Dear Dad: A Father’s Day Tribute From Brown Girls Everywhere

The following letters are written by Brown Girl contributors in honor of Father’s Day. 

Dearest Dad,

You are my hero. Since I was a little girl, I’ve looked up to you. I’ve learned so much from you—how to change a tire, how to travel, the value of money, hard work, and manual labor. You’ve taught me how to raise kids by raising me and Dipesh so well. You’ve taught me to get out of problems using logic and sense, not panic. Your advice and your one-liners ring in my head all the time:

You don’t get what you want just because you have a pretty face, you have to work for it.  

You don’t get if you don’t ask

Don’t ask for help at the 11th hour

There are many many more… and they still ring true.

I’m not very good at verbally expressing how I feel, but I admire you for your strength throughout the years, especially with all you are going through now with Motor Neuron Disease. I deeply feel hurt when you’re hurting.

I deeply feel pain when you’re in pain. And I deeply feel helpless that I can’t make things better.

So, I really want to say thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. Thank you for being there for me today. I truly cherish our daddy-daughter moments… past and present. I don’t tell you often enough but I truly love you. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

—Surina Khira Shah

Dear Dad,

Thank you for being you. Thank you for always being patient, for being kind, for being thoughtful while I tried to take on the world in all my crazy ways. I have learned what it means to be a human being because of you and have learned how to see people for the goodness in their hearts. If I had to attribute my open-mindedness and love of adventure to anyone, it would be to you because you have always encouraged me to live my life to the absolute fullest. I have learned how to be kind, to love humanity and its good traits, because of you.

Your work ethic has always taught me to work hard for my dreams, no matter what anyone says.

You have always taught me to look at other people for who they are in their heart, not what their appearance dictates, and it is a lesson I hope to pass on to my kids one day. I hope that the person I will spend my life with will have your kindness and your humor, as well as your love for cricket and Bollywood movies! I know with my constant traveling and running around I don’t often get a chance to tell you, but I just want you to know that I love you, and cherish you, and will always think of you as my superhero. The only thing I wish you would do more is to take vacations!

Sincerely your little girl always,

—Jaspreet Singh

Dear Dad,

Have I ever told you how much I admire you? How much I look up to you? How sometimes I am in total awe? I see you working so hard, and no matter how tired or exhausted you are, you never lose the positivity in you. You moved our family here, to a suburb where we barely knew anyone and built us a home. The qualities you have instilled in both Ani and me are those I will forever hold onto.

Somehow, you know the answer to everything. You are the person I can go to, knowing everything is going to be ok. I admire how you can see so many different perspectives on one situation, and you never jump to any conclusions. You push me to work harder, do better, and strive for more. That’s something I will pass onto my kids. To always work hard, never settle because there is something more to achieve. To build a foundation for yourself and always be passionate about what you do. You have worked so hard to give us a stable life, in which we never needed to worry about basic necessities. You sent Ani and me to college and taught us the importance of education, which we will carry forever.

They say no one in this world can love a girl more than her father, and I see that.

Happy Father’s Day, today and every single day.


Sindhuri Bhi

Dear Pops,

Not enough credit is given to those fathers who raise a daughter to be a feminist and remind them they’re more than just an element of their cultural background—I am me. So, Pops, I want to thank you today for being more than just a father, for being a friend to me and my sisters. You have never let me forget that honesty and sincerity go hand-in-hand with hard work if I really want to reach for success.

Thank you for always supporting me in my life choices and defending me against the stereotypes of following an expected linear path just to uphold societal acceptance.

My passion for traveling was inherited from your curiosity and appreciation for the beauty of this planet, and it’s because of the sacrifices you and mum made that I was privileged to explore the world from such a young age. Thank you for always listening and never judging, something I can only strive to continually do. Most importantly, thank you for trusting me as YOUR friend, for picking up the phone and turning to me when you also needed a friendly ear. If there is one thing I would ask you to do it’s to love yourself as much as much as the girls and I do. Don’t underestimate the importance you hold in our lives. You held my hand, now let me hold yours.

Love you always and more.

Seju xx

—Sejal Sehmi

Dear Dad,

Life’s battles are not always won by the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later, they are won by the one who thinks he can. When someone asks me what hardworking looks like, I tell them: my father. Your work ethic, your drive to succeed, and your ability to never give up has certainly rubbed off on me. You taught me that it’s about will—not about skill.

I am so proud to be the daughter of such a hardworking person, and I feel so lucky to have been a part of and a witness to your journey.

I love you so much, and I can’t wait to spend this Father’s Day with you.

Thank you for teaching me the meaning of hard work, courage, and determination. These are lessons that will forever be passed on, generation to generation, because of you. Happy Father’s Day to best dad I know.

Love you,



We don’t communicate very much on an emotional level, but I wanted to take the time to write this letter to you and show my gratitude for all the things you’ve taught me. You always find ways to pique my curiosity and encourage me to wonder about the world and its mysteries. I still enjoy Sunday afternoons watching National Geographic or the Discovery Channel learning about ancient Egyptian history, wildlife or the universe. I remember sitting outside in the backyard on a cool summer night looking up at the clear sky and you pointing out the constellations or planets to me. It excited yet also terrified me to think that we are such a small part of a massive unknown universe. This is something I will pass on to your grandchildren so that they to grow up with the same curiosity and appreciation for the earth.

The most important trait I’ve learned from you is to remain young at heart and not to take things too seriously. I think that’s why you aren’t a worrisome person in the slightest bit. No matter the adventure, you’re always ready to get up and go, and I’ve always admired that. This has taught me not to let the little responsibilities like a messy room or unanswered mail keep me back from an experience. You always point out that they will be right there waiting to be finished when we’re back. This also has a lot to do with your laid back, easy going personality.

You make do in any situation, good or bad, which is something I also hope to pass on to my children.

I’ve learned that getting angry won’t help resolve anything, so make do with what you have and carry on.

When you’re not off traveling the world or relaxing, I do wish you would communicate more with me. This is something I can improve on as well, but I guess I get that from you! Any maybe cool it with the iPad and the sweets a little! I know we don’t say enough, but I love you to the moon and beyond, Dad. Thank you for every small effort and every massive one. I know that many sacrifices were made to bring your children up in New York City, but we will do everything possible to make you proud.

Happy Father’s Day from your Bonze!

—Nadia Seegobin

My dearest Baba,

As I write you this letter for Father’s Day 2018, I can hear my heart breaking in much the manner that waves crash onto the shoreline. If you were still alive today, you’d be almost 68 years old. It has been exactly 10 years since you abruptly left this world. I can picture you sitting on our old brown and mustard colored living room couch with your left foot up, ankle resting on your right knee, in a crisp linen shirt and pants, and polished leather shoes. You’d probably have your head tilted, eyes narrowed as you blow out a puff of cigarette smoke, with Scotch in a crystal glass sitting beside you.

As you know, Baba, as much as I’ve learned from you about what TO do, I’ve also learned what NOT to do. It is from you, that I inherited my love for photography and making more out of what my eyes/camera see than what is visible to others. From you, I learned the importance of having command over languages—speaking English, Bengali, Hindi, and Tamil well. I’m a foodie, much like you, but I think you’d be relieved to know that I don’t drink, which is a blessing considering what it did to you. I believe I’ve picked up some of your ability for persuasive speaking and your presence. In being entirely transparent, I’ve also adopted your hot temper and unfortunate tendency to blurt out things that are hurtful at the worst times. I didn’t realize this until much later, but your journey with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia, which I lived with for 17 years made me more sensitive to mental health and molded me into such an incredibly strong person. Yes, strong enough to love you, anyway.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have kids, Baba—you’d be sad to hear that, I think. Part of the reason is that love hasn’t ever worked out for me the way I wanted it to. Another part is I’m terrified of my scars. If I do have kids, I’d want them to have your intelligence, Ma’s courage, and my strength.

I never got a chance to tell you any of these things, but I hope you’re reading/listening/watching from wherever you are, and I hope you’ve found some peace.

I hope there are times when you get the classic Dad expression in your eyes—you know, the one, with the damp eyes, confident smirk around the mouth—that indicate a sense of pride and belonging.

I’ll sign off here, Baba, and go read that last letter you sent me on thick, handmade salmon-colored paper with your bold scrawl in blue ink, telling me I should visit, and discuss my modus operandi on finding a suitable man for myself (!). It’s been exactly 10 years since you left, but I think of you every day. And even though you’re not here for me to call you when I need some advice about business strategy or to teach me how to refine my skills with my camera (a Canon, because that was your favorite), and even though we never got to have a normal father-daughter relationship, I’ll continue thinking of you every day.

Love, Sona

—Pooja Dhar 

Dear Dad,

Too much comes to mind when I think of you.

First, there’s the sepia-toned image of you in wrinkled scrubs, joining the world after a grueling 36-hour shift. You always found a way to mask your exhaustion, to make sure we knew you wanted to be with us.

Then there’s the video footage of you encouraging my spunk, my need to challenge convention. You told me it was your duty to make sure daughters felt strong and free.

You redid all of your medical training and moved across the world with Mom, just so we would have the potential for a better life. You only communicated with your family through letters in sky blue envelopes that smelled like damp earth and expensive, shaky long distance calls. At that time, I was too young to notice all of the things you were constantly giving and giving up.

I don’t know if I’ll ever truly understand all of your sacrifices. What I do know, is that each year, I realize more and more how you made me the woman I am today.

You set the standard for how I want to be treated by the world. Thank you doesn’t feel like enough but I’ll say it. Thank you for being strong enough to be vulnerable. Thank you for your subtle and effective sense of humor. Thank you for your inspiring work ethic.

Thank you for being the best father anyone could have.

I love you.

—Saumya Dave

Dear Appa,

For as long as I can remember, you have been my best friend, my biggest supporter, and the person who I look up to the most. Ever since I was little, you have encouraged me to be the best person I could possibly be. Anytime I had a problem, I knew that I could always come to you for help.

There are so many things that I admire about you and make me proud to be your daughter. A lot of people think that Desi fathers are scary and domineering, but you are the complete opposite. I’m sure there were times when I made you want to tear your hair out, like when I totaled your car. But you were always so forgiving and understanding.

You have raised me to be a strong and ambitious individual, and I cannot thank you enough for that. Most South Asian fathers are expected to keep their daughters at home with their mothers, but you have always encouraged me to go out and explore the world. From teaching me to use public transportation to persuading me to get my first job, you taught me how to be self-reliant. It is from you that I have inherited my love of traveling and discovering the world around me.

I have learned from you how important it is to be aware of everything that goes on in the world and to constantly be open to learning new things.

I know that it isn’t easy for you, an Indian immigrant, to be raising three children in the United States, but I just wanted to thank you for understanding our struggle in navigating cultures and traditions. You never tried to push a certain career or lifestyle path on me, but instead, you instilled in me that whatever I chose to do, I should try my best.

This year, you lost your own father, my Thatha, and I could see how much his death broke you. In spite of the pain, you made sure to constantly make sure that everyone else in our family was being taken care of, and you became the pillar of strength in our family at that time. I know Thatha was proud to have you as his son, and I am proud to have you as my father.

Thank you for always being willing to put up with me when I’m being extremely stubborn or moody. Thank you for always being fair and listening to my side before making a decision on anything. Thank you for constantly encouraging me to improve myself. But most of all, thank you for always standing up for me and being my hero. I know that I don’t tell you this enough times, but I love you.

Your daughter,


Dear Papa,

Although I usually shy away from expressing sincere feelings toward you because I just feel so corny and saccharine doing so (I know you’ll ask me what these words mean later), I thought maybe this was the right platform for me to finally express some of my feelings and gratitude towards you this Father’s Day. In writing this, I had to think about what your best qualities are and it made me realize that your best qualities are also your worst. The traits I most admire in you are the ones that also aggravate me deeply.

You’re incredibly hard-working. I know a lot of children say that about their dads and I’m sure it’s true, but how many of those dads have actually completed multiple surgical residencies and fellowships throughout their entire lives even in their sixth decade? I never fully realized how labor intensive and exhausting what you did was until I, as a third-year medical student, spent two weeks in your field. Your commitment to your field is unparalleled and you never back down from any opportunity. I know this work ethic is rooted in your passion for what you do, which is why it is with such ease that you are able to encourage me to follow my passions. I greatly appreciate this although I don’t show it. Unfortunately, due to the perils of reverse psychology, I end up feeling irritated whenever you nag me to be productive and work towards my goals, but your intentions are pure.

But beyond feeling irritated when you’re pushing me to be better, I get frustrated about the toll that your work ethic has taken on our family life. We didn’t get to spend as much time together when I was growing up. My mom’s career was sacrificed and stifled. We moved frequently and you continue to have to relocate. I know you are aware of this and do your best to cope with these realizations daily.

You’re fun-loving. You love to have a good time, laugh, dance, party, and be social. You’ve instilled these qualities in me, which has led to a relatively open relationship between us.

How many other dads know what “FOMO” is, let alone encourage their children to go to parties so they don’t miss on the experience? I don’t have any siblings but you’ve sought it out as your duty to fulfill that role and have fun with me. I love that you and I can even openly joke about my dating life.

Of course, like any son or daughter, when my dad is too eager to have fun, I can get embarrassed. I mean sometimes you’re so cringe-worthy! (You will most likely ask me what this word means, as well.)

You’re humble. By this, I mean not only are you modest about your achievements and virtues, but you also realize and share with others your humility and flaws. You know you’re human and are not afraid to admit when you’ve been wrong or mistaken. You don’t take yourself too seriously, which is the way one should live.

But sometimes you deserve to toot your own horn! Don’t put yourself down anymore than life already does for you. By being so humble, you put yourself at a disadvantage.

In writing about these three characteristics that I respect you for the most yet also find problematic, I have come to the realization that by focusing on only these dichotomies there are many more negative traits that I didn’t get to address here…but there’s always next year. 

Just kidding.


Happy Father’s Day, Papa. It’s a privilege to be your daughter.



By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

In Conversation With Kevin Wu: Creating Content in a new Generation

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu

Kevin Wu, previously known as KevJumba, is an American YouTuber, from Houston, Texas, with more than 2.68 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 323 million views. His content consists of vlogs, social commentary, musical parodies and more. Wu also streams on Twitch and has released original music as well as freestyles. His most popular YouTube video is titled “Nice Guys” with Ryan Higa. Wu has also worked with many individuals including A-Trak, Chester See, David Choi, Globetrotters, Iyaz, Jamie Chung, Jeremy Lin, Ryan Higa, Wong Fu Productions, and more. He has also appeared in movies such as “Hang Loose,” “Revenge of the Green Dragons,” “Man Up,” and more. Wu is one of the first original YouTubers gaining popularity in 2008 and even had another channel, titled JumbaFund, now known as Team Jumba. Continue reading to learn more about Kevin Wu’s journey!

[Read Related: Superwoman and Humble the Poet’s #IVIVI Music Video Celebrates Toronto’s Diversity]

We really enjoyed the project ‘Underneath the Lights.’ On the track “WHY U IN LA” the lyrics, “Don’t know who I might be, it might surprise me. I could be a hypebeast, That’s nothing like me, It’s so enticing.” How do you feel this speaks to the idea of self-discovery? What have you learned about yourself, diving back into making content?

I love that song we did. The artist who sang those lyrics his name is Zooty. I really provided the energy and direction for the musical piece, but I give credit to my producer Jonum and Zooty credit for the lyrics. Both guys are a slightly different generation, gen-Z, whereas I grew up as a millennial. I find that I left a lot on the table when I left YouTube at 23, so when I work with gen-Z I have so much that I want to give. Coming back to YouTube this time around, it’s all about self-reliance. Coming from movies and television, you have to depend on people to get a better product. But with YouTube, I’m going back to my roots and putting my wit and effort into every part of the process again (writing, directing, performing, producing, editing). I want the result to be authenticity and a homegrown feeling.

[Read Related: JusReign’s Reign on YouTube]

When you started your YouTube channel you were known for your vlogs and social commentary. How do you feel about the new age of content creation — where content is in surplus but individuals aren’t feeling the content?

It’s hard to say whether or not individuals are or aren’t feeling content — the taste is just so wide now. It’s like living in Los Angeles; food is very competitive, and when picking a restaurant you have every ethnic variety and even fusion foods. I imagine opening a restaurant in LA to be very competitive and the attention to detail in what you make has to be authentic or hit a certain demographic. I feel on the Internet, YouTube does a decent job of catering to your sensibilities, the so-called algorithm. However, the personal connection you get with content creators has somewhat been shifted, and now it’s become more interest-based (ie gaming, how-to, music, politics, etc.)

How do you feel the original algorithm has changed, and what do you miss most about that time?

I don’t remember talking about algorithms back in 2010 to 2012. People watched their favorite Youtubers because their homepage included their subscriptions first and foremost, and then if your subscriptions hadn’t posted anything new, you would typically check the most popular page. Then trending became a thing and now you have algorithms generating your timeline based on a bunch of data. I think it’s forced creators to think externally and hanging onto identities i.e. what are my interests? Am I a gamer? Am I a streamer?

We parodied your music video for “Nice Guys” for our orchestra music camp skit back in high school. If Chester, Ryan, and you, had to recreate “Nice Guys” today, would you focus on the concept of self-love for the current generation? We also really loved “Shed a Tear.”

I definitely think self-love would be a very nice theme. Recreating it would be nice, actually. I think it’s hard to get three people to all be in the same room again, especially after leading different lives. But “Nice Guys” was something special for each one of us, and Chester See deserves a lot of credit because of his musical talent. It’s made me realize today the impact of music. I really enjoy the expression of music because it forces you to be more artistic, versus just saying what’s on your mind. Like poetry, or hearing harmonies.

You’ve worked with many individuals and groups in the past including, A-Trak, Chester See, David Choi, Globetrotters, Iyaz, Jamie Chung, Jeremy Lin, Ryan Higa, Wong Fu Productions, and more. If you could create content with any group of individuals who would be your dream collaborators?

At this stage in my life, I really enjoy coming back and rekindling those creative connections and checking in with previous friends or acquaintances. Doing a video with Ryan Higa, Jeremy Lin, Chester See, David Choi, Wong Fu, Jamie Chung, those would all be very fun. But the first step would be to just see how they’re doing. So that’s the closest thing to a best case scenario for me. I’m not trying to force any collaborations at the moment (haha!). Unless it’s convenient.

As an NBA fan you expressed you would like to talk more about basketball on Ryan’s “Off the Pill Podcast.” How do you feel watching sports and has playing sports helped you become more in tune with yourself?

After going through a lot of physical adversity after my car accident, reconnecting with sports has been really helpful. I played basketball for a while and I’d like to get back into soccer. I wanted to talk about basketball on Ryan’s podcast because I was still dipping my toes into Internet content/social media and didn’t want to talk too much about myself at the time.

As a content creator how do you balance not letting validation get to your head and authentically connecting with your audience?

We all seek validation. It’s innate, but it’s about where you seek it. Nowadays I remember to validate myself first, by starting with my mind and body. After a while, you can get a sense of when you need validation versus being totally unconscious of it. Sometimes that sense of validation is important, so we know to check in with our parents, or see if a friend needs positive feedback. To connect with the audience, that’s like number five in my priority list (haha!). Having an audience can be scary; you definitely want to be in tune with yourself first.

How do you deal with comments consisting of “I miss the old KevJumba?”

I just smile. I miss the old KevJumba too!

[Read Related: The Authenticity and Individuality of 88rising’s Niki]

As live streaming has become a new form of content now, how have you enjoyed live streaming on Twitch for the Head In The Clouds Festival both in 2021 and 2022? We really enjoyed seeing Ylona Garcia sing “Nice Guys!”

It’s fun, I enjoy live streaming and I really appreciate 88rising and Amazon Music for inviting me both years to be the host for their livestream.

What was the decision behind putting your family in your videos?

I put my Dad in my videos accidentally; we were on a ski trip. I think people responded really positively in the comments, and then I just sat down had a conversation with him on camera, and it became a hit. After that he just became his own character. I think I tend to come alive more when I am interacting with someone on camera.

We really liked seeing you upload videos to Team Jumba. Is the mission still to donate earnings to a charity that viewers suggest?

At the moment, no. The Supply, which was the charity I donated to before, has since shut down. I also don’t make much money on YouTube anymore, since I was inactive on my channel for a while, so that format from 2009 will be difficult to replicate.

We really enjoyed the ‘KevJumba and Zooty Extended Play,’ specifically the track “With You in the Clouds” featuring fuslie. How has Valorant inspired your music as well as other forms of content creation?

The album was really experimental. I find the personal connections I made in gaming to be the most enlivening. “With You in the Clouds” was inspired by TenZ and, since he’s such a legendary figure in the pro FPS community, we had to do a worthy tribute. I think paying tribute to the things you like is a really great way to think about content creation.

How do you feel your childhood experiences in Houston, and playing soccer, have shaped you to chase your dreams of acting? How have you enjoyed acting in comparison to YouTube?

I love acting. It’s a wondrous lens at which to see your relationship with others. I find that in studying acting, you are often really studying the human experience or the mind. It’s like learning psychology but you are on your feet, or you are reading great theater. Playing soccer and growing up in Houston don’t really contribute directly to why I enjoy acting, but I very much enjoy coming from Houston and thriving in soccer. It made me commit to something and seeing how consistently “showing up” can really ground your childhood and prove to be valuable, later in life.

How do you feel we can uplift each other across the Asian diaspora and unify to create ripple effects of representation?

I think listening is probably the best thing you can do. Just genuinely hearing about something, or someone, helps you really invest in them during that time that you are there. So I think that’s probably the first step.

What made you go back to school and finish your degree at the University of Houston in Psychology?

No one reason in particular. I was also studying acting at the time back in 2017-2018 when I completed the degree, so it was just testing my limits and seeing what I could balance. I finished it online.

What are your upcoming plans?

Just experimenting on YouTube for now. Making videos with my own effort.

Your first video was uploaded back in 2007 and was titled ‘Backyard,’ where you are dancing to a song called “Watch Me” by Little Brother, off of the “The Minstrel Show.” We also really enjoyed your video with Ryan Higa titled “Best Crew vs Poreotics.” Are you still dancing these days?

Yes. The body does what the body wants.

Lastly, what do you hope individuals take away from this interview with Brown Girl Magazine?

Nothing in particular. I try to let my mind flow when I answer questions. I may have jumped to conclusions before fully investing in some of the questions, so I apologize. If you are reading, I thank you for your time and patience. I also thank Brown Girl Magazine for putting together a vast array of questions that allow my mind to stretch and work out a bit. I hope you find a stronger connection to your own truths, and I hope I did not disturb those in any way. Regards.

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Wu

By Arun S.

Arun fell in love with music at a young age by way of his middle school music teacher Mr. D. … Read more ›

5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season

trinidad curry
Curried Chicken with Roti Parata or Roti, popular Middle Eastern/Indian cuisine

It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.

1. Matthew’s Guyanese Cooking

From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at

2. Trini Cooking with Natasha

Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies.  Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Recipes for the Holiday Season you Have to Make]

3. Cooking with Ria

With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.


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4. Chef Devan

Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.


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5. Taste of Trinbago

Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity.  From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.


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These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.

Featured Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Subrina Singh

Subrina Singh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian & Asian American Studies from Stony Brook University and a Master’s Degree … Read more ›

Culture Series Part 3: Remembering Indentureship Through art in Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad

Featured Photo Credit Kevita Junior | Left to Right: Tu hiya ka kare he, Tu kaha bate, Tu hamar ke bate 

Thundering waves clawed on the body of the vessel as the sea swallowed the voices of terrified passengers. They clung to the shreds of the Eagle Speed as each hour submerged the ship deeper within the kala pani (dark waters). Steamer ships were sent for rescue, finding two children alone, clenching to the remains of the mast. The unscathed captain and crew fled in boats, leaving the lives of coolies (indentured laborers) to the fate of the dark waters. The Eagle Speed set sail on August 19th, 1865 from Calcutta to Demerara. This tragedy took the lives of over 300 hundred indentured laborers. The coolies onboard were not just casualties of the kala pani, but a larger system of British colonialism.

The crossing of these tumultuous seas was forbidden for Hindus, as it meant the severance of reincarnation and the unraveling of caste. Yet more than 2 million Indians were taken across the kala pani. The forbidden water carried stories along its transatlantic waves, bearing witness to history lost against its tides. The restraints of caste drowned along the voyages as surnames and relations were cast across the seas. They became Singhs (lions) and Maharaj’s (great kings), Brahmins by boat instead of birth.

[Read Related: The Culture Series Part 1: Descendants of Indentured Diaspora a Look at Fijian Representation]

These indentured workers were mainly taken from regions of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to different corners of the globe, with some of the largest to the Caribbean. Guyana experienced around 238,909 workers, Trinidad 143,939 and Suriname 34,304. With 399 Indians, the Lalla Rookh docked on June 5, 1873, at Nieuw Amsterdam in Suriname, later becoming known as the coolie depot. As workers poured out of ships and onto plantations, they experienced violence and oppression at alarming rates, especially against women.

Coolie Belle

They were nameless and barefooted with gold jhumkas and bangles adorning their bodies. As tourism increased in the Caribbean’s, photographing indentured women on postcards became part of its selling point. These women became subjects to appease the white colonizer gaze and fetishized exotic ‘Coolie belles.’ A bulk of these postcards were shot in Trinidad and sold in local shops to visiting tourists. Yet these postcards failed to translate the hierarchy of power between the photographed and those behind the camera. The white European men who carried out these photoshoots chose backdrops that masked the real conditions of sugar cane fields and living quarters. Who were these women? What were their names? The women were juxtaposed with the term ‘Coolie,’ a slur for laborer and ‘Belle,’ the French word for beautiful. They were coined as laborers of beauty, yet their eyes tell a story of fear of pain.


Tu hamár ke bate? (Who are you to me?) Tu hiyá ká kare he? (What are you doing here?) Tu kahá báte? (Where are you?) Artist Nazrina Rodjan posits these questions that rummage through the minds of many Indo Caribbean descendants. Who were my ancestors? What did they experience? Rodjan aims to explore the experiences of indentured women through her oil painting series “Kala Pani.” In this series, she reimagines the postcards of indentured women alike the depictions of European nobility. In conversation with Rodjan she mentions,

 I’ve thought long and hard about whether it would be ethical to reproduce these staged images of women who might have felt scared and uncomfortable being brought into these studios to be photographed by men. I will never know their true experiences and how they might have felt knowing a stranger in the future will decide to paint them in the same positions they were put in for the original photograph.

Rodjan’s art series started as a way to commemorate 150 years since the first indentured workers arrived in Suriname and expanded to include regions like Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica. 

Wanting to reclaim these images comes from feelings of injustice whenever I see these postcards. They were made from a dehumanizing perspective. Reclaiming these images becomes necessary knowing how the violence Indo-Caribbean women still face today is just a continuation of the violence brought onto indentured Indian women then. To me, creating this piece, symbolized the acceptance of questions remaining unanswered, stories being lost forever, and realizing that after a history full of trauma, there’s a treasure in the women that are still here to tell their stories.

The ratio of men to women arriving on these ships left little to no autonomy for women. Experiences of violence on ships and plantations were common throughout the Caribbean. Despite this, indentured women became trailblazers and pioneers in uprisings against poor working conditions. 

Everything about these women seems to be a question we can never answer, but I decided to give them titles in Hindustani that are questions they might have for me as the painter who looks at them and sees both a stranger and a loved one. Tu hamár ke báte? Who are you to me?

Living in the Netherlands, Rodjan talks about her experiences tracing her ancestry and honoring this history:

 Unfortunately, in the Netherlands learning about the history of Dutch colonization only meant memorizing all the different spices they brought in and listening to teachers talking proudly about the Dutch East India Company in elementary school. Tracing back my ancestors has so far only led to a picture of my parnani and a few more names in the family tree.


On May 5, 1838, Anat Ram stepped foot on the rich grounds of Berbice, becoming the first Indian laborer in Guyana. The Whitby and Hesperus departed from Calcutta on January 13 and arrived in Berbice first then West Demerara. Over the course of 79 years, approximately 259 ships voyaged from India to Guyana. While the experiences of these ancestors may remain unknown, artists like Suchitra Mattai aims to revitalize the voices of our indentured ancestors.

[Read Related: The Culture Series Part 2: Exploring the Indo Jamaican Identity ]

Suchitra Mattai is an Indo Guyanese multi-disciplinary artist. Through her work, she uses the experience of her family’s migration and the history of indentureship to rewrite and expand our notions of history. In her piece, Life-line, a rope of saris pours out of a tilted boat, mirroring the experiences of her ancestor’s journey across the transatlantic. The saris serve as both water and a connection to two lands, India and Guyana. Mattai further explores indentureship in the piece “Coolie Woman,” depicting a woman seated with a sari, embellished with jewelry and flowers. 

I wanted to reimagine the photo to give her agency. I also wanted to address the desire for people of the diaspora to connect to their homelands and ancestral pasts. The painted wallpaper drips and fades to parallel the way my memory of Guyana ebbs and flows, Mattai says.


Anchoring at the Port of Spain on April 22, 1917, the last ship to ever carry indentured Indians made its final stop. A system that bound Indians to an unknown land finally ended after 79 years. 

To invoke conversation and pay homage to their memory, artist Gabrielle Francis creatively analyzes indentureship. Gabrielle Francis is an Indo Trinidadian queer interdisciplinary artist, writer and organizer from Queens, New York. In her piece “206:21 Queer Altar Mixed Media Performance,” Francis pays homage to her indentured ancestors with a focus on queer identities. The title 206:21 reflects the ratio of men to women that journeyed on the Fatel Razack, the first ship from India to Trinidad. A mirror is decorated with the colors of Trinidad’s flag along with six candles embodying the pride flag and vibrant red carnations. Written across the mirror is, “I wonder how many of you were queer?” A question that allows for openness and conversation around potential queer ancestors. Written records around indentureship were translated and produced by European men, leaving little to no room for women or queer folks. Francis’s work aims to transform and challenge Eurocentric narratives surrounding indentured history.

 {insert photo} 206:21 Queer Altar Mixed-Media Performance, 2021

As descendants of indentureship, it becomes difficult to sit with questions that may never have answers. Visiting National Archives or exploring digital databases can help connect descendants to learn about their own history. As we unravel difficult experiences of the past it’s important to ask, how do we carry the legacies of our ancestors? How do we honor their sacrifices?

As they were stripped of their identities and reduced to passenger numbers, they fostered new relations—jahaji bhai and jahaji bhain (ship brother and sister). From shipmates to family, to present-day melodies of chutney music to the stew of pepper pot on Christmas morning, these bonds of community have evolved and are seen across the diaspora today.

By Anjali Seegobin

Anjali Seegobin is an undergraduate student at the City College of New York, majoring in political science and anthropology. She … Read more ›