Why are South Asians obsessed with being white?

“Have you been hanging out in the sun a lot? Your skin has darkened by a ten-fold!” Comments like this are not uncommon if you are a Pakistani or Indian. Our culture and society is obsessed with being “fair skinned” and I always wondered why. The reason never actually struck me until my African-American friend revealed, “It’s because of your colonizers!”

She was right. Since the beginning of colonization, Europeans have brought bigotry and hate to the Indian subcontinent. The Englishmen during the British Raj treated the Indians like scum. Their racism is evident and portrayed in the British television series, “Indian Summers.” One of the first things I noticed in the opening scene of the pilot was the “No Dogs or Indians” sign posted outside an English club. To the Indians, the Englishman was not just a foreign ruler, but was someone they could also admire. The British were educated, organized, timely, and set up a highly effective system of governance (whose remnants are still present today all over the subcontinent).

This is where the complex sets in. They were handsome men and beautiful women whom the South Asians aspired to be. They could travel abroad and get educated, they could change their habits and become more organized and efficient, but what they could not change was their physical appearance. They could not be white.

Sadly, being white is considered attractive in the South Asian society, and this complex hurts women more than anyone else. In the subcontinent, arranged marriage is still a cultural norm and, unfortunately, females are pressured to look “perfect” for their suitors. Amongst other highly physical qualities and attributes, they must also be light-skinned. It’s a rough world and time for a girl whose is even slightly dark. The mothers and relatives looking for a bride for their precious sons are formidable and very frank about their demands. If the girl is not white enough (or skinny enough, or tall enough), she is bluntly rejected on that basis. This can be depressing for women and can lead to inferiority complex.

Models and actors are photo-shopped to look lighter than they are. If you ever see Bollywood actors in real life versus in the movies, you wouldn’t be able to recognize them.

While many people are standing up and accepting their skin colors and bodies as they are, it will be a long time before this deeply-rooted complex is cleared from the South Asian society. Skin whitening creams generate a large amount of business in these countries. Furthermore, almost every morning or talk show has a segment with herbal or homemade skin whitening tips. You cannot escape it.

What Pakistanis and Indians do not understand is that this complex comes from our subjugation by our colonizers. We considered them a civilized, superior, and good-looking race. This in turn led to us discriminating amongst ourselves. We divided ourselves over characteristics we saw in our colonizers, continue to do so today.

We may have gained independence and rid ourselves of their rule, but 68 years onwards, we have failed to accept ourselves as we are.


Checking In: Starbucks, London, UK

London Underground

London Underground

Hi everyone, So yes, I am currently seated in a Starbucks (what else is new?) in one of the most beautiful cities in the world — London. I moved here exactly two months ago to study for a semester, and I am so ashamed of myself for not having published a single word about my trip thus far.

My mom has been pushing me to write again, so here it is Mama. I’m online.

Let’s start with first impressions… I experienced a huge culture shock when I arrived.  Coming from America (more specifically suburban America), everything seemed to be scaled down by 300%.  Small roads, small cars, small shops, small homes.  As bratty as it may sound, it’s true.  But thankfully, I am staying with family in the outskirts of the city i.e. it’s more like my hometown with bigger homes, quiet neighborhood, cute dogs, etc. Anyways, after about a month, I have now become accustomed to the mini-ness of everything in the city, and of course the mini-ness has its own charm.  Nothing beats having tea in a cutesy cafe in Central London, owned and by a sweet family and made especially for you.  Want to grab lunch? Have dietary restrictions? No problemo. London has foods from every part of the world that meet every picky-eater’s (like mine) needs.  Shawarma? Pad Thai? Kabob? Burgers? Tacos? Chips (aka Fries)? Fish? — they have it all, usually within a few miles’ radius, and more of than not, it’s HALAL. Guys, I have been in food heaven for the last two months.

Forget sightseeing (which I do oh-so-keenly and to the great disappointment of my dear friend, Maya, also in London), all I have been doing is checking out new foods I wouldn’t be able to try in America.  I have had my first ever Halal Nando’s — it’s worth it.  Also, had Halal KFC after about a year (last time was in Pakistan last December!)

London is probably the cutest, most historical, and diverse city! But you already knew that!

I have so many pictures that I took on my Nikon while my parents were still here; will be posting them shortly!

For now, I have to run to class…. yeah yeah, that’s what I’m really here for.  Forgot about the “study” in Study Abroad! Stay tuned for more :)


Moon, Squirrel, Halloween.

Was trying to come up with a cool name by meshing those three, but was unable too… Any suggestions?

The photos were all taken by the Nikon D5200.

The squirrel was eating some food on our deck a couple of months ago and my sister got that fabulous shot of it… Isn’t it the cutest? It lives in our neighborhood and I am obsessed and always amazed by it’s intelligence. We have yet to come up with a name for it…. Sandy, perhaps?

The moon was photographed on November 1,2014 at the Great Falls Park in Virginia.

The two superheroes are my younger sisters, who were Batman and Superman for Halloween!





© wanderingderwish.com 2013-2014
Click here for Copyright information. All photos shown were taken by me. All photos are the property of wanderingderwish.com.

Rumi 3

Because of a fractured leg,
God bestows a wing;
likewise from the depth of the pit,
He opens a door of escape.
God said, “Don’t consider
whether you’re up a tree or in a hole:
consider Me, for I am the Key of the Way.”*

-Mathnawi III, 4808-9

Camera: iPhone 5

Ferris Wheel - Six Flags, New Jersey

Ferris Wheel – Six Flags, New Jersey


Source: The Pocket Rumi, edited by Kabir Helminski

© wanderingderwish.com 2013-2014
Click here for Copyright information. All photos shown were taken by me. All photos are the property of wanderingderwish.com.

Back after a Break

I have broken my promise of frequent updates, as I have been absent from the blogging world for over 3-4 months now… Reason being that I was out of school and no longer had vast amounts of time to procrastinate on work and homework and papers and such.

Interesting, isn’t it? Also, I just was not inspired to write anything.

My summer vacations were very busy with work so I did not travel much and did not take many beautiful pictures to share with you all.

However, over Labor Day weekend (first weekend of September in the US) my family and I took a trip to Six Flags, New Jersey because we love amusement parks. We then proceeded to explore the town of Princeton and of course the famous Princeton University. (Photos will follow soon)

I also started my 3rd year of college (I think congratulations are in order) and I think this will be the most exciting of the 4 years because I am starting to get away from the generic courses and am able to take more IR / my interest related classes, which is FANTASTIC! I love my classes!

I wish I were traveling more so that I could share my experiences with you, but maybe in the future sometime.

For now, hopefully this is my comeback!

Until next time…

© wanderingderwish.com 2013-2014
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My Nigerian Sisters

Over a month ago, 276 of my sisters were kidnapped in northern Nigeria. They were kidnapped by a group of savages who call themselves “Boko Haram.”

These beasts raided a boarding school in Nigeria where female high school students were housed so that they could get educated. These girls had to take off from school for a while prior to their abduction but had recently returned to take their final exams and finish their school year. They had taken off earlier due to the exact fears that came true on April 15: they feared they would be attacked by the extreme conservatives in northern Nigeria who are against girls getting educated.

On April 15, 204 these young, innocent girls were asleep at their boarding school when “dozens of heavily armed terrorists” opened fire inside their sleeping quarters. Boko Haram caused all sorts havoc… I am only imagining a scene from a terrible and grotesquely violent movie. They not only started shooting but also set fire to the school: complete destruction.

Amidst all the chaos, they managed to group the students together, threatened them, and “then herded several hundred terrified girls” into their “trucks, buses and vans” and “drove off and vanished.”

This is where the disturbing, saddening, and extremely painful story of my sisters starts.

They were girls the same age as my biological sisters who had similar dreams and aspirations as my own sisters. They were girls breaking down barriers, making their families proud. They were going to change their little towns, their country, their continent, and their world!

How tragic it is that 267 persons have just vanished off of the face of the Earth? How tragic it is that such an atrocity has occurred in our world today?

Boko Haram is a word in the Hausa language; it means, “Western education is a sin.” While I have no knowledge of the Hausa language, the word Haram is familiar to me as it is an Arabic word commonly used by Muslims. Haram means “forbidden” or “sin.” As a Muslim, all I can say is that Boko Haram is HARAM.

Reasons why members of Boko Haram are haram, and not Muslim:

  • They attacked innocent civilians
  • They attacked women and children
  • They attacked defenseless girls
  • They kidnapped 267 humans against their will
  • They are keeping hostage 267 girls
  • They plan to sell people as if they were property
  • They are forcing young girls into marriage
  • They have claimed to have forcibly converted the girls they abducted
  • The men in Boko Haram are currently with 267 females who are not their mothers, daughters, wives, or sisters; this makes residing with females who are not their relatives HARAM

I hope that God is taking good care of my Nigerian sisters. I wonder how they are able to sleep at nights; I wonder how their families are holding up. I hope God gives those 267 girls and their families the strength to get through this. I hope that United Nations and the United States take some legitimate, hardcore action against these savages who call themselves Muslims. I don’t think they are worthy of being called animals, for even animals are compassionate and civilized compared to these monsters. Yes, that’s what they are: monsters. And monsters go to Hell.


Reference: Nicholas Kristof’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times on May 3, 2014 .


© wanderingderwish.com 2013-2014
Click here for Copyright information. All photos shown were taken by me. All photos are the property of wanderingderwish.com.

Third Culture Kids: My Original Poem 3

Third Culture Kid (TCK)

I am a TCK.
I was diagnosed last semester,
by my Cross-Cultural Communications professor.
I did not know previously that
my condition had a formal name.
I am a TCK.
Born in Pakistan,
Raised in America.
I am a TCK.
When I travel to Pakistan,
I am the target of (sometimes) unwanted attention.
I am the foreigner,
an object to be observed,
I am a TCK.
When I am in America,
I am viewed as symbol of diversity.
I am a minority,
another shade of brown,
I am a TCK.
I have an American accent,
but I don’t shy from speaking Urdu in public.
I am a TCK.
I can be confused.
How do I identify myself?
Often times, both the places I belong to
see me as a stranger.
I am a TCK.
I have to sometimes fight
to belong,
but its worth it.
I am a TCK.
Because I get the best of both worlds.
I feel lucky
to have experienced two different
I am a TCK.
I wouldn’t trade either identities
for another.
I am a TCK.
I am an American-Pakistani.
I am proud.


© wanderingderwish.com 2013-2014
Click here for Copyright information. All photos shown were taken by me. All photos are the property of wanderingderwish.com.