5 Essential Bags For Every Girl

Mockingjay, buy here
There's a giveaway happening with Rituals on my Facebook & Instagram so check it out, bros.

Sidra, the style and beauty intern, is back on the blog today with a post about the five must-have bags for all girls. There are options for Pakistan, UAE and general worldwide shopping, and (almost) all are super affordable, so enjoyaiz, plizz.

Urban survival ain’t no joke. Unlike survival in the wild, which is acceptable Tarzan style, you need to look presentable and preferably pleasant to the population of the world. With the kind of serious heat-waves hitting our faces with the wrath of a hundred ignored wives in summers, humidity making us look like walking, talking birdnests during monsoons and winters approaching on the tune of kabhi-gas-kabhi-nogas, we need to gear up for life like nobody’s business. With the forever changing weathers, personal body mass and never-ending trends, accessorizing usually gets ignored. Like a wife (Is anyone catching an underlying theme here?) (It’s super unintentional).

Anywho. I did some research, boys and girls. A very thorough and time taking research that was inspired as much by my love of bags as it was by the 3-hour building maintenance that forced me to be at the mall. Here I have the list of five must-have bags that every chick should have in her arsenal.



Available in khattay-meethay rang, these have enough space to smuggle your youngest sibling in. These big lifesavers come in handy for carrying around your entire life with you. I like to throw my usual necessities in, for example: wallet, water bottle (at. all. times), makeup touchup things (lipstick, powder, lip balm, sunscreen), urgent life situation things (pain meds, band-aids, breath mints, extra hair ties, la de da), psycho fixation things (travel size body lotion, wet wipes, sanitizer, always a warm shawl thanks to stupid sub-zero temperatures in malls and cinemas). Now after this embarrassing declaration of what’s in my bag, its needless to say that I need a lot of space. I would like to impress upon you that you need a lot of space too. So. 

RangJa, buy here / PKR 2,940



Shopbop, buy here / AED 380 - Free international delivery


ASOS, buy here / $51 - Free international delivery







These bags come in standard, medium sizes. Not crazy oversized or with print, no tassels, no nothing. They will cater to your every sane requirement and coordinate with every outfit. They will save your life when you don’t know what bag will go with your outfit. They will match with your neutral colored shalwars and tights that you pair with your designer lawn kameezes. You don’t know yet but you need one.

Native Store on Polly & Other Stories, buy here / PKR 4,500



Zara, buy here / AED 99


ASOS, buy here / $40 - Free international shipping






Very in with the millennials. Very boho. Tres chic. These will unburden your life and help you feel easy and breezy at the same time. If it comes in tan leather, then it's super timeless and like neutrals it goes with literally everything. Pairing it is fun; it inspires you to hippy your outfits out. It takes your standard jeanteeshirt situation and brings it to a different level. Its size will accommodate lesser stuff and you will only carry necessities. Which you should anyway. Instead of carrying around an apocalypse survival kit. Pfft. 

Dhurrie Project, buy here / PKR 2875



Mango on Namshi, buy here / AED 179


New Look, buy here / GBP 8



Okay I mean. Stop right there. That’s what I thought when I saw this rack of bags. All in different shapes and sizes, prints, designs. If you have the moolah to burn on this, then you should. Because this is going to cause some serious bag envy amongst your peers. You will be hashtag style goals with this. Go forth and splurge my child. Or not. I mean it’s up to you.

Bastay, buy here / PKR 4500


Shopbop, buy here / AED 257


Skinny Dip on ASOS, buy here / $48 - Free international delivery


This is probably the most sensible purchase, if you're thinking long-term. But who wants to be sensible? Do you? I don’t. This is maybe basic bitch bags cousin’ once removed. They aren't the most affordable but you could perhaps buy one every ten years? They have nice neutral shades, color blocked designs, utilitarian styles, very accessible pockets. They will serve you well at work or at college. They will travel from summer into fall right through winter if you be nice to it, feed it twice a day and clean the litter box. They wear well in formal occasions and are ideal for sensible grownups. *rolls eyes*

Rema, buy here / PKR 23,000





Furla on Shopbop, buy here / AED 655


Popinjay, buy here / $185



That is all, guys. Hope you feel sorted.

And we've got two bags to giveaway from The Dhurrie Project right now so quickly get to the blog's Facebook (here) or Instagram (here) to enter. Hurry, hurry.

Sidra Raja-Shah is an authority on almost anything you can think of. Her superpowers include an ultra-super-keen- sense of observation and eating a big bag of Doritos all on her own. You can catch her rambling @therajalife on Instagram. To read more about Sidra, check out the meet the interns post.

Timeout: Hotel Rooms With The Best Views. And More.

1. Not that we get to stay in any of these, but here are 12 hotel rooms with stellar views.


2. What jeans looked like the year you were born. I love jeans so this got me appropriately excited.


3. Want to make this veggie-lentil soup. Anyone got an amazing clear soup recipe with chunky vegetables, please share?


4. Wow, check out who these now-super-famous artists opened for back when they were starting off. Best one's Lady Gaga.


5. "6 things I wish I knew when I started working". Good read.

Until next time.


Fridays

My best friend Sumika (can I stop saying best friend? Do you guys know her by now? Please help clarify) is working on a personal project which is going to be fantastic, you guys. We've been talking about it over the last few months and I'm incredibly proud of what she's trying to accomplish. I can't wait to tell you about it in a few months but for now I do want to inform you that she's been harassing me into creating a logo for her. NOW I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT but she wants meaning behind it which apparently can only come if I do this for her. Okay, no big deal. So this weekend I'm super excited (that's a lie) to work on putting something together - if it turns out like crap, this post will self-destruct so there's no trace left on the internet between me and that thing // My shirt is from H&M.


This one's going to come into my life this coming week, A Time To Kill by John Grisham. N's forced me to buy this because he thinks it's amazing and has been on my case to get started on it. Since he's not going to be in Dubai all of coming week (AMMMIIIIIII), I'm going to get on it and make him proud by the time he comes back. YEAHHH.


Weekend pairing (let's not ever talk about how I'm going to get into those white pants). Shoes are Chapter 13, shirt is American Eagle, chain necklace is H&M, glasses are from Grand Optics and bangles are from Fab India.


New delivery that came recently and that I'll wear and shoot next week, woohoo.


Waves for the weekend. A lot of you have asked me how I curl my hair and I have zero technique so I'm finding it hard to come up with anything but this is what I can tell you. Don't follow the tutorials. Just take your curling iron and curl small sections randomly. That's what I do. It's not YouTube material but it's definitely everyday life material and if you're low maintenance that should be enough. I finish off with a texturizing spray which I think keeps them looking messy and helps you win at life overall.

Have a great weekend, guys.



Online Listening & Therapy - Let's Talk

Therapy or even just talking to someone is such a taboo with our part of the world. We'd rather suffer in silence and let something go from bad to worse than address the issue and get help for it.

Our standard fix-it approach to anyone dealing with an 'issue' (and I'm putting the quotes here because I don't see these as issues, they're just different experiences and a state of mind) is to say things like, 'you'll get over it' or 'snap out of it' or 'it's not such a big deal' or 'don't be a wuss'.

Even worse, because of this mentality that we've been conditioned to grow up with, most of us don't even register something that needs addressing as important. We tell ourselves that we've got to deal with it.

It's terrible considering we will seek help for any concern that manifests itself physically (simple things like the flu to more critical things like a tumor). But we refuse to work on our mental health.

Things that absolutely require attention but are considered unimportant by so many of us: Loneliness, grief, motivation, weight management, trauma, panic attacks, distress associated with chronic pain, anxiety, work stress, family stress, depression, bullying, disabilities, domestic violence, college life, breakups, mood disorders. And a TON more. 

Ever since I got onto Snapchat, I've had SO many people (including some guys too, so it's gender-neutral) reach out to me about some kind of 'problem' they are having (Snapchat is definitely more personal and so I think it makes it easier for people to talk to you). I've realized that a lot of people are struggling with something or the other and trying to find a way to resolve it.

I'm not an expert, of course, so it's not possible for me to 'help' someone out in the right way. But I happened to find this website a few days ago and I was thrilled. It's called 7cups and I quickly tested it out as much as I could to see if it would deliver and I felt pretty good about it (I know I probably 'wasted' a resource while trying to 'test' it but I can't possibly just refer something to you guys without understanding it a bit deeply, SO).



WHAT IS 7 CUPS? 

It's an online emotional health and well-being service. They anonymously connect you with trained listeners or therapists in a 1-on-1 chat format to talk about ANYTHING you'd like to discuss. If you're having a challenging time or just looking for someone to talk to, you can find someone kind to help you out.


They primarily have two things to offer: Listening and Licensed Therapy. I'll talk about each of these just a bit.

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LISTENING
7cups has a team of trained listeners who will chat with you anonymously about anything that's on your mind - whether it's something complex like loneliness or something just as simple as needing a hug. Talking to a stranger can actually help you vent - someone who's not trying to solve your problems, someone with no judgments, no opinionated responses - just simple listening. And since it's anonymous and the listeners are trained, I think it's a pretty safe environment to be a part of.

I love how while waiting to find a listener, the system says "connecting you with a kind human being" (see bottom of image)


You can choose to change listeners if you're not clicking with one until you find someone who you feel a connect with. Listeners come from 189 countries with different backgrounds and can communicate in 140 languages. This is entirely free and you can chat as much and as long as you want.

My experience: I had a small conversation with a listener but since I'm not feeling any challenges in my life currently, I didn't really know what to talk about. I used short, concise sentences and here's what I liked: a) The listener appeared to be very compassionate and kind and genuinely interested in talking to me. b) Despite not offering much information about why I had started the conversation, the listener asked me a lot of questions trying to narrow it down to what could be bothering me. I thought it was fantastic since I can imagine that someone with a genuine concern would take time to loosen up and offer details about themselves.

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THERAPY
You sign up to private therapy with a licensed, supportive professional. It's entirely anonymous and confidential. It's a paid service, however, you can access 30 days of free therapy on signing up (you will have to add your credit card at the beginning which you can cancel at the end of the 30 day period if you're not interested).

While trying to find you a therapist best suited to what you want to talk about


They'll match you to a therapist who fits your personal preferences and required area of expertise and you can start chatting away with them right away.

My experience: I tried to access the therapy, however, I didn't add my credit card details so it wouldn't let me through and then I just let it go (my bad). However, what I liked was that I got a note from their team a few hours later supporting my decision to join and encouraging me to share. I understand that sharing with anyone comes with a lot of hesitation and often we might try asking for help but then back out - this support felt very motivating to push forward and lean on someone.

While 'Listening' is free compared to the 'Therapy' that 7cups offers, if you have a deeper concern, I think it's always best to connect with a licensed professional so they can help you in the best way.

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There's a lot more that the website offers. If you're interested, you can explore the website in detail and find out all that you can get from it.

Website: www.7cups.com

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If you need help with anything, it's important to lean on someone and get help. Your well-being is in your hands and finding contentment in life is your responsibility to yourself.  I really encourage you to reach out and seek help - whether online through this website or offline through any of the channels where you live. There's nothing 'wrong' with you, it's not being weak, you deserve to be happy and you know it.

Using this website is a suggestion and any decisions to sign up and consequentially share information are entirely up to you. Please understand that I cannot be responsible for any negative experiences you may have upon the usage of such a forum. I wish you well.

Favorite Chai Memory With N


You know all that over-the-top stuff they say in chai ads about chai bringing people together and strengthening bonds - I'M THAT PERSON WHO LIVES THAT IN REAL LIFE. It's what I have as one of the first things in the morning, what I make plans with friends around and what I look forward to doing the most with N at the end of every day.


My favorite chai memory with N is from last year when we went to Nepal and were introduced to the most heavenly masala chai ever (I'd had masala chai before but Nepal was playing in a different hot-beverage-league altogether). One of the days, we went to Sarangkot (I've talked about this very briefly on the blog before) which is the highest viewpoint in Pokhara (the city we visited in Nepal), hoping to catch the sunrise against the Pokhara valley.

We woke up at 4:30 in the morning to drive up to to the viewpoint. It was pitch dark and we went up winding roads for a good half hour before getting to the spot. A short hike later, we reached the rooftop of a tiny shop where we were supposed to hang out until the good stuff started to happen (the sunrise, guys).


We were the first ones there. It was so high up, the entire city was asleep, it was super quiet, mildly chilly, we could hear the river down below and everything was just.fan.tastic.

And then our driver got us piping, hot masala chais.

If we were looking for kids at that point, we would have adopted that guy - that's what he had done for us.

The chai was so kickass, you guys. When N and I have a really good cup of chai, it's a definite highlight and this one was killing it. We hung out on plastic chairs, sipped our ryan-gosling-level masala chais and watched the color of the sky change from black to navy and so many more shades of blue.


Gradually, people started coming in and things started to get more visible. We could see the entire city wake up right in front of us and even though we never got to the see the sunrise because the clouds never parted (that can happen in that season), we still had the absolute best time.


N and I stayed back for quite some time even after the sun was way up in the sky and people had mostly left. We ordered another round of masala chais and hung out in the middle of the clouds just chatting. Anyone else may have been disappointed that they never got to see the mountain ranges (which are absolutely stellar in pictures by the way) but for us it was about the moment and the experience.



I never had the same masala chai once I got back home until I had some at a meeting and it was so good. I raved about it a lot so they sent me a dabba a few months ago and I've been making it since (still trying to achieve pro level). It's Waghbakri spiced loose tea (they have masala teabags too but with mild sugar, and I prefer mine without).

If you ask either one of us about our favorite chai memory, both of us go back to that sunrise masala chai action in a second. It was speshul. Now tell me about your favorite chai memory, thanks so much.

Waghbakri spiced tea sells for about AED 14 at most hypermarkets and supermarkets. You can join them on their Facebook page here.