Society Swan

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Deep within every modern American female, whether she will admit it or not, lingers the image of an ideal man. It isn’t necessarily photo quality, it rarely involves specific physical characteristics. No, this image is more like the promise of a feeling, a swept-off-your-feet, powerless-to-control-it, how-awesome-is-this-guy sentiment that she hopes someone special will someday inspire. Left to its own devices, the brain will keep this feeling dormant until truly warranted by a real-life flesh-and-blood person. 
- Libby Street

Deep within every modern American female, whether she will admit it or not, lingers the image of an ideal man. It isn’t necessarily photo quality, it rarely involves specific physical characteristics. No, this image is more like the promise of a feeling, a swept-off-your-feet, powerless-to-control-it, how-awesome-is-this-guy sentiment that she hopes someone special will someday inspire. Left to its own devices, the brain will keep this feeling dormant until truly warranted by a real-life flesh-and-blood person.

- Libby Street


Filed under love

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Aspects of my psychological makeup

My loving fiance decided to take a personality test for me and sent over the results. Before reading and interpreting the scores, I decided to take one on my own from a completely different source. Much to my surprise, the results from the two tests matched astoundingly.

What can be gathered by all of this? He has me all figured out. Oprah Winfrey and I share the same personality type. My competitiveness needs to take a backseat. I derive great satisfaction from being labeled as The Achiever. 

Filed under personality test the achiever

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I’m beaming, ya know

In the fall of 2011, I fell in love. Dangerous, lusty, incomparable love. The kind of love you always hear about but wonder whether if it truly exists. The kind of love you leaf through in a Nora Roberts romance novel. The kind of love that warms you up to melodramatic clichés. The kind of love that leaves you dazed, allows you to bend the rules a little, and slowly becomes a surreal mix of reality and fantasy.

Smitten so deeply, consumed with warmth, I felt it in my bones. Inch by inch, growing into me. And I am grateful for falling deeply, madly and hopelessly, because this could have been a terrible year for me. It could have been a melancholic time for me. A recollection of dreary thoughts that could’ve stayed with me. Forever.

Why, you ask? Well, here’s because.

This month marked the end of my student life, which was good and bad. Good, because I fulfilled a cherished aspiration by pursuing my undying love for the art of Magazine Publishing. Bad, because this wraps up my Canadian chapter and signals my move to Dubai in the New Year; 36 days to be precise.

Leaving behind best friends of 10 years, countless memories and the ultimate Maple-Cinnamon bagel that I can’t fathom to start my mornings without, is not and will not be easy. Rummaging through my belongings and packing essentials for cross-continental shipping will not be easy. Clearing my apartment that’s been more of a home to me than any place of residence will not be easy. Parting from all that which matters most will most certainly not be easy.

So, you see, with a bag full of goodbyes and a fistful of tears, falling in love has been a balmy blessing in itself. It’s provided a source of distraction to keep the nerves from palpitating and eyes from darting back and forth. It has kept me sane and occupied my mind in the strangest of ways – heck, I sometimes had no time to drop 140-character-long tweets even! It sometimes left me breathless. Some days I wasn’t able to comprehend this feeling that seemed so foreign, I almost had to retract my toes and think: Is this really happening? To me, of all people?

On a very, very chilly December day I got my answer loud and clear when he kneeled before me and proposed. And that’s when it dawned on me that this IS really happening. This IS very real. He left me stunned with the most precious proposal. Candles, glitter, pictures, ‘Hey There Delilah’ on repeat, a gorgeous ring and his benevolent smile made it natural for me to say yes, and so I did.

In the winter of 2011, I got engaged. To the love of my life who makes life worth living; who makes me want to become a better person every day; who restores my faith in the Noah-Allie connection; who helps me take away something valuable from this relationship every step of the way. Better yet, he makes me believe.

All in all, twenty-eleven has been a monumental year for me – shockingly eventful and pleasantly memorable. It’s difficult to forecast the 12 months that are to follow, but here’s hoping it’s infused with twinkles and delight.

Happy New Year bunnies!

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Fashion Diaries

Models saunter down the runway under the luminous spotlight, dressed to the nines, exuding confidence with a heavy strut, vertiginous heels included. They make it look effortless and ooze nonchalance, but behind the scenes the atmosphere is entirely different.

I recently had the pleasure of witnessing the sensational backstage process that could singlehandedly make or slightly break the show at Toronto’s LG Fashion Week. From designers such as Michi to Jay Manuel, every show had a different vibe and a different message, but the backstage hullabaloo was equivalent.

What happens between shows is a show in itself – the backstage bustles with media, designers and industry folks amid a mélange of irritability, clamor and distressed divas.

The hair and make-up stations are flooded with eye shadow palettes, a plethora of lip colours, various forms of eyeliner, tweezers, the infamous flat top kabuki to a dozen other top-of-the-line make-up brushes ready to transform even the most average face into a fierce glamazon.

The process is strenuous, to put it mildly. Towering models perch on stools for excruciatingly long hours while their limp hair is styled into voluminous manes, skin is made supple, face is lacquered and preened to perfection. And their diet is simple – the incessant sipping of SmartWater.

The models then glide to the dressing area that is awash in clothing racks, shoes and dazzling accessories. Their looks are immaculately pre-styled, snapped in a Polaroid and plastered in front of their respective changing areas.

Moments before the show, models are unclothed from their comfortable off-duty clothes into designer wear that ranges from the most outlandish outfits to just five inches of fabric that they have no choice but to squeeze into.

Racing against the clock designers pace the floors and get all hands on deck to eradicate any fashion emergency at hand – mending a shoe buckle, removing a kink or steaming that stubborn crease are standard hurdles that hinder with recreating the Polaroid that was shot weeks in advance. They have to stay true to the aesthetic and ensure that their models are able to illustrate their brand beautifully amidst rows and rows of spectators who are quick to hurl necessary and sometimes totally unnecessary criticism.

Five minutes leading up to the show and panic takes over by a storm. A stream of beauties line up, knocking their knees together in anticipation while getting quick touch-ups. They know that they are donning more than just clothes, they have to stage the designers intricate creations and conform to a theme– serious, fun, theatrical, expressive or somewhere in between – and rock the ramp with attitude and great energy. Anything short of precision is not an option.

Then, the music booms, the spotlight gleams and a runway model summons the courage, channels her inner Coco Rocha and opens the show with poise. She owns the runway for less than 60 seconds and then sashays backstage where she swiftly strips, restyles and perfects her second look and glamorously graces the catwalk all over again. This chaotic pattern is sometimes repeated up to three, four or five times per show.

Once the entire collection is shown, the finale walk takes place and the designer calms his/her palpitating nerves, takes a bow and closes the show.

After months of hard work of casting models, choreographing a unique sequence, designing divine pieces and investing a stupendous amount of money, success and recognition for the label is still not guaranteed. Either those precious 20 minutes on the runway are spent mesmerizing the audience and dropping their jaws in awe or they are merely left uninspired.

However, Canada’s creative designers enjoy this gamble and courageously exhibit their positive potential that is manifested by their work of art. Our job as a member of the audience is to acknowledge their effort and diligence, and receive it fairly with better judgment.

Here’s to celebrating 13 years of Canadian fashion and many more to come!

Filed under fashion week LG Fashion Week Toronto fashion models backstage

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When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere, just ask him. If you listen, he’ll tell you how he got there. How he forgot where he was going, and that he woke up. If you listen, he’ll tell you about the time he thought he was an angel or dreamt of being perfect. And then he’ll smile with wisdom, content that he realized the world isn’t perfect. We’re flawed, because we want so much more. We’re ruined, because we get these things, and wish for what we had. 

When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere, just ask him. If you listen, he’ll tell you how he got there. How he forgot where he was going, and that he woke up. If you listen, he’ll tell you about the time he thought he was an angel or dreamt of being perfect. And then he’ll smile with wisdom, content that he realized the world isn’t perfect. We’re flawed, because we want so much more. We’re ruined, because we get these things, and wish for what we had. 

Filed under Jon Hamm Don Draper Mad Men

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24 Candles & 1 for Luck

I’m sure nobody gives a flying fajita about how I woke up to the sound of rain trickling on the side of my fogged window on the morning of my birthday and that it looked SO vintage. Or that I was curled up in bed, in my silk pajamas, misspending my precious morning daydreaming quite like Holly Golightly…yadda, yadda.

So, fellow divas, here’s the lowdown on the most important day of the year, September 21st, the very day that I graced the earth with my itty bitty footsteps.

Goals, reflections, wishlists were all secondary. What I really wanted for my 24th was utter happiness, in large or extra large doses. One hundred percent. Without any compromises. Simple contentment. 

Demanding, aren’t I? 

Those who know me well know that shiny, sparkly, colourful, flashy, over the top things fascinate me. Those who don’t know me well, know this also.

So, naturally, I went about spending my birthday in a good old, fashion funk; styled my hair, donned my jewels, painted my face and pranced around the house, like a self-absorbed birthday girl would.

As the ancient philosopher [insert random name] once said, “In the buffet of life, friends are the dessert” and I, for one, truly, madly, deeply believe in this wise man’s(?) words. Read on and you’ll know just why.

At the crack of noon, my squishysoulmatetherapist Laila, knocked on my door and surprised me with what I like to call the white platter of joy – a tray of scrumptious pink and white cupcakes that read my name and were decked out in contrasting sprinkles, rose petals and a cutesy balloon to match. Rewind. I said cupcakes, and there’s nothing a cupcake can’t solve, so imagine my delight.

After a total wardrobe malfunction (we can thank the rainy, wet, gloomy Canadian September for that) I bundled up in cashmere and headed to my prosaic lecture that had me fighting to stay awake. Sigh, the student life.  

Three monotonous hours and thirty insipid minutes later I met with allthatiscuteandcuddly Sonia, who tricked me into believing that we were meeting bonnieakshoolover Ashley for a small coffee date. Much to my surprise, this date was going to be neither small nor did it involve any coffee.

As I unclenched the doorknob to open Ashley’s pale white door, five incredible friends surprised me with a heartfelt, euphoric “Happy Birthday” bearing smiles, gifts, a glorious birthday cake and a stash of sinful delectable’s to fuel me up.

They totally knocked my socks off, inanawesomewayofcourse.

To say that I was over the moon would be an understatement. I gave a sigh of bliss and embraced my friends one by one. Each and every one of them had a story, an engagement, a possible predicament in their lives. But they chose to be here, huddled in a green room, quiet, waiting patiently, in anticipation to hear my footsteps and smother me with birthday love. Overcome by emotions, I teared a little; the moment was precious and the timing was right.

One minute pumpkinsugarmissfitness Asha giggled in my ear and the next second I found myself posing for the cam with slickchunkymonkeyjunior Mik. What joy!

The remaining night was infused with warmth, laughter and a bond like no other. It was perfect, to say the least. This surprise, which was my fourth ever, plainly exceeded all my expectations.

So, you see, in MY spicy buffet of life, my warm-hearted friends are and will always be the decedent dessert (thankfully I’m not diabetic – cheesy, I know).

What about the bbm status dedications, midnight phone calls, text messages and wishes from the rest of the bunnies of this world, you might ask? Well, they’re the butter-cream frosting to my red velvet cupcake; nothing like it.

With gratitude, satisfaction and happiness I took a deep breath and blew out my candles and devoured not one, not two, but three lip-smacking birthday cakes.

La vida es Buena, until I go near a weighing scale, that is.

A big thank you to my doves who spent their Friday night celebrating with me, in style! 

Happy September!

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It’s ridiculous what is happening to Pakistan. The country is descending into hell it seems. No rocks in its path to stop the deluge, no breakers to temper the speed with which it is falling, just a long dark tunnel ahead. How far down is it? No one knows. Security is a catch phrase. Death is an everyday occurrence. No one can be trusted. And the charade is kept going by everyone involved. It’s a terrible thing to watch the death of an idea. And this idea, whatever this was, this Pakistan, this notion of a democratic homeland for Muslims, free and fair for all. Bringing it back will be next to impossible. My mother always said that it is a lot harder to clean up your room than it is to dirty it up. I have found that that is true of rooms. If the same logic applies to countries, then it is going to be nearly impossible to pick up whatever is left of Pakistan. And it really isn’t our fault that we’re witnessing such brutal times. In fact, we’re the ones being victimized the most by killings and terrorism. And then we have our wicked politicians who are completely inept at taking responsibility and upholding the law. We may be facing incredibly terrible times, but we’ll pull through and come out stronger than ever, right? We did it once, in 1947. And we’ll do it again, ‘cause we are strong and capable.

An eruditely written response to my previous post on Pakistan by Ali Asim

Filed under Pakistan change violence

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Change Begins With Us

As of late, I’ve struggled to pen anything remotely valuable or gripping. Whatever open-ended thoughts mushroomed in my brain seemed rather dim.

My mind was clogged with unsettling questions. Questions I had no answers to; questions that charged my mind with guilt and remorse; questions that kept me up at night.

Constant Twitter updates via various media portals flashed before my eyes, day and night. Each scroll revealed political turmoil, injustice and destruction. And one country in particular that dominated my timeline was none other than my motherland, Pakistan, home to nearly 187 million people. Every outbreak, every horrid update, hit a little too close to home – a 90-minute plane ride from the comfort of my suede couch in Dubai, to the horrifying reality in the city of Karachi that is overlaid with terror, bloodshed, instability and horror atrocities done in the name of God.  

As an overseas Pakistani, yielding to the temptation of an easier life, I asked myself: What have I done for my country? How have I helped my people? What contributions have I made? Besides sporadically donning a Shalwar Kameez, drinking Chai, and gloating over my father’s philanthropic involvement in attempts to resuscitate Pakistan, how have I played a part in being a devoted Pakistani?

The answer was clear and one thing was certain, I hadn’t done my bit.  And it’s people like myself who are to blame for Zia’s Pakistan, rather than Jinnah’s Pakistan.

When Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, addressed the Central Legislative Assembly in 1935, he said,“….Religion should not be allowed to come into Politics….Religion is merely a matter between man and God.” The reality, however, is far off. Today, Zia’s rigid token of religious extremism encapsulates the State and an overwhelming majority of our population that is ignorant, radical and bent out of shape is cultivating this extreme mindset. Poverty-stricken, misinformed youth who are denied the basic right to education are caught in the cobwebs of draconian rules and are induced into practicing a distorted and violent “Islam.”

According to Jinnah, the youth are the nation’s leaders of tomorrow, but if a staggering 54% of our population is illiterate, where are we headed? Is Pakistan’s future in shambles? If a 15-year-old suicide bomber can target worshippers in Jamrud mosque during Ramadan, a time of reflection and repentance for Muslims, and blow himself up, killing 55 people, then yes, we are in some serious predicament.    

What we need is a progressive and tolerant Pakistan, not a theocratic State ruled by hard-line clerics who spew hate and manipulate the masses.

Our jazba shouldn’t end with listening to patriotic anthems, speaking the language and devouring our ethnic delicacies while tragedy after tragedy continues to unfold in Pakistan. We need to go beyond that. We must move forward. We should raise awareness and invest in our Pakistan. We can salvage the nation’s crippled economy by investing sufficiently in education and higher education in order to transform the unschooled youth into productive, worthy, principled citizens of this country. Failure to commit and support is NOT an option.

We have many peeks to conquer. This rocky road ahead may seem long and strenuous, but we have to embark on this journey to better our country, because together we can change the fate of Pakistan, one that shows willingness to succeed and allows the existence of opinions and beliefs.  

Filed under Pakistan violence change progressive tolerant karachi

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Pakistan cannot afford to be left behind

We cannot allow security threats, the financial and ideological allure of Islamist radicalism, and bad governance to defeat us. Shoring up higher education and innovation are the solutions that will yield tangible, long-lasting benefits. Yet we are only capable it seems of dialing down attention to areas that can guarantee our success. Pakistan must push to improve and expand higher education. With so much at stake and so much we can do, this is the wise way forward. 

- Javaid R. Laghari

Filed under pakistan higher education success

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Who holds the key to peace?
Karachi, Pakistan: More than 300 people were killed in political and ethnic violence in July, making the month among the worst on record. NYT

Who holds the key to peace?

Karachi, Pakistan: More than 300 people were killed in political and ethnic violence in July, making the month among the worst on record. NYT

Filed under Karachi Peace