My Friend, Anuja

Punita RiceLife

My friend Anuja Oak - from Punita and David's Wedding Photos by Mackler Studios

In a few short weeks, my friend Anuja is getting married. Maybe this is more characteristic of preparing for a South Asian wedding, since they’re multi-day events, and involve performances, but my thoughts lately are pretty much consumed with (mostly secret) things related to her upcoming nuptials. (If we’re friends on Instagram, you already know her wedding is coming up, because it’s all I talk about.)

My friend, Anuja giving a speech at my wedding

Here’s a photo of my friend Anuja, making a speech at my own wedding. Isn’t she lovely?

Also, Anuja wrote a bit about about what she’s doing with her name after she gets married. I’ll share what she wrote after her wedding!

Photos by Julian Mackler.

P.S. – Anuja and Maiera were my two maids of honor at my own wedding — in case you missed it forever ago, here’s the video from my wedding. Also, here’s a link to Anuja’s Instagram, and here’s a post that has a link to Maiera’s Instagram. (Also, if you have any words of advice for giving an amazing wedding speech, please share them!)

A Chat with Natasha Sumant of Gundi Studios

Punita RiceCulture

Natasha Sumant of Gundi Studios

Have you seen the instagram account Gundi Studios? In Hindi, “gundi” means female thug — and since outspoken South Asian women aren’t typically appreciated in South Asian communities, Natasha Sumant (the artist behind Gundi Studios) started the project as a way to celebrate courageous women, and reclaim the term gundi. The art and fashion coming out of Gundi Studios is fantastic, but Natasha’s work is way more than just art — it’s a platform for elevating outspoken South Asian women who have the courage to buck patriarchy, subvert norms, and reclaim their own narratives.

Natasha’s success in creating art that celebrates outspoken South Asian women goes against expectations of South Asian women — so a couple months ago, I reached out to Natasha for an interview for ISAASE’s Be Inspired project. We got to chat about how her art allows her to engage with race, feminism, and empowering South Asian women, about the challenges of having to fight for a career in the arts while growing up in India (and the challenges of working as an artist in the U.S.), what has helped her succeed, and what she wants young South Asian Americans should know. Here are some of my favorite things from our interview…

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Math Teacher, Hair Stylist, and Working Mom Crystal Johnson’s Personal Style

Punita RiceLife

Crystal Johnson - Math Teacher, Hair Stylist - Shares her Personal Style with Punlearning

My friend Crystal Johnson is a teacher, a hair stylist, a working mom, and one of the most pulled-together women I know. Crystal and I taught together for about four years (she teaches math, and I taught social studies and English) until a couple years ago. Because she’s so well dressed all of the time, I asked Crystal to talk with me about her personal style. Here, she chats with me about the “organized chaos” of being a working mom, how she picks an outfit for work (and balances looking good with being appropriate), why teaching students motivates her to look her best (“the kids can tell when you don’t put effort into looking your best”), inspiring girls without showing it all, promoting natural hair, and learning to love herself.

Here’s the interview, if you’d like to read…

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You’re Going to Regret Not Trying

Punita RiceLife

Jashvina Shah - Journalist - Fashion and Sports

Earlier this year I mentioned my outreach organization ISAASE‘s “Be Inspired” project. (In case you missed the post, it’s here). For the project, I connected with journalist Jashvina Shah about navigating the world of sports journalism (which isn’t exactly known for its welcoming attitude towards women), establishing a subscription service to a private sports reporting site, and why she loves working in journalism. She also said something that really stood out:

“There is a chance it might not work, but you’re going to regret not trying to do it.”

The comment was made in context of what she’d tell young aspiring journalists, but I thought it was valuable advice for anyone pursuing a passion.

Jashvina is such an inspiration – not only to young South Asian Americans, or to aspiring journalists, but to all women. You can read the full interview here.

P.S. – An interview with the founder of a nonprofit, and more information about the Be Inspired project.

Is Sex with Robots a Good Idea?

Punita RiceCulture

Did you see this Quartz interview with Dr. Aimee van Wynsberghe on sex with robots? Dr. van Wynsberghe is an assistant professor of ethics and technology in the Netherlands, and the co-founder and president of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics. In the interview, she talks about the practical value of sex robots, some of the ethical gray areas in sex robot design, and delves into the ethical concerns surrounding human-robot sex (!).

Here’s a particularly intriguing excerpt on the practical and therapeutic use of sex robots…

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Be Kind to Yourself

Punita RiceLife

Be Kind To Yourself

I had a conversation a few weeks ago that made me remember how important it is to be kind to yourself. My friend Alexandra had her second baby about a month and a half ago. Four days later, she shared with me the jumble of emotions she was feeling: She was struggling with feeling like she wasn’t meeting her older child’s needs, feeling frustrated with those needs, and feeling guilty about feeling those things (while simultaneously overflowing with love and adoration for him).

And then, she said something so lovely:

“But I need to give myself some grace too.”

It reminded me of the lovely advice a mentor and member of my dissertation advising committee, Dr. Ranji JohnBull told me when I was pregnant during my doctorate program:

“Be kind to yourself.”

We Mamas constantly have mom guilt, and we’re quick to beat ourselves up all of the time over everything. But we’re probably doing alright. So this is just a gentle reminder to be kind to yourself.

Alexandra also told me this: “my heart is so much bigger because I have two people I love more than I can even grasp.” Mamas, if you’re loving your babies, give yourself some grace, and be kind to yourself.

P.S. – A lesson plan for spreading kindness, tiny buddha on developing self-compassion, and a book that helps me keep perspective

Brass Earrings

Punita RiceMiscellaneous

Beautiful Brass Earrings

Do you love brass earrings? I’ve been obsessed with big brass earrings lately. For years I wore a lot of silver or white gold. (Side note, the silver hoop earrings I wore in high school were ridiiiiiiculously big). But I’ve been obsessed with gold-toned jewelry lately.

I’m especially loving matte or brushed brass earrings. And shiny gold earrings. And bright Indian yellow gold earrings. And muted, matte gold earrings while we’re at it. (I love gooooold)

Here are six pairs I like: curved, simple hoops, designer pacman-shaped, double-moons, fancy loops, and studs.

P.S. – Do you love aviator (prescription) glasses? Also, here’s an article about jewelry trends for the year (shiny gold earrings are on the list), and here’s another (from Harper’s Bazaar) on the same thing.

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