Dominican Republic model Shaderska Valdez who's travelled to India for Lakme Fashion Week tells us why she's scared to step out alone in Mumbai.
Shaderska Valdez, 20, is one of the only two models from Dominican Republic who got a chance to walk at the Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2017.
Valdez has worked extensively in her country, but this is her first international show. And she's happy to be in India.
The leggy lass loves the different cultures in India and feels that "every state is like a mini country".
She tells Rediff.com's Anita Aikara about the challenges of working in India and why she doesn't feel safe in Mumbai.
When did you get into modelling?
In 2012, I got the opportunity to do a fashion show in my country and I had to walk for ten designers.
Initially, when I heard the news, I just couldn't believe it! I said to myself, 'This is a dream come true.' Imagine walking for ten designers in my first ever modelling assignment! It was such a proud moment for me.
It's been quite some time since I have been modelling, but Lakme Fashion Week is my first international show.
From my country, Dominican Republic, there are only two models who have been chosen to walk for LFW.
I am so happy to be one of them. Or else I would not have come to India and got a chance to experience the culture out here.
You have done shows in your country. What's the difference you experience in India?
It is my first year at Lakme Fashion Week. I am really enjoying the vibes out here.
Working in India is so different from working abroad; everyone here is so professional.
Everything is so different; especially the scale at which the fashion show is organized. It is so colourful and beautiful.
Also people here are so organised. It is a new experience for me, so I am enjoying every minute.
Who's your favourite Indian designer
That would be Anita Dongre. Her collection is so amazing. She will be closing the Lakme Fashion Week. The show is going to be the last one and I am so glad to walk for her show.
The opening show by Monisha Jaising on the cruise was an awesome experience. It was so much fun. I was doing a fashion show on the cruise for the first time.
So do you like Mumbai?
Yes, it is very interesting. But it is also very noisy and polluted; there are so many cars on the road and every next minute there is a traffic jam.
India, in itself, has so much culture to boast of. Every state in this country has a new and different culture and it would be wonderful to experience all these cultures.
It feels as though every state is a new country by itself.
My friends think that is weird, but I think that's the beauty of India.
I really like it out here.
How is it like to work here in India?
In Mumbai, I think the biggest challenge would be to reach the venue on time. There's so much traffic on the roads that you might end up reaching the venue an hour late and that's going to ruin it all for you.
Also you reach the venue really early in the morning and are up on your feet till night. Then you head back home, get a few hours of sleep and you are back again at the venue the next day.
During fashion shows, I sleep for four-five hours only. And I can't afford to look tired because my skin needs to glow on the ramp.
In spite of these little challenges, I love my job.
The artists have to do too much makeup on me to hide the dark areas under (my) eyes. And when the hair stylist does my hair, I try and get a short nap.
I come in at 8 in the morning and will be required to stay until 10 in the evening.
How do you beat hunger between shows?
I always carry fruits in my bag. I love oranges as it makes me feel really energised. And I keep myself really hydrated.
How do you take care of your skin?
At times, post the show I don't have the energy and time to remove my makeup. On other days, I try and keep my skin clean and follow a normal routine of washing my face regularly.
I am not fussy about the products the makeup artists use on my face during shows. I let them use whatever is available then.
Valentine's Day is just a week away! What are your plans?
I so wish I could fly back and meet my boyfriend back home. But that's not going to be possible, so I plan on spending the day in Mumbai with my roommates.
Do you find the city safe?
I get really scared to travel alone. I don't know Mumbai and I need someone to guide me.
If I find someone who is as clueless as I am, we find a way to go together and stay close by.
Here there is so much traffic and too many people on the road. So you always need to hold you bag close to your chest.
Do you carry a pepper spray?
No, I don't. I have heard about it, but haven't used it (yet).