TWO-BROWNGIRLS

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Love your blog girls! I was wondering if you knew of any similar blogs that I could also follow?

Asked by
Anonymous

Hey! Thanks so much for the love :) we created TBG because we wanted to provide an online space that we hadn’t seen before BUT there are some lovely blogs that are on a similar wavelength ;) here they are:

Homegrown - Young India’s Route To Their Roots And Beyond. An Urban Youth Lifestyle Media Company: Online Publication + Creative Lab

Photo of Byron Bay - one of Australia's best beaches!

Rupee Rags - A collective of creativity conceived by spiritually connected life long friends Maleeha and Masooma.

Photo of Byron Bay - one of Australia's best beaches!

The Indian Curator - Born and raised in the most chaotic and exotic ‘cradle of the world’, synonymous with the esoteric, and spiritual creativity “the Indian Curator” is based in New Delhi.

Photo of Byron Bay - one of Australia's best beaches!

Hope that gives lots of inspiration!

 - S

#MIDWEEKINSPO

This week TBG reunited; Seetal’s down in London for a while now, and apart from finally having a tea buddy again (seriously guys. none of my friends or family drink tea </3) we got to test out some new kitchen skills cooking up some yummy food. We’re also finally working together on some exciting new TBG projects :D 

It’s been a busy week, but here are a few links that caught my eye:

1. Why I Can’t Celebrate Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize: This past Friday the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Malala and Kailash Satyarthi, and its definitely given rise to my own thoughts on Malala’s position. Yes, she’s a brave survivor and activist, using her voice to help educate the children of her country, but, like many of us, I’ve always been skeptical of the heightened media attention around her. Here’s a thought provoking article I came across today. Read it, and let us know what you think.

2. The Simplicity of Hajj – I love these photos from the past, showing us what Makkah and Hajj (the sacred Pilgrimage for Muslims) used to be like back in the day! The area around the Kaa’ba looks so humble and bare, and although now, with all its buildings and hotels, the area is accessible for more Muslims, I can’t help but feel a longing for the simplicity that once was.



3. Totally tooting our own horn here, but how awesome are the latest TBG postcards! If you’re around SOAS in London, give us a shout if you see them, and if you’d like one, drop us a message! We’ll be sending some out soooooon…

 - A x 

 

 

MashAllah you two are truly amazing!! I can relate so much with you both which makes me wish I had a cool sis to blog with :-)) - Koi larki ❤️

Asked by
Anonymous

You don’t need a cool sis to start guuurlll! We’re all sisters out here :)

DO WE NEED TO REDEFINE ROMANCE?
Aaminah:
When it comes to relationships and romance, we live in such a distorted world. Whether it&#8217;s on Instagram or Facebook, its so common to see couples showing pictures of expensive gifts or lavish surprises from their other half, and it&#8217;s sad really, that money has become the measure of romance. We’ve become so mesmerised by huge celebrity inspired acts of love. I get it, it&#8217;s nice to receive expensive gifts (and give them of course..hehehe) but if thats all we reduce romance to, then don’t we just have a distorted materialistic and unfortunately, competitive idea of what romantic gestures are? 
My husband loves surprising me (he kept our honeymoon destination under wraps until the morning of) but I love the smaller more simpler gestures that crop up during daily life. Whether it&#8217;s an impromptu love note, a glance across the table when we’re having dinner with family, reassuring words or finding a surprise chocolate in my bag, these are reminders that acts of love can and do exist outside of material things.  

Seetal: 
This is again inspired by the article that Mehar sent us because the writer recounts that she noticed her parents falling in love when there were certain intimate or romantic gestures. It just got us thinking - what is love without these gestures?
So last week I was proposed to :) the picture above is a beautiful spot in Wales that was so surreal and struck us both when we came across it. A secretly planned casual road trip later, he popped the question. It was raining and a little windy but it was perfect. We’re both known to be very ‘chilled out’ when it comes to our relationship and I think this means that we find love in the little things. Perhaps in the easiness, harmony and flow of our interactions. Each to their own but I think romance or the ‘honeymoon period’ is definitely not a phase, but it’s a wave that keeps coming back in reassuring ways. Romance is in a glance, a touch or simply a space. It can be in anything that you want to find it in, as long as you are open enough to receive it. 
- A&amp;S x 
Hmmm..what shall we write the next post on? Dealing with the in-laws or…feminism in marriage?

DO WE NEED TO REDEFINE ROMANCE?

Aaminah:

When it comes to relationships and romance, we live in such a distorted world. Whether it’s on Instagram or Facebook, its so common to see couples showing pictures of expensive gifts or lavish surprises from their other half, and it’s sad really, that money has become the measure of romance. We’ve become so mesmerised by huge celebrity inspired acts of love. I get it, it’s nice to receive expensive gifts (and give them of course..hehehe) but if thats all we reduce romance to, then don’t we just have a distorted materialistic and unfortunately, competitive idea of what romantic gestures are? 

My husband loves surprising me (he kept our honeymoon destination under wraps until the morning of) but I love the smaller more simpler gestures that crop up during daily life. Whether it’s an impromptu love note, a glance across the table when we’re having dinner with family, reassuring words or finding a surprise chocolate in my bag, these are reminders that acts of love can and do exist outside of material things.  

Seetal: 

This is again inspired by the article that Mehar sent us because the writer recounts that she noticed her parents falling in love when there were certain intimate or romantic gestures. It just got us thinking - what is love without these gestures?

So last week I was proposed to :) the picture above is a beautiful spot in Wales that was so surreal and struck us both when we came across it. A secretly planned casual road trip later, he popped the question. It was raining and a little windy but it was perfect. We’re both known to be very ‘chilled out’ when it comes to our relationship and I think this means that we find love in the little things. Perhaps in the easiness, harmony and flow of our interactions. Each to their own but I think romance or the ‘honeymoon period’ is definitely not a phase, but it’s a wave that keeps coming back in reassuring ways. Romance is in a glance, a touch or simply a space. It can be in anything that you want to find it in, as long as you are open enough to receive it. 

- A&S x 

Hmmm..what shall we write the next post on? Dealing with the in-laws or…feminism in marriage?



ZARINA MUHAMMAD - BROWN GIRL “ARTWALLAH”

When I saw the video for Swet Shop Boys’ new track ‘Batalvi’ I pretty much lost my mind. It’s a perfect mashup of cultural and controversial imagery that blends so well with the badass track.

We caught up with Zarina Muhammad, the brilliant BROWNGIRL behind the video to find out more about her story and inspirations. 

Tell us about your introduction to art and how you decided to take it up as a degree at St Martin’s?

I’m not actually sure how I decided to do an art degree! It’s a bit cliché and insincere for me to say: ‘I knew I wanted to be an artist since I was a kid’; there’s always going to have to be that point where you start taking it seriously and say: ‘ok, I’m an artist now, not just a kid that makes things in her bedroom’.
 I’ve always been around art; my parents took me to all sorts of galleries as a kid and bought me art supplies and indulged me when I claimed to be able to paint better than Monet. 
I think I wanted to understand my context in the world. That’s why I decided to go to Art school. (To be honest, I don’t think I do take it entirely seriously yet. But that’s a work in progress)

 

Were your family supportive in your decision to take up art as a career?
At the start?
 Not really. But that didn’t come from a place where my parents didn’t want me to do what I wanted to do. It came from a protective place; they didn’t want to see me fail or disappoint myself.
They always said: Do what you want, but do what’s feasible. I’m very lucky that they’re so patient with me, because they never told me what to do, but to think about what I wanted and why.
They were happy with me having it as a hobby, but when I said: ‘This is what I want to do as a job’ they had a problem. The Art world is a bit of an ivory tower and my parents were outsiders to its quite elitist way of functioning. I think they were just worried they wouldn’t be able to help me if I needed them.

My lovely little Dadi, my Fufu and my sister have always been there to believe in me. They were the ones telling me to follow my heart, not my head.  

A lot of your work draws from the Bollywood movie industry. Why do you tap into that imagery?
It’s the familiarity it has for me as a brown girl. 
The imagery also has this dream-like quality to it. All the clips I work with are from song sequences, which are inherently dream sequences. They have one foot in reality and the other in a sort of fantastical dream-scape that is entirely constructed and fictional. 
Bollywood isn’t an accurate representation of India or any part of South Asia, really. But it represents the idea of it. That’s what I’m interested in: the notion of a place. It’s a way for me to tackle an internal conflict where I have to somehow figure out how I treat a relationship with a culture that is distant to myself.  
India portrayed in Bollywood is a neat trope for a Motherland that I’ve never called home, but still feel a connection with. We all want to feel a sense of belonging and I think for people living in the South Asian diaspora, Bollywood means more than just kitschy-old-fashioned songs and women in wet sarees.
 It’s a type of informal network of cultural knowledge that speaks to a generation of Indians-not-in-India and reminds them that their Motherland is a place that they carry around with them, that exists as a part of themselves.

How did the Swet Shop Boys collaboration come about?!
Riz (Ahmed) found my work on Twitter. It was just good old-fashioned shameless self-promotion, and being in the right place at the right time. That’s probably the most important thing I’ve learnt from this whole wild ride: always blow your own trumpet, because you’re probably great and other people won’t know that unless you tell them.

 

What are you currently working on and what are your aspirations for the future?
At the moment I’m working with a really inspiring group of young artists and writers. We’re in the process of forming a collective called ‘sorryyoufeeluncomfortable’ and we recently put on an exhibition with Barby Asante and Teresa Cisneros at Iniva in Shoreditch. It’s got loads of promise; I think there’s a real gap between academic texts that discuss racial politics and the personal politics surrounding the context of people of colour in British society.

That’s what we’re aiming to bridge with the collective, to formalise what’s already happening (these topics are being discussed in a way that’s unacknowledged by academia), making that academic narrative real and acknowledging that these things don’t happen in a vacuum.
My aspirations for the future are humble; I just want to make art that I think is good. Whether people look at it and think ‘ooh, yeah, cool, I get it’ is irrelevant; I don’t make art for other people. So that’s all I want: to continue making stuff, putting it out there and being satisfied that it’s what I want it to be. 

Follow Zarina on InstagramTwitter and Tumblr <3

- A & S x

ABHISHEK SINGH - MODERN MYTHOLOGY

After the whirling wonderful festivals of Navratri, Durga Puja and Dussera, I felt a bit reflective about all the mythological stories and figures that these traditions centre around. 

Although I am Sikh, the Hindu philosophies and rituals fascinate me as a part of India’s history as a whole. Plus, they were there before Sikhism existed and many ideas in Sikh scripture have been drawn from Vedic concepts. 

I digress. I basically wanted to share the mind-blowing work of Abhishek Singh who is famous for recreating iconography of Hindu gods, goddesses and mythological tales. His creation of Maa Durga is so stunning and his universal message to go with the piece was so touching too. Check out this caption for the image of Raavana too…

"The burning of ravana symbolically represents the cleansing of the ego from the self, ravana was an enlightened yogi, he meditated before the war to let go of every bit of ego in himself, whilst ram too meditated on the many lives of ravan’s accumulated wisdom."

More on his brilliant Facebook page Abhiart - give it a ‘Like’ :)

- S

ANOUSHKA SHANKAR - FROM DAUGHTER TO MOTHER

Although famous sitarist Anoushka Shankar recently cancelled her tour dates outside of London, it wasn’t without good reason…

Check out this brilliant interview in Anokhi Magazine where she reveals personal insights into her life and work. 

I’m seriously considering buying the book she wrote about her father, Pandit Ravi Shankar!

Photo credit: Harper Smith

 - S

#MIDWEEKINSPO

Hey guys, 

So after getting a verbal whoop-ass last week from my dance teacher I got my act together and FINALLY stepped into real practice. And you know what? It feels DAMN GOOD. Practicing anything to be good at it takes discipline NOT ALWAYS motivation. So if you don’t feel motivated, just DO IT. Anyways, on to more inspiring internet findings…

1. I’m totally addicted to KayRay’s vlogs and found this incredible artist through watching one of her episodes in California! Her amazing artwork is so beautiful and inspiring. Check it out on her Tumblr ‘dothead-divinity’>here

2. We’ve been getting quite a few questions lately asking what our favourite blogs are but to be honest, there aren’t many that I follow on a regular basis! However, I recently stumbled upon The Scarlet Window. Woah guys. Seriously, woah. It blew my mind! I have been waiting for a blog like this for SO LONG. Beautiful Indian fashion with history and depth. The photography is simply stunning. Check it out for yourself… 

3. Over here in Western countries like England and America we’ve been hearing an awful lot about ‘Islamists’ and ‘terrorists’ and ‘extremists’ and whatnot in the mainstream media. While these are concerning issues, the fever of ‘Islamophobia’ is at an all-time high it seems. Anyway, I wanted to get a refreshing perspective and found an excellent summary of the situation from none other than the wonderful Mehreen Kasana.

I will apologize for ISIS when every single American apologizes for the production of the War on Terror that, like the brilliant Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon says, is the production of more terror and thus,endless war. I will apologize for ISIS when every single white American apologizes for the mass incarceration of black and brown people in the United States. I will apologize for ISIS when I see American men and women post lengthy and introspective apologies for what the US Empire has done to the world, including my native country, since its very advent. I will post an 8,000 word apology when English people email me individual apologies for what the British Empire did to the subcontinent.”

Enough said. 

- S

SHADIA MANSOUR - THIS IS PALESTINE

I’ve always been a fan of Shadia Mansour’s fierceness and incredible spirit. She’s a fantastic British hip-hop artist who raps in Arabic often about corruption, conflict, heritage and identity. 

"Existence is resistance"

Check out this video that perfectly captures her view and the inspiration behind her music. <3

- S

#MIDWEEKINSPO

This week has really tested my patience.

I’ve finally started my Masters in Islamic Studies and whilst I secretly love the place, the admin completely messed up my timetable and the module I was most looking forward to, Sufism, will potentially be cancelled. Whilst I spent a good three days complaining to everyone that knows me, I’ve realised things are beyond my control and, although I’m trying to get it back up and running, I’m going to make the most of whatever else I can study. 

Here are a few links that kept me from my pulling my hair out…

1. Ahh, Khalil Gibran. Some of these quotes have really helped me the past week, especially 

"Our living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens." 

Yes, they’re a bit hippy, but we all need that kind’a wisdom sometimes! Below is one of my favourites, and also found it’s way into Seetal’s speech at my wedding! 

Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” 

2. Ain’t nothing like a bit of interfaith love! Seet and I expanded on one of our most popular posts, TWO-FAITHS, here for Aquila Style! These guys are soaring with their content, and their monthly magazine has made it to my favourites list. 

3. So who’s heard of Rain drop?! They’re an awesome collective animating Ghazali’s works, transforming them into accessible videos and cartoons! They’re not particularly faith-based either, and emphasize the universal nature of spiritual wisdom. I’ll admit, the voice in the videos does kind of put me off a little bit (sorry!), but the concept is amazing! 

 - A x 

So, what’s your week been like?

#MIDWEEKINSPO
Back in Leeds up in the North of England after a whirlwind weekend in London. It seems like the city just keeps pulling me back. When you&#8217;ve lived in the capital for three years and made connections, it&#8217;s sometimes annoying how you can&#8217;t seem to get away. Even when you do, it feels like you miss out on so much!
Anyway, here are my reflections for the week :)
1. Darbar Festival 2014
So I was in London because I was volunteering for the prestigious Darbar Festival of Indian Classical Music. It&#8217;s the largest festival of its kind in Europe and brings big names, lesser known ones and showcases UK musicians all of a high-calibre every year. I&#8217;ve been involved for the past couple of years, but this year I got really stuck in. Taking care of artists, speaking to audience members, setting the stage and playing taanpura were many parts of the job. It was an incredible experience and getting to meet and listen to one of my favourite singers, Dr. Prabha Atre up close was unforgettable. Photos: Ravi Chandarana Photography


2. Manjari Sharma Photography - &#8216;Darshan&#8217;
Kajal Nisha Patel, a fantastic social documentary photographer, recently told me about the &#8216;Darshan&#8217; series by Manjari Sharma. The series is so surreal and mesmerising. Manjari used intricate and detailed photographic portraits to interpret Hindu iconography that she grew up with - painstaking work with jaw-dropping results!


3. &#8216;Growing into Music&#8217;
I&#8217;m so glad I came across these films documenting incredible research by a team of scholars. At various points across three years, these six films followed the families and lifestyles of Indian classical musicians and dancers and their students or children. It shows how the art forms are passed on and transmitted through generations. I mean, I&#8217;d heard about these traditions but to see them in reality was huge for me. I was so inspired by the environment and ethos that these families follow. Just check out this dance studio&#8230;!


Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know your #midweekinspo ;)
- S

#MIDWEEKINSPO

Back in Leeds up in the North of England after a whirlwind weekend in London. It seems like the city just keeps pulling me back. When you’ve lived in the capital for three years and made connections, it’s sometimes annoying how you can’t seem to get away. Even when you do, it feels like you miss out on so much!

Anyway, here are my reflections for the week :)

1. Darbar Festival 2014

So I was in London because I was volunteering for the prestigious Darbar Festival of Indian Classical Music. It’s the largest festival of its kind in Europe and brings big names, lesser known ones and showcases UK musicians all of a high-calibre every year. I’ve been involved for the past couple of years, but this year I got really stuck in. Taking care of artists, speaking to audience members, setting the stage and playing taanpura were many parts of the job. It was an incredible experience and getting to meet and listen to one of my favourite singers, Dr. Prabha Atre up close was unforgettable. Photos: Ravi Chandarana Photography

2. Manjari Sharma Photography - ‘Darshan’

Kajal Nisha Patel, a fantastic social documentary photographer, recently told me about the ‘Darshan’ series by Manjari Sharma. The series is so surreal and mesmerising. Manjari used intricate and detailed photographic portraits to interpret Hindu iconography that she grew up with - painstaking work with jaw-dropping results!

3. ‘Growing into Music’

I’m so glad I came across these films documenting incredible research by a team of scholars. At various points across three years, these six films followed the families and lifestyles of Indian classical musicians and dancers and their students or children. It shows how the art forms are passed on and transmitted through generations. I mean, I’d heard about these traditions but to see them in reality was huge for me. I was so inspired by the environment and ethos that these families follow. Just check out this dance studio…!

Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know your #midweekinspo ;)

- S

#FRIDAYINSPO

Okay okay, so I missed the #midweekinpso this week! But I was on a mini break over in Andalusia having literally, one of the best holidays ever! While its nice to be back (especially when the weather’s nice and warm here in London for a change), I can’t help but feel anxious that I won’t be able to travel again for at least another year, because of my Masters :( Oh well..time for photos!

1. I finally got to see the Alhambra!  Its honestly more than what I imagined it would be. Every corner of the fortress palaces are exquisitely decorated with stunning Islamic geometry tile work and huge elaborately guilded walls.

2. Cordoba is such a gorgeous place in Andalusia! Obviously theres the beautiful Mosque-Cathedral, but getting a little guided tour on the Islamic history of the city revealed all the hidden gems. We bumped into a few statues of prominent Islamic philosophers and inventors, a preserved Andalusian home and a few other relics we would’ve otherwise missed. 

(the preserved Mihrab in the Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral)

(Remnants of Arabic verses in the arches) 

(Statue of Ibn Rushd, a great Islamic philosopher, mathematician, scientist, the list goes on…) 

3. So theres a small area in Granada called the Albayzin where we went to pray Jummah (the Friday prayer), and right next to it we stumbled across a centre of Islamic Studies. Well, of course I had to go inside and check out the library! It was home to scores and scores of Arabic books, works on Islamic history, Sufism, volumes of Tafsir. It was amazing! 

I’ll be sharing more photos over on our Facebook page and my Instagram, so keep an eye out :) 

 - A x 


Have you guys visited Andalusia?