20 Questions with Alaya F

As we conclude the Brides Today Digital #1001Ideas Series (first edition), we truly hope we have left you with inspiring ideas in outfit, design, decor, styling, and spirit. Before we go, here is a special interview with #1001Ideas covergirl Alaya F, who is young, spirited, multi-talented...and a true BridesToday.in girl!

1. Tell us more about your artistic side...do you paint often?

Alaya: Most of my art is created with fineliner pens. I enjoy painting too, but there’s a certain detailing I manage to get with pens, and I really love that. Art, for me, is a way to clear the clutter in my mind and focus single-mindedly on something. I’m almost never actually thinking about the drawing while I’m creating it. In school, I would doodle in class so I could pay attention...it was the strangest thing! And my ability to listen and learn is a lot better while I’m drawing...it puts me in a very unique state of mind that’s quite hard to explain.

My art is usually black-and-white, sometimes with one element of colour. I’ve only just found my style, so I let it flow naturally! It’s only when I look at it much later that I’m able to see the meaning in it so clearly. I’m so glad I’ve finally put my art out on social media and that people are getting to see it...I don’t know why I didn’t do that before.

2. You're also a dancer...when did you begin and what is your relationship with dance?

Alaya: It’s always a great feeling when someone calls me a dancer because anyone that saw me struggle three years ago knows that it didn’t come easily. Three years ago, I had two left feet. I couldn’t dance to save my life, I couldn’t even do a thumka properly or straighten my arms well. I was a loose dangling puppet trying to follow steps that I could barely remember. It was a mess, and caused me a lot of anxiety and stress and tears considering that this industry, in many ways, demands that you’re a good dancer if you want to make it big. But I got very lucky and found some great teachers who motivated and pushed me harder than anyone could. They really believed in me, so I gave it my all. There was a point where I was dancing for 7 hours every single day! I was doing four different dance forms back-to-back: Kathak, contemporary, Bollywood and hip-hop. And that’s when I realised that even if I fail 500 times, the 501st time, I shall succeed. Even today, every choreography I do takes a lot of work and effort...no matter how simple it is. But I’m more than ready to put in whatever it takes. It’s a high of its own!

3.What's the best professional advice you've ever received and from whom?

Alaya: The best advice I received was just to be kind to people and to treat every person with dignity and respect. At the end of the day, you can be the best of the best, but if people don’t remember you with a smile, you can’t be all that great. I don’t remember who gave me this advice first, but I’ve heard it from many people in their own words over the last year.

4. Have you ever been someone's bridesmaid?

Alaya: I haven’t!! But I’m dying to! I’m waiting for my friends to get married! I love weddings!

5. What do you think a good bridesmaid should do?

Alaya: Just be there emotionally, physically and mentally. Weddings are a beautiful-but-stressful time! I think just being there and helping out and keeping the bride and everyone else happy is the key to being a good bridesmaid. Just being useful and supportive and cooperative. Be the stress buster!

6. What are your views on marriage?

Alaya: I love the idea of marriage! But I think there’s a right time for everything and everyone and that’s everyone’s personal choice. I don’t plan to get married until I’m 30! But that’s also because I’m quite a careful and meticulous planner. I’m a big believer in love and having this one true love, but I want to be a complete person before I attach myself to another person, so we’re not two halves trying to make each other feel whole for the rest of our lives. For me, marriage is a lovely partnership between two independent, secure, self- sufficient, happy people who are also head-over-heels in love with each other. Marriage, for me, is about support and comfort. But I hope I’m not sounding too preachy now... because I do need to remind myself that I’m 22 and still can’t remember to shut the toothpaste after I use it.

7. What qualities would you look for in a partner?

Alaya: Someone that’s secure, ambitious, caring and kind. Kind to me and the people I know, and also kind to people that can offer him nothing. I think that’s a great way to really see someone’s true character, by the way they treat people that have nothing to give them in return. Oh, and also someone that smells nice and has a nice body. That’s important for me too!

8. Is there a wedding that you have attended, which is the most memorable?

Alaya: Probably my father’s wedding to my stepmother! It was lovely! My mother was there too, and it was wonderful to have all of my family and everyone else that I knew there. Many people ask me what it’s like to have a stepmother or have divorced parents, but for me, family is family and as long as everyone’s happy, I’m happy. And that wedding was the embodiment of that: everyone being happy for everyone. I was relatively young back then, but I remember it in bits and pieces. I remember getting my clothes stitched for it and being super excited. I remember my brother Omar ruining his suit an hour before the wedding and my mother taking him to buy a new one on our way to the wedding. It was good fun!

9. If we were to look inside your make-up bag, what would we find?

Alaya: You’d find anything and everything you want because I have a lot of make-up! But truly, 99% of the time, all I use is concealer, blush tint, mascara and lip balm. So most of the time, my make-up just goes unused. And now, even when I have to go somewhere that demands more make-up, I have professionals getting me ready so now that I’m thinking about it, it’s been quite a useless investment. But still, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it!

10. Who are your favourite Indianwear designers?

Alaya: Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra, Anamika Khanna, Arpita Mehta, Sonam and Paras Modi, Punit Balana and Shloka Khialani.

11. What kind of jewellery do you enjoy wearing?

Alaya: I loooooove jewellery! All of it! Bracelets, bangles, earrings, necklaces, everything! I enjoy feeling royal in traditional Indian jewellery, and I enjoy feeling super-refined and chic in simple but flattering pieces. I think jewellery can add so much to an outfit if done right!

12. Tell us about your relationship with your brother Omar

Alaya: Omar and I share a wonderful relationship, we can talk about things very easily. We’re very different, but we balance each other out well. He’s more quiet and thoughtful, I'm more loud and impulsive. In school, he would excel in math and science, and I would excel in English and art. We don’t fight much at all, unless we’re playing Monopoly. He’s a monster when he plays Monopoly. 10/10 would not recommend playing Monopoly with him, ever!

13. Tell us about your friendships...

Alaya: I’m quite a social person and I love meeting new people, so I tend to have a large circle of friends but I also have people that are extremely close to me. Some of them I’ve known since I was born; some for over a decade; and some for just a few years. But I share very unique, very special bonds with all of them. I’ve truly been blessed with the friends I’ve found in life. They’ve really been there for me through it all, no questions asked!

14. What do you think are the rules of the girl code?

Alaya: Loyalty, honesty, trust, and respect. Same as any good relationship, right? It’s quite simple really—don’t speak badly about your girls behind their backs, have different tastes in boys, support one another, and have each other’s backs, fiercely.

15. Do you cook?

Alaya: I’m a good recipe follower! If you leave me to just do my own thing, the food probably won’t taste too good. I make good protein pancakes, and they’re quite fun to make, but I’m terrified of lighting the stove. I don’t know what I do wrong, but it always lights-up rather aggressively whenever I try.

16. What are some of your favourite books?

Alaya: I love my Nani’s book, Timepass. I think it’s bold and unfiltered and was, honestly, quite scandalising for me to read since I knew so many of the people mentioned in it. But I admire the spirit of the book.

I’m also a big fan of self-help books and books that challenge me to rethink who I am or how I see the world and people. I read this book before it got as famous as it did, and I really loved it—it’s called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. It was funny, blunt, and a great eye-opener.

17. What are some of your favourite movies?

Alaya: Thelma and Louise, The Blind Side, Kapoor & Sons, and Piku.

18. Have you binge-watched any show recently?

Alaya: Yes! I recently saw The Haunting of Hill House, Hollywood, White Lines, The Umbrella Academy, Dark, and lots of movies!

19. What's the one superpower you wish you had?

Alaya: The ability to make people feel happy and motivated. I feel like that’s a superpower that can’t really backfire in any way, so it’s safe. Plus, it’s something we can actually do—without being bitten by a spider or coming from another planet!

20. What's the one thing that gets on your nerves?

Alaya: People with bad bathroom manners. I can’t stand it when people leave the bathroom or toilet messy. I think it’s very impolite. If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie. It sounds funny, but it really is my biggest pet peeve.

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