A Chat with Poet Pavana Reddy

Punita RiceCulture

Pavana Reddy mazadohta

Pavana Reddy (who you may already be following on Instagram — she’s also known as @mazadohta!), is an amazing, beautiful, inspiring poet. You can sample her lovely poetry on her Instagram page (here), hear it on Anoushka Shankar’s album Land of Gold, or read it in her first book, Rangoli.

Pavana Reddy - Light a few candles, burn a few bridges - Pavana Reddy

I got to connect with and interview Pavana for ISAASE’s Be Inspired project. We had a touching, earnest conversation about her experience of internalizing a sense of otherness growing up Brown in Canada, and about how the pain of losing her sister to suicide changed her writing. She also shared why she feels it’s so important for young people to share their feelings.

The English teacher in me is happy to have connected with such a talented rising poet, and the human being in me is so grateful I had the opportunity to connect with this beautiful soul; this was one of the most personal interviews I had a chance to do for the project, and I’m honored she was willing to share her story with me.

I hope you’ll check out the full interview if you’re interested. Below is an excerpt.

“…I wish I had the language I have now to have been able to save my sister from the pain she silently carried for years. After her death, I didn’t have anyone to talk to. My teachers were not as accessible as they should have been, and coming from such a small town also kept me from speaking to my peers; so I turned to books for company. I would read so much that the characters would become my friends, and that helped me deal with my sense of disconnect. I realized I wasn’t in alone if how I felt, and that brought me a lot of comfort.”

If you’d like to read, the full interview is here.

P.S. – More of Anoushka Shankar’s music here, and here, and here’s an interview with Natasha Sumant of Gundi Studios.

Happy Diwali!

Punita RiceTeaching

Happy Diwali!

Thursday of this week is Diwali (also spelled Divali, and sometimes called Deepavali/Deepawali). Diwali is an important cultural (and religious) holiday, and it’s celebrated by over a billion people on Earth. If you’re teacher, this probably means many of your students and staff members are celebrating, too. Which means it’s probably also worth considering teaching about Diwali. So if you’re teaching about Diwali (and I hope you are), I hope this post is helpful for you!

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A Chat with Lady Pista

Punita RiceCulture

Inspired by Lady Pista - Recording Artist and DJ - Full Interview with Punlearning

Have you heard of Lady Pista? Sumangala Narendrakumar (aka Lady Pista) is a recording artist and DJ whose music is a blend of dancehall, electro-house, and world music. A couple months ago, I reached out to Lady Pista to connect about the ISAASE Be Inspired project, which aims to inspire young South Asian Americans by sharing diverse profiles and stories of success (especially success that doesn’t fit stereotypes of South Asian achievement!). She shared some lessons she’s learned along her journey navigating the entertainment industry as a South Asian woman. Here are two of my favorite pieces of advice she shared…

On self-motivation:

“You have to remember that you are the biggest vehicle to your own success.”

On following your passion and carving out your own destiny:

“We are all told that the arts isn’t a career and we need to find a suitable role in society and fit the mold. What if your mission wasn’t to follow the pack? What if it was to break boundaries so our communities can evolve?”

I loved getting to know Lady Pista, and chatting about her experience of pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, challenges she’s faced along the way, and her advice for young people pursuing a similar path. If you’re interested, you can read the full interview here, and you can hear some of her music at her website.

P.S. – Her 5-track EP “Imma Pista” releases next month!





Links for your Weekend

Punita RiceMiscellaneous

Links for your Weekend

It’s my birthday weekend! Every year, the week before my birthday is designated as Hindi Movie Week in my house. But with a toddler, Hindi Movie Week has been way less successful than in years past. So far, I’ve made it through Neerja, and a re-watch of about fifteen minutes of Jab We Met (but didn’t catch this amazing song this time). Anyway, since I don’t typically post over the weekend — unless I have a parenting post scheduled for a Saturday morning (I schedule motherhood posts for the weekend since that’s when many of my own Mama friends get a chance to sit down with a cup of coffee and their phones!), and I don’t this weekend — I thought I’d share some links for your weekend now.

So, if you’re interested, here are five links for your weekend…

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The Hardest Thing About Weaning

Punita RiceLife

The Hardest Thing About Weaning

Mamas, if you nursed your babies, did you have a hard time with weaning? (And if yes, what was the hardest thing about weaning for you?)

Why weaning is hard

Of course, weaning can be hard on your child emotionally (and certainly physically if you’re weaning before they’re developmentally ready), but weaning can also be hard for moms. Many moms may have a hard time with bringing a nursing relationship to an end. This can be especially true if breastfeeding was overall a positive experience.

Weaning can be difficult because of its physical components (engorgement is not a joke). And the physiological stuff can be really hard; many moms even go through lows that are similar to depression. Part of the reasoning can be tied to the shift in hormones that accompanies weaning; as you wean, prolactin levels decrease, and you have fewer bursts of oxytocin.

What I found hard about weaning

I weaned my son around 18 months — we weaned very gradually, starting with night weaning — but once we were finally really done, I was surprised at how emotional I felt (and the first morning my son didn’t ask to nurse, omg, forget about it!). Even while I’m aware of how fortunate I have been, and thankful I’ve been able to enjoy nursing my child, and grateful that I was able to nurse him for 18 months, bringing this part of our relationship to an end was not without difficulty.

As I mentioned, we weaned very gradually; so in the beginning, when we first started night-weaning (around 16 months), I definitely struggled with feeling guilt about denying him a comfort that he had grown to accustomed to, even while I knew that for a variety of reasons, it was ultimately the right thing for our family at that time. My guilt was assuaged by the relative ease with which my son took to night-weaning. Something else I struggled with was the intellectual awareness that weaning meant the ending of a physical oneness with my son. Of course, this was balanced by my joy at my son’s growing independence, but I still found myself feeling a sense of loss. (I will say, though, that this feeling dissipated pretty quickly after he was fully weaned.)

What other Mamas find to be the hardest thing about weaning…

For many families, starting the process of weaning can throw a kink into an otherwise smooth family routine. And, weaning can be especially difficult if one member of the nursing dyad is ready, while the other isn’t. Still other moms have a response to weaning that ranges from celebration of their children’s increasing independence (and sometimes, their own independence!) to struggling with the end of the nursing relationship with their child. Moms weaning their babies may also struggle with wondering if they’re doing the right thing. (Plus, for so many moms, getting into the swing of breastfeeding can be such a complex challenge — this can make weaning even harder.) Here, some of my mama friends share what the hardest thing about weaning their child was for them…

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The Proust Questionnaire from Le Labo

Punita RiceCulture

Proust Questionnaire from Le Labo DC

Do you have a “signature fragrance” (and is that still something we’re doing?). A woman I know recently went to Le Labo in DC (the fancy fragrance company that makes the beautiful perfume bottles and candles you see all over Instagram/Pinterest/etc), and got a semi-custom fragrance made. I say “semi” because it’s a fragrance they already make, but it’s still custom because (a) they create the fragrance for you in-house, (b) they help you select the fragrance based on a questionnaire you fill out, and best of all, (c) the bottle has your name on it!

I asked her about the process to get it done, and she sent me this link, to Le Labo’s “Proust Questionnaire” (named for Marcel Proust’s madeleine moment, in which the taste of a madeleine triggers an involuntary memory). So you take the Proust Questionnaire from Le Labo, and then Le Labo perfume experts share with you which fragrance “might best fit your being.”

The questionnaire includes items like “if not yourself, who would you be?” (and other fun questions that seem unrelated to perfumes). Le Labo says the questions let them “try to get a better albeit imperfect understanding of people’s personality and hence help them in the complex process of choosing a scent.” Reading and then completing the questionnaire made me nostalgic for the early days of the internet (remember when your friends would forward you emails with a bunch of personal questions that you fill out and then forward on — and always to your hotmail.com/aol.com email address).

If you’re interested, here’s the full Proust Questionnaire from Le Labo…

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Some amazing things

Punita RiceMiscellaneous

amazing things

Some amazing things I’ve been enjoying or thinking about this week, in case you’re interested. First, two random thoughts on style:

(1) High waisted jeans are wonderful. In particular, these high waisted jeans. I have them in classic blue, light blue, and black and wear them pretty much constantly. (Also – here’s a good deal on Jeffrey Campbell booties that pair well with a slightly cropped jean.)

(2) The style in Napoleon Dynamite was ahead of its time. (I was just saying this.)

And now, can we talk about Shivani Bhagwan’s choreography?

Other things I’ve been reading / thinking about…

Some words on privacy — here’s a TED talk from Glenn Greenwald on why privacy matters.

And finally…

Unidos por Puerto Rico is a disaster-relief fund for Puerto Rico and Mexico, launched by Beatriz Rosselló, the first lady of Puerto Rico. You can make a donation, and funds go toward providing aid and support to those affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane María. Also, here’s a Lifehacker post on various organizations you can donate to. (And, bonus, here’s a post on why you may not want to earmark how your funds can/should be spent by the organizations you donate to. Lots of useful information in the comments section too.)

By the way – send me the best things you’ve found online on Twitter or DM me on Instagram.

P.S. – A week left until Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8. Also, in case you’re interested: 5 Instagram accounts for you to follow, and also, some more weekend links. Have a happy weekend.

How Long Does it Take You to Respond to Texts?

Punita RiceCulture

How Long Does it Take You to Respond to Texts?

How long does it take you to respond to texts? Since people may tend to assign meaning to the amount of time that passes between their messaging you and your responding, do you feel pressured to respond more quickly?

Anuja‘s soon to be sister-in-law, and my new friend, Dr. Roopa Mathur is a psychiatrist and an all-around cool woman who thinks taking our time to respond to texts is a good thing. In a conversation we were having (over text, incidentally), she said that there should be…

“No pressure to respond right away at all, ever. That’s too hard of an expectation to live by, and perpetuates having to always be connected to the phone.”

She went on to say that we should respond to texts “when it feels right.”

love that. And though she meant when it feels right logistically, this could also the other kind of feeling right: when you have something meaningful to say. After all, do you always think about your responses carefully when you text — probably not. And have you ever rushed to respond to a question that perhaps deserved more thought — I know I’ve done this. (I also love the bit about the expectation of being connected to our phones all the time. Related: Do you check social media before sleeping?)

So — how long does it take you to respond to texts? And as a follow-up question, do you expect people to respond to your messages right away?

P.S. – Here’s why stay at home moms don’t pick up your phone calls, and here’s a 3-question quiz for determining how long you “should” wait to text someone back. Also, texting while walking. And while we’re talking about using our phones, here are some Instagram accounts for you to follow.

(Featured image found from this post on the “unspoken” rules of texting.)