I have often been asked out for one night stands but I could never bring myself to say yes to any even though I am not a traditionalist. I am the kind of person who is often condemned for not being sentimental enough to preserve the culture I come from because what they call dilution, I call evolution and I am the kind who loves choices, sexual fluidity, humanities and the lifelong pursuit of free will. But it is weird how my emotional desires exceed my bodily desires. My craving for conversations, making coffee for someone else while he sits on the bean bag in the balcony, listening to Indie music and then the brief moment of intimacy when we are not doing anything except witnessing the sun go down behind the skyscrapers, the homecoming of birds and the dance of the clouds. One night stands are all about touching and asking each other the right questions but always sexual, everything constrained to the body, to the bedroom history and preference of positions. An unpaid two-way prostitution.
Such an investment of time and effort to bridge the awkwardness with ignorant and unmeant compliments and everything for what? Just a night of rolling each other in the bed and smoking them up like a joint. A night when despite your politeness, your brilliant background of being a state level athlete or an expert at playing the violin, you will be still praised for how good you are at blowing. A night when you will be reduced from a woman to a vagina, a mouth to ejaculate into, a thin-skinned condom meant to be used and thrown. Everything consensual, but everything merely sensual. Then when he falls asleep and you spend the rest of the night smoking with your head hanging out of the open window, you will wonder why people value short-term goals over long-term commitments, because at least the former are promising. Our generation is stuck in some kind of transition period; the uncomfortable interval between a previous world where people wanted to be remembered in poetry and a forthcoming one where people want to be remembered for their thesis papers. The uncomfortable interval between two widely split legs, between ambitions and emotions, and between inconsistency and anti-depressants. It is as exciting as sad, but since despite all the development our work hours are not shrinking with the years, it also feels absurd.
Who has the energy to drag himself through twelve hours of mental labor in front of a desktop, and then fight his way into an overcrowded bus only to come to a house disorganized by fellow roommates, and still manage to save some romantic appetite to call and entertain a long distance boyfriend? Who has the time to keep your heart considerate among the long office meetings and perennially scheduled business trips, to even remember doing the necessary little things that fuel the fire in a lover’s heart like love letters and candle light dinners and wedding vows?
No wonder relationships are defined so cynically because they are always defined by those who have been in bad ones. But after all, there is always a reason why stereotypes exist.
“But isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”
Celine asks in the movie “Before Sunrise.” I do not have an answer.
But millennials never learned to conform. Globalization has taught us one thing and that is to adapt. To be a Roman when in Rome, or build Rome elsewhere within a day. The juggling is taxing, but the juggling has been expertised. The underrated concept of live-in relationships has made love an autonomous process, letting it take its responsibility in its own hands. It has made it a spontaneous process now. Love previously needed a time slot to be separately kept aside but now she is always around, humming in the kitchen or decorating the front porch, being a part of you by just being in your sight.
Waking up to each other’s faces, brushing teeth together in your nightwear shorts, kissing under the shower and little conversations in the cab you take to the office, texting throughout lunch about laundry, the internet bill or prospective furniture, coming home to someone who is waiting hungrily with dinner getting cold.
You accept each other’s tired minds, each other’s irritability which otherwise you might have mistaken for indifference while dating long distance. No formalities of sending gifts because there is a ritual of everyday forehead kisses and washing clothes together in the bathroom on weekends. It might sound monotonous because relationships are never expected to be boring and ordinary. They are thought of some kind of dopamine bouts but the thing about expecting chemical impulses from people is one day you don’t want it anymore. Live-in relationships show you how love has to be monotonous if we want it to be continuous. It is like being on a prolonged date that never ends. It might not feel special anymore but at least it feels comfortable as if love is not another assignment to score well on but an innate tendency.
Sometimes on Sundays, you won’t feel like talking and just sit un-bathed in your sweatpants, watching Youtube on your respective laptops, energizing your lifeless bodies. No formality of having to call only to remind your partner you still love him on Sundays. No compulsion to speak just to show you care.
Laziness in live-in relationships is a competitive advantage. You will fight, but about the division of labor and not division of love. You will shop for grocery together and take each other to the doctor. It will hit you months later that you never think of breaking up, because this person has become indistinguishable from yourself. A few times you will take each other for granted. But when he goes abroad for a few weeks for an undeniable opportunity, you will realize you have nothing to upload on Instagram anymore. On some days you will look at him and think how the spark is not felt anymore. It will be a little devastating, a little terrifying. Is the love dying out? Should you know a lover too much if you still want to remain in love? Is it possible to stick to a single person all your life despite knowing there are no more surprises left in them to make your heart miss a beat? It will make you anxious and sweaty and make the canvas of your future look dark, the things you always feel during the daily 8 pm power cuts in India. But one day, while you stalk your hallways waiting for the electricity to come back, you will hear him calling from the bedroom. You will let his voice be your only guide and when you reach, you will see the dinner served on the table. A candle light in the middle and his half-lit face, smiling back at you, like a bright future.
Bijaya Biswal is a 22-year-old medical student. She takes a keen interest in politics, economics, history and theater.
Holistic beauty trends are more prevalent than ever — that makes ayurvedic beauty brands incredibly sought-after, as well. Do you find yourself asking what your beauty products are actually made of? A lot of us even resort to food products for a skincare routine such as honey for face wash.
The term “Ayurvedic Beauty” is getting more recognition outside the South Asian world as well.
Ayurvedic beauty is coined upon the term “Ayurveda,” which originated in Hindu culture as the basis of utilizing the five life forms — air, water, ether, fire, and earth — to heal the human body.
Is your skin feeling a little dry this winter? Nourishing your skin with body oil will lend it the right amount of moisture — Soma Ayurvedic’s jasmine body oil can do that trick! Shop the oil, and their full line of products, here.
If you’re familiar with author and podcast Host, Jay Shetty, then you may have heard of his tea line, Sama Tea. Herbal teas provide many natural benefits. Has it been a stressful week? Try their lavender rose chamomile tea for some TLC. Check them out here.
Know the Netflix show “Ginny & Georgia?” Loved the actress’ fresh-looking skin? Sahajan Skincare is behind that glow! They’re a must-try, featured in both Vogue and Elle India. See their full range of products here.
This unique company showcases its brand with an emphasis on ‘holistic.’ Whether it’s bad hair days or excessive shedding, not only do Shaz and Kiks provide the products to help but also break down the science behind the problem. Go on your very own shopping spree by clicking here!
Looking for accessible ayurvedic beauty products? Look no further! Ranavat is now in Sephora. With a beauty line that covers both hair and skin, there’s something here for everyone. See for yourself here.
Are you looking for brown skin-friendly sunscreen filled with nutrients? Look no further. Inde Wild has its very own SPF 50, with natural substances such as liquorice extract and cica, and it’s a mineral SPF suitable for all skin types. See what the brand is all about and shop it here.
I’m always in the market for brown girl-friendly lipsticks, and ones that are made of natural ingredients are a huge plus. Mango People does just this with their unique lipstick colors that suit all brown skin tones. Try them out here!
Need to swap out your shampoo for something better? Try Kama Ayurveda’s Ayurvedic Hair cleaner, infused with a variety of herbs and pulses with key ingredients like vetiver, tulsi, rose, moong beans, and shikakai. They have a variety of products to choose from so start with your hair and keep shopping for more here!
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Struggling with hair care recently? Fable & Mane includes various hair oils in their collection that help grow and nourish your hair. Not only that, they have a scalp detox line as well — definitely worth checking out. See their full range of products here.
If I DM my friends a bunch of videos on any given day, one of them is almost always an Ankush Bahuguna reel. When I first stumbled upon his content, I saw him as an actor and a comedian, lifting our mood up during the lockdown one video at a time. However, his day-to-day content is more than just that — Bahuguna is changing the landscape of the beauty industry by making (and holding) space for men who aspire to be makeup artists and who have a passion for all things beauty.
Content creator, makeup enthusiast, actor: Which title do you resonate with the most? And, why?
A creator is the word I’d resonate with the most — that’s what got me here — creating comedy, creating beauty content. Even as an actor, I’m very collaborative. I tend to weave nuances around a character and make it my own. I believe, no matter what you do, your work should be unique to you and that can only happen when you build it up yourself.
How did “Wing it with Ankush” come about?
Till three years ago, I used to work for a media house that had a whole team of stylists and MUAs working on every shoot. So when the world went into lockdown, I realized I would have to don all those hats myself. I used to [regularly] shoot videos with my mother and she didn’t know anything about makeup either. So I had to try my hand at it — I would do her makeup and we’d shoot videos together. Soon I realized how much I enjoyed learning a new skill from scratch. I used to paint as a kid, so makeup just somehow made sense. It felt like even though I had a whole lot to learn, it came naturally to me. I decided I would journal these experiments [on] a ‘secret’ page called Wing it With Ankush so that I can look back at it five years from now and see what I was up to [during] lockdown. I didn’t tell anyone about it. But people eventually discovered it and there was no looking back!
One word for gender stereotypes?
One word: Ingrained. It’s so deeply ingrained in us that we find it hard to just accept people the way they are.
How is (or isn’t) India evolving in terms of stereotypes?
We are definitely evolving. It’s a slow process but there’s hope. There’s a long way to go and for starters, I wish people could give non-cis people as much respect, appreciation, and credit, as they give to cis people like me, especially in the beauty space.
Must-have makeup products for men?
Makeup ‘must-haves’ are very subjective across all genders. Some people can’t do without a full face of makeup, while others could care less. I feel nothing is a must-have. [D]on’t wear makeup because you feel you need to, wear it only if it makes you feel good. My must-haves would be a color corrector, concealer, and powder.
Favorite makeup hack ever:
My favorite makeup hack is to underpaint. Apply bronzer and blush before your foundation. It’s so much more natural looking.
Let’s talk about your career in entertainment. What does comedy mean to you?
Comedy is a defense mechanism for me. It’s also self-expression, to be honest. That’s how I go about my day — finding humor in mundane things. Comedy is how I see life.
Beauty Influencer Of The Year Male (Popular Choice) — Ankush Bahuguna! Congratulations! You left your audience with these words in your Instagram post: “There’s always been too much self-doubt and too little self-worth.” How does one overcome that feeling of self-doubt?
As someone who has grown up constantly feeling inadequate, it’s difficult for me to not give in to self-doubt, literally every day. But I guess the idea is to be as kind and forgiving to yourself as you are to others. If you’ve come this far, you must’ve done something right. Right?
We can’t deny that Ankush Bahuguna is going out of his way to put a smile on our faces with his day-to-day content — reels, photos, Insta stories, and more! All while paving a new path for himself and, like we mentioned before, holding space for those who aspire to be them one day. Ankush continues to push the envelope one makeup tutorial at a time, showing the modern world that it’s time to take men in makeup seriously because they’re here to stay!
The featured image is courtesy of Dream N Hustle Media.
Ever since we can recall, the Cannes Film Festival has been a merger of movies and glamour. On one side, there are hand-picked films — ready to premiere and make their mark in the world of entertainment — and on the other, audiences and paparazzi alike are served epic moments in fashion.
The festival, aimed to preview upcoming films from all over the world, invites a wide variety of guests that span the film fraternity, of course, but more recently, has opened its doors to many digital content creators, including renowned South Asian creatives.
With a more vast guest list comes a more recent debate: Cannes is a film festival and not a fashion showcase. Kickstarting the debate this year was none other than ace Bollywood director, Nandita Das, who in an Instagram post shared:
Sometimes people seem to forget that it is a festival of films and not of clothes!
In short, Das wants Cannes’ narrative to continue to focus on films.
But of course, there’s been a paradigm shift in the guest list over the last few years; this shift has allowed talents from various industries — including lifestyle content creators, entrepreneurs, etc., who showcase their work in fashion and beauty like fine masterstrokes — to walk the carpet and represent their craft, making space for others in their industry.
Influential names like Dolly Singh, Kaushal, Diipa Buller-Khosla, and Shivani Bafna — all of whom made a raging impact on the red carpet this year — weigh in on the significance of representing South Asian artists/influencers on the red carpet, and how they feel they’ve been part of this paradigm shift at Cannes Film Festival.
I believe that each step we take at events like Cannes sends a powerful message of diversity, cultural richness, and artistic excellence. Representation matters, and the presence of South Asian creators on the red carpet at Cannes helps broaden the narrative of beauty, talent, and creativity. It allows us to showcase our unique perspectives, narratives, and contributions, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive industry. By actively participating and making our presence felt, we help create more opportunities and spaces for South Asian creators, encouraging others to share their stories with the world.
Since 2015, the first time I walked the red carpet, till this year I have always been invited by L’Oreal Paris, one of the main sponsors of the event. It has always been such an honor to be invited to the festival through the makeup brand that I have been using for almost two decades, and, before my social media career began. Personally, I feel a sense of acknowledgment from such a prestigious brand, and its head office teams that sponsor Cannes Film Festival, and value the work I have done and continue to do as a South Asian content creator within the beauty space. Makeup, hair, and beauty will always play a big role within the film industry and it’s something I have always created my content around which is why I am proud to attend.
This is a proud moment not just for me but also [for] my peers and the entire content creator ecosystem given that we have reached such new global stages and presence. Of course, as you said, such film festivals, once considered as an exclusive hub for a congregation of the finest acting talents have, in the last few years, opened their arms to more people from the entertainment industry.
This is not just a sudden phenomenon with a burst of Indian creators at the festival this year but there is increased participation from non-film and non-South Asian celebrities across various spectrums from different sides of the world. Along with the many filmmakers, actors, producers, etc I also met some amazing influencers and entrepreneurs from other sides of the world. It’s amazing to represent India and celebrate and champion the advent of the digital ecosphere on such a prominent platform.
The confluence of actors and creators signified the amalgamation of traditional cinema and new-age digital influence, highlighting the transformative power of creative expression and how festivals like Cannes have become more forthcoming and progressive in their approach.
Cannes, like any other prominent festival, boasts of a red carpet that is synonymous with fashion and glitz, and I wanted to use this opportunity to represent all the amazing Indian fashion designers on the carpet besides, of course, attending the screenings. As someone who is just not an influencer but also an actress, I thoroughly enjoyed all the red-carpet screenings and meeting like-minded film talent from around the world at the event. At some point in the future, I would like to be attending Cannes for a film I’ve featured in.
Creators are often placed into boxes of where they belong and the rooms they can be a part of. Being on the red carpet dismantles the ideology that there’s a cap on how far we, as creators and as a South Asian community, can go and what we can achieve.
The Cannes Film Festival has always been viewed as the epitome of a glamorous event — everyone who attends looks like they’re living their best lives. I used the platform to share an authentic message of what the experience felt like for me. To represent all of us who doubt our potential, experience imposter syndrome, and are nervous to find their place, yet continue to push through to achieve their dreams!
As the first Indian American influencer to walk at Cannes, I hope I can inspire young women to confidently ask, ‘Why not me?’
There’s no doubt that the Cannes Film Festival is centered around films, and continues to be a unique space for the global film fraternity to bring their art and showcase their aptitude. But, creators like Bafna, Singh, Buller-Khosla, and Kaushal — a special shoutout to Raja Kumari for being instrumental in paving the way as well — have their own set of responsibilities to fulfill upon their invitation to the prestigious event. Their will to represent their South Asian identities, celebrate their industries, and continue to hold space for their peers makes their presence at Cannes more than just clothes.
All images in the featured photo are from the influencers’ Instagram feeds.