Ep. 1 – Body & Burlesque
This theme of this episode of Masala Podcast is The Body. I talk to a South Asian burlesque dancer (yes, they do exist!) Bolly Ditz Dolly @bollyditz.dolly about her experiences, discovering and loving her body through the art of burlesque. We talk about how South Asian girls are taught to associate shame with her body, when they’re very young. And how we carry that sense of shame around our bodies all through our lives.
Ep. 2- Being Queer & South Asian
I speak to three incredible people who identify as queer and South Asian. My guests Fahmida Islam @mercury_dun, Komal Amin @komalamee & Aroob Sajjad @aroob95 are open and authentic in discussing their early lives and how they discovered their sexuality. We talk about how heteronormative and patriarchal ideologies in South Asian culture make it almost impossible for some womnx to consider an alternative. We also discuss how our culture affects our sexuality.
Ep. 3 – South Asian Identity
I speak to the multi-award-winning novelist, Preti Taneja @PretiTaneja about identity, about “fitting in”. We talk about not having a ‘double identity’ but rather a ‘dual reality’. Which makes life far more interesting for those of us who belong to two different cultures. We talk about how shame is used as a weapon by patriarchy to keep us ‘in our place’ Preti also talks about the state legislating over the body and sexual morality – and so many other interesting things.
Ep.4 – Periods & South Asians
I speak with Manjit K. Gill, CEO & Founder of the period charity Binti. As a British Indian, providing basic menstrual rights for women in India has become her obsessive, compulsive dedication to making a change. Manjit& I talk about the stigma attached to periods in South Asian culture. Not just in South Asian countries but here in the UK where some families don’t let girls go to the temple or attend weddings when they’re on their period.
Ep. 5 – Live Podcast Launch
The official launch of Masala Podcast was such a powerful experience. The audience responses were incredible, the support was overwhelming. A live episode of the Masala Podcast Launch Event was recorded on 8th Oct, at Rich Mix, London. The evening was a panel discussion with my guests from Season 1. We discussed the themes of the podcast: identity, race, sexual identity, mental health, the body and periods & answered questions from the audience.
Ep. 6 – Being Transgender & South Asian
This episode explores what it means to be transgender, South Asian & Muslim. My guest is Asifa Lahore, Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen. Asifa is a well-known drag performer and TV star. She’s constantly pushing the boundaries of what it means to be LGBT, South Asian and Muslim. Asifa featured in Channel 4’s groundbreaking documentary Muslim Drag Queens in 2015. On the podcast, we talk about Asifa’s journey of first coming out to her traditional Muslim parents as gay and then later coming out as trans and transitioning into being a woman. She talks about balancing her life within the LGBT community and being a Muslim.
Ep. 7 – Traditional Dance & The Body
We explore how traditional Indian dancing and the female body relate to each other. My guest Seeta Patel, winner of innumerable awards and bursaries, has been a judge, mentor and advisor for the first ever BBC Young Dancer Competition. In 2017, Seeta received the Washington S&R Award for her work championing Bharatanatyam in the diaspora, presented her solo classical performance with live music at Sadler’s Wells as part of the prestigious Darbar Festival in November 2017. We discuss the origins of the Bharatanatyam dance, which can be traced back to the Devadasis and temple and court traditions. We talk about classical dance and its place in society today.
Ep. 8 – A Special Book Club with SASS
In this special episode, I’m discussing the book ‘Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows’ by Balli Kaur Jaswal with Shirin Shah who’s the Co-founder of SASS – South Asian Sisters Speak (SASS) as well as Mahek Mehta and Maryam Siddiqui who’ve been part of previous SASS book clubs. Described as ‘warm and hilariously funny’ – this gem of a book takes on a big taboo: sexuality among older South Asian women. We read some (saucy) extracts from the book, we discuss lots of important themes like the ‘de-sexualisation’ of older South Asian women. We talk about our perceptions of what is acceptable in South Asian culture vs. Western culture. We explore what physical displays of affections (or the lack of them) mean for us growing up as women in our culture. This is a really special episode for me, because we connected, we chatted about some important themes and we had such a laugh.
Ep. 9 – Mental Health & South Asian Womxn
In this final episode for Season 1 of Masala Podcast, the theme is Mental Health among South Asian womxn. I chat with Tina Mistry, clinical psychologist and director of TherapySense. She specialises in issues around race, culture and identity and works with South Asian communities. Tina has a specialist interest in working with trauma (including PTSD, developmental and intergenerational trauma). We talk about issues affecting South Asian girls and womxn, particularly struggles with their dual identities. We discuss how we are taught to never show rage or anger and how that affects us as women in the culture. We debate whether current mental health methods are “Euro-centric”. I also talk about my own struggles with mental health over the past few years, specifically the anxiety and panic attacks that I’ve experienced. This is a really important episode for me, because this is personally relevant to me. And also, mental health issues affect so many of us.