Desi Women Diaspora, a podcast

Last year, I decided to embrace my old millennial-ness and launch a podcast. Desi Women Diaspora is about South Asian women who grew up around the world.

Desi Women Diaspora, a podcast (logo)

As has been the case with many of my previous creative forays — writing a book, creating a website for my art, also creating art — when I decided to launch a podcast, I had no idea what I was doing. Work, school and general boredom had led me to 30+ countries, in more than 10 of which I had spent at least one month. I knew I wanted to talk about what it meant to be of South Asian origin in these countries, and so I started out by recording exceedingly awkward videos of myself recounting my experiences. After watching the footage, I concluded:

  1. No. Just no
  2. I didn’t have enough to say

My time in many of these countries made for a few interesting points, but when I thought a little deeper, I realized that what was missing was hearing from members of the South Asian diaspora communities themselves. Thinking back, while I had sometimes heard stories of the men, I rarely heard from the women. Over the years of living in New York and abroad, I also remembered at least a half-dozen people I had met over the years who were themselves South Asian women diaspora who grew up all over the world.

I floated the idea of a podcast to my mother and brother, and my mother sent me back a contest Spotify was hosting to foster female of color talent in the podcasting industry. So I applied! And lost! Fortunately by then, my brother — a wildly talented audio editor — had already suggested we combine forces to put the podcast up ourselves. After a few surveys to potential listeners and an email to close friends, we had a title, a direction, a logo and, most importantly, our first four guests.

Desi Women Diaspora has been a wonderful project. My first guest was Aarti Virani, a friend from grad school who used her upbringing in Japan to define her career as a journalist. Noor, a friend and former colleague from the UN World Food Programme had me rolling on the ground in fits of laughter from her recounting being a “diplobrat” across three continents. Kamini drew inspiration and knowledge from her childhood in apartheid South Africa to become a political activist for South Asians in Texas. In the soon forthcoming two-part episode, Gayatri told me how her family’s roots in Tanzania and Botswana informed her professional life as an educator and her personal life in an interracial family. In the coming months, we’ll have guests who founded a start-up, started STEM education programs, lead major corporate CSR initiatives, and found a love for filmmaking, all of which have been inspired by their trans-continental upbringings.

One of my original goals was to highlight the variety of experiences, yet find parallels in how South Asian women are viewed and treated around the world in an attempt to break down negative stereotypes and bring a stronger sense of community to South Asian women globally. Desi Women Diaspora is well on its way to doing exactly that. Even better, there are no awkward videos of me speaking to a selfie stick.

To listen to Desi Women Diaspora, click here: https://soundcloud.com/desiwomendiaspora. Download or stream for free.

Want to participate? Any person who identifies as a woman of South Asian descent is encouraged to write Mala at authormala@gmail.com.