Ombré is my new Bae

Plain sarees are becoming too mainstream these days, so I have decided to change things up.

I decided to venture into ombré sarees, a style which I have never championed before.

Here are images of my first attempt, and I am quite enjoying the look and feel of ombré already!

 

This was not a saree. I got this material from a textiles shop.

The blouse I paired this with is not even a crop top. It was a normal full length top (my sister’s actually), which I folded and pinned up so it looked like a crop top. Therefore, I call it a reversible DIY saree blouse!

The Relationship Mindset

Is there a right way to approaching a relationship? Yes. It is actually not that complicated. Be honest and open about yourself and your emotions, and remember to voice it.

In this contemporary world we are living in, we have come to paint relationships as being complicated and difficult. So many heart breaks, heart aches, and break-ups. Why have relationships become so difficult? Well below is what I think.

Self-love

This is where many people go wrong. People look for external sources to validate themselves when what they actually need is the confidence to love themselves for who they are. They need to feel complete and one with themselves before they seek for a relationship to provide the answers to those unanswered questions about themselves.

Love yourself before you even try to love others.

Who is to pay?

Okay so the time has come to meet someone whom you have been talking to. That first date. You’ve had a lovely meal together, or done some fun outdoor activity and then it comes to the part of paying. Somehow men and women alike have been ‘trained’ to think in one way and one way only – the man should pay.

This clearly comes from ancient social norms and there is no harm in sticking to it at all. However, the problem arises when the guy asks the girl if she could pay or at least go halves. And boom.

All of a sudden that man is not worthy of being in a relationship with. He is seen as impolite and disrespectful. He is seen as useless and the girl goes around telling her friends how embarrassing the whole situation was.

We live in a society where women have fought so much for women’s rights, to prove that women are just as capable as men in any industry; and the way we show such women respect is by throwing a tantrum over the fact that the guy asked her to pay as well.

I am not saying that guys should never pay. All I am saying is that he should not be given a hard time if he does not on that first date. And vice versa for women. Let’s stop expecting too much from each other and just be open and honest about what we can and cannot do. This leads nicely onto my next topic of discussion.

Expectations

As humans trying to succeed in relationships, this is our biggest drawback. We expect too much and give too little.

What I mean to say is that we expect our other half to provide us with everything and we give very little back. The most successful of relationships are those where there is an equal balance of giving and receiving.

Let’s not expect a relationship to be defined by the material gifts. Instead expect that relationship to provide you with the love and support that you deserve.

Mind-reading

I do not want to gender stereotype but I cannot avoid pointing out that women have this issue a lot more than men.

We just sit their with overwhelming emotions and we expect our other half to mind-read everything we are thinking and consult to our emotions as if they are God. If they are unable to mind-read then they are considered a boyfriend/husband not good enough. Nope. Sadly this is not the case.

Unfortunately, neither men nor women can mind-read. This is why communication becomes that much more important. Talk to each other and be truthful about your emotions.

Team work

A relationship requires the commitment and work of both individuals. No one is born made for each other; you have to work towards it. No one relationship starts off being perfect; you work towards making it perfect.

Respect

In a relationship, the two individuals of that relationship are equal to each other. No one person is greater than the other.

The first element of this is trust. I would expect my other half to respect me and what I tell him – the truths about me, my family and my past are things which I will not share to anyone. If, at any point, they share that information with anyone else for whatever reason (boost their own ego, during a relationship or post-break up), I will automatically lose respect for them. All I can say is do not be that person.

Secondly, I am not a massive fan of swearing at all. I find it especially disturbing when I see people purposefully swearing at each other just to prove a point – which to this date I do not get. This is even more so the case in relationships. Swearing is a form of verbal abuse, in my opinion. You might start swearing at each other for fun at the start, but this then becomes more serious when your arguments become serious. Just avoid it altogether and revere each other they way you both deserve to be revered.

Looking back

Regardless of how hard you have worked to ensure that relationship works, it may not.

At this time, there is no point shifting blame, because I can guarantee that both people of the relationship were responsible for the end result. There is no point wasting your time thinking about what the other did or did not do. Instead look at yourself and own up to your strengths and weaknesses in that relationship.

How hard did you actually work to make the relationship work? What mistakes did you make?

These are important because you actually start looking at and also start working towards improving yourself.

To conclude…

Remember that every relationship is different. People create expectations based what they see around them. That is what drives everything. Do not be that person. Tap into yourself and find out what you really want, and not what others expect you to want.

I am not the type of girl to stay fixated on the how many dates we have been on, how much he as spent on me, how much I have spent on him – I mean a relationship is not a bank statement and nor it a loans company. You give and take because you want to and not because you have to.

All which we should need and want is honesty, equality and someone whom we can grow with.

Saree-Loving

The mix-and-match culture is incredible. I have pushed myself to stray away from my own norms and try something which some may find risky. Why? Well because I love this new fashion culture and I love trying it out with my favourite attire of all times, the saree!

I loved the below pairings which I never thought would work.

I like feeling comfortable in what I wear. And truth be told, the only two outfits I feel most comfortable in are my sarees and my PJs! There is no in between.

The Temple Culture

My dad is currently on a holiday in Sri Lanka and as with any parent who goes to Sri Lanka, his trip would not be complete without paying a visit to a couple of temples in Colombo and Jaffna. Having gone with his friends, naturally photos were uploaded on Facebook of their visits to a few of these temples. During one of their visits, my dad wore below-knee length shorts, and in response to that picture a family friend commented how he was disappointed in him wearing shorts to a temple and how he is setting a bad example to the younger generation.

This made me think hard about several issues which exist in our Tamil culture which are related to going to the temple.

The below arguments are my own. I am not claiming to be right, but this is how I think and believe just through my observations of those around me when I visit the temples.

The ‘correct’ attire

As a member of the so-called ‘younger generation’, I did not see any issue with my dad wearing shorts to a temple. Most may think I am defending my dad. Yes I am defending my dad to some extent, but there is more to this. I am defending my dad because I know his personality. I know he means no harm. Therefore whether or not he wears shorts, I know that when he enters a temple he does so with the right mind-set.

Let me take this opportunity to give a few examples of why one’s mind-set is more important than their external attire. I have seen, in the UK, Sri Lanka and India, devotees go into the temple with knee-length shorts or knee-length skirts. They come to the temple, pray and then leave, causing no hassle to the other devotees, in contrast to some members who come in full traditional attire and cause disruption to the other temple devotees.

I am not saying that we can fully disrespect and disregard the culture and wear items of clothing which are completely revealing. Of course not. But it is important for an individual to wear something to temple which makes them and those around them feel comfortable, hence I do not see a real issue with a pair of long shorts or mid-length skirt.

We live in a society where we place so much emphasis on the external attire worn to a temple and very little on the mind-set with which to enter a temple. No one in this day and age is silly enough to wear revealing, inappropriate clothes to temple; but everyone is entitled to wear something which is comfortable.

The Period

This one is very personal to me. The moment a girl starts her period for the very first time, she is treated like a piece of dirt. Traditionally she is kept inside a room, she cannot pray or associate with any member of the family until a priest has come to the house and done a Pooja to ensure ‘cleanliness’.

She is forbidden from going to the temple for the one week she is on her period because she is considered ‘dirty’. I definitely think there is more to it than this, so when I have done enough research I will write a more detailed blog outlining my findings. For the time being, what does it mean to be pure? How can we be so quick to label a girl on her period as impure to enter a temple?

My mum always says that a girl is weakest on her period so she should stay indoors and conserve energy. Traditionally this argument may have worked. But these days, in such a western and medicalised society, we know that a girl is only medically weak because she is losing blood. Making sure she eats well and takes iron supplements alone will be fine, if necessary.

A girl on her period is not a disease. So let’s stop making her feel that way. Do I agree with how girls on periods are treated with regards to going to the temple? No. But this is more than just a religious construct, it is a cultural and social construct.

Bhakthi or not?

A temple for me means an environment free from noise, and business/money-making motifs. When I walk in I should feel the positive vibration resonating across space. When I sit down I should be able to focus my mind completely on myself and be able to meditate and communicate with God with no distraction. How often do I get this in the city I was born and brought up in, very little.

The atmosphere of the temple is not only determined by the priests and running of it, but also by its devotees. We should all work together to create that ultimate atmosphere of ultimate devotion which we can do if we put our minds to it.

To Conclude…

I am not writing this piece to claim that I am correct.

Many of you may not agree with me, and if this blog provided and opportunity for people to start up their own debates and discussions then perfect!

I want people to think and then argue for what they believe is right rather than what they are made to believe is right.

I have not fully explored these concepts in detail. So in the near future once I have fully looked into these arguments properly, I will further elaborate but until then: let’s think, commit and pray!

Striking the Balance

‘Live a life you love’

Throughout this academic year, I was asked by several people as to how I managed to balance Medicine and Dance the way I did. So here is my answer to those questions.

It’s very easy to stay in the safe zone because of the fear of trying new things out and the challenges they may bring. But this year, with the support of my best friend, I knew I could and would push myself in every avenue.

Medicine brings out my love for learning, and dance brings out my love for performing, choreographing and teaching. Therefore I know that I will work hard to make sure I grew in both areas the way I wanted to.

Several people around me probably thought I was not doing much Medicine this year because I spent so much time doing dance performances and competitions: this includes my family and friends. Oh trust me the number of people who came up to me saying, ‘Praveena, do you even do medicine?’.

When people around me made me question my own abilities to focus on both and succeed in both, the one person who stood by me and pushed me was my best friend. All he said was, ‘If you want to do it, do it. I know you will study hard regardless. And I will be here to support you whatever happens.’ What seemed like the simplest of things, had the biggest impact on me. No one had ever said that to me before, and that’s when I knew that I would be able to do it.

This whole journey came with one big sacrifice: my social life. Yes, I stopped meeting my friends as often and I stopped going out as much. When I had rehearsals for 6 months non-stop, it did exhaust me. I suffered quite a few dance injuries, I was tired. The limited amount of energy I had, I had to reserve for Medicine. Regardless, I stayed strong and pushed through.

I stopped believing in ‘studying’ or ‘revision’; instead I focused all my energy on ‘learning’. I wanted to learn because I loved learning and not because I had to pass exams, although this was naturally a by-product of it. There is no end-point to learning, especially in Medicine. I created my own system of learning and I enjoyed it. In the last month leading up to exams, I remained calm and I opened a book, to learn. I am not going to deny the last minute stress of having to cram bits and bobs because obviously I had an exam that I had to get through, but trust me, I have been in worse scenarios before.

I say all of this because I used to be that medical student who stressed a lot about passing exams and I forgot to enjoy the fact that I am learning some amazing material about the most complex machine in this world – the human body. This year, that changed for me a lot. I saw some peers around me stress the way I used to, and here I was, sat calmly taking every fact/concept I learnt in, and cherishing it. And for this reason, this exam period was the most enjoyable one for me so far, and that reflected in my approach to the exams and my results.

I would like to conclude by honing in on two of the most important take home messages of this blog: firstly, do not be the type of person to stop yourself from doing things you love because you fear the consequences. Secondly, enjoy the process of learning; do not waste your energy stressing so much about the exams that you forget to enjoy the process of learning.

I want to take this opportunity to tell everyone that with the right mind-set you can explore multiple avenues all at the same time and succeed in it as well. I have one more year of university left. I can assure you that I will not stop learning and I will not stop dancing. Every problem I face, I will take as a challenge to help myself grow further.

Branding – True Creativity or Utter Carelessness?

There has been an upsurge of new independent brands in fashion, make-up and jewellery in the past year, especially within our Tamil community.

The first step to setting up such a brand is creating a logo. To everyone this may be a simple symbol, but this symbol depicts the whole journey of that brand so far and then carries the whole look and feel of the brand for its upcoming journey in the wider world.

What knowledge do I have in talking about branding you may ask. Well I do not. Not to the extent of some of you guys, but I do have nearly a year’s worth of voluntary experience in the marketing field so I am aware of the the vision brand owners come in with, to drive their whole business.

I am not here to talk about the whole process, because that will not be of much interest to most of you guys. I am using this space to comment on some observations I have made as a mere spectator of all these new and upcoming businesses and brands.

True Creativity?

The look of a brand should stand out for all the right reasons. I love seeing logos and websites which best represent the ethics of their brand. Being unique and creative is an art of its own. Having a vision that is different to everyone else’s says a lot about the person or people behind that business, and this starts from the logo to the website to the products itself. So I am big fan of those who create stand-out branding, which is not very easy.

Utter Carelessness?

On the other hand, I have recently noticed very uncreative branding which resembles those of already existing brands. This is especially the case with logo designs.

What does this say about the brand and business? Well amateur is all I can say. It baffles me that individuals who have the passion for something do not spend as much time doing adequate research to ensure their business brand is original.

To conclude…

The brand represents the business and the team behind that business. People should invest time in the branding process and get a good professional marketing team to support them adequately in that process, to ensure the brand of the business stands out for all the right and unique reasons.

The Dancer

I started at the age of six,
A non-stop journey to discovery.

I never had the confidence to call myself,
What people around me so easily called themselves – a dancer.

Getting on a stage and moving to music is not what a dancer does;
Real dancers never stop thinking, never stop creating, never stop dancing.

When people watch me dance,
They should not question nor doubt nor mock.

When people watch me dance,
They should feel the emotions I feel, reciprocate the energy I emit, see nothing but my passion.

When dancers watch me dance,
They should feel inspired, feel driven to grow further, feel like they have gained another family member.

I strive for nothing but perfection;
Every style I perform is to be executed at nothing less than 100%.

I’m no longer here to show I’ve tried,
I’m here to prove that I am a professional at what I do.

The music has not stopped.
The journey has not ended.

I am still discovering the world,
But as a changed person.

It took me 17 years to get to this stage,
But at last I have confidently started calling myself a dancer.

Tips for a Dancer

I have always found other people’s stage experience very inspiring. Their journey to get to that stage and how much hard work they put to get there is incredible. Therefore, I thought to use this space to share some tips which have helped me build myself as a dancer. Everyone works differently, so I am not saying this is the right way. This is my way. Some may find this extremely useful, some may not. But I am hoping that everyone will be able to take something from this. So here goes…

The Training Period

This is the most difficult and tiresome part of the whole process but what you do during training is what you will see on stage.

  • Eat well (see below)
  • Make sure to give your body rest – get plenty of sleep
  • Yes, you will get injuries – blisters, muscle aches, shin splints, and stress fractures, to name a few. For this reason, it is so important you are fully prepared at every practice with necessary first aid measures – plasters, bandages, painkillers, deep heat/deep freeze, ibuprofen gel, etc
  • Support each other – you are a team. Make sure you improve as a team. One dancer should not be better than another, everyone should be equally as good so critiquing each other constantly is crucial.
  • Do not be afraid to give constructive feedback to your choreographer. Personally, I beg the dancers I work with to give me feedback, because they will notice things which I, as a dancer/choreographer, may not have previously picked up on. So if you are a choreographer, make sure your dancers feel comfortable enough to be able to come up to you and do so, because only then will you grow as well.
  • Remind yourself – ‘When I look back at those videos, I do not want to have any regrets.’ For that you need to work hard from the beginning. Be your worst critique. Never be satisfied! Be harsh, because I can guarantee you that it will be worth it.
  • Do adequate homework – this applies to those who take part in shows which represent a different cultural group to their own. I can say this because I had to do a lot of homework for The Bhangra Showdown, with the help of my team. Make sure to fully immerse yourself into that culture so you can best represent and respect it on stage.
  • Listen to the mix on repeat and nothing else. Stay focused. Get bored of that mix!
  • Which brings me nicely onto the final point, you will naturally get bored of the routine, whether you are dancer or choreographer. This is because you have been doing it constantly for weeks to months now. Do not lose motivation and think what the reaction will be when people see it with a fresh pair of eyes for the first time!

Diet

  • Eat clean
  • ‘Good carbs’ before training, lean protein after training
  • Examples of food I eat: cous-cous, wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, chicken, fish, egg white, plenty of vegetables to supplement each meal
  • Health snacks: plenty of fruits, almonds, raisins, fruit smoothies
  • Avoid oily and sugary items altogether
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking

During the performance

  • Smile – you are there to attract the audience and the way to do so is to smile, wherever appropriate of course! Show that you are enjoying what you are doing. You need to feed the audience with your energy.
  • Breathe – as silly as this may sound, this is something which many people forget to do.
  • If things go wrong, carry on with an even bigger smile on your face. No one will know it is a mistake until you show it.
  • Stay focused when you dance, do not get overwhelmed by the audience cheering because you do not want to lose concentration on the routine
  • Performing on stage is very different to rehearsals – because of the stage, costumes, the excessive lighting, and the crowd – naturally you will only do 70 – 80% of what you have been able to do during rehearsals. Therefore, you need to be fully pumped and give your 200% when you perform
  • Perform with the thought in mind that this may well be the last time you will be doing this routine, so give it your all
  • Last but not least, enjoy the routine and live it!

Post-Performance

I believe this to be the most important part of the whole process.

Evaluation.

This is when you have to be most critical of your performance. Analyse the positives and the areas of improvement.

I personally look at the performance from the perspective of a dancer, choreographer and general audience.

  • As a dancer I critique my own dancing technique, execution and facial expressions.
  • As a choreographer, I evaluate the overall routine’s move selection, formations, transitions, music selection and the execution of the whole team.
  • As an audience member, I look at how much of an impact the whole routine creates and whether it is relatable to all age groups.

I do all of the above for every dance performance of mine, whether it be for a birthday party, stage show or competition.

Closing remarks

There is an over-arching message which comes from all of this. If you have a passion for something, adequate preparation and hard work is required to achieve those goals. This is not just to do with the arts, but also with academics. Every experience has a before, during and after from which you can learn heap loads about yourself.