I work as a Diversity Consultant and design bespoke workshops and services in the field of inclusion. I am currently facilitating a training program called the ‘Mixed Classroom in Practice’, at the Vrije Universiteit (VU), Amsterdam along with mentoring an online course or MOOC – “English Pronunciation in a Global World,” also a VU initiative under the guidance of Dr. Laura Rupp.
I was awarded the NWO Mosaic/Mozaiek doctoral scholarship in 2012. The VU Fellowship in 2010, and the Sanwa Bank Scholarship in 1999. I have a University Teaching Qualification certification (Basiskwalificatie Onderwijs). My Masters degree is from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, and my Bachelors degree from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.
Influenced by the words of Adrienne Rich: “When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her”, I created Diligent Candy as a blog space where I wanted to share my voice. I did not want to focus on one thing as I firmly believed that this was a space for all things that were of interest to me. Rich had also famously said that the personal was political. These boxes were permeable. As a woman of color going through life and living, Rich’s words brought great understanding to the circumstances and experiences I underwent. Over the years in the blog I have written features on art, culture, lifestyle, opinion pieces, reviews of products and restaurants, books, my thoughts, emotions, and reflections on travel.
Organically, Diligent Candy grew.
Today, it has become a company. Developing from the work I have been doing in inclusive practices and diversity sensitization, strongly impacted by both the personal as well as the professional. Getting involved in the workshop called the Mixed Classroom in Practice at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam opened my eyes to the tremendous gaps in this field. The more I analyzed and gathered understanding, the stronger I started feeling about actively helping people.
I am based in Amsterdam; I have been living here since 2006. This is the longest I have continuously lived in one place (that is if you count out the brief stint in Singapore). My life has and continues to be truly transnational. I was born in Cuttack, Odisha (in India); a small sleepy town that can be dated back to the 8th century, steeped in history. The ayah, who helped my mother bring up her two opinionated children, once reprimanded me for eating from the ladle off the pot, “Someone who eats from the pot lives very far from home.” I did not pay heed to her prophetic words and continued my gluttonous escapades. Little did I know…
I was born to parents of different cultural backgrounds and have lived in different villages, towns, cities, and countries. My grandparents and mother were refugees, who migrated from Pakistan to India during the Partition. I have redefined and modified what home means and signifies. My references are flooded with the locations that have filled me as I have filled them.
What makes me international is that I am local. Thus, as I admire the delicate flakiness of a poached kabeljauw, today, in an Amsterdam restaurant, I have had the privilege of gulfing down fried hamour while sitting on a deck at the Dubai Creek. Or for that matter, enjoyed the wholesomeness of freshly caught pohola on a bed of steamed rice on a trawler in Chilika lake. In my head, one cross-references the other, building a unique spread of sensory networks. It is corporeal, but also intangible. Something to be felt and experienced in order to be realized. It fuels my creativity and makes me feel like I belong here, and also everywhere.
I am an INTJ (Myers Briggs), a voracious reader, proud mother of a teenager whom I call Bambi on the blog (Bambi has had food allergies so I often write about that on the blog), and an indulgent wife to my college sweetheart – Apoorva. Apoorva works as an HR Consultant and is also an academic. We often engage in animated discussions on people practices, and food.
Although the settings have transformed and environments have altered to uproot and reroot me again and again, I have grown to appreciate the multifariousness of experiences that life has presented me with. I hope through the blog and through my workshops, I bring my enthusiasm for different cultures into practice, sharing how it feeds the creative mind, and how the post-colonial construct of “the other” is not in the least bit monstrous.
I used to be a corporate communications specialist, then I became an academic, I have always remained a writer. I teach and I facilitate workshops on diversity. I enjoy teaching and coaching, and strongly believe in safe classrooms and active learning environments. I love discussing and researching on cultural mobility, inclusion, and representation. My PhD [NWO Mozaiek doctoral scholarship]: The American Ghazal: an immigration of an Arabic Poetic Form (1960-2010) at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.
My thesis contributes to the transnational turn in the humanities, which investigates how cultural influence moves across borders. I often give Guest Lectures for Global English, New Voices and New Genres, along with poetry, especially on the ghazal.
My personal journey across several countries: India, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, England, Singapore, and The Netherlands, entangles with the themes that I have dealt with in my PhD dissertation. Namely, the changes occurring from border crossing; in the definition of home, in the different understanding of gender, in self awareness and expression of sexuality, in complicated intersectionality, and in the representation of race and ethnicity.
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KvK Number: 74827391
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