defined

POST EIGHT

Have you wondered what it’s like to coexist in two places at once? To be physically, mentally and emotionally present in not one, but two realistic and very real environments? For many, it’s a daily occurrence.

I’m not referring to some out of body, science fiction-esque experience. I’m referring to being bicultural. For me, that’s existing in the Australian reality and the Indian reality simultaneously. And let me preface this post by saying it isn’t all fun and games. It isn’t always exciting and breathtaking. Behind the joy of this experience lies a plethora of hurt, dysphoria and questions.

It has taken such a long time for me to come to terms with my biculturalism. To love my Australian self as much as I love my Indian self. And I think that’s because I’ve finally come to terms that I’m an Australian that’s a person of colour. I have black hair, olive skin and eyes that are so dark, but change from amber to mahogany to hazelnut depending on the sun. Obviously, the physical disparity I share with the typical Australian wasn’t a new development for me. I knew I was different from the very beginning. What I’ve developed and come to accept is that, no matter how “Australian” my upbringing has been, there’s always going to be a part of me that’s inherently Indian. Inherently different in values, attitudes and labels. And that’s what makes me special. That’s what makes my story so much better.

Being bicultural means facing crossroads at almost every decision you have to make. Do I wear shorts so it’s more comfortable to run around or do I protect my modesty? Do I eat a paratha for lunch or a Nutella sandwich? Do I give up my loud voice because I’m not being demure enough, or do I continue my love for debating against the wishes of society? Do I join in a discussion with the men or do I stay silent? Do I go to the co-ed school dances or stay home and finish my work? Do I run around in the sun and be a kid or stay in the shade because I’ll get dark? Do I go out with the guy who asked me out, or refuse politely out of fear of someone seeing us together?

For nineteen years, questions just like that have popped into my mind, time and time again. And it’s boiled down to whether I want to make my own identity, or frame myself to a series of values, ideals and images constructed by a collective mindset.

One thing I have grown to deeply resent is when people assume and make judgements about whether I’m being Indian or Australian. When I present an opinion that would go against the demure, quiet and submissive portrayal of Indian girls, I’m typecast as being more Australian. In reality, I’m not thinking as “an Australian” or as “an Indian”. I’m thinking as Simran Goyal, a nineteen year old with a viewpoint and a pretty damn loud voice.

If anyone remembers the scene in A Walk To Remember, where Shane West takes Mandy Moore to the spot where she’s in two places at once, that’s often where I’ve found myself. Unable to decide which side of the line I should be on, when in reality, I can have my feet planted firmly on either side.

My actions don’t have to be defined by either of the two cultures that make me who I am. I’m not Australian because I love playing sport, am openly opinionated and do my own thing. Nor am I Indian because I choose to cook and help out in the kitchen, and sometimes submit to the wishes of elders even if I don’t think they’re right. What I’m doing there is choosing what I inherently believe is right, and which will make me a stronger, independent, more confident and assertive young woman.

I will always say yes to parties and the mention of having a good time, but I’ll never submit to sex before marriage. Not because I’m demure, but because it’s personal choice. I will always advocate for strong and assertive female voices, but I’ll also be a good daughter for my parents. I’ll flirt and have fun, but I know how to hold my own and only make decisions that I’m wholly comfortable with. I’m brown, loud and proud. I do things that I know I’ll benefit from, not because I know they’ll please someone.

I want to make something clear. My decisions aren’t based off me choosing one side of my identity over the other. I don’t make decisions as an Australian or as an Indian. I make decisions as a strong, independent young woman who is doing the right thing for herself. There has been so much dysphoria and inner turmoil that has come with accepting this fact about myself. But today, I’m so proud to call myself bicultural. To know that I’m wholeheartedly and unashamedly a part of two beautiful cultures. Two beautiful environments that have given me the opportunity to define myself without labels.

I am as Australian as I am Indian. There might be times where I’ll feel more of one part of my cultural makeup than the other, but that doesn’t mean one culture is wrong or inferior to the other.

xx Simran

Life must be a funny thing if a nineteen year old has stopped wishing for happiness. 

Food for thought? Maybe. 

Xx Simran 

BRANDED

POST SEVEN

As much as we hate to admit it, we live in a world of stereotype. There’s no need for me to even open my mouth, for someone to throw me into a pool of stereotypes. Stereotypes have played a crucial part in both taking me away from my biculturalism, and me owning my differences and “otherness”.

 

I’ve been branded as a brown skinned girl who couldn’t possibly have been born in Australia. I’ve been branded as a girl whose parents had to work odd ended jobs to make ends meet, and of course, my dad was the proud owner of a 7-11. I’ve been branded as a twisted joke because I’m a vegetarian who was forced into this lifestyle by her religion. I’ve been branded as an unclean freak because my skin is “shit coloured” and I eat with my hands.

 

All these assumptions, these stereotypes, are untrue.

 

I am the Australian born daughter of Indian immigrants. But that shouldn’t brand me as anything.

 

Growing up, there was always this seemingly childish innocence that accompanied questions like: Why do you eat with your hands? That’s gross. Adults would brush it off as curiousity, of course. But to be in a position where you’re challenged about the things you’ve grown up with, isn’t a walk in the park.

 

There were always giggles and snickers accompanying questions about why we wear colourful stickers on our foreheads. Why our clothing is so embellished and embroidered. Why our food stank so much. Why we were all curry-munching, sheltered kids who had sergeants for parents.

 

I detested these stereotypes. I still do.

 

I remember asking my mum to stop giving me indian food. To not put coconut oil in my hair. She never stopped me from anything. My parents are liberal. They always have been. They trust me and know I won’t make stupid decisions.

 

It hurt so much growing up, knowing that I couldn’t truly express and value myself. I was crowned Display A when we looked at India during our social sciences classes. It was with some sort of perverse satisfaction that people would ask questions that they knew would be disrespectful to any other culture.

 

Part of growing up with two cultures has been growing a thick skin to the bullshit, as horrible as that sounds. I have trained myself to be immune to the snide remarks about my brownness. In fact, today, I own my brownness as a traditional Indian-Australian would.

 

I want to remind the world that bindis aren’t a fashion statement endorsed by the likes of Kendall Jenner and Vanessa Hudgens. You are not allowed to shit on my culture and then flip when an overhyped socialite wears them to a music festival, claiming how ethnic and boho you are.

 

The deities you giggled at and imitated out of sheer disrespect aren’t signs of your awareness when they are emblazoned on shirts from every known international clothing company.

 

You mocked my use of coconut oil in 2006, yet here we are in 2017, when you come up to me and rave about how good it is. Calling me a stinky curry muncher for my use of coconut oil will never go away, just because you make the discovery 11 years too late about the benefits of oil for the skin.

 

It’s been a tough journey, but I own my brownness.

 

I’ve come to realise that my culture and heritage will always be used incorrectly. That’s an unsettling thought. But I need to accept, move forward, and remind everyone that culture needs to be respected and valued. Not made into a celebrity endorsed commodity.

 

To end this post, I want to disregard all of the stereotypes I was typecast as.

 

I was born here in Sydney. I’ve lived here all my life. I have the most wonderful parents, who did sacrifice a lot, but who have established themselves as prime members of our society. They worked hard and worked their way to where they are today, instilling in me the same values, motivation and drive. I am a vegetarian out of choice. I’m intolerant to meat and eggs so I don’t consume either. It isn’t a forced decision because of religion. Religion has nothing to do with any of my decisions. I love my tanned skin. I love how olive and warm my skin it. How it’s so healthy and luckily immune to lines and the onset of wrinkles at an early age. I love my food. I love the simplicity and the complexity of Indian food. How comforting it is. And you know what makes it even more comforting and delicious? The fact that I can break a piece of roti with my fingers, wrap it around a piece of tamarind pumpkin and really use all of my senses when I consume my food. It makes the experience so much better.

xx Simran

 

 

 

the comfort edition:

Truth be told, this was made up on the spot. It tasted pretty damn good, but then again, because it wasn’t made with the creation of a recipe in mind, measurements won’t be exact.

 

 
It’s nearly Winter here in Sydney. It gets dark at 5. The sun only rises at 7. And there’s nothing I want more than comfort. On nights like this, most gravitate to the the online food ordering services that are in abundance. I gravitated towards two fridges, the pantry and spice cabinet.

 
Tonight, I drew on inspiration from one of my all time favourite dishes – the Moroccan Tagine, and created my own variation of it. I wouldn’t call my creation a vegetarian take on tagine, simply because I chose not to let my broth absorb completely. I wanted a distinction between liquid and vegetable, while still maintaining that rich, earthy flavour.

 
I served my dish with lemon and tumeric infused rice, a generous helping of fresh mint from the garden, fresh coriander, and lemon.

 

 

This dish was made with the thought of a busy working woman who still likes to eat healthy in mind. I’ve covered the essential foodgroups I eat as a vegetarian, and the best part is, that extras can be stored for other meals or to take to work/uni the next day.

 
As with the dishes I create, I like to invent on the spot. I’ve written with as much detail as I used when I was preparing my meal. The result was a tangy “tagine” whose vegetables were tender but held the chilli, subtle aroma of bay leaves, and the oomph of onion and garlic. The broth was light but flavourful. The tomato, onion and garlic came together to create a tempest in my mouth. They juxtaposed the sweet fleshiness of the raisins, that had almost disintegrated. The broth was tangy and held dimension. Paired with the vegetables and fresh herbs, it was a delight in my mouth.

 
Alongside the rice, the meal was light on the palette but still comforting and fulfilling.
This is an ideal sunday night meal, as extras will go a long way for Mondays at work. One pot meals have always been one of my favourites to make. I know that my meals for the next day are sorted. I can eat this dish with rice, cous cous, roti or bread. I’m gaining all my foodgroups and I’m eating the rainbow.

 
This dish can also be served with fresh Greek yoghurt, toasted walnuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. For a vegan alternative, soak the raisins in coconut milk. Coconut always works with root vegetables and will provide an additional layer of flavour in your broth.

 
The vegetables are also interchangeable. I made this dish with whatever was in the fridges. That I think is the best part. I didn’t need to do anything extra, and for a busy lifestyle, this option is perfect.

 

 

 



The “tagine” – for recipe’s sake

The base:

  • Two large truss tomatoes, finely diced
  • Two large red onions, finely diced
  • two cloves of garlic75 grams Iranian raisins, soaked in half a cup of buttermilk, 1 teaspoon of red chilli flakes and grated ginger. This should soak for approximately half an hour before you begin cooking.
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoons of red chilli flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or a stock cube

The substance:

  • Half a large cauliflower, chopped into bite sized florets
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes (about half an inch)
  • 2 large carrots, cut into bite sized cubes (about half an inch)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (I like to rinse and soak mine for half an hour in warm water, just to remove any excess brine and salt)
  • a decent handful of snow peas, cut into thin pieces (I honestly did not measure how many snow peas I used. If you don’t have snow peas, use any other bean)

The rice:

  • 1 cup of basmati rice, rinsed and pre-soaked
  • the skin of half a lemon
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • half a teaspoon of tumeric

Making the “tagine”

  1. Soak your raisins in buttermilk, the chilli flakes and ginger and set aside
  2. Cut your vegetables and steam the cauliflower, carrots and sweet potato. This helps not only cook the vegetables thoroughly, but makes them more tender and open to absorbing the flavours of the broth.
  3. In a deepset steel pot, heat half a teaspoon of olive oil, and once the oil is hot, add your spices, except the bay leaves. Stir in the garlic, diced tomato and onion, and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, continuously stirring.
  4. Add in your yoghurt soaked raisins and bay leaves. Cover and leave for 10 minutes on a low heat.
  5. Add in your steamed vegetables, beans and chickpeas.
  6. Add 750ml of water and your stock. Cover and let cook for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Once the cauliflower has almost disintegrated and the carrots and potatoes are tender but juicy, the “tagine is ready”.
  8. Top with freshly chopped coriander and mint, generously squeeze lemon on top, and serve.

The rice:

  1. In a large pot or rice cooker, add your rice, the amount of water you require depending on the vessel you’re using to boil your rice, lemon juice, lemon skins and tumeric.
  2. Once the rice is cooked, remove the skins and run under cold water for 10 seconds to ensure the rice is fluffy, light and the grains are separate.


xx Simran 

Once upon a story of teenage love 

The heart is a funny thing. It opens us up to new emotions. To foreign experiences, and to situations we never think we’d have to deal with. My heart has taught me a lot. It’s taught me about my values. My attitudes. My character. Being guided by the heart has served to teach some of the greatest personal lessons.

I was 15 when I fell in love for the first time. I sound like such a grandma, but nearly 4 years from that commemorative and daunting self confession, I’ve come a long way, and a lot has changed.

I fell in love with a boy. We’d been friends for a while. And he was the first guy I became close to, who wasn’t family or someone who was akin to an older brother I never had. It was every bit as special and as unique as I thought it would be. Some describe falling for someone like fireworks being set off. For me, it was like the warmth of a blanket had settled over me, and the pleasant comfort of a steaming cup of coffee was slowly mellowing me from within. It was slow and soft and comforting.

At 15, I was painfully naive. And also wore rose tinted glasses. It was with almost childlike innocence that I realised I liked him more than as a friend. But of course, out of fear of screwing up the precious friendship we had fostered, I kept my longing quiet and played the role of the dutiful friend.

We became closer. Talked more and more. He was one of the few guys who knew me for who I truly was: a little shy and self conscious, wildly passionate, fiercely loyal and driven as hell. He saw various sides to me as well. From the confident outspoken young woman, to the young teenager who sometimes needed a little protection from the world around her.

He made me happy. Seeing messages from him when I’d wake up first thing in the morning never ceased to cause a zoo’s stampede in my stomach – as cliché as it is. It’s like he knew what to say to keep me wanting more. We’d talk. We’d flirt. We’d laugh. We’d have serious conversations as well. It was mystical and magical and at 16, I was falling fast and didn’t know how to stop my feelings.

At 17, I experienced my first heartbreak. It had taken me two years to quell my anxiety about screwing up one of the best things in my life. I decided that as a confident, independent young 17 year old, I didn’t need to wait for a man to ask me out. I could do it myself. Months of flirting, cute messages and enough phone confiscations during my classes at school had proven that my feelings weren’t one sided.

But as all dramatic moments do, I received my heart, shattered into fragments, on the day of one of the most important exams in my short 17 years. I cried at a public train station and passed it off as allergies when my concerned friends found me pathetically sniffling and wiping away traces of tears. And slowly it turned to anger. I screwed up my exam and returned home in a fit of rage. Because how dare he.

Consolation from my best friends quelled the storm of emotions, and I vowed to draw back from him. In my hurt and anger and confusion, I did spiral into an endless chain of: why am I not good enough, why did he flirt and play coy if he didn’t want me, and I’m nobody’s bitch.

At 17 years and 4 months, with a heart that was confused, I tried to navigate through what I was feeling and find solace in knowing he didn’t want me, and that was ok because I’m nobody’s second serving.

The flirting continued, the messages to cover for him from his parents kept coming, and foolishly, I decided to listen to my heart and try keep the friendship alive by being there for him.

And looking back on that, I was such an idiot for doing so.

At 17 and a half, I lost contact with the guy I first fell in love with.

At 18, I tried to rekindle the friendship.

At 18 and 7 months, I completely cleared him from my life. Social media, phone, text. Photos, songs, screenshots, memories.

All thrown away. All buried in the realisation that there was no point in holding onto something toxic.

Now, 4 days out from turning 19, I’ve found peace with myself. I’ve come full circle to realise how much emotional stress I put myself through for someone who didn’t even deserve a single hi from me.

Is it sad to see the way in which a first love dissolved? Of course. Do i regret anything? To an extent I do. But I learnt so much about myself in that chaotic teenage journey. The tears and frustration and long conversations with my best friends taught me so much. I look back on that period in my life in contemplation now. It’s a source of amusement with my friends who knew. We look back on how fickle it all was. How innocent. But how educational it was as well. This journey serves as the perfect entertainment for those days when reflection on how you’ve changed is so important.

First loves always stay with you. But for me, he’s in the metaphorical attic gathering dust. A faint recollection of how much I’ve grown as an individual. How much I’ve come to play into the belief that I am a strong independent and confident young woman, who really doesn’t need a man. 4 days out from 19, and I’ve got my life working out for me. I’m at a place where I don’t need anyone else. I’m busy and committed to vying for success and happiness from every possible angle. I do want a relationship and a future with someone, but I’m no one’s second choice. I’m no one’s backup plan. And I sure as hell am no one’s bitch. 

xx Simran

 

eighteen

21 days out from turning 19, but I have a lot to write about. So let’s jump in.

18. 18 has been one of the most fulfilling years of my life. From starting university, working my first legitimate job, becoming a volunteer and mentor, ticking off milestones in my personal growth plan and feeling like I’ve established myself on this planet; to just being true to myself, I really do believe I’ve come a long way.

 

There’s only one positive affirmation you need to ensure you truly believe in:

I’m where I want to be. I’m working. I’m studying. I’m a proud volunteer and mentor. I’m on a continuous journey, seeking new ways to learn and expand my knowledge. Day by day, I’m conquering, whether it’s with one step or fifty.

This affirmation means so much to me on those days where I feel useless.

 

Surround yourself with the authenticity you practice in your own daily routine:

On a personal level, I decided to come clean to myself, analyse, evaluate and move on. 18 was rough in that my anxiety sky rocketed and it’s become a more prevalent part of my life. However, it also allowed me to understand exactly how I need to combat it. From talking to someone, crying, removing myself from negative situations and sweating it out; learning to grasp my anxiety has made me a better person. Not only that, viewing my anxiety as a building block needing to be conquered, rather than as a block hindering my future successes has made me a more realistic person.

Over the course of 18, I took the plunge and cleansed myself of the toxicity in my life. Past relationships. The bullies. The hurt. The friendships that just stopped. All those tethers led to nothing but a sore neck because they were truly choking me. They brought back emotions and memories that I didn’t want plaguing my life. I don’t need that sort of negativity in my life.

I think what really pushed me to take these steps is a change in mindset.

I value and have always valued having a close circle of friends who I know will always be there for me. I didn’t need a thousand friends on facebook. Because that’s just a statistic. Now, I can affirm that every single person on my friends list is someone I have communicated with more than once.

I have the most supportive circle of friends I could ask for. A group of girls and guys from all walks of life and different areas of the world who will be there for me like I’ll be there for them. And that’s all I want. And need. I have the people in my life who add value to it. Who make life worth living. Who I would go to the ends of the universe for. That’s all I need.

 

To not show is sometimes the best option to conquering obstacles:

I think I became a lot more mature over the course of 18. I’ve always been mature. Situations in life have sped my maturing process up a bit. I’ve always been told I’m mature beyond my years. But I think over 18, I developed the emotional maturity that I saw myself lacking when I was younger. There have been situations in life that are out of my control. And when I was younger, I would lash out because of them. But now, I take these situations and turn them into opportunities to find new avenues for growth and development.

It sounds so cryptic, and maybe one day in the future, I will write a post explaining everything. But I know I’m not ready right now. There’s a huge part of what makes me that is open to so much pity, judgement and questioning, and I don’t know whether I’m ready to show that side of me or not.

 

Embody the attitude you want others to think with when they think of you:

Bitching can be good for the soul. But by dwelling on negative emotions, what good am I doing to myself? How am I improving myself if I too am hurting those who hurt me?

Over 18, I made a conscious decision to rid myself of things that make me talk or think badly of someone or something. After reflecting on my highschool experience, I realised just how much individuals ruin themselves by bitching about others. By talking badly about someone. By judging and causing grief. I’m no saint, but I did take conscious steps to make sure I wasn’t settling to that level of crassness. People have hurt me. People have wronged me. People have used me. But that doesn’t mean I settle to their level and hurt them back. Instead, I chose to clear the air by simply moving on and not looking back. It’s an ongoing process, but it’s made me a much happier person.

 

Find experiences that challenge your comfort zones and show you new perspectives

18 was full of experiences. From going to South Africa and having my mind blown, to returning to Melbourne for a weekend getaway; two concerts and numerous cultural programs; Bollywood dance raves on a boat, the color run, and of course, the timeless and precious moments spent with friends doing everything and anything. In each adventure and experience I undertook, whether it was travelling or simply finding a new route home; I knew I would take something profound from it. I set myself up with the task of branching out and swimming into the deep end.

 

Self expression is the one thing no one can ever take away from you:

This goes hand in hand with confidence. I think 18 taught me a lot about my personality and how I view myself. I learnt the difference between being self demeaning and self critical and made conscious decisions to change that. By settling into my skin, whether it be through the clothes, jewellery and makeup I wore; or by reconnecting with my heritage, I learnt just how valuable self expression is.

 

Even the smallest of kind words goes the longest way:

Isn’t it nice when someone compliments you on the train or bus? Why not reciprocate. If you like someone’s shoes or ensemble, tell them. Thank your bus drivers, your uber drivers, your waiters and your baristas. You’ll feel great. They’ll feel great.

I’m proud of where I stand. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. Academically. Professionally. Socially. And that’s all I need.

xx Simran

The salad agenda

So common at the dinner table. Usually executed poorly.

As a vegetarian, salads have become a huge component of my meal plan. Especially because I’m working and studying at the same time. I want to be able to taste the rainbow but feel full, satisfied and energised after my meal. A common misconception is that a salad is a three ingredient, lettuce, tomato and cucumber + ranch dressing combination.

It’s no wonder it’s hated so much as a meal. There’s no protein, carb and zestiness to that above combination. If I were given a plate of that, I’d throw it out of the window as well.

As an aspiring chef and a very picky eater, there’s three things I’ve concluded when it comes to ensuring I enjoy my meal. The first is obviously taste. The second is the vivacity of the meal. And the third is depth. There should be layers to my meal. Textures. Different sounds. Different areas of my tastebuds being used.

Another common misconception is that a salad needs greens to be healthy. Not true depending on what you’re adding. Sometimes I don’t want to eat spinach and kale. Sometimes I want a salad a little more on the adventurous side, while still remaining lean and clean.

After inspecting our pantry, fridge and freezer for ingredients, I decided to throw together my interpretation of a Mediterranean salad “bowl”. My favourite thing about this, is barring the fruit I added, all the ingredients are found in a fridge/freezer. They’re affordable and filling – perfect for a night where you want a lighter option but still want to cook. As it’s starting to cool down here in Sydney, there’s nothing better than a warming salad to keep you fuelled, full and satisfied.

In total, this dish took me 30 minutes to make – prep and cutting time inclusive. The ingredients are all interchangeable and this salad can be modified to your own taste and preference. It’s a vegan, low sodium salad that can work with essentially any vegetable and meat of your choosing.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of boiled chickpeas
  • 1 zucchini
  • Half of a yellow capsicum
  • 1 truss tomato (you can use whatever tomatoes you like)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn kernals
  • 1 fresh fig
  • 1/3 a small pomegranate
  • juice and flesh of a quarter of an orange
  • lemon
  • black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • salt and dried red chilli as per preference
  • A generous handful of mint and fresh coriander, soaked and finely chopped.
  1. Dice your ingredients to your preference bite size and leave separated
  2. In a medium sized pan, heat a small amount of olive oil, and once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, tumeric and cumin seeds
  3. Sautee your onion with the spices on a medium heat until the onion starts to become translucent
  4. add in your tomatoes, peas and corn, and continue to combine for 2-3 minutes
  5. Add in your zucchini, capsicum, salt and chilli flakes and cover for 10 minutes.
  6. Once the vegetables are tender, toss in your boiled chickpeas and combine for another 2 minutes.
  7. Dice your fig and extract the pomegranate seeds.
  8. In your preferred utensil of choice, lay down the warm vegetables and chickpeas.
  9. Top with the fruit and herbs to garnish.
  10. Combine the pulp and juice of the orange, lime (depending on your acidic preference) and black pepper.
  11. Let the dressing sit for 5 minutes to allow the citrus and spice to infuse together
  12. Drizzle over your salad and enjoy!

My favourite thing about this dish is not only how easy is is to make and prepare, but how it satisfies my picky eating habits. There’s texture and oomph in every bite. The spiciness from the chilli and pepper is accentuated through the sharp kick from fresh coriander and mint. The combination of roasted vegetables and chickpeas provide a sense of homeliness and comfort. The juxtaposition of the sweet fig seeds crackling with every bite and the tangy juiciness of the pomegranate seeds provide the perfect amount of kick and moisture to the dish.

I’d say this is definitely another favourite salad. There are no pesky spinach leaves that are too big to fit into my mouth, but I’m still tasting the rainbow with every bite.

xx Simran

Will you be my Valentine?

Firstly, excuse the lateness and crappy update times. I’m attempting to get my life into order as I enter into the last week of my holidays before university starts. Fun times for all

Secondly, this post isn’t about a scorned single young woman talking about how romance sucks. This is a post by a sarcastic single young woman laughing at the idiocy of a day that once symbolised sharing love, and is now about card companies, florists and chocolate makers capitalising on the population that is stupid enough to fall for their overpriced tricks. Capitalism at its finest. Do what you will with this opinion, but please treat it like an opinion. This is in no way intended to infringe on couples and individuals who love Valentines Day. It’s just an honest opinion.

I have received my fair share of red roses on Valentines Day. And I’m not going to lie. It did make me feel special. But at the end of the day, as I clutched a wilting red rose in my hands, one thought did occur to me. Is this a symbol for someone’s love and affection for me? An overpriced flower that will die in a day?

When I look at all the couples around me announcing their love for each other through sickeningly long posts on facebook and other social media, accompanied by photos of the gifts: read teddy bear that going to gather dust, flowers that are overpriced, standard jewellery and some chocolate; I get the urge to ask them whether they truly value each other. Whether they truly understand and care for each other. Whether they truly know each other.

Our lives have become meaningless in the social media age. We’re all about presenting the best side of ourselves. The most loved side. The prettiest side. The side that screams: I’m intelligent, loved and have this wonderful life that’s never experienced a down moment. But in reality, nothing is that sugar sweet. No couple can go through life without any bumps and grazes. Because we’re all human. Fighting and arguing and hitting speed bumps is in our nature. Relationships that don’t give you the chance to argue and maybe fight and then figure it out, don’t allow you to grow and understand each other. Now I’m not saying arguments and fights are healthy, but neither is a continuous honeymoon phase. Because you’ll never understand working hard for the person you love. Accommodating for them. Adapting. Making each other better.

There can never be enough grainy photos of candlelit, roof top dinners or balloons or flowers. But is that really a representation of how much the two of you mean to each other? A distinct need to showcase how much you got spoilt on one day out of the 365 in a year?

 

The fact of the matter is that people have lost their grip on why the day was once celebrated. What used to be a day to show how much someone meant to you even more so than usual has become a day capitalised by expensive and overpriced shows of affection that innately mean very little. And to think about it, why only choose one day of the year to explain how much someone means to you? Because is every other day just another day in your lives? Why choose the most internationally capitalised day to fall in love again or proclaim your love for someone?

Maybe it’s worth considering what your significant other really loves. Really cherishes. Really wants to do. Why wait until February 14 to shower them in flowers and jewellery when you can spend time figuring out a way to spoil them in a way that you know will signify that you truly love and care and know them?

Call me hopelessly romantic, but isn’t is a breath of fresh air when your partner spoils you out of the blue? When you come home from a stressful or busy day to them doing something for you or with you, unexpectedly? Isn’t it more special when there are no frills and no closing times to the moments the two of you are sharing?

Or is that just a notion that I have for myself? If I look at all the meaningful relationships in my life, romantic or not, the greatest memories I share and cherish are when I’ve been able to just chill and relax with them and really connect without worrying about anything. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy those trips when I have been surprised with tickets to shows and concerts or performances. But because there was no expectation, it was made even more special and memorable.

And on that notion, why has Valentines Day become a day where women are spoilt rotten by their significant others? To heteronormalise the whole affair, why is it just men spoiling their ladies? What happened to equality. What happens if I want to spoil my man? Am I allowed to do so on Valentines Day? According to convention, no I’m not meant to. V Day is a day for my boyfriend or husband to spoil me and that’s how its going to run. Why has it become a male competition for who can spend and spoil the most?

To me, that’s absurb. If I wanted to spoil my man, I wouldn’t need a day to do it firstly. But secondly, I wouldn’t expect that there is a day in the calendar where he’s expected to spoil me. I don’t want dramatic shows of affection.

So you might ask why I’m so cynical over Valentines Day.

I have received roses and chocolate and bears. But I’ve never been in a relationship. I’ve been single through every valentines day that’s occurred since the day I was born. But I was never fussed about it. For me, it meant chocolate on sale the next day. Yes it is quite flattering to receive presents, but the whole letting a guy down thing really doesn’t work for me. I don’t like it.

Valentines Day has always just felt like another day to me. Because love isn’t about showing it on one day. It’s about letting it grow bigger and stronger with each passing day that you’re with the person you love. I might be looking at this whole event a little too deeply, but as someone who has always been of the mindset that if you want to spoil, you don’t need a birthday or a specified date to do so, I find spending one day in dedication to “love” a bit too much.

At the end of the day, if Valentines Day is your thing, go ahead and celebrate. But I know for a fact that one day when I do meet the man of my dreams, we both won’t need a capitalised Hallmark day to show our love for each other. After all, we wouldn’t be together if that was the premise of our relationship.

What is love if it doesn’t let you grow and learn and cherish the other person?

Now it’s time to wait until Wednesday when my chocolate is half price, and I can finally return to browsing jewellery stores for new rings without having to internally die at all the heart shaped cringe on display.

Xx Simran

 

Mission

To myself. When you’re feeling low or sad or less than. Here’s to you.

This is for you. Because you are a boss. You are that loud, brown and proud young Australian woman. You are that double major Commerce student who will do great things. You are that compassionate, dedicated and courageous young lady. You are that fierce, sassy and loyal friend, sister, niece, cousin and daughter.

I know there are days when it feels like everything is coming down. Everything is crashing down around you and it seems like it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever work through. But baby girl, remember that you were born running, walking, leaping and exploring. You were so eager to explore the world and face challenges and learn new things, that you decided your nine months were too long. You were born to always take the stairs instead of the lift. Because deep down, you know that regardless of how tired you might get, or how sore your legs and lungs may feel, the stairs will always guide you up. Where your lift might fail, those stairs will always be there.

It’s not easy to quell anxiety. But you’ve never been a quitter. And I know it sounds so easy when I’m typing this. But there is so much out there for you to conquer and make your own. I need you to promise me that even when times are bad, you’ll look at how much you’ve achieved, how much you’ve done regardless of the judgement and the questioning; and look at what a brilliant and strong young woman you are.

I want you to always be proud of who you are. I want you to be able to accept compliments about your work, your photos, your food. I want you to show your skills off with pride, and show everyone and yourself how dedicated you are to making yourself better. Because I know you’ve always been like that. You’ve always strived for higher things. To make yourself better for you. For your family. For your friends and loved ones. For your society and your home.

There’s something I learnt recently, by looking at one of the greatest inspirations in my life. Battles aren’t about eradicating fear or discomfort. Battles are about finding the emotional, mental and physical strength to persevere with life despite the speedbumps that might arise.

I want you to realise that sometimes you won’t feel your very best. But that doesn’t mean you should let yourself down and stop striving to be your best. Because strength sometimes can’t be perceived until much later in the journey you’re on.

I want you to accept yourself and love yourself unconditionally. Flaws and all. Love yourself for who you are and who you want to be. That strong young woman with a loud voice and a lot of thoughts on a lot of issues. That young woman who loves the ones close to her unconditionally, and would go to the ends of the earth for them. That young woman who has time and time again, proven those who put her down wrong. That young woman who loves to cook and feed people. That young woman who will confidently belt out Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back like her life depends on it. That young woman who’s in a love affair with shoes, clothes and celebrity biographies. That young woman who has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and will spend hours reading, talking and listening just to open her mind up some more. That young woman who loves to brunch, explore, discover and take photos. That young woman who has way too many celebrity crushes. That young woman who is competitive and fierce and wildly protective.

If there’s something I know I can say with pride, it’s that you’ve never been one to stop when someone has tried to stop you or hold you back. You’ve looked at fear and struggle and outrun them to come out on top. You’ve stared men in the eye and challenged them to think of you as anything less than successful. You’ve chased your dreams and fought for your successes. And you’ve relished that satisfaction of knowing you’ve earned everything you’ve been given.

And I think that’s one of your most admirable qualities.

Chin up baby girl.

Speedbumps are necessary in life, otherwise the same view would bore you.

xx Simran