Mucho Pyaar :o) x

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Reality of Moi; A Superhero Princess

Being the first born in many households is a pretty special moment and being the first daughter is even more precious. Well, I had it even better than this! I was the first Princess to, not only my parents, but the entire maternal family. First daughter, first granddaughter and the first baby amongst four households; the first of the new generation.

From the day I was born, doctors, nurses and health care professions swooned around; a fairer than fair doll, head of thick, luscious black curls and a smile that had everyone putty in my hands. This continued when Mother and Baby were discharged home, where from day one, I had everyone at my beck and call! All schedules revolved around my burps and bumps, yet no one was actually allowed to touch me. Between my Nana, (Maternal Grandfather), Father and Mama, (Uncle), I was constantly guarded, with my Mother only being allowed to nurse me with a supervisor. Even my poor Nani, (Grandmother), had to have supervised time! So it shall come as no surprise that yours truly was named Princess for many reasons! As time went on, I was constantly given undivided attention, showered with love and affection and wanting for nothing. Yes, I was spoilt endlessly and I say this with pride! Does this mean that I was a brat...maybe, sometimes, (hey! Who isn't?!), but I was also well grounded, well mannered and well rounded. I was taught about the rights and wrongs of life, respecting everyone no bars and most of all, loving and respecting myself always.

I was blessed and fortunate enough to come from a very well settled family, who gave love and discipline in equal bouts; my Daddy loved and Mummy was left to discipline! I was always a child who wanted to know why; why I was being made to do something, why was it done that and why we do this and that. It didn't just stop there.. Oh no, I wanted to know all the whys!
'Why do I have sit on the floor, clap my hands and sing these religious hymns; Why can't I wear my jeans to this wedding; Why do people touch other people's feet?'; Why aren't you eating all day?'  
Often I used to see parents shush their child; thankfully mine did the opposite. If they didn't know, I could always rely on my Nana and Nani, (Maternal Grandparents) to have the answer - and a real answer, not some colourful fiction! As I got older and the families grew, I often found myself sharing stories that I was told and the ones younger to me, doing the same with the ones younger to them and often encouraging the questions, too!

We grew from Moi to eight Granddaughters and one Grandson, yet none of us were ever treated differently. We were all encouraged to study hard, be independent and enjoy our lives. We were always taught all about our culture, our religion and our heritage and given the option of following and practicing it, never forced into it. To us, man and woman were equal in all parts, and treated as such!

I was also taught about equality and witnessed it first hand. My Father would often take the kitchen and create an array of delicious dishes, take on household chores and not be afraid to take on tasks, traditionally seen as belonging the ladies. Equally, my Mother was no different, whether it was changing a tyre, (yes actually changing a flat!), putting up a shelf or drilling through the wall! Being exposed to an open-mind, equal and cultured family shaped my personality to be the same and my siblings too. We were never told we couldn't do something because we were girls or that it wasn't the cultural nor social norm.
As I came into my teen years and had to make education choices, I always found I was having to shoulder and support friends, whose parents had often chosen their path or pushed them towards subjects they wouldn't necessarily want to opt for. I struggled to understand this, whilst I sat down with my parents and talked through the pros and cons of the options. The hardest part for me was when I collected As and A*s from my favourite subjects, including the non-traditional subjects like Drama and Textiles, my friends collected Cs and Ds from their dreaded subjects of Business and Economics! I was given the same rights, choices and freedom as all the males around me, whilst I often heard my female peers fabricate their whereabouts. Whilst I had the joys of attending private Dance & Drama Clubs, I saw others being thrown into tuition centres.
You would think higher studies, such as A Levels and University would belong to the individual, but nope! Again, parents pushed their Traditional Favourites of I.T, Accountants, Business and such, whilst I had the freedom to go into my chosen Psychology and then Counselling Therapy career. Even during the years of higher studies,  I had the freedom to not only live out, but live life! Again, I witnessed the same pattern of my newly-made Asian friends, getting creative with the truth, of why they couldn't come home, where they were and how well they were supposedly doing! Whilst my parents supported my love of the Arts and Media; whether it was taking me away at weekends so I could shoot for television shows, adverts or films, coming to watch my theatre performances and even listening to me moan about the woos of media life at silly hours of the morning.
This was not always the easiest for my parents, especially we come from a very active community and have a flood of social events in the calendar. Often my parents would come across people who would constantly share concerns and negative stories of young girls who had gone bad because the parents gave them too much freedom. This would really upset me, but my parents would remain calm, smile and nod, simply saying that trusted their daughters and more importantly, they trusted the upbringing they had given their children. This soon started to change, when I started to become a Household Name in community, as I started to take on bigger Media projects, which included very accomplished magazines, radio stations and television channels known to the Asian Community. Suddenly, those concerned ones were oh so proud now, that I belonged to the community, how proud I made them feel and how nice it was to see a young Indian girl in the light!
I am so pleased that I was raised in environment that was so forward, open-minded and cultured and I am honoured and privileged that I have been treated as a Princess and raised a modern woman. I have the skills, awareness and ability to attend a professional event on a Friday night, go partying with friends on a Saturday night and partake in a religious/cultural functions on a Sunday! None of which would have been possible if my parents had listened to those annoying aunties about too much freedom, taken the advise of the interfering uncles who thought they knew best about me and future and those concerned communities about good girls going bad!

 I'm living & breathing proof of a Superhero Princess;
I have a kick-ass Career, the ability to cook feasts fit for a King & change a tyre...
Whilst looking smokin' in a Saree!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Me, Myself and My Arranged Marriage: A Review

For those of you who know me, and know me well, will know I am a book worm, an addict and hooked to a book, from the tender of 3! I love to read and write, which is how I ended up with this space, I guess! I hadn't written on here in a long, long time and often used to think 'Oh God, I miss writing! This would make an amazing blog piece', especially when I used to get caught into interesting debates with family, friends and colleagues. I often even thought about combing my two loves of reading and writing, in the form a book review, but never got the opportunity.... Until now!

Picture the scene... It's a hot summer's afternoon and I'm sat in the Buzz Asia studios, hosting my brand spanking new Drive Time Radio show. I introduce the start of show, get a song going and just as I am bringing the fader down, which projects my vocals to the millions, in busts a beautiful, upbeat young lady! 'Hi, I'm Natasha, aka Nikki, aka the late night show host! We've been in emails together and interacted via social media, but it's so nice to finally meet you!! I've heard lots and lots about you, but not had a chance to meet you yet, because we work at such different time, but I stuck about after a meeting today, because I wanted to meet you and introduce myself. How you finding it here - if you need anything, please just ask!' And thus began a beautiful friendship.
Although, we worked very different show times, Nikki and I kept in touch, attended events, functions and shows together and even got to occasionally catch up, if I was ever covering a late evening show. So when I heard that Miss Asghar had finally put her book out to the public, I couldn't think of a better one for my first review! So now hope you enjoy my thoughts, my insight and my interpretation of Me, Myself and My Arranged Marriage. I look forward to your thoughts on mine..😁
When you are speaking to your friends and they share their private life, thoughts and feelings with you, one can sympathise, provide support or even advise and feel good about it too. However, when I first started reading Nikki's book, I felt awful, I felt naughty and I felt bad! It was almost like I had stolen her diary and was sat in a dark corner, hiding and reading it, like a naughty school girl, (Oviously I hadn't stolen the book; she very kindly posted me, my very own autographed copy!). This is further supported by the easy to read style that Asghar has chosen, with an almost conversation tone, between friends, which really allows her readers to connect to her.

The book opens up into the background of Nikki's personal life and upbringing, giving her readers a true insight into her personality, background and family home life. With this delve into the household, Asghar seamlessly creates an understanding, for the reader, into her thought process, the culture and how it works. This makes it an easy read for those who aren't from Asian background or exposed to the cultural and social norms, following with a summary of what is come in the book.
Asghar openly and honestly takes her readers through the trials and tribulations that many the young British Asian community members can identify and may even relate to! Certainly as a young, single, Brit Asian professional myself, I found me sighing and slapping my forehead in both empathy and sympathy half the read, whilst chucking and having many-a déjà vu in the other!
The book is carried across eight chapters, of the 'magnificent eight’ set ups over the years, where Asghar takes her readers through the journey of her dating dilemmas. The journey begins during her University days, where the first dormant dulha, (groom), is brought home. Over the years, or in this case, the chapters, both the author and it's readers grow in age, as we are exposed to the subsequent suitors brought to the doorstep through various mediums, from family members, to the workplace and even to the Asentas - my personal version of the Asian Yenta! What is interesting, is that whilst Asghar is quite modern in her outlook of life, we also see the traditional Nikki, who is respectful of her parents wishes in how the potential partner is introduced, coupling with her openness and acceptance of arranged marriages.
The old before his time gent, the status chaser, the schedule-caller and even the international admirer, Me, Myself and My Arranged Marriage will leave you giggling with glee, smiling with sympathy and cringing with confusion as each chapter uncovers something for all! A great start to your writing career Nikki, I am sure we all look forward to the sequel.

Mucho Pyaar :o) x