Tag Archives: #desitalk

Yogurt Containers (Image by Nikol Lohr from Flickr)

Green Desi Hacks That You Probably Didn’t Realize Were Part of Your Routine

Desi Talk – A column that works on embracing our brown background and unique identity using Coach Yashu’s helpful tips. Find her talking to IC Editor, Srishti Prabha on Instagram LIVE Tuesdays at 6pm PDT/ 9pm EDT!

As we continue the conversation about our environmental and sustainable practices, here is a list of green Desi hacks. As you read, you may come to realize that you already do most of these or have experienced growing up in your desi households!

Dahi Dabbas

We all have reused the dahi dabbas (plastic yogurt containers) and any plastic container to store leftovers or to send aunty that halwa your mom made. Although the concept of recycling may not have been addressed in your Desi household, in subtle ways, we all engaged in a “no waste” mentality. Considering that many of our desi parents immigrated to this country having lived a lower middle class to slightly upper-middle-class lifestyle in India, being resourceful and saving money was a priority. As we often say, finding the jugaad way of doing things is part of our no waste, save money culture.

Wash with water!

Let’s eliminate the taboo around washing your bum with water! Western culture traditionally uses paper products to wipe after using the toilet. However, not only is water more hygienic and healthy for cleaning but is also more sustainable. A single roll of toilet paper requires 37 gallons of water, 1.3 kilowatt/hours (KWh) of electricity, and some 1.5 pounds of wood to manufacture. Remember those plastic dahi dabbas we just talked about? How many of you remember your parents reusing them as plastic mugs for your bathrooms growing up? Or even the large plastic measuring cups, which was definitely an upgrade, considering the comfortable handle!

If that doesn’t pique your interest, perhaps a Bidet is your option! The bidet is essentially a pichkari for your bum. Using water has been a traditional method of cleaning for centuries in Asian culture. Why fix what isn’t broken and make your Desi parents proud?

Old Clothes

Take your dad’s old ripped-up banyan or any ripped clothes (non-donatable)  and convert them into cleaning rags. Whether it’s used to clean countertops or replace the swiffer jet sheets, these rags definitely come in handy!

Another common usage of old fabrics is taking my mother’s old cotton sarees or my father’s old cotton lungis, and converting them into water absorbent towels. When I was younger, I used to layer old blankets together and even old cotton sarees together into thick, soft quilts to sleep on. The old sarees were definitely versatile fabrics revamped into quilts, sofa covers, curtains, etc.

Desi Composting and Gardening Hacks 

Use Neem oil, which is sitting around, as a natural and bio-safe pesticide!

Havan (Image by Ninad Katyare from Wikimedia Commons)

Remember all those leftover pooja flowers and holy water? Part of the ceremony and pooja rituals is to discard the leftovers into house plants/ gardens and not throw them down the drain or into the garbage. That flower/rice/water mixture then becomes organic fertilizer, providing nutrients to your plants.

Through Desi gardening, we are able to maintain community. Towards the end of the crop season, take all the harvest and freezing them to use in later in the year. If freezing is not the choice of preservation, extra crop is dehydrated on a cotton saree in the hot summer sun on our patio or sidewalk, to later be used as needed (fryums, dry mirchi powder, etc). Taking extra vegetables, some of which were non-desi, and pickling them into achar was a summer tradition in my desi household.

Dishwashing Solvents

When my mom makes lemon rice, she saves the squeezed-out lemon halves to later reuse as a sponge and uses rock salt as her soap to clean her silver pooja gear. When she buys tamarind that came with too many seeds and/or too little pulp, she will add salt and use it as a cleaning agent for her jewelry and silver/copper/brass dishes. Not only does it help remove tough oxidation on metals but also removes tough grease on metals. Tamarind and Lemon have always been part of the Desi culture as dishwashing solvents, even before the invention of modern-day dish soap, and they work great!

Well, there you have it!

These are some of the best green Desi hacks, all of which I picked up in my childhood home and continue to practice in my household today.

This planet is everything we have and it is our responsibility to protect it. It’s not easy to be perfectly green nor can we expect that from each other, however, by taking action and participating in at least one green activity, we are making progress. So, I encourage each of you to evaluate your lifestyle and see if there’s one thing you can do, one lifestyle adjustment you can make to be more environmentally friendly.


Yashu Rao is the first South Indian-American plus-size model and doubles as a Confidence Coach. She is the Founder of #HappyYashu, a Confidence and Lifestyle Coaching Service specializing in desi family structures. She’s here breaking down stereotypes and beauty standards as well as inspiring and empowering people to lead a life with self-love, confidence, and genuine happiness. Find her on Instagram giving tips and modeling.


 

Am I Allowed to Have Sex On My Mind?

Desi Talk – A column that works on embracing our brown background and unique identity using Coach Yashu’s helpful tips. Find her talking to IC Editor, Srishti Prabha on Instagram LIVE Tuesdays at 6pm PST/ 9pm EST!

After conducting a free Sex Education workshop, the need for open discourse on healthy sex in Desi communities became apparent… 

Being Desi, you’ve probably never had “the talk” with your parents. Most of the knowledge on the subject, and yes it is something to be learned, came from our peers, pornography, and, well, life experience. 

In Desi communities, sex (before marriage) is looked down upon, forbidden even, in what seems to be a scare tactic to prevent pregnancy/disease. Sex after marriage, more than for pleasure, is encouraged for procreation. Religions practiced by the South Asian communities talk about the chastity of the woman (of being a virgin). Brown women often hear that they should not be going out late/coming home late and they most certainly should not be seen with the opposite sex. It all stems from the concept of keeping women safe and pure – ready for marriage.

At the end of the day, sex is a choice, and some of you may choose to honor keeping yourself away from it until marriage and some of you may want to explore your sexuality, before and after marriage. For those of you who are exploring your sexuality, both men and women, it’s important that you are enjoying your experiences; the only way you can do that is to practice safe sex and educate yourself on choices that work for you, your body, and your partner’s body! 

As we enter into the month of love, let’s discuss some helpful tips and tricks about sex that dive deep into the conversation around sexuality, sensuality, and intimacy. The purpose of providing these tips is to not only educate but to also normalize conversations around sex – to highlight the importance of actually talking about such a taboo topic. 

I highly recommend that you share my list of tips with your partners, your friends, your relatives, and whomever you think may need some support in regards to sex. 

  • It’s ok to have sex for recreation throughout your life! Culturally, you may hear a narrative that sex is only meant for procreation but do not limit yourself. Be sure to have a healthy dialogue with your partner, especially if you or your partner have high sex drives. 
  • Communication is KEY. I cannot emphasize this enough! In fact, communication is critical in every aspect of sex, romance, and relationships. Be ready to receive your partner’s requests and also be open to expressing yourself. 
  • Keep it clean. One simple equation: Clean Body + Clean Practices = Clean of Disease. Use clean hands, clean mouths, and clean toys during sex play, and make sure to clean all of those after!
  • Remember the golden rule: no glove, no love! ALWAYS USE CONDOMS. Condoms are highly recommended, especially to protect against infection and disease, and as a means of birth control. Even If you are with a stable partner, still use condoms, they are 99% effective against STIs and unplanned pregnancy. And no, the pull out method does not work.
  • Get the right-sized condom! The problem for many Desi men is not knowing the need for a better fitting condom. Studies found that the internationally standardized size for condoms may be oversized for the average South Asian penis. The risk of not wearing the right condom is disease, pregnancy, and even the possibility of losing a condom inside your partner.
  • Lube is your best friend. Having a small bottle of lube goes a long way, and can actually make sex even more enjoyable. Be sure to use water-based lubricants. Try it in different flavors too.
  • STIs & STDs: This is a very important conversation! Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) occur when bacteria or viruses enter your body and begin to multiply. Some may mature into diseases, called Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Practice safe, protected, clean sex and get tested at least once every 6 months (if you are engaging in sex with multiple partners, then more regularly). If you are in a stable, committed relationship, you STILL need to go get tested. 
  • Masturbation is healthy. And yes, even if you have a partner, you can still enjoy your alone time or share the experience together as a form of intimacy. As for toys, it’s all about choice! So explore your options and find what gives you the best pleasure.
  • Consent is extremely important! ASK first, and remember, no means no! Cinema has deviated far from reality. Many times, stalking, persistent pursuit, and verbal/sexual harassment is considered romantic. Let me be clear – it is just harassment unless the other party has consented. Read the situation, understand your partner, understand your sexual relationship, and always ask if you are unsure! Also keep in mind that your partner may not want to have sex, so do not force it. Take time to find out why and what you can do to help. It’s all about keeping up conversations. 
  • Whether you are trying to be more intimate with your partner or you are trying to just have sex or create a sensual experience, communication is at the core of it all! Don’t be afraid to ask what each of you likes, how it feels, or spice it up by engaging in dirty talking. Also take time to build intimacy by asking questions not related to sex at all, like “What are your goals?” or “Where would you want to go for vacation?” or even “How was your day?” All of these are great ways of letting your partner know you care. 

Often, we are not having healthy conversations like these in our households, let alone in our Desi communities. Spread the word and educate others around you.

For anyone who is looking for more support or looking to dive in deeper regarding romance, dating, marriage, and/or sex, schedule a free 40-minute consultation with me. Also, keep an eye out for my next Sex Education workshop, where I will be going in-depth about all the tips I mentioned here and more!


Yashu Rao is the first South Indian-American plus-size model and doubles as a Confidence Coach. She is the Founder of #HappyYashu, a Confidence and Lifestyle Coaching Service specializing in desi family structures. She’s here breaking down stereotypes and beauty standards as well as inspiring and empowering people to lead a life with self-love, confidence, and genuine happiness. Find her on Instagram giving tips and modeling.

Desi Upbringing Prepares You For Rejection

Desi Talk – A column that works on embracing our brown background and unique identity using Coach Yashu’s helpful tips. Find her talking to IC Editor, Srishti Prabha on Instagram LIVE Tuesdays at 6pm PST/ 9pm EST!

Are you brave enough to face rejection?

Whether it’s a job, ideas with friends or co-workers, a romantic crush, or even your pet running away from you – we face rejection ALL THE TIME! My cat, Balasubramanyam never wants to cuddle with me. 

….But there is no rejection like your “amma” saying “NO” even before you finished asking your question.

Growing up Desi, sometimes, rejection feels like the NORM.

We eventually develop this fear and refrain from speaking up, sometimes even lying or hiding things from our families. And then the whole guilt trip after…oh boy. 

Oftentimes, the Desi family structure is very different from other cultures, which oftentimes contributes to the narratives we have in our homes. 

Desi family structures depend heavily on the concept of security.

Security includes financial stability, generational wealth, familial relationships and duties, religion, and education. Desi family decisions are based on these factors more than individualistic freedom.

The benefit of this choice is that you are guaranteed money, a long term partner, a home, and kids. Oftentimes I think to myself, if it was not for my father pushing me to pursue my Ph.D. in Engineering, I may not have the money to be independent.

But there can be downsides. In 1st grade, I wanted to do a science fair project on flowers but instead, I did a project on how a water wheel is used to generate electricity. It was a rejection of my idea and push towards something that I couldn’t take ownership of. The unhappy memory stayed with me for a lifetime. Without insight into my parent’s history, our relationship was strained by such experiences.

Things my parents did or said, just did not make sense.

Why couldn’t I have a sleepover like the other American kids?  Why couldn’t I date? Or have a boyfriend in high school? Or get permission to go to sex-ed class?

And now, 20 years later, I think I know why. Because it was the UNKNOWN.

Our parents did not grow up with that level of freedom and are, now, acting out of fear. That which is risky should be left alone. 

With the Desi upbringing, you get security at the expense of freedom, perhaps happiness. And straying away from that, you get freedom at the expense of uncertainty. But somewhere in the mix, I think there is a sweet spot, where you can have the best of both worlds. You can have security, happiness, and freedom. That all starts with effective communication

For parents, I think the key is to listen and then respond. Not react, but respond.

For the kids, let your parents know what you are feeling, but also be open to listening to what they have to say, cause it is most likely true. My mom always says, “I have been the age you are, so I DO know what it feels like.” Day by day, I’m starting to realize how true the statement – hindsight is always 20/20 – can be. 

So take a minute and appreciate your parents, for all the protective measures they took out of Love. By being engaged, possibly controlling, parents in our lives, they found a way to ensure that many of us were staying away from things that could be potentially problematic. I am grateful for my Desi upbringing and I am, also, proud of the choices I have made for myself. I still make mistakes and disagree with my parents, but I do not fear rejection anymore. 


Yashu Rao is the first South Indian-American plus-size model and doubles as a Confidence Coach. She is the Founder of #HappyYashu, a Confidence and Lifestyle Coaching Service specializing in desi family structures. She’s here breaking down stereotypes and beauty standards as well as inspiring and empowering people to lead a life with self-love, confidence, and genuine happiness. Find her on Instagram giving tips and modeling.

Communication in Desi Households

Desi Talk – A column that works on embracing our brown background and unique identity using Coach Yashu’s helpful tips. Find her talking to IC Editor, Srishti Prabha on Instagram LIVE Tuesdays at 6pm PST/ 9pm EST!

Recently I saw a post that seemed like a cry for help and reminded me of the need for a Desi Mental Health Community.

We need to be a Desi Resource for one another and because we are the only people who can understand the implications of desi culture, lifestyle, and health. 

I want to let people know…Yashu is here! I know how challenging being desi can be.

Tip 1: Most conflicts within desi households revolve around communication style.

In the end, it’s necessary to remember that the most important person is YOU and you must protect your energy, whether you are the parent or the child. Sometimes protecting yourself can feel like an impossible task, so you have to break past the cultural guilt and learn to redesign your relationships and communication styles. YES, it does work!

This is a very real issue, but one that has a resolution!

Oftentimes, children may feel shut out or denied their feelings. As a result, they stress themselves out trying to convince their desi families to listen and not dismiss them. But how many of us have truly had luck with that? Where we just talk it out and the parents just get it? Explaining the same thing, over and over again, can be discouraging and even hurtful. 

Now, all you desi kids, You must remember that when the other person, be it a sibling, or a parent,  is not ready to receive you, there is no point in imposing your thoughts on the other person; investing energy on convincing a parent who is not open to hearing you is meaningless. This can ultimately lead to giving up on our dreams or even worse, shutting ourselves off to our parents. 

And if you are a parent, even if your child is making a mistake or doing something you do not agree with, allow your child the space to express and then have a respectful conversation – allowing your child to come to a space of realization or find where their thinking was not thorough. At that point, if your child refuses to listen, you may try again but if they are not in a space to listen, let it go. Because desi families are protective, and it is in our culture to be closely knit, make yourself available to your child so that you are a resource and a safe space. 

To all my desi kids out there, I hope this helps! Slip this article on the living room table, where your parents sit to have their afternoon chai (Don’t forget to act all casual about it). 

Parents, see if this helps you become even closer with your children and create more beautiful memories with your family!


Yashu Rao is the first South Indian-American plus-size model and doubles as a Confidence Coach. She is the Founder of #HappyYashu, a Confidence and Lifestyle Coaching Service, specializing in desi family structures. She’s here breaking down stereotypes and beauty standards as well as inspiring and empowering people to lead a life with self-love, confidence, and genuine happiness. Find her on Instagram giving tips and modeling.