Concept: The Decade is based on the year 2010. In the year 2010, the two most significant events of my life were learning Indian classical dance- Bharatnatyam and the onset of vitiligo. The images depict mudras (hand gestures) used in Bharatnatyam.
Mundane was often casually used in our day-to-day conversation in the years prior to 2020. Never had we thought, we would witness a year that would perfectly define mundane on a cellular level and even could be used with “eventful” to define a time in our lives. Needless to say, 2020 has been quite an eventful year thus far, outdoing itself with every passing month.
If there was a theme park based on the years lived, 2020 would be one of those top 10 most dangerous yet exciting rides which we would boast about “to have survived”. The ride would start off as just another roller coaster, building up to the free fall drop. However, before you recover from the first free fall drop, you have already made it to the next one and then before even realising to the next one. It has been an endless loop of free fall drops which has made it quite monotonous but nevertheless eventful.
Honestly, this year has not been easy, but it has taught us to appreciate many things that were often overlooked. No matter how cliché it may sound, we have realised that human connections and mental peace truly matter. It is totally okay to not be okay. To be able to sit with one’s thoughts and to silence the mind is extremely challenging. With some of us, even if we make it through the waking hours without thinking about these thoughts, they find a way to enter our dreams which has been unpleasant to deal with but nevertheless quite entertaining.
Now, some of us would barely survive this pandemic, while others would have had spiritual awakening because of all the reflection and then there’s few of us who would come out of this pandemic with hysterical stories based on post-apocalyptic world run by zombies and a world in which one is cleaning the house using ground coffee while living with snakes (possibly all species!), and with no sign of any other human.
During this time, I found solace in reading and I would like to leave you with a poem by Vikram Seth, which is even more relevant to these unprecedented times than ever before (shout out to my friend who pointed this out).
All of you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right,
And emptiness above –
Know that you aren’t alone.
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.
We will get through this, just how we always have. Hang in there. 😊
Sruthi and I have tried our first virtual shoot, you guys! We must admit that it was challenging and fun to shoot. Both of us took a break from shooting as Melbourne entered stricter restrictions but we had to capture mundane lockdown moments, so we could recall them in a few years’ time. As always, do not forget to check out Sruthi Pujara (@tonal_tales on Instagram) and give her a follow. Apart from these collaborations, Sruthi has been working on some exciting projects. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy Mundane xx
Growing up in Indian culture, a deep-rooted fear of judgement was ingrained within us from a young age. Over the years, this fear of judgement further metamorphosed into shame, guilt, and an imminent societal pressure to be the ‘good girl’.
What even defines a ‘good girl’?
Someone who blindly goes by societal rules and norms, even if these rules are heavily flawed and highly patriarchal?
Someone who is constantly weighed down by her judgemental society’s opinions and family’s esteem first, before she even addresses her own basic human needs, be it physical, emotional, or mental?
The good girl must do what she is told, should never question, and must always ‘behave’ herself because her choices and actions determine her character. A choice deemed wrong by the society would turn out to be disrespectful to the family.
Her worth and value lies in her character.
If her innate needs, emotions, actions, and choices translate into harsh and shameful labels, will she ever stand a chance to be seen just as another human?
If all this was not weighing heavily enough, the cherry on top is the body consciousness instilled by socially constructed beauty ideals as well as lived experiences of strangers ogling her womanly body parts in her teens.
I have never quite understood why it is acceptable for a random man to sexualise a teen but not okay for a grown adult woman to speak openly about her innate desires.
Female desire has been criminalised for decades. We are slut shamed, quickly labelled as too easy and for some of us, the community even performs female genital mutilation to demonstrate control over our bodies, violating basic human rights.
Most people from previous generation grew up with the notion of criminalised behaviour and shame. A lot of shame. Therefore, they find it difficult to openly talk, rationalise and fully inform us.
Their thoughts are socially conditioned:
you are a slut if your body count is three or more, you leave a part of yourself every time you get intimate with someone, a girl walks different after it’s done, that girl reveals her body to attract boys, the boy won’t marry you if you get intimate before marriage.
The implantation of such socially conditioned thoughts into us have done more damage than we think. The fear of intimacy, our judgment radar for ourselves and others, questioning our morality, not communicating our needs, feeling guilty for having desire, feeling guilty for too much indulgence, and feeling shameful for exploring. There is no end to it until we normalise it. She is a sexual being and no, she is not asking for it!
Working on Criminalised was no easy task. Sruthi and I had our judgement radar on throughout the shoot – Is it too revealing? Is it too erotic? What would our parents think? What if people think we are trying too hard? How do girls look sexy doing this pose? Dude, relatives on Instagram! I am super conscious of my tits. Despite all these mental blocks, we tried our best to let go of inhibitions and push our boundaries. Honestly, this has been a liberating experience for both of us and I could not have had a better partner in crime for bringing this project to fruition. Do not forget to check out Sruthi Pujara (@tonal_tales on Instagram) and give her a follow for photojournalistic style of imagery. Stay tuned for more and enjoy Criminalised xx
The 21st century South Asian women sandwiched between traditional values and modernity; may we keep liberating ourselves from the invisible yet prominent shackles of society. May we honour the women who have walked the earth before us and laid out a path. About time we embrace our natural golden armour which glows in the sun. Hold that peculiar nose higher than ever for it carries ancestral dues. The shape of our body is not the determiner of the essence of our beauty. Let no aunty tell us any different, for she herself is bound by the patriarchal ways and does not know any better. The essence of our beauty is in being a woman itself, for we carry the knowledge to raise humankind. May we always be valiant enough to satiate our ambition and independence. Whether rooted deep in the native land or planted in a faraway land, let the roots of sisterhood broaden as we ferociously shatter the shackles with each choice made solely for ourselves. Let Us never forget that we are the chosen ones to empower, of the millions unborn and the millions tied down.
One of Us.
A huge shout out to fellow South Asian sister Sruthi Pujara, founder of Light & Life Productions for bringing the Roots project to life. After months of brainstorming various ideas on what it means to be a woman, specifically of South Asian descent, we are finally able to share our perception. There is more to come from this collaboration on South Asian representation, womanhood, mental health and many more, honestly wherever our creativity leads us. Do not forget to check out Sruthi Pujara (@tonal_tales on Instagram) and give her a follow to light up your Insta feed. Stay tuned for more and enjoy Roots xx
Kasavu saree: A gift, handwoven by sisters from Kerala, India