NRI Voice: Mix of Cultures at All Times
Texas-based blogger Shruthi Parker strikes a chord with her readers through her diverse experiences gathered in various countries.
For Shruthi Parker, a lifestyle blogger in her mid-twenties, life is all about embracing her true self. From not fitting in anywhere as a child, to finding herself comfortable in the several countries that she has visited, Parker has come a long way, collecting experiences that she shares with her readers online.
The Austin-based writer talks to Little India about her Telugu roots, her childhood in Texas in the United States, global travels, and how she stays close to her Hindu heritage after converting to Christianity:
Mixture of Cultures
I was born in India. My father, who was an engineer, moved our family to the United States when I was a child. We still speak Telugu at home. We try to visit India once a year to see the rest of the family.
Childhood was interesting as I never really fit in anywhere I went. In the United States, I obviously stuck out with my skin tone and name. In India, I sounded “American” and was regularly called an NRI even when walking by my grandparents’ house.
But I loved summers in India. I went back to America with a bit of an accent and a few pounds heavier from all the good food.
In the U.S., I got involved in a lot of activities to help me meet other kids. While I went to piano and tennis lessons, we always listened to AR Rahman (I have attended three concerts of his here) and took almond barfi to school. It was such a mixture of cultures all the time. Confusing at times, beautiful too though.
Transition of Faith
My transition from a Hindu believer to Christianity was certainly not the easiest. Many people let me know what a mistake I was making. But my parents respect me and my decision, and see the way my life transformed when my faith did too.
The judgement that came from the Hindu community was very tough. But I think by showing them I’m still “Shruthi,” and just the better version of myself, they have slowly started accepting me. My visits to church on Sundays don’t make me any less Indian. I can love my heritage and culture fervently while still reading the Bible.
Ultimately, I refused to let someone tell me who or what to believe in. I needed it to be my own journey for a personal relationship with god, and that led me to Jesus.
Many people equate Christianity with “whiteness,” but I like to point out that Jesus was a middle-eastern man.
Creating a Successful Blog
I started a few blogs for fun back in college, but didn’t really keep up with them. It wasn’t until I moved to London after my wedding (my husband is an American) that I decided to start blogging more seriously, since I was about to live in another country, newly-wed, and have so many new experiences.
The beginning was just a URL, written posts, and photography from my phone. I had no idea where it could go or if I would continue it.
Thankfully, London provided many opportunities to explore and write. We traveled to 13 countries, which provided a lot of content.
I work only with brands I actually like/use. I have been approached by some brands that pay well but I have not tied up with them because they don’t suit my style.
Being a Brown Skinned Woman in America
An Indian guy in college once told me that I would be beautiful if I had light skin. I did not date him.
Another time, my husband and I were at a grocery store in Alabama. The cashier looked at him, spoke to him, smiled at him, and was pleasant. When I got to the cashier, she didn’t say a word. She didn’t look at me, and threw my things into a bag after I paid. My husband was furious, eager to confront her. But honestly, it just wasn’t worth it. He has seen things like this happen to me a few times now, and is astounded every time.
The other day, my Indian friend and I were walking my dogs in the park when a woman stopped to ask us for directions. Her little boy looked at my dogs and said, “They are scary.” She told him, “Don’t worry, honey, they are nice. They have these cute dogs!” She had thought that he was referring to us, when he was actually talking about my dogs. That was painful.
Embracing True Identity
I define fashion as the expression of your personality through your external look.
Fashion is unique to you, just like your thumbprint. Everyone has a different perspective on the entirety of beauty.
I remember so many people loving the “tan” I got in summer from tennis in the United States. But in the Indian community, they would often tell me to stay away from the sun because the tan wasn’t beautiful. People here pay to get a tan!
I love it when brands give back to the society by donating a percentage of their profits to a cause.
Favorites in India and Abroad
My South Indian favorite food is definitely a tie between masala dosa and my mom’s homemade onion chutney, or pongal with fresh rasam.
My North Indian favorite is definitely fresh roti with dal makhani and paneer tikka masala.
Also kulfi is my go-to dessert. It’s so good.
I am a big fan of cruises. I did one to Alaska. I would love to go on a Mediterranean cruise.
Message to All the Brown Beauties
There was no mistake made when we were created the way we are. Look at yourself in the mirror and be grateful for who you are. I have learned that confidence, peace, and joy come from a thankful heart.