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.

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…

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…

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…

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…

Cowichan BC: The Perfect Getaway for Foodies

For years I’ve been telling my family how much I’d love to spend a week in the South of France on a foodie adventure. We’d rent a little house, wander markets, cook, and visit great restaurants. Living the dream you know. What I didn’t know is that I could have a slice of that dream just a few hours away from my home in Cowichan BC. Last weekend my friend Salma and I headed out on our second trip to Vancouver Island. I’ve been to the island many times, so I thought I knew what to expect in Cowichan, but the food culture there is really a hidden gem. We experienced craft, creativity, and courage in the food we tasted, and the agricultural experiments we got to see in action. In the span of one weekend, we met a young chef who is reinventing comfort food, an ex-barrister who is now a brewmaster, and the most zen tea farmer ever – who happens to be growing tea in Canada. Yup, you read that right, there is a a tea farm in Cowichan. If you are a food lover, Cowichan is a must visit location. Sometimes we get caught up in this idea that we have to travel far and wide for the best food, and yes historically Canada isn’t known for it’s food. However, that is changing in the Cowichan Valley right now. You can easily find European quality wines and cheeses, award winning gin & cider, and farmers pushing…

3 Easy Holi Traditions to Start This Year

Holi is not a festival that I grew up celebrating, but man did I want to. All the Bollywood songs made it seem like so much fun! Everyone is drenched in colour from head to toe, people are throwing coloured powder into the air, and the songs are so catchy. Unfortunately playing Holi with colours just doesn’t work in my climate most years – colour fight in the snow anyone? And to be honest, the idea of trying to collect all those colours and find a space to have a colour fight, and cleaning my sofas afterwards is too much to for me. This year my kids have been asking about Holi and I wanted to bring the fun of the festival to our house minus the mess, so I’ve planned 3 new activities to try out this weekend. We’ll see what everyone enjoys and then plan to do it again next year. That’s how easy it is to create a new (and unique to your family tradition). Not everyone grew up celebrating all the desi holidays, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start the tradition with our kids. Sharing below what we are planning on doing to celebrate Holi sans a colour fight.  3 Easy Holi Traditions to Start This Year Rainbow Dinner: I’m planning on making a rainbow pasta on Friday night which will be followed up with some sort of rainbow dessert (cake or ice cream maybe), and I might even serve dinner on rainbow plates which are easy…

Rainbow Idli: A Holi Treat for Kids

Looking for a simple yet fun way to add a little Holi spirit to your kid’s lunchbox? This quick hack transforms a basic idli into a rainbow idli, which in the eyes of a kid makes it ten times more appetizing and fun of course!. I learned the power of colourful foods when my kids were pretty young, and have been making them multi-colour paranthe for years. This year I wanted to do something special but easy for Holi, enter rainbow idli. When the idea first popped into my head I did a quick google search and found a few different methods for making a rainbow idli, and most of the decorative ones were made by using multiple pastry bags. I’ve tried to keep it really simple and used spoonfuls of coloured idli batter to create random patterns. My version of rainbow idli isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty! RAINBOW IDLI: HOW TO Start with a about 2-3 cups of idli batter. You can use a homemade batter if you have a recipe you love, or you can use a mix. (I use an instant idli mix by Gits). Separate the batter into 3 bowls and dye each section with the colour of your choice. I used gel based food colouring for recipe. Create random patterns using spoonfuls of batter. Steam as usual Plate and serve rainbow idli The easiest way to serve idli is with a chutney. Kids usually love coconut chutney, or you can try my spicy peanut butter…

The Reluctant Fundamentalist: Book Review (3/52)

x The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the name of this book itself made me a little reluctant to read it. I’d read it in lists of must read books, and new it had inspired a movie, but I never felt inclined to read it. Partially because it’s advertised as a thriller – a genre I rarely touch, and also because I didn’t feel drawn to the subject matter. The only reason I even bought it was the fact it was in the clearance section at HomeSense and I was leaving for Paris a few days later. It looked like a pretty quick read & I was travelling with Zara so it felt idea. I didn’t end up reading it though, because I got caught up in Mistress of the Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakurni instead on that flight. When I started my 2018 reading challenge though, it only made sense to read the books that I already had on my bookshelf at home that fit the category. So, I reluctantly read The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s certainly not the type of thriller I was expecting. I have never read anything like it. Written from the eyes of Changez – a Pakistani student and professional living in New York both before and after 9/11, it’s chilling. The character takes you on a journey of love, understanding, and patriotism, and even though you might not agree with his choice, you’ll likely understand them, and possibly even respect them? When…