Culture Family Life

A love letter to libraries

I know that I am not alone when I say that we, as humans, find a lot of solace in libraries. They are temples of knowledge, housing collections of stories and dreams alike on their shelves. Libraries are as much a part of our culture as anything else. People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries. In a way, they hold the key to all of our stories,

I love libraries, and I am terrified to see their eventual demise, especially as our world becomes almost entirely digital. They are gems from the past that have maintained vitality no matter the circumstances or happening outside of their walls. Not to mention they are the cornerstones of entire communities, maybe even countries, granting light and stability to people when nothing, or no one, else seemed able to. They offer more than just books; they offer entry into a space that seems more like a sanctuary run by people grounded in compassion, commitment, creativity, and resilience.

People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries.

I used to go to the library near my grandparents’ house every other Friday. For the most part, my mom took my brothers and me there to get a new book for school or to see what DVDs we could bring home to watch that evening. But I remember roaming around, starstruck, in between the tall shelves, wondering about the people who wrote each and every single one of those books and how long it might have taken to get them all here.

Most weeks, my mother let me get two books instead of one. I could spend hours there if it was permitted. I always liked watching my mom pick her books for the week, too. She seemed so sophisticated and gentle while scanning the shelves, yet she never knew exactly what she was looking for. If it was winter, afterward we would all pile back into the car with our hardcover books and grab a slice of pizza. If it was summer, we would walk to the Italian Ice shop down the street for some cream ice – those were the best days. 

I fear that libraries have been taken for granted, even in my own life, and am always spellbound to find them chock full of unexpected people, doing unexpected things, with unexpected passions. There is absolutely nothing that compares to the feeling, the pure excitement in my stomach, that erupts every time I am searching in a library for the perfect tale to dig into. A trip to the library seems, to me, to be enchanted. I become whimsical, enveloped by the completeness and simplicity of the entire journey.

Even the smell of a library is impossible to replicate because of its specificity and poignance. I am reminded of sandalwood, dusk, and a particular, antiquated, dampness. Its familiarity is beyond comforting. The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination. 

I feel at home while pattering around and tracing my fingers between the shelves of books. I fall in love while blowing the dust off of the covers, revealing bright colors and exquisite lines. I spend hours crinkling through the aged, already yellowing, pages of novels wondering which I will pick this time. It is never an easy decision, and I always leave with dozens underneath my arms wondering if the others will still be there when I return the next week. But, that’s the beauty of libraries, isn’t it? Every visit is entirely different from the last and there is no telling what you might stumble upon. Yet each visit is also starkly familiar. 

The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination.

Books have changed so much of my life, with plotlines, characters, and lessons that have been woven into nearly everything I do – that is every decision, every consideration, and everything that I have grown to appreciate or even pay a little bit more attention to. Books are there to remind me of what’s important, and when I’m not so sure, they’re there for me to lean on. Without libraries, though, I might have never been allowed membership into such a world of splendor. 

Hair Skin Care DIY Beauty Lookbook

10 Desi beauty secrets you’ve already got in your kitchen

I grew up in a household where my grandmother believed ‘champi’, a head massage with oil, was a non-negotiable, unmissable ritual every night. Acne issues, split ends, dry skin – name a beauty-related issue and she had a solution for it. No, I’m not talking about chemical-infused creams and lotions, but about all-natural beauty secrets. All her solutions were herbal, natural, sometimes even organic. She taught me the importance of coconut oil, turmeric, and sandalwood in my skincare and haircare routines, ingredients that have only just appeared in the mainstream beauty industry.

Instead of spending money on products that are mostly just chemicals, head to your kitchen and you’ve got natural skin and hair care solutions right there. Here’s a list of well-kept South Asian beauty secrets that have been passed down from generation to generation, but are still as effective as ever.

1. Coconut oil

[Image description: Coconuts.] Via Pexels.
My personal favorite, applying coconut oil to your hair on a regular basis can do wonders. It nourishes, thickens, and enhances shine. Additionally, coconut oil can be used to remove makeup, and you can also apply a few drops onto your elbows and ankles on days when your skin feels extremely dry.

2. Curd

A lady massaging her hair.
[Image description: A lady massaging her hair.] Via Giphy.
A cup of coconut oil mixed with curd and you can kiss dandruff and dry scalp goodbye. Curd is also a good moisturizer – apply it on your face for a few minutes and wash it off for softer and brighter skin.

3. Turmeric powder

Turmeric and sandalwood powder.
[Image description: Turmeric and sandalwood powder.] Via Pexels.
One of the most powerful, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant ingredients in your kitchen is turmeric. Before waxing was introduced, South Asians used turmeric to get rid of hair. Apply it on your upper lip over a period of time and you’ll soon see your hair growth reduce. Turmeric can also be used to remove dark spots or improve an uneven skin tone. A mix of turmeric, milk and honey can do wonders to your skin and help get rid of scars and acne.

4. Sandalwood

Actress Jennifer Lawrence talks about how someone smells like sandalwood.
[Image description: Actress Jennifer Lawrence talks about how someone smells like sandalwood.] Via Giphy.
A coolant, sandalwood mixed with turmeric is an ideal combination for a face-mask. Apply the sandalwood paste to your face, let it dry and wash it off for skin that looks instantly brightened and refreshed.

5. Honey

Honey dripping off a spoon.
[Image description: Honey dripping off a spoon.] Via Pexels.
Honey has excellent antibacterial properties and also contains antioxidants. Got a slight burn or scar? Use this for a few days and see it slowly heal and disappear. Beyond external application, one spoon of the ingredient every day can help keep your body well-balanced and nourished, especially for kids.

6. Gram flour

Gram flour spilling from a jar.
[Image description: Gram flour spilling from a jar.] Via Pexels.
Often used in DIY face-masks, gram flour is mostly used to brighten skin, get rid of acne, and fade blemishes. Gram flour, milk, and a pinch of turmeric makes for a fantastic mask. Apply it on your face and body and leave it for at least 20 minutes before you wash it off for maximum effect.

7. Castor oil

A bottle of castor oil.
[Image description: A bottle of castor oil.] Via Pexels.
If you’ve got scanty eyebrows, apply a little bit of castor oil to them every night to grow brow hairs. Castor oil can also help moisturize your skin.

8. Multani Mitti

A GIF of a woman in a green face mask blinking.
[Image description: A GIF of a woman in a green face mask blinking.] Via Giphy.
 Multani Mitti, or Fuller’s Earth, is a type of clay that comes from decomposed volcanic ash, usually cream or yellow in colour. Relax your skin and mind with this age-old beauty secret. Mix it with water, apply the paste to your body, let the mixture dry, wash it off, and revel in how good your skin looks.

9. Egg yolk

7 eggs arranged like a flower. The egg in the middle is cut open to reveal the yolk.
[Image description: 7 eggs arranged like a flower. The egg in the middle is cut open to reveal the yolk.] Via Pexels.
This one’s a little tricky. They’re sticky and smelly, but eggs can give your hair a new lease on life. Mix the egg yolk with the white and apply it to your hair. Let it dry and wash it out carefully and thoroughly – this usually takes a few washes. You can also use the yolk on your face – put in on, let it dry, and wash it off for tightened pores and glowing skin.

10. Henna

A lady exclaims, "I love Henna!".
[Image description: A lady exclaims, “I love Henna!”.] Via Giphy.
Apply this magical green powder to your hair for a hue that can be brown, orange or burgundy, depending on your natural hair color. It also softens and nourishes the hair. Henna contains neem leaves, tea leaves, and a lot of other natural ingredients to make your hair super silky, so you’ll be ready to star in a shampoo ad in no time.


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