Mind Love

Asking for help is the hardest thing for me to do

Trigger Warning: Mentions of depression and anxiety. 

I’m not a stranger to mental health, I had a bad time a few years ago and ended up on antidepressants. It was a shock for me at the time – mental health issues didn’t happen to young people like me. I mean, no one my age that I’d known had ever talked about it. It was one of those distant things I knew existed but didn’t really realize the depth of.

To be honest, I was extremely ignorant about the realities of mental health.

It turned out to be a learning curve for me and, in many ways, it has made me the person that I am. Initially, I was bitterboy was I bitter – angry at the world, victimizing myself, and just hopeless for quite some time. I have many angsty journal entries from my “dark days” pages about how much I hated myself and everything about me.

So I took steps to change the things I didn’t like and it wasn’t easy.

I think I’m pretty great now because I’ve pushed past the “darkness” to become someone who is able to see the good in every bad, anticipate what the next trial will teach me and, in general, like myself more.

I know am not cured but I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve learned to enjoy the good days and deal with the bad ones. Mostly, I’ve learned to be grateful for both types of days; the bad days always teach me something new and there is always a new perspective to gain.

 And now I am one of those people who talk about mental health – all the time.

I’m forever trying to start a sincere conversation about mental wellbeing and help others along the journey so they don’t feel as alone as I did. And I’m still learning, I’m learning that I can’t help everyone unless I’m looking after myself

Recently, I slipped a little by taking on more than I was prepared for, in many ways.

I ignored it to start with. The anxiety that worsened as each day went by, the numbness that came along, the loss of interest in everything I had once enjoyed. These are my signals for when things are getting worse and, in the past,  when one appeared, I  picked up on it and looked after myself.

This time, I picked up on it too late.

And there I was – anxious beyond words, struggling to breathe and feeling low, so so low. A low that I had hoped to never spiral into again. I remember sitting down and feeling the worst I had in years. All the effort I’d put into learning how to avoid this kind of meltdown slowly seeped away, to the point where I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do anything but stay frozen, held captive by my mind.

Then the responsible part of me kicked in and I remember thinking, “Ok Mitta, you need help.” It took me a while, to push back the tears, control my breathing, and reach for my phone. 

And then came the hard bit. 

I’m blessed with a lot of great people in my life. Yet, as I sat and stared at my phone, I felt like I had no one to call. No one who I wouldn’t be a burden to. No one who I could easily just word vomit on. The loneliness set in.

I know it’s in my head because I’m sure my friends would have picked up and been there for me. But I’d been through such a shitty time before, I felt like I’d already been a burden once. It was hard to be that person again.

It also felt like admitting defeat.

It had taken me years but I’d gotten to a good place so how had a couple of bad weeks destroyed everything I’d created? I’d built this new Mitta who talked about mental health, who helped others, and I didn’t want to become the old version of myself again. The fear of becoming that anxiety-riddled mess who couldn’t see past that scared me more than I cared to admit. As much as I’d like to think I had grown, I was still scared of the stigma that came with mental health. Of being perceived as weak.

But I knew I needed help. I knew I couldn’t continue this way without falling down a rabbit hole of anxiety and depression. 

So, I did the only other thing I could think of. I reached out to a mental health professional. I did something and I’m hoping it pays off. And I get it, asking for help when you need it is tough, but it’s so damn important.

It’s going okay, I think. It helps to know that I have a safe space to vent out my issues. So when my days get unbearable – I at least know I have a chance to dissect it all. I also like having someone change the way I see things. I’ll explain a situation and say “yes, I know I’m being dramatic” and my therapist will explain to me that I am actually not being that irrational. That A + B will result in me acting out in C. It helps, now when I am in a certain situation, usually a social one, the anxiety won’t necessarily go away but I can better understand what is causing it and that, at least, makes me feel a little better.

Talking to friends is important and great but I cannot emphasize that talking to a professional is so much better. I, of course, acknowledge that not everyone has that privilege.

Talking to a stranger who I know won’t judge me for the things I say, who I won’t have to see around every day and be reminded of all they know about me. That helps and it also helps to get a different perspective on your life. The people around me know me, they have an image of me they have already cultivated in their minds so any advice they give – they give taking this image into consideration. And maybe sometimes that image is a lie. I’m great at looking like I’m doing well and dying inside. So it helps to have someone who doesn’t have any attachments to me listen.

The most important thing here is listening, I’m paying this person to listen to me so they have to essentially do that. With people I know, offloading often feels like I am burdening them and in turn, I can’t always be as open as I want.

None of us can do this alone. 

Take that scary step.

Ask for help.

You can run away from many things but you can’t escape your own mind.

If you, or someone you knew, is in need of mental health support, visit CheckPoint’s website.

Best Friends Forever Gender & Identity Wellness Life

I’m not sure when or where I lost my voice

If you ask my mum, she’ll say that I’ve always been a quiet child, one of the side effects of being born so premature, or so she says. I’m not so convinced though. I remember faint memories of a carefree young girl, running around, loud and confident, but maybe that’s the girl I choose to remember.

Here’s the thing, I’m shy. Painfully shy.

People who know me well would probably laugh at that statement. I’m opinionated, friendly, and sarcastic to a fault. But if you don’t know me well, you might never find that out because I’m quiet, so quiet that you might even think I don’t like you.

Some days, I’m confident and out there. On others, I prefer to sit and watch the world go round. I’m quieter than some people, usually in groups when I like to just sit, listen, and chip in when I feel like it. When I’m alone with one or two people, though, you can’t get me to shut up.

It’s just what I am like. I’m having a great time and I’m happy.

A few years ago, my sister and I returned to Brazil to see where we were born and to visit old family friends. My Portuguese was rusty and awful but I understood everything being said, I just couldn’t speak it very well. So, I handed the ropes to my sister. One evening while we were with an old friend, she turned to my sister and said, “Is she always this quiet or is it the language barrier?” my sister regarded me and answered, “She’s always like that…she observes.”

It was the first time anyone had brought it up matter-of-factly and I actually thought about it; she wasn’t wrong. By that point, my Portuguese had gotten better, but I remained as quiet as I had been when I couldn’t communicate.

I never really saw anything wrong with being quiet. I just don’t speak as often as others. Until some time ago, someone told me that being around me can take some effort with having to pull me into conversations and all. It made me feel self-conscious and, honestly, for a while, I started to wonder what was wrong with me.

I started to analyze my behavior and began obsessively wondering what people were thinking about me.

Was I making the conversation awkward? Did I need to chip in more so they realized I was listening? Had I become someone who no one really wanted to be around but were too polite to say so? I tried, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t change the quietness that had become a fundamental part of me and it made me hate myself.

So I did what an anxious, on-the-verge of a breakdown Mitta does, and asked the people I love most about it. I have a large group of friends that I’ve known for a decade and I’m definitely the quietest out of them all. I asked my friends about it and put them on the spot.

They assured me that they love me as I am and I think that realization is what made me stop caring. It’s easy with them though, there is no effort required and I haven’t thought about it since.

I don’t want anyone to put in the effort to pull me into a conversation. I want them to be okay with the fact that I will involve myself when I want to.

In a way, I have found myself a little bit more by having that discussion and facing it. It’s also made me understand other aspects of my life better. I’ve always loved written words, immersed myself in books and far-away lands. I know that I can convey myself much better by writing something down rather than saying it aloud. So, it’s no surprise that I took to Twitter so well. It’s a way of saying what I’m thinking without having to physically say it.

The thing is, being quiet isn’t a defining or overarching trait and it’s not a terrible thing. It’s just a thing.

It’s as much a normal part of me as anything is and it’s a shame that I was made to feel like it wasn’t. It doesn’t mean I’m meek or boring, it doesn’t mean I’m hard to be around. All it means is when I say something, it’s usually great and you’ll want to be listening.

Editor's Picks

Best of The Tempest 2019: Social Justice & News

I think we can all agree that 2019 has been a hell of a year and politically – it has been draining.

We are now in the time of information overload. There is so much happening everywhere in the world, so much that deserves to be spoken about that can actually be accessed incredibly easily. But I’m not sure our minds were created to be able to take in everything, to have a stance on everything, all the time – it’s exhausting.

Nevertheless, 2019 has been one of the most important years because, in the face of all the bad, there has been so much room for good, so much space to share stories that may have been lost in previous years, so much room to grow as individuals and to educate ourselves about the world we live in.

Here are some of the most important stories of 2019.

1. The Holocaust isn’t the only genocide that Germany needs to be held accountable for by Julia Métraux

The Holocaust isn’t the only genocide that Germany needs to be held accountable for

The Holocaust is undoubtedly one of the one worst things that could have happened, however, unknown to many – it isn’t the only genocide that has occurred, not even in Germany. Julia explores the horrors that the Herero and Nama people endured in Germany so that they aren’t forgotten and hopefully one day will receive the reparations they deserve.

2. An art installation in Pakistan about police brutality faces censorship by Sabreena Memon

An art installation in Pakistan about police brutality faces censorship

Sabreena explores the intricate relationship that Pakistan has with Censorship by discussing an art installation named the Killing Fields of Karachi. This piece touches on important topics such as the effects of censorship and the importance of art as a means to start essential discussions.

3. In conversation with Aysha Baqir on her novel Beyond the Fields by Shehrbano Naqvi

In conversation with Aysha Baqir on her novel Beyond the Fields

Shehrbano talks to Aysha Baqir about her novel Beyond the Fields, a story based in Pakistan that touches on issues such as gender-based violence and justice. It is fascinating to understand what drove the author to write this incredible tale and what points she found most important to shed light on. This article is a great introduction to what is undoubtedly an amazing book.

4. We have to stop ignoring this massive Jeffrey Epstein conspiracy by Kari J

We have to stop ignoring this massive Jeffrey Epstein conspiracy

Kari lays out the facts of the Jeffrey Epstein issue step by step so that it is easy to understand one of the biggest conspiracies of the year. She urges sexual assault victims to continue to speak up, despite the many who aim to silence them.

5. It’s about time we see eating disorders as social justice issues by Meg Leach

It’s about time we see eating disorders as social justice issues

In this piece, Meg sheds some light on why in particular sizeism and diet culture contribute towards eating disorders and what we need to do to combat it. I’ve seen this topic discussed in so many ways but I feel like this article is a fresh take with a discussion around the causes, the impact, and the barriers to recovery.

6. This is the bitter truth behind your cup of tea by Iman Saleem

This is the bitter truth behind your cup of tea

We all love a good cup of tea, it’s prominent in many cultures and a staple in so many homes. But like most of the things we consume, how often do we really think about how it is made? Iman explores the struggles of the estate workers in Sri Lanka and the methods they are using to try and gain better wages and treatment. This is a great insight into a too little talked about subject.

7. #AmINext: we need to talk about femicide in South Africa by Erin de Kock

#AmINext: we need to talk about femicide in South Africa

The issue of femicide in South Africa is sadly not a new occurrence; this year the case of Uyinene Mrwetyana bought it back into the spotlight. Erin explores the question on everyone’s mind – Am I next? A fair question in a country where a woman is murdered every three hours.

8. Why the London dream is over by Sharlene Gandhi

Why the London dream is over

Sharlene looks into why people are leaving cities and focuses on London in particular. Looking at the near non-existent work-life balance, financial aspects and even climate issues, we can understand why more people are leaving London than moving to it.

9. We have to stop making straight celebrities our gay icons by Federica Bocco

We have to stop making straight celebrities our gay icons

While the relationship between music and the LGBTQ+ community is a historic one, Federica asks some important questions of who our icons should be. Without bashing allies, it is important to note that we can acknowledge and appreciate music by straight celebrities when supporting the cause, but not to forget to lift up and empower LGBTQ+ artists themselves.

So comes an end to a year that we will all remember for so many years to come.

Here is to 2020 – a year we hope is filled with goodness and justice.

Book Reviews Poetry Books Pop Culture

Shareefa Energy will take you on a “Galaxy Walk” with her beautiful poetry

Galaxy Walk is Shareefa Energy‘s first published collection of poems – it is a beautiful set of pieces that make you feel like you are both coming home and breaking out at the same time.

Shareefa is a UK based spoken word poet, writer, mentor and workshop facilitator. She was awarded the UK Entertainment Best Poet 2017 Award and a nominee for the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre 2019 award by the Arts Council. Her poetry has featured on BBC The One Show, Channel 4 and ITV and been published in various publications. All in all, it’s pretty sufficient to say that she is using her voice and talents to empower and inspire women of color everywhere. 

I’d known Shareefa briefly before she’d moved to London and then one day I came across a video of her spoken word. And it changed things for me in so many ways. Never before had I seen a strong, Asian woman who came from the same city I did, be so unashamed to share her truth with the world.

This book has so much to offer – if anything, the cover itself is enough to make you want to pick up the book – it has such an ethereal feel to it.

Galaxy Walk is named after a walk in Leicester, UK – and the book follows the theme of sticking to its roots, with a few of the chapters named after streets nearby, streets I have wandered many times in life. To see them celebrated in the written word, well with it, it brings a certain joy that as a young Asian girl, I never got, the joy of finding something relatable. That speaks to me. That feeling that my world isn’t so small – that kind of magic I appreciate so much as an adult. But I cannot even imagine the impact Shareefa is having on the youngsters in the neighborhood.

The first chapter, “Pegasus Close”, welcomes you into her journey with a piece about her childhood and the hot chapattis her grandmother would make as she skipped home from school, home through all the familiar places. I’ve seen many writers try and put down in words the experience of growing up in a Desi household.

The first two chapters explore the sentimental Indian snacks that feel like comfort, the desi obsession with fair skin, the way the system discriminates against the Asian youth, as well as so many things which I’ve never seen written about. It fully encompasses both the comforts and discomforts of growing up as an Asian, Muslim woman. As Benjamin Zephaniah says “Shareefa knows a woman’s place is on the front line speaking truth to power.

In the chapter “Jury in Space”, Shareefa takes us on a journey through her travels in the world, whether that be in Sierra Leone or Haifa – she shares the beauty of each place she visited, as well as the pain she witnessed. I find this to be a constant theme in this book – she doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She shows us the good and the bad of all the issues she discusses whilst still keeping the tone and making it feel like you are having an intimate conversation with a friend over a cup of Masala Chai.

One of the most important chapters turned out to be one of the shortest. “Grenfell Rd” consists of three poems, an eyewitness account of that night, a reflection a year on and a commentary on the system that allowed it to happen. Grenfell Tower was a 24-story tower block that caught on fire, causing the death of 72 people. For most of us, Grenfell is spoken as though a prayer, we watched videos in horror and helplessness. But for Shareefa, who was there, who tried to help in any way she could – to be able to keep going and use her voice speak of such a thing takes a lot of mental strength. To be able to write it into words and share it with the world so they cannot forget, well that takes bravery I cannot quite put into words.

This book discusses politics, religion, mental health and so much more which is typical from a poetry collection, what makes it striking is the eyes we are seeing all of this through. It’s a perspective which is not often shared with the world – through the eyes of a Muslim woman who is not afraid to be vulnerable and share herself with us.

This book is a gift and I hope Shareefa never stops writing, speaking and inspiring the rest of us.

Get Galaxy Walk here

Books Pop Culture

These enlightening poetry books will change your life

As an aspiring poet and avid reader, poetry books are what get me through everyday life. Words are my happy place and I cannot explain how helpful some of these books have been for my mental health. They each hold a very special place in my heart.

Here are some of my favorite contemporary poetry books.

1.  Your Soul is a River by Nikita Gill is both beautifully emotional and incredibly empowering.

Black book cover with stars in the background and the title, Your Soul Is A River, in gold.
[Image description: Black book cover with stars in the background and the title, Your Soul Is A River, in gold.] Via Amazon
Your Soul is a River is my all-time favorite. I adore Nikita Gill and her ability to use the weather and the infinite galaxy to make me feel things. She makes broken things and imperfect people sound so powerful. Whenever my depression is getting the best of me, I try and read a few of her poems to remind myself that I am more than what I sometimes feel like. This book has healing powers.

What people are saying: “Nikita Gill’s words are filled with understanding, courage, hope, loss, recovery, pain, healing, and love. Such an incredible collection of poems for everyone who’s going through rough times and think they’ll never make it. You can make it. You will make it.” – valreads

Price: $33.93

2. The magic that is Everything is Excruciating & Awkward in Doorways by Naveed Khan.

Black book cover with title, Everything is Excruciating, in white and red.
[Image description: Black book cover with title, Everything is Excruciating, in white and red.] Via Amazon
I love all of Naveed Khan’s poetry books. Honestly, the way he writes is magic; all of his books flow so beautifully and make me way more emotional than I would like to admit. But Everything is Excruciating & Awkward in Doorways, in particular, is special to me because it portrays mental health as a casual part of life.

Naveed writes about trauma and heartbreak in a way that is not romanticizing it but showing you that it does not define you. It was something that I really needed to read, and appreciated.

What people are saying: “Loved it.” – Aarti Nair

Price: $16.99

3. Nayyirah Waheed’s Salt addresses healing and embracing all the messy parts of yourself.

White book cover with title, salt, in black at the bottom.
[Image description: White book cover with title, salt, in black at the bottom.] Via Amazon
Salt is what made me fall in love with Nayyirah, but her book Nejma is equally as majestic. Nayyirah is endlessly talented and unafraid to put down raw feelings and turn them into art, and Salt does it by discussing heartbreak, colonization, and self-love

What people are saying: “Her work says what we’ve been thinking in the best, most beautiful way possible. My heart gushes over each page. She’s beautiful, clever, and encouraging.” – Renee McKenzie

Price: $22.50

4. teaching my mother how to give birth by Warsan Shire is a lot smaller than the others, but in no way is it less powerful.

Brown book cover with intricate art and title - teaching my mother how to give birth - in black.
[Image description: Brown book cover with intricate art and title – teaching my mother how to give birth – in black.] Via Amazon
It is intense, painful and brilliant. teaching my mother how to give birth explores many sensitive narratives such as immigration, loss, adultery, and womanhood.

As an immigrant of sorts, I can relate to many of the emotions although I do not claim to have felt things as strongly as her. It gives you short stories in the form of poetry and is just incredible to read.

What people are saying: “To understand yourself and where you are, you must first start at the beginning. This artist can take a situation and make it every woman’s story. If you are looking for a good read, read this. It could help you understand yourself or possibly someone else.” – smanson

Price: $7

5. Questions For Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo embodies all of the pain and loss of women everywhere.

Book cover with sunset background a silhouette of a woman's face surrounded by butterflies, the title, Questions for Ada, is in yellow.
[Image description: Book cover with sunset background a silhouette of a woman’s face surrounded by butterflies, the title, Questions for Ada, is in yellow.] Via Amazon
Questions For Ada for me is about womanhood and self-empowerment, using the pain and loss and turning it into something bewitching. It builds great respect for all the women who have got us to where we are in life. It explores sacrifices, diaspora, and harsh realities.

The poem that stood out for me is “First Generation”, an ode to all first generation immigrants that made me fall in love with Ijeoma Umebinyuo.

What people are saying: “I loved this book from beginning to end. As a twenty-something, Nigerian-American, I can really relate to a lot of the poems Ijeoma Umebinyuo used. I think a lot of women of color are able to relate as well because so many of us face the same issues growing up in one culture at home and another one outside of the home. Her literary talent had me completely enthralled from beginning to end. I plan on buying this for all of my sisters.” – HELEN

Price: $11.99

6. Heterogeneous by Anthony Anaxagorou is simply revolutionary.

Black book cover with white and black shadowed pattern and the title, Heterogenous, in white.
[Image description: Black book cover with white and black shadowed pattern and the title, Heterogenous, in white.] Via Amazon
Anthony Anaxagorou is one of my favorite poets in existence.

He is better known for his spoken word and seriously if you haven’t heard of him – YouTube him. It will change your life. Anthony has a way with words that is so eloquent that it is almost inhuman. I have yet to find someone contemporary who his work can be compared to.

Heterogeneous is a stunning collection of poems that tackle a range of important issues in this day and age.

What people are saying: “Saw him live and he blew my mind. If you can, get his book. Even better, of course, is to see him perform his pieces live.” – Illi Syaznie

Price: $12.76

7. Key Ballah’s Preparing my Daughter for Rain reminds me of conversations I had with my older sister about love and the world.

White book cover with a photograph of a mum and young child, the title, Preparing My Daughter For Rain, is in black.
[Image description: White book cover with a photograph of a mum and young child, the title, Preparing My Daughter For Rain, is in black.] Via Amazon
Preparing my Daughter for Rain is a collection of stories and lessons to teach future daughters, and is written in the form of poetry. If I could describe the way this book makes me feel in one word, it would be calm. Key Ballah discusses so many important issues but everything is written with a touch of self-love. It is an important book that I hope to pass onto my daughters, should I ever have any.

What people are saying: “Kay Ballah’s words are more of a fight song, born from pain, struggle and experience, all of which are described with unparalleled beauty and rawness. She writes to the daughter inside each of us.” – gloombunny

Price: $17

8. This Is How You Survive by Lana Rafaela Cindric is an emotional rollercoaster.

A turquoise cover features a pink-purple-blue circle with the title, This Is How You Survive, on it.
[Image description: A turquoise cover features a pink-purple-blue circle with the title, This Is How You Survive, on it.] Via Amazon
This beautiful collection depicts the gritty, resilient sides of ourselves when having to deal with a world that isn’t always going to be kind to you. These poems range from soft and soothing to tough and breathtaking – every single one makes me feel a different emotion that I never want to stop feeling.

Lana Cindric is one of the most talented poets of our times and I cannot wait to see what more she produces.

What people are saying: “I wanna be this book when I grow up. The poetry in this book is so alive it’s like it’s breathing with you. I’ve found so much inspiration about life and living in these pages.” – Jill V Abernathy 

Price: $4.94+

9. Samihah Pargas’ Early Mourning Hours is fifty shades of emotional pain.

The book, Early Mourning Hours, features a pale yellow, abstract cover with an orange sun and bluish-green ocean waves.
[Image description: The book, Early Mourning Hours, features a pale yellow, abstract cover with an orange sun and bluish-green ocean waves.] Via Amazon
Have you ever had to grieve a love? The ending of something that you thought would last forever?

Because I have, and one of the things that provided me solace was in the pages of Early Mourning Hours. It is an emotional book which portrays heartbreak, finding yourself, and having faith in God in a way that really leaves you speechless. Many a time, the words were so raw that I couldn’t keep reading through my tears.

But it was worth it because everything I felt, I saw reflected back at me through these words. It is a special sort of talent to make the reader feel as though you are rummaging around in their brain.

What people are saying: “Thoughtful, self-aware sentence poems reflecting mainly on the author’s emotional pain as she moves into adulthood. Somewhat reminiscent of Rupi Kaur, perhaps because the writer is also a young woman. However, Samihah Pargas has very much her own voice, which I’m sure will strengthen over time.” – CE Dawson

Price: $11.11

10. If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar is going to be studied in schools one day.

A purplish-gray book featuring three brown women sitting cross-legged in their cultural clothing. Flowers bloom behind them and above them is the title: If They Come For Us.
[Image description: A purplish-gray book featuring three brown women sitting cross-legged in their cultural clothing. Flowers bloom behind them and above them is the title: If They Come For Us.] Via Amazon
I mean, this cover is a stunning enough reason to buy this book.

Fatimah Ashgar explores important issues of being a Muslim woman, the partition, grief and so so much more. Through her own unique lens, Fatimah allows you into her life and I cannot thank her enough for this honor. This collection goes through a variety of emotions, some which you connect to and others, which you feel just as intensely.

What people are saying: “A debut poetry collection that looks into what it’s like to be a Pakistani Muslim woman in America. Filled with anger, joy, confusion and love.  For such a short book, it packs a wallop.” – Amber Garabrandt

Price: $6.32

It was painful to write this because to narrow down my favorite poetry books to 10 felt like a betrayal to all the other amazing works out there. Have you read any of the poetry books above? Do you agree or have I missed a crucial book out?

Editor's Picks World News The Internet The World

Let’s not pretend Priyanka Chopra was ever a humanitarian

Let’s take this back to the beginning. The relationship between India and Pakistan has always been rocky.

Following a recent attack in Kashmir, India accused the attackers of being from Pakistan and being backed by Pakistan’s government and army. The situation quickly worsened, and suddenly the talk of war was thick in the air. Priyanka Chopra, being the amazing UNICEF Ambassador she is, decided to take the time to comment on political affairs.

In February, Chopra wrote a tweet supporting the Indian armed forces saying, “Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces.”

This tweet came along following an announcement from India that it had launched airstrikes in Pakistan. These airstrikes prompted a retaliatory response from Pakistan, and as a result, the hostilities between the two countries surged.

[Image description: Priyanka Chopra and husband Nick Jonas greeting India's PM Narendra Modi] via Instagram
[Image description: Priyanka Chopra and husband Nick Jonas greeting India’s PM Narendra Modi at their wedding reception] via Instagram
The tweet isn’t the beginning of the issue.

Priyanka Chopra famously wed Nick Jonas and invited the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to her wedding. Modi is known for his right-wing policies and inciting racism towards the Muslims of India. Recently, Modi scrapped Kashmir’s autonomy and blighted the lives of those living in the Valley. The place is sucked into bloodshed, conflict, and disorder. Innocent people are dying every day. Fear engulfs Kashmir as local people fight for their lives.

It’s not surprising then, that a woman who seeks a wedding blessing from this monster…. well, is a monster herself.

If you’re in the public eye and have problematic views, you must expect to be called out on them. And this is exactly what happened.

A video of Priyanka Chopra being called a hypocrite by a brave Pakistani woman has taken the social media by a storm. At a beauty event in Los Angeles, Ayesha Malik confronted her about her outrageous and irresponsible tweet, Chopra’s mantle of composure fell away at once.

“So, it was kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity, because as your neighbor, a Pakistani, I know you’re a bit of a hypocrite,” said Malik. She went on to point out that despite being a UNICEF Ambassador for peace, she encouraged nuclear war between the two countries.

As someone who has lived through the dangerous times when this country has been at the brink of being torn down by war,  I can understand where Malik’s coming from.

Everyone has been waiting for the talk of war to dry up. Everyone is scared.

Through her privilege, Chopra probably hasn’t experienced this terrifying feeling, and her frosty response to Malik made her lack of compassion evident.

“Whenever you’re done venting … got it, done? Okay, cool,” Chopra said, with a taste of condescension. “So, I have many, many friends from Pakistan and I am from India, and war is not something that I am really fond of, but I am patriotic,” she added. She ignored the point Malik was making and disrespectfully continued to be condescending and just plain uncaring.

It was evident that Chopra was taken unawares by Malik’s sudden question. She sputtered out a response that a) completely missed answering Malik’s question and b) was unfairly attacking the woman asking a simple (quite necessary) question.

Malik was still speaking when two men snatched the microphone from her hands, yet she still held her ground and continued.

Since when have asking logical, relevant, and blunt questions become venting?

Next, she accused Malik of yelling at her. If you ask me, yelling is far less outrageous than cheering for a nuclear war that can potentially wipe out all life from the earth. But then again, Malik wasn’t yelling, only asking a question. And if she hadn’t had her mic taken away, she wouldn’t have had to raise her voice. Chopra tried to turn the tables on Malik, but it didn’t quite work out that way.

She didn’t really answer her question. and more importantly, she has made it evident to anyone who didn’t already know that she is not worth supporting.

Being patriotic and walking the middle ground are vague explanations and do not defend her stance of supporting war. The responsibility of promoting peace falls more heavily on her shoulders because she is not only a famous international actress but also a UN’s Goodwill Ambassador.

Malik has since come out on Twitter and accused the Indian actress of gaslighting her and making her look like the “bad guy”, and rightly so.

Chopra’s insulting and disrespectful attitude toward Malik sparked feelings of anger and disappointment among audiences across both sides of the border. Many took to social media to express their anger.

Nothing can ever justify war. And nothing can ever justify insulting someone asking the right questions.

Let’s hope that Priyanka Chopra Jonas does better the next time.

But then again, I’m not holding my breath.


Logging off in times of turmoil

Trigger Warning: This piece contains descriptions of physical and death, mentions of Grenfell, Gaza, Paris attacks and New Zealand attacks.


To be honest, I never know what my stance on social media is. I’m always flip-flopping between thinking it’s a great place to connect with people and with it being an extremely toxic place.  But I love Twitter. Twitter is where I get my news. It’s a fact that most news is on Twitter way before any articles get written up. People often live-tweet events while they are taking place. Basically, Twitter has replaced traditional news outlets as my go-to for breaking news, it’s great for letting me know what’s going on immediately.

The danger with social media platforms like Twitter is that it is unfiltered. So yes, you’re more informed, can corroborate sources, make up your own mind in this world of biased news reporting, but you also have to prepare yourself for what you’re opening up to see. This world is a horrible place and many have become desensitized to awful events, deaths, and tragedies.

Regardless of how much I see, it still gets to me.

I remember Grenfell, I’ll never not remember Grenfell. I wasn’t there, I knew no-one in that building. But every now and again, I’ll get flashbacks of the coverage and end up in tears. I watched it unfold on Twitter, watched helplessly as others filmed people banging on their windows, begging for help. Ultimately dying. I scanned through countless records of the events, from eyewitnesses to people filming their own last moments.

I can’t imagine the trauma that the onlookers suffered, because I still feel like I live with an aspect of that trauma, simply from witnessing it second hand. It hurt. I would have done anything to have been able to help them. 

I remember a few years ago, Gaza was being attacked (which is sadly a regular occurrence but my first time hearing of it through this lens). I follow so many who live there, on social media and I remember their first-hand accounts, their reality. I would go to sleep and wake up obsessively checking their social media feeds for updates. Not of the catastrophe but of themselves, desperately praying they’d made it through the night. Unable to sleep some nights in absolute fear for them.

There are people who don’t know me, who I’ve never spoken to but whom I so desperately needed to be safe.

I remember the Paris attacks, the videos that flooded the internet. The horror, the helplessness – I couldn’t help myself, I devoured every drop of information. Every horrible detail about it. It’s the same with the school shootings, the terror attacks, the on-goings in Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Venezuela and every other part of the world that is bleeding.

I don’t know when my sick fascination with horror began, or why I just can’t stop scrolling.

And then the New Zealand attacks occurred and I was not prepared. Such violence in a place of prayer, during such a commonplace event. See this time I wasn’t looking. The videos popped up on my timeline – two videos. One of the shooters live streaming the attack and another from inside the mosque of the causalities. And I knew, just like the others that these would be embedded in my mind forever.

There are some things you cannot unsee.

So here is my dilemma, I feel by even discussing this that I am making the issue about myself. I’m lucky enough to have never endured such evil, those who have are the real sufferers of trauma. So then comes the real question, if I ignore these videos because it’s hard to watch – am I being ignorant? Am I willfully avoiding the truths of this world?

I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is that I am human. The overload of information and trauma can be overwhelming and when it gets to the point where I am now, curled up in bed, feeling sick, unable to function and utterly helpless – well at this point I’m allowed to log off. I’m allowed to process and heal.

 Maybe it means that I am too sensitive, but I don’t think our brains were made to take in this much all the time. That this wonderful creation that allows us to share what’s happening in the world can also be bad for us. That mental health is real and sometimes being ignorant for a little bit is how we survive.

The truth is we can’t help everyone – we can share things, we can fundraise, we can bring awareness to certain topics. But we can’t always help everyone the way we want to and that is a hard pill to swallow. Therefore, if logging off for a little bit is your way of coping? So be it.

Tech Pop Culture Now + Beyond

These Creepypastas horror stories will keep you up at night

If you are anything like me and obsessed with all things creepy and unnatural, you will have heard of Creepypastas. It is basically a bunch of internet horror stories, myths, and legends. As with anything based on rumors and gossip, these stories took a life of their own and many different versions of their stories exist. With the release of the Slender Man movie and Halloween creeping around the corner (I don’t care what you say I’m already getting geared up for Halloween), I decided to revisit some of my favorite tales.

Creepypastas originated back in the early 2000’s, with the official website being set up in 2008. It is now its own genre and it is magnificent.

So let’s take a look at some of the most horrifying creepypastas stories.

1. Slender Man

The Slender Man depicted by illustration, a figure of a slender man in the woods with many arms reaching out into the trees.

True to his name he has long slender arms, legs, and no distinguishable facial features. Slender Man is found wearing a black suit and stalking people, prominently children but it is not clear why. He is apparently able to stretch out his limbs to impossible lengths and capture victims. It is also rumored that he has black tentacles that emerge from his back, making his reach that much more terrifying.

Slender Man originates from a SomethingAwful Photoshop competition and took off from there. There are various creepy stories and myths about this well-known creature and people all over the world have claimed to have actually seen him in real life.

2. Jeff The Killer

a bleached out face with no eyelids and a carved out smile depicting Jeff.

Jeff The Killer has a bleached face, no eyelids and a smile carved into his face – sounds like a sweetheart right?

Jeff, it turns out does seem to have one concrete backstory so we’ll just stick to the Creepypasta version. The story follows teenage Jeff and his brother Lui who move to a new neighborhood and are victims of bullying. Jeff retaliates violently, and the police come for him, but his brother Lui takes the fall. Jeff once again gets into a fight with the bullies, gets drenched with bleach and set alight. He pretty much loses the plot after this, killing his own family before setting out after others.

Legend has it that Jeff tells the victim to “go to sleep” before killing them.

3. Ted the Caver

A cave with a glove sticking out of a hole.

Ted the Caver began as an Angelfire website in early 2000 which followed a man called Ted and his friends, Brad and Joe, as they explored a local cave in a series of blog posts.

The further they went into the cave, the creepier things got. The cave held strange hieroglyphs and weird weather phenomenon, and as a consequence, the explorers ended up with strange nightmares. The blog updates ended suddenly making it all the more mysterious.

A man did come forward to be the author of the blog and said that it had been inspired by true events, and he went as far as to point out where the cave was.

4. Robert the Doll

An old doll sat on a rocking chair with a teddy bear, he has creepy eyes and facial features.

Robert the Doll is an actual doll that can be found at the East Martello Museum.

It is supposedly a cursed doll that was gifted to Robert Otto, an artist, in the 1900’s. He named the creepy doll after himself, as you do. The story goes that the doll terrorized his family who claimed that they had even heard the doll speaking with Otto in many instances. Neighbors say they saw the doll move around the household through the windows when no-one was in.

It is said that before taking a photo of Robert, one must ask his permission or be forever cursed.

5. The Goatman

A close up picture of what looks like red eyes glowing in the dark.

This creepypasta story was originally found on 4Chan’s paranormal board.

In this story, a teenager travels to Alabama to be with his family and ends up going camping with his cousins. They encounter a strange figure, which starts to follow them around. The Goatman drives the teenagers to paranoia throughout the night.

The Goatman is just as you would assume –  part goat and part man.

Back in the day myths were created by spoken stories over fires and passed down by generation. In this day and age, all one needs is a good imagination and some wifi.  I have to admit my favorite part of these stories is how unoriginal the names given to them are, I mean, I would maybe take some of them more seriously had their names been slightly more horrifying.

There are so many more legends entwined with bits of reality out there terrorizing folk and making us all doubt what is real and what is not. CreepyPasta is a wonderful hub for those whose wish to learn more.

Here’s to hoping Jeff The Killer doesn’t catch me in my sleep.

Gender & Identity Life

40 Women to Watch: The 2018 Edition

2017 was intense. We began the year with the largest worldwide protest in history as more than 300,000 people gathered for the Women’s March. That was only the beginning, though. This year we have been blown away by the women leaders who have been innovating in every sphere of life, in every corner of the world.

This list wasn’t easy to create: we are spoiled for choice when it comes to strong, innovative, amazing women and the list is not presented in any order because we simply couldn’t bear to rank such a diverse group of change makers.

If this is what the future looks like, we can’t wait.

1. Brittany Packnett

Portrait of Brittany Packnett

Brittany Packnett is a social justice activist, educator, organizer, writer, and speaker – basically the superhero we all need. Her achievements include being the co-founder of Campaign Zero – a police reform campaign, as well as being a member of Barack Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force.

Additionally, Brittany is the vice-president of national community alliances for Teach for America and featured on Pod Save The People.

2. Carly Findlay

Portrait of Carly Findlay
Harper Collins

Carly Findlay is a writer, speaker and appearance and disability activist. Carly started writing about life with  Ichthyosis on her blog in 2009, and since then she’s become a leader in the disability rights movement in Australia. She was featured on the ABC’s You Can’t Ask That in 2017 and she’s working on a memoir.

Carly is working to change the way people think about people with visible differences, shattering the silence and making the world a better place for everyone.

3. Aditi Juneja

Aditi Juneja

Aditi Juneja is a lawyer and activist who founded the Resistance Manual – a site which describes itself as ” focused on presenting truthful and actionable information to empower people to participate in their democracy.” It is a site with information to resist the Trump/GOP administration.

Due to her incredible work with the resistance, Aditi was included in the 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 list, and we had the privilege of interviewing her earlier in 2017.

4. Simone Zimmerman

portrait of Simone Zimmerman
Jewish Journal

Simone Zimmerman is the co-founder of If Not Now, which seeks to end the American Jewish community’s support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The movement aims to end the war on Gaza, end the occupation and demands freedom and dignity for all.

Simone is an inspiration and symbol of what can be achieved when one refuses to be silent.

5. Monica Jones

Monica Jones

Monica Jones is a sex worker and activist working in Arizona to combat anti-sex worker laws that target women of color, the LGBTQ community, and trans women. Monica was arrested under the law she was speaking against, the case was eventually dropped.

She is a badass who continues to speak out about injustices and refuses to allow herself to be intimidated.

6. Reina Gossett

Reina Gossett

Reina Gossett is an activist, filmmaker, and writer who produces movies about trans* women. She notably wrote, directed and produced “Happy Birthday, Marsha!” which follows trans* rights activists, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

Reina has also worked with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Queers for Economic Justice, and Critical Resistance.

7. Maysoon Zayid

Maysoon Zayid

Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian-American actress and comedian with cerebral palsy who made history by being the first person to ever perform stand-up comedy in Palestine and Jordan. Maysoon co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival, gave an incredible TED Talk, and also co-hosts the Fann Majnoon comedy show.

She spends three months a year running arts programs for orphans and children with disabilities in the Palestinian territories to help them deal with trauma.

8. Shareefa Energy

Shareefa Energy

Shareefa Energy is a London-based spoken word poet, writer, and force behind the play, ‘Wombs Cry.’ Shareefa uses storytelling methods to highlight issues in society and challenge stereotypes of Muslim women.

Her achievements include receiving the UK Unsigned Hype Best Spoken Word Artist 2014 award, being invited to perform in Berlin at ‘Poetry Meets Hip Hop,’ and being featured on Channel 4 for National Poetry Day 2015.

9. Imade Nibokun

Imade Nibokun

Imade Nibokun is a writer and activist who runs “Depressed While Black,” an online platform that shares stories about being depressed while black, fighting the idea that it is a white person’s disease.

Additionally, her written work has been featured in LA Weekly, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, VICE, and WNYC.

10.  Lauren Duca

Lauren Duca

Lauren Duca is a writer who changed the narrative of Teen Vogue by writing an article criticising Donald Trump, which spearheaded the direction the teen publication took into the space of political activism.

Lauren won the Shorty Award for Best Journalist, received the Eleanor Roosevelt Tomorrow Is Now Award, and was honored with an Engendering Progress Award.

11. Katrin Jakobsdottir

Katrin Jakobsdottir

Katrin Jakobsdottir is Iceland’s new Prime Minister. Unlike some world leaders who don’t believe in climate change, Katrin is an environmentalist and badass anti-war feminist.

She is the second female Prime Minister of Iceland, part of the Left-Green Movement, and is one of the world’s youngest leaders.

12. Noorjahan Akbar

NoorJahan Akbar is standing in a desert, facing the camera wearing a bright blue Afghan dress with beautiful red, yellow and green embroidery.
Noorjahan Akbar

Noorjahan is the founder of  Free Women Writers in Afghanistan, which is a collective of Afghan writers and students that promotes the voices and stories of women in newspapers and on the radio.

In 2013, they published a collection of work titled Daughters of Rabia. In 2016, the Daughters of Rabia scholarship was founded to fund higher education for women in Afghanistan.

Their second book, You Are Not Alone, is a guide for women facing gender-based violence. It came out in English in September 2017.

13. Mashal Waqar

Mashal Waqar holding award, standing between Sophie Le Ray and H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori on stage. They are facing the audience. Purple screen in the background with text Young Leader of The Year and Mashal Waqar CTO and Cofounder The Tempest.
Mashal Waqar

Mashal is one of our fearless leaders: the co-founder and CTO here at The Tempest. Mashal is a fierce advocate for accessibility and inclusion, and in 2017 she was awarded the Young Leader of the Year award at the 19th Global WIL Economic Forum.

She has given a TEDx Talk on the impact of social media and continues to raise awareness on how to make online content more accessible.

14. Amelia Cook

portrait of Amelia Cook
photo by author

Amelia launched Anime Feminist, a groundbreaking website dedicated to discussing anime and Japanese pop culture through a feminist lens in October 2016. Amelia is a vocal advocate for fair compensation for her team of diverse writers that are often sidelined in the world of anime fandom and has built her business around that – something we discussed in an interview with her.

In 2018, she’s launching Otagai, a platform for creatives to discuss ways to make money doing what they love.

15. Wendy Zukerman

Portrait of Wendy Zuckerman
Podcasting Pro

Wendy is the host of the Science Vs. podcast, which she recently moved from Australia to the US. She tackles controversial topics by sticking to the cold, hard scientific facts.

By bringing science to popular, politicised topics, she’s changing the science journalism game.

16. Isabelia Herrera

Portrait of Isabelia Herrera

As music editor of REMEZCLA, Isabelia’s accomplishments in 2017 include initiating partnerships with NPR and Apple Music, hosting Remezcla’s first music podcast, and being honored on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30.

At only 25, Isabelia’s passion for music, and race/gender identity has created a diverse insight into the Latin culture. We love her dedication to representing diversity in an inclusive and supportive manner.

17. Alex Petri

Portrait of Alex Petri

Alex Petri has been making us laugh with her column in the Washington Post since 2010. The youngest person to ever have a column in the Washington Post, her satirical take on politics has landed her many fans, including the White House.

In 2017, Petri came into the spotlight when the White House inadvertently shared her piece, “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why”, on their daily email blast, making her satire “real news.” Her humorous approach to politics is a reminder that there is always light to be found, even in the darkest of timelines.

18. Lesley Nneka Arimah 

Portrait of Lesley Nneka Arimah
Brittle Paper

Lesley Nneka Arimah is a Nigerian writer whose short stories have appeared in many magazines, including the New Yorker. Her debut novel What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, a collection of short stories released in October 2017, has already won numerous critical accolades. She is a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize, and nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Leonard Prize.

The stories explore the black female experience with incredible beauty and lyricism and are totally necessary for your bookshelf.

19. Princess Nokia

Princess Nokia performing on stage

Destiny Frasqueri, known by her stage name Princess Nokia, is a queer feminist rapper who first came onto the music scene in 2010. She quickly spurned advances of record companies to become an independent artist.

Her album 1992 is filled with smart, witty lyrics about race, gender and gentrification and her podcast ‘Smart Girl Club Radio’ is further proof that the sky is the limit for this amazing human.

20. Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh holding a tray with a loaf of challah on it
My Name is Yeh

After attending Juilliard, Molly Yeh packed up her Brooklyn life to move with her husband to a sugar-beet farm in rural North Dakota and took the blogosphere by storm with her food blog, My Name is Yeh.

Molly’s blog filled with stunning food pictures, recipes inspired by her Chinese-Jewish roots, and fun anecdotes about farm life has amassed a loyal following which led to the release of her first cookbook, Molly on the Range, in 2017. We love her beautiful, creative recipes that blend her life on the farm with her cultural roots and a deep love for food.

21. Doreen St. Félix

At only 25, Doreen St. Félix has an impressive resume which includes being the former editor of Lenny Letter, writing for the New York Times Magazine and being listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2016.

Currently, she is a staff writer at the New Yorker. St. Félix’s cultural commentary on everything from Whitney Houston to the Alabama Senate Election keeps us engaged, woke and wanting more.

22. Rochelle Brock

The creator of Fat Leopard Photography, Rochelle Brock, is a 22-year-old Brooklynite is challenging beauty norms through her breathtaking photographs. Brock’s work focuses on inclusive fashion photography that reflects women of all sizes and races. Her images of diverse, confident and gorgeous millennials have taken the internet by storm and we can’t wait to see what waves she makes next.

Our advice? Follow her dreamy Instagram ASAP.

23. Rina Sawayama

If you don’t have Rina Sawayama’s mini-album RINA on your playlist yet, you are seriously missing out. Rina’s lyrics explore the messy interaction between femininity and technology. Her sense of style, the penchant for calling out online prejudice, and nostalgic ode to pop music, has got us stanning for this future pop-queen.

24. Mona Haydar

Hailed as “One of the Best Protest Songs of 2017” by Billboard, Syrian-American Mona Haydar’s debut song Hijabi (Wrap my Hijab) became an anthem for Muslim women everywhere. Raised in Flint, Michigan, Mona calls out racism and violence within the Muslim community.

Her passion for exploring the intersections between art, activism, music, and identity led to an intriguing interview with us earlier this year, and we know this incredible rapper is just getting started.

25. Megan Tan

Creator and host Megan Tan began the podcast Millennial as a means of building a portfolio for potential future employers. Little did Megan expect, her podcast, a personal narrative about navigating life post-graduation in her 20’s, would hit a chord with the listeners and become a hit.

After three years of sharing her stories, Megan bid adieu in her last episode in August 2017. Though we miss her insights into life, we know she is just getting started.

26. Sara Shakeel

Sara Shakeel is a Pakistani illustrator and artist who quit dental school to create art in the most unabashed and unfiltered way. Sara’s work came into the spotlight this year when she transformed images of stretch marks by adding glitter and crystals to them.

Her portrayal of stretch marks is a reminder to women everywhere that we have the ability to change the perception of beauty and see flaws as art.

27. Aisha Dee

Acting in television shows since 2008, Aisha Dee is no stranger to our TV screens.  In 2017, this young Australian made a splash on MTV’s ‘The Sweet/Vicious’ and then bagged one of the leads on ABC’s breakout hit ‘The Bold Type.’

Whether it be navigating her sexuality as Kat or being a supportive sorority sister as Kennedy, Aisha’s portrayal of young confident millennial women always has us rooting for her every step of the way.

28. Molly Tolsky

Portrait of Molly Tolsky

In 2017, Molly founded the website Alma, which is geared toward young Jew-ish women or, as the site puts it, “Ladies with Chutzpah.”

The website serves as a platform for Jew-ish women to share their personal stories, from an Orthodox trans* woman writing about being torn between her Jewish identity and the trans* community to speculating about Gwyneth Paltrow’s possible Jewish wedding. We can’t wait to see what Molly has in store for the coming year.

29. Aditi Mittal

Fierce and funny,  Aditi Mittal could absolutely be crowned India’s Comedic Queen. One of the first prominent comics in India,  Aditi has been featured on BBC World as one of India’s trailblazers and has performed across India, the UK, and Los Angeles.

In 2017,  Aditi released her first stand up special on Netflix ‘Things They Wouldn’t Let Me Say’.  Her unapologetic comedic approach to sexism, misogyny and patriarchy is a reminder that humour can be a powerful tool used to instigate change.

30. Iman Meskini

Iman Meskini is a 19-year-old Norwegian actress who portrays a young, Muslim teenager named Sana Bakkoush on the TV show Skam. In a country like Norway that is predominantly atheist, Iman’s portrayal challenges tropes around Islam being radical, backward, and oppressive.

Iman hopes that her portrayal of Sana will help people to learn how to separate culture from religion. She joined the Norwegian military on a volunteer basis because, as she states, she “enjoys a challenge.” We’re so excited to see how Meskini grows as an actress and advocate for Muslim rights.

31. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer

As a scholar, artist, and activist, Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is revolutionizing the world’s understanding of the intersection between Muslimness and Blackness through her anthropological research and performance art.

Dr. Khabeer brings her research to life through one-woman performances like “Sampled: Beats of Muslim Life,” a performance ethnography on Islam and hip-hop. In addition to this, Dr. Khabeer leads Sapelo Square, an incredible online resource documenting the Black American Muslim experience.

32. Kehlani Parrish

Kehlani Parrish is a 22-year-old African American, Caucasian, Spanish, Filipino, and Native American singer, songwriter, and dancer whose recent album SweetSexySavage (2017) received critical acclaim. She has been nominated for a Grammy, AMA, and BET award.

As a queer person having gone through an attempted suicide, as well as difficulty in her early career, Kehlani is a role model to us for her bravery and honesty.

33. Yara Shahidi

17-year-old Yara Shahidi is well known for her role as Zoey Johnson on Black-ish and her upcoming spin-off Grown-ish, but she is also an activist for representation and diversity in Hollywood. In a recent article for i-D, Shahidi explained that she wants to use her platform as an actor to discuss politics in a way that is accessible to everyone.

Her belief in advocating for the understanding of the “spectrum of humanity” is what we all need in the current political climate around the world.

34. Saher Sohail

24-year-old Saher Sohail, better known as the Pakistani Martha Stewart, is famous for her witty artwork challenging western stereotypes around Desi culture, and oppression within Desi culture itself. Sohail provides a platform for South Asian women to revel in their shared experiences and discuss important political topics.

We’re looking forward to seeing how Sohail’s art will grow in the future!

35. Thi Bui

Thi Bui is the author of The Best We Could Do, a graphic memoir about her family’s immigration from Vietnam to the U.S during the Vietnam War. Bui wrote the novel empathizing with her parents’ experiences as human beings, rather than parents.

In the difficult political climate around immigration in the U.S, Bui hopes that her novel will encourage people to see immigrants as human beings rather than “Others.” We are so excited to see the effects Bui’s book will have on the public, and what she has planned for the future – a nonfiction book about climate change in Vietnam.

36. Nayla Al Khaja

39-year-old Nayla Al Khaja is the first female film director/producer in the United Arab Emirates. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her films, including the Jury Special Prize for “Best Short Fiction” for ‘Animal’ at the Italian Movie Awards in 2017.

Al Khaja is also the CEO of her own film production company, Nayla Al Khaja Films, and is the founder of Dubai’s first film club, The Scene Club.

37. Reima Yosif

The Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship

Reima Yosif is likely the quietest about the work she does, but if you do some digging around, you’ll definitely find it. She is the Founding President of Al-Rawiya Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting empowerment of Muslim women through education, arts, and integration. As part of her non-profit work, she worked on a research project for Religions for Peace USA, commissioned by UNICEF in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Armed with a diploma in Classical Arabic, she has scholarly licenses to teach books of Hadith and Tafsir – a powerhouse amidst a space that is dominated today by men. She has extensively studied and written on comparative Islamic Jurisprudence. She has translated over 200 Islamic texts into English and is also a published poet.

38. Lena Waithe

Portrait of Lena Waithe

In 2017, Lena Waithe won an Emmy for “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series” for ‘Master of None,’ the first Black woman to do so. Her portrayal of Denise on the show is a revelation: a portrayal of the kind of gay woman that rarely makes it on TV.

Her moving Emmy acceptance speech went viral and had LGBTQIA+ people around the world reaching for tissues. Her next project is a show she created and wrote, ‘The Chi,’ about her hometown on the South Side of Chicago.

39.   Jean Liu (Liu Qing)

Portrait of Jean Liu

Jean Liu is the president of Didi Chuxing, China’s largest mobile transportation platform. A breast cancer survivor, mom of 3 and one of very few women executives in the country (in 2015, just 3.2% of CEOs were women).

At the helm of Didi, the company has outperformed its competitors, including Uber!, and is paving the way for the sharing economy to revolutionize China.

40. Becky G

Becky G, a Latina singer, actress, and model, had a pretty busy 2017. Her single Can’t Get Enough with Pitbull charted #1 on the Billboard Latin Charts and she starred in her first film role in the Power Rangers movie franchise.

As the Yellow Power Ranger, not only did Becky G kick some supervillain behinds, but she also knocked out stereotypes with her portrayal as the first visible queer superhero in mainstream cinema.

Tips & Tricks Culture Family Humor Life

16 tried-and-true techniques to drive away the rishtas

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a desi girl who has surpassed the age of 20 must get married, or the world shall perish.

Because, alas, women can only have one life goal – to find and marry the perfect man, if he happens to be a doctor or lawyer, well then you’ve hit the jackpot. If it’s not your parents constantly stressing you out, then it will be the random aunt or uncle who so graciously offers to take on the role of match-maker.

For those of you who, however, wish to avoid such encounters, we have some tips for you.

1. Sarcasm

A white, brunette couple is standing next to each other. The man says, "And sarcasm is like a second language to me."
[Image description: A white, brunette couple is standing next to each other. The man says, “And sarcasm is like a second language to me.”] Via GIPHY
Sarcasm is one of the world’s best weapons if used correctly.

It’s one of the things I use pretty much every day, but when a dear Aunty is over to inquire about me, it goes into overdrive. You see, sarcasm will ensure you with one of two results, either they will catch onto the sarcasm and think you are extremely rude, or they will think you are being serious and are insane. Both work pretty well. As one of The Tempest women likes to say, “Sorry, I’m busy looking up ways to murder husbands” in order to wade out of the waters.

2. Dark lipstick

A brown woman is applying a shade of dark blue lipstick to her lips.
[Image description: A brown woman is applying a shade of dark blue lipstick to her lips.] Via GIPHY
Dark lipstick scares Desis, I don’t know why but it is science. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it ruins the facade of the “ideal, docile wife,” but it seems to do the trick. I really enjoy wearing dark lipstick, staring emotionlessly at people and making them think I’m a low-key Jinn.

3. Inability to make chai

A brown, Indian woman looks displeased after she sips a cup of tea (chai).
[Image description: A brown, Indian woman looks displeased after she sips a cup of tea (chai).] Via GIPHY
Chai is basically life as any certified Desi should know, the better the tea, the higher your rank in the household. I mean I guess it gets kind of annoying because once your talent is discovered, people will never stop asking you to make chai. So, what could be more off-putting than a woman who can’t make chai? One who makes bad chai!

You will no longer be daughter-in-law material, sorry.

4. Be opinionated

A blonde, white woman angrily yells, “That’s my opinion!”
[Image description: A blonde, white woman angrily yells, “That’s my opinion!”] Via GIPHY
For most of us, this isn’t a hard task, I am known to randomly break into passionate speeches about the current state of the world. But maybe, just maybe, if we make it seem like we are too much work, we will be left alone. I’d go for sensitive areas that are taboo because it is always fun to see an Aunty in shock after you discuss sexuality openly, I mean where is my sharam?!

5. Chop off those locks

A cartoon Chinese woman is kneeling on the ground. With a sword, she slices off a chunk of her black hair.]
[Image description: A cartoon Chinese woman is kneeling on the ground. With a sword, she slices off a chunk of her black hair.] Via GIPHY
Ok, I’ll admit this one is pretty drastic, so maybe use it as a last resort. I love letting my hair grow super long and then chopping it all off, best of both worlds, right? My parents, however, hate it. I make myself look too masculine, too “modern,” and if you want to go a step further – dye it a gorgeous color.


Yes, I went there.

6. Do something bizarre

A black-haired, Indian woman comically yells “nahi! (no!)” while covering her ears and shaking her head frivolously.
[Image description: A black-haired, Indian woman comically yells “nahi! (no!)” while covering her ears and shaking her head frivolously.] Via GIPHY
This is definitely the most fun: put on your serious face and do something incredibly crazy to scare the hell out of everyone around you. If you’re stuck on ideas, here are some.

  • Start talking to an imaginary friend.
  • Start laughing every time someone says something and immediately stop when they stop.
  • Begin passionately rapping, ideally to a crude song.
  • Grab an inanimate object, wrap it in a blanket and start stroking and singing to it.

7. Talk money.

A black woman in a yellow dress is in conversation. Animatedly, she says, “Black women are not out for men’s money. We are are out to support ourselves, and to build wealth and financial independence within a system that never supported us in the first place.”
[Image description: A black woman in a yellow dress is in conversation. Animatedly, she says, “Black women are not out for men’s money. We are are out to support ourselves, and to build wealth and financial independence within a system that never supported us in the first place.”] Via GIPHY
Well, every Desi mother loves to show off their son right? So take them up on it.

Ask about their profession and advancement opportunities. Then start asking about pay and hypothetically discuss how much you would get if a divorce would occur. Create a financial plan right in front of them.

8. You don’t want children

A blonde, white woman in a black dress grimaces as she seems something unpleasant.
[Image description: A blonde, white woman in a black dress grimaces as she seems something unpleasant.] Via GIPHY
The ultimate Desi parents dream underpinning their pushiness towards marriage and nearly all of their melodramatic interactions with their children of marriageable age is giving them grandchildren. Nothing gives a greater sense of accomplishment and self-worth to a Desi parent than parading their grandchildren in front of their extended families and friends. So, all you need to do is confidently state that you don’t see children fitting into your life plan.

9. Dress “inappropriately”

The legs of a girl are shown as she twirls around in a short, floral skirt.
[Image description: The legs of a girl are shown as she twirls around in a short, floral skirt.] Via GIPHY
Most Desi families hold an ideal image of their daughter-in-law to be. When they arrive you are expected to visually reflect the perfect, respectable daughter in law they always wanted- the “pyaari bahu” fantasy. Put away your best suit or your best East-meets-West combo. Instead, give them the biggest shock of their life. Shatter their cultural notions.

Put on something they would never imagine you wearing!

10.  Your rotis aren’t round

A round piece of bread (roti) is being cooked poorly on a flat plan on the stove.
[Image description: A round piece of bread (roti) is being cooked poorly on a flat plan on the stove.] Via GIPHY
Equally as disgraceful as not being able to make a decent cup of chai is the inability to make a round roti, or any shape of roti for that matter. As a good Desi daughter, your favorite place must be the kitchen, because who doesn’t like to spend hours in the kitchen cooking when all the men are watching cricket or sleeping. Best to say you can’t cook when asked, and to ask if he can cook.

Spoiler: it’s a no.

11. Talk about your life plans

Two Indian women are talking, one older, one younger. The older one says, "What are you saying?" to the younger one.
[Image description: Two Indian women are talking, one older, one younger. The older one says, “What are you saying?” to the younger one.] Via GIPHY
Whether it’s going back to school, traveling, opening a business, volunteering or whatever it is you want to do for yourself, tell them that takes precedence over finding a husband and having kids, which is sure to be met with a scowl. You’re likely to be told it’s not as important as keeping a man but maintain that a man is not more important than doing what you want to do.

12. Your checklist

"What does he think of himself?" says an Indian woman in a red halter top as she descends down the stairs with a group of other women behind her.
[Image description: “What does he think of himself?” says an Indian woman in a red halter top as she descends down the stairs with a group of other women behind her.] Via GIPHY
Everyone has their checklist of what they want in their spouse, which, unfortunately, the rishta aunties don’t care to consider when they’re trying to set you up with someone who’s always “a nice boy.” So whenever they bring up a potential suitor, pull out your list too, and make it as ridiculous as you want it to be – if he’s a doctor, say you want to marry an engineer, or he has to be rich and only wear blue socks.

13. Get a really weird pet

A white, brown-haired girl lovingly moves a tarantula from one hand to another as it crawls about.
[Image description: A white, brown-haired girl lovingly moves a tarantula from one hand to another as it crawls about.] Via GIPHY
Perch a monitor lizard and/or tarantula on our shoulder while talking to in-laws and tell them you refuse to part with your beast (bonus points if you lovingly stroke it while laughing maniacally).

14. Let ’em know you’re not a housewife

A blue-eyed brunette with facial piercings stares intently ahead as she says, “Don’t order me around.”
[Image description: A blue-eyed brunette with facial piercings stares intently ahead as she says, “Don’t order me around.”] Via GIPHY
A lot of groom’s families come into this looking for someone who will continue to baby their sons. Just kindly refuse, but still, offer to help them look for daycares instead.

15. Stay in school for like… ever

A black-haired brown woman walks around with a highlighter pressed between her lips as she intensely studies from the pages in her hand.
[Image description: A black-haired brown woman walks around with a highlighter pressed between her lips as she intensely studies from the pages in her hand.] Via GIPHY
There’s only one thing that some desi parents will hold higher than a suitable partner in marriage, and that’s education. Besides, your parents would rather brag about your Ph.D. in-progress than of what diameter the ladoos will be at the reception.

16. Speak your native tongue horrendously

"Look what you made me do," says a blonde, white woman dressed in cheetah print. She's holding an award in one hand.
[Image description: “Look what you made me do,” says a blonde, white woman dressed in cheetah print. She’s holding an award in one hand.] Via GIPHY
No, I don’t mean pretend you don’t know it, or not speak it at all. I mean go all out in butchering the pronunciation, give yourself an American dialect, and make it so that your potential rishta would rather listen to bad harmonium covers of Taylor Swift songs.

Cherish this survival guide and let us know if you have any more ideas on the topic, we need them.

Tech Science Now + Beyond

I tried out a few ghost hunting apps in the spirit of Halloween and this is what happened next

Halloween is approaching and in the spirit of all things spooky –  it’s time to acknowledge that there are other beings in this universe, call them ghosts, jinns, spirits whatever you will.

We are not alone here.

I love Halloween, one of the reasons I love it so much is because my rational, adult-self knows that it’s not real. These ghost mazes, horror houses, and scary movies are fake. As much as I believe in the unseen, I don’t believe that they pop out during Halloween, and I sure as hell don’t believe that they live in these haunted houses. So I enjoy the fake spookiness and laugh when people jump.

However, many would think that this time of year would be a good time to hold seances and disturb the real creepy beings. I’m not sure why one would think that summoning a supernatural force is a good idea, but hey humans are incredibly flawed beings. Over the years there have been ghost-hunting equipment and detectors used such as electromagnetic field detectors, ion detectors, Geiger counters, infrared cameras, and super-sensitive microphones.

Basically, any device that can detect some sort of activity that we cannot see with our eyes.

woman looking scared saying "it's so creepy".

With the rise of technology, it is no surprise that ghost-hunting devices have developed further into apps so that everyone can join in on the hunt. (I’m still not saying that this is a good idea).  I’ve always been slightly skeptical that an app on my phone would be able to detect ghosts, it seems slightly far-fetched to me. Also, how do we know that it’s not lying? But more importantly, what if it finds a real one and I have to burn my house down and flee the country?

Nevertheless, for the sake of likes, I bit back my fear and decided to try a few.

I decided to test out Ghost Detector Radar with Camera, which probably wasn’t the wisest one to start out with. This one basically connects to your camera and shows you the ghosts around you. I mean it shows you faces which I didn’t expect and I found more terrifying then I’d like from my ghost hunting equipment. It also offers you the opportunity to chat with them but by this point, I had thrown my phone across the room and fled for my life.

Here’s the thing, it doesn’t really explain how it works scientifically so I’m not convinced that it is genuine. It just seems far too convenient and easy to use for me anyway.

Screenshot of the app, the infrared camera is showing a figure ahead.

I tried Ghost Radar – Classic, which does as it says. It’s a simple radar that shows you if there any ghost in the vicinity. It didn’t detect any near me and had about 5 adds pop up in the short time that I used it so I wasn’t incredibly impressed.

sceeenshot of the radar scanning the area,

The one I had the most fun with was Ghost Locator, it not only showed you a radar of activity, it also lets you click on the ghost that’s nearby to learn more information. For example, I share a residence with Mary, who died aged 23 in 1942 via car crash. There was a gentleman named Heath also in the area.  Needless to say, I don’t really believe in this one. I mean how did it get all those details? Who went around and did a census on these ghosts to input their details into this app?

screenshot of the app, showing two ghosts - john aged 237 and Elizabeth ages 89 in the area.

After doing some research, I tried Ghost Hunter M2 which seemed reasonably professional. The dashboard consists of many features, some of which admittedly went over my head. The detectors consist of microphones, geo, emf, and evp features, and does a sweep of the surrounding area. It seemed to signify some presence in my house and at one point the presence said “lights”, I mean I did leave the lights on in the hallway so maybe this ghost is environmentally conscious?

This app seemed to be the best equipped one, so if you believe in the supernatural and are serious about this ghost hunting business, it is the one you should probably go for.

screenshot of the various dials and measuring screens that the app displays.


I’m not sure I’ll be using any of these apps again but it was interesting to see what kind of features they used to detect paranormal activity and seeing the ones that actually used scientific technology made it easy to ascertain the obviously fake ones from the ones that were plausible.

As much fun as this was, I think I’ll just stick to using my cats to notify me of spiritual presences thank you very much.

GIf of cat shaking his head in fear
Tech Now + Beyond

Halloween has gone high-tech and it is terrifying

Halloween is my favorite time of year, I’m not sure why but there is something about being scared out of my mind that really does it for me. Over the past few years technology has really helped make Halloween attractions all the more scarier.

Let’s admit it, the traditional haunted house is now high-tech.  The old methods no longer scare anyone because we have become desensitized to traditional horror.

We have come a long way from cobwebs, fake blood and eerie music playing in the background.

It started with animatronics – the robots that came to life and scared the beejezus out of everyone. Instead of humans dressed up in costumes, these machines did the work at a flick of the switch.  I still remember the first time I walked past a seemingly innocent ghost decoration, only for it to start moving and give me a mini heart-attack.

GIF of animatronic giant teddy bear moving in smoke.

The introduction of Virtual Reality (VR) has stepped up the spookiness, and there is no need for actors popping out of creepy cupboards. VR consists of technology that uses VR headsets essentially to simulate an alternate reality and so uses images, sounds, and sensations that make the user feel like they are present in this “virtual reality”. The headsets can be combined with specially created environments that help generate the sensations of this alternate reality. All that is needed is a virtual reality headset and you are transported to your worst nightmares. For those who crave that extra thrill, some amusement parks have rollercoasters incorporated with Virtual Reality tech to really get your heart pumping.

Andy Samberg waking up and saying "damn the whole thing was just a virtual reality experience"

There is also the use of holography, which uses a photographic recording of a light field to generate a 3d image of the subject. It basically uses laser light to make you see something in 3d that is not really there – kind of like magic but more scientific. A horror maze I recently visited had holograms so that it looked like there were people around you, the hologram would then switch out and you’d be alone. It really achieved its creepy purpose.

Some horror attractions now have motion-detecting mechanisms that sense when a person is near uses that to trigger water or fog to catch the visitor by surprise. In full honesty I was in a maze with a friend once, water started trickling down the moment we stepped under a detector and she screamed and ran into a wall. So, being completely biased, this is now my favorite type of scary technology.

A woman screaming into the camera and running away

The rise of the use of escape rooms at this time of year is also an indication of the progress that these sort of attractions have made. Escape rooms are immersive games where you have to solve riddles and clues to escape the room within a certain amount of time. They basically use virtual reality technology, motion triggers and a whole bunch of other simulating technology to test your survival skills. It’s an alternative to haunted houses and horror mazes that requires you to think on your feet.

If none of the above appeal to you then there is also the option of forgoing traditional horror attractions and setting out on ghost hunting parties with your friends, without having to sign up to anything or even leave the neighborhood. There is now a variety of ghost-hunting equipment out, including ghost-detecting apps which are easy to download and use.

Halloween is now forever changed, and thanks to digital transformation, none of us really have a chance anymore.