Essays

How the Destruction of Babri Masjid Birthed the New India

December 6, 2023

One hundred thousand devout Hindus poured into the Indian holy city of Ayodhya on the brisk morning of December 6, 1992. They gathered in front of the Babri Masjid, a mosque that had stood in Ayodhya since the 16th century, ostensibly for a religious ceremony. And yet, anyone witnessing the scene could sense the volatility … Read More

Honor, Shame, and Breasts

December 12, 2022

I sat in the driver’s seat next to my mother. As I tried to figure out the best way to address a difficult topic, I recalled a similar scene from 15 years ago. My mom had swiveled around in the driver’s seat to ask me in a quiet voice, “are you… having sex?” Her tone … Read More

Monstress

October 5, 2022

“I am Hidimba!” I roared like a beast and laughed, flailing my arms. My mom and I were watching an episode of The Mahabharata on a rented VHS tape from the Indian grocery store. The character Hidimba — dark-skinned, standing 20-feet tall, with long, scraggly hair — wore a Halloweenish costume: a brown fake leather … Read More

Gifting and Globalization

June 13, 2022

I would get butterflies in my stomach every time our family visited from abroad. There would be the drive to the airport at those odd hours when the city would be inching towards sleep, the quiet excited expression tucked into extra-tight hugs and high-pitched how are yous, the coming home, a second welcoming by family … Read More

What American Progressives Can Learn From the Indian Farmers’ Victory

January 5, 2022

About a dozen people are standing atop a green John Deere tractor, hoisting signs and waving flags with pro-farmer slogans. Many of them are turbaned Sikhs while others wear different of head coverings. The tractor crawls through throngs of people, many of them dancing in celebration. Cheers ring out throughout the crowd, and, in the … Read More

Life, Love, and HPV in Milan

December 2, 2021

I was 28 when I visited a gynecologist for the first time, as a scientist in a foreign country, nonetheless. Requesting the morning off from attending to my cell cultures was the easiest part. I had even made the effort to schedule an appointment at an expat-friendly, English-speaking women’s clinic in the heart of Milan … Read More

In My Silken Armor

July 9, 2021

My first Bharatanatyam costume was made of saffron yellow silk with fuschia borders, woven with golden zari thread that glimmered under the stage lights. A costume like this was usually custom-made for the dancer, but my mother bought this outfit secondhand for a fraction of its value. It was created for another girl, but destiny … Read More

Consuming Diaspora

June 24, 2021

This essay appeared in Kajal, Volume 4: Food. You can purchase a copy here. Growing up in a nearly all white small town, I remember spending so much time looking for myself. Decades removed from the motherland itself, my India was a tapestry of objects and symbols woven together: Ganesha watching over cereal boxes in … Read More

Caste Discrimination Protections Are a Feminist Issue

April 27, 2021

This article was written by a group of South Asian feminist activists and students coming from a position of caste privilege and allyship. On April 29, the Santa Clara County Human Rights Commission is holding a public forum on caste discrimination that could lead to Santa Clara County becoming the first jurisdiction in the United … Read More

Revisiting Joy Crookes’s Covers

March 9, 2021

When I sit at my desk most days, I try to convince myself that it’s not winter – that the sunlight I see scattered across my view would make me sweat if I went outside. I know that if I snuggled up to my window, my nose to the cold pane, and looked down, I’d … Read More

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