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I hoped that with this series, I would find a way to encourage people to go out and see the word, live adventures and touch the stars that you read about in poetry.This series is for anyone who has a little bit of wanderlust in their heart and magic in their veins.Especially if you are a woman! I know that at least one woman’s story in my #WanderBelle series will inspire you to follow your dreams, your vision and most importantly your heart all across the globe xo.
Could you give us a little introduction to yourself?
My name is Prasanthi, I am 25 years old. I’m a doctor and work in general practice (family medicine), though I also run a travel/fashion/ self-improvement blog called Harping on the Bizarre. I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, which after travelling to several countries can safely testify as for the best country in the world.
Growing up as an Indian kid in a western environment was tough, balancing the expectations from family and that of peers and society around me, trying to establish this dual identity without foregoing my heritage and simply amalgamating into a clone of girls in western society around me in order to ‘fit in’.
My parents were very much strong on encouraging involvement in traditional arts so I was classically trained to dance Bharathanatyam and sing Carnatic Music since the age of 4. I used to enjoy performing until I hit my teens, this was a time where I was ashamed of engaging in such cultural activities because I was afraid of the judgement or appearing ‘fobby‘.
But looking back, I am so grateful my parents pushed me in these domains because it not only enabled me to have this amazing creative outlet and skillset but also to stay connected to my roots and the rich and amazing Indian heritage which I am so proud of now. I think I am so lucky that I get to dip my toes in two completely different cultures and take the strengths from both.
It’s something I only really appreciated as an adult in hindsight.
When I was younger I was a massive tomboy, I loved and still love sports, and religiously played soccer with the boys throughout the school. I did not really have a penchant for all for fashion or my appearance.
In many ways, it was great that my mum didn’t let me get too carried away with a preoccupation with physical appearance, that and the subsequent lack of attention from boys at that age enabled me to focus my energy on school and doing well to set a strong foundation for my future.
She never used to let me cut my hair and I used to resent her so much for it because it used to be something kids bullied me for extensively in high school! But now I love my long hair, it’s my thing haha! and wouldn’t have it any other way, people always think I have extensions and that’s always funny to hear and see people now trying to recreate the luscious locks brown girls naturally have!
You know at that age, you’re so impressionable and seeking validation wherever you can get it ; being brown and Indian just seemed like a sure-fire way to not get attention, it was perceived as not sexy.
And so I resented my skin and being Indian for ages.
As I got older though I realised the problem was not that I was unattractive, but that people’s perception of what beautiful entailed was so warped. Under-representation in the multicultural society of Australia’s media really bothered me as I never had someone to look up to and think ‘hey, it’s going to be fine, she can do it, so can I’. But I think that climate is changing now, albeit slowly, which gives me hope for if I ever have a daughter.
I love Rihanna.
she’s a badass boss lady who doesn’t give a shit about anything and is unapologetically herself. She uplifts other women, she embraces her sexuality and femininity and uses that as a tool to catapult herself forward and absolutely kill it in whatever field she applies herself too. I admire her authenticity, I think that’s so sexy you know?
Could you tell us more about your gap year abroad and how that inspired you to create your blog?
I was really stuck in a monotonous rut, my whole life I felt like I had just studied and snowballed from school into uni and then into work. I had always loved the idea of travelling since I was young and would pore over travel shows and travel features in magazines with lust.
Obviously having strict ethnic parents meant I couldn’t even go as far as a school camp! That year off was the best year of my life. I just had time to sleep well, I worked as a receptionist to save money and it taught me how to be disciplined with saving towards something. I had always loved writing and photography and personally enjoy reading people’s stories and subsequently, I felt as though that was something I wanted to do.
Could you explain what inspired the name of your blog?
I love the magazine Harper’s Bazaar and I guess I wanted to cover topics other than fashion alone so it’s a play on that, harping on the bizarre, talking about a plethora of topics from fashion to feels haha
Where have your travels taken you and where has been your favourite place so far?
I have been to over 42 countries now. My favourite has been Brazil, specifically Rio de Janeiro. I loved the landscape of the mountains by the sea, the vibe, the music, the language, the people.
Do you have any tips for female solo travellers?
I think the perception that solo female travel is dangerous is becoming dated. These days there is so much information online for travellers to access. And women, as men do, possess common sense!I always normally read the reviews when booking hostels on hostel world over the ratings, people are very much there to offer invaluable information about safety and location etc. Packing wise I use packing cells when travelling to countries where I need to backpack, my last trip, however, I had to shoot a lot of clothing for brands and so took a ginormous suitcase! I always roll my clothes to minimise surface area utilised.
I actually believe staying at a hostel is safer in the sense you are more likely to meet people your age and not be isolated! As you would say in a hotel. You go out in groups together and it’s catered to your budget and experience profile.
Could you tell about your journey to becoming a General Practice Registrar and how you balance this job with your travels?
I got into medical school straight from high school which in some ways was both a blessing and a curse. My parents tried to warn me about how time and life-consuming committing to the profession would be but I couldn’t see myself doing anything else at that time.
I graduated when I was 22 and freaked out that I was too young and all I had to vouch for was my academic achievements so I then took the year off to travel.
I’m loving being a GP registrar, I have an amazing variety of patients and presentations to manage, and none of the awful hours and night shifts that come with a hospital gig anymore!
I mean that I can look after myself and in turn be a Better doctor to my patients. I especially love young female patients like myself because I can relate to them immensely and rapport is almost instantaneous. There’s a strength in being a female general practitioner that I have not found to be equally as true in the other specialities of medicine, bar perhaps obstetrics and gynaecology. Which is why I wanted to do it.
Balancing life and my job. with travel is just a matter of your priorities. Everyone around me tells me I need to save for a house and other adult things, but I figure I have time to do that, whereas one day I may not have the luxury of my able body or lack of kids to enjoy this world. I’m 25 and I just want to enjoy life and all the good things it has to offer. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I don’t really believe in a rainy day. I don’t believe in saving nice things for special occasions.I just do as I want at the moment!
I Just make it a point to make travel work with my job. I think I’m pretty great at somehow managing to maximise holiday time in my at times restrictive profession!
How would you describe your sense of style and what are the must-haves in your wardrobe?
My style has evolved immensely, and these days I’m very much about being relaxed and basic for my day today. I like a plain skirt denim or faux leather and a plain tee or strapped block coloured top. And some sandals or my Nikes.
When it comes to going out or shooting for my blog, I like pieces that accentuate the female form. I have hips and a butt and I think women should be comfortable in their bodies and flaunt their goodies!
Again I like to keep things clean and simple, I rarely wear flowy things through and it’s because I want to keep my silhouette in check. Must haves are a go-to skirt – denim is great can style up or dress down. I think everyone needs a statement dress. I love red and it’s voom factor and has a few red dresses for when I want to amp it up.
Could you share your thoughts on interracial dating and any tips you have?
I’ve never previously dated anyone from a different ethnic background or cultural background, and I always wondered if that stemmed from some subconscious insecurity of feeling as though my beauty did not live up to the ideals of western men. James and I started dating and race never came into the equation of the attraction or appeal, him being Caucasian wasn’t a ‘thing’. I realise now that the insecurity I had was some personal insecurity of mine and not based on real facts.
There is this concept in Indian communities that interracial dating influences the strength, understanding and projected success of a relationship, or that it reflects on the character of the woman, that perhaps she is not as wholesome which I never really understood.
My parents were a bit hesitant about the whole idea and preferred the concept of me dating an Indian guy. and I realised that’s got to do with a fear on their part that cultural values and culture itself will be foregone or disregarded. But I’ve previously dated other brown men who have had a complete disregard and disrespect for me and also Indian culture. And so I don’t think It has anything to do with skin colour or race, and everything to do with a man’s character. I’ve discussed this in depth with my dad who is coming around.
There are some things that can be tough like explaining cultural expectations and biases.
For example my boyfriend does not understand the preferential favouritism towards men and boys in Indian culture, or the attitudes of women needing to dress in a conservative manner, or be domesticated more so than a man…these are foreign to him, and to be honest not things I agree with either, but it’s kind of interesting to explore these things together. There are also very incredible and rich aspects of Indian culture that I’m very connected to and proud of too, and that is something some western cultures do not have.
We both had very different upbringings, and I think learning about each other’s pasts is so interesting in understanding why we are who we are today. It makes both parties more
Underneath it all, James and I are very similar people with a mutual love and respect for each other.I think the only thing that matters is this. that will nourish a healthy and flourishing relationship. Irrespective of our skin colour. The same principles will apply to any successful relationship. I’m very grateful for James.
What are your tips for taking amazing travelling photos?
It’s all about creating a story or a mood and composition. I think natural and photos taken in the movement are always the most interesting. Lighting Is best at sunrise and sunset for glowy skin. I use a tripod and a remote to shoot myself a lot and it’s a lot of bad photos before a good one!!
What are your hopes and dreams for the future and where would you like to travel again?
My hope for the future is to live an enriching and happy life! Whatever that entails, enjoying both the everyday moments and seeking to learn to explore and experience more in this beautiful world and live large too! Life is too short to live securely.I would love to keep writing and working with fashion brands but also focus on becoming an integrated member of a community in Sydney as a really great general practitioner. And perhaps starting a YouTube channel!
END OF INTERVIEW
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