To my younger self

I’m penning this apology as testament to my foolishness and blind behaviour when I was younger.

To my younger self, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry you looked at myself in a full length mirror and willed your skin to transform from the fair olive tone it possessed, to the pale white you craved so badly. To let your eyes, transform from their “hellish” black to the light blues and greens you saw on your classmates.

I’m sorry you took words to heart and put yourself through the pain of waxing and hair removal when you were too young. Not to mention, running a razor down your arms just to see how clean and “white” you looked without the hair covering your skin.

I’m sorry you took the words of boys to heart and felt the need to alter your appearance, not for your own satisfaction, but so I could fit in.

I’m sorry you took the hate to heart, when the girls in your class called you unclean because your skin was brown. When they said they couldn’t play with you because you weren’t Australian and their mothers said no.

I’m sorry you didn’t have the courage to retaliate when uncultured men on the streets called you a “curry bitch” and asked if you were going to have an arranged marriage.

I’m sorry you had to endure the embarrassment of not talking back to the girls who taunted you because you didn’t do sciences and preferred economics and history as subjects to study.

I’m sorry you had to endure the looks and whispers in a grocery store when you were picking up food while dressed in traditional Indian garments because you had returned from a cultural event and had no time to change.

This is an apology for all the times you and your friends endured the racist slurs and xenophobia while on the streets.

This is an apology for all the times you silently sat there while bigots asked if you were an affiliate of terrorist organisations because your skin is brown and your hair is black.

This is an apology for all the times you cursed your meat intolerance because individuals would not let go of the fact that you’re a vegetarian, finding the need to insist that your religion was stupid for stopping you from eating meat, even though you told them countless times that it was physically impossible for you to ingest meat without throwing up.

This is an apology for the times when you silently accepted that you would never be first preference because of the colour of your hair, skin and eyes.

This is an apology for the times when you sat quietly and let people mispronounce your name, all the while wishing your parents had named you a whiter name.

This is an apology for the pride you held and still hold when you identify yourself as a coconut. Brown on the outside, white on the inside.

This is an apology for the times you asked your mum to make pasta, sandwiches and quinoa so you wouldn’t have to take parathas or curry with rice and explain why your food smelt so weird and looked so strange.

 

This is an apology for the times you tried to distance yourself from your culture and your heritage because you were ashamed of who you thought it would make you.

An uncultured fob.

But now?

Now I’m learning that 13 years of feeding myself negativity about my name, skin, colour, culture and heritage has made me nothing more than a shell of who I should be.

I’m learning to accept myself for who I am. I’m so sorry for clamping down on your spirit, vitality and innocence and subjecting you to the horrors of our world from such an early age.

Because now? yes I have such a long way to go, but the acknowledgement that I am a beautiful amalgamation of two explosive cultures that are so unique and different in all the right ways. This is a call for hope that you’ll accept my mistakes and join me as I explore my biculturalism and learn to see myself for who I am, who I was born to be, and who I aspire to show the world.

Because people without their culture, heritage and identity are like trees without roots.

But you? You’re the seedling of two beautiful cultures that deserve to be celebrated, accepted and loved in all lights and all colours.

xx Simran

brown skin appreciation day

There is so much I could write for this post, but I have a law exam and presentation on Wednesday 😦 This is short and sweet, and a longer post will come later!

According to twitter and other social media accounts, today, August 15th is brown skin appreciation day. And seeing the tag and what it was all about warmed my heart so much. Today is essentially a celebration for people of colour. It’s a day where we can openly share the love for our skin and by extension our heritage and culture, without having to feel like we’re preaching or get hate for wanting to celebrate our skin.

 

As many of you know, I’m a young Australian woman who boasts a North Indian heritage. And you also know that I have a little bit of a love hate relationship with my skin, and by extension my heritage. But on a journey of acceptance, each day makes it a little easier to see exactly how amazing it is to be looped into two cultures and nations that are so different and exciting.

 

For most of my eighteen years, I’ve always had a little disdain for my skin. And it isn’t just because of the racial victimisation I went through as a child/teenager. Throughout my childhood and primary education, not being deemed “white” enough by my teammates, classmates and teachers because I have olive toned skin always made me look at myself in a negative light.

 

And on the flip side, always being told off by relatives and older Indian women that I was too dark because I was always playing in the sun, made me hate my colouring a lot more. A little time in the sun, coupled with my sunscreen allergy, did no wonders for my complexion. Or so they said.

 

BUT.

 

It’s been a long journey, and I’m still on the road, but I’m coming to accept that I frankly don’t care and shouldn’t care about what people say or think about my skin. I have brown skin and that’s it. There should be no judgement or preconception to my skin tone. I’m just another person on this planet who is blessed to be born with fair olive toned skin.

 

In growing up and creating my identity and myself, I’ve come to see just how incredible brown skin is. I’ve come to see how badass my olive toned skin looks against a bold red lip or a sexy scarlet dress. How I look regal in royal blue and black never fails to compliment my complexion.

 

I’ve come to see how insanely lucky I am to have a skin complexion match my features so well. Round eyes, irises so dark and mysterious, long curly lashes and hair so curly and black, it looks blue and red in the sun. And ALL of this framed with olive toned skin.

 

And at the end of the day, my skin tone is a part of me to love, celebrate and accept. It isn’t a tool of judgement or preconception for greater society to bring me down with. Because society should see me as a strong, independent young woman who is using her voice, her words and her actions to do right and do what she believes in. And by extension, they should appreciate diversity and change and celebrate that our world is being transformed by individuals who fill up every part of the skin colour spectrum.

 

My skin is for me to celebrate and love, and for you to accept and look beyond.

 

We’re all beautiful in this world. We were all blessed with unique features that make us so exquisite. And no culture or community has the right to say that one skin tone boasts a superiority over the other. I shouldn’t be looked at or judged because of the colour of my skin. And if I am, hear me loud and clear when I say that brown skinned men and women are some of the most dedicated, hard working and inspirational people I’ve ever seen. I have a colossal amount of pride for my cultural community and my self-love is growing by the day.

 

No one can take away our pride. No one can take away the validity of my skin tone and my colour.

 

I’m a brown skinned young woman and it’s just another part of what I love about myself.

IMG_5377

I know I’ve used this photo in a few posts, but all my other selfies are so tragic. Such is the life of a student who works and studies at the same time. 

xx Simran

 

What does creativity mean to me?

Perceptions about life change drastically when you’re on holiday. And my most recent trip to South Africa has been no different. It’s been life changing. And it’s been life changing for all the right reasons. South Africa has retaught me what it means to be creative.

 

So what is creativity?

 

When we’re young, we’re taught definitions, frameworks and ideas about what creativity is. Creativity, to quote a dictionary definition, is the use of imagination or original ideas to create or recreate ideas, objects, people, thoughts, feelings and settings. When we’re young, creativity is at its purest and most innocent. Our skies are red and orange. Our hills are made from ice cream. We live in tree top castles and have dragons for pets.

 

But as one grows older and matures, it’s almost like our creativity is drained from us. Much like how one would drain a bathtub of water. Speaking from personal experience, I was told during my first lesson of English in high school, back in 2010, that as I progressed through my higher education, I would slowly lose my creativity. And as testament to my teacher and mentor who told me that, it has happened. My imagination is so lackluster now. My imagination has become rusty with age and disuse. My reliance on analysis and attempting to find the deeper meaning of words, phrases, images and texts has left me with this slightly suspicious, cynical view of the world. I can no longer watch movies and television shows without subconsciously analysing what’s in front of me on the screen.

 

But to contrast this, I do still possess the ability to think outside the box. While I now combine analytics and logic, I like to believe I still have that childlike creativity and imagination – imagination that’s pure and untainted and so wonderfully different.

 

But it is sad to see where my creativity has ended up. I’ve become almost desensitized to the beauty and vivacity of the world. The innocence and purity of our imaginations have been lost, and we can no longer picture the yet to be discovered, the imaginary and the intangible.

 

In a world that’s moving so rapidly and progressing so quickly, the norm is to leave the creativity and beauty we all once possessed, in favour of statistics, facts, data and analysis. We’re all so hung up on being current and being relevant that we’ve all forgotten our imaginations. We’ve forgotten the feeling of discovery. We’ve cast aside the creativity we all possess and we can no longer jump through worlds, leaving reality for even an hour, where we immerse ourselves in our creativity. Through whatever means that may be.

 

So how has South Africa enabled me to rediscover my creativity and imagination?

 

South Africa is like no other country I’ve ever been to. The landscape resembles Australia, with vast open spaces, beautiful landscapes and a vast sense of community. But what really strikes me is that while the country modernizes and dramatically changes so much, people have still stuck to their creative roots.

 

I think what sticks out in South Africa, is that creativity is innate. It isn’t taught or articulated. It isn’t forced or pressured into seeping out.

 

South Africa displays creativity as an art form in itself. It’s free, vocal, explosive, loud, but so subtle and engrained in culture at the same time. South Africa has taken freedom of expression and simultaneously worked to eradicate the systemic cultural oppression that riddled society from the 1940’s onwards, and provide voice as a means of healing and expression to allow voices to be heard in society. Through creativity – media, art, sculpture, painting, textiles, jewellery, clothing to name a few media,

 

Throughout the two weeks I spent in South Africa, I was greeted to the sight of creativity that steps away from the typical means of coming up with ideas and things that are new and innovative for the purpose of boosting an economy or making money. While on drives and hikes and walks, there would always be a shanty styled structure well stocked with local art, ranging from sculpture to jewellery and paintings.

 

Each piece that I admired and each piece that I bought tells its own story. The artist intricately weaves tales of deception, pain, suffering, joy, mirth, wonderment and love into the different pieces they create. Sculptures depict a child’s coming of age through a complex amalgamation of stone woven together to depict the loss of innocence and the gaining of maturity, crafted perfectly with hand. Tapestries spill stories of transcending hardship, suffering through the Apartheid, losing children to HIV/AIDS and losing loved ones to violence to find fruition and purpose through creativity.

 

The most majestic part of these stories is that none of these stories are told through a piece of paper. Every story created in an artwork is left to the interpretation of the admirer. By allowing the admirer to use their brain and try and understand what the amalgamation of thread and bead, or stone, or hemp and wood means, South African artists have proven to remain true to the definition of creativity and the joy of being able to lend voice to a talent that’s meant to be celebrated and appreciated by all.

 

Creativity has become a tool for these African artists to tell their stories. To educate the public about their hardships. And to share the joy of their successes. For these artists, it isn’t about the need to make a profit or to become successful and economically stable. For them, creativity transcends the traditional definition and allows the voices of hundreds of thousands of individuals oppressed by the traumas of social and racial prejudice to be heard.

 

But how has learning about creativity in South Africa influenced my understanding of it?

 

When I look at myself, I see a young woman studying and working, who is so entangled in a web of numbers, marks, facts, data and analytics. And while there’s beauty in perfectionism, I’ve noticed one serious deficiency in my life. And that’s creativity.

 

By being able to watch these artists combine the tenacity to let their voices be heard, and the dedication to their craft and their talents, I’ve come to realise that all of us need to step away from hard fact and data and reopen the childhood talents we’ve left behind. To see adults so in tune with their creativity has encouraged me to set aside time where I let go of my priorities and workload and just let myself be. Let my creativity be seen and heard.

 

Creativity doesn’t get lost with time and age. Creativity gets locked and pushed to the back of your mind. But much like riding a bike, you don’t ever forget how to be creative. You don’t forget the ability to play an instrument, hold a paint brush or write a story. Yes, the finesse in your technique might lack, but by continually revisiting your creative outlet, helps you gain the confidence to let go and just be your own creative self.

 

To be able to harness creativity and use it is one of life’s greatest skills. To tell stories and weave emotion and delicacy into a creative outlet is something we all possess. We just need to revisit our creative abilities.

 

We just need to find a way to let our creativity be seen and heard once again.

xx Simran

SOUTH AFRICA TRAVEL DIARIES (PART THREE)

Uni is making me so frazzled right now, and work is starting and basically I’m overwhelmed in the second week of semester. Perks of doing a double degree and overcompensating on extracurricular activities and work. My regrets with my choices are high right now. 

PART THREE IS HERE! These photos are the culmination of the trip. These photos are from Cape Town, Sun City, Mosselbaai and a little bit of Johannesburg I think. Enjoy! 

Wrap post and a lot more coming ASAP! 

xx Simran