(An abridged version of this piece was originally published at https://www.browngirlmagazine.com/2020/06/book-review-reflections-on-south-asian-culture-through-hygge/)

Like you — I assume — I’ve been in lockdown for over three months. As I’ve written before, I’m much more fortunate than many others right now. Despite unintentionally being stuck overseas, I have a home that’s safe in all senses of the word, a job I’ve been able to do remotely, and a strong-as-hell support system. So, aside from fresh contact lenses and a fifth set of clothes, I have everything I really need for the moment.

Pre-pandemic me used to think that a day off was wasted…


As it turns out, my weird family members are the perfect people to spend a lockdown with.

This virus is awful, just awful. Too many people have died, gotten sick, lost their jobs, or had to show up to intense work hours and environments day after day. Just as some parts of the world are finally seeing spikes in the number of cases, others are already inundated by a second wave of infections. We really don’t know how much worse it might get. But right now, the road ahead seems long, winding, and pot-holed.

My heart breaks. But it also feels fuller than it has in a long time. I’m one of the fortunate few. I’m healthy…


At the start of a yoga practice, I like to calm myself by taking deep breaths and visualising something tranquil. A scene like this sunset from Hampi, India, usually does the trick.

I was in an easy half-lotus on my mat, at my most favourite spot in my most favourite yoga studio. It was a gorgeous morning. The spring sunlight streaming into the room was so splendid, I couldn’t ignore it even through closed eyes.

“Pay attention to what you hear right now.” The melodic baritone winding its way through our mats belonged to our instructor, the founder of both the studio and its specialised yoga form. “Listen to whatever sound fills your ears at this moment.” …


I think we can all agree that the past six months have been spectacular. By that, I mean they’ve been a spectacle to watch in shock and horror. Forests burned across three different continents. In India, human-engineered pollution resulted in metrics that literally spin off the charts of any standard measurement. Politically divisive rhetoric and legislation have set ablaze communal violence, leaving in its ashes the charred, blistered remains of that already-elusive interfaith harmony we love to advertise.

All over the world, these and other sudden developments have emerged from and impacted the environment, politics, society, and health. They have…


When I was around six, my school used to host an annual Grandparents’ Day. I would stroll into school beaming, grandparents in tow. Along with my classmates, I would get on stage and perform in a showcase — usually an awkward combination of an uncoordinated dance, chaotic group song, and a clumsy, stuttered-through narration. After this literal song-and-dance, my grandparents would scoop me up in their arms and gush over me with compliments I absolutely didn’t deserve. …


In the past eight years, time and place have sprinkled changes — big and small — into my life. But dance has managed to rest firmly at the epicentre of whatever I’ve been doing. Jazz lessons in high school in Delhi turned into chairing a Bollywood-fusion group at college in New England, which segued into feeling fully filmy in classes at California’s biggest Bollywood company. I’ve now come full circle. I’m back in India and back at Jazz.

Dance is a lot of different things for me. It’s a portal to a place where I’m the opposite of my usual…


My parents are headed to the Maldives. No, they’re not scampering off to renew their wedding vows against the backdrop of what is possibly the definition of aquamarine. They’re not starting their lives afresh on an untouched island, fleeing the rat race/humdrum/other cliché about the hectic cycle of the everyday. They’re not even planning for a destination retirement; starry-eyed about a languorous old age spent gorging on tuna, feeding stingrays at dusk, and fanning away pesky mosquitoes while lounging by the ocean.

They’re just fulfilling a professional obligation — to move overseas every couple of years. A new diplomatic assignment…


As an Indian, I hear a lot of weird things come out of people’s mouths about India. I’ve been asked questions that range from embarrassingly misinformed (“You have cows as pets in India right?”) to inexcusably degrading (“You’re Indian? But you’re so cultured.”) Misconceptions about India are also glaringly obvious in the way elements of our culture have been expropriated and completely botched by non-Indians. Take chai. Chai — real chai — is goddamn beautiful. Chai is poetry.

So every time I walk into any pretentious café in really any neighborhood of San Francisco, where the cappuccino is immaculately Italian…


I’m at an afternoon tea on a sunny Sunday. The room is alight with steaming tea, bubbling chocolate fondue, and warm conversations. I’m telling someone about how I’m Indian and how my family moved around different countries while I was growing up, when I’m asked a question I’ve heard many times. “Now that you’ve lived in so many countries, would you ever be able to adjust to living in India?”

*Sigh.* This question always freezes me for a moment. Not because I don’t know what the answer is, not because I’m needing a response and don’t have one; but because…

Saumya Sudhir

Reader, writer, third-culture kid.

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