American Desis Podcast

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American Desis

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Formerly titled "Indian, American", American Desis is a podcast geared to discovering what it means to be a South Asian in this country today. The hosts, comedian Akaash Singh and actor Arjun Gupta, employ a fresh, funny, and vulnerable style as they investigate who we are today and the issues we will face tomorrow through engaging interviews and compelling discussions. The interview guests range from professional young South Asians in diverse, new, exciting fields to established veterans of the traditional paths who paved the way. But understanding that the immigrant experience is not singular to Desis, our hosts consciously speak with immigrants from other lands about their experiences. Arjun and Akaash even interview white Americans and other non-desis about their perspectives and experiences with South Asians, to analyze the issue from every perspective. Akaash and Arjun serve as guides on what will be an inevitably messy but fulfilling journey of discovering who they are and through that, who WE are.

Uplift Humanity Volunteers: Before On Wednesday, June 29th, over 100 high school students will depart for a two week journey that will shape the future of their lives. I know that sounds dramatic but that is what Uplift Humanity offers and provides. These students are going to drop into juvenile detention centers all across India and work with the young kids to help them break out of the cycle of recidivism. Before they leave, we had the pleasure to chat with a handful of these volunteers to get a snapshot of who these young volunteers are: why they decided to join Uplift? What they were trying to gain? What they were nervous about? Once they get back we will get to speak to them to paint the picture of who they become. Akaash and I were thrilled with the smart, thoughtful, and wildly confident people we encountered and we think you guys will as well. So enjoy a peek into our collective future! Enjoy
Community Episode- Ain't Nothing but a Family Thang We begin this community episode with a discussion about family. I just had the fortune of spending some time with my Nani in DC and I ask Akaash if there was a point in his life that shaped the importance he held for family. It springboards us to a moment of advocacy around spending time with those we love, but we had to keep it short because y'all showed up big time this month! Had many beautiful emails to respond to, on top of our normal Twitter fodder. Emails that asked us about Asian solidarity, Sikhism, Yves, and Physical Disabilities. All of the questions were thought provoking and insightful. We responded to our Twitter friends including a request to interview a 6 year old. An interview that I believe would be our finest hour. And with our closing we got to talk about Orlando and end this week's episode with some poignant words from Akaash. Proud of the community and all you bring to this show. Excited for you all to hear this episode!
Vaani Gupta- Didi On today's episode we were fortunate enough to speak with Vaani Gupta- a teacher in Washington D.C. She is also Arjun's, and by extension my own, Didi. Arjun doesn't call her "Didi" though, because he's super disrespectful and an awful brother. And that's the topic on which we begin our discussion. We delve into our terms of respect for our elders, and how Arjun and Vaani used them growing up. We also speak about something Arjun has touched upon frequently: the year he spent in India. We learn that Vaani's year there, along with her most recent trip five years ago, affected her relationship to the Motherland quite differently than it did in Arjun. We then delve into her profession. As a teacher, Vaani easily has one of the most important jobs in the world; however, it is not really viewed as a "typical South Asian field." We ask her what it's like to be a South Asian public school teacher. We also ask how her peers treat her, how her students see her, and of course how the South Asian community has received her. So take a listen as we finally speak to a Gupta who has intelligent things to say. It's refreshing, to say the least.
Aarti Kohli- Advancing Justice "We started this partnership because we realized we didn't have a National Voice." In what feels like a perfect follow up to the Yves episode, so begins our wildly informative conversation with Aarti Kohil, the deputy director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. After unpacking why the name of the organization is so long, we dive into a collection of topics and thoughts that are incredibly important and fun to think about for our community. We explore how the South Asian voice fits into a larger narrative of Asian Americans, as well as how our history has taught us about our responsibility to other communities. Thankfully for you guys, we are the kids in the classroom who aren't afraid to say "I don't know." It is a phrase we say repeatedly to Aarti during this chat and it forces her to explain some of the historical events that have shaped our community even though most of us don't know about them! Aarti breaks down for us all the issues that are hindering our community from flourishing, and the steps we can take to address them. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed doing it!
Yves Gomes- Undocumented Imagine waking up to the smell of breakfast on the stove and your mom and dad chatting it up in the kitchen. You check the clock and it's 6 am. Suddenly there is banging on the door. "It's the police open up!" And at that moment your life turns upside down. You are interrogated in your own home, and your father is taken out the door in handcuffs and deported. It is the last time you will see him. This is not a scene from a movie. This is a real moment from Yves Gomes' life. He is part of an all too often unseen community of South Asian undocumented immigrants. Yves joins us this week and generously shares his story with us. He walks us not only through what happened with his family, but also how he stumbled into the undocumented youth movement. He educates us on some of the problematic language that is used around this issue and how the "model minority" myth may be a big part of why this community is so unseen. He also updates us on his status and how community and social media are helping him stay in this country to pursue his Master's Degree. There are episodes that help Akaash and I understand why this podcast can be important. This is one of them.
Deepa Iyer- Pledge to Disrupt Deepa Iyer is many things: lawyer, professor, and writer. But above all, she is an activist. Arjun and I were fortunate enough to speak with this enlightened YOUNG woman on this week's episode. We begin the discussion with a talk about her book: "We too Sing America". We discuss the inspiration for the book, some of the people she wrote about (including a future guest of the show), and what she learned from the process of writing. We also discuss the passion of the younger generation she see encounters at the University of Maryland, and how she has helped stoked the fires of activism within them. We then chart Deepa's path to becoming such a racially aware, dedicated, and inspirational YOUNG activist. We close the discussion with a pledge to action and/or inaction from Arjun and myself. Please listen in to an extremely intelligent and passionate woman, who, as our first interview in D.C., set the tone for a series of amazing interviews from our nation's capital.
Community Episode- Viva Italia Akaash makes his long awaited return to my arms in this latest episode. He regales us with how annoying brown folk are in Italy and I sing him an amazing version of Happy Birthday. As soon as we are done with the pillow talk, we dive into our thoughts of the last few episodes. which mainly consists of us just shouting out how amazing Anish, Diana, and Dr. Manchanda are. Then I take us down to Twitter Valley and we respond to you guys! Been some amazing twitter involvement the last few weeks and we get a chance to respond to it all...we even learn a new word...on air! Akaash then wraps us up with an incredibly sweet and powerful email from a woman who had an intense response to Dr. Manchanda's episode. Also, a question: Do you guys feel anxious when you're not connected to your phone?
Dr. Rishi Manchanda- Let's Go Upstream Part 2 In part one of our love affair with Dr. Manchanda we dove into what was the concept behind going "upstream." So for part 2 the big question became: "OK, so how do we do this?" Our conversation continues right from where we left off last week answering that question. We ask about the very nature of humanity as being reactionary and whether that needs to change first for any other shit to occur. We explore how upstream thinking can be used in other realms of society, which leads to a spirited discussion of Trump, Bernie Sanders, and our political system in general. Finally we implement upstream thinking to deal with a real life situation: Obesity. Dr. Manchanda walks us through how an upstream-ist system would affect the way we deal with that issue and in the process blows our mind by letting us know that a calorie is not a calorie....Yea. This episode gets nuts. So nuts that Akaash nearly pees his pants. You won't want to miss this episode.

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About Mimi

Founder/CEO of | Co-host of the Add Water and Stir podcast | blogger at

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