The Beauty of Being British Asian Exhibition

All, The Beauty of Being British Asian

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This summer, the exhibition inspired by my essay ‘The Beauty of British Asian’ took place in London.

Curated by Burnt Roti magazine, ‘The Beauty of Being British Asian Exhibition’, or #BOBBAExhibition showcased South Asian art and was on show from 16th – 22nd August 2017 at the Old Truman Brewery. I went to the opening night on 16th August and was amazed to see a 2 hour queue, winding round the corners of Brick Lane!

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Each of the artists created a piece from their chosen line of my essay and together, formed The Beauty of Being British Asian exhibition.

Walking in, I was immediately struck by the nostalgic scent of incense. As I looked around, it was magical to see the words that I had written a couple of months ago, come to life through the talent of other British Asians like myself. This experience of having a dual identity is something that so many of us share and seeing it through the eyes of others was something that made me feel even prouder to be British Asian.

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Seeing people gather round to read my essay was the highlight of the evening for me. It was so lovely to see people’s reactions as they related to, laughed with and even welled up at lines of my essay. I loved speaking with people as they shared their own stories of being British Asian and hearing how they have learnt to navigate and embrace their dual identities.

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The exhibition included a wall of baby photos of the artists and I, adding to to the British Asian aesthetic of the gallery. This one above is of me as a corner shop kid when cardboard boxes were pretty much all my parents needed to keep me entertained. 

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Thank you to everyone that supported the crowdfunder, came along to the gallery (and queued for 2 hours on opening night), and took the time to message me your words of support.

It means the world to me to know that the message of my essay has become a beautiful celebration of British Asian talent. When I sat down to write the essay back in March, I had no idea it would become this incredible expression of British Asian representation – I simply wanted to share more sides of the real me on my blog. I’m so happy that the conversation surrounding the struggles, nuances and the beauty of being British Asian has only just begun!

I’d love to hear your own stories of being British Asian and navigating your dual identities – let me know below if you can relate to The Beauty of Being British Asian

– Nikita

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When in Rome

All, Travel

I love crossing out countries on my travel wishlist and this month, I finally visited the home of (almost all) of my favourite foods – Italia!

The bestie and I spent our days strolling along cobbled Roman roads, besides quaint terracotta buildings and basking in the summer sun. It was the perfect break from UK life. We had pizza for breakfast, Nutella bruschetta, countless Aperol Spritz’s and gelato cups, and even managed to squeeze in some sightseeing at the Colosseum, Vatican City, the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. It’s safe to say that we did a lot of Rome-ing around!

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Have you visited Italy before? If so, let me know where I should visit next! I’ve got my eye on Naples, Venice, Pisa, Florence and the Amalfi Coast.

– Nikita

Announcing ‘The Beauty of Being British Asian’ art exhibition

All, The Beauty of Being British Asian, writing

I’m excited to announce that my latest blog post, ‘The Beauty of Being British Asian’ has inspired an art exhibition – taking place in a London gallery this summer in collaboration with Burnt Roti Mag. The exhibition will look at dual identities and how British Asians curiously navigate theirs.

Burn Roti Mag is a South Asian print and online lifestyle magazine, concentrating on publishing essays about race, colourism, mental health and assimilation. They are curating the exhibition by bringing together over 20 British Asian artists from around the country. Each artist will create a piece of art from their chosen line of the piece and together, will form the Beauty of Being British Asian exhibition.

Watch me talk about why this project means so much to me, alongside the artists taking part in the promo video below:

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I’m really proud of this piece and am looking forward to seeing the ways in which my writing is interpreted into art by the British Asian talent that will be on show. There are already some amazing artists that have been confirmed and more will be announced very soon. They will create art in the form of paintings, graphics, photography, installations and any other mixed media formats.

The exhibition still needs funding –  visit our crowdfunder to pledge your support, get tickets for the opening night (including free drinks) and signed British Asian artwork goodies.

Save the Date: coming soon.

-Nikita

 

The Beauty of being British Asian

All, life, personal

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As a child, I remember being one of two brown girls in my class. I was born and raised in the leafy suburbs of London by my parents – Indian immigrants from India and Kenya. Like most, they tried to retain the culture of their roots when raising their children. They did such a good job at it in fact, that sometimes I feel more Indian than British. Being brought up immersed in one country’s culture but living in another – life as a British Asian is a beautiful blend of the best (and sometimes worst) of both worlds:

It’s the butter chicken and the fish and chips. It’s not being able to handle spicy food (Nando’s lemon & herb everytime). It’s having so many cousins that I couldn’t count them on two hands – let alone one. It’s telling my spelling teacher in year 4 that I don’t know all the English words yet. It’s speaking Hindi and Punjabi at the same time and not knowing when I switch to the other. It’s family gatherings that are filled with (very) loud laughter, big hugs and endless hallway goodbyes. It’s cardamom-infused Indian tea, crispy samosas and sweet mango chutney. It’s my brown skin and British accent. It’s making finding an eyebrow lady a priority when I move away. It’s being called a ‘coconut’ by other immigrant kids. It’s addressing the cultural conflicts. It’s the three day, colourful, big, Indian weddings and the ivory and blush shades of smaller English weddings. It’s bringing the East into the West. It’s keeping traditions alive and challenging those that are archaic and patriarchal. It’s shouting down the phone to relatives in India and being overly polite to strangers. It’s opening a tub of ice cream in the fridge and being faced with frozen daal. It’s blindly respecting your elders as a child and growing up to realise that respect is a two-way street. It’s being racially profiled at airports, but having a British passport. It’s feeling like a foreigner in India and looking like one in the UK. It’s learning about colonial history at home and not at school. It’s cheering on whatever team is playing against England in the World Cup. It’s navigating between the cultural values of my family’s homeland and our adopted home. It’s the snap of a poppadom and the crunch of a bag of ready salted crisps. It’s being a corner shop kid. It’s listening to both the whimsical waves of Bollywood music and the rough rhymes of UK grime. It’s using my Hindi writing skills as a party trick. It’s having the freedom to choose what I do and who I marry, when my ancestors (and parents) didn’t. It’s planning a fusion wedding and adding a new culture to the colourful palette of my life. It’s celebrating Christmas and Diwali. It’s being rich in history, languages, literature and ways of life. It’s strength and resilience. Its open-mindedness and tolerance. It’s being a global citizen. 

– Nikita

Why I’m reinventing my (online) self and you can too

All, life

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Five years ago, I created Making Apple Pie From Scratch in a haze of inspiration, wanderlust and longing for the previous summer. I was a 21 year old Biology graduate that had recently returned to the leafy suburbs of London after a whirlwind 3 months abroad in Florida (read my old-school first ever blog post here). It had been an unforgettable summer in the sunshine state, spent watching rocket launches at NASA Kennedy Space Center, taking classes on space exploration, meeting (and partying with) astronauts, and making lifelong friends with people sharing my vision of the world.

Brimming with stories of the summer that I spent studying the stars, I felt compelled to share my journey and this blog began as a way to do just that. I caught the travel bug and have lived in 6 countries in the past 5 years, communicating science along the way. I have written about how our bodies will react to living on Mars, described astonishing light displays on Saturn, personified spacecrafts, dissected the anatomy of an asteroid and explored how satellites can help us to protect our planet. Creating #scicomm content is what I love to do and  when sprinkled with a dusting of my travel posts, the combination was a great fit for Making Apple Pie From Scratch.

That was until recently however. My blog – created by 21 year old me – hasn’t quite caught up with the 26 year old me that is writing this article. I am convinced that our digital persona and real-life self almost always never match up. And, with every year spent abroad and every experience along the way, I’ve felt my blog drift further and further away from who I am today, towards who I was yesterday. I’ve changed – as I’m sure you have too with every passing year of your life. Ever feel like the you you’re putting out in the world could be a little more truer to the real you? Same. This feeling affects writer’s block too – I’ve found it often happens when what you’re trying to write about isn’t really what you want to write about at that moment in time. That’s exactly how I realised that my online self needed a digital makeover. My interests include science, space and travel, but are not limited to those things either. Realising that you don’t have to pick one thing when you care about many is a profound moment that I think many of us don’t allow ourselves the creative headspace to ever reach.

Going forward, I’m going to begin sharing more of myself on this blog. I’ll be posting more honest content that is relatable and hopefully, helpful. That doesn’t mean less science, or travel, but more posts on other topics that interest me – which may, or may not include science and travel. As a young British Indian women who has a global perspective, I care about things as diverse as ethnic minority representation, climate change solutions, social enterprises and startups, the diaspora of 2nd gen immigrants like myself, creating technologies for change and empowering people to be their best selves. I’ve already written an article on the unexpected realities of living abroad that I wish I had known before, and am vocal about my many interests on Twitter already. My blog, it seems was the last online platform to catch up with my modern-day self. But, as I have learnt, it’s never too late to reinvent your online self. After all, as astronomer Carl Sagan said, “if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe”. Well, Making Apple Pie From Scratch, here’s to reinvention.

-Nikita

From London to Oxford

All, life, personal

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Just typing that title gave me déjà vu. Yes, I’ve moved again. This time though, I’ve stayed in the UK (despite the unfortunate Brexit timing) and have made the beautiful city of dreaming spires my new home. I’ve been in Oxford for the better part of half a year and so far, noticed a lot of similarities with the big smoke.

I’ll be real with you. Like London, it’s expensive. And, pretty polluted. But, I should add that as a Londoner these things, although real causes for concern, made me feel weirdly right at home.  I’ve fallen in love with the majestic tall spires which dot the Oxford skyline – the university buildings are a dream. The stars even shine brighter here in the green pastures of Oxfordshire and the noise levels are low enough to make me notice the quiet. The cobbled streets and sheer small size of the city remind me of my Dutch home of Leiden.

Since moving, life has gotten in the way of blogging. However, in true new year, new me style – I am determined to write more musings, share more travels and communicate fascinating science and the people behind it.

– Nikita

 

 

The City of Cambridge

All, Travel

Since moving back to London after living abroad, I’ve tried to make an effort to see more of the UK. After all, with its history and landscapes, there’s lots to see right here, without even setting foot in an airport.

And so, I recently visited the quaint, and very old city of Cambridge. It was the perfect combination of intricate college architecture, history and nature (note: spot the horse at the breakfast table), with a spot of punting sprinkled in for good measure!

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 – Nikita

New York, New York – Photo Diary

All, Travel

Earlier this month, I visited the Big Apple. The last time I was in New York was back when I was 10 years old – a time when I was far too young to really enjoy what the city had to offer. I loved returning with some close friends and spent the week exploring cute eateries and bars, rowing through Central Park and wandering amongst the towering skyscrapers downtown.

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New York is a city I’ve dreamt of moving to since a young age. This trip definitely reaffirmed that! Hopefully it won’t be long until I’m back in Manhattan. I’ve heard Christmas in New York is magical..

-Nikita

Leaving Leiden for London

All, life, personal

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It’s been longer than I’d like to admit since I last sat down and blogged. Life has changed since then. As I speak (type), this blog post is the result of ignoring multiple reminders on my phone reminding my future self to update my blog *hangs head in shame*. Due to a lot of moving and putting myself and my career first – content on my blog was quiet for a while. Since this blog post is titled ‘Leaving Leiden for London’, I should probably explain.

Last year I was living in Leiden, the Netherlands – one of the many countries I’ve had the privilege of calling home (for now). At the end of 2015, I made the decision to move back to the UK. It’s where I’m from and the place that I left 4 years ago to travel the world in search of well, as cliché as it sounds but, myself. I left as a bright-eyed 21 year old excited to see the world and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I caught my first solo flight to Florida and didn’t look back, moving to France soon after and not long after that, San Francisco, Munich and most recently, Canada and the Netherlands. My blog had a constant stream of travel content as I took every opportunity I was given and ran with it. I started Making Apple Pie From Scratch in 2012 as a result of the new experiences I had abroad and  in order to share the fascinating science I was communicating.

I returned home as a 25 year old woman that pretty much knows what she wants and that the place to get it is back where it all started, in London. Leaving Leiden for London, I began 2016 in my new (old) home and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Fast forward 4 months and I’m now living the life that I envisioned from the start. Working for the brilliant National Physical Laboratory – I communicate science right from the place where it’s done, working closely with the inspiring minds that do so. It’s great to remain involved with European science but to do so with research conducted in the UK, for the UK and the rest of the world. I love the innovative inventions that arise from international collaboration and co-operation in science.

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After years of living and working abroad, it took returning home to realise that it’s the simple things that matter the most. To me anyway. A job that inspires me. My loved ones. A car that I can finally call mine (and practice my driving with)! And a country that I can always call home. Perhaps it’s boring. Perhaps it’s predictable. And yes, at times I do miss the excitement of landing somewhere new, but I know that the world is still out there.

I think that the “quit your job to travel” attitude that a lot of millennial-targeted articles out there have, portray travelling through some very rose-tinted lenses. In my opinion, this approach leaves room to not fully appreciate the life that you have already made for yourself. I hope that by sharing my story, others can relate to and realise that travelling doesn’t have to be a black or white quit-your-job-tomorrow-and-deplete-your-savings- type luxury decision. It can be something to work towards, whilst carving out an everyday life is fulfilling, inspiring and is simply enough. Without that feeling of something lacking.

Moving home has allowed me to set myself up professionally and financially so that travelling will always remain a big part of my life. Because, after changing country every few months, catching a flight every other weekend and packing and unpacking countless times, I grew tired of my ever-changing location and longed for something a bit more normal. And if you ask me, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of normal.

-Nikita

p.s check if you ditched your world travels for a 9-5 job too, then this article might resonate with you like it did for me too.

Kraków Photo Diary

All, Travel

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I love visiting new places, and Poland is one country that I have wanted to visit for a while. I spent the week in Kraków but also visited Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, which was deeply moving.

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Kraków itself is a beautiful blend of old, traditional buildings and more modern architecture. I like that there’s more old than new, the city is incredibly well-preserved and there’s a story behind every street corner. Hopefully I’ll visit Poland again sometime soon!

– Nikita