In conversation with influencer Maham AKA Desi Baguette about her life as an expat, her favourite things to do in Lahore and more

You called yourself Simran but with chins, how did you come up with that?
Well Simran, is the equivialent for a brown Disney princess. The one who gets her Raj against all odds. But what happens once

Bau Jee lets her go and tells her to “jee lay apni zindagi”?
All I want to show on my platform is realness and eradicate all forms of these perfect lives and perfect bodies we see splattered all around us. I have never fit into the social norms that defines beauty but I still wear my flaws like a shining shield because they are what make me, me; and that is what makes me the happiest — my identity and the ability to be enough.

Tell us about how you started your blog. Was it a planned decision?
Desi Baguette was born out of intense nostalgia, loneliness, the awe fully inspiring city of Paris — which gave me marital bliss sometimes but consistent woes of an expat life. It wasn’t planned at all. I come from a big fat loud Punjabi family. Our after dinner mehfils are endless. When I went from that to eating alone and not even being able to communicate my order because of the language barrier, I felt like I needed to record that so one day I can tell my kids proudly, I survived this phase of my life!

How did you come up with the name Desi baguette and what’s the significance?
I was a true Lahori girl whose parathas were replaced by baguettes but I would still dip them in the aloo gosht shorba — that is what Desi Baguette means to me. There is no specific story behind it, just that this page was born out of intense nostalgia, sometimes marital bliss and the never ending woes of an expat life. Of course all of this was topped off by me swinging my saree palloo to Bollywood music no matter what the situation in my life. First around the Eiffel tower, where i was living right after my wedding and now someone near Harrods where I’m on a constant lookout for Karan Johar.

What are the pros and cons about being an influencer?
The pros of having a public account and a handful of people who follow you keeps me going so much. It has given me the utmost confidence, an ego boost, validation and definitely a source of motivation to find happiness in the dullest situations. The biggest example being the lockdown. I feel super lucky to have people along with me who accept me and love me for who I am. I’ll pull a Shahrukh here and I will say: it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world!
The only con for having a public image is the trolling that comes with it. However, I have learnt to embrace the fact that all types of comments will come in and they won’t always be what you want to hear. The love that I get overshadows the trolls.

If you could change one thing about social media, what would it be?
The cancel culture! When did we become so rigid and incapable of letting things go? I cannot deal with the apathy, heartlessness and giving the other person no room for error.

You talk about life as an expat a lot on your blog. What, in your opinion, is the hardest part about being away from home?
It’s literally an everyday effort. Some days takes its toll on you – being away from your loved ones. The hardest part of being away is always living in the fear that ‘what if something happens.’ The biggest what if was looming over our heads in the year 2020 when travel was restricted. It gave me straight up anxiety.

Tell us about your favourite places to visit at home in Lahore.
Haye. I picture Lahore as I write this: I step out of the airport and the familiar scene of people standing with phollon walay haar crosses my eyes. My eyes scan for my father’s familiar face. We drive down Burki Road and I see all the streets I know so well. The streets that raised me. Lahore always feels like home. Whether it’s the paratha rolls in H block or the grocery runs in Y block, friends’ hangouts at Rina’s (specially for their cold coffee) or secret dates at Hotspot, I will always fantasize about Lahore and every single place that has memories etched in the back of my head. I cannot pinpoint one single place but of course
When I step out of the Allama Iqbal International Airport and the familiar scene crosses my eyes of people standing with phoolon kay haar and my eyes scan for that one familiar face of my father. Driving down the Burki road, the familiar streets which raised me. From paratha rolls in H block to grocery runs in Y block. Friends hangout in Rina’s for their cold coffee and secret dates in hotspot. I fantasize Lahore and every place which has memories etched in the back of my head. I cannot pinpoint one place but ofcourse that every home that welcomes me with open arms, is my favourite place to be.

Do you have any regrets about your journey?
None at all! I truly believe everything happens for a reason, God is the best of planners and time is the best teacher. I wouldn’t change one bit.

You joke about your husband being sick of your blog but what does your husband think of the blog in real life? Is he supportive? Does he enjoy making content with you?
Haha! He’s a really private person but he married into a family who believes in extreme oversharing. He never in his wildest dreams imagined isolating that one person would result into oversharing with 60000 people now. Thus, the annoyed expressions whenever I try to include him in the blog. However, I know he secretly loves the attention and the fact that I flaunt him proudly to the world. He is extremely supportive in shooting my content. He’s the one who encouraged me by taking pictures with literally every coloured wall while travelling. He is quite a wiz behind the camera. He knows the blog means a lot to me emotionally and he has always encouraged me to make this a full-time paid thing. I have never been able to do that due to my own hesitations. However, the minute I ask him to come in front of the camera he gets uncomfortable. So I never ask him to do something that I know I would be overstepping his boundaries. So him being featured is mostly nonconsensual. It’s just how it works.

What advice do you have for girls that are trying to become bloggers or influencers?
Please be genuine and real. There is so much need for original content and genuineness to break the cycle of ridiculous societal pressures of unrealistic body standards that are just so toxic. Follow your heart, don’t get sucked into the numbers game and you will connect with your crowd right on!

Good Times


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