Growing up as a first-generation Indian American, my life experiences are filled with these stories. Be it after school-snacking on Parle-Gs or Mazaa, or enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with both traditional fare and Indian dishes.
However, growing up with two cultural identities wasn’t always easy. Up until high school, I was the only South Asian at my school, and I, like so many children of immigrants, found myself feeling out of place at times or even embarrassed of my differences. The scent of coconut oil in my hair, or the aroma of my mom’s (delicious) chutney sandwiches, often brought about strange looks and comments from my classmates. I remember wishing I had a more "normal" lunch, and sometimes even hid my lunch, fearful of what my peers might say.
Looking back at my younger self, I wish I could've told myself to own my identity, but as a child, it can be hard to feel included when some things about you are clearly different.
As I got older, I began to appreciate both cultures in their entirety and realized just how lucky I was to be able to experience life as an Indian American. Fast forward to today, and the cultural influence of South Asia has become more prevalent than I would've ever imagined. In fact, coconut oil and chutney sandwiches are pretty trendy these days. Chai and daal have become mainstream, and wearing a salwar kameez in public would probably get me more compliments then stares! In today's world, I see the younger generations proudly owning both cultures, and it's heartwarming to experience this shift.
Over the years, what I've come to appreciate the most about being South Asian, is how so many of us have weaved together both of our cultural identities.
As the holidays roll around, I'm reminded of the beauty of being South Asian American and why I set out to build Pyarful in the first place. And when I look at this card - a stocking full of jalebi, barfi, and ladoos, that is exactly what I'm reminded of: that two cultures can so beautifully be combined. And that for so many of us South Asians, a stocking full of mithai, like our multicultural world, is absolutely perfect.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been passionate about using my art to make people feel loved; and that’s exactly why I started Pyarful. In 2017, I started making and selling greeting cards around the San Francisco Bay Area and embarked on what has become such an exciting and rewarding journey.
Having spent over a decade in health tech, transitioning to a creative entrepreneur has allowed me to connect with myself and with people all over the world in a deeper and more meaningful way. The power of human connection that motivated me to work in healthcare, is in the same way the backbone for Pyarful. In fact, I still feel connected to health and wellness, and sometimes feel I can make more of a direct impact on wellbeing through my cards than I could even working in healthcare. There’s no better feeling than seeing the people around you smile, and knowing it’s because of something you made with your own two hands makes it so very special!
After a year of selling greeting cards, I noticed that although craft cards are as popular as ever, cards that connected to both my personality and my South Asian roots simply didn’t exist. A relatable Mother’s Day card that captured a special bond with my mom, or a fun Diwali card for my Indian friends, was nearly impossible to find. So I started to make some, with the same wit and whimsy that had originally defined by greeting cards. And heartwarmingly, they've been such a hit in the South Asian community, and beyond!
So here I am, on a journey to celebrate the everyday joys that make South Asian culture so special.
With so many beautiful bits to share about our culture, you can rest assured that there’ll be no shortage of mazaa (and chai, of course!). I can’t wait to connect with you and to hear your stories, and I hope you’ll join me in spreading the pyar.