'Opulence, I has it'. The Trident Hotel in Mumbai


#Bollywoodin #LikeARockStar

I must apologize in advance for the ballerific nature of this post. I'm no stranger to the red carpet treatment and we've stayed in fabulous cribs in fabulous destinations but *insert Katt Williams voice* this sh*t right here... this is something else entirely.

I called ahead to the Trident, a 5 star hotel in Nariman Point, Mumbai, to alert them of our pending arrival from Bandra West. #ExpectUs

Now I ain't gonna lie, I told them I was kind of a big deal *bats eyelashes innocently* 


...and after what I assume was a brief Google search, they informed us that they were happy to provide complimentary accommodations.  I'm thinking they're going to give us a suite. Dope, right?

Little did I know...

Read On!>>>

Called to Serve- Young, Black & Single in India


 
Yesterday, I shared the emotional story of how Nyasha and I connected.  Today, I want you to read the amazing stories she told me and hubby over dinner, about life as a single, natural, Black, Christian woman living and working in India! Enjoy!

Tell us your story- How did you get here? How long have you been in Mumbai?
Well, I have always had a desire to work and serve internationally. I had an amazing opportunity to study abroad in South Africa and Namibia during my undergrad years at NYU and since then I’ve felt my life mission was to work internationally with organizations, businesses, churches, individuals and cities to help them to be their best.

This March a friend at my church in New York told me about an organization in India that he was working with called Vision Rescue. They were based in Mumbai and focused on educating children in the slums, rescuing and restoring young woman/girls from sex trafficking and proving health care for those in need. I instantly became interested and found out that the NGO had volunteer opportunities. I felt that this could be my first open door into international work and so I asked my current employer (a New York based NGO and Church- The Legacy Center/Christ Tabernacle) if I could go on a short-term mission trip to India for six weeks. Well, they agreed and to show their support gave me a six week paid leave to come explore and serve in India! Who does that?? This for me was a sign that God was opening up the doors for me to pursue my dreams and purpose of serving overseas. Before I left for my trip I actually decided to give notice and move out of my beautiful apartment in Harlem. I had such a strong feeling and belief that once I got to India more doors would open for me to remain long term.

Read On!>>>

#Blessed

*UPDATE:*
Grandma is out of her second surgery and resting comfortably. #ThankYou #IStillHaventSleptTho


 Hola Chicas,

When I'm planning these international excursions, the first thing I do is search for and reach out to naturals in the area.  Other than a strong desire to turn up with #OurPeople, it's just damn smart to roll with folks that know how to navigate whatever new and strange city you might find yourself in.  That's one of the awesome things about holding a #TeamNatural card-- we're global and we ride for each other.  So yeah, I Googled and searched and hunted and could find nary a natural haired Black woman in all of Southern India!  Go figure. So I gave up, and wouldn't you know it, just when I decided we were on our own, I received an email from Nyasha!  She wanted to let me know that she lives in Mumbai and would make herself available if I needed any advice or wanted to connect.  You couldn't tell me nothing!  I called her immediately and was delighted to learn that not only was she just a few miles away from us, but that she was down for dranks... that night!  #IAmDelivert

And so we met at a fabulous hotel around 7:30pm and spent the next 5 hours gabbing away about everything-- her story, how she ended up in India, her experiences here as a Black woman, how we're both okay meeting up with strangers after one brief email, Ferguson, politics, religion... you name it.  And then my phone started blowing up.  I excused myself to take what was certainly an urgent call from Momma.  She wanted to let me know that Grandma was being rushed to the hospital by ambulance.

Read On>>>

Spectacle.

#HeyHeyHey #GreySweatsErryDay 
@ndvme on IG said- 'he's gonna take the selfie, but he's not happy about it.  Nobody made him take the pic!'

Traveling while Black, Rule #10- Be prepared to be a spectacle

Thankfully though, unlike some of our experiences in Greece, our Indian brethren appear to be serving up genuine curiosity... the same kind we have for them.   When we're kicking down the terrifying street-sidewalk-raceway, dodging rickshaws and entire four person families atop one, single, solitary speeding moped, people look.  Like, look-look.  And they don't look away when you lock eyes either, they just keep staring. And while it made me a bit uncomfortable at first, what I've found is that 99.9% of the time, if I smile, they smile back!  #Voila #Maaaagic. As 'small' as this world is, it's interesting to go to another country full of brown people and feel like an alien.  We're all curious about each other and nothing is more powerful than reaching out across the sometimes massive culture and language gaps to shake the hand of someone who is actually not so different than you after all.  #WeAreAllSpectacles

Case in point, yesterday at the Bandra Bandstand, hubby and I were minding ours, strolling and people watching... probably talking ish too, the usual.  The sun was being rude, so we decided to sit for a while and revel at the beauty of the beach-community bath-laundromat situationIt wasn't five minutes later that a group of smiling, Hindi-speaking gentleman approached us, shook our hands, and gestured for a photo, like this one--

Read On!>>>

Reality Gives: Our Visit to Dharavi in Mumbia, India



Within hours of touching down in Mumbai, India, hubby and I took a trip across town to visit with residents of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. It is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, diverse community with a population of nearly 1 million. Unlike similar slums in the region, Dharavi has a very active (but informal) economy-- the leather, textiles and pottery goods produced there by the residents are exported around the world. Dharavi also happens to be the slum featured in Slumdog Millionaire, in fact, many of the actors in the movie are from there.


I was greeted by Joseph Bird of Reality Gives-- a sister organization of an ethically run tour company called Reality Tours & Travel. Reality Tours was created in 2005 by Chris Way and Krishna Pujari. Their main objective was to show the positive side of the slums and to break down negative stereotypes about its residents.  They also saw it as a way to employ locals, increase income for the residents who sell products and services, and as a way to raise money for the community (80% of tour profits are invested in Dharavi). 

taking notes at the Reality Gives headquarters with Joe

Slum tourism is a controversial practice that draws heated debate on all sides. Some claim that it is exploitation of impoverished locals, while others claim that it is a particularly potent form of empowerment. From what I can tell, Reality Gives' initiatives are doing just that—empowering locals, especially the women, and searching for and implementing solutions. 

Read On>>>

All Black in Bombay (and a giveaway)


in the words of the great philosopher Katt Williams- "it's the most nastiest, dirtiest, ugliest, 
most beautiful, wonderful place in all the world". #India 

We made it! Travel time from STL to Mumbai was 24 whole hours and while I felt every bit of it, the airplane had usb ports to charge my technologies, curried meats for the hunger situation and unlimited complimentary wine for the thirsty! #WhereMyGlass

that in-flight menu, tho #Huh

After a pit-stop in Abu Dhabi,  we arrived in Mumbai around 4:20 on Saturday morning but didn't make it to the crib til 7am due to the extra custom lines (Ebola) and general shenanigans (money exchanging, bag finding, hawker dodging, etc.)  We connected with our driver and one terrifying ride later, we arrived at the spot.  #InOnePiece #PraiseHim

Hubby snapped this pic of me backseat driving from the airport to our condo. Pretty sure I pee'd a little. Apparently riding two lanes at a time, at top speed, bumper to bumper, horns laid on, while pedestrians, motorcycles, bikes, and Tuk-Tuk's weave in and between the chaotic mass of vehicles is how they roll.  #AndItWasOnly6am

the digs for part I of our Indian adventures

Peep the View!>>>

Bollywood Bound


Hola Chicas,

It's the day after Christmas and I'm still on a flight to India! #18HoursStrong

For the last four years I've been working with women over seas to tell the stories of curlies around the world.  Together we've raised the profile of several non-profit organizations and educated folks (myself included!) in the process.   I've partied with Jamaican curlies living in Tokyo, and have been welcomed into ethnic neighborhoods in Rio De Janeiro. This time, in partnership with HennaSooq and Romwe, we're taking a work-cation to Mumbai, India.

Read On!>>>

Shade.

Back to the future. 

Hola Chicas,

I need some shade and a vacay. Like, real shade from palm trees, floppy hats, sun umbrellas, and even those little umbrellas in my drank. Not to be confused with:

Read On!>>>

God Bless Our Troops.

re-posting in light of the recent changes to Army regulations as it concerns hair.  Below you'll find real stories about real soldiers and their natural hair journeys.  

This is why we're here.

I came to Japan to support the 'Curly Troops'. To show them some love and let them know that their service doesn't go unnoticed or unappreciated. Although I've received messages from folks stationed overseas and thought I had a pretty good understanding, when I finally arrived on the base, I was overwhelmed. These are women, just like you and me, but they really do the impossible everyday.

I was expecting around 15 attendees so imagine my surprise when 50 women showed up, of which 99% were active service women (the rest were wives and contractors).  They came seeking good information, access, education and fellowship.  And that's what went down.  God bless our troops.


Metro Kids South Africa- Our Visit to Guguletehu

Re-posting as a reminder not to forget to donate to Metro Kids!  I'm sponsoring the beautiful and intelligent teen leader, Anathi!  Tamron and Johnny are sponsoring several children as well. I hope you'll join us! 



On our latest excursion I took more than a couple hundred pictures to try to convey the magnitude of what we were experiencing first hand.  Poverty on this scale is like an ocean- it's vast, it's wide, it's deep.  It isn't, however, hopeless.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me explain.

Hubby and I have this tradition where we select our next international destination prior to leaving the current one so that our departure back home is a little less bitter-sweet.  So back in Spain, probably over cocktails with Captain Alvaro, we decided South Africa was next.

Since we touched down last week, we've been anticipating the arrival of our friends, celebrity stylist and Artistic Style Director for L'Oreal, Johnny Wright and correspondent for NBC News and NBC's Today Show, Tamron Hall #Flawless.  Also, so Tamron is officially the first African American woman to co-anchor the NBC Nightly News! #ThatHappened #SoCrown #BowDown


But I digress.

You may recall the fabulousness that is Johnny Wright from the EPIC NYC Turn-Up session with Tracee Ellis Ross.  Johnny has been to South Africa 4 times this year alone so of course I texted him to find out (1) who we know locally for the TurnUp  and (2) what to eat/see/do/don't.  He inquired about the dates and the next thing I know, it's a party.  #VacationWithFriends

Read On!>>>

'Just Hold On, I'm Coming Home' (and a giveaway!)


Congrats to our winners!!!!
Nylse
naturallysweetkandi

send me your addresses to [email protected] ASAP! 


The crew is gone, y'all!

*ugly cry*

Read On>>>

Lion Cubs and Calves, Oh My!


The final day of our African Safari Adventure was all about the babies (as well as my unwillingness to pack and vacate the premises)!  And since the experience transcends words, I thought I'd share ALL the pics- 

Meet Sam. He along with a female elephant (Tsotsi) were to be culled from Zimbabwe, but were ultimately rescued and brought to Botlierskop.  Here, they mated and along came super-adorbs Tshima which means 'surprise', because he truly was!  The staff had no idea that Tsotsi was preggers!

 Tshmia was HUNGRY!  


Walking With Lions

Winners-
MotherEartha
BreandaP
Email me at [email protected] with your addresses! Thanks!!!


So look at who we ran into on the way back to our tent...

#Wild #JohnnyTamedThemTho

Glamping- Our African Safari


so this happened. 

We woke up at a disrespectful 5am and drove across the tip of Africa from Western to Eastern Cape to visit the game reserve Botlierskop, located about 12 miles from the Indian Ocean. 'Astonishingly beautiful scenery' aren't even the words.  Imagine the landscapes of California, France and Montana in the same place. This land is absolutely beautiful and enormous.


Tamron Hall, Johnny Wright, Moshe, Hubby and I made the four-hour trip in two rentals, on the wrong side of the road, with completely new driving rules (like passing on the right). Fun times. In this short period of time, we drove across mountains (into the low-hanging clouds), through valleys, and across plains.  Hubby with his lead foot had my pressure up, but he got us there safe.

Read On!>>>

Happy New Year's from Cape Town! (and a giveaway!)

And our winners are...

Shannon Branch and Janel21!  Email me at [email protected] with your mailing address ASAP!

Congrats!



You haven’t lived until you’ve brought in the New Year in Cape Town, South Africa. After an amazing dinner, we hit the streets to join the masses for their first ever ‘World Design’ celebration. Tamron insisted that we fight the crowd of more than 80,000 to join the special Mandela celebration just adjacent to the beautiful town hall building. This place was everything…lasers, flashing lights, music and dancing in the street, we turned up and got our entire lives… #AllNightLong #MakingItRainFreedom

Read On and See Pics!>>>

'You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat.' (and a Giveaway!)

and the winners are-

please email me ASAP to [email protected] with your addresses!

**********************

So today was an easy one... for me.  While Tamron and I were #TurntDown on the beach, Hubby, Johnny and Moeshe were turning up with Jaws.  

Peep our two totally different views- 

Warning- Penguins Will Bite. (and a giveaway!)

#SoCrown

So after a night of shenanigans and dranking, (#PourItUpPourItUp #DrunkInLove #WeBeAllNight), we rented a car because there is so much ish to see and none of it is in walking distance, nor within budget to rent a cab everywhere. After we gathered ourselves and headed down to the garage to check out the car we had delivered, Hubby took a minute to prepare himself to drive on the other side of the road. It's a bit disorienting, especially with the hint of a mild hangover, but after a few practice laps he was beasting these streets!

Read On!>>>

Meet Your South African Sisters!

and the winner is...


 Email me STAT ([email protected]) with your address! 


Hola Chicas!

Yesterday I met with a few members of #TeamNatural here in Western Cape.  We descended upon Jamaica Me Crazy at 1:30pm, for lunch.  But why was it after dinner time when we left, tho?  This movement is really and truly a sisterhood... never have I ever, EVER met a curly-headed stranger. #NeverNotNever

Most of the ladies that attended the lunch didn't know one another and plan to keep in touch and hopefully reconvene in the near future.  We're bringing folks together, y'all!

I promise to #TurnTheHellUp later, but first I want to share the stories of these gorgeous curlies!

What I Wore-
Neo-Asian Sun Dress gifted via ROMWE

#WeTight

'Better Than Good Hair' on Deck!  #TeamEdges  #HarperCollins #BestSeller #ThanksYall



the weather was warm and sunny and the view was everything!

Meet (some) of #TheCrew 
Meryl is a South African diplomat working for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. Originally from Cape Town, she is currently living and working in Pretoria, Gauteng.  She's been natural since the age of 16.  She shares, 'always having had crazy, curly hair, and a mom with the straightest, 'easiest' hair, it's been a battle getting control of my hair. Once I got old enough I started wearing it natural and eventually did the big chop in 2009 and I've been natural ever since.'  She said her friends and family absolutely loved it and that her only difficulty has been finding products locally in Cape Town.

Cindy is a Financial Analyst in Cape Town where she was born and bred.  Natural for 6 years she shares, 'I can thank my sister for getting me on the natural path. So I chopped off all the "unnatural, treated" hair and haven't looked back since. About three years ago I went very short, yet pretty curly'. When asked how her family and friends and responded to her new situation, she responded, 'well I'm generally known for doing weird things, so chopping my hair off and keeping it natural really didn't come as too much of a surprise. And truth be told, it looks real good on me!'.  She shared that over the last 3 years in Cape Town the natural scene has increased in numbers but it's still pretty small compared to other cities in South Africa.  Like  Meryl, she said the product choices are limited and mostly come from Johannesburg or even over seas.

Yasmin is in finance in the non-profit sector.  Originally from Ghana, she moved here from New York after her husband found a job in Cape Town.  She Big Chopped and has been natural  for 4 years.  When asked how she was received by fam and friends she said, 'still not happy with my hair. I'm in braids when I go back home to Ghana'.  I later learned from her and others that your hair isn't deemed appropriate in Ghana unless it's neat and tidy in braids.  She shared that the natural scene in Cape Town is difficult because she hasn't found a salon or a credentialed stylist, which is devastating because she's a lazy natural.  She too can't find products.  She shared that while she sees lots of locs and even quite a few loose naturals, 4c afros are quite uncommon.

Melissa is a masters student in chemical engineer. Originally from Zimbabwe, she's in Cape Town for her studies.  Melissa has been natural for two years and seven months after a transition in which she micro trimmed every month.  She currently uses anything that works right now... Vo5 for co-washing and lots of finger detangling.  She shares, 'I love applying henna to my hair. My mother is from Zanzibar and my grandmother grows henna in her backyard! My hair loves all natural, homemade henna.'  She said her mother was happy when she went natural and her only complaint is the dry Cape Town weather.  She shared that it can result in dryness and breakage so she's looking for the right product to remedy that situation.  She's excited to see so many women in Cape Town embracing their natural hair.


Kayla is a student and originally from Cape Town. She's been natural all of her life and likes to wear a curly bob.  When asked how folks in Cape Town view her curly hair she shared, 'some love it. And others just don't understand it. But it's me and I ain't changing'.

Nozuko Poni is a Customer Services Consultant, Freelance Stylist and Columnist.  Originally from Cape Town, she has been natural for four years.  She did the big chop after the relaxers thinned her hair.  She loves huge Afro Extensions (pictured here) and box braids.  She said that while her family are fans of straight hair they supported her during her transition.  She shared, 'while natural hair is more popular now, it's still stigmatized. People still associate it with poor grooming. And it's seen as backward (result of colonization).'

Pfungwa Nyamukachi is a Business Development Manager.  Originally from Zimbabwe, her father was a diplomat posted in Cape Town.  When her family left, she stayed and 15 years later and she still considers SA her second home.  She Big Chopped four years ago and rocked a bald/shaven head for a couple of years and LOVED it!  Her family and friends loved her new look immediately.  When asked what it's like being natural in Cape Town, she responded, 'it's becoming more and more the in thing. However it's still rare-ish. It's hard to find good hair salons that cater to black, natural hair. So I do my own hair. What's interesting though is the different type of guys I 'attract' when I wear my hair 'au naturalle' vs. when my hair is braided, lol!'

Foundry Road Swag Factory

This contest is now closed and Jackie H. is the winner! Congrats chica!  Email me ASAP ([email protected]) with your address! 

Twenty-four hours and four delicious inflight meals later (international airlines have bomb food and the wine flows like water... so maybe I was faded... the food was good, tho) and we made it, y'all!  We touched down in Cape Town late evening and although I'm not sure if it's yesterday or tomorrow, I'm chilling.  Everyone from the flight attendants to the cab drivers to our host, has been tremendously helpful and friendly and have made what could've been a trying journey, almost fun! I even met a CN reader in the Johannesburg airport during our short pit-stop there. #HeyBoo

Curly Cultural Mission: South Africa


Hola Chicas,

It's the day after Christmas and I'm on an 18 hour flight to Africa! For the last few years I've been working with women over seas to tell the stories of curlies around the world.  Together we've raised the profile of several non-profit organizations and educated folks (myself included!) in the process.   I've partied with Jamaican curlies living in Tokyo, and have been welcomed into ethnic neighborhoods in Rio De Janeiro. This time we're headed to Cape Town, South Africa.  #CurliesWorldwide #OneCurlOrder #ShesYourQueenToBeeeeee

Read On!>>>

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