Simran Randhawa is curating her social media on her own terms
On food, little joys, & multi-faceted identities.
By Nivita Sriram, Contributor
South Asian women are often portrayed in a one-dimensional manner — boxed in by stereotypes and society's standards of what we should be, instead of all that we are. As “representation” has become a buzzword within the last few years, it’s become imperative that diversity, inclusivity, and equity are shown through all platforms. Simran Randhawa (@simran) stands for exactly that. A journalist, foodie, model, influencer, brand consultant, and creative, Simran shows all that she is and all that one can be.
Identity can show up in however manner it speaks to an individual.
I feel that as Women of Color, and especially as South Asian women, there are many boxes that people (including our fellow South Asians) put us in. We, ourselves, might not identify with these assigned boxes. By sharing her experience as a Punjabi-Malaysian-British woman, Simran opens conversations on the first generation experience, while showing how multi-dimensional Women of Color are, just like everyone else.
While this last year has caused change within all of us, Simran and I reflected on how this year has helped us learn, grow, and nourish the parts of us that really matter, while showing appreciation for the little things in life. It’s time we all show up as ourselves, in whatever capacity we are comfortable with — after all, our stories are what matters. Here’s a little insight on my chat with the oh-so-sweet (and ridiculously warm), Simran Randhawa.
Q1. Tell me about yourself! How has the last year been for you?
A: Hi, I’m Simran! I write, talk about food and the stories around it, consult for brands, and do influencer work. But outside of that, I really like looking after my plants while cooking. Like, being a little hermit. No, but really, the last year has been transformative. I moved into my own place in January, which was very overdue and has been so transformational just in terms of having my own space that's completely my own. Living alone is so amazing. Doing everything on my own time is so amazing. And I know that everyone's been talking about things slowing down, but I don’t think that’s true for me. I think it’s made me learn how to focus on myself, even when I do have a faster paced life. I think the last year has made me prioritize myself and my feelings. I’ve learned to be more mindful with my work, and throughout my days. Being more intentional in everything that I do.
Q2. How do you find yourself appreciating the smaller moments more in life this last year?
A: Honestly, I think I’ve always been someone that appreciates the smaller moments, but this last year I’ve been forcing myself to write a gratitude list at the end of every day, and fill up an entire day for things or moments I’m grateful for. Cutting down screen time has been huge for me — living in the moment. I think this last year has definitely made me want to just cut down on the excess; I’m leaning on what I want vs. what I need and realizing that things don’t make me happy.
It’s the little, simpler moments throughout my day that make me smile.
My focus now is on really nourishing the things that truly make me happy. Romanticizing my life, but not too much.
Q3. While “finding joy” or enjoying the “little moments” have become buzzwords this last year, South Asian & Eastern cultures are often rooted in the little moments of life, urging us to show gratitude for what we have, and what’s to come. How does culture impact the way you move through life?
A: I think, as I get older, I gravitate more towards the rituals that I saw when I was younger. When I was in Uni, every Sunday I would take the 12:15 train to go to the Gurudwara, listen to the Kirtans, and sit there and enjoy it. And I realized the reason why I did that is it made me feel closer to my grand-dad. Although I’m not the most religious person, it was just a moment for me to sit there and listen to beautiful prayers and have a moment to myself. I just think all of these things, which stemmed from South Asian culture, are being re-engrained back into my routine slowly.
Having a cup of cha is a moment for yourself, too. It's funny that we've always done this throughout our whole lives, but we didn’t pay attention to why when we were younger. And I think being British, we'll just have a cup of tea; but with the intersection of being British and Punjabi, there’s so many similarities here and there. The routines we had when we were younger, I’m bringing them back into my life. It’s almost as if we’re re-living the moments from our childhood that we miss.
There’s a lot of purpose behind these rituals so rooted in grounding, and bringing us back to calmness.
— And that’s something that’s really helped me this last year.
photo credit: Simran Randhawa
Q4. How has showing up as yourself and sharing these little moments impacted the way you navigate social media?
A: I love the new photo dump trend. That’s how I’ve been treating social media lately; I don't feel the pressure to share every day anymore. Whenever I feel like I have something to say, I say it — but I appreciate the non-curated aspect of sharing spontaneously.
Sharing the bits that have been making me happy lately has helped me live in the moment rather than putting pressure on myself to post something for my brand.
It’s more real and genuine. With the nature of our work, I think it’s important to be more mindful and find happiness in our work, too. We have to keep up with the trends and what’s happening, and think of multiple projects at once. Using social media as a way to remember accomplishments or happy memories is great, otherwise we might forget.
While I gained a following in 2017, I think I created content in a way that appealed to my audience, and beyond a point it didn’t feel like me. I can be Punjabi, British, and Malaysian all at the same time, or separately, too. Now, I’ve learned to show up as me, whenever I feel like it.
Q5. Food and culture go hand in hand as we’ve seen with your lovely page @simsnackin. Where do you find inspiration in weaving in stories with food?
A: Pre-COVID in 2019, when everyone was talking about not having time for food, it didn’t sit well with me. I realized that there was a bit of a dissonance within me where I wasn’t enjoying food; which was weird for me, because both my grandparents had restaurants. I grew up in Malaysia with my grandma, peeling garlic with her in her restaurant. Everyone in my family can cook. It's never been a conscious thing. It was part of my life, and I took it for granted. When my family situation changed, I needed to feed and cook for myself, and I felt a bit distant from food.
When other people cook for you, you tend to associate the meals with memories and stories.
It just slowly dawned on me one day, if I'm honest, that my food page started more as a selfish venture. It was meant to be an archive for me of all of the key pieces I've eaten, and the new memories I formed that are attached to them. I didn't expect it to resonate with people.
photo credit: Simran Randhawa
When I started exploring and cooking more food that was comforting to me, I began writing about it. It was to remind myself about the food and not feel dissociated from it so much.
I think food is the middle of culture. And then around it, there's lifestyle, memories, family, friends.
Stories with food have been passed down in our culture; we eat certain dishes for specific occasions at certain times of the year. There’s a way in which we eat our food, and there’s reasons behind why meals are cooked a certain way, including the ways it has adapted over time.
I’m learning to show appreciation for the resourcefulness our mothers, grandmothers, and matriarchal figures have in the kitchen. I remember being in awe of how much my grandmother would cook, using what I thought were barely any ingredients or produce. When dinnertime came, we would have full-fledged meals. It’s made me so much more grateful for food; and it’s why diet culture and limiting food groups is beyond me. I’m always curious about the way food connects me to my past, while bringing more mindfulness to food —all the while honoring it in its entirety, rather than existing in a vacuum.
Q6. What do you feel is missing in the journalism and/or social media space?
A: Nuance. I feel that representation is not all that we can strive for.
We need to strive for nuances within representation, and deeper discussion on why certain issues matter.
Across both journalism and the internet, people are still talking about issues in a very one-dimensional way. And I think that's one of the reasons why I stepped back from having a lot of these conversations on social media as well, because a caption on an Instagram post doesn't do justice to the complexity of the issue. And yet, it's a great place to begin having these conversations on history, culture, social issues, race issues and global crises. But, there's just not enough.
I don't think people take enough nuance or specific details and situations into consideration. These discussions haven’t evolved past the surface level within South Asian culture. But a handful of people are still pushing the boundaries, kind of. We all need to be careful. We can talk about these experiences we have as South Asians and first generation kids or People of Color, but not box ourselves in by them and not completely define our communities solely by our own experiences.
Q7. What's been making you happy lately?
A: Honestly, the very simple moments throughout my day. Following rituals, doing my morning routine, spending time with people I love, cooking and eating food that nourishes me. The older I get the more I realize these are the only things that really matter.
photo credit: Felicity Ingram
Here are some fun rapid fire questions:
Q1. Your go-to feel good movie?
A: I have two: CoCo and Notting Hill. CoCo is just so sweet yet so cathartic, but has such a beautiful message. Notting Hill I know is basic, just a feel good rom-com.
Q2. If you could have one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: One dish, I’d say egg curry. If I can have a Thali, I’d say egg curry, roti, yellow dal, and aloo matar sabji.
Q3. What makes you feel like your best self?
A: Taking care of myself — mentally, physically, emotionally, but doing the right amount of work so I feel productive.
Q8: What keeps you going?
A: My resilience. I know this isn’t the most pretty answer, but at the end of the day, I know I’ll always have my back — and I’m the only one that can and will make things happen for myself. My life hasn’t been the easiest, but I know I’ll make things happen. Even if we have people supporting and loving us, at the end of the day,
We’re the ones putting in the work to reach our goals and potential.
I really feel that everything in my life, I’ve been responsible for. I also have a younger brother who is 13, and over the last couple years, I’ve really been wanting him to have the best — making sure he has what I couldn’t have at his age. I truly want to be there for him and provide for him. My hyper-independence keeps me going, which I really don’t think it’s a bad thing.
About — Nivita Sriram is a freelance digital marketer based in the Pacific Northwest. She studied Marketing and Psychology in college, and fell in love with freelancing as Digital Marketing Strategist + Account Manager at Aam Creative. Nivita re-discovered her passion for reading and writing during quarantine. Bridging the gap between America and India is something Nivita is working towards every day, and she’s constantly looking for new ways to learn more about herself, her heritage, and history —while using her knowledge of marketing and social media to tell her story.
Cover photo credit: Kiran Gidda, @kirangidda