Ted Talk, for maybe the eighth time. I had already watched her talk several times before deciding to teach my students about about her speech or more so the power of her passion and how that elevated her speaking. She was poised, put together, passionate and was standing on prosthetic legs. She challenged society’s notion of what a “disabled” person should be and I looked at her and thought that if I were her, I wouldn’t have dared to stand on that stage. I wouldn’t have become a runner like her. But she, with her disability, was doing things I could only dream of accomplishing. 

Watching Aimee Mullens made me think- she trusts her legs. She trusts her prosthetics, probably more than I trust my flesh and bones. If she doesn’t give up, why do I? There are many times in life when we may face seemingly insurmountable challenges. Some of these hurdles have presented themselves in my experiences as a woman in the Indian church. In the moment we believe that things cannot and will not get better, that we are limited in some way. But looking at Mullens I am reminded that our definitions and perceptions of situations can be challenged and that maybe- we give up too easily. 

There are two ways people can respond to set backs. There are the Cains of the world and the Davids.

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Characteristics of Cains 

  • Jealous
  • Cynical

Cain and Abel are the children of Adam and Eve. Cain grew jealous of Abel’s sacrifice to God and this ultimately led to his demise:

…Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. Genesis 4:3-5

Cain’s jealousy of what his brother had and what he lacked led him to ultimately killing his brother. Instead of trying to offer something better to God, to be something more- he turned to sin. How many times do we feel like we just cannot do or be more? I believe we all know that feeling all too well. We fail in some way or form and instead of trying again, we give up. A friend of mine told me that before getting the job he now has at a big financial company, he applied to 99 jobs at the same firm. He now worked in hiring and can see all applications that come in for the company and noted how most people apply maybe once or twice. While hearing his story, most of my friends admitted that we would do the same. If a company rejected us after a couple of applications, that was it for us. But my friend didn’t give up on the company he wanted to work at until he finally got a position.

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Characteristics of Davids 

  • Resourceful
  • Hopeful

David was the youngest of his brothers and naturally passed by for opportunities. But David didn’t let his background hold him back. In fact, David leveraged the very qualities that would make others think he was weak. In the classic bible story of David and Goliath, David used the unusual tool of a slingshot to defeat a giant.

 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.(1 Samuel 17:49-50)

In a situation in which others would have given up, David remained hopeful. He trusted in everything that God had provided and in the end was triumph. Growing up as a female in the Indian church, it was hard to have an older brother in some ways.

Being a Woman in the Indian Church

I frequently spoke at church and was very open about how I loved public speaking but no speech I ever gave seemed to measure up to the sermons my brother spoke. He rarely spoke publicly and didn’t care for it, but the few times he spoke were admittedly spectacular. There were many times I wanted to give up on my love of speaking. Why try to have a voice in a society that would rather hear from a man, especially when others could speak better? There were many times when I felt as though the opportunities given to me in the Indian church would be so much grander if I were a man. How could I not think that way when even in one of our most prominent organization, Pentecostal Youth Fellowship of America (PYFA), I have only once seen a female leader in an organization founded in 1981.

My parents and grandparents would pray every night for my brother to be a minister of God, but I never once heard them pray for me to minister God’s word. My grandfather was a prominent pastor and my brother was the only grandson born with the last name “Thomas”, the default heir. My mom recounted that a prophesying preacher once spoke to my parents and told them that they had prayed and hoped for ministry to come from their family from their son, but it would come from their daughter. My mom shared what was said to me but reminded me that she still hoped for my brother to one day minister.

If Aimee Mullens doesn’t give up even when she was prosthetic legs, why would I give up because I’m a woman? Everyday we choose whether we give up or keep going. Giving up can happen in small ways. We stop working towards that goal we really had set in our heart. Or maybe we stop moving forward in acquiring a new skill we long to have. It could even mean underestimating ourselves because of whatever our “disability” may be. There are days that can feel so dark and times in which all hope is lost but I pray that if you cling to hope, you too can do the seemingly impossible.