A day at work with…

Fashion, Review, Sri Lanka, Tamil

Hi Guys,

I recently read an interview in a magazine, where they would talk to people working in different types of jobs and find out more about their day to day roles. Basically a one day diary from morning coffee to when the lights go out. I found this really interesting and wanted to adapt something similar in my blogs so that people reading my blogs, can get to know more about different people’s jobs and what their day looks like. I’m hoping to  add something like this in my blog every month, and to kick start it, I asked someone close to home to be my first volunteer. She is a family member and also someone very close to me, and also coz I know she wouldn’t let me down!

Jansika Gunabalasingam,  Founder of Amma and Me

Jansika Gunabalasingam, 28,  creator and designer of Amma and Me. Amma and Me is a clothing brand, that designs bespoke tailor made outfits for mummies and their little ones. She is based in the UK with her husband and son, Romeo. She has kindly let me into her life and tell me a little more about her business and how she got into all this.

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So here goes…

My alarm goes off…

At 7.00 am, I get up and wake my son up for school. Get him bathed, changed and fed. It’s a bit of a battle in the morning but we eventually get there and usually leave the house by 8 am, if there’s is no other obstacles in the way, but this routine has been going on since he started school and it has been good.

I am responsible for…

All the designing and tailoring of each outfit for my clients. I ensure that they get what they have asked for and ensure that they are satisfied with the end product. I ensure that the suppliers where I am getting my material from are aware of my order at an early stage so that I can deliver each outfit on time and without an issue.

I got the job…

I did not apply for this job or go for an interview, I am passionate about designing and sarees and one day, I decided that this is what I wanted to do and just started. I love dressing up in our traditional outfits and thought why not make outfits for people so they can love wearing our outfits too.

My typical day…

At the moment my typical day is to go to my full time job as a receptionist and Book keeper at a Law Firm. I work there from 9.30 till 5.30pm and then go home to my family. I spend time with my son and husband for a while and once I have put my son to bed, I sit in front of the sewing machine and sew the night away.

My most memorable moment…

It was when I gave birth to my gorgeous little son, Romeo. I know that its not a work related answer, but that was my most memorable moment and to be honest it was a turning point in my life.

The worst part of my job…

When my sewing machine has brains of itself and crashes on me whilst I am in the middle of sewing. So annoying! Other than that, I don’t really think there has been a time when I have thought this is rubbish and I can’t do this anymore. I enjoy what I do and therefore it makes it fun and interesting.

The best part of my job…

Seeing my customers happy when they try their outfits on. I see a glow in their face and ‘that makes me happy. When I was little I always used to play dress ups and saree shop games with my sisters and cousins and now all these years later, I can proudly say I am doing what I love the most. Its a good feeling doing what you love and making other girls feel beautiful too in the process. Also the feeling off walking into a fabric store and choosing materials and playing around with colours gives me great satisfaction and I find it very therapeutic.

After work…

I wind down, I cook, clean, feed my husband and son and then at some point I have some me time. I love listening to music and watching movies and so I try and catch up on a movie or for those who know me, will say I put music on and dance away whilst doing my chores. When I am on my own, my inner Prabhu Deva steps out!


PLAN B:

Definately my own Saree shop! All that practising of opening and closing sarees has given me enough confidence and experience of being able to run my own saree empire!

xXx

Thank you Jansi for being part of my adventure and letting me experiment this new venture with you. I hope you enjoyed this, as much as I enjoyed listening to your answers. I will leave ways to find you on social media below and best of luck with all your future business ideas!

http://instagram.com/amma_and_me

And I hope you enjoyed the read everyone x

 

“For a Dark Girl you are quite Pretty”

Books, Clarisonic, Sri Lanka, Tamil

I would like to start by apologising to all the people that I may have offended with the above title, but this is a subject I feel quite strong about and I just needed to talk about it.


Whilst growing up, I have heard this sentence over a thousand times, both in English and in Tamil and for so long I thought about it and thought about why people say it. I have never been insecure about my skin colour and for those who know me personally, I have never complained about my skin colour either. I am comfortable in my skin, and personally I wouldn’t want to be any other colour.

The reason why I am talking about this now, even though I have heard this comment so many times before, is because I felt that it was time to put a stop to these types of comments and even though, me alone can’t make a change, I do hope that people reading this and relating to this will want to put a stop to these kinds of statements by spreading the word, or if YOU, yourself have said this to someone, then maybe you would consider restructuring your sentence and saying things like “you are pretty”, “you are beautiful” rather than “for a dark skin girl you are pretty you know”. Stop!

Recently I went to visit family, and for obvious reasons I cannot say where I went because then people who know me would know who I visited and more importantly this person’s identity is at loose! Anyway, so I went to see family and my aunt as usual analyses me and takes a good look at me and makes her usual comments and I as per usual do the same thing I have been doing for the past 12 years now, which is smile and walk away and just think what is that irritating noise.

So on this particular visit, we were all talking and having conversations about different subjects and bearing in mind, this room was mostly all women and some I don’t really know well, so you can imagine the kind of conversations that were had.  Latest Tamil serial gossip, new trending saree’s and fashion, people’s unreasonable period cycle and the best topic how to become fairer. As the conversation was flowing, and everyone was saying what creams they were using and what home made therapy they were doing, I decided to interrupt and say, “why aren’t you guys happy in your skin?” and to which some people smiled at me, some people said yes they were but still tried to become fairer and some just did not say anything. But my aunt looked at me and said ” you don’t need to worry Cathy, even though you have dark skin, you are pretty”, So at this point,  I am like “aww thanks, I must be really lucky then, coz imagine, if your dark skin and ugly”, she smiled at me not knowing how to react. She didn’t understand I was being sarcastic but she still laughed anyway. So I thought let’s leave it at that and that was the end of that conversation.


This is just one scenario, there have been plenty more over the years but as it’s happened so many times, I’ve stopped keeping count. For as far I can remember, comments like this have been said, just not to me but to many other dark skin girls in my family and within my friends circle, but luckily I come from a strong unit of friends and family and comments like this have never affected us. The problem wasn’t US it was THEM.  But it didn’t’ stop at comments like that, people would often say to me, “because your dark skinned, I don’t think that colour will suit you” or ” you should wear bright colours so that you stand out”. Right then! For generations and generations these are the kind of comments people pass at dark skin people, whether it is a male or a female and this attitude needs to stop.

In my mum’s side of the family, most of them are all light skinned, well actually they all are, except for myself and my aunt (not the aunt I was talking about before, this ones nicer!). My aunt, who is my mum’s sister was a big inspiration to me whilst growing up. She never had restrictions on what colours to wear and she would always wear bright bold colours. Whilst she was growing up, she was made fun of  and people would make similar comments to her about her skin colour but she told me that it never got to her, she just realised that in our community that sort of behaviour was normal and people felt so open to make comments like that. She didn’t care what people thought of her skin tone. In fact, being the only dark skinned sibling among her brothers and sisters, she wanted my mum to have a dark skinned baby, as this baby would be the first grandchild in their family. She prayed so hard that her prayers were finally answered. and a few years later along came me! My sister on the other hand, who is of a fairer skin tone gets all the glorified comments such as “why don’t you act in a movie and become an actress or become a model”!, but there have been times when she’s got the odd comments of “for a Tamil girl, your really light”. I guess I could keep going on.

Personally for me, I have never been insecure about my colour and felt like I needed to be a different tone. I am comfortable wearing this shade of brown and people’s comments and opinions do not impact me. I do not avoid wearing certain colours just because I am dark skin, and I am not scared of being in the sun, over the years I have learnt to look after my skin, not to become fairer but ensure my skin is healthy. I have never used fairness creams and I have not undergone any treatments to become lighter. I have friends who come from various different ethnic groups, who are all different skin tones and none us treat each other different due to our skin tones. I have been fortunate to have good Tamil friends who don’t recognise someones self worth by looking at their skin tone and most of them are beautifully dark skinned.

Colourism and social and economic discrimination based on our skin tone is indulged in our cultures as well as in other South and South east parts of Asia. Colourism and racism are two different things, it can decay among people in the same racial clang, against those of certain ethnicities and castes. People are conditioned into thinking that being dark skin tone is UGLY. A lot of powerful people in the world are dark skinned, Suresh Sriskandarajah, Martin Luther King, Nandita Das, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama, AR Rahman, and even Super Star Rajnikanth. There are probably another 100 names that I have failed to mention, and for that I apologise.


In all honesty I think I just wanted to share my experience and just get this message across. I do not know if my post will make an impact but for those of who do read this, I hope it does change the way we think about skin tones and if you are dark skinned then don’t be insecure and be proud of what your wrapped up in.

Yours truly,

Unapologetically a Dark skinned Tamil Girl xx

Hope you enjoyed the read 

 

 

The time I went to Sri Lanka with a friend

Holiday, Review, Sri Lanka, Tamil, Travel

thumbnail_image1On a cold September evening, me and my friend, Jeya were thinking about where we wanted to go for my Birthday and Christmas this year. As my Birthday falls on the 25th December, I was a little restless of doing the same thing every year. Going to family parties, cutting a cake, eating the same typical food, people wishing me for Christmas and forgetting its my birthday and worse of all, some people giving me one present instead of two which was really annoying. So I asked Jeya if she wanted to go away this year for my Birthday and we could celebrate Christmas and New year there too and the idea sold well to Jeya.  We were soon thinking of ideal destinations. We thought of Singapore, Malaysia, somewhere in Europe, India and even Canada but we didn’t even consider our native country, Sri Lanka. After many if’s and But’s and what if’s, we decided to go with Sri Lanka. Jeya has never been before, and has started her own business venture, she thought it was ideal, as we would be killing two birds with one stone. As for me, I went in 2004, but A) I was a lot younger and B) I went with my family and did not actually see Sri Lanka properly except for visiting lots of families. And so it was confirmed, we were both flying to Bandaranike International Airport on Christmas eve for 3 weeks!

I am sure I do not need to go into details about the kind of conversations that took place in my house prior to me leaving, but the tickets were booked and there was no going back. This trip was happening one way or another.

Weeks flew by and the 24th December came around quicker than expected and we were all set to go. We left London Heathrow feeling both excited and anxious and not knowing what to expect. It was the first time, we were going after the conflicts in Sri Lanka and although we were both mentally strong, we were slightly concerned for our safety as we were two girls travelling to a country, which is not the idealistic destination for a girls holiday. None the less, we left and stopped over in Kuwait for our transit for a few hours, but in the nicest way possible, it wasn’t Dubai Airport so it wasn’t anything fancy. Finally we were on our connecting flight, and our final destination was Colombo, Bandaranike International Airport. 

The flight from Kuwait to Sri Lanka was roughly 5 hours and the clocks had struck 12 and half way during our flight, it was my 27th Birthday. Jeya had quiet words with the cabin crew and they gave me a surprise by cutting a small cake and singing Happy Birthday for me as well as presenting me with a kids watch as my gift! It was really nice of them and I did feel a little spoiled. So thanks Jeya!

It was 5:25 am and we had arrived. I still remember getting of the flight and that hot air hitting my face as it was really warm and humid. We successfully got passed customs and immigration and our designated driver was on the other end waiting for us with a bouquet in his hands. But he was the manager and the actual driver was waiting for us in the van and he was one of he most caring and nicest humans I had met on my trip, but I will talk about him more later.

During the three weeks we were in Sri Lanka, we were travelling around, covering allot of the main places in the country. It was a beautiful road trip. The first two days were in Galle, followed by a few nights in Kandy, then travelling up a little north to Matalay. After spending a night in Matalay, we drove towards our New Year Eve’s plan, which was in Pasikuda. New year’s day we took another road trip to Trinco and spent a few days relaxing in our beautiful resort with our own private pool. Finally the last 10 days of our holiday was in our mother land, Jaffna, where we shared lots of tears, laughs and met the most amazing people that we couldn’t ever forget.

My Birthday turned out to be an unforgettable one and no lie, I cut five birthday cakes in one day and I even got to have dinner by the sea with my feet in the sand! Not forgetting to mention the hotel that we stayed in. Saying it was beautiful is an understatement. It was surrounded by breathtaking views and the hospitality of the hotel staff was just purely wonderful. They looked after us, like Family. If your travelling to Galle, whilst in Lanka, then I highly recommend “Villa Republic”. The rooms are massive and spacious and you do feel like a princess during your stay. The two nights we stayed there, we were taken care of and fed with the most authentic and delicious Sri Lankan food and Jeya even had the chance to cook with the chef and learn some trade secrets in the kitchen.


Following Villa Republic, we stayed in many other beautiful hotels, Yale Kandy, in Kandy, Amaya Beach Hotel in Pasikuda, and Uga Beach in Trinco. We were truly blessed to stay in these stunning resorts and thanks to Jeya for finding these undercover hotels. But I will go into the details of each hotel in another post because I personally think that everyone should visit these hotels.

During our last 10 days in Jaffna, we stayed at Jeya’s family friends home, in a small area of Jaffna called Chundukuli. This home, and all the memories made will be cherished for ever. Beautiful bonds were made and we cried so much with laughter. In a short space of time friends became family. We visited so many different places whilst in Jaffna. The famous Nallur Temple, and Nainatheevu temple, met the remainder of my dad’s family in Jaffna, Saw the school both my mum and dad went to and even saw the home that my mum grew up in. We visited many different orphanages around Jaffna and always left feeling crap about ourselves. It definitely made me see life in a different perspective and taught me to be happy with what I have and since being back I have been more appreciative. It was definitely an emotional trip and at every orphanage we visited, we met such strong and motivating people, who all had a story to share, which made me rethink about things I consider to be first world problems. It was definitely an emotional trip. Overall Jaffna was a heart wrenching and unforgettable place, it was definitely not like my parents had said it would be, but then again they have seen Jaffna in a completely different dimension to me and I will never come to terms with the things they have witnessed and been through whilst they were growing up in Jaffna. But whilst I was there, I felt safe and everyone I met, treated me like one of their own. Even our driver, who we spent most of our time with whilst travelling was a gem of person and ensured that we were safe and comfortable at all times. Our safety was in his hands, (literally) and in return for looking after us so well we taught him how to speak English! We didn’t entirely succeed but the one thing he managed to get right each time was “can you hear me”! 


Time flew by quicker than anticipated and our holiday had come to an end.  I flew back a few days before Jeya and when you’ve had an amazing time, like I did with great company,  the thought of flying back on a 12 hour flight on your own was the most depressing thing. But it had to be done, and I landed back in London Heathrow, safely and all in once piece. My Sri Lanka holiday was unforgettable and having a great travel companion like Jeya by my side through all the ups and downs we witnessed was truly a blessing.

Sri Lanka 2017 here I come….

 

Thank you all for reading xx