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#FRIDAYINSPO (wooooops because I missed the midweek!)

Its been a busy week. I’ve had my head buried in the books for the first time since I’ve come back from Amman, studying Arabic Rhetoric. It’s quite dry & tedious (for now anyway!) but my week was brightened up with a monthly visit from Seet :)

We got to hang out, have fun lunches and movie nights just like our student days – exactly what I needed before I jump right into my fulltime MA in a month. Totally going to be ripping my hair out!

four years on and we still can’t take a decent selfie together…

Anyways – here are a few things from this week I’d love to share with you guys!

1.  This photo shoot of acid attack survivors caught my eye during the week and I was blown away by their inspirational confidence, courage and beauty. 

2. Some powerful images of the Pakistani Sikh minority protesting for Gaza. 

3. For those Muslims missing out on Rihla this year have you subscribed for the free livestream? I’ve managed to catch a few of the classes already and now theres only a week left. Seriously, make the most of this amazing free resource!

You have to subscribe to get the notifications, but you can also follow Deen Intensive on Facebook to keep your eye out for posts on when they’re live. Here’s a quick snap of Sh Hamza Yusuf talking on Al Ghazali’s book of knowledge:



- A x 

Have any of you guys been on Rihla before?

WHATS THE DEAL WITH ARRANGED MARRIAGES?
Okay BROWNGIRLS it’s time to get a little #senti up in here. We received a beautiful, touching message from Mehar, a fellow BG in Canada and she brought our attention to a very interesting post on Vogue.com by Mira Jacob. 
“Nearly three decades after their arranged marriage, Mira Jacob’s parents did the one thing she never saw coming: They fell in love.”
It got us thinking about our own situations in our relationships (yes, we are straight, not lesbians contrary to some questions we’ve received!) and we wanted to share our thoughts on arranged marriages and romantic relationships in our culture in general.
So here’s part 1 - 
ARRANGED MARRIAGES
S: Honestly, I don’t get arranged marriages. I pretty much drifted into my relationship out of curiosity and admiration for him. I guess it was arranged in a sense that our families knew each other and our lives are pretty intertwined but I don’t know how people step into a marriage without getting to know the person and at least a couple of different sides of them first - I’d be crapping my pants. But I think it’s all a personal journey to be honest. More and more I’ve come to realise that you never really know a person and that’s the exciting part. You’re both constantly changing and evolving and that’s what keeps the relationship fresh!

A: I’ve always said I wouldn’t mind an arranged marriage. They aren’t what they used to be anyway! In most cases nowadays, you get a chance to meet the other person and get to know them over a certain amount of time until you’re comfortable enough to say qabool hai.I didn’t have an arranged marriage, we found each other ourselves. I’d call it er…a semi-love marriage in that from the day we met we knew marriage was going to happen pretty quickly.

While we were still too young to discuss things like getting married without being tipsy or ironic, it seemed to be the end goal we were moving inevitably toward, like groceries down a conveyor belt. 

My husband and I maintained Islamic etiquette whilst we were ‘dating’ (yes people, the first time we held hands was on our wedding day!) so we didn’t really know each other as well as most couples do pre-marriage. It did scare me sometimes, but I honestly think that you never really know someone until you’ve lived with them. You just have to know enough - and thats completely subjective. 
Next up, lets tackle romance…
- A&S x 
Photos by G5 studio - awesome photographers!
We’d love to hear your thoughts! What do you think about arranged marriages?

WHATS THE DEAL WITH ARRANGED MARRIAGES?

Okay BROWNGIRLS it’s time to get a little #senti up in here. We received a beautiful, touching message from Mehar, a fellow BG in Canada and she brought our attention to a very interesting post on Vogue.com by Mira Jacob

Nearly three decades after their arranged marriage, Mira Jacob’s parents did the one thing she never saw coming: They fell in love.”

It got us thinking about our own situations in our relationships (yes, we are straight, not lesbians contrary to some questions we’ve received!) and we wanted to share our thoughts on arranged marriages and romantic relationships in our culture in general.

So here’s part 1 - 

ARRANGED MARRIAGES

S: Honestly, I don’t get arranged marriages. I pretty much drifted into my relationship out of curiosity and admiration for him. I guess it was arranged in a sense that our families knew each other and our lives are pretty intertwined but I don’t know how people step into a marriage without getting to know the person and at least a couple of different sides of them first - I’d be crapping my pants. But I think it’s all a personal journey to be honest. More and more I’ve come to realise that you never really know a person and that’s the exciting part. You’re both constantly changing and evolving and that’s what keeps the relationship fresh!

A: I’ve always said I wouldn’t mind an arranged marriage. They aren’t what they used to be anyway! In most cases nowadays, you get a chance to meet the other person and get to know them over a certain amount of time until you’re comfortable enough to say qabool hai.I didn’t have an arranged marriage, we found each other ourselves. I’d call it er…a semi-love marriage in that from the day we met we knew marriage was going to happen pretty quickly.

While we were still too young to discuss things like getting married without being tipsy or ironic, it seemed to be the end goal we were moving inevitably toward, like groceries down a conveyor belt. 

My husband and I maintained Islamic etiquette whilst we were ‘dating’ (yes people, the first time we held hands was on our wedding day!) so we didn’t really know each other as well as most couples do pre-marriage. It did scare me sometimes, but I honestly think that you never really know someone until you’ve lived with them. You just have to know enough - and thats completely subjective. 

Next up, lets tackle romance…

- A&S x 

Photos by G5 studio - awesome photographers!

We’d love to hear your thoughts! What do you think about arranged marriages?

RAPE IS NOT A FASHION STATEMENT:

We got sent this horrific post yesterday about photographer Raj Shetye’s latest series depicting a woman being abused by men on a bus. 

“This is in no way meant to glamorize the act, which was very bad. It’s just a way of throwing light on it…the message I would like to give is that it doesn’t matter who the girl is. It doesn’t depend on which class she belonged in — [sexual violence] can happen to anyone.”

We totally get that even the most darkest realities can be powerfully depicted through the arts (take Nirbhaya for instance) and pioneer change, but glamorising rape in this way, by dressing it up in expensive clothes, and ultimately creating a connection between fashion and sexual assault is not the way to do it. In fact, Shetye’s work reminds me of this disgusting Vogue Italia shoot from April this year.

Can we also just think about how young girls are going to have a distorted perception of rape if they come across this kind of material? Ugh. 

- A x 

What do you guys think of Shetye’s work? Are we on the same page?

#MIDWEEKINSPO:

Hey there, so things are picking up and everything is getting a little crazy these days but y’know MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR JAWANI Y’ALL and go GET IT. Furthermore, here is my #midweekinspo. What’s yours?

1. So I felt sucky after flopping an audition and was questioning my very existence and all that (this is what happens when something means a lot to you people!) but a couple of cool videos helped me to pick myself back up. Misty Copeland’s new ad campaign with ‘Under Armour’ is so awesome. I love how ballet dancers are considered more and more like athletes now. 

Anyways the video features a real rejection letter than she received but now, she’s a principle dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. Badass, right?

2. ‘No Country for Women’ are an organisation of activists campaigning for women’s rights in India. Ok, this might be bad but is all this media attention on rape really making a difference? Actually, this video addressing the more fundamental issues really made me see a different perspective. Often the idea of ‘gender-policing’ is so ingrained in our social psyche that we don’t see when oppressive ideas are staring at us right in the face!

3. We all know about Gaza. We’ve all seen and heard about the inhumane violence and treatment of the Palestinian people. But what can we do about it? One lady in British politics who’s known to stand out made a bold move this week to actually resign from her position.

I hope this social media frenzy, the protests, the articles, the overwhelming evidence can actually make a difference. I’ve often wondered what it would be like if billions of people actually united against the powers that are causing these heart-breaking atrocities. What if?

- S

EMPIRE, FAITH & WAR: THE SIKHS AND WWI

TBG are huge fans of the GT 1588 Initiative - they’ve held incredible events in the past, educating the public on the remarkable Sikh martial tradition, and not to mention they published that book everyone’s still trying to get their hands on! 

We were so excited to pop down to SOAS this week and check out their new work - a wonderfully curated exhibition on the often overlooked efforts of brave Sikh Soldiers in WW1. TBG were pleasantly surprised at the vast collection being exhibited, from propaganda posters to letters and some heartfelt excerpts of war poetry:  

My favourite was this small photograph of this beautiful newly wedded woman: 

Check out the exhibition if you’re in London - it’s on until the 28th of September - and make sure you let us know what you thought! 

- A&S x 

HAIDER: SHAKESPEARE IN INDIA

The king of Indian Shakespeare has done it again guys. Vishal Bhardwaj can now proudly claim three Shakespeare adaptations - i’m so excited to see this one of Hamlet

Set against breathtaking Kashmir, Hamlet (Shahid Kapoor) is re-interpreted as Haider, a philosophy student who returns from University to find his father, a well known Doctor, dead (ahem, murdered). 

The film has strong notes of political controversy, which are making me nervous about it passing India’s art censors! 

The adaptation has been written by Basharat Peer, a Kashmir-born author and journalist. Hamlet’s famous soliloquies have had to be largely omitted, but the most famous scenes remain. Haider asks “to be or not to be” as he points a handgun to his own head, and as a Muslim decides not to kill his uncle while he is kneeling in prayer, rather than before an altar.

Peer said he hoped the film would challenge the narrative constructed by previous mainstream cinema about the Kashmir conflict and give an alternative point of view.

"Kashmiris have always been portrayed as crazy fanatics or Kashmir simply seen as a picturesque tourist destination. This is a very different view," he said.

Bhardwaj’s brilliant cast choices get me every time! Tabu made an incredible Lady Macbeth in Maqbool, and this time she’s back as Gertrude. 

Oh, and how gorgeous does Shraddha Kapoor look as Ophelia?

Also, is it just me or did Bhardwaj mention at some point that he would be doing Julius Caesar? I flipping hope so - it’s my favourite Shakespeare play. Don’t let me down Bhardwaj…

- A x

What did you guys think of Omkara and Maqbool?

#MIDWEEKINSPO:

Celebrating Eid this year was bittersweet. On the one hand, it was exciting to spend it celebrating with my new family. I realised how fortunate I am to be living in this part of the world, with my family and friends safe, whilst Muslims in Palestine spent their Eid and Ramadan getting shelled and burying their loved ones.

It’s important we are always keeping the innocent deaths at the forefront of our minds and prayers, but at the same time, we cannot let ourselves feel guilty for allowing some space for positivity in our lives too. 

Here’s a few things I’ve wanted to share with you all this week:

1. A wonderful collection of photos of Muslims celebrating Eid around the world.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers at the national mosque. Photograph: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Manila, Philippines: Filipino Muslims pray during Eid al-Fitr celebrations at Manila’s Rizal Park. Photograph: Ezra Acayan/Demotix/Corbis

This one of a woman in Gaza is tough and really hit home.

Gaza City, Gaza Strip: a Palestinian woman mourns by her relative’s grave. Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA

2. TBG hit up an amazing exhibition at SOAS on Sikh Soldiers in WW1. Look out for the full post this week! 

3. How to keep that spiritual high even after Ramadan is finished. Don’t let this month’s effort go to waste guys. 

Also, just wanted to give a shout out to all of you who attended any of the demos around the world to show solidarity with the people of Gaza. You guys are amazing!

- A x

 

 

KAJAL NISHA PATEL - PHOTOGRAPHY & SOCIAL DOCUMENTARY

We meet at the artsy and inviting LCB Depot in the heart of Leicester’s cultural quarter and Kajal shows me around the ‘Lightseekers’ photographic exhibition that features her poignant images of the the Vanasthali residential school in India that is attended by Adivasi (indigenous) students.

The children have advanced skills in farming and agriculture and are taught about their relationship with the land from a young age. Check out a summary video here.

Kajal told me how she hopes to grow this project to interact with school children in the UK to foster a cross-cultural understanding where young people can learn from each other. 

The project really moves me as it’s important to notice that although countries like India are looked on as ‘developing countries’ and Western education is somewhat more ‘advanced’, the values and sustainable living habits that children at Vanasthali learn are incredibly valuable in such a consumerist, fast-paced society. 

It just goes to show that we can learn something from everyone and we don’t always know best!

A lot of Kajal’s work focuses on migration, diaspora and how communities have to adapt to economic and social environments. The video featured above about our relationships with our parents really hit home and highlights the struggles that immigrant families have to go to in order to provide a better future for their children i.e. us. 

Kajal has a wonderful, fighter spirit and is really committed to documenting communities, culture and giving a voice to the people :) it was awesome to connect with her!

Check out more of Kajal’s work on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Lightseekers

- S

CANDID INTERVIEW WITH  - LILLY SINGH AKA. SUPERWOMAN

This is the first time I’ve come across an interview with the big, beautiful brown YouTube sensation, Lilly Singh. 

But this isn’t just any old interview. The questions are important, relevant and challenging and it’s so refreshing to see this side of Lilly. Mad respect to her as even though she is at the receiving end of so much criticism and I’m personally not a fan of ALL of her videos but she works incredibly hard, is smart, talented, driven and I’m extremely happy to see her success. 

In a way, she might not be a perfect role model for all young girls in all of her aspects and tastes but her ethos of being positive and being true to who you are is undoubtedly admirable.

Go Superwoman!

- S

Hi there! First of all I want to say thank you both so much for your blog. I go to school in a very white city in the US and tumblr has been a really great place for me to learn about my South Asian roots and other people of color history. I read in one of your earlier posts that you did dissertations about English in Bollywood films and Shakespeare & Orientalism in India...I was wondering if they're available somewhere online? I would love to read them!

Asked by
Anonymous

Hey! Thank you so much for your message <3 Tumblr can be a crazy place, but there’s also a wealth of people here who are creating a strong, educative and wonderful WOC community. We’re so glad you found us! 

image

Yep - we did write on these topics but due to copyright reasons and T&C on the dissertation submission forms, we can’t share them online.

We can always discuss the points with you and have a lovely chat about the general gist of our work. Come off anon! :) If you’d prefer to email, drop us a message on hello@two-browngirls.com

Speak soon! :) 

- A&S x 

KES: RUPI KAUR & KAY RAY

I remember first watching this video earlier this year, tearing up (emotional times) then sharing it instantly with Seet. Rupi’s powerful affirming voice crushes destructive beauty standards and emphasises the importance of not only accepting, but loving our bodies and their natural state. Mad respect for all the women in this video coming together to create such empowering art. 

 your hair is

nothing less than rivers and velvet

for too long, we have been at war with our skin

weaponised with lasers and razor blades

when what we need is a sisterhood

where women help each other belong to themselves

an organism that joined you with the earth below your feet

to the soil your ancestors planted crops on

to feed a lineage of women with

thighs

thick as tree trunks

eyes like almonds

deeply hooded with conviction

- Rupi Kaur

I have always admired the practice of Kes in Sikhism. Knowing that your body has a strong connection to the Divine is immensely beautiful. We all may not be Sikh, but accepting your body in it’s natural state (which i’m not restricting to just hair by the way), with all of its perfections and imperfections can definitely be seen as, I believe, a form of worship. 

- A x 

They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
Run.
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Run.

Running Orders. By Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

SOUNDS OF REVOLUTION - SALVIN CHAHAL & RUPI KAUR

Vancouver peeps listen up - incredible poets Salvin Chahal and Rupi Kaur will be performing at a FREE event THIS FRIDAY (25th July 2014) exploring ‘home’ through art and dialogue organised by Azaadi. 

There will also be a special screening of 'Kirpa', the short film by Kay Ray and Salvin and Rupi will be leading a poetry workshop on the following day. 

Don’t miss out and register >HERE

We wish we could make it! - Spread the Word

- S

INDIA COUTURE FASHION WEEK 2014: ROUND UP

I’m going to be completely honest and say I wasn’t massively impressed by any of my usual favourites - Sabyasachi & Manish Malhotra - this year round. Yes, the outfits were beautiful and elaborate.. but I guess I just had high expectations from who we consider to be the desi fashion monarchs.

I have, however, suddenly caught eye of Anju Modi. I love her unusual play on dhoti silhouettes and anarkali cuts, keeping things fresh despite using a safe colour palette. Bold doesn’t always mean neon! 

Oh, and how gorgeous did Kangana look? Defo one woman TBG can never over-hype! 

- A x 

What did you guys think of India Couture Week? Who were your favourites?