The Style of the Subcontinent

A look at Desi Style

Archie Panjabi/Kalinda Sharma


Kalinda is the third side of the triangle of cool desi women on TV, I guess. I’ve been trying to figure out who else is on TV after reading this article and reading this quote

Of course, black and white are not the only colors of diversity. In recent years, there’s been a startling, largely unheralded boom of South Asian characters, thanks to writers and actors such as “The Office” ’s Mindy Kaling, “Parks and Recreation” ’s Aziz Ansari, and “Community” ’s Danny Pudi, along with characters on “Smash,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Whitney,” and “The Good Wife.” (At times I’ve wondered if this isn’t a psychic workaround: is brown safer than black?)

and really, of course apart from all the names mentioned here, the only other desi person I can think of is Padma Lakshmi.

Anyway, the first time I saw Archie Panjabi was in Bend It Like Beckham, which is one of my favorite movies  of all time. She’s the goody-good older sister Pinky and it was a little electric shock when I recognised her on the Good Wife. Such a kick ass character Kalinda Sharma is. She is the one embodying “subcontinental style” here.

I didn’t really want to do this post because I really can’t find anything much on Archie Panjabi, (like I couldn’t even really figure out where this picture is from); which is sort of nice because it means I can see only Kalinda when I’m watching TV but I’d like to know more about her too. Does anyone have any links to interviews about here?


Hannah Simone


I am in love with Hannah Simone, who plays Cece, Zooey Deschanel’s best friend on New Girl. I loved that Cece Parekh is Indian but it’s not a big deal about her, she’s a whole character, warts and all, (except for the whole arranged marriage storyline at the end of the season which kind of bugged me for so many reasons. I think it resolved itself as well as it could have so there’s that but either way I love, love CeCe.) I never thought much about Hannah Simone herself till I found her instagram stream and saw this picture:

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 2.24.07 PM

I mean who hasn’t tried to put egot down? The rest of her instagram stream is funny and sweet too and she just seems so nice. Turns out she used to work for the U.N.,lived all around the world,  and doesn’t put up with a lot of bullshit so yeah now I’m in love with Hannah Simone.

(The gorgeous photos of her are by Darren Ankenman)

Maharani Gayatri Devi


Found this image on Pinterest and it seems to have been pinned from Tumblr.  Not one of the usual glamour shots of the Rajmata but so cool, I mean if smoking were cool.

If I were gardening today


I would wear this striped tunic and henna churidar from Toast, keep my feet mud free in these Tretorn boots, protect my head with this relaxed fedora and wield these sharp pruning shears. The garden, sadly not mine was found on the West Elm blog with an interview of furniture designer Gaurav Nanda.

Dr. Mindy Lahiri


Mindy Kaling’s alterego is my new style heroine! On her blog Mindy Kaling describes her own ideal style as “80’s aerobics coach meets Maasai tribeswoman,” which I don’t think is strictly accurate but it is pretty hilarious. Anyway, about 40% of the reason I watch The Mindy Project is to see what Mindy is wearing, because I once read somewhere that we were the same size. Anyway it was all very academic until I discovered The Mindy Project Style where they actually figure out what/who she is wearing and post links so that you (I) too can rock a Wildfox Couture sweater while eating popcorn on your (my) couch. This could be very dangerous.


Jhumpa Lahiri


Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my favorite authors. I was googling around, hoping to find when her next book is coming out but I couldn’t really find anything more recent than an article in the NYTimes about the craft of writing in 2012. However wikipedia led me to this article in the New Yorker about how she began to be a writer and I love it as much as any of her short stories.

Bengali was my first language, what I spoke and heard at home. But the books of my childhood were in English, and their subjects were, for the most part, either English or American lives. I was aware of a feeling of trespassing. I was aware that I did not belong to the worlds I was reading about: that my family’s life was different, that different food graced our table, that different holidays were celebrated, that my family cared and fretted about different things. And yet when a book was in my possession, and as I read it, this didn’t matter. I entered into a pure relationship with the story and its characters, encountering fictional worlds as if physically, inhabiting them fully, at once immersed and invisible.

I’ve always enjoyed her writing but I find that since coming to the U.S., her particular point of view as the child of immigrants more poignant and relevant than I would have otherwise. I know that my daughters experience as the child of immigrants, just as my experience as an immigrant seems to be very different from her parents, will be very different from the characters in her stories and from her life but perhaps one day both of us will enjoy these books and see something of ourselves in them. How wonderful is that?

Photograph from her FB page.

Indira Gandhi


Not that I am a fan of her political legacy, which is both amazing and awful but this pair of photographs of a smiling young Indira Gandhi visiting the US with her father has me charmed. Love the simplicity of her style.

If I were eloping today I would


keep things simple with a litte bit of eyeliner and a soft lip, and then pray  I look as good as Lakshmi Menon, wear this Anthropologie dress, accessorize with these glittery J. Crew sandals, with Amrita Singh earrings handed down (in this hypothetical scenario) by my grandmother and carry a lovely red bouquet.

Mathangi Arulpragasam


From 2010 NYTimes article on M.I.A. Haven’t been able to forget this shot by Ryan McGinley.

%d bloggers like this: