The Desi Woman's Everyday Olympics

Jumping jalebi style hurdles on the daily

Soulies, mein kehti hun, forget the Olympics! Because, Soul Sisters Pakistan has taught me that life as a desi woman is THE ultimate sporting event. 

Here, the competition is fierce, the rules are constantly changing (mostly without notice), you may have to wear a gharara during the major sprint, and the trophies come in various shapes and sizes - from dodged chapals, to a day spent without being stared at on the streets.

Enjoying using GIFS, much like blogging in the early 2010s

In this society, a girl learns how to tolerate taanay before she can even walk. And that instant exposure to “haye iss ka rung kaisay hai,” at birth can cultivate the skill of being able to spot a nosy aunty and a doosri-biwi-jokes-walay uncle from miles away. Waisay, if I think about it, this is partially a special talent genetically passed on to us by the traumas our mothers endured.

Now, when the girl has barely made it past this circus, she’s suddenly jawan - and it’s time for the rishta marathon.

I don’t know if it’s inspiration from Bollywood or just plain beghairti, but I’ve literally read and seen stories of girls in their 20s being approached by men in their 40s. Showing up with their mothers in drawing rooms, in between all the muft chai and chicken patties (I know you’re visualizing their faces in close up) - your average, desi Leonardo DiCaprio wannabes get the opportunity to shop around young women, with rejection reasons ranging from height, to caste, to skin colour.

The stunt every girl wants to pull off

And if the girl successfully survives the above two rounds - massive congratulations, because she’s officially reached the susral. The coveted in-laws' place - jahan kamray mein janay ki bi aksar permission laini parti hai. If you don’t know how common this is please search up stories on SSP - including the bathroom horror stories, I am not making this up. Those were an actual nightmare - to even read!

Always remember, the desi women Olympics isn't your average competition – here, the bar is constantly being raised by a society with X-Ray vision who can judge your biryani-making skills from a mile away. I could quite literally go on and on with the next few rounds - talk about the different types of curve balls and even jungli mental gymnastics women have to deal with but perhaps on another email! What I want to really get at today, is the solution.

Teary-eyed trolls reading this newsletter like…

I’ve realized over the years that there is definitely no one-size-fits-all solution to the thousands of problems we face as women in this society. There are however big and small ways we can initiate change to unlearn some toxic traits and learn new ways to empower ourselves and others around us. That solution is what I wanted to create when I was building Hey Soulie. In my opinion here are a few steps:

  1. Recognizing the flaws in our culture: I know that whenever someone brings up a prominent issue in our culture they are instantly seen as enemies. Because the truth is, it is sometimes hard to see faults in ourselves and our surroundings. Kind of like how when a place we are living in starts smelling bad, we eventually get used to it - but if a new person enters they can instantly sense it!
    Recognizing this stench, this flaw - even if we are personally NOT facing it is the first step. Recognizing the things others go through, even if we are privileged is what’s most important.

    We can only change it, light some scented candles, throw out the garbage and clean our surroundings (metaphorically) IF we are willing to acknowledge what is wrong with it.

  2. Creating awareness: Talking about these issues is a great way to counter the damage. But you know what’s funny? There’s more conversation and content to publicize problematic norms which further pushes these behaviours in society. Yes - I am talking about all the thappars, doosri-shadis and just overall glorification of misogyny on our TVs and Social Media. It’s no longer the days of Dhoop Kinare and Tanhaiyaan - but instead of Khalil-ur-Rehman’s ideology piercing through our screens in the form of drama series. In my limited capacity I created Conversations with Kanwal to provide an alternative to that very content but this series is currently on hold as we find ways to finance future seasons. Yep, 120 million views later we are still at point zero.

  3. Unlearning and learning: Unlearning basically means the day Salman Khan realizes he can no longer be the Hero in films and has to play dad roles. That’s right - unlearning means giving up certain habits and behaviour patterns that are not beneficial to you and others around you.
    Learning on the other hand - we know exactly what that means - but I find that it is is not completely encouraged in our society. Learning and continuous education - both soft skills and technical skills - help us grow as people and as a society. It empowers us to freely make choices that benefit us. And whether you are 16 or 60 there are things you can learn. There are hobbies you can find. And people you can and SHOULD be inspired by.

Ever since the success of the Sex Education Webinar last month - I’ve been quietly working to create more sessions in collaboration with experts. Over the next few weeks and months we will be rolling out some uplifting conversations and masterclasses. Some topics we are covering include:

  1. Investing and Growing your Money (Happening in the Second Week of August)

  2. Writing a fool-proof Business Plan for Success (Happening tentatively end of July or last week August in collaboration with a major institution in Canada)

  3. Fearless Parenting to Raise Confident Children (Dates not finalized yet)

  4. A Homepreneur's Guide to Graphic Design: Learn, Create, Earn (Dates not finalized yet)

As always, these sessions (valued between $25-200 each) will be free to our paid subscribers. Those who are not paid subscribers will have the option to purchase tickets to attend these individual sessions. Each session is being carefully curated by experts with decades of experience and is a great chance to learn from them in an accessible, affordable way.

Sign-ups for these masterclasses will start soon - so do keep a look out on the Soul Sisters Pakistan Facebook Group as well as emails from Hey Soulie. We usually close sign-ups once a certain number of people have registered.

If you enjoyed reading this newsletter don’t forget to click the heart button and consider upgrading to continue support more authentic writing and access free masterclasses! ❤️ 

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