Dear readers it’s been another whole year – a year of original articles, essays, poems, and art from and for the South Asian diaspora. We had the pleasure of publishing so many wonderful pieces this year that held a mirror up to our world. Our site got a beautiful redesign, and we’re hard at work getting you the next volume of our print magazine after delivering our second volume. Altogether, an excellent year.

We wanted to pan back to some of the highlights. Below are some of our favorite pieces for the year. These stories packed a punch, like Anaka Kaundinya’s review of the history of Fair & Lovely skin lightening cream and Soumya Jyoti’s heartfelt essay about her grandfather’s difficult past, and they struck a nerve with you – we saw hundreds of comments on these pieces and many many shares. Thank you all for talking with us, talking to your friends about us, and letting us know what these stories meant to you. We hope 2018 was as good for you as it was for us.

How Fair & Lovely Bottled Up India’s Insecurities by Anaka Kaundinya

It was the plop sound of the goopy cream, its silken texture and slight luminescence that called out to me on the days I felt ugly: a thin, white veneer of televised fable to put between my brown skin and its detractors. A tube of cream that was of great value to me because it was everywhere—on the radio, on billboards, in my aunt’s purse 611.4 miles away–everywhere, it seemed, except in our home. Until now. Read More

Bollywood’s Commodification of the Delectable Urban Indian Feminist by Mallika Khanna

The “empowered Indian woman” is the woman who can afford to buy the feminism that cultural productions like the #VogueEmpower campaign are selling; the woman who demands to see her aspirations represented and fulfilled in the cultural commodities she buys. Representations of the “real world” take a backseat to wish-fulfillment. Read More

Raveena Is Taking Advice From the Moon by Nadya Agrawal

It’s frigid cold outside. Raveena Aurora, better known online simply as Raveena, and I have hurried across four blocks in the East Village to find a single bar that’s not overflowing with people on this freezing Saturday afternoon. By the time we stumble upon one, a small European-style pub with rich cherry wood furnishings, we’re in desperate need of hot food. In front of the small working fireplace, we chase the cold away with fries and mulled wine. Then we start talking about her seeming overnight success. Read More

I Have My Grandfather’s Hands by Soumya Jyoti

I have my grandfather’s hands. They are square and hardy. They can hold a lot. Like him, I suppose. I used to hate my hands. I have always found them to be too masculine and bulky. Too much for me. I have spent years hiding them, or wanting to (how do you hide your hands?). I yearned for the kind of slender palms and delicate digits that can slip on rings and be painted with mehndi. That can be admired. Like my mother’s hands. Feminine and nurturing, so maternal. “They are like the hands of Buddha,” a manicurist once told her. Holy, you know? Read More

Sunil Gupta’s Portraits From the 70s Reflect on Queer Brown Subjectivity by Amina Khan

Looking through the early works of Indian photographer, Sunil Gupta, I’m struck by the purity of their intimacy and the easy way in which he captured the warmth of his subjects. Gupta did not yet identify as an artist when he created the works, now on view at Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto. He was still a recent immigrant to North America who saw his interest in photography as a hobby. And yet, the images offer a profound documentation of an emerging gay liberation movement in Montreal during the ‘70s. Read More

Thanushka Yakupitiyage Champions Immigrants, from Protests to Dancefloors by Tara Kenny

Thanushka Yakupitiyage (Thanu by day, Ushka by night) is a Sri Lankan born immigrant rights activist, cultural organizer, and DJ based in New York. She leads the U.S. communications work at climate justice organization 350.org by day, and DJs and runs the QTPOC, immigrant centered party iBomba by night. Kajal caught up with Thanu to discuss the complexities of postwar Sri Lanka, why climate justice is an immigrant rights issue, and creating a vision of the world you want to see on the dance floor. Read More

Chitra Ganesh Reimagines South Asian Mythology for Modern Times by Amina Khan

In a new installation at the Rubin Museum, Brooklyn-based artist Chitra Ganesh interrupts the museum’s permanent collection of Himalayan art with animated videos that draw directly from images in the galleries. Boddhisatvas, tantric deities, and buddhas from the collection are transported through history to the present, adapted into futurist landscapes where figures are drawn in bright neon lights, visions are beheld through 3D glasses, and buddhas can be androids. Read More

Eating Disorder by Namrata Mohan

I thought I was everything but bulimic. Gluten-intolerant. Carb-phobic. A sensitive soul with a sensitive stomach. But bulimia? Definitely not. That word and all other eating disorders were “white girl problems” to me. It was the 100 year old Chardonnay of shitty coping mechanisms that only grew more expensive and detrimental with age. I had assumed that eating disorders were a luxury only certain people could afford to have, considering all the levels of bullshit people of color go through. It was only when my mother watched me purge my existence away minutes after the new year did something click inside for the both of us. Read More

Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke Brings Queer Truth to Colombo’s Stage by Maya McCoy

The One Who Loves You So, writer and director Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke’s widely-anticipated original play, ran at Colombo’s Namel Malini Punchi theater in August. The play is a complex depiction of a short-lived relationship between two men, one “a wealthy Colombo trust-fund baby” and the other a British expatriate. Their relationship starts with an ordinary match on a dating app, and what follows is a probe into ideas of attraction, sexuality, class, loneliness, and love in Sri Lanka. Read More