Embracing Motherhood: My Birth Story

Like many women I grew up believing that mothers are born the day they have their first child. The moment that little life leaves your body, you become a mother. In theory, that is correct, in practicality not so much. My birth story as a mom was nothing like that. I was 22 years old, married for a little over two years, and enjoying every minute of life. The husband and I had recently moved into a place of our own. We had good jobs and our social life was rocking. In fact, it was a few days after a hard party session for a friend’s 21st birthday (including many vodka screwdrivers), that I felt the first indications of impending motherhood. After days of denial, a drugstore test, and confirmation from a walk-in doctor, I started wrapping my brain around the idea that I was ‘going to be a mom’. Even though I hadn’t planned to have kids until I was 30, my surprise bump began to grow on me rather quickly (literally & figuratively). Having almost no experience with babies, I was nervous, but it didn’t matter because moms are born the moment their babies are, right? That’s what the movies, books, and even the women in our life tell us. Don’t worry so much, when the time comes you’ll just know what to do – you’ll have mother’s instinct. When I ‘became a mother’ at 3:15am on March 10th, 2004 I expected to know everything about motherhood. Imagine…

The Widows of Malabar Hill: Book Review (9/52)

Can you believe this was my first ever adult mystery book? As a kid I was mildly obsessed with Encyclopedia Brown, and devoured every single Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book, but then I went away from the mystery genre and never made my way back. The Widows Of Malabar Hill was the perfect re-entry into this space.  It is the story of four women who’s lives get  tangled up with each other following a gruesome murder. Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female solicitor, and the three widows of wealthy industrialist Omar Farid who lived on Malabar Hill. A classic who done it that will keep you guessing till the end! Honestly, I had no idea who the killer could be till the very end – I kept changing my mind. What I loved even more than the mystery aspect was the historical references. Sujata Massey made 1920’s Bombay come alive in my mind. I felt like I was right there, in the fabulous Mistry Courthouse, or down at the gritty docks, it all felt so real. For a more in depth review, and a mild level of gushing, check out the video review below.

I Am Malala: Book Review (8/52)

When I started this reading challenge, I really only had one rule – each of the 52 books I read would have to be written by a different South Asian author. I didn’t really have any thoughts about genres, fiction/non-fiction etc, but I assumed it would be fiction through an through. Then I saw a video of Malala speaking in Pakistan and visiting her home in the Swat Valley and felt inspired to read her memoir. 

Step Up to the Plate Maria Singh: Book Review (7/52)

Something I haven’t talked about a lot during this reading challenge is my love of young adult novels. They are my favourite way to escape from a heavy week, or give my mind a little break. That’s why after the last few weeks of deep and difficult reads, I decided to pick a young adult read for my next book; Step Up to the Plate Maria Singh. Written by Uma Krishnaswamy, the book centres around a 9 year old girl named Maria who belongs to a special ‘adha-adha’ community in Yuba City. 

Vaisakhi Activities: 2018 Countdown Calendar for Kids

Planning Vaisakhi activities with your kids leading up to the festival gives you opportunities for teaching your kids about Sikhi, the history of Vaisakhi, and our Gurus, while building anticipation. I’ve always felt that mainstream holidays have so much ‘pre-event’ excitement that kids get caught up in, and our desi holidays or religious festivals make a bang on one day of the year and that’s it. If we want our kids to get excited about Vaisakhi the way they do about Easter egg hunts, the Valentine’s cards, or Christmas dinner, we need to speak to them in a language and context they understand. If your kids are going to school in North America, they’ve likely learned at a young age that holidays come with crafts, books, decorations, gifts, and merchandise. While I’m no way saying that Vaisakhi should be merchandised, I do believe that we have to find creative ways to keep our kids interested in our religion and culture. With that in mind, I’ve developed an updated version of my popular Vaisakhi Countdown for kids. Some of the activities have been updated, and additional resources are linked below. Print out the image below and have your little one follow along, or download a PDF version with a spot to add your child’s name here.  Vaisakhi Activities: Countdown Calendar #1) Learn the Story of Vaisakhi: There are many resources online for learning about Vaisakhi, but I’ve rounded up a few that I think would be interesting and appealing to kids. Nothing beats…

Home Fire: Book Review (6/52)

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie was recommended to me by a member of our South Asian Reads facebook group, as well as Tahmima Anam – the writer of my first read of the challenge, The Bones of Grace. (Side note – coolest feeling ever; when your favourite author recommends a read. NO. BIG.DEAL.) Based on the reviewes and the recommendations, my expectations were really high. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Home Fire hooked me in the first few pages with the introduction of Isma. She is the dutiful eldest child of her family who has put her own dreams and desires on the back burner for years to raise her younger twin siblings after the passing of their parents.

Cowichan BC: Quick Weekend Getaway

Everybody loves an extended holiday, but the truth is, sometimes a weekend getaway is all you have time for or can afford. I’m a big fan of the 2 nights away type of trips. They let you disconnect from work and responsibilities, but they don’t require too much planning or investment. Cowichan BC is the perfect weekend getaway for folks who live on the mainland. I recently spent the weekend there with my friend Salma, and I can’t wait to go back in the summer with the kids.  The Cowichan Valley starts at the top of the Malahat and stretches all the way to Ladysmith. This includes; Duncan, Crofton, Mill Bay, Chemainus and more. This area includes lots of little towns to wander around in, coffee shops to spend a lazy afternoon lounging, fine dinning, and gorgeous accommodation. It’s perfect for a quick getaway. HOW TO WEEKEND IN COWICHAN, BC To make your weekend extra special, and make the most of your time, take the Helijet from Vancouver to Nanaimo. You can hop on a flight right after work on a Friday and arrive in the valley within half an hour. Of course if you take the Helijet, you’ll need to rent a car, so your other option is to take BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. A ferry ride in the summer is actually very pretty. WHERE TO STAY Stay at the Kiwi Cove Lodge for a rustic country feel & family style breakfasts. If you arrive in the…

5 Tips to Elevate a Basic Outfit | Pink Chai

5 Tips to Elevate a Basic Outfit

I’m about to make a big confession here folks. Despite all the high heels and cocktail dresses in my closet, I’m really just a jeans, tee shirt, and Converse kind of girl. What I do love though – is looking a little pulled together, even in basics. So, I’m sharing 5 tips to elevate a basic outfit today.   This stuff is not rocket science, and I think you’ll have all the ‘tools’ you need for these updates in your closet already. I promise you, these are super easy upgrades to your everyday look that will put a little pep in your step, and ensure you don’t duck when you see someone you know at the grocery store, playground, or your local coffee shop. 5 Tips to Elevate a Basic Outfit Tuck your shirt in: Anytime you where a button up tuck it in – instant polish. If you are self-conscious about tucking (which you shouldn’t be), try a half tuck, or just tuck the front in and leave the back hanging. I wish I had a split screen to show you in these pictures, but just imagine a sloppy untucked version of me as before’s k. Wear a scarf: I wear them all year round – warm ones in the winter, and cool ones in the summer. A v-neck sweater and and jeans go from basic to outfit with this simple add-on. In the summer I love that they give some interest to a basic dress without adding a full…

Marriage of a Thousand Lies: Book Review (5/52)

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S.J. Sindhu is a story that will resonate with any desi kid who’s ever felt like the black sheep. The main character of this story Lakshmi aka Lucky, is stuck in marriage of convenience with her husband Kris. A marriage that acts as a cover for the fact that they are both gay. In the beginning Lucky thinks she’s found the perfect solution for her complicated life situation. As a lesbian Sri Lankan American girl from a Tamil family, coming out isn’t an option, so she opts for a cover-up instead.  Of course, secret lives aren’t always as uncomplicated as they seem, and Lucky is suddenly brought face to face with her first love Nisha. Old feelings are rekindled and both women struggle with the idea of telling their parents the truth and embracing each other, or living fake lives to keep their families happy. Marriage of a Thousand Lies: Video Review To be perfectly honest, there were a few parts of this novel that made me uncomfortable. I consider myself to be a person that respects everyone’s choice to love whoever they choose. But this is the first time I’ve read anything that falls into the category of gay and lesbian literature, and at times I felt awkward about the love making and romance. In fact, a few times I had to stop reading and check myself to make sure it wasn’t a bias, but rather just a disconnect from the subject matter…

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged: Book Review (4/52)

As part of my 2018 reading challenge (52 books by 52 South Asian authors) I’ve been trying to stretch myself to read about different topics, locations, and settings too. Last week it was The Reluctant Fundamentalist, this week it’s Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik. I ended up choosing this book based on a Good Reads suggestion. The reviews were fabulous, and someone even called her the ‘Pakistani Bridget Jones’. Plus, the main character is a hijab wearing professional woman from London – yay for representation! I was so excited about this book that I set aside an entire Sunday morning to finish it in one sitting. I assumed it was going to be a page turner. Sadly, for me it was more of a head scratcher filled with what the heck moments.  First and foremost, I just want to put this out there – I know some people will argue that I didn’t get Sofia Khan because I’m not a hijabi or a Muslim woman, but I disagree. I’m a Punjabi woman who grew up in a fairly moderate and traditional family, and I have a number of Muslim and hijab wearing friends, so I have some context for this character. That being said, there is obviously going to be some things I don’t understand.  Warning, spoilers ahead. SOPHIA KHAN IS NOT OBLIGED: BOOK REVIEW For me the character was very flawed. She’s supposed to be 30 but acts more like a 21 year old. She chooses…