Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Australia; always was, always will be Aboriginal Land

Pictures from the Invasion Day Sydney March; I believe as allies it is very important us to educate ourselves on issues of First Nation Australians, learn to be respectful and stand in solidarity with them. We in Australia are all living on occupied land unless we are Indigenous Australians, we must recognise this privilege and understand that we have so much more in common with Indigenous people than the colonisers.

Understanding the history and the heritage of the First Peoples is something that is very important to me and I know there is strength in solidarity. Purna Swaraj (complete self-governance) was proclaimed by Indians on this very day the 26th January in 1930 which rejected the dominion status conferred by Britain. That is all I celebrate today and I wish the same for Indigenous Australians.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

This is not Bohemian

I've noticed outside of those who know the difference between an anarkali & kurta, angrakha and kurti, kediyu and kaftan; my style (or lack thereof) is usually called 'gy*sy' (rhymes with pixie) or 'bohemian' etc and I want to talk about the fact that these terms are actually racial slurs and not a compliment at all. Most people call themselves or others “Boho” or “Bohemian” because they have thirst to travel off the beaten track, an eclectic/Woodstock-esque/hippy style or as 'gy*sy' because they aspire to dress similar and are 'wandering souls'. This is not just incorrect it is quite awful.

Bohemians originate from a region in Czechoslovakia called Bohemia with a lot of conflict and trauma in the past. Bohemian is an ethnicity NOT a style or an aesthetic that can be put on and taken off at will. It is highly appropriative to call oneself or others Bohemian.

Also I have discovered via research and from talking to people of that ethnicity that the laid back bohemian people that people like to emulate were that way because they had a massive opium and absinth addiction problem. The word bohemian is mostly just being minimalised as a people and reduced to a fashion style which is highly inaccurate and frankly goes against a lot of cultural morals. In the nineteenth century the Bohemian people were the lower class in France with the Roma so Bohemian became a slur for poor people.

The Romani are widely known as “Gy*sies”, however to the Romani people this is an insult and a racial slur as it is has connotations of illegality and irregularity. Romani people are a traditionally nomadic ethnic group residing mostly in Europe and originate from many different countries. When referring to nomadic tribes from Rajasthan, Gujarat or anywhere else it is incorrect to use the term 'gy*sy'. Genetic as well as linguistic research does point toward the fact that the Roma people were originally from the north of India and 900-1,500 years ago they likely migrated toward Europe. But as the term has become a widely used slur for a highly persecuted minority I believe we desis should absolutely refrain from using the word. After arriving in Europe, the Romani were enslaved in many regions, put to death in others and still more countries ordered their expulsion. Even to this day in Europe they are referred to extremely negatively and face a lot of backlash. I have seen/ heard it first hand and was shocked at some of the generalizations people made.

Honestly I've known there are negative connotations to this word and that the word can be used as an insult to some groups but didn't always know that one should refrain from using the word 'gy*sy' as a synonym to nomad. However meeting with and connecting to a wider range of inspiring WoCs have ensured that I am learning things and educating myself more and more. I think especially as People of Colour we should stand in solidarity as an ally to other marginalized communities and be even more circumspect about using slurs, it is up to us to not perpetuate appropriation and vilification.

I have also used the word bohemian quite a bit to find inspiring pictures etc but have tried and refrained from using that word out of context since I have learned a bit more. You might even find the word used previously in one of my blog-posts and I don't think there is anything wrong in growing as as a person and admitting that 'hey I've done it in the past out of ignorance'. The most important thing for me is to listen when we're called-out on something, to the person who is affected by the discrimination.

Also most of the things I wear from my clothes, to scarves, to accessories, to jewellery are native to the Indian sub-continent and calling my style anything but desi is frankly quite ignorant. When you see me wearing a 'hippie dress' it is more than likely I am wearing a kediyu or anarkali, when you see me in a flowy skirt it is more than likely a gaghra and when I am wearing 'bohemian' prints it is more than likely they are traditional Indian textiles. Like I said I am learning as I go, so if you are Roma feel free to correct me if I have got any of this wrong and/ or as a person who belongs to these specific ethnicities you would like to expand on this.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bandhani for my 200th post

I love wearing cholis and saree blouses as tops with jeans and love wearing tee-shirts and sweaters as blouses with sarees. You would have seen cholis with denims here, here and here and a sweater with a saree here.

I don't see the point of wearing certain things in pairs just because that is how it has been done for decades. I believe in having fun with things and playing with silhouettes and proportions as well as putting things together in one's own way. My latest favourite is wearing a Rajasthani type long Bandhani choli with denim and I can say that I am obsessed with this top. It is made from a Gajji silk fabric, which means that it is a satin weave done on silk fabric. It's really soft and I love the deep green colour and the subtle Bandhani designs.

I have had a few things made in this fabric and they are all beyond lovely. The top is worn here with drop-crotch boy-friend jeans but trust me it looks great with shorts, skirts as well as skinnies. These leather slip-ons are from Bali and all the silver is from India, mostly designs from various tribes in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

I hope everyone's had a lovely festive season and are excited about what 2016 will bring. Have a great Sunday :)