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What are the challenges of first generation South Asians?

 

Hi, Hi, Favorite South Asian chick over here. I feel like I am finally getting my shit together after the holidays only to lose it again because my bestie is coming to town for New Years! I was in Vegas last year for New Years and didn’t really think I could top it this year. But Tara coming to town probably will. First, ATL is LIT (insert fire emoji), IDGAF what anyone says. Second, TARA IS LIT AF. We grew up together and went our separate ways as adults, so we are just getting to know each other as adults. She came down for my birthday in June and really brought the party. She is super cute, super crazy and super fun. In addition, she is an #OG YouTube queen. Maybe I can convince her to shoot a viddy with me.

I was lucky to have Tara as a best friend growing up because she loved all things Indian and zealously participated in them with me. I don’t know how I would have overcome the challenge of assimilating into my American environment with a South Asian upbringing otherwise. Having a best friend to share both worlds with definitely made my life more fun and my mother’s determination to teach me Indian culture successful. In my opinion, the top three challenges any first generation South Asian faces are: choosing a profession, choosing a partner and balancing both cultures.

Choosing a Profession

Every first generation South Asian faces immense challenges personally and professionally. My top challenge growing up was picking a profession. All I saw around me where people becoming Doctors, Engineers, Accountants, Business owners and Lawyers. My desire to become a writer was always met with, “Unless you become the next JK Rowling, you won’t make a living.” UMMM… false. It wasn’t until I graduated college I realized there is a whole world out there for every “creative” profession where you can make a decent living. My ex’s sister went into fashion merchandising because her father exposed her to that industry. It wasn’t until I experienced this that I wondered…what all could we do if we were exposed to other opportunities? It’s not our parent’s fault, most didn’t know much beyond the five professions listed above. I can’t wait to foster my kids’ creativity one day and be able to guide them to create a career they can love.

Choosing a Partner

Deepa Berar and I did a hilarious podcast on whether or not as a brown chick we can date without thinking about marriage. My answer was and is no. Now more so because I am 27 and she does not have time to play, no she DOES NOT. But before, I couldn’t get what had been ingrained in me since birth out of my head long enough to NOT think about marriage. I JUST overcame the ultimate challenge and told my family that I will do things my way and be my own person when picking a partner. Honestly, I’ve only ever been attracted to brown guys and Jamie Foxx (but that’s neither here nor there). At 27, I don’t know who else I would be attracted to physically, emotionally and spiritually. It will be interesting to see what life has for me. And then there is caste, religion and language that often serves as a barrier to falling in love. Know you are not alone and it’s only as complicated as you make it. Whether you marry a brown person or not…do YOU.

Balancing Both Cultures

I could write a book on this..maybe I will? I can’t count the amount of times I’ve told my mother, “If you didn’t want me to be American, you should not have had me here.” It’s a challenge assimilating to both worlds and it never feels like you’re enough. But here’s the thing..you don’t “have to” be anything or anyway to be either South Asian or American. You are who you are and your values are what they are. To a certain extent, core values are universal so as long as you focus on being a good human…the rest follows suit. Your environment subconsciously plays a role so no matter what you will be as desi as your environment. You can run but you can’t hide…I’ve tried, LOL.

I leave you with this DO YOU and just trust that both worlds will love you <3

Happy almost New Years (or New Yasss as Tara says),

Xoxo Pri

What’s your top challenge being a first generation South Asian? Comment on my insta. Let’s Chat.

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Caste and Arranged Marriage: My Thoughts

Hello everyone,

We’ve talked about sex, so let’s dive right into another taboo, rather, controversial topic shall we? ARRANGED MARRIAGE & CASTE. Caste is something that interests me because I always thought it was something only my family was really into. No one in my family has married outside of our caste. Needless to say, it’s a big issue between my mother and I. She prefers I marry into the same caste and I could care less. I mean it’s hard enough to find someone decent, let alone desi, let alone same caste. AM I RIGHT? (I know I am, tehe).

 

Caste 101, shall we (sorry for those of you who already know). In fact, I am no expert on this subject so if any of you have any insight do tell..I MUST know. But here’s what I got for ya.

 

 

Going in order of hierarchy:

  1. Brahmin: Priests, Teachers & Spiritual/Religious guides (the caste my family is).
  2. Kshatriyas: Warriors (comparable to present day military/army).
  3. Vaisyas: Farmers, Merchants & Artisans (WHAT UP #Patels). Seriously the largest caste ever taking over the world.
  4. Sudras: Commoners, Servants & Laborers (includes every modern day profession)
  5. Harijans: Also known as “Untouchables” (current day-the servants and housekeepers that work in homes in India).

Historically, caste was determined by your profession which determined your place and contribution in society. Naturally, as generations progressed, similar professions ran in families and caste became something you were born into. Brahmins, the priests were the highest caste because they served as teachers and guides to all the other classes/castes of society. It was never meant to be that one caste was “better” than the other. Unfortunately today, the caste system can divide people and often causes disparities when it comes to access and opportunity.

So what does this have to do with arranged marriage? Well, a ton. Caste is one of the biggest filters used when looking for a spouse. Remember someone telling me they couldn’t seriously date me because I wasn’t a Patel on Deepa Berar’s podcast? YA….

My thing is-does it honestly matter? Sure if it matters to you, go for it. But don’t blindly dismiss people because of caste. Do your research, talk to your parents and find out YOUR reasons for wanting to marry into your own caste. I’ve done my research and have decided to give more importance to a person’s character, habits and life vision. Oddly enough, the reasons my mother gives me in support of marrying into my caste have to do with character, habits and life vision. Then, why BE so hell bent on caste labels? I’d rather look at a person than a label.

Just my thoughts-ya know? What do you feel?

Till the next taboo topic,

Pri

 

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Sex and South Asians: The Ultimate Taboo

Being sexy, bollywood style

 

Raise you’re hand if you’re brown and never got the “birds and bees” AKA SEX talk. –RAISES BOTH HANDS IN THE AIR BUT SHE ACTUALLY CARES-

Diving right in, shall we? I had the pleasure of meeting Mandip from The Hungry Orchid (bad-ass platform for women, BTW) yesterday and she pointed out how I am not one for small talk. –guilty-. I love songs that start right away and I love getting to the point right away even more. I’ve been thinking about sex a lot lately, actually. (not like that, you weirdos. Or maybe, lol).

If you heard me on Deepa Berar’s podcast, then you know I’m not currently dating and am in isolation mode. Rather, I am in reflection mode. Reflecting on the concept and importance of sex, reflecting on being South Asian and what that means for my personal life. You see 2017 was the year I pushed myself to the limit in terms of what society’s expectations were for my personal life. And two months ago, I finally told everyone to fuck off and decided I was going to do me. However, that is a story for another day.

S-E-X. I can just see my mom and all the aunties face palming. Stating that sex is taboo in the South Asian community is a massive, massive understatement.

Bollywood movies tip-toe around it, Hollywood movies make it seem normal AF to go around having it and the new on-line dating culture damn near makes people feel entitled to it. “Like NO F BOY I DON’T WANT TO BANG YOU I JUST FUCKING MET YOU. SEX IS PERSONAL (I think)?” Especially for women. I mean just the mere thought of the social consequences of an unintended pregnancy or someone in the South Asian community finding out you’ve had sex when you’re not married have scared me enough to just plain not have sex, not think about it, not be curious about it from ages like 8-25 (oh how times have changed). So much so that I never got the birds and the bees talk and I don’t know too many of my South Asian friends that have.

I mean I am not complaining…I had enough friends and the internet to teach me everything I needed to know. BUT…it would be nice to not have this dooming fear surrounded around such a natural thing with my parents.

See the thing is because sex is such a taboo topic, I never got to openly talk to my mom and learn about the emotional side sex plays in relationships, dating, etc. And it may not be our parents’ fault, they probably didn’t get the talk either. At 27 years old, I am JUST learning about men, sex and relationships. And the only reason I am is because I serial dated for a while and asked the dudes I went on dates with and my guy friends very, very honest questions. (I may have only gone on those dates to fulfill this little social experiment of mine…SHHHHH).

To be fair, my parents come from a generation of folks who didn’t date so maybe they wouldn’t have been able to provide me with the information I needed to navigate in this online-dating, matrimonial site, F Boy culture I am living in.

I think making the topic of sex less taboo would really help the next generation. It would give them perspective on questions I never got the answer to until I was in my late 20’s like:

1. How to deal with and or not give into societal pressure to have sex?
2. What do you do if a guy you thought loved you left you after sex?
3. How can you distinguish a FUCK BOY from a REAL DUDE (it took me wayyyy to long to learn this).
4. WTF to do after you’ve had sex?

I know I am setting myself up for a hard time here, because my future kids will expect a pristine “birds and bees” talk from me. On that note, let me go prepare myself…

What’s a taboo topic that tickles your fancy? LMK…I’d be happy to write about 🙂

Xoxo,

Pri

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My Yoga Journey and Road to YTT

Yoga Love

It’s been over a year since I received my 200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) certificate and I still have a hard time penning this post. This post is one I’ve started and erased on paper, well computer, and in my head, over and over again. Honestly, it’s because at times I still question whether I should have done it or not. To be clear, I’ve never doubted my decision to get certified, but I do doubt my decision to be an actual yoga teacher in America. Because…any yoga teacher will tell you that there is yoga and then there is the business of yoga. But before I can get into that, let me start with my yoga journey.

Yoga has been around me  and a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Coming from a traditional Indian family, I’ve seen family members of mine practice it for years. My mother has a daily routine of doing 13 rounds of sun salutations and an hour to two hours of meditation. I’ve woken up to my aunt’s breathing exercises in the morning, also known as pranayama during my visits to India and I’ve been in awe of my cousin’s core strength as I watch him stand on his head (without the support of the wall). Apart from joining my mother for a round of sun salutations every now and then yoga didn’t find me until I turned 24 and was diagnosed with clinical depression. I became so weak and needed a gentle exercise form to get back into my body. I found a serene studio that offered gentle yoga classes and really found a save haven.

I didn’t take my first power vinyasa class until I moved to Atlanta a year later. I had been fighting with exercise on and off and realized that even in hot yoga classes, I didn’t hate it. Soon enough, I was basically living at the studio and started working in exchange for classes. I signed up for YTT not to teach, but genuinely due to my love for yoga and to deepen my practice. It was the most authentic decision I have ever made: to invest my time and money to learn something solely because I enjoyed it. Out of everything I gained from YTT, this is my most valuable experience. It’s an experience that has allowed me to start this blog and genuinely live my truth, and for that I am forever grateful. I didn’t learn how to do a  full split or hand stand, but I did find my comfort in Downward Dog, which anyone who practices knows is a miracle enough. I started teaching post training because I genuinely enjoy teaching and being in front of others.

If you’re doing yoga teacher training for any other reason than your love for yoga, don’t do it.

When I first started teaching I subbed at a local yoga studio, picked up community classes at my home studio and did fun yoga in the park events with my friends. Fast forward a year later, I teach once a week at work…barely. Between a back injury that has slowed down my practice and my genuine disdain for the business of yoga, I honestly have no motivation to teach. You see I love yoga, but I SEVERLY dislike the business of yoga. It seems you have to be a size 2 contortionist to get any decent sort of gig and or attention. And don’t even get me started on the Instagram yogis. I can see studio owners not paying me any mind when I walk into their studio, a “plus” size 8 (sometimes 10) to ask for an audition. I don’t even ask for a job anymore…it’s not worth it to me. Somewhere between teaching yoga in my spare time and working full time, yoga started to get less precious. And I have the business of yoga to blame for that.

I teach once a week at work and practice on my own and that’s perfect for me. The teachings I have learned in YTT enhance my life daily and for me that is enough. I don’t want the business of yoga to take away something so precious and authentic to my culture. Everything else I can deal with, everywhere else I can play the game..but not here.

Some things you just gotta keep for yourself, ya know? Will my practice be gusto again if my back ever heals? IDK. Will I teach more in the future or get my advanced YTT cert? IDK. But one thing is for sure..whatever I do will be organic and from the heart, not for profit or society’s expectations.

Once again, I love that Instagram has made yoga a viable career option for so many people; yogis deserve that. And I love that the West has literally saved yoga and brought its teachings to improve the lives of so many people, but there are always multiple sides to every story. And this is mine.

Any yoga teachers out there? What’s your story, would love to know.

xoxo,

Pri

 

Why am I blogging about South Asian culture?

 

 

For the LOVE of It.

I started a blog when I studied abroad in India in 2010 and continued to blog throughout my early 20’s whenever inspiration would strike. So my first answer to this question is: for the love of writing. A writer is who I am at my core. Consuming stories and storytelling is what I do for entertainment.

DIGITAL MEDIA. Is the way to go.

I am fascinated with the digital area you and I have been fortunate to grow up in. Growing up I was obsessed with Shah Rukh Khan, but I knew I could never talk to him. Now, I am obsessed with a variety of bloggers, vLoggers and YouTube stars. And you know what, I can talk to these people via email and SnapChat, see their homes and their day to day lives. Blogs, Podcasts, Vlogs, Snapchat, Instagram, etc have changed the game. We live in an era where any and all information is going digital. Seriously, I never have an unanswered question any more, thanks to Google.

Connecting with culture and like minded people.

I am starting this blog as a way to connect with my culture and as a way to connect with you. Indian culture is very important to me. Learning about it, implementing it into my life and preserving and passing it on in a compact and comprehensive way is important to me. I might say I have found my life purpose, but I am pretty sure it found me the day I turned five and asked my mother to explain why Hinduism has so many “gods.” Along the way, I made many trips to India, traveled, went to college, entered the workforce and connected with other South Asians, “Desis”, brown people, whatever you want to call us. I realized I wanted to create a space for us to connect and share the experience that is growing up in a country and culture different from your own. I also want to get a dialogue going about what it means to be South Asian in a non-South Asian country. We are all so different, yet so similar. I’d love to share my culture and learn about yours.

So grab a cup of chai (or coffee), connect and let’s celebrate our cultures.

XOXO,

Priyanka

You Need Not be a Coconut

 

Knowing my interest in preserving culture, a friend of mine sent me this article. I was immediately inspired to keep blogging, because well…this article sums up the very reason why I am writing this blog. So, bear with me as I tell you the premise behind this article. Keeping it short, promise.

Basically, Mindy, from The Mindy Project (shout out to brown actresses in Hollywood), goes on a date with an Indian man (something she doesn’t do often in the show, or err..ever?). When she is on a date with this guy, the most she can say about her Indian roots is that where her parents come from “has a river and tigers, she thinks.” Then, the guy says he can’t date a coconut. Brown on the outside, white on the inside. OHH YEAA…the show went there. For the record, the SHOW went there, yours truly did not. I stay away from such jokes, because umm…what does it mean to be white? Don’t answer that, lol. That is not what this blog is about.

Where do you want to learn your culture from?

Realizing she doesn’t know enough about her culture, Mindy decides to get her son’s “Mundan,” ceremony done. I will do a separate post breaking down a Mundan ceremony, but for now it’s a tradition in Hindu culture that involves getting your infant or toddler’s hair cut for the first time. She gets a priest to perform the proper ceremony. When her friends question her sudden interest and sense of urgency in performing these rituals she says, “I don’t want my son to learn about his mother’s culture from a Bombay palace menu.” “Wow, what an awesome way to sum it up,” I thought. No sarcasm, this is serious business. Indian tradition and culture is so vast, intricate and complex…I don’t think Mindy is the only brown person out there wondering how they are going to pass it on to their children. But, in order for us to pass our culture down to our children, we must learn it and live it. My (brown) friends, you need not be a coconut.

You can have the best of both worlds.

What I am saying is…it’s not extreme. It’s not black or white. You don’t need to completely assimilate into mainstream culture that you know nothing about your roots. And you don’t need to hold onto your values so tight that you don’t assimilate into your dominant geographical culture at all. Being included and fitting in is nice. So is having a sense of your individuality and the flair of a culture that is so different than the dominant. Maybe your parents assimilated into the culture and didn’t go in depth to teach you about your roots. Or maybe they were so strict that you weren’t allowed to watch certain shows, or hang out with certain friends and feel like you are now making up for it in your 20’s. Whatever the case, as millennials, we are in our 20’s. We get to decide. These are the years you create your own life and the foundation for the life you are going to pass on to your children. Act now. Get curious. Learn the meaning behind tradition, learn the Hindi, Gujarati, Arabic, etc. alphabet. Have a conversation with your parents about their childhood and what they did for fun.

Fighting to maintain your roots as you grow into your independence can be tough, especially if you aren’t living with family like me (tears), but it is so worth it. I promise.

So, my friends. You need not be a coconut.

Side Note: What is brown on the inside and brown on the outside so I can give you all a proper alternative? My nerdy self needs to be able to make such jokes. :p

Xoxo,

Priyanka