At BHAV, we believe in empowering women to find unique ways to embrace their cultural heritage. We started 'The Culture Connection' to explore the impact (both good and bad) of heritage on a variety of incredible women, and understand how it continues to play an influential role in their lives. We invite you to join us on this journey, with the hope that you find value in these conversations.
Meenakshi (@mamauntoldthoughts) is the host of her podcast, 'A Moment with Meenakshi', on Rukus Avenue Radio. She's also involved in organizations in her hometown of Ottawa, Canada that revolve around mental health and other topics that are not often on the forefront in the South Asian community. Beyond her work, Meenakshi is a proud mother of two girls, and loves to watch movies, read, play volleyball, and create artistic content. Read on to learn about Meenakshi's heritage and how it has shaped her into the woman she is today.
On Her South Asian Heritage:
What's your background?
Born in Canada, but identify as a South Asian Canadian.
How has, or currently does your heritage play a role in your life?
My South Asian heritage plays a very vital role in my life. I grew up immersed in the culture and traditions. I did struggle with my identity growing up, but once I was comfortable with who I was, I soaked it in. Now more than ever, being a mom, I'm a big believer in sharing as much as I can about my heritage with my little girls. I am in an interracial marriage and it's important to me that my kids are exposed to both cultures equally.
For those who are not familiar with the South Asian community in Canada, what was it like growing up in Ottawa? Was there a large, supportive South Asian community where you lived?
Ottawa is a small community - especially the South Asian community. Although, now it is growing! My mom came to Ottawa in the 70's and so with her network and level of awareness, I became very involved with the South Asian community at a very young age. I was always asked to emcee cultural events, perform, and organize initiatives. At the time, I did feel a bit pushed, but now i am thankful for those experiences. The grade school I attended was not very diverse and so I found myself not sharing much about what I did outside of school because I was, for lack of better words, embarrassed and ashamed. I felt kids would make fun of me or tease me for not doing the typical grade school things - instead I was going to hindi school on Saturday mornings.
It wasn't until high school where I met more South Asian folks who I am good friends with today. Building this network during high school helped me shape who I am today. It built my confidence and character and I could come out of my shell and do what I enjoyed doing for my community without hiding anything.
Your newly launched podcast called, 'A Moment with Meenakshi', centers around topics related to parenthood. What inspired you to start the podcast, and what can new listeners expect to be treated to on the podcast?
This radio venture didn't come as a surprise as radio has always been in my line of passion! My mom still hosts a community radio program in Ottawa and very often I would join her. So, this opportunity was just very fitting. I wanted the focus of the show to be around parenting because I feel us South Asian parents don't speak enough about our struggles/challenges/and positives! We're very hush hush about topics around breastfeeding, single parenting, divorce, and just raising kids. I'm hoping to empower parents out there to share their journeys.
We love what you're doing with your community organizations focused on tackling mental health (@the_lotus_movement). What events/projects do you have planned for this in the future, and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
What do you love most about South Asian fashion?
I love EVERYTHING. The vibrant and bold colors. The textures. The details. The class and elegance. I love pieces that are not cookie cutter styles.
What's your favorite thing in your closet right now, or the piece that gives you the most confidence?
Currently, anything that is comfortable (considering I haven't had a chance to wear much of my summer outfits thanks to the pandemic). But my favorite go-to is always what makes me feel good. This could mean a simple dress with a jean jacket or komono. I'm big on accessorizing - a simple outfit with a statement necklace always catches the eye!
What's your go-to cocktail, spirit or drink?
A glass of Riesling.
What are you currently watching?
Stateless on Netflix. Amazing show!
Name of the best book you've read in a while?
'The Henna Artist'
Morning person or night owl?
Night owl. Which hurts in the morning as my kids act as my alarm clock.
What's 1 small thing you couldn't give up (daily ritual, accessory/personal item, etc.)?
My phone!!! But, my excuse (and it's a valid one), everything is on my phone!
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