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Cultured, or Nah?

Shabnum Gulati

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Find us on Instagram: @culturedornah. A podcast about understanding the truisms inherent in desiness. We (probably) talk about the stuff your mom and dad won't. Ever been curious about what South Asians in other countries are like - or why they might actually be different from you? Ever wondered about the increasing role of the South Asian American electorate, or about why we're seeing more brown faces in mainstream media today? Perhaps you've even wondered why you've been born into a religi ...
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Bollywood, our parents' marriages, Disney movies, Hollywood - all of it would have been enough to throw us into a doozy. How did you think about love and dating growing up? What has changed for you, and what do you hope for now? In this episode, Shabnum sits down with fellow podcasters Lahari Rao (of Down to Brown podcast) and Mitali Dargani (of Br…
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Do you ever feel like our collectivist cultures and all the models we grew up with of what a fulfilling life could be make it seem like not having kids is a strange, or even selfish choice? How do we talk about not wanting kids and still being able to live fulfilling lives without feeling like we're missing out on something or feeling guilty? Liste…
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In this episode, Shabnum compares two books: The Doctor and the Saint - Caste, Race, and the Annihilation of Caste (the Debate Between B.R. Ambedkar and M.K. Gandhi) by Arundhati Roy, and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander to get a deeper understanding of the way in which we can define caste. Shabnum is no expert in caste, nor someone who has p…
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Today we're joined by Payal Shah - Founder & Designer of L'Dezen and Psylish Jewelry, fashion influencer, and Web3/NFT enthusiast! Payal talks through the basics like what even are NFTs? She then proceeds to explain how she has been looking into and experimenting with Web3 and the blockchain to future proof her own business, and why she enjoys the …
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What do you think when you hear the term "mom"? What do you picture when you picture a desi mom? Taking the previously uncool to cool, we're seeing a new generation of women claiming all aspects of their identity - motherhood, South Asianness, their hobbies, their kids, and everything in between. Today we have on Jyoti Chand (@mamajotes on Instagra…
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Does your comedy always have to stem from your race / religion / culture? Join us as we talk to Meghana Indurti and Daman Bamrah about how they got started in comedy and what drives them. Meg and Damn will get into the good, the bad, the ugly of comedy and how they think about the content of their sets as they think about talking to different kinds…
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Publishing a book is no joke - especially one that seeks to tell the stories of South Asian women across the world in all different phases of life - young, old, married, single, divorced, taking care of their mothers or mother-in-laws, maintaining friendships or struggling with the loss of them. Untold did what few other books have been able to do …
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Join us as we talk to 3 writers from Brown Girl Magazine's Untold anthology who speak about unique experiences such as the expectations between a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, caretaking duties as a children of desi parents, and relationships with grandparents abroad. In this episode we'll dive into the relationships that define so much of our…
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Ever been confused by how your parents can hate Trump but support Modi? How do we have difficult and honest conversations on social media given very real potential threats from the governments of South Asian countries, as well as the comment trolls? What started as a conversation about how these two accounts, Urban Asian and South Asian Nation, are…
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How did this happen? What allowed this to happen? And what are the legal arguments that underpin such a momentous decision in American history? Back with a bang, Shabnum comes back for Season 4 with Seema Iyer, a lawyer and journalist with Queens City News as they explore what the legal arguments were that allowed Roe v. Wade to get overturned. See…
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In this episode Shabnum is joined by Juanita Dudhnath of Brown Girl Magazine as both of them talk through the dark history of indentured servitude that led to Indian migration to the Caribbean, and how four to five generations onward the culture of Indo-Caribbean people has evolved. Juanita explains the term "Coolie," and how it can have both famil…
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In this episode, Shabnum interviews Jennifer Williams, Senior Foreign Editor of Vox Media on her journey with religious conversion to Islam. Jennifer grew up Southern Baptist, but through the course of her own work and research, found herself drawn to Islam. The best way to summarize Jen's journey is in her own words: "If you were to pass me on the…
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Is the American dream for everyone? Does the color you are on the spectrum affect your place in society? In this episode Shabnum talks to Madison Natarajan and Alex Karjeker about their experiences growing up part South Asian. Madison is half white and half Indian, Alex is mixed race with multiple South Asian and part South Asian family members. Bo…
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A lot of us are first generation citizens of western countries where our parents were immigrants. Some of us have been parents for a few years while others are just now embarking on this journey; still others are a few years away. Gen X and Millennial diaspora South Asians are now having to grapple with questions of how we raise our own children: o…
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In this episode Shabnum sits down with Unitarian Minister Barbara Merritt, who is working on a collection of poetry from Rumi's Masnavi. She explains the persistence of Sufi poetry in our world and how and why it has survived the test of time. Sufi poetry has transcended organized religions and is widely read and used - the imagery being relatable …
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In this episode, Shabnum interviews British standup comedian and now book author Tez Ilyas about his book "The Secret Diary of a British Muslim Aged 13 3/4." Cycling through a variety of topics, Tez and Shabnum exchange childhood stories of growing up South Asian (Tez still can't believe Shabnum would use the word "rice" to describe what she's eati…
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Originally recorded for the South Asian Film Festival of America by Product of Culture, in this episode Shabnum & Rajiv take a magnifying glass to Bollywood films throughout time. With an almost academic fervor, they explore the relationship between the Hindi film industry and the Indian government while applying that lens to the tropes we've seen …
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In this episode Shabnum talks to Sabrina Lakhani and Malini Ramakumar Bartels. Sabrina is a behavioral scientist who specializes in helping people learn how best to navigate their own attachment styles in relationships. Having gone through a divorce herself, Sabrina shares the common pitfalls that South Asians may fall into due to cultural expectat…
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In this episode Shabnum talks to Supraja Seshadri and Darshi Shah in more of an anecdotal episode on their experiences going through the Arranged Marriage process. Supraja is Tamil and Darshi is Gujarati. They both talk through how the process works generally as well as some spicy, hilarious, and sometimes sad tales of the various dates they've bee…
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In this episode, Shabnum sits down with her friend Khalil currently joining us from Ramallah, Palestine and they both explore the similarities between the Israeli/Palestinian and Indian/Pakistani conflict. Taking the stance that dividing countries up on religious grounds has not turned out to be the "clean" solution it may appear to be on paper, Kh…
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In this episode, Shabnum sits down with Navpreet Sachdev (Nav the Poet) and Jaydeep Singh Ugra to talk about how being Sikh plays a role in one's understanding of identity. As a minority group within India as well as in the West, and given the Sikh community's at times strained relationship with the Indian government, we explore how being Sikh can …
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In this episode, Shabnum is joined by esteemed film director Faraz Arif Ansari. Faraz has worked on numerous Bollywood projects, and most recently is known for their internationally award winning short film Sisak, Netflix's the Big Day, and their film Sheer Qorma (to be released later this year). Faraz and Shabnum talk about what's changing or not …
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If you are Indian American, dancing is more than just a "hobby." It's a blood sport. How someone hasn't already made a reality TV show about the national Bollywood, Bhangra, and Raas competitions we all end up doing is a mystery to me (consider this my pitch, Netflix). Recently, on the Cultured, or Nah? story I posted a poll to ask if Pakistanis an…
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Is there a racial hierarchy when it comes to dating outside of our community? How difficult would it be to go against the 20-30 years of conditioning we've all had on what an acceptable partner looks like? And how does religion add in a third layer where most in the West only struggle with the "interracial" aspect of a mixed marriage? These are the…
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In this episode Shabnum is joined by Rajiv Menon, a producer working in LA with a PhD from NYU in Masculinity and Global Pop Culture. Shabnum and Rajiv talk through a series of issues in our understanding of what Toxic Masculinity is today - starting with the question, "What is Toxic Masculinity?" We will deep dive into how a seemingly buzzworded c…
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In this episode, Shabnum is joined by Masterchef star, author, and celebrated Instagram blogger Hetal Vasavada on the unique place food holds in our culture. Desis have a complicated relationship with food. We all know that our mothers and grandmothers will force feed us until we're about to explode, but are also the same women that will berate us …
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Just as with Hollywood, the fiction landscape is changing rapidly! Just this year, we had a series of books by South Asian authors hit the literary landscape and make waves throughout the world. In this episode, Shabnum sits down with Alka Joshi, author of "The Henna Artist," and Saumya Dave, author of "Well Behaved Indian Women." Both of these pie…
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In the first episode of Season 2, Shabnum sits down with Faiza Gul and Jibran Ahmed to talk about the factors that contributed to Pakistani migration to the UK, a demographic that is much more sizable in comparison to Pakistani immigrants to the US. We talk about how and why so many Pakistanis moved to the UK in the 60s - 80s, the racism they faced…
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SEASON 1 FINALE! Thank you all so much for being loyal listeners! Can't believe we're already at the last episode of Season 1! In this episode, Shabnum talks to Priyanka Ganjoo, Pritika Gupta, and Seerat Saini about the evolving and widening beauty space as it relates to representation for South Asian women. Priyanka and Pritika are the CEO / Found…
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In this episode we discuss the Golden Age of South Asian content that we seem to be enjoying in America. Shabnum and Khan talk to Sujata Day, (as seen on Insecure and Awkward Black Girl) who tells us about her latest venture writing/directing/producing Definition Please, and by Rajiv Menon, a producer that's had a windy path to a job in entertainme…
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Perhaps our most important episode yet. There's a lot that comes with the identities of being Hindu and Muslim that we don't always discuss. Shabnum, Razib, and Khan discuss how deeply the religions are intertwined with our culture, since for desis culture and religion are deeply coupled in a way that is less common in the West. Razib and Khan will…
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One of the most vibrant aspects of our culture is our fashion - our fine textiles, our rich and colorful fabrics, and the unique cuts of our clothes that separate South Asian couture into a class of its own. It's no secret that even our couture has evolved to meet the modern world - not just in the actual styles, but in the way the fashion is consu…
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It's no secret that the next billion people to come on the internet are going to come from developing countries: likely South Asia. What is the role of India and Pakistan on the tech world stage today? In this episode, Shabnum (Product Manager at Facebook and host of Cultured, or Nah?), Faizan (Founder of Halo and Head of BD at Lyft Media), and Cha…
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In this episode, Shabnum interviews Dr. Swarna Rajagopalan, founder of Prajnya Trust and a political activist currently working with the UN whose life's work on gender violence helps to provide a great deal of perspective on why gender violence is such a problem in India and South Asia as a whole. Shabnum and Dr. Rajagopalan will talk through what …
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In this episode, Khan and Shabnum explore the nuances in Desi groups when it comes to academics - we all know the pressure to perform academically for all Asian groups is quite high, but what accounts for the differences in actual results? We explore why different sub-groups of South Asians have materially different performances in UK GCSE exams, a…
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Everything you need to know about the upcoming 2020 US Elections, and everything South Asians had to do with them. Ever wondered about the rising significance of South Asians in America as a voter demographic? Or about the increasing number of South Asians we see running for political office? We're gonna talk about all of it. We're also going to to…
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Join Shabnum and Khan in conversation with Manal Mirza and Hanifa Abdul Hameed, two exceptional, rising South Asian artists. We'll talk about the changes in landscape that have allowed the proliferation of South Asian art we see today, how art can be a medium to express opinions that may otherwise seem controversial, and what bothers us about the p…
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Meet Shabnum and Khan as we talk about what it was like to grow up as an Indian in the US and as a Pakistani in the UK. We're going to cover why filling out the race form was so hard growing up, what it means to be "Asian", and how the different immigration patterns of our respective countries have shaped the way American Desis and British Desis ar…
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Cultured, or Nah? is a podcast about understanding and challenging some of the truisms we've come to believe are inherent in desiness. In this trailer, get a sense of what Shabnum and Khan will talk about throughout the season. We'll cover a range of topics: everything from the rise of South Asian art on Instagram, to gender violence in India. From…
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