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Let’s make this world one big happy family

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in  June 2014 issue.   

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Nepal is a country of “Char jaat and chhattis barna” and our ancestors were very proud about it. They even made a song about this fact and we learned about the great history of Nepal in our school years.

People were happy and understanding when you had friends from different castes and they seemed to advocate equality and brotherhood between castes. But falling in love outside the caste was a different story. Every parent of single girls and boys feared their child might marry outside their own caste. That was a century ago.

These days, the fear has moved from inter-caste marriage to international marriage. Now almost every home in Nepal seems to have someone living and/or studying abroad so the parents’ fear has shifted from inter-caste marriage to intercultural/international marriage. More and more people from Nepal are abroad and more individuals have crossed racial, ethnic, and religious boundaries to marry someone. I bet you know someone in your close circle who has married a non-Nepalese. Marrying inter-caste is very common in Nepal and acceptable in most families these days but most parents are finding it difficult to accept someone from a different county, culture, religion and background.

The thing is these intercultural relationships and marriages are meant to happen. What do you expect when you send your kid aboard to mix with international society, learn their culture, meet new people but then never think about them falling in love with anyone other than people from Nepal? Even typing these words right now I can see straight away how ridiculous it sounds. Similarities and connections with another person isn’t limited to someone of your own culture as love sees no boundaries and connections can be made with individuals from all backgrounds and experiences.

I find it funny when a guy/girl returns to Nepal with a foreigner friend; the parents show them off as a trophy. Saying, “Mero chora/chori ko ta American sathi cha.” But if the same person was introduced as their boyfriend or girlfriend, they change their tone completely.

I know so many friends who had a hard time making their parents understand that their love is real and they are serious about their relationship. Some parents have even gone to the extent of bribing them or using emotional blackmails as a tool to separate them form their love.

Australia has the highest rate of intercultural marriage in the world, and it is increasing. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of mixed marriages has grown from 39% in 1974 to 60% in recent years. I am sure the numbers in Nepal are increasing as well.

I do understand the few genuine reasons why parents are opposed to intercultural relationship. The first one is the society. In this instance, they always think about what people will say and think, without thinking about their child first. Their social status seems to be more valuable than the love for their children.

Then there are the communication issues, whether that is between them and their son/daughter in law or the future grand kids. Parents think these barriers mean that they will have a hard time understanding each other’s feelings.

If they are religious people, they are worried what religion and culture their future grand kids will follow. In addition, many people in Nepal are Hindu and they are against eating beef while most of the westerners live on beef.

However, these are the issues which could be easily overcome with communication and understanding. Therefore, parents first must take the first step of acceptance if they want good relation with their kids and their partners.

One of the biggest misconceptions parents in Nepal seem to have is that if you marry a foreigner, they will divorce in the future. I am serious that most of the older generation have this in mind and tell you about it openly. I know it is not true but looking at few examples, they put everyone in the same pigeonhole.

To all the parents, please think twice before you go against the marriage of your kid. They are still the same kid you used to worry about when they got sick or didn’t come home on time. Then how can you be OK when they are heart broken and hurt by your action.

The world is changing, let’s embrace it. As our world becomes more accepting of differences, individuals will continue to find attraction and love with others from outside of their own culture. Let’s look beyond the differences that confuse or frustrate us, and look for the value we can find in these relationships. Let us educate our children in recognizing human beings as human beings in spite of their race, colour, or ethnicity. I will just be very happy for my kids one day to marry someone honest, loving and respectful.

Would you prefer your son/daughter to marry someone nice, honest, hardworking and friendly but from a different culture or someone stubborn, lazy and annoying but from your own culture? I am sure everyone has the same answer so why are we so bothered by where this nice, honest, hardworking friendly person comes from. Believe me, nobody’s status declines because of intercultural or inter country marriage.

While every romantic relationship can bring its own set of challenges, intercultural relationships can bring unique challenges and during this stage, support of family and friends is very important to the couple.

To everyone who sees their future in international/intercultural marriage, don’t expect things to be easy but also don’t give up. The best way to overcome this issue is by learning each other’s culture, religion and traditions so you can understand your partner and in laws better. Ask questions and try to understand why your partner has a certain perspective or why s/he does things a different way. Learn to accept and understand the differences without changing your own beliefs or behaviors, this way you would be able to pass this knowledge down to your kids. Just to be clear this is something a couple have to do regardless of whether they are in an intercultural marriage or from the same culture because each of us has our own perspective in life. For couples from intercultural background, they will just have a little more work to do to understand the differences.

Let’s make this world a big happy family and let’s all live in harmony.

Please click here for all my published posts.

Take care,

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

SWIMWEAR SEASON IS UPON US

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in April 2014 issue.

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Finally, summer is here everyone so pack your warm clothes and out with floral dresses and SWIMWEAR.

Like everyone, I have been swimming a lot in this hot weather. And one thing you realise when you swim often is that you need to buy new swimwear. Like everything else in fashion, when I went to buy a new swimwear I was flooded with choices like colour block, tiny prints, high waisted bikini, one piece , halter, belted, tankini and list can go on. Here are some beautiful swimwears you can find in the market.

Going shopping for swimwear can be a bit daunting with so many to choose from and trying all these variety can confuse you even more so here are few simple things to remember when you are shopping for swimwear.

  • If you are tall and have a long torso, break it with horizontal stripes. Tankinis are great for long torsos.
  • If you are short, throw your tankinis and go for bikini with details like ruffle or floras.
  • If you have bigger bottom, higher cut bottom or bottom with skirt will do the trick.
  • If you are pear shaped, colour blocking will make you look sexy.
  • If you have tummy, hide with a suit that flatters and firms.
  • If you have small bust go for swimwear with push-up cups or pads inside. Ruffles or frills on the top will help as well.
  • Darker colours are more slimming in general and dark bottoms are good, if you have hip issue.
  • Don’t forget to mix and match to create different look.
  • Don’t always go after trend but make sure you buy for the body shape and the one you are comfortable in so you will wear the swimwear more often.

My mum, my Super women (Mother’s Day 2014)

Today is Aama ko Mukh herne din ( Mother’s day) in Nepal. Please click here  and here to read more about it. I want to dedicate this post to all the moms of this world.

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in April 2014 issue.

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When I was young, I didn’t realised that my mum is a super women. But I know now that my mum is my hero and my treasure, she is like a prize I won the day that I was born.

My mum had a normal upbringing but she started working at a very young age. She worked as a teacher and continued working for most of her life.

When she got married to my dad, as in most of the household in Nepal, being a daughter in law, she had to cook, clean and look after the family and at the same time went to her 9-5 job six days a week.

After doing her daily chores, making sure we had breakfast, our lunch packed and everyone else is fed, she would to the school to teach. She usually arrived home late in the afternoon or before dawn and would prepare our food and take care of our needs.

I can’t remember her complaining about anything but remember her willingness and perseverance to help our family and trying to give me and my brother a better life. I really didn’t understand her sacrifices and to make it worst I used to complain about the food we ate, clothes we wore, toys I owned and other things.

It all seemed normal to me as a kid because most of the women around me were doing the same thing while most of the men were working in a job or business and were served hot meal 3 times a day without needing to lift a finger in the kitchen.

As I became more aware of the society in Nepal, I became aware of gender biases as well. I always asked questions if someone treated me different from my brother and I used to hate the answer when they say, “It is because you are a girl

“Girls should not be saying this.”

“Girls should not be doing this.”

“Girls should be learning how to cook.”

The amazing thing is, most of the times, these words were from the mouth of women like grand ma or aunties than men. As a child, it never understood why I have to be different from my brother. I am the same in every way I can think of to my brother so why I can’t do certain things or why I have to do certain things.

Watching Hollywood movies, I was happy to know that at least in some part of the world, women are treated better and equal and this made me dream of running away from Nepal and finding a future in a country where men and women are equal and gender bias didn’t exist.

When my destiny took me to Australia for further study, in my mind I knew that I was going to a developed country. I was sure my future was going to be much better than in Nepal. I had big dreams and was happy that I was taking the first step towards my dream.

Out of many things, I left behind in Nepal; I thought one of them would be gender bias. Living in Sydney for a while made me realise I was wrong. Like my mum, most of the women here were doing their duty at home as well as at work. Only few lucky ones had husbands who would help a lot in the kitchen and with kids but most women were doing 80% of the house chores while their partners were resting, as they were tired from a hard day’s at work.

Even though western society looks like they have no gender biases in movies I soon realised that the wives and mothers in Australia were going through the same story that my mum was going through in Kathmandu. Only a few lucky enough were telling me a different story but most of them had to look after both house and work. Therefore, my dream of living in a gender equal society was scattering into a million pieces.

I realised only when I started working and studying at the same time, how hard life can be. The hardships I went through as a student in Sydney made me think how great my mum is and how she is a super woman, able to do all that for us.

My mum deserves to be cherished because she taught us the values in life that inspired us to live wisely. She showed us how to be strong in times of weaknesses. She took care of us, fed us and did everything for us without complaining whether she was tired or sick. I feel bad that I used to complain about her food and the things she did or did not do.

Now I am a wife I understand her situation much better. I feel blessed to have an understanding husband but still feel a need to take care of many things in our house. Call it a women’s instinct but there are many things I feel I need to do to make sure our house runs smoothly and it is not an easy job. Right now, we are only two adults in the house and I can’t imagine how life going to be when we will have a couple of kids running around.

After a hard day at work, some days I feel exhausted and tired and remember maybe that’s how my mother felt as well when she was raising us. There are days I don’t want to go to the kitchen and then I remember my mum and how she handled two hungry screaming kids when she got back from work. It wasn’t easy for her and I can feel in my heart what she must have felt then. I know now that I should have appreciated all her efforts and all the sacrifices she made. She deserves to be loved and treated special. She is a superwoman.

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One day when I am going to be a mum and I hope to come into my own as a strong woman like my mum. I salute women like my mother who have paved the way for me as not only a woman and wife but someday as a mother and super woman to love and give with a big smile.

Please pick up a phone and call your mum and tell her how much you love her because you may not be this lucky one day.

Take care everyone,

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

Not Spending A Cent For A Day

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in March 2014 issue.

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Many times I have had people ask me how I manage to save money to travel, to do various activates and go to concerts. Most of them are in the same boat as me with big mortgage, ever-rising cost of living in Sydney and working average paying jobs. I hadn’t given it a thought until recently so here is my answer.

First and foremost you need to have the willingness to save money. Everyone wants to win a 50 million lotto and take their life from there but that is not going to happen with most of us so one must mentally prepare oneself to save money. It is easy to spend it but very hard to save it.

Second thing is willingness to do things. In Nepali there is a proverb, “Ta aat ma puraunchhu” which translates to you try and I will make sure you succeed. Unless and until you try to do something how will you know if you can or can’t do that. It is better to fail after trying than never attempting at all.

After that it’s all about being disciplined and sticking to the plan. Here are some simple tips I follow to get my saving in line:

  • Make a list of things you want to do in writing and pin that somewhere visible. Seeing something in writing everyday will encourage to reach your goal.
  • Make a note of every spending, even for 20 cents and put that in an excel spreadsheet.  Look at the incomes and expenses and see where you can cut down. This will give you a clear idea of your finance rather than just assumptions. Do this for at least a month.
  • Looking at the excel sheet, you will realise that food/grocery is one of the biggest spender apart from rent/mortgage so be smart while buying groceries. Plan your meals ahead and make a list so nothing goes to waste. Never waste food and never comprise on food quality. You won’t enjoy your saving if you have poor health.
  • Takeaway lunches are quick but they are not healthy and they make a big hole in your wallet. Try to take lunches from home and treat yourself with takeaway occasionally.
  • If you are a heavy coffee or soft drink drinker, check how much you are spending a day on your drinks. You will be surprised how much that amounts to in a year. If you can’t live without your drinks look for cheaper alternative like making your own espresso or buying cold drinks in bulk.
  • It is tempting to buy on impulse when shopping so make a budget and stick to it while you are in malls. It is easy to ignore the budget when you fall in love with the perfect dress that you have been looking for months but remember that dress you loved so much will still be around next week. And what are you going to do with the dress if you can’t afford your next planned holiday.
  • If you are saving for holiday, house, wedding, kids’ education, put aside a certain amount each month/ paycheck in a separate account and never touch this money.
  • Always have emergency money and never use it unless it is a real emergency. Staying so far from our family, you never know when you will need that.
  • Try to experiment just once for a whole day not spending a cent. Take lunch and snacks from home to work and do not buy anything. At the end of the day think about it and realise that you just made XX amount working whole day and not even a cent was spent. Isn’t that a great feeling? Don’t you want to have that feeling more often? I do. 🙂
  • By following these tips, you are not becoming a miser but being money smart. 

The most important thing to remember is: don’t stop living your life because you want to save money. You live only once so no point having millions in your bank account when you die. At the same time, you don’t want to be careless with your money that you have to struggle when you retire.

Good luck and HAPPY SAVING!!!

Different looks of Prabal Gurung for Target collection

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in June-July 2013 issue.

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If you are following the fashion world, I am sure you are familiar with Prabal Gurung,  the Nepalese born American designer who has dressed famous ladies like Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, Zoe Saldana, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lawrence, Demi Moore, Emma Watson, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried,  and Sarah Jessica Parker to name just  a few.

On February 2013, Prabal Gurung collaborated with Target and launched a collection based  on the theme “LOVE”. The collection was a big hit with some of the favourite pieces running out on  the first day. Unfortunately, Target Australia did not carry the collection, which means we were left out.

Luckily, we managed to purchase a few items from his collection from the USA and have styled our pieces in different looks.

Prabal Gurung For Target Cardigan in Meet the Parents Print

Boho chic: For this look, we paired the cardigan with a black maxi dress and belted it to cinch the waistline. For accessories, we just went with a pair of black sandals, silver necklace and a mini shoulder bag to keep things simple and casual. This look is very bohemian and adding the printed cardigan elevated a simple black maxi dress making it boho chic.

Casual edge: For this particular look, we tried to put together a causal and laid-back style with a bit of an edge.  We simply paired the cardigan with a very basic yellow tank top and black skinny jeans. To add some edge, we accessorised with a pair of studded ankle boots, cross earrings and a big crescent pendant. Again, adding this printed cardigan injects life to this otherwise very plain style.

Girlie girl: For the third look, we tried playing the colour pink and girlie silhouette. We basically put the cardigan buttoned up and tucked inside a flared black skirt. To emphasize the waistline, we used a skinny belt in neon pink which also adds a girlie touch. To make this look even more feminine, we went with a pair of pumps in bubble gum pink and a statement necklace with pink accents. It’s a very fun and girlie look.

Prabal Gurung For Target Dress in Meet the Parents Print

Colour Burst: For the first look, we used some key pieces from Prabal Gurung(PG) collection. We styled this PG black & white floral printed skater dress with PG heels in similar print and PG clutch in lolita print. This cute clutch injects some colour to this otherwise monochromatic outfit; we also added some fun statement necklaces in yellow and pink for that extra punch of colour.

Frosty: We tried adding some glamour to this dress with frosty silver pumps and clutch. For some drama, we added a chunky pearl necklace. This look is perfect for girl’s night out or that romantic dinner date with your partner.

Lady in Red: Adding some structured pieces like this red blazer and wedges gives this dress a very formal and sharp appeal. This outfit can be worn to work or anywhere where you want to polished and formally dressed.

Casual Chic: We did a fun experiment by turning this dress into a flared skirt. For this look, knitwear is worn over the dress making it appear as a skirt. We finished off the look by adding pair of black tights, ankles boots and a scarf in bright yellow colour. This look is very casual, comfortable and chic; great for walking around or running errands.

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