Belleboss Interview – Chameli Mahawalage

THE  THIRTY FIFTH INSTALLATION OF THE BELLEBOSS SERIES

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I hoped that with this series, I would find a way to appreciate the incredible South Asian women of our generation, who are breaking boundaries and paving new paths for themselves. Moreover, I would like you to take a little bit of your time to realize how incredible the women around you are.

Especially if you are a woman! I know that at least one woman’s story in my #BelleBoss series will inspire you to follow your dreams, your vision and most importantly your heart. Even if that means breaking a few rules and many societal prejudices along the way.

 

Chameli Mahawalage

 Can you give us an introduction to yourself?

I’m Chameli Mahawalage and I can’t even believe I’m already 30. Let’s say a girl with a big smile and an addiction to explore new places. I just got married so I am technically Chameli Mahawalage Gibert and my husband (So not used to call someone “my Husband”) Antoine Gibert is the best gift I received thanks to my travel bug.

At the moment, I work in internal Communication & Project management in the Digital Learning sector.  Also just finished my MSc in International Marketing & Brand Management in Paris. I also am a Professional Interior Architect and a Graphic Designer. While I build my life around Travel & Photography. 

Chameli Mahawalage

I had the best childhood ever. Born and raised in Sri Lanka.

Travelling was a big part of it. We explored new destinations as a family and probably that is why I still can’t break the addiction. My dad is Athula Mahawalage, While running his own company he was a professional photographer and one of the best creative minds I have ever seen. My mom is an accountant who is also running her own company, helping and consulting my dad’s businesses, while being the best mother in the world. So it’s safe to say I grow up with Travel, Photography, independence & a lot of Love. 

Chameli Mahawalage

When I turned 18 I left Colombo to start my future studies in Singapore. Learnt how to live and be content by myself, as I wanted to be fully independent. Finished my Degree in Interior Architecture and start working right away. Singapore is my 2nd home where I spent 8 years of my life. Now I live in Paris for almost 3 years now and I must say speaking French fluently is taking more time than I thought

Chameli Mahawalage

 Who / what inspires you?

As Much as I love to say, “Traveling, exploring new destinations and the World inspire me” that comes to be a close second.

What really inspired me is my ‘Seeyabappa’ (my grandpa). Even though it has been more than 3 years since he left the physical world, he still pushes me to do the right thing.

In a world where people measure success by wealth and popularity, he is the one who taught me the real meaning of success is how you make people around you feel. Love, Kindness and Happiness are the real meaning of success.

Chameli Mahawalage

 

My Seeyabappa, lived a full life making everyone around him happy and loved. When he reached his 20’s His older brother (my Dad’s father) got married to a beautiful young girl.

Everyone was happy for them as they fit each other perfectly.

Just a few years after Seeyabappa got an incredible break in SLBC, the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation, as he was a talented creative mind as well.

Chameli MahawalageTheir parents (Seeyabappa’s mother and father) were not well and most probably will be bedridden. This is when he decided to turn the job down and stay at home full time taking care of his parents. And he did for the rest of their lives he was there, taking care of them.

So as his parents passed away, within a year gap, he got more time for him to do more creative things he used to do. 

 But faith gave him another roadblock.

His brother’s wife (my dad’s mother) passed away too at the age of 32 due to Yellow fever, leaving 6 children behind, including a 3 months old baby and the 2-year-old girl. Though my youngest uncle got adopted and found a loving home, there still were 5 children with no mother. While their father went to work there was no one to look after them. That is when Seeyabappa stepped up and dedicated his life to these children and became their ‘Mother’.

He took care of them and even their grandchildren with no regrets and full of love. Until his last day, he was happy, motivated, Funny and full of love.

 

Chameli Mahawalage

So how can you not be inspired by this kind of a person and the lessons he showed me. He was my best friend and the love of my life.

So to sum up, my inspiration in life is a success. Not in wealth or popularity but the success of Love Happiness and Kindness to the world.  

3) What are your travelling tips and favourite places to go?

 I am a planner so I make sure I plan my trips well in advance. 

Chameli Mahawalage

Remember Travelling is an adventure. Pick the right person to take that adventure with you. Memories are made not only by the location you visit it is whom you are with when you go there. Make sure to diversify the people you travel with as much as the travel itself.

Chameli Mahawalage

For example, when I first visited Europe or even Singapore it was with my parents & sister, I like exploring places like Budapest, Greece or romantic places with my Boyfriend (oops, habits, I mean my husband) We did, Spain, Portugal & Croatia with my girlfriends and most small places in Southeast Asia with my other friends and sometimes I even travel by myself. So choose your adventures with the right people, there are too many loved once in your life you should make memories with.

Chameli Mahawalage

Lastly, make sure to actually take a map and know where you are in the world, in the country and in the city. Know your roads, discover new places and explore local culture with small cafes, boutiques, and markets. Take your camera and document it all. Doesn’t matter you are a photo person or not, you will appreciate them later.

Favourite places. I would say South East Asian beaches are my favourite.

Rawa Island in Malaysia is my all time favourite beach getaway. Weligama Sri Lanka is also one of my kinda beaches.

Chameli Mahawalage

New York is in my Top 5 as well.

Croatia was one of the best places to go in Europe. A perfect mix of Nature, adventure and culture. Since I live in Paris it no longer a travel destination but this is one of my favourite cities to explore, remember you fall in love with Paris when you walk around. (try to avoid Public transportation as it’s Not the best.

What inspired you to start my blog?

Chameli Mahawalage

This I’m not sure how to answer really as my Blog is almost as good as dead.

But my Instagram however, the inspiration came from my passion for photography and travel as I love documenting them so it was a good way to do so.

Then making it public a few months ago was purely due to a digital marketing class and I just tried some stuff I learned and it worked.

Could you tell us more about your love story?

Chameli Mahawalage

My Love story began in New York.

In 2014 I decided I needed to do a solo travel adventure. I have travelled a lot but never alone and I really wanted to experience that. Next location on my travel list was the US, so I thoughts lets do the east coast, New York, Boston, And DC. Since my aunt lives in Pittsburgh I thought of adding Pennsylvania to the list too. This was a month-long travel, just me.

I know as a Sri Lankan girl, it is not so common. On top of that, I did not know anyone in New York, nor in Boston. So I thought let’s try out this app to find some friends before I reach there. So a month before I went there I starting getting to know people and talking to them, you know to see how they are (if there are murderers or psychopaths :p ) 

I met some good people; most of them are still friends with me. Among them, I got to know this very nice guy whom I got along very well with and we became friends fast. However, he was a French guy who was visiting New York with a friend as well. By the time I was in New York he was back in Paris. So we never met, but ever since we got to know each other we have been talking, texting every day as friends.

Chameli Mahawalage

 

Anyway, after months of talking and getting to know, he decided to visit Asia for the 1st time. And when he got to Colombo we met for the 1st time. Then we had 3 weeks of travelling together with a friend in Sri Lanka and South East Asia. He asked me out during the trip and I said yes.

Chameli Mahawalage

 

And we did long distance for a bit. Summer 2016 was our girls’ trip to Europe with my 2 best friends, and by the end of the trip we I spent an extra week in Paris and me and Antoine (that’s his name) did Budapest before I returned. I was about to start my MBA and my options were Boston, New York or London, and since I met him I applied to schools in Paris too.

Then I moved to Paris. After two years here we are Married and happy.

 

Chameli Mahawalage

I know it is very cheesy and Cliché to say this but I knew he is the one the 1st time we met face to face. And as the time went by it was only happiness and love. So there you go.. The boring and stupid story of how we met. ;p

 
 
How would you describe your style and any closet favourites
 
Since I was really young I loved dressing up and changing outfits. My mom says I used to change my outfit more than 5 times a day and I was not even going anywhere. embarrassing but true. I was never pretty child nor a teenager nevertheless I loved the idea of dressing up and staying pretty. just like most girls, I found my personal style in my 20s (i would say am still evolving) 
 
Chameli Mahawalage
 
I love Colors. I love when women rock colours though it is kinda difficult over here in Paris as they are mainly dressed in basic black and white and their signature red lips. Don’t get me wrong I do love a monochrome outfit. But when I do describe myself I can’t leave a good pop of colour in my outfit! I love wearing super girly dresses as well as sneakers and sweatshirts
 
 
 
I think the trick is to wear your feelings.. some days you feel super fun and happy so wear that feeling with a colourful dress or a fun print with a pop up lip colour or an eyeshadow and sometimes you feel not dressing up those days you need to have your comfortable sweatpants and sneakers and put your hair up in a ponytail then you are good to go. 
 
Don’t follow trends just cos they are in.. just wear things make you who you are… but when you see a trend you know you can rock don’t let it skip make sure you ride that wave 
I honestly look my best when I feel the best. Trust me when you have confidence in your self it shows no matter what you wear. 
 
Chameli Mahawalage
 

Closet favourites

  • – Little black dress is a must.
  • – Make sure you have your basics; Black and white tops, blue jeans etc.
  • – Bags and shoes with pop-up colours. 
  • My personal obsession, however, is funky colourful pants. Since the 90s are back you can add ‘Baggy” to the list of adjectives. 
 
 
 What are your goals and dreams for the future?
 
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First and foremost, Continue to be happy in my own skin and with my loved ones. 

Keep smiling and trying my best to make people around me smile. 

 
 
Other than that I am working on a few ideas and concepts in travel and style. Also will be launching my 1st travel and style channel on Youtube soon. and partnering on building a new lifestyle app.
 
A lot of places around the world to experience. I have my list of travel plans.
 
Chameli Mahawalage
 
Honestly, enjoying now is my plan. We never know what will happen tomorrow or in 2hrs. So enjoy now and make sure you do things matter to you today! My family is always number one to me. even if I won’t be able to achieve anything in that list, I will still be super happy with my loved ones around me. 
 

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the-liya-reina

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